& 4

if i stay up miracles might happen
isn't that how the angel came to mary
gabriel, she was
gabriel said, you're you and
everyone had to listen because
grace is something you always stop for.
i stop for you.
i stopped for you immediately
i wanted to change your life
if it felt like something cold i wanted
to bring wood for fires and show you warmth
and if it was hot,  ice cubes for your water
your skin is like a sweater i put on when i feel like
just one person
but now i'm two
now there's you my my.
if i stay up for miracles
if i keep my fingers clicking i might
fall into a hole
will you be there? i don't know
are we going inside?


there was a man with penny gold eyes
he told me, i'm not made of things
you can see or feel but 

touch me  anyway
 i said okay,
i said okay and i did
but i felt him
"i feel you"
"you feel nothing"

"define nothing"
our eyes stood there
he said
do you have a cigarette
i said
do you have a song
and he sang me one 

 i said i feel everything
you must have your nothings all mixed up.


i wonder how many times i've said
'if i play this song will you hear me'
you say nothing
the blanket is over your nose so i know
it must be late
but the smoke never hurt your eyes
and i wonder what it means 
till one day you'll wake up and you'll say
you hurt my eyes
and what then?
what will i do then
its christmas eve, i think, because its 3 am
on december 24th but
i didn't know
i said when i have babies i'll tambourine man them
and they'll have little moons for hands and songs for fingers.
last winter  i wrote like christmas was the end of a cigarette.
just like this.
this never happens.

last year i was bloody
blood on my hands, down my thighs
i had a song on no one knew but maybe heard in a nightmare,
if i sang it would you pretend you didn't know me? "building a still"
i wonder what i thought woods were when i was little
maybe like falling asleep
maybe like cold air
no, i had no idea.
if i am a poet i fell down a well and no one has found me
do we send down buckets on ropes? i never learned
where do we get our water
where do we get our air
i never loved anyone like the way your skin meets mine
but you're not here
my lamp has flowers on it but it's not fooling anyone
my heart is like that story of the sword in the stone
 but i wouldn't tell you unless you asked
 and you never ask me anything.


it is not 3:38 am. tomorrow but really today is not christmas eve, i am not writing poems drinking water listening to mr. tambourine man on repeat, your hand is not on my heart.

not done? not done

if you are picturing christmas lights strung up where the walls meet a ceiling, you are right on target. if you are picturing an "american beauty" poster half ripped off a mental-ward-white wall you're right on key. days back then were like poems you write out and then chuck, balled up papers around a garbage can. i'd sit on the window ledge of the 12th floor sky-rise, the window cracked as much as was permitted, a lit joint between my fingers, alive. the buildings across the street were so close, the space between a customer and a bartender, the lights in the windows like television screens. we existed then, mid-air, a moment in the crowded nuances of life that i still have in the palm of my hand, i still have it. i'd have spoonfuls of peanut butter for dinner and refill a glass of ice water repeatedly, i'd write poems all day and night, skip class and play joni mitchell. your hands i kept in a box on my desk in my head and whenever i felt sad i'd touch them.

you met me on the corner of 65th and 3rd and we greeted each other clumsily, tripping over hellos, a hug or no hug, we thought, and then kissed because our mouths were sure that was the right thing to do. we walked into a starbucks, i remember the way you held the door open for me, i remember the people sitting along the counter, i see them clearly still, a colorful cluster of humans.  i don't remember what we ordered but it was snowing, the hot drink in my gloved hands most definitely involved a little egg nog but the cinnamon i found in you.
in winter the city is an actor, it's a playwright, a newborn snowfall and lit up store windows slow dance and sometimes they play jazz, the cymbals crashing softly against your heart. "heaven is a snow globe" i remember thinking while we walked.  we stood in the elevator of my building, heated hearts, i leaned against the silvered shining wall and there were roses blooming from my lungs. i knew you knew, after all of the attempts at forgetting, and you knew i knew back. you climbed up the ladder to my loft bed, your face i had memorized and yet i still could not breathe. we were feathers and air, thats all. i know we were because this was the last time, after that the air sipped us like hot tea until there was nothing else. i can't remember what you look like.

Its bearings on Cair Paravel

-i can't stop thinking of that game we used to play.

-i was always all bruised up.

-i loved your bruises. little universes. 
they were the only way to tell that you were real.

-i'm not.
your eyes were so blue.
your eyes were a foggy ocean.

-they are no longer blue. without you i am no longer myself.
i am limbless, my vital organs are just cold air and the world fell asleep, shaking from the nightmares, a cold sweaty earth.

-but i have always tried to explain life to you in musical terms.
but i have always looked to you for words like foggy ocean.

-you were sitting in the middle of the street.
you left me, you were sitting in the middle of the street, alone.

-because the distance never mattered.
there was always a nagging and irresistible impulse to walk home.

-and home? home where?

-it's a plural. a morphing plural. you were a home, i swear you were.

- but you are a list of homes. i want a list of homes.

-everyones hands are a list of homes.
you look at yours, you press them to your face.
petting horses, their eyes open or closed.
dolphin sounds, honey kisses.

"i love you too"
tea steam, under covers.

keep going?
squeezing hands, touching eyes.
"i saw you standing in the corner
on the edge of a burning light."
an ice skating piano.
remember the smoke and the end of that movie? the snow?
remember the bar and that nirvana song, your notebook.
we will live in a house full of piles of lists of homes and then we will be free.


-the wind is blowing really hard. i never said i was a dream and i never claimed to be a dreamer, you said i could fly so i tried, i looked in foggy oceans, i always drowned. if it rains i'll think of you.

so this is what that feels like.

this winter:
otis redding, nick cave, tom waits, the magnetic fields, okkervil river,
neko case, joni mitchell, the velvet underground & the rolling stones.

