Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Jungle

I said something stupid to Emily,
last week. I write her an email
to apologize. My regret is sincere
but I keep the tone lighthearted,
because after all I need
to sleep, tonight.
I joke at the end that
like Jorge in The Jungle,
"I will work harder!"
(This cavalier tone is probably
A Mistake. I make enough of them
to know.)
She sends a reply reminding me
how serious this is
and how easy it would be
to hurt her. I already know.
She must not have read
The Jungle. If I thought she had,
I never would have included
the quote. It's what Jorge says
every time he's about to take
the world on his shoulders,
to protect
the people that he loves.
(The reader knows this is
A Mistake. Perhaps Jorge does
as well.) I know I should
reply to Emily, tonight,
but instead I turn out
the lights. Like Jorge,
I take my sleep in
the small places I can find it.


Sunday, April 27, 2014


Everything looks
white today. I held up
my head this morning to the light:
it was white. All the colors
of our window, crushed into
a single rainbow wavelength on our wall.
looks blank today. I spent
the afternoon in our library: white
stacked with white books on the walls,
my eyes fixed on the table
on my papers
white. Everything looks
empty, today. Like the way
computer screens look in the dark, or
the way words fled
out of my head, tonight,
looking at you and
pretending to think. Everything
looks barren today. A fallow
field, static on my handheld
radio. A reflection of
space, but reversed
like all the sky is white and
all the stars are gone.
Everything felt white
today. Not in combination but
without, an absence
like my world without
a place,
like your life without
me. I wanted to see
your colors, but it is
to me.


Friday, April 25, 2014


You grew up in a penthouse
where your friends were maids.
I have never seen a cop car
I have never gotten laid.
Your eyes are brown, like chocolate,
and they fill me with desire,
when your neighbors barn was burning down
I put out the fire.
Once I watched the sun spin
through a thirty-hour day,
sometimes you see colors
but to me the world's grey.
I will never visit Israel
and never see the Wall
when you ask for me to kiss you
I want you to be tall.


Thursday, April 24, 2014


i wanted to be half of a circle,
like the half-moon of your nails:
the night's draped in moonlight, this month's first full,
which falls over campus in veils.

books in a library stacked tight in rows
their colors all scattered to grey,
patches we sewed to make clothing rainbowed
until it grows threadbare and frayed.

nightly i held you, i guarded your worth
my watch marking minutes gone by --
this phone is my anchor: a weight, and a berth
as kind and capricious as sky.

the road home's half-lit, by streetlights and fear,
but our room is darker by far --
i love you, i want you -- you're precious, my dear
your sweetness, your silence, your scars.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

you spent the morning in my hand

you spent the morning in my hand
me waiting for the call we'd planned
my warm phone held so tight, so strong,
left waiting for some firm command.

I've watched its little face so long
ready for her name, its song,
distantly expecting more
but that assumption feeling wrong.

I'm not sure what I want you for
what comfort I think you'll restore
can words intwine our lives anew?
who are you to me anymore?

our lives spill past, our plans fall through
my future changed, and your life grew
your voice and face, my mind has banned
until my phone awakes for you.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

a street

sometimes I turn off the black little face of my phone
so that I can be alone
and not have to worry about you worrying about me.
I know you're expecting me home tonight
but I'm too young to be expected or predicted or usual
I don't want to be important or anticipated or waited on
I just need to be alone
I have to be alone.
sometimes I turn off the blank little face of my phone
so I don't feel at home
I don't want to be at home
have you noticed how little time I spend there
it's not because of family or mem'ries or suburbia
it's not because I hated childhood, it's because I'm too well denied
living inside a set of lines, that I made -- for my life.
I don't need to be spontaneous or individual or adventurous
I don't want to be a rebel, hopping freight trains like my father
so the only lines that defined him were the tracks he runs over and the states that he crosses
I don't need to be my sister, hitchhiking down the coast because 11th grade got complicated
and you can be sure that the pencil strokes of her note weren't the only lines she left behind
but I don't need to defy
I don't need to defy
I just need to not -- be defined
can you understand.
can you understand why sometimes I turn off the blank little face of my phone
even in a room full of people
just so I know that no one who loves me
can find me
and this isn't a cry for help, it's a plea for understanding can you understand
that I'm not -- old enough to be at home
I don't -- want to be at home
but this place is beginning to feel -- familiar
this room is as messy as the one I grew up in
you are as constant as a cat or a mother -- or a street
how can you be a street, without a home
you are -- a home
I am -- at home with you
but I don't want to be at home
I can't be at home
do you understand.
do you understand why sometimes I turn off the blank little face of my phone?



it smells like rain.
it smells like rain, and I only feel safe in the shadows.
it smells like rain and I only feel safe in the shadows, which worries me.
I only feel safe in the shadows: which only worries me at night
like poems only worry me at night
because every day is a flood
of forgetting and forgetting and remembering
discussing imagining considering
and forgetting again,
replacing each thought with something new until nothing stays anymore
a cycle that feeds and fills your life, unless
you are forgetting the only thing worth while.
right now the only thing worthwhile is that it smells like rain.
it smells like rain, and I only feel safe in the shadows.


Little Corner

I wish
I could write
I wish I could tell you all the goddamned things
that inundate my brain,
creep in, tendrils of unease --
how I grasp at friendship in
the unlikeliest of places,
and thrust aside
old friends I have,
how I watch my email count grow higher
and higher,
but never respond and yet
can hold conversations for hours in places
uncommon, uncomfortable, home,
how I try to comfort the woman
who wants me to hold and I hurt
one I wanted myself.
I wish I could explain
how alone I feel, not here,
in every spoken moment of my life
how alone I feel, surrounded,
in a crowd.
I wanted to tell you
that I feel connected in this
dark, lonely room
that I feel alive here
that I feel at home, here,
that I don't
feel the same
in this little corner
of life ---



She sits there in
the front seat.
She sits there with her eyebrows
illuminated by the glow of music,
with her mouth a regular,
even shade of indifferent,
with a hand left lazily
at her side.
I'm used to seeing her
in extremes: body
tense, eyes tense
standing ready in
that same stance,
looking past me.
I'm used to seeing her
dancing, her hair
backflipping over itself,
I'm used to seeing her
in control, collected,
dressed in proper blue
feminine clothing, I'm used
to seeing her
in extremes:
but here she is
in between, sitting there
inattentive, inactive,
a gradient
of herself --
and my eyes waiting wondering,
wishing to see more of her
between extremes


Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I have to wonder how you knew
Edvard Munch.
I try to imagine myself three or six
years ago, at Your Age,
sitting naked before him
for hours. Did your mother
know about this?
Who brought an old man
into your bedroom?
Who took off your shirt,
your skirt,
your long white stockings?
Who arranged your lank dark hair
just so, behind your shoulders,
leaning across you to make sure
that it stayed? Who placed
your hands between your legs,
rested your palms so softly
on your skin
your arms left straight, still -- stiff?
Aren't you afraid
to move? Aren't you afraid
of shifting, of smiling, or of
whoever's shadow lingers
on your bedroom wall? And
aren't you cold? I heard
it was cold in Norway -- I can imagine
your skin, shivering, numb
everywhere, except where the warmth
of a hand rests on your thigh ---

Written to Edvard Munch's "Puberty"