White Matter

This is the washboard
where you laid out my brain
like a Persian rug

You unrolled it
like your tongue
A long, slender thing
Large enough to wrap a body in
and carry, hostage lover, away

This here is the grey matter
If you spread your hands across further:
My brain–warm jelly you delight to grasp,
in your right hand the soap,
You will reach the white matter
Distressed into the flower pattern
The center piece
where my almost dead body was housed
The edges
are small, square repetitions
of this pattern

Like my thoughts
All paths firing together
Connected to one pulsing picture in the middle
They call out:
Are you lying to me?

Are you?
Are you lying to me?

Though you have tried
to render me
immobile through time
I exist still in memories
Where you did not occupy my every hour
Poke here, with a blunt scalpel
and I’ll remember

And here, I’d like to think
Although I can never assume to know
is the brain stem
A small bouquet
of daisies
Like hope, finding me carefree
On a Sunday

Where I wrote poems to myself
When I lost both pen and paper to you
Almost understood desperation to mean
using my skin and nails

In this part of my brain I knew
Every time I wrote a poem
Saying these are my deepest desires
These are the words I thought
I was launching
out of a tree house like a paper-cup telephone
to a friend’s house next door
sometime in the thick of July

Only to find the distance
was across a land-mark bridge
with a sunken middle
in a mist of the century

This is where I knew
We do not have a common enemy
You, with a mouth that yawns at tears
Are the enemy


His Name

I could not speak his name
The name that must not be spoken
in the act of love
I counted the letters of his name
with my fingers
Could not say it in full
until I was set free

I resent you not for throwing me
like a gumball
across these four walls
But for making me witness a reality
in which all men are the same

She called me
to reveal you
His fiancé of two years, she said
Girlfriend of seven

In that moment I was not just myself
I was also her
The other woman
Or in actuality the first woman
If rank ever mattered
In laughing lies

And in my funniest moments
I was her
as I dressed for the day
I did not feel my own pain
but imagined hers
Like a drunk vaudeville
Flew around my apartment
Mimicking her grief
The words she would practice
for her parents

I have a family too,
I said to you
I too
have a mother
whose heart breaks
each time
more than mine

I’m left
Holding onto memories
As though they will prolong my life
The deeper I can trace them

Divorced from their own desires
In a universe
where one is
impossibly altruistic



How does an immortal heart bleed?

Every day
Like my mother’s
And her mother’s before her

The thing is
My love
I do not need
A particular set of eyes
To see I am beautiful

I am already these things
To be seen by you is not simply
For you to see me

It is one thing to know me
It is a a blanket of time
incompressible by a vacuum
To feel me

And they want to feel me
Why wouldn’t they? This body?
These eyes?
These elegant hands
They all say how much they like it when
the light hits my eyes
They catch it mid-conversation
And suddenly my words take a back seat

Is that romance?

Dear wolves,

I know you travel in packs
Moving unseen
And wander away sometimes
To groom me

But every wolf is sometimes a dog
Is that why you are afraid of me
Because you were loyal for a day?

I am sitting here again
Under a lampshade
in my lonely, new apartment
Trying to deny the urge
To act like a god
To be a person
A person is a body with boundaries
And yet what else is left
But forgiveness?

Within a week

Within a week
I was hanging up his wet clothes to dry
On a line in the backyard

And he
With hands like dirt moles
was digging in the garden
Planting flowers in the soil
For the first time in the last thirty years
of the history of this house

We could hear the new turbines
in the distance
Gathering energy for the old town
They were trying to make new now

I gave up reading
While he was building me a shed
“For all your new garden tools”
Until he put me down in a chair
Opposite of me fiddled through the
pages of a book
with dirt covered hands
Reading the first paragraph out loud
Now you, he said

The fantasy is this:
To be gravely misunderstood
and to be loved
By the same person

He knows this
On some level
When he puts on a clean shirt
I ironed for him
He doesn’t mind

True lies 

“The truth is I got on the bus as a boy and I never got off the bus. I still haven’t.”