“I will go directly to her home, ring the bell, and walk in. Here I am, take me-or stab me to death. Stab the heart, stab the brains, stab the lungs, the kidneys, the viscera, the eyes, the ears. If only one organ be left alive you are doomed-doomed to be mine, forever, in this world and the next and all the worlds to come. I’m a desperado of love, a scalper, a slayer. I’m insatiable. I eat hair, dirty wax, dry blood clots, anything and everything you call yours. Show me your father, with his kites, his race horses, his free passes for the opera: I will eat them all, swallow them alive. Where is the chair you sit in, where is your favorite comb, your toothbrush, your nail file? Trot them out that I may devour them at one gulp. You have a sister more beautiful than yourself, you say. Show her to me-I want to lick the flesh from her bones.”

September 3, in traffic, your cell phone.

cross-legged, i faced her.
the clock was too loud for the office.
we could very well have fallen into a remarkably quiet room 
from a scene in a very bad film.
or, i thought, it was placed there methodically;
it added a certain air of drama that i'm sure she got off on.

the room was filled with a myriad of different stacks of paper.
i said "you have a lot of piles" and immediately regretted it.
"piles make more piles and then you just have more piles am i right?"
she said really fast, her pen moving like an insect.
 i watched the ink dry. i said yes, you're right, yes. 
what else could i say?

"I want to make SURE you understand that this question is specifically asking if you ever feel these things when you are NOT yourself."
the room may or may not have been on fire.
"how do i know when i am not myself and when i am?"
i responded, hands in my lap. ("how-am-i-not-myself?")
she said, "when you are not yourself" 
& looked at me, eyes half open like an irritated parent.
i blinked and sighed, she waited.
i had nothing.

my leg was shaking.
she said, "you're a hummingbird."
i said "pretty." and then we sat there,
me the hummingbird and her, pen in hand, all those piles.
the clock still tap dancing,  the seconds slapping against the air
its minute hands on me, ticking.
i thought of people clapping but slowly, which was disturbing.

there was a painting on the wall of a balcony overlooking a beach.
i supposed it was there to make me feel calm.
she watched me and i watched her back.
i tried to imagine being there on that white wooden deck.
the air would be warm and a lot like a hug, probably.
i could only think of you.

December 1st

your glossy eyes are like the covers of magazines
light that teaches light that teaches light.
i fall into it, i'm waist deep, that sickly sweet and come out right here

today i would like to lie on my back in prospect park
but i will settle for your bed
you'll walk around in your t-shirt and i'll watch you like a film
your bed without you in it: a gutted goldmine.

i said reading you is equivalent to ripping all of your clothes off on a train. a loud naked silence, a foamy sea of mouths and eyes and you. as if i dropped the f bomb to a teacher, the word ticking in the air and the slippery smoke of the cymbals in your heart left swinging. with you there's this sky i found, there's a cloudless sky i live in.

tonight i would like to explain everything.

before it's over

last year i thought the month of december is always just like a sneeze. you feel it coming, the tickling up, snow falling in your brain, the buzz of nothing, a heart sighing upward & then it's out and it's over, the settle, and goodbye.  whispering "goodnight you." this year i think love is like the end of the world, always coming but never here. everyday is a day, everyday there's a day. i swing on branches, my palms cut up and sore from the cold tree life, our antler hands.

i want you to touch me
in exchange for winter love songs .

jack of hearts

you could be my mr. fox
you could be my henry miller.

the storm

the girl in my dream popped two vicodins and let you fuck her
her eyes open & then her eyes closed.
in a dream i put my sister in a white garbage bag and threw it over the ledge of a train station in brooklyn, the body landed on the tracks and a train came splitting her right in half, the pieces everywhere.

there is a time for calm and content and then there is that urgency.
when a poem screams i stop to listen,  a hungry infant at 4am
when a song is on i feel its reverence and when love is lost i kiss you.

this dream has a smell on it's shirt
it has hands, it has a birthday and a credit card

i don't have a sister.


i thought i was tired but instead stayed up to write this list of the things you smell like, my arms wrapped around a pillow; something i've never done.

to me:
1. a room i remember but have never been inside
2. pine trees
3. sweet potatoes
5. cloves
6. skin.
7. sweat
8. and cut grass in early winter air

I bet when birds fly together it feels like being at a concert. I bet when you hold me time gets really, really jealous. I swear I'll never tell a soul.


I feel like I'm running but I haven't moved. I think it's because we're spinning.
No, I'm spinning and you're standing still. No, you're not standing still, you're walking at a steady space to a future you hold in your head and I'm spinning in place with your hands and mouth on my mind.

meant somethings

 i have read and re-read this numerous times

to have (hav; also, as before “to'' haf)
transitive verb had (had; unstressed, həd, əd), having hav′·ing
    1.    to hold in the hand or in control; own; possess

    2.    to possess or contain as a part, characteristic, attribute, etc

    3.    to be affected by or afflicted with

    4.    to possess by way of experience; experience; undergo

    5.    to possess an understanding of; know

    6.    to hold or keep in the mind

    7.     to gain possession, control, or mastery of

    1.    to get, take, receive, or obtain

    2.    to consume; eat or drink

titles are scary.

it's like this. i won't get to sleep without getting these sentences down, black & white; subsisting and mortal. it's like this: start thinking about the beginning and end of a human heartbeat and you might never really sleep again. sure your eyes are closed but your breathing never steadies, your brain doesn't take walks in the park it opens windows and then falls out of them.

you were looking at me earlier, your sunset eyes, and i thought, if the space between our mouths does not dissolve i cannot promise that i won't fall down and then lay there mapping out the theoretical requirements to convert to a creek or some other quick-moving body of water.

i thought it but i didn't say anything, i stayed quiet and just stood there against the wall like a tree that's been rooted since before we were born, the space between our mouths still sitting there, an empty parking lot.

