Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Was loving me more for me or more for you?

For you, For me

When loving me became for you and not for me
we crossed the threshold into the not-knowing, the not-understanding
or feeling each other - blindly, we traced fingertips
across brick walls blocking our view from one another's faces.
Those walls had been in place for days, perhaps weeks,
and even though every now and then we'd find the chink
through which to look or place our fingers, to touch one another
and see one another clearly,
I saw that on that day, as I lie sick in bed beneath you,
that I truly was beneath you, beneath the wall you'd built,
the tower you had built up above me to defend yourself
and protect your heart from what you thought was my
encroaching demolition of your soul and spirit.
Amazed, I felt, that I had done nothing but withered away
in your bed, and then was faced with the truth that you
were only watching me and waiting for me to stumble
so that you could leave and not feel guilty. Amazed,
knowing that then I needed you most, but the mortar was
already drying on your castle, and the moat was filling fast.
When loving me became for you and not for me,
I crossed a threshold of greater understanding, flailing in the moat
on the other side of the wall you built, trying to hold on
and not sure why you wouldn't hold me back. Watching you
creak and moan with the wind up in your tower,
not sure if you built it out of self-defense, or if you truly
didn't love me and had built those walls to house the heart
of someone else who entered while I was there,
sick in bed, not looking, but so, so trusting.
When loving me became for you and not for me,
I became all for you, and you were none for me,
and we became you and I, and then you and he,
and only I, alone.


Breathe in. Breathe out.
Peeling back layers until only the most natural functions remain,
No thoughts, no words, just body and spirit moving in rhythm,
This is how to deal with absence. With severing. With cleaving.
Grasp the back of a chair to stand taller,
White-knuckled, you grasp the walls of the well into which
you threw yourself, or someone threw you, and to not fall
you hold on to everything you pass until someone asks,
or doesn't ask, if you're even doing okay.
You answer that you're well, because,
let's face it, you have strength, you have bones
that connect and muscle that straighten your back
and eyes and a mouth with which to face the human world
and of course you have to look put together.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
This is how to deal with absence,
because there is no remedy - because the dark places
must be explored in order to find the light again,
and since breathing is something you have to do, anyway,
to survive, it's the only thing to do when your soul
aches for the presence of someone who leaves you.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
This is how to deal with absence.
There is no way to deal with absence,
except by staring it in the face
until you recognize that nothing is there,
until you can breathe again without aching.


Like it or not, you are immortalized
In this ink, these skeletons of black and white
That won't fade when we fall old and grey,
When our own skeletons of skin fall away.
And when we're gone, people will see these words
And know you - know your beauty, your heart,
And the utter love I hold for you, here,
In these forever words that will never fade.
And to me, to love, to words, there is never any
"Too late," until we are too old or too gone to
Breathe, to speak, to write, to look.
To words, to here, and now, there is only forever,
And forever here is where I love you.
All we can do is keep breathing,
And watch this moment extend into
Infinity, while our hands, perhaps only ever
almost touching, will age and wrinkle and
crumble into the dust of the world that will
Keep reading. Always, always, they will
Keep reading.


We all have moments of weakness...
Those nights when you wake up, unable to breathe,
The name of someone on your lips -
Someone who isn't there, who left.
And maybe they'll never know that to you it was
Only yesterday you had them, when days and weeks
and almost months have passed. And maybe they'll
Never know that when you think of them,
you still smile like the schoolboy you were.
Or maybe they do know, and just refuse to
care how it felt for you to be thrown in front
of that moving bus - not knowing and not caring
That even were they to hurt you intentionally
You would still, if asked about them,
Be able only to gush about all their
beauty and compassion.
Perhaps they weren't ready for you.
Perhaps asking them to be ready was unfair.
Perhaps it truly was all about them, and perhaps
in the end, you didn't really matter.
But some day, you'll want to know why
you just weren't good enough,
Why they settled for less,
And why, at the end of the day,
Your heart still feels incapable of loving someone else
After all these days and weeks and months...
When their love was given away again so quickly.

If you read this, I still love you.
There's a home in my arms. And the door is
always open.

I get so tired of silence, sometimes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Never wish ill of others.
Don't allow blackness to blemish a passionate soul.
You never know when you or someone that you love
will leave this world before goodbyes can be exchanged,
and hearts lay crippled and words are left unsaid
in the shadows of absence.