— Donald Glover

When you feel grief inside of you

Like a beach ball from your childhood

Turned now to monarch butterflies

Eating each other alive for space

In the innards of your torso
You imagine this protrude: grief

An arrow shining in his hand

Mutating, moving, like pulsating blood and

skin, that wants, wants, wants, to expand


That he can throw

Knowing of its power

Seeing its physical deformity


But grief is not a live thing to the

practitioner of sin

As it is to the sufferer

It is not an animal, alien

He has throw into you

With sharp intent


It is a thing that has grown inside of you

With your blood

And teeth; wide, pearly

Veins thick and alive and ready

And that is how you know

You have life inside

You are not empty

You are life itself

Thinking about dead lovers and of a woman who did nothing for seventy years

Sometimes when I’m sitting in amber
mood lighting
trying to relate to a tragedy on TV
I feel a sinkhole emerging inside of me
Like a helicopter zooming out from the
darkness of the pit
to reveal its size
A seven car pile up near its edge

The six o’clock news

I brush over my chest trying to find out
how a concrete heart could be hollow
What blood moved from it to my feet
to keep me standing

It is not until I am in bed in the dark
that I know it was a past life calling

Next time we are in bed together
and you ask for a secret
I’ll say
I do not belong to the present
Sometimes my eyes are just projector lenses
And I’m screening the past
So how could I belong to you


Please embrace the following:
We are not killing time
We are not linear
Nor are we infinite lines
traveling in the same direction
that never meet

If I had been no where
and done nothing
A brain in a vat
how could we touch

I feel form in my skin
In my arms
The sides of my face
A substance of unknown means
I only know that it grows
as I age
and fills me
gives me a weight you can
feel when I walk into a room
And you will know that is a woman

So hold me
This body that becomes more like the earth
every day

Any Saturday

He tied me to his dirt bike
and tossed it onto his truck

I had my arms
against the silver legs
Waiting for the melt

What do we do now?
We drive really fast
Straighten up, he said
And get her going
I drive one way
You start off the other way
off the back
For a second you’ll be flying
It’ll feel like you’re flying for a long time

This is what he told me
I wanted to believe him

Later when I asked him
about self control
He said we would only have to use it
around each other

A friend once told me:
You take everyone seriously

We mismatched
Trying to compare
old hand me downs of speech
Saw words flying past each other’s heads

Remember once
when you saw me for the first time
and felt like you’ve been
reliving the same day
your whole life

Sometimes forces combine
Growing more metamorphic
every time you try to make love
Misunderstand your strenght
Miscalculate a compliment
as you hope for a fair trade

On Missed Calls

It was the summer
I dyed my hair bright orange
Something about your mom
thinking I was polite because
I took my shoes off the moment
we got in the house
But what I really mean is
I’ve been thinking about us not talking
Over the same thing again

At least half my thoughts
are about progress

Imagine I am on a deserted island
I am all alone
Until a plane crashes
and I wait to see, with anticipation
Who will make it out of the ocean despite injuries
Because I can’t swim
What is opportunity missed
to a skilled person?

The older I become
and try to look for new love
I should be wiser
But really I wonder more and more often
What I am allowed to ask for

I worked in the attic

I worked in the attic
instead of the basement
Because I liked to see the early morning
Or the setting sun
Or the mid day ray
hit the unfinished pieces
Flicker in through an ashy curtain
And land on objects with anonymous determination
as though to give hope to parts
that may never become part
of the final draft

When the phone rang
I would have to come down
to the second level of the house
and I would sit on the edge of the bed
and talk about my struggles
with the work
Instead of recording it by hand
or audio

That was how I knew my piece
had purpose
I was making it for the same reason
I needed a voice on the other line
I needed to hear breath
While I released thoughts
I had already argued over with myself

I have to go back up,
I told my friend
I hear the current starting up.
Be safe, she told me

I ran my fingers
over his skin
Admiring his new shoulders
I had contemplated giving him
A fish tail
So he would always be in agony
Over not being able to make love to me

But you’re past all that?
I had heard my friend’s voice

So I thought what the hell
And gave him a long thick cock
and hoped it would make him
well adjusted

What about his childhood?
How can he be an adult without it?
Have you worked out his memories?
She was eyeing me hard as she said this;
interested though forever disapproving.

Long ago, I said.
I simply gave him ones like mine.

We all think we’re meant
to rule the world,
she laughed.

I have a feeling, I said,
Thinking of how he would always call me
to tell me he made it home,
This one’s gonna be perfect.

When I wasn’t ready yet

We were like two thieves that summer
Both with severe tempers
Waiting for something

I watched you
Tie knots on your boat
Swim at night time

You were strong
In the silver water
Leaping like a needlefish

It takes only a thought
To turn the comfort
of the dark water
into an ominous gulf

Swimming faster
My soul in my throat
The squeeze of death coming
I want nothing to touch me

Later looking back
at the calm water
Never quite sure
whether I imagined
it meant to take me