jeffrey eugenides

the doctor looked at me gravely and asked me to read his name tag out loud. i said "jeffrey eugenides," who is the prodigious author of "the virgin suicides" and "middlesex." his name tag did not say this. he had small eyes and a thick ring on his index finger. at the time i found this response quite hilarious and very relevant. he did not, not even a little. i laughed lackadaisically, a laugh that belongs in space, everyone looking at me blankly. the nurse was holding my hand in hers but i couldn't feel it. the outlines of the people were vague and melting and the floor wasn't under me but inside of my brain being walked on by serial killers. i was crying, the kind that has no tears, i whispered, "you don't understand, i just fell in love."  
in this story, in my story the nurse says "no, no it's just the drugs" but in the nurses she just says "i promise you're not dying." you squeezed my hand three times.

things that really happened

i stood in the freezing cold outside the bar clutching a heineken while you showed me the pictures.  i pretended i wasn't shaking and you pretended you weren't sad and the night sky pretended it didn't watch us, the opening of some mediocre film about life.

you asked me how long it's been and no, i couldn't answer because time has no arms or legs in my stories so i said it's been awhile, i said it's been a really fucking long time. i know because i'm almost ready, the blood is on the brink of shouting out your name & even if it's a whisper i'll take it and make it beautiful, even if it's just me crunching fall leaves under a new pair of boots. i wrote "cinnamon mouths" on a slip of paper and prayed you knew what i meant, that we'd get there, on our feet or maybe in a jet plane.

we weren't face to face then and we had not yet held hands but you named the freckle above my lips meg white & said my eyes were emeralds.

 I'm tired.

it's autumn

 things i won't mention in casual conversation
 but will probably be thinking about the whole time we speak:

  •  the way your girlfriend at the time leaned against the wall awkwardly when your friend next to her told me i was beautiful, she said "yeah, you're just a firecracker, aren't you" like i did something wrong. i probably did something wrong.
  •  "it's the one with the most warning labels."
  •  the universal facial expressions & hand gestures most people make when their team correctly guesses their pantomime in charades completely embody how my heart feels when i see you.
  •  i vividly remember walking home in brooklyn one day in high school past greenwood cemetery with "harvest moon" by neil young on repeat thinking about whether or not it meant something that i sometimes die in my dreams.  
  • the x-ray technician told me i looked like his girlfriend in high school, i felt nostalgic, for which one of us i don't know.
  • about three or four years ago my therapist told me to make a timeline, make a timeline she said, because you have no idea whats happened, so how can you know what's happening now? last night in bed i thought: here where?
  •  i only go to see if you're there. 

    bangbang, i shot you down

    she was born in black water; light-less murky waters
    there were no boats but many people scattered, people sinking
    bobbing up and in, their arms waving like kites against a pitch black sky
    they noticed her glowing, her first breaths of life, this small creature
    she was handed to me by a stranger as the others were all drowning
    "i'll be right back" the stranger said and fled 

    and i knew that she was gone for good
    the infant grew really fast and she grew really pretty
    it was only five minutes later & she was already ten and long legs
    her hair was up, falling in her face and she said i remember it was night
    and the people were crying, i remember you humming
    and holding me, you were singing bob dylan to me in dark, dark water.

    the opposite of a slowpaced jog

       autumn is antsy and climbing up my legs.

    when i walked the clouds were all behind me, running away from this town and i didn't blame them, not even a little. the sun was a tired old dog with no leash, steadily trailing. 

    a conversation in which you strongly emphasize there is nothing left here for us to save. our eyes do not meet but our brains look at each other closely.

    -you, on the stairs
    -love is an unquenchable thirst.

    radio cures

    around you i think of rehabilitation centers
    itchy hands, dark eyes, swollen-hearted

    i watch you blink and the world blinks with you

    i watch you forget something you never really ever knew, not really.

    i could stop sleeping with your shirt if i wanted to
    i could stop thinking your kiss is like a sip of cold water
    i could stop opening and closing these doors
    i could stop crying if i want to

    i could stop wondering how many times
     men mention their fathers at bars after they've had one too many
    wondering how much of sex is love and how much of love is sex
    i could stop wondering how much of love 
    is watching someones face falling.
    someones body crack, and move, 
    watching life treat them like a bad bruise
    i could stop wanting to put ice on it
    i could stop wanting to hold all of your pieces.  

    over and over and over

    1. face to face,.
    our eyes doing all the talking; golden and calm. if we spoke the words were like the soft rhymes of childrens hand games in the background somewhere, the grip was held in the air around us and all the blood and muscles that god or science put in my heart were stuck in my hands wanting all of yours.

    2. our legs under the wooden table
    no one else existed but god did they try.

    3. driving through woods that wished they were jungles, wet and green, the deer all huddled by a pond, stock-still and staring back at us, them in our dream and us in theirs.

     4. the sky was a pink blue, if you can picture that, if you could understand, it was soft and the clouds reminded me of the lava lamps i always wanted in elementary school, it was moving, so were we.  i strained to look up and watch it, to watch you, your eyes were like a chocolate fudge brownie and if the grass was hard i never noticed.  if god was crying i could only hear you.

