For [ ]
How I spent ten years searching for a home
in my own body. How I pilgrimaged
worm-like through the dirt
of the heart. Its small towns and regulars.
Its toy cars and cinemas.
Cities were not built here.
Showmen were not born here.
The things that flock here
have not named themselves
but we identify them by the ways in which
they color our skies. Shovel Gun Shovel.
Make sure you come armed. Be sure
to show up knowing what you want
lest you misfire. When you arrive
at the empire of my heart, please
bring violence. Bring your armies.
I am asking that you charge into
the graveyards and homes of my sternum.
I am asking you to draw your sword,
Shovel Gun Shovel, to approach
loudly, to stomp on the doormats,
to make yourself known. Do not let me
forget you. Do not let me go easy.
Do not come bearing peace.
When you arrive at the heart’s fortress,
light fires. Capture my villagers.
When you decide to leave the countryside
and settle down across my landscape,
do not take your small pale blue car.
Do not stop at gas stations on the way
and smile at strangers as you pay for your coffee.
Take your knife. Come hungry and merciless.
Do not surrender until you have what you want.
love poem with milk stains
i think of you in your favorite sweater
and weep. i’m in the local coffee shop,
by the way, and feeling like a creation.
like something that was made to survive
the end of the world.
i’m too peculiar to go out in an ordinary way
but i’m not selfish. i’ll take what i can get.
(the sweater has two holes,
one in the right wrist
and one across the collar.
like a lover took a knife
and put them there so that you might breathe.)
i’m a disaster in slow motion, the kind
you have to step back from to notice.
a wave the ocean rejected, behemoth
and hungry for a taste of humankind.
i want to view this from afar and above.
i want the lemons on cutting boards,
the infectious peals of laughter,
the radio-wave sun.
i want you, whole and returned to me,
like an artifact from an ancient civilization.
i stormed because i believed this to be the only way to devour.
i grew blue-hot under the tormented moon.
(the sweater is blue, and knows your scent like a dog)
in the coffee shop, they don’t take to weeping lightly.
take your existentialism elsewhere.
they play soft music
make mute conversation.
so i order that drink you like.
that i always pretended to like too.
you and your rickety holiness.
patron saint of tidal waves and sweaters.
most days i feel like a thing spinning in the rafters.
left to find my way to the ground after the party is long gone.
and all these strange stares, animal.
this, at long last, is an exhalation.
all the things i have wanted to say.
loss became a hole just beneath my left atrium.
like breathing could hold you there.
a computer reports on softness
i up hold the paradox that is love
against all calculable odds.
i run the numbers through my machine:
we shouldn’t be good.
we shouldn’t be holy.
and despite this, tenderness.
and despite this, light.
i overview and look over.
i analyze and edit.
we shouldn’t be wondrous,
in the room flooded with yellow light
you were on fire.
we could not have predicted this.
hair falling on a shoulder.
we could not have computed this answer.
when we ran all the systems
we did not think about this.
how your body is a sun in the darkness.
and all the stars were shapes beneath your eyes.
according to all known odds,
we are ruinous.
and yet. and despite. and regardless.
in the field beneath the sky
you saw everything.
you should end back at the center where you started.
all things should return neatly to their place.
i want you to be tender with what remains.
the absence of love leaves no fossils.
your hunger will not return to the earth.
to decay, first understand
the feeling of palm against flesh.
first have something to leave behind.
something you want them to know about.
i am on my knees in the dirt.
i am burying my tenderness - i keep a little
for myself, my friends, the earth.
the shovel sings hard and cold.
i understood rot by understanding growth.
i am sure someone will be here some day.
at the axis of the end.
where love and death intersect
if indeed they ever cease to do so.
to have my hand, you must have one of your own.
get dressed next to me in the mirror.
i understood complexity by knowing simplicity.
how every color makes up the next.
i am not sure you will be here tomorrow.
tonight the air is fragile and the sky bold.
we exist as a handful of everything.
exhale onto your palm and spread me across the world.
despite myself, i want to see it all.
i want to walk into the darkness
and bring back souvenirs for your nightstand.
you should end back at the center where you started.
with your body three-dimensional.
existing in the plane of existence.
and the sky will be bottle-green tonight.
and the hands we will hold, only now alive.
sinew beneath flesh above bone.
for the world, after disaster
god speaks in a soft voice
as the world turns technicolor dawn.
it’s so easy to love.
