mermadic, mercurial, water running cold,
fully clothed. The cookies in my hand crumbled
down the drain, the cut on my lip fresh, still bleeding.
I wanted a fairy tale and instead I was tied to rail road tracks
and nobody cut me free. The train never came
but that’s not the point. I wanted to crawl into your spinal cord.
I wanted to drink you like malt liquor,
like we’re too broke to afford real beer so we buy 4Locos
and forty’s from the bodega on 8th Ave,
and the girls unbutton their shirts and the boys hold their breaths
to make their chests look bigger and the guy at the counter looks away
from his soap opera, tells us to show ID or fuck off,
because we’re like snakes in new skin,
we still don’t fit properly, our bones haven’t adjusted yet.
Also, something about our eyes, flickered down,
voices too strong as we point to the cigarettes,
pulling crumpled bills from our pockets, faintly shaking fingers.
It’s okay. Tommy will pull bottles from his father’s cabinet,
Anna will hide the handles beneath her bed. We’re never
there when they get caught, when mothers contemplate
rehab or military academy or foreign countries.
In Morocco, my grandfather had three horses and one of them,
the youngest one, kicked my uncle in the back one morning
and killed him. After burying her son, my grandmother put her hand
in the horse’s mouth and pulled out it’s tongue.
We’re never there when mother’s break down doors
and force fingers down throats, when girls with bunny ears
vomit on leather seats, when we’re forced into bathrooms,
in July in New York City, children, real children, not like me,
dancing in it’s light.
I put the daisies you gave me in the walk in
freezer out back. Splayed over bagged chicken
cutlets, racks of ribs, they became small.
The entire room hummed, loud at night,
when the shop became something of a museum.
My father’s apron hung on a crooked nail. The gutted
bodies of cows, lambs hanging upside down by their ankles.
Flanks of meat waxy and wan. Upstairs,
my mother asleep and alone in bed.
My father on the other side of this city,
in that Colombian woman’s home,
washing his hands of blood and other guilts.
And you and I, kissing grey and soft, starving
slowly among all we had.
Neither of us looked up when the moon
first came out. Now, fresh dirt under my nails,
fingers rubbing the jut of a rock smooth.
A red hood, an empty basket, the night dark
as a closed fist. I pulled his teeth for trust, not love.
It was the sound that ruined me, the brutality
of dropping stones into the cave of a chest.
The ax, my bowed head, collecting stones
in the quiet swell of my arms. Under the river’s surface,
death became waterlogged, softened.
In the distance, a howl, the moon silver and thin.
"Tell me how you dreamt of charming bees and woke up with a swollen tongue." -Shinji Moon
Baby boys with bear voices
shouting nothing into river streams.
Drowning children by the anklehold,
blinking back flower buds. Water so cold
it felt like light. I lived in a glass house,
told Danny to keep the stones in his chest,
promised he wouldn’t sink, promised I wouldn’t break.
We liked tucking widows into bathroom cabinets,
pushing aside medicine bottles to make room for grief.
We made nooses from our silver linings,
swallowed splinters, filled our bathtubs
with dry wasps and snake skin. Danny sharpened
our teeth with red axes. Put our wedding rings into urns.
We baptized bear boys, christened ourselves with new names,
mouths full of dandelions. Danny dips his fingers
into holy water, and I drink it raw. He pulls off his shirt
but I’m already digging into skin.
Let me pour you a glass of water.
Here, let me give you the keys back,
the empty suitcases, the breaths we took
in the car mid-November, the ignition stuttering for miles.
These are our hips, our shivering fingers,
our mouths warm and ripe. Here are the clementines,
the bullets. The moon filtered like dead weight
through the window, your hand curved over mine,
waiting for someone to see. The bank teller, her rotten teeth,
the way you always burned two bills after we got away.
Your hand on my knee in the get away car.
I spread my thighs in the front seat, you look out
the window, and I say selfish things that’ll make you stay.
Even now, I should apologize for that horse’s broken jaw.
For the sand still stuck in her hooves. The sway of the lighthouse
kept me up that night. All of those missing ships.
Let me refill your glass. Let me go back to the beach,
to the room at the Motel 6. The carpet was broken mirrors,
the highway outside a sort of forever.
I spilled sugar out the window as you counted the cash,
made a point not to look me in the eyes. A phone booth,
the rain, your pocket full of orange peels. Let me go anywhere
but here. Are you thirsty? This house grows bigger
every time you leave, this love swollen and infected,
red and bruised. Let me remind you:
this should have ended this before.
I miss people longer than normal. My mother looks
down at me with pursed lips, says honey do you want
to come out of bed today? I think soft things: a girl,
mouth pressed against metal teeth. A boy, a wrecked
car, highway streaked like light. A woman & a man
in a floral hotel room, pink bruises. I miss you
longer than normal. It’s hard to write a love poem that isn’t a lie.
I’m not doing so well. A robber in a ski mask shot a man
in a deli, headlines say. I know how that felt, soft thoughts:
shoving Hershey bars and Bic lighters into a yellow pillow case,
ears ringing, fingers bruised, dying noises
coming from behind the counter.
A man, a wrecked car, highway streaked like light.
Lips like broken eggs, a kiss like yolk. Fawn throats,
wet with blood, the sky littered with glass. I’m still looking
for my get away car. City lights like the mouth
of a river. Something empty.
You used to pluck flowers from my teeth.
The three old women in the hospital waiting room
have been brushing their hair for two hours.
Somewhere, there is crying. I’m lying
on the carpet of the hospital waiting room,
a boot pressing my chest into the ground.
I’m not wearing a bra. My mother gasps.
The fake plants are dying. A doctor sticks a needle
into my back, brushes my hair soft and pretty.
Licks the sores in my mouth. Tell me,
did you just notice the bruises now?
Somewhere, there is crying, but we don’t worry
about it and we don’t feel sorry. An old woman
is peeling her face off, flaking away.
A girl is crying on the carpet of a hospital waiting room.
It smells like laundry detergent. I am palming your chest.
You touch my hair, soft and pretty. A drunk surgeon
stumbles out of the operating room,
licks the sores in my mouth. I’m waiting
for someone to apologize. Look down.
Hats off in respect. Gloves off in respect.
There was a misunderstanding this morning,
the sky so orange I threw up
on a surgeon’s green gown. Somewhere,
there is crying, hair like snow, drifting soft
and pretty to the ground.
I have a thing about teeth. It was early August. We were high. We were sitting on your porch steps. Your parents were at an Italian restaurant, arguing about your father’s affair. I crushed seven ants with the toe of my Chinese slipper. You were playing with my hands, murmuring something under your breath. I wish I remember what you were saying. I think you started crying at some point, but I was focused on the ugly algae shaped clouds and the circles you were rubbing into my palms. You weren’t loud. I was wearing your summer camp t-shirt. The wood of the stairs splintered thin. “I’m sorry” “It’s not your fault” “That’s not the point.” “What is the point?” Everyone has their pool boys, their secretaries. I remember a dove, slick feathers tucked behind our ears, a shot dove falling from the algae clouds like a miracle. In that dream, you might’ve been crying. Secret: I still check your Facebook page too much. Secret: I still want you. Secret: I never wanted you. I won’t use any metaphors in this. The blossom of an exit wound. The way water can burn too. How a stump can maybe grow into a tree.
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