    5. breathing into a silicone oxygen mask covering my nose and mouth, my eyes feeling like two melting sunsets, closed they were cloudless night skies. your hands  would shake my hands, twice you'd bounce them up then down, they said don't go and i didn't want to, i wanted the mask to be you, breathe into me i should have said. when you said my name it was like someone looking for a lost dog, your eyes were big and wet and lovely, my lungs were small and cold, you put your arms around me or i inhaled, both felt the same, indistinguishable.

    all my titles are times of night

    things i should be writing about
    instead of playing "machine gun" by portishead over and over:
    • boys with lisps.
    • the smell of tea tree oil & the heavy door open, the screen door closed, the 6th street brooklyn wind breezing through into your bedroom, a book always on the table next to your bed.
    • water on water, rain on a swimming pool, rain on a river.
    • the end of summer closing in and i never thought it would come to this, somehow.
    • there's a hand on my leg and it's moving.
    • the scene in "the little princess" at her birthday party where the teacher said very seriously "you are alone in the world" - an off screen line with a blurry background and a black balloon that suddenly popped after she said it. i never did like balloons.
    • standing on the toilet seat holding the stall door open in my catholic high school building to see if my knees looked okay in my skirt, if my knees felt okay, the weight still buckling, the things written on the walls there that may or may not have broken my heart, that may or may not still be here, the caves crumbling.
    • when the horses jumped into the ocean, that's when i left the theater.
    • consistent spiritual nurturing. (?)
    • heads pressed on a buzzing railroad track. "you are waiting for a train. a train that will take you far away. you know where you hope this train might take you, but you can't be sure." the rest never mattered.
    • there was a sun shower.
    • and then there was fog.
    • someone is going to die.

    love minus zero / no limit

    so if you don't mind, if you don't mind we should slow dance barefoot on wooden floors without music on, because kissing you feels like not killing deer.


    A man in a large truck asked me directions to the name of a road I didn't recognize; "I'm visiting" I was saying. I said, I'm a visitor, and kept running.

    my lungs are currently learning to tie their shoe laces, over and over,in and out and through the loop like the poem about the bunny to help you learn, I can feel it all.
    If this isn't love I'm afraid of what is.
    I say hello because this is the rising and what else can I do but greet it? Dip under its waves, like a dive but less graceful. You come upwardly and the world cracks open, with a voice smooth and languid, "the things life forgets to be" it's saying.  You're about to feel so good you'll confuse it with feeling nothing, this is a numbness like the afterlife.
    This is a free-form fox trot in your rawboned, compact arms and  it's up to you, I'm stock-still and the clock in this building sounds like the end of the world so move my bones for me before I freeze.

    If we're speaking technically only hell could rise; the heavens would just sink, like melting ice cream down the cone. If we're speaking technically heaven and hell could only meet in the middle and grab our hands unapologetically, they might say some things and you'll probably pretend you understand but I know it sounds like a whispering piano and if you said you spoke its language I'd know it was a lie.
    We're not sure where we're heading but the sky is a dark singing blue.
    We're not sure where were heading but the letters of your name are like blank white pages in a notebook and my hands feel like the pen pressing with the ink. 
    Tell me you love me so much you'll turn me inside out. I said, this isn't about sex and you said the minute I said that it became about it, specifically.  I sink, i swim, you're right but you're wrong. I've made up my mind so many times it's become a bed you twisted and turned in all night, a mess of white sheets you slept in with nightmares you never thought you'd survive, i've made up my mind and what a tragedy, I've made up my mind and what a one man show.

    letters from jamaica

    when the time on the digital clock is three of the same numbers in a row it makes me nervous. remember that night i played "buckeye jim" by burl ives in your room over and over? i was laying in your bed looking up at the ceiling, it was probably looking back. what it was thinking i'll never know for sure  but  it probably thought that if songs could bruise this girl would leave them battered. and oh the things i have torn up and spit out, you could make a fountain, you could swim in it, or throw your pennies in it for wishes, i guess, or whatever. if i had a claw-foot bathtub i'd get in it right now with sunglasses on and let the bubbles do the talking, let the water do the writing. i'd look at my fingers and they'd be wrinkling slowly, indenting like the water was looking for ways past the skin -- "away we go" we say, like it's that easy. there is something big about this time of night but it's a secret so don't tell. i wonder if the sky cries cerulean when the sun starts to climb up inside of it, maybe every night it says "no" but ever so softly, how a night sky only could. the sun will never listen, not ever maybe, like a heart that won't slow down or  three bright red numbers in a military line glowing in a dark room. 

    moss & high heels

    we fall through time and space like lewis carrolls' alice chasing that rabbit with the pocket watch, down the hole. i always imagined it hot and muddy, sweaty soil with eight eyes like a spider watching our awkward human falls curiously and without blinking.  what could the rabbit be? metaphorically speaking. that thing you are chasing? the eluding constellation you follow and grab at, the songs in the back of your head. i am only just skin and bones, blood and indecision, i think, but when i write it out it i know it is a lie.
    i remember you telling me about daddy long legs in our backyard in brooklyn when i was small, they're rare, you said. it is important not to hurt them you told me and i thought, but it's important not to hurt anything? this is what we know before we find out that humans are like fire, brains and hearts are flames for certain and the hurting is inevitable, the destruction grows with your arms and ears and before you know it you're long-legged on your fifth cup of coffee and there's 1-800 numbers calling all afternoon to tell you there is money to be paid, money owed. before you know it there is love owed too, and love to borrow, there is love to furrow in and die.

    have a lovely evening

    excuse me sir, i say, we talk and talk, the words sound like a knock-knock joke in my head. whose there? the things needing cold are kept in the refrigerator and the things needing cooking are put in the stove, so where do my hands go? and your heart? my shoes squeak on the floor but no one takes notice, or they do but don't show it, perhaps they are thinking of birds or of foxes or of the tiny buttons for the radio in their silver toyota. the mans mouth moves and only after i walk away do i wonder where i was looking on his face and where he was looking on mine, he had a silver ring and glasses pushed slightly too far down his nose, but it suited him. i laugh when i'm supposed to as opposed to when i'm not and when i walk away i do it casually, the nonchalance ringing in my ears like a fire alarm,  why are we in this room? it is nice when you touch my hands. why was she doing all the talking for her daughter? what does she dream of?  what makes her suffer? why are we pretending i'm a waitress and you're dining at this restaurant and the worlds not spinning at all and bloods not being shed and there's no such thing as love or fate, of crying or laughing so hard there's no way you could ever get a word to come from your belly and out of your mouth. it didn't matter to you and it still doesn't, i walked outside and the sky was making breathing noises so i closed my eyes and accepted my fate.