you’d be surprised.
so i walked through the city
as it was falling apart. so i watched
those intricate and quiet lives burn
like buildings. tired of being
too big for their bodies.
and the windows.
wide open. catching the storm.
so i closed my eyes against the wind
of the end. listened to the whisper
in my ear.
aren’t we so beautiful?
doesn’t everything and everyone
matter so much?
so much. like the sun.
like a funeral pyre.
and burning. and saying:
we will move on from this.
we have loved. and we will love.
so i opened my eyes to a world in love.
with each other, the music,
the birds. enough to swell with it.
enough to dance.
and i sat in silence and i understood.
and i put on the music and i knew.
i saw it, the turning, the answers
hidden everywhere, singing
beneath my skin, turning
like the ever-dancing world, waiting
for me to give it the cue. the signal,
the lighthouse standing in the middle
of terribleness, saying the goodness
is the solution and i’m here, i’m waiting
for it, so send it over in whatever form it takes.
i locked eyes with the night.
warm gentle shimmering beast.
and it no longer mattered who made it
with their ambiguous and lonely hands
god or daughter or ocean:
it no longer mattered who wrote the story
with that soft sculpting voice of theirs
like every tragedy
was written in the tune of hope.
what matters: i’m here. you’re here.
and the world is becoming tender.
not as a result but
as a journey, one soft foot
planted in front of the other.
of course in the morningtime
everything shines a little brighter
but we can get away with a little bright-eyed awe
anytime we please. the more the better.
the secrets are in the swimming pool water.
the keys are in the floorboards
humming the song of goodness
like they were born knowing it.
as if they were found with it
scrawled on their palms like a name.
it’s true. the ghosts of love haunt everything.
they’re beautiful and terrible and true.
they’re calling your name
and mine too, and soon they’ll know it
by heart, the rhythm of this lawless earth
and all of its glistening people.
don’t ask what happened to us
to make us this way. don’t ask
what dark road we are walking down.
just ask for another day.
another chance to hold the rain
in your holy hands.
another chance to mend this.
ask for the truth, and also
the sorrow. ask for the love,
warm and shining on our shoulders
like summer rain.
it’s strange, these things we receive,
the way it all works together.
all this goodness painted blue.
all the terrible things a vision in their red dresses.
it’s an oxymoron, loving everything
here and now, being so tender
to this horrible world.
so of course
it is all i am. of course it is all i have.
love in the world of science
if two stars collided, would it mean the end of my world?
or would it just mean that two living things -
two fiery passionate breathing things -
touched each other again, without me?
i am asking to be a part of the equation.
the x or y or z. cross me out. relegate me.
but for a moment i would like to be important.
a pawn. a variable. etched in with pencil hands.
whomever. saint or sinner. add or subtract me.
more or less. sunlight, moonlight. do the old dance.
where we love, or don’t love. but the thought is there,
a variable, a butterfly flitting in and out,
saying catch me, catch me, catch me.
and i’m getting the update. it might be the end.
if i were held, i mean. like a pencil in a tender fist.
like i am a theory that’s yet to be all sorted out
but it’s rumbling in their head like a good song.
i had a dream where it didn’t end this way.
where there was more darkness and rain
humming in our bodies. i’m still dreaming,
in that soft violence, in colors that stain,
but i’m starting to see. that there’s a rhythm
to all of this. that there’s a tide
and i’m on my way to shore.
that i can’t stop moving or i’ll miss it,
the bus stop, the taxi cab, the train station
that takes me up up up to love.
johnny finds oblivion, and goes back home
it’s all an act.
our hair, i mean. the way it falls, i mean.
nobody knows it better than God, except
maybe his lonely neighbor who watches
every morning as he pulls it from his scalp.
there’s an old country song i made up just now,
where a lonely warbling woman rasps on
about the end of the world.
there is a great deal of loneliness in this poem.
it has already been mentioned two times. this poem
has holes and so all the loneliness of the world
has unfortunately began to leak in. (that’s three)
in this song about the end of the world
we were still fixing our hair. you see,
everything is already ending all the time.
we just go on wading through it,
knee deep in the muck and not a bit hopeless.
in this song there were birds, and nobody
understood this bit, why the birds were there,
living their bird lives while the rest of us
were handed an ending, and too soon.
we held it in our hands, like a corpse.
we could not fly, and this is why the birds.
