I feel like an itch in the back of a throat.
that forces the evening alive
like an alarm clock beating against its own
House of cards.
I roll the foundation of this facade
into a dollar bill and pass it in a charity basket.
I imagine it a donation for children.
a game of ring around the rosy
and fifty-two pick up:
a pity party searching for the joker
that made this consuming plague.
Take an x-ray of the human body.
But make the x-ray out of the parts that light up in the nighttime gleam of a
Capture where the disappointment blends in with foresight
on a color spectrum with frequencies
that break willpower.
Capture where the tongue is crushed below the teeth.
A secret well kept.
I clean out the collage of skeletons I keep pinned to the walls of my closet.
Another portrait too big for the shredder.
-rinsed clean again from the inside-
circling the drain.
but clean again,
from the inside.
There is no whipping wrap of cold
only an absence of heat.
No pitch black rooms
only the absence of light.
What an adventure it was
lining the ground with matches
searching for the path through my frailty that you escaped to.
No longer is it a breaking in me,
but an absence of you.
We grew tired of dressing up our mental disturbances for
show and tell with strangers we never wanted to meet,
so we stayed home and splayed them out:
bare and insane.
Their bodies made shadow silhouettes on the opposite wall
that looked nothing like you or me.
But when they danced in front of the mirror
and sang out our fears,
we joined along.
We shut the blinds,
then we cracked like glass.
If you were the fireworks then I was the fanfare
reeling back at your need for attention.
Don’t mistake my screaming for applause,
but at least specify which it is you want.
You dug your jagged, dirty nails into my chest and shook me until something rattled alive.
I think we mistook growing sunlight for a starting spark.
I called my mother,
her words were “Straighten your shoulders, girl. The world doesn’t have sympathy
for wilted roses anymore.”
You told me people used metaphors when they were too weak to admit their own
how the ceiling was just a ceiling and we were just bodies.
The silence that settled and strangled us was just silence.
I refused to let myself turn it into anything greater.
You bought two roses.
I used one as a place marker and set it inside my notebook.
The other dried in dark brown against my windowsill.
I asked you if you thought people were like that,
in the way they seem to end up alone.
I liked the way you kept your lips straight and didn’t say a word.
I never intended that, when you actually let me speak,
that you would do so, so loudly.
You shook your head and said yes.
I keep flipping through pictures of fireworks to prove to myself that
reflecting on the moment
was as meaningful as being in it.
I keep flipping through and all they look like are scattered sparks or
bullets through the sky.
I realize you were just that.
My reaction piece to my poetry teacher asking me to “edit out the controversial statements” in my pieces
I catch you with this unmistakable vacancy
burning away in your eyes.
to swim to whichever coast will keep you near.
In these fantasies,
each splashing attempt for you washes away at my past.
In exchange, my shoulders and arms become limp from holding your burdens.
The sea, I suppose, likely feels the same about me.
In the daydream,
I always end closer to the mirage of a buoy
before fading away to the soft crackle of the bridge bound to collapse.
I’ve never been tied to fate
but I’ve scraped my knees against jagged rock for you
time and time again.
I and your secrets and a forgotten match
-we were bound to be at the bottom of this sea.
But then you blink,
with a sigh that I continue to mistake for relief;
and I pretend these last minute rescues have been miracles and not
sudden twists in a plot line
that I continue to rewrite whenever you avert your gaze.
No matter how bloodied my legs
like tides ripping in the morning, you always manage to return.
To leave me grasping and gasping for air with my head above water never meant that the sinking ceased,
but at least it gave this drowning purpose.
Lying on a uncovered patio, we spoke of religion and plane crashes.
you liked the way rosaries looked when they hung off bedposts.
never quite understood why they kept the bibles in the underwear drawers of hotels
but on the bedside table of every motel you stayed at when your mom forgot to pay the rent.
You made the idea of hookers folding their clothes like folded palms sound cleaner
than Sunday best strewn on a freshly vacuumed floor for
but always rising on the third.
I kept my tongue twisted around a blade of grass because,
with your upturned head covering your only means of expression,
only then did I figure I wasn’t supposed to talk during confessional.
I could see your eyes though,
they moved up and around to the rhythm of your thoughts.
You crossed the T’s over and over,
painting crucifixes in the sky over my backyard.
I admitted that
I was bad at praying.
I was behind the plated glass of my eyelashes admitting secrets to a cloud that looked
nothing like a fantasy and more,
like just a cloud.