    something is off.

    where is it not the truth?
    we talk over each other
    i cried that night
    don't tell anyone
    tell everyone.
    i cried that day, too
    because he meant it and so did i - always.
    & everyone laughed because i don't think anyone knows what to do with beauty anymore and there was a nervous sound in the laughter like a heroin addict joking with his dealer when all he cares about is that next hit. just get this over with, he's thinking. just give the world to me hard, give the world to me unequivocally and with that numb lusting vigor and if afterwords i'm brave enough to find a way to get you in my head i'll spin you a story so bruised you'll think you're in love, it's a story so love-hungry it wraps its arms around you and never lets you go.


    there's thirty nine minutes left so the words are swift and sweaty, we're running and can't tell time on purpose. tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, yeah tomorrow, was my lullaby;  never was my reality. 

    i wish you'd pick me up, i wish tonight you said, kerry i know you know art, you won't have to say you're an artist because I'll say you're an artist. the woman at the bar said paintings weren't functional art, explaining how function had to do with food and glasses and the things we need to survive and everyday workings & all i could think about were the bed-headed men and women in their cabins or their city lofts, typewriters or canvases & three day old cups of coffee stained crumpled pieces of paper on floors and the fresh ones with prayers not to god, but to people, their dreams like keyboards clicking. i told her real art is eaten just like food and drunk just like water but she wasn't from my world and somehow no one is so sip your drink and tell your stories but when the colors crash i hope you're not one of them, when the soil sings i know you won't be part of any of it.

    i am writing this by candlelight not because it's poetic but because this is where life has brought me, band-aids and bruises and loves i could never, ever explain. when my heart beats it sings and no matter what you or i say this could never be untrue, not after one beer or two, not after your chair makes that awkward sound, not after your hands have been on my hips, not after i'm alone in my bed. that's the thing, that's the thing, i wanted to say. you have no idea what you're talking about, people rarely do . it's the ones that stay quiet that know, i think. it's the wax that stays thick, the smell like something you swallow that sticks to your skin, one day love will be just like this, i tell the children in my bones, someday.
    i was born here, but i can't find home. 
    you see, he didn't mind chewing the pills because they tasted like what was coming and what was coming was nothing at all, all the nothings chiming, all the lovers coinciding. i pushed you down because you belonged there and the world can't move if we're standing still so tell me i'm beautiful cause god knows i won't believe you unless you drill it into my skin. unless you can get me so clean i won't be twelve years old scrubbing my knees in the shower like there's dirt there unseen.


    i write because there's a feeling in my belly like air that's done too many drugs, air but with letters, a and b and e f g's not chords like guitars but chords like heart tendons and if you don't find a way to make this into words the breaths of your lungs dissipate, the lives in your life evaporate.  you were never singing, you were never loved, your fingers never made a sound. let's try this one more time. if i said i hated you its because i have no off button, if i said i hated you it's because the sand in my hourglass-heart called out our names, bravery it yells and i don't care, i don't care how loud the world wants to say it i don't have the right color blood, the timing is off. i wrote you a letter and put it in the mailbox, it said have you ever read by candlelight? it said, do you, can you read my candleslights? i wrote dear you: if i was made of fire could you keep me lit? everyday the mailman looks at me and his eyes say "nothing yet" his eyes were the rejection letters from colleges i would've been too afraid to go to. this is how i love you.

    hey, i have stories.

    it doesn't matter that it's 6pm and i've got a caffeine buzz and bob dylan has been shaking the walls of my room for an hour.  it doesn't matter that it's so hot and not the kind that makes you sweat but the kind that sits under skin like an extra layer of hate or lust or guilt and tugs at your senses like a kid that wants a lollipop.

    three days ago i used the word reprieve in a car service talking to the driver about the heat. "there's just no," and three dots past, "reprieve," i said.  he paused and made a noise like a backwards explanation point and said that it was the perfect word to use and i think he was surprised to hear it, the word, for some reason and i can't stop thinking about it, those three minutes out of a twenty four hour day, three days later.

    three days ago i saw a segment on the news about wild wolves. there were warnings, the word dangerous was used more than once but residents of the area were asked not to shoot the animal themselves but rather to call the authorities to do it for them. the female newscasters voice was like a headache on it's way, like a warning about war. please, i thought. the wolves. bon iver sings "solace my game - it stars you" and i think the wild things are a threat because they reminds you specifically of love.

    three days ago you said "your eyes are hazel tonight" and i would be lying if i said it didn't break my heart that they weren't ever hazel for you before, or always. it's a pretty word, hazel. i looked it up and came across a question someone had posed, they wanted to know if hazel was a color, they were questioning it's existence, it's absoluteness.
    the answer they were given i read over and over, sitting indian style, the heat under my skin still whispering. "hazel is like saying "rainbow" is a color. hazel's rainbow is of the color spectrum from light brown to green to yellow to blue and various shades of these colors in between."  this was a home run right through the everyday buzzes of my brain, a fly ball right from my heart.
    i guess it hurt when you said it because this is how i want you to love me, from light brown to green to yellow to blue. i guess it hurt because kerry is like saying the sky is a person, like it has insides and can love and be loved in return.
    three days ago the moon called me up on my cell phone, it vibrated like the end of the world and it asked me to call it sun not as in fathers but as in that light, i close my eyes. there are so many different kinds of light & everything shines, unless it is buried.
    what i mean is just dig me up.

    you weren't hearing it.