Memory and Dreams

I remember lying next to you,
my arms around you, in bed, as you shared with me
the contents of your dreams. You seemed so
afraid to bare your soul, your hopes for us,
and the future we could share together.
The feelings you described did not push me away,
(how could they? They were so beautiful),
as I held on tight, hoping that my telling you
that I liked what you had seen in those dreams,
that I liked our future described that way,
that I wasn't scared, that it was beautiful,
would be enough for you to know that I
wanted, in the deep recesses of my heart,
to take that walk with you. To walk into
that room to find you there, standing before a
mirror, ready to take your hand and assure you
of as much a future as these bones and soul
could give you. That while I faced our future
with trepidation, you were something that I wanted
and a future I could wish for.

This is how I cope, now, with time, with space,
with pain, with memory, as I sit here alone,
pulling these memories out of my cup of coffee
like a pensieve, as Proust once pulled all of Combray
out of a cup of tea - and, like Proust, I imagine
the contents of my heart to be pulled out
at length, ad infinitum,
to fill volumes and volumes and boxes and boxes
of pages with these words - words swimming around
waiting to emerge, for the right line to string them
together and pull them free,
Struggling to find the right way to arrange themselves
onto the page as they dive, scrambling, maniacal, from my pen,
attempting time and time again to show my grief
and loss to me,
and time and time again
to remind me what it meant and means
to love someone, even in the darkest hour.

For now, your dreams and hopes
still resonate with me - I can't imagine
either that you can toss them aside so lightly.
And so I'll continue to pull words out of
my cup of coffee, in endless strings
knotted together like a magician's handkerchiefs,
an entire town of words, my own Combray,
and wait until the right words strike at the right line
and spill forward into the right incantation.

Love is, after all, the greatest and most powerful
incantation - one spell I was afraid to cast.
So, now, let me cast these lines, and pull out
greater ones in the hope that one day,
you will read these lines and know, and know,
that your spells worked on me, and these memories
and dreams surrounding me, like sirens you
sent me to sing me to sleep, or to my death,
still keep me company as I become the words
I write, and in becoming words,
I become the dreams and spells you cast,
the endless give and take, the push and pull
of the cleaving of the Universe,
and find no rest until the right words are spoken,
and once more set me free to walk in dreams
of love again.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I keep your DNA in my skin. Your very chemistry is encoded
into the folds of my body. The pieces of you that you left inside me,
around me, within me, the particles of light that bounced off of your
face and lodged themselves in the cones and rods of my eyes,
are all still here. That your face is what I see most often when my
eyes are closed is a testament to how well I soaked in every
freckle, every blemish. 
You are not so easily erased to me, is what I mean to say,
and while I know you've done all you can to dispose of my memory
and erase me from all your private spaces,
I know how unsuccessful you will be. My energy will never die
or manifest in any other way than that which is already inside
you. We are a part of each other,
and that is something that will always be. Only I,
in all the aching of our broken hearts, would never be the one
to chase away those pieces, or sweep away, erase the memories
my body cherishes of you, your arms, your eyes, your soul.

You is You

When did you become you?
When did I first impart you with the weight of
all the force that accompanies that tiny word?
When did the letters form themselves in my
mind with the pattern of your face, your
absorbing eyes, your expressive brow?
Was it really only in that moment when
you shook me awake, sick and asleep in your bed
when you came home to tell me you
were done with me?
Was it really only in the moment of letting go,
Of knowing I'd needed your arms more than
ever in that moment that my heart finally
cried out - and did it only cry out when it
faced the precipice above your haunting absence?
Or was it earlier, in a subtler time,
when I leaned over and kissed you at stop lights
or when I held you close on our last date together,
seeing a show I was so excited to share with you -
the first of many, I had hoped -
Or when you painted that you loved me on the
wall of my new home - where in the strings of
my heart was that chord struck, the chord that
rings so loudly now I'm sure you cannot
help but hear it, and why was I so keen to
silence it? To hold you apart, as if in protection from
all the hurt I had ever experienced and projected
onto myself? Were you not, in that tiny,
beautiful moment, with your patient eyes
and contagious, childlike, puppy-like smile
merely conveying feelings of affection, but
perhaps trying to toss me a final lifeline before
I let myself sink beneath the waves of your
eventual apathy and subsequent erasure of my
very nature from your private spaces?
And yet, you became you so quickly.
The moment I looked up and realized
it had to have been you for far too long
for me to sit here for such a time as this
and feel the ache, the familiar ache,
that now I know is only here for you.
I suppose now it doesn't matter when it was,
as you are not the you I have, but only
the memory I hold. But now you know,
that you is you,
is you, is you, is you.
I love.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Full Stop