But you just happened to be there.
I wasn’t a hooker with a waiting list or two Evangelists trying to get off
I could make a mean conversation with the sound of exasperated sighs and my favorite nights
always seemed to depend on what song was playing on the car radio.
I said that
airplanes flew over my bedroom every single night and yet
I stayed in the same place singing songs on the radio
about people moving on.
Most of the early inventions in aviation ended up killing the
I’m not sure which one of us said it
you then said,
you were tired of people getting hurt from the things they built up.
I said that
they probably kept the bibles in the drawer so people could forget, at least for a night,
because hookers don’t have to pretend that their clouds are anything but clouds.
And you told me that you
how I could
miss the point.
But for every bedside rosary seems to be a crudely made noose
mocking shapeless outlooks and stuffing them back into their bedside tables when the
underwear drawer gets too full with life’s shrapnel
kept like a souvenir.
how you managed to
miss the point
You looked so innocent when you believed in everything
Then one of us says,
It just seems so frightening
so stupid a risk
to believe in myself.
-I’m still not sure which one.
We were at a party in a friend of a friend’s basement.
I asked you if you could feel the walls
caving in around us.
Surrounded by all these people,
how could I feel anything but joy?
How could I feel anything
but all these people.
You barely felt the walls.
I suppose that’s the moment when
you became one of them.
Say that I’m sorry.
because the story’s that repeat themselves only play like records while we
scratch at the walls:
Take us out of the scene.
Take two people
and one is holding a gun between their teeth to test
which makes the deeper wound.
The other one is bleeding,
because it begins like that.
Something that masquerades as birth and love
beat between those thrumming fingers that,
are neither yours nor mine.
In the scene I want you to imagine snow over broken glass.
When the snow sticks to the ground it turns drowsy eyes and
fresh rose red,
and it sticks to them like hand prints.
The one with the gun feels remorse dug deeply inside like stray bullets into the trees.
One of them in this story says
it’s dazzling to watch the universe through the destruction and have it all
come together once again.
The one that’s bleeding, likely, says so.
In my mind, it works this way as they lie on their back to see the clouds
stripped of color.
Those naked thoughts too short to be swan songs are going to haunt one day.
they’re just dressed in the wind,
dripping stripes of red between teeth that load and unload
until one is choking on their tongue
and trying to hide themselves in the slush
-their body draped in fingerprints.
In this story,
I wanted to be the snow.
I was to cover the scenes I had no control over
most of the scenes were you.
Everything you touched became filth,
so I continued to fall.
And the words I said to break the shell never seemed enough for you to look up.
It was supposed to end with you as the universe,
but here we are.
My hand prints all across the mess we’ve made.
I’d likely kill you myself if that was all it would take for every one of our exchanges to stop sounding so
Like we’re drinking ourselves under the table.
I take a shot of an eight grade dance where the lights spun fast and I thought
waited until I was at home in my dress to cry between the parts of the CD that skipped.
The worst part is that I tell you these things with romance.
Grass growing high over the broken windows meant to me that there was at least one thing left alive,
and I always mention the part about staring directly at the sun while it set.
As if that’s meaningful.
I tell you about locking myself in at night and how it sounded like the smack of lips against a cheek.
I find myself blathering on mindlessly about broken lipstick shades in drunken slurs.
I tell you that the night was red lipstick and cocaine white eyes and that
I am afraid for this.
But the CDs don’t skip much anymore when I threw them out the window.
Then you tell me something about yourself.
Some loose anecdote lined with subtext that says you hate your mother
or that your father was never around.
But it comes off like a ballad,
Like the swan song that whistles against the wind when you stand on the bridge.
I want to be up there with you,
holding your hand or the trigger but holding on tightly
-I’m new at this.
I want for time to wrap itself around our shoulders up there and swear that it will never let us go.
Or I want for my biggest regrets to stop having time-stamps.
I tell you that too, as a slip of the tongue.
Sometimes you open your mouth
then shut it,
then go back to sipping nostalgia from the rim of my vulnerabilities.
It’s like one of those stories that you read over and over and once more again
that ends with the hero dying.
The hero dies in the end but you read it once more to see if there’s something you missed that could have warned you about how it would play out.
But the words are printed on the torn pages the exact same way
and all you notice is that you skipped the line right before the last line
about the orange and yellow horizon that afternoon.
I no longer stick around for the mystery,
I just want whoever painted the sky.