     none of us exist
    unless we are screaming.
    i never, ever scream
    i stay quiet and write poems.
    hopefully they scream for me, hopefully the veins in their necks look like the guard rails on railroad tracks and buzz like them too, press your fingers here to see just how close we are.
    i am not a philosopher and i'm not a scholar,
    i am not a student of linguistics, or medicine
    i write poems and then i fall asleep right after like writing them was running a marathon and sometimes i dream about the end of the world and wake up sweaty, sometimes bruised, like a twister picked me up in my slumber and threw me around.  i have hazel eyes that have been described as loaded but also soft and i don't know how it is possible to be both and when i was little i walked with my feet turned in instead of out. i will not tell you what i'm good at but i might want you to notice, regardless. i will not fit in because my pieces are broken and their veins show. "keep it together" i beg them.  how can pieces keep it together?
    the answer is they can't, and they tell me, shaking their heads.
    always with the shaking of the heads.


    listen, i swam to the bottom of it all
    i found another world
    it tasted like chlorine and it felt like maybe you and i could be ten years old
    ten years old but wise
    ten years old but there was electricity in our blood
    our bodies said, yes, simultaneously
    and it wasn't chlorine anymore but a warm light that we swam through
    and called heaven, "wanting christening" i thought he said
     but now that's always how i hear it.

    they weren't kidding when they said love is like a car crash
    they weren't lying when they said love is like a flock of doves

    i could say i was born to write that down but
    the truth is i couldn't tell you why i was born at all
    i just know when its coming
    i think i said it
     "It's coming , " i said.
    it's happening.

    if we're being honest i don't care much for Robert Frost
    i don't care much about his two diverged roads, and the one less taken
    or how hard we were expected to analyze them in high school
    i knew there was more
    there were roads in my heart, thruways and highways
     and the narrow bumpy streets of Calcutta.
    there were headlights in your eyes that i couldn't take my eyes off of.
    they weren't kidding when they said love is like a car crash.


    when i was young i'd see how far down the street i could walk with my eyes closed, you know, without bumping into trees or tripping over.
    lately i've been contemplating how much of love is really just hate, in a cape and mask, stirring in the blood stream & singing exceedingly slow songs.  lately i know in the end a sparks a spark and the river just a river.

    when you look at me the world slides and hangs there. the sky falls over and lands on it's back, face up and holds its hands out but i can never grab them, i can't reach.

    i ate it up when you said what you said, my heart did push-ups when you said the things you said until it's arms got so tired i couldn't feel or see or hear a thing.
    i digress.

    because the only things i remember from elementary school are how chlorophyll kept the greens green and that guerrilla warfare was always a surprise attack and i'm not sure what that means but i'm pretty sure it means something.

    only if you want to, baby.

    i assassinate love like a god damn professional
    with her feet hanging through a stair-well smoking a cigarette and fancy boots.

    we should start a club
    it will be the i don't know what i'm talking about usually but the words come out like different flavored jelly beans, they make a sound when they land on the floor that reverberates in my brain and makes it hard to think straight club. we will have a secret hand shake and a series of tests for new applicants that we'll never let in.

    i couldn't breathe when we drove by that cemetery , but i kept it to myself. i could tell you loved me because of the way you squeezed the steering wheel and the noise the leather made from your maybe sweaty hands.

    you're the notes i slip into my pocket, you're a shrug of the shoulders

    & this is a road with no stop signs.


    tonight was strange.
    what nights aren't?
    what day is it even? ah the 29th.
    june 29th, okay.

    you said, milk is good for bones baby girl so drink up, you're breaking, i can't hear you through all this breaking.  milk is good for your teeth, darling, so take small sips - you're all cream and sugar but mine are empty hands, crying fingers. in my mind i ask you to hold the cup for me, like i'm a child, or very sick, maybe put in a straw - the thick kind with red lines. in my mind i ask you to put my head in your hands but instead i watch the mosquitoes spin in circles around the light bulb begging it for something  other than it's light, it's only power.

    widows and orphans

    i'm not here
    a poem took me, it picked me up
    it's carrying me on its shoulders
    so we'll catch you later, babyface
    we'll find you later, maybe.

    i'm not here
    the words are carrying me like ants on their backs
    like that childrens song
    the ants go marching two by two
    "hoorah, hoorah" / bruises on my thighs
    & i'm hugging thin air
    it says it's sorry, "i'm only made up of invisible gases"
    of mostly nitrogen and oxygen
    of mostly things you cannot hold or see but only think of fondly
    when you look out the car window.
    i remember one of them stopped to tie their shoe, the little one
    it's always the little ones
    i think i need to see your face
    i think i need to break our hearts & hear the thunder

    hollywood ending

    in my head i look at the people around, one's talking to me and walking at the same time with their hands and arms, their story involves some past event but i focus on the way they touch their face and step with their ankles turned in- i can't hear what you're saying.
    in my head i look at the people around
    they are sitting on bar stools
    and in their lounge chairs, legs up
    and in their coffee shops
    and at their picnics
    and they ask me things and they tell me stories
    and the lips inside my mind say shhhhh
    they say hush, it's important you listen
    to something else but your voice
    and mine
    it's important you  make a decision
    i want you to feel it all
    or i want you to feel nothing
    when i say it all i mean a big fire and when i say nothing i mean ice
    when i say i'm tired i mean it past blood past bones past brain patterns and lies to questions
    and people who can't sing on key but want to and people that say okay when they know it'll hurt and people who fly and the people who sink, i'm tired, that is what i am saying.