It's not with a finger, or a hush, that you silenced me,
but that round dot at the end of your sentence;
thanking me for my kind words, words that pour out
of me into all of these empty, now-full buckets that
overflow off my shelves, my closet, leaking under my bed,
all of these words that run on, and on, and on
until they're met with that one small mark,
that fiendish, abrupt wall to cap the well of my
emotional outbursts; running into that tiny speck,
like a stone, to me a boulder, I know there's no
amount of verbage I can hurl at it to break it -
there are no cracks, that I can see, because
I can't see you, and the only hands I can use to
reach out and shake you and let you know how close
I am and how I'm always here and always will be
even though you threw me away - are my words;
words stopped by a dot, a point; words stopped
so abruptly, so unjustly, yet so fairly, so grammatically,
as if you finally knew how to fight fire with fire
and showed me you knew the right incantation
against my spells of words; the twisting and
chanting and waving of these arms of words
of poems, of verbs, of promises, of heartaches
stopped abruptly by that stone you threw at me
in your last text - and I can't move that stone;
Words can't push back against a full stop;
A full stop is a full stop, and I'll be building up these
words, like towers, behind your back, and hope
that one day you'll turn around and, if nothing else,
acknowledge that these words were even there,
that they were real, and that these towers, these
buckets of words stacked
upon stacked upon stacked upon themselves
may very well soon come crashing down and wash over
me again, and again - but they won't touch you
after you've built that dam, unless you ever lift it;
And even if that is my hope, I can't see you to tell you,
or tell you to see me, because a full stop,
is a full stop, and I've been stopped by the punctuation
you used to battle the words and worlds I
tried to use to snare you,  and now all I have is silence,
and these towers, of words, words, words, falling over,
Weaving back and forth, pushing and pulling,
All to myself...
Full stop.
            ...Don't stop.
                                ...Full stop.
                                                ...Don't stop.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Saw You as Tall

I saw you as tall, lying in bed,
stretched out amongst your sheets,
your head to the side, eyes closed, breathing
deeply - your arms stretched above you,
or sometimes framing your face, as if in your 
sleep you were conscious of your beauty
and strove to pose, perhaps for me.
I hated disturbing your perfect slumber.
I never saw you small, or minuscule,
your toughness was no joke, your size, your force
not something with which to be reckoned,
but in my mind you were stretched out, 
your body the length of your soul
which was the length of the bed, the room,
probably longer - if I opened the door
I'm sure your heart would leak outside,
being as big as the space you occupied.
I remember watching you and imagining
that, if you were to wake up, stand up,
then and there your height would surpass my own,
or if I were to lay against you, there would be
no difference to our size - it never felt as if there was.
The image of you quietly breathing,
giving into the world that sense of calm
and utter peace, comes back to me
every now and then. And the tallness
of you. The elegant tallness of you.
You, my equal, as tall as I,
except for those moments when
right before saying good night,
I could wrap myself around you
and take your tallness in mine,

The House That We Built

"Come in," you said, door propped open wide,
I hadn't seen you in years, or days, or was it just
moments since we had last gazed into the houses
in each other's eyes, and been invited there?

It had been time, to be sure, time between us,
time the consistency of rough plastic that
slowly was made malleable by the hammers
of distance, and subtle healing.

But I knew that house was still there, unfinished,
when I gazed back at you the moment we
met for the (second, third, fourth?) first time.
(how many first times until the right time?)
We had agreed to meet here again, and
I remarked, as I entered, as you held open
the door for me, as I wiped my feet on the rug
I remember buying long ago, when cleanliness

That the walls hadn't changed; the lighting fixtures
still hung, half installed, the windows open
and letting a dry breeze waken and stir the sheets
that covered the furniture. The spot on the wall
where you painted you loved me still showing through
the layers of paint we'd used to try to cover it all.
This is what it's like to revisit old haunts,
former loves and former spaces,
former memories, and former faces.

We sat down to tea there, on the sofa we bought
together, and talked about the renovations
we never finished. I suppose, I would say, that
it was my fear that kept the walls from going up,
while we agreed that communication, like time
like space like distance, often becomes insurmountable
when you allow walls to be built elsewhere,
protecting your own heart from someone who wasn't planning
on hurting you in the first place, instead of building walls
to protect the home that would have housed them both.

