I convince myself that Nyhavn hates me
What can I say besides the rain makes me worse,
erodes my chest a moat.
I google how to write grief & place,
how to talk about living loss,
earthly, chronic, tugged,
& the answer is always you don’t.
[some insight about life as a tourist,
days peripheraled, vision stirred?]
It was Christmas. I was sacrilegious
& swallowing mulled wine.
My reflection was dribbling & the sun
was being sucked up with sky.
[subjects performed actions;
you felt acted upon]
How to move on as passerby,
pure foot, wet pictures—
[in a previous draft, you wrote
persistent animal fear,
keep in here?]
you’re my godblur.
The painted houses are just painted houses.
[needs more meaning]
I want to tell you how I traveled
all the way to Copenhagen
just to eat 7/11 for dinner
[what’s it mean? specifics? bagel, likely cream cheese, how you’d laugh, wouldn’t care, make it up—don’t remember]
but you’re a ghost I can’t have
yet, you’re unthere—
flaming hot cheetos (reprise)
in the bunker claire crunches out a speech // how we are bigger than our bodies // wheeling toward a victory // a fleet of motorcycles five hundred feet away // and it doesn’t matter where we go because we aren’t dying alone anymore // come and gather, girls // this fight’s what we were born for // she busts into the sun // knives blazing into wide jaws // fresh blood // bandana crust // run she says to us // between silver bursts into skin // so we race towards the metal // kick the bikes back as claire cries how we will be remembered // the world will know us by our red hands // they will know us by our dust
in the apocalypse, phoebe bridgers and I do not survive
after phoebe tells me she wants to die, we roll our eyes // there is nothing deader than an indie darling so she was already leagues deep // I slur words and ask her if she likes ohio // enough to live for it // she says no but does anyone and don’t we all exist anyway // the zombies chase after us as we escape our hideaway for one last night // she strikes charli and jack with her spiked bat as we run and it is sick and beautiful like us // our bodies bitten // turning undead // she pushes me towards the tour van and I know where we’re meant to go // our mountain dew-rotted veins drive us home // past the sun like she always wanted // and when we pull over on interstate 71 and look up it is barely there // our sights bleeding away // HELL IS REAL // IF YOU DIED TODAY WHERE WOULD YOU SPEND ETERNITY // and I feel a hunger taking over // a throatfire inside me // right here, phoebe // I say // come nearer, baby
after death cab for cutie
the atlantic was born
because we thought we could swim
unfortunately love is a lake.
like a poem,
there is too much depth
to undress all at once.
the distance expands, turns to weight.
to navigate gaps
through haiku—you said water
was simple, its moves
gaps, crowding spaces up.
i need you so much closer.
unfortunately poetry is never enough,
not for us. in the end
it was the unphysical gestures.
i want to say poems are boats,
but they carry us
only in feeling.
we were word,
unguided and formless—
unfortunately love is a verb.
Not a Cicada Poem
It’s about fireflies,
how, as a child, my mother would fashion
their abdomens into earrings.
Those nights, I’d cry, not
at the cruelty, but the feeling,
the glow on my earlobes
a brittle-cut gorgeous.
While we wore the jewelry, we’d pitch
baseballs over the grass, watch the beanfields
frame the sunset as it deadweight-dropped
over us, draped us in starred space
where we, too, were blinking,
half-dead satellites. I never liked
the light I carried. I never wanted
to burden other bodies
the way their bones burdened me.
When the cicadas came, I worried
what my mother would make of them:
their shells finger puppets on the shelf,
how I’d hate the way they felt on my skin
but I’d never tell.
Privacy Tech Examines Our Long Distance
after Robert Reeve’s tweet thread: https://twitter.com/RobertGReeve/status/1397032784703655938
Even this news feels less devastating than your absence.
I read about how my phone cross-references
my data with the data of those around me,
building networks of information, and it’s heartbreaking,
knowing that Facebook will never spy on
our aggregate metadata. Mark
will never infringe upon our shared conversations,
how you said once that you wanted a Big Mac
but it never affected my UberEats app.
Our advertisements will never be the same—
the toothpaste brands will always be slightly different,
Colgate versus Oral-B. I could coo it’s all about current
location, baby. Think of the damage we’d do
if you’d come see me. But you don’t visit,
and I try not to fantasize about the digital trails
we both leave. How, each night, I wonder
if you track me like a cookie, if
I’m in your browsing history.
Friends, I have gathered you here today
to ask for your hand in lifelong coalescence:
yes, we come together forever and ever
and never stop.
I have seen so many shapes:
Vs of angels, street choirs of geese,
branched roads and nettled square trees,
yet predictably I always return to the circle
and I won’t dwell long on its form but I must say
I see its roundness as a sort of resilience,
how it continues to permeate like ivy.
I am fond of its perseverance (though I won’t expand on it)
but I believe that all good things are round
and if they are not round they are missing
a piece, as Silverstein would say.
Just think. Pies. Heads of bells. Sound itself.
Of course, music is curved. Aren’t we just
wheeling air into song when we sing?
Friends, stick with me, I mean to make my point soon.
We can also apply circles to springtime, to buds.
To bloom is to open, to wait for a wound but widen
anyway, because there is nothing to fear in the form.
It’s fearless, the space. Unbolted, free. See
how there is an inside and outside of the circle, but no corners
to hide behind. A circle is a valley of flowers
and glitter. Shimmer with me for a minute
as we imagine how lovely our lives would be
if we believed we could fold ourselves into more,
a puddling of its soft core:
our wholeness, a full emptiness, our endlessness.
the absence poems: 5/31
5/31: x days before you leave
I feel it coming like a bad heartbeat
and wonder if there will be an after:
how I’ll remake myself and continue past
the moment, if I can fix my own devastation.
Is it possible to live undevastated
with your absence? I don’t want to be your trail
but I can’t forget you either. No joy now.
We carry traces of each other like snow.
You’ve shaken yours off, somewhere, in summer.
I wrap mine around me for a cloak.
Everything I write contains you. I build boxes
to save you. And still I am the one stuck
inside them, clawing at walls. I could yell
get out of me but truthfully I like the haunting,
how your memories call to me when I’m lonely
and I sponge them up with my whole body.
I imagine what you’d say to me. Get over it.
Who cares. We didn’t mean anything.
But everything with you felt like the good ending,
finally living the life you’re meant to be from. Now
I can never write past the middle, and that’s what scares me most—
I don’t know what you’re doing when you’re gone.
Elegy for the Inside
Even you too, now, look dead.
The light migrates to you but there is no brightening,
no readjusting of eyes to new color.
And when the plants die each week
I revive them. We all live on edges,
waiting for our turns to jump
through the walls and into some fresh time-
line full of doors and staircases, any exits
that could lead to birds. I miss the potential
of wings. I have lived in my life so long
that I feel like a tourist. Do you speak
my language? Where is the exit?
Which way do I go?
the absence poems: 5/27 3
5/27: x days before you leave
it seems you’re not leaving anymore
but your absence still lingers heavy
like a greedy ghost
I bet you’re wondering how I’m still
haunted when you’re alive and beside me
(it’s painful, the doubleness)
I want to tell you you’re like a shadow stretching
in multiple directions and consuming
a city and there is no one to stop the darkness
because how can you stop light
(you can’t even close your eyes to it)
you are a body beside me and a body collapsing
before me and the time it takes to reach you
as you go is always too long