    i think i should see your face

    if i said that when i accidentally cut myself badly while shaving my legs in the shower that i liked the way the blood looked swirling down the drain would you hold it against me? because i've never been in any environment i didn't blow up - i never not started forest fires, i never thought blood wasn't pretty because i know it means i love you i know it means loves been around. 
    But I never said your eyes weren't so golden they created fire, or so hot they burnt if you looked too long.  I never said my breath is only as long as the seconds it takes for you to say my name.
    when i write sometimes it feels like swimming
    but i was never really a good swimmer
    whenever i went under i always thought of suffocation
    i thought of water in the lungs.
    whenever we go under i think of suffocation.
    when i write sometimes it isn't like swimming at all, but breathing
    it fills up and lets out , a breath that can't be seen but felt,  
    like how cold the car windows are on your fingertips 
    when you write with them over the fog,
    but not what they're saying. it's never what we're saying.  i lie.
    I'm in bed but i'm running through fields of tall grass in the dark
    and the hard blades feel like things you say to me that don't matter
    so i close my eyes and i go just faster
    and if i put my hands up like i'm on a roller coaster, i guess it's not that bad.
    if i remain very close to the edge, if i whisper as loud as a scream
     i guess it's really not that bad.
    because when you love someone and they breathe
    there's a taste that comes out of their mouth
    dedicated to the sighs and of your ideas of home
    and god damn
    you will want it inside you - despite everything
    you will want it to stay the breath for your breath
    it's an air to exist inside, to show to the sky
    air to wrap your fingers through and run your mouth along
    to hum and say goodnight to
    goodnight  too. 


    I am dripping.
    not the way you want me to be dripping
    but the way the vampires mouths do in the old movies
    it's all black and white, so don't worry,

    this blood is black
    not red
    so we can just hit ignore on our cell phones.
    it's all just an orange juice commercial from the 40's so don't fret.
    i am burning & i hate you.
      why? because you're not there when my fingers ask for you
    you're not here when i make no sense

    & you're not here when i make the most
    no ones here to turn the words into movements, to say: okay
    not here when my voice cracks, when it talks in tongues.
    the religious folk would say "you're being touched by god"
    and i'd say,  no, the gods are touching us through me
    i'd say , listen, i'll translate
    they say , turn that record on, sugar
    they say, put your hands on me like the radio sounds
    and those nuns would gasp and i'd be sent to the principals office
    and they'd say, angry & squinty-eyed, "do you know why you're here, kerry?"
    and i'd say, because i know more about beauty than beauty itself
    and they'd sign some papers and i'd have detention
    and the world would spin like it always does even when you ask it to stop
    and then the story would end
    because some stories end this way
    without making any sense , without landing in the right direction
    we spin like tops and those advertisements where the slinky's would
    flop and barrel down the stairs and land where they pleased 

    but the kid always looked excited
    the kid had no idea.

    when you weren't looking

    we drank orange drinks tonight - orange or pink - 
    neither could decide on the other  ,   as per usual.
    right now i hear the voice upstairs, 

    you're drunk and too close but distant also, somehow
    not in the way that means you're not  near, just that she's very far.
    like the way a voice can change it's mind about the mouth it sits in
    it says, i don't love you anymore, goodbye                                    

    i'll fight club this;  switch off and "bam" she said on a park bench
    let's make a new life out of all the old ones , with red walls to swim in
    i only just realized it's been a year
    maybe that's why i was talking about sex
    i said "i have no problem discussing this"
    whose red cheeks are these?
    please don't look at her body
    please don't
    i only just realized it's been a year
    since i fell down  the stairs and 
    that thing might have happened but with things that like that who knows?
    tomorrow things will happen and they will be bad
    i don't know what they are yet, no one does, not even god.

    maybe i'll lay in fields & let my heart open up-not with a knife but with fire 
    and then a great cold will enter, a big breeze on the inside
    it'll sing me billie holiday
    and the stars will all start making love but i'll wonder if they're fighting,
    maybe i'll use my head to get up there and ask them, 

    which is it you? is this love?
    their voices will sound like a song they played 
    to make me fall asleep when I was small
    it was "sunrise, sunset" from fiddler on the roof and to this day 
    you could not understand the heart break. the stars say, we do.
    the stars say, we're dead already.
    i'll do something bad tomorrow, or the day after that
    and one day, maybe, it won't even matter.
    i just realized it's been a year since we had sex on that
    couch and i probably told you i loved you.
     the stars say "we only look alive."

    "i don't really create imagined states you know what i mean ? i just take note,of, the apocalypses that occur in everybodys souls and i think about them again and again every night, that's all."

    there was a woman with no shoes on

    she was thin and had long blonde hair, the kind that looks unwashed, 
    it probably smelled like rain
    she was right in the road outside
    all these animals were on the porch, every kind of animal
    there were white bears but not polar and deer 

    and small rabbits and big turtles and lions and birds
    they were approaching hesitantly but i could tell they were here for something
    their eyes were full of answers and questions together; it left me unsettled
    i thought it was probably the end of the world.

    the woman brought in a cup of water from the river 
    we thought it was just a cup of water from the river
    she pulled a silver instrument out of her pocket and used it to drain the water

    to show us the small aquatic beings that collected
    we watched them pass through & land in her hand
    you said, "what do they eat?"
    i said "smaller beings."
    they moved about -  the colors of them were wild and screaming.
    i said the word coral out loud.

    her children came, her son was young, and very tan

    a boy who knew things about things , about things
    they had painted all of the rocks outside

    i thought of the roses in alice in wonderland
    her son had a book that he had written
    all the pages were laminated; shiny and smooth.
    his writing was god damn beautiful
    i told him this
    i said people need to read these
    he didn't like what i said and this hurt me in a distant way i didn't let show.
    the words on the pages were like squinting at a painting
    or like watching the world give birth to things
    it never even knew it had in it but by some means it all happens
    i read a couple of lines that i instantly knew i had written somehow
     somewhere too - before all this
    i told him, i asked him how
     it was two sentences and four words were different 
     and i asked him if it scared him
    and he didn't say anything
    he didn't say anything but i knew it did.