And here we sit, and I gaze in your eyes,
Or here I sit, and write about that gazing, the looking,
and dream of the day I'll revisit the porticos and hallways
I began building with you, sitting with you perhaps (only perhaps)
with plans to continue our renovation,
Perhaps with plans to take away from there the memories
we made, like one does to the homes of loved ones after their passing,
and allow time and memory and space to rot
the wood and dissolve it back into a nothingness
more suitable than the lurking pain of its lonely presence.

But I hope the loneliness doesn't come in.

And I hope you know that, in all actuality, you wouldn't
be opening the door for me, as I've decided to stay here,
for now, at least, and keep a fire burning in the fireplace
for you. Keep the furniture warm and dusted,
and slowly repair those parts of myself that would help
hold these walls up should you ever knock on the door.
But perhaps this house will become mine, and mine alone.
Perhaps (only perhaps) your feet will never again walk this floor,
and I'll box it up, along with the walls, the lights, the paint,
my memories, your letters to me, my journal entries,
my poems about you, keeping it safe for the sake of the
warmth I always feel when I reminisce on you and I.
I won't dismantle it for a long time from now, though,
as each and every word I ever wrote to you has bled
into these walls and into these cracks and crevices,
and there isn't an eraser big enough to pull them out.

No one understands love. Some people understand these words.
Everyone needs walls to protect their hearts.

I remember first taking your hand and guiding you inside.
In this house were some of the happiest days of my life.
The walls, however half-built, are still walls in which I built
a home. And I will await your knock, however long I have to wait,
and I'll keep the kettle on for that cup of tea with you,
that fresh gaze into your eyes, as the future washes over
and over us and decides what to do with
the house that we built.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From the Feet Up

Written 8/3 and 8/8

It's times like these I think of your feet
(the most beautiful feet in the world).
I never told you about the vulnerability
and safety I would feel
Seeing the bare feet of the man I
loved quietly trodding along in
the spaces we occupied together;
feet that could walk up to me and
stand inside mine, on tiptoe, or
stretch across my lap as you fell asleep
on the couch, betraying your sense of comfort
as I massaged out the day's wear and tear.

I never told you how I watched you
from behind, those days we'd trek
to the local market for food to feed ourselves,
you traveling unadorned, simply dressed,
basketball shorts and baseball cap turned backwards,
your familiar brown flip-flops
smacking the ground as you shuffled
in your own quiet, elegant way beside me.

That watching you, in that one moment
etched now forever in my mind, 
I looked at your feet, sidling up your porch steps,
and I smiled to myself in quiet contemplation,
transported to other porch steps, our porch steps,
in some remote and undisturbed, unmentioned future,
where we would be equally yet more
comfortable and unadorned together
in a quieter love, a majestic stillness.
A stillness whose secret I kept,
just in case I would betray it, and somehow
mar that perfect image.

I never told you that watching you, then,
In that now-frozen moment where you are
forever poised to ascend those steps,
I saw the feet of the father of my children.
And taking you all in, all at once, from the feet up,
was what I did then, and what I wanted to do,
in that moment, and secretly 
in each quiet moment since,
in which your feet and mine would walk
up some porch steps, somewhere,
and through whatever doors would open for us,
into the certain vulnerable spaces
we would occupy together.

Sunday, August 5, 2012



We crashed into each other like waves
And, submerged in you, I came up for air,
Only to take you inside me, in turn, to twist
Beneath the surface like snakes
Wrapped over and over again in the sheets of your bed.

And the waves broke, crested and white,
In that just-before, just-before, just-before moment,
When the electric horizon hushes before
The intake of wind before the first peal of thunder.

And, on the sand, we lie broken together,
The salt blinding my eyes, my fingers dislocated,
Located somewhere else, digging into the sand
And finding nothing but clumps of air.

And as we lost our grips, and lost each other,
I remember, holding you in my lap,
Still twisted in the sheets of your bed,
And that just-before, just-before, just-before moment
Becomes the just-after, just-after, just-after leaving,

When I tell you I love you, but the words are lost
To the wind, and the waves drown out the noise;
As our own waterworks start flowing, and we
Cling to wet sand and driftwood and each other;

As my heart keeps time, even still now,
With the violent, aching beat of thunder,
When the storm broke over our heads and swept
Our time and memories back into the restless waves.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What is This Thing Called Love?*


*a conversation with Kim Addonizio's book of Poetry, What is This Thing Called Love?