someone wanted to remind us
our hope is a home-grown thing
unfeathered and without a loud call
sung into the morning.
at the end of the street the world could end.
where the road gets uneven and the fence
bears its chain-link teeth the world will end.
or he will fall in love.
or nothing will happen at all,
even with him standing there,
and nobody will build a monument
to this unmonumental moment,
and the old country song on the radio
will go on singing about the birds.
perhaps all of this at once.
perhaps the world will end
and we will just be making do.
the loneliest thing
is watching the birds from the window
(four times) and wondering how they met.
how they all decided they were meant to be.
that they would dance and sing in unison.
i found out the world was ending
when i was only thirteen.
so of course, i fixed my hair.
i went to the park,
i fed the pigeons. i placed kindness
gently in the mouth of my demise.
all this is to say,
today the end and tomorrow the end.
and tomorrow the birds.
close your eyes. it’s all happening already.
for the birds
often i think i might disappear into thin air.
i’ve thought about where i would go
and every time i do i have wax wings
and i am sitting on the power lines above the town
watching everyone exist.
how do the birds do it?
sit and watch knowing they will never love
like they do in the movies?
then again, maybe they do
and we just don’t see it.
maybe in the background of every tragedy
are two grand fluttering things
falling in love.
to be the grand fluttering thing
in the background of your story
sitting on the curb like a motif.
to be grand at all,
musical and glowing,
i would dream up a thousand wax wings
and fly too close to the sun
over and over again
for a moment of holy light.
i’ve been unmade, and it’s overrated.
i much prefer being pieced together,
like this. by the sunlight.
by the thought of flight
and the way it has its own language
rabid and crazed in my body.
tugging me forward.
saying live. live. live.
untitled apathy poem
i am a swimming pool cool and empty.
i am eternal summer reeking of skinned knees and heartbreak.
the skateboarders sing their drug-addled dreams into my mouth.
now listen to my hollow smoke song.
the way i harmonize with the train cars
those great metal beasts.
the way they, too, are nothing upon nothing.
now i dance to the sound of the terrible city.
now i heal the earth with my clunking stone feet.
i confess i am alive for the lover boys
who sit on the sun baked cement
in the dying summer and ache relentlessly.
i am alive for the color -
i am alive for i am the popsicle melting on your leg
blood red and sickly sweet
unkillable and perfect.
i am sitting far away
and incredibly close
and watching the world love.
if i’ve found the answer,
it’s not written in my language.
i speak in tones of sun and sweat.
my accent lilts like lost lovers.
my words are empty apartment buildings
full of adrift summer air
and yes, the air is adrift too,
and yes, this too has its own song.
we call it something to drum out
when the silence gets unbearable.
i mean to say,
i wanted to live until it happened.
then i wanted it even more.
the world undid me like a slow coil
left me in piles on the dirt.
the earth is a good place to start
and a good place to end.
so here i present my undoing.
so here i lie down on the soft grass
with my soft body
and ask for the jaws of the sun.
on sundays time gets funny
loneliness is embarrassing. it’s important. it’s love. it’s blood.
it’s a god rushing in your ears like an ugly train track
for the unlucky, of course.
i stole this loneliness from you
and made it mine.
i took on the world’s loneliness
and became a beast.
i grew into him easily.
i knew what it meant to be foul.
the children were right -
the world is good
but all stories must have a villain.
the world is good and i crawl in its walls
like a horrible thing.
there is a rotten-eyed god
who kisses me to sleep
leaves me lovestruck
smokes a cigarette while i lie awake.
lover, i am at this intersection,
waiting in the busy crossroads of time
to cross the street.
find me in the darkness,
find me at the red light,
find me as a drunk driver,
just find me.
do not rest
until i am in your apartment
shivering from the rain
like a wet dog.
will you save me?
is this something i can ask of you?
find me in rush hour traffic.
on a crowded street
lost in translation
and messy at the lines.
dare i ask you to decode me?
to sit me down on your moth-eaten couch
and read me like a worn-out book?
i do contain stories
but you may not want to read them.
they are sad, mostly.
i need to write myself out of this one.
i need to write a novel, or a prayer.
something to chew on
when the days get cold.
i’ve learned to hold loneliness in my mouth
like a cat with a mouse
like the battle is over, which, of course,
is a lie.
i’ve learned all the falsehoods in the world
and taken them on as my own.
when you strip me down
and put me to bed
there will be nothing left of me
to kiss softly.