    broken by a

    the first problem with love is that nothing else ever matters when it comes along
    the second is do we?

    the third is we are made of un-fillable holes
    fourth, summer grass understands it well, also the grass under winter snows
    as in: the breathing and then the not breathing
    fifth, the paradox of a human being is the capability of the most beauty
     and the most ugly you will ever find simultaneously anywhere else on earth.
    the sixth problem with love is the smoke that our hearts are made of
    the seventh problem with love is floors impossible to get clean
    and the eighth is then why would you?
    the ninth, we never know
    and the tenth problem with love is it's all we're for, 

    after all this, after the holes after the volcanoes, i'm here
    and we can sit here and sift the dirt through our fingers 

    or we could take our clothes off and forget,
    we could make lists or the lists could make us. I'm not crying.


    this is a short poem
    it has on flip flops and it is laying in the sun
    it looks care free, and it looks blissful
    but looks can be deceiving, as they say
    as the story goes.

    i was born in august
    in august it gets very hot.
    in swedish, the month is named "augusti"
    literally plural of the latin augustus --- "the venerable"
    in august hiroshima was bombed and three days later so was nagasaki
    this is the only use of nuclear weapons of our time.
    I have things to tell you
    but they are stuck inside my hands.

    like a gun

    i shouldn't be here
    but the birds are loud & you're so, so pretty
    i shouldn't be here but when you look at me like that everything falls.

    it is more than a sigh, it's more than a question
    this is a green eyed fire and it is always just about to rain.

    your hands are what started this and your hands will be the end
    it's knowing this that makes me suck the skin around my fingers
    it makes me tap on things in quiet rooms
    If only your eyes were beds with white blankets
    and there wasn't so much time in between the time in between the time.

    if anybody were to write a song about her, he said, there'd have to be trumpets.
    there'd just have to be trumpets.
    she closed her eyes slow-like in response
    as if her eyelids wanted to fall, out a window maybe
    as if they wanted to roll down hills in third grade.
    they said,
    what if the grass was the audience - what if this was a round of applause
    what if this was digging and not some sentences i wrote out with my hands.
    how music happens to you, they said.

    but nothing really connects, not really.
    the numbers fumble and space does not cooperate
    i picture cellular fusions and a grasping
    i asked you if the world was turning and you didn't say anything
    you didn't even nod
    my wrists tossed and turned and opened like lights
    with maps we proceed but without maps we end, i said.
    it's like static without the cling
    i've always been.

    nevertheless when we're right there i don't mind it that our eyes don't speak english
    and i don't mind it that all feel is this buzz
    i can remember if you remind me
    i can try and get this down if only my body cools
    but love is just like a gun - everyone knows that
    and johnny cash said he shot a man in reno just to watch him die
    so what does that tell us?

    no cases

    in here?
    some legs down stairs
    who do they belong to
    i can’t ever make my mind up,
    make up for my mind.
    sometimes i feel like when i turn around, you’ll be standing there
    i’m not sure how i feel about it.
    in the shower i let the water go into my eyes; reverse psychology,
    i thought, the best things are done in pieces.

    i knew when i wrote it i was lying

    things we think up at night.

    you walked into the room like you were some sort of secret and i watched you carefully. you had a closed umbrella, but not tied back up, dangling from your hand and it was dripping drops on the wood floor, i counted, one, two, three, drops.

    things that fit together fall apart.

    even in my dreams i'm dreaming.  in my dreams i have dreams, i learn things that are not safe for the real world, not here ---  if you're going to say anything you had better whisper.  in my dreams i know all of the answers and then i slowly forget, like holding a pile of leaves and handfuls dropping at different times, i walk and they crunch, the usual.

    i am trying to tell you.

    i should be tired  and i should be lonely but somehow it sinks in and disintegrates.
    it becomes me; you're proof.  so i wear it like a scarf that goes off and on at my leisure because there once was a girl who asked a million questions until they all became one answer that she used whenever she needed it, the answer was yes but she didn't use her mouth to say it only her eyes and whenever you were around she tried her best to stay quiet.

    it was like this.

    you: legs crossed at the ankles , hands folded, eyes demanding the usual.
    me:  tiny sips and a fast heart, too fast. "too fucking happy." us who? 
    so i say something hurtful and your face does it's job and my body does it's too.  like a camera flash but it happens on the inside, like a pause for your heart that becomes a sharp light that travels up the back of your neck and front of your lungs to your brain, and then settles. this almost hurts but afterwords everything is clear, the truth is crystal clear because here pain is the only proof of love, it's how we were taught the definition, the meanings.
    this is a swamp to muddle through, heavy boots and wet wars with the land.
    this is me trying.


    it's time for a little give and take
    a little word undressing.
    it's time for the all-unfolding,
     a mission into space.
    so write, so do it. so move your shoulders, 

    touch the songs with your fingers.
     hands behind your head, you know exactly what this is because
    my eyes couldn't help but tell you. 

    one more sip and i'll call it a night. 

    one more sip and we're through
    but it's morning, it's only just begun. it's morning.

    she runs her hands through her own hair like something might happen, like some monumental waves are crashing and they are, they are, somewhere,  thousands at a time, the earth has so many hands.  it's like when we made out to that radiohead song, just like when we kiss. i follow the guitars rules, like biting into an apple. the teachers voices were always all  drowned out - like i was underwater, no one here but the loud heartbeat sound, i memorize it and tap my fingers, there's no one here but the heartbeat sound and all we can do  is sing.
    "you're a beautiful girl-  act like one" he said, a stranger, but all i could think about was the words. i wish he knew and anyway, why would i want to act like that? the way people throw around the word beautiful like it doesn't mean guns and glory, like it doesn't mean blood and guts.