So what, what is this thing called love?
It's a subtle ache that begins in your chest,
beginning with the heart, making its journey through
the avenues and highways of your inner cracks
and crevices,

Up through the aorta, up, down, and out, spilling
everywhere, creeping slowly, crawling along
the arteries, along the walls of every vessel,
warring with blood cells and plasma and blocking them
from reaching your limbs and extremities,

the prickling sensations beginning to spread toward
the shoulders and down the arms,
succeeded by shortness of breath as you feel the heart
pound harder through your ribs, trying to
outrace the painful encroachment of what may
very well be an enemy invasion,
as it reaches the tips of your fingers

and all you can do is move, reaching for
something, anything, whatever's within reach, but only
that one person will do, the person whose magnets
of the body have called to yours, whose stamp is on
your wrist and forehead, consigned to a fate akin
to death as you can't get away except through the
ripping of bones and skin to get it out of you.

It is this ache that clutches the lonely, holding themselves,
holding pillows, holding bottles, holding vices,
and it is this pain, this ache, that grips me now,
as I reach for you in your absence, and the
air I grab is set on fire by the memory of your presence,
and only your body, your small frame that
fit so neatly into mine
can calm or quell this burning,

and only the coolness of your lips that wouldn't leave my side
all those nights is the antidote for the crazed cleaving
of this tired, tired soul.

Wine Talks


"Do you want him back?" The question put to me, late last night,
staring up at me from the pages of my book of Kim Addonizio's poetry,
The same question put to me some previous night, riding back from
who knows where, the wine still sloshing in my stomach,

but instead of saying something belittling, like, "No shit, Sherlock,
Where the hell have you been all while I was crying into my glass,
watching that movie that reminded me so much of him"
(... hell, it could be any movie and I would still see his face).

I just sit there and stare straight ahead and think of something
else to say - though thinking, thank god, is less of an accomplishment
right now than it is an achievement or unhappy accident.

Ask me when, later, I'll sit in bed and write these words,
(being extra careful not to censor myself - the wine still talking, surely)
lying next to the stuffed animal he bought me that I
couldn't even bring myself to take home until it was all of him I had,

When later I wake in the middle of the night to the sounds
of our hearts breaking, across frozen distances,
the violent sound of a tornado encapsulated in the
fragile tinkling of shattering crystal,

a sound familiar both to my ears and to my soul.
I'll remember, certainly, when, in the morning, I see these words
I've written, perhaps forgetting the writing, the process of tearing
apart my arm and pulling these sentiments

down onto the paper from the sinew that had trapped them far too long,
and I'll nod my head in agreement at the words, the sentences,
as I cast out even more lines to the upcoming day,
partly to drag myself into it, partly to catch hold

Of anything good for my heart to eat and feel full again.
"Do I want him back?" The wine is no longer answering
when I tell you, truthfully,
you have no idea. and please don't ask again.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tonight I Took Two Sleeping Pills


Tonight, instead of one, I took two sleeping pills,
One for each of us, as if in swallowing this
Bitter pill I could send to you, through waves,

Through circuits, through the wind, through
Whatever goddamned avenue the air and ether
Could provide, this feeling of letting go

And the drop that precedes the thud of darkness
Behind eyelids who must be tricked into sleep,
Because they're not finished searching for

The missing puzzle pieces laid across the living room
Table of our repressed and tired psyches.
I drank bedtime tea, too, just for good measure,

So that the thoughts that cloud my day 
And creep up over the sides of my bed at night, 
Tugging at my pillow, my comforter,

At all the corners and the fabrics of my mind,
Could at least be pacified for a few hours
And leave me with my empty, empty sleep.

These Houses, These Words


These houses are mine.
These walls and turrets of sinew and ether.
I built them myself, many times before,
Conjuring them like fortresses from the
Reservoirs of my emotions.

I never knew these hands could craft
The shelter for all that my heart held -
You were the first to believe that strength,
And you showed me the firmness of the
Rafters, the grandeur of the gilded halls,

The halls I built with these very words,
But down which you were the first to guide me
With eyes wide open;
These walls are supple, they stretch,
They've attempted to cross borders, cross rivers,
Even cross oceans.

I allowed them to crumble, grow weary,
When I no longer believed I had control.
But with one look and a word you
Raised them up, stronger than they were,
Or, rather, you pulled the cords inside my chest
That caused these bones and heart to stir,

And would you could know the power of your glance
To set these towers singing
As once more I use them to send out
A ferocious call to you,
Wherever you lay,
Wherever you are,

That at least from a distance,
I can be a protector,
And that you might sense my arms there,
With these houses, with these words,
And think, for a moment, of me.