The first time

She’s lying there
in dark green
In a cherry wood casket
Wearing strong perfume
the mortician picked out
from a plastic bin
and sprayed on her body

I used to cut her hair
Massage her scalp
We talked about
being single
working long hours

She has on
fuchsia colored nail polish
Clashing with the red lipstick
Type of business black heels
that were popular twenty years ago

We went to dinner once
Finally
After two years
of chopping split ends
We tried doing it
in the back seat
But my shirt sleeve
kept getting caught
in the seat belt

You’re the second guy
who couldn’t get it hard for me
on our first time
Are you afraid of me?
She said

Sarah
The fucking cat

Now she’s out here
being looked at
talked to like through a tube

My hands are shaking
They cut her hair short
The wrong kind for her face type

Zero Celsius

I excuse myself from the movie
and rush to the bathroom
to think about how long
it would take to get home
if I left now

Sitting on the toilet seat
I pull out the Marlboros
from the same section
in my purse
where I keep the spare underwear
Six cigarettes left
I smoked twenty in one night
last weekend
Drunk, kept twisting my ankles
Shaking in a dress in zero Celsius
to talk to a hot fire fighter

I’ve looked more romantic with strangers
than with boyfriends
A girl asked to take our picture
Not you.
With the fire fighter
We were kissing like we were in love
Sitting at the only table at the club

I think about the first time
we went to a movie
leaning away from you
disgusted by your little fat hands

I stuff the cigarette pack
into the tampon disposal box
Put lipstick on in front of the mirror
I pout for two minutes
and play with my hair
Who wouldn’t want this?

When I was an Ether

When I was an ether
I had shock punctuating
at key points in my body

This was when you were
learning five languages
Before you were done
cutting your hair
and began pressing thumbs
into naked bodies
for chakra points

Let me draw up
an old shoe string
A loose coil
holding the neck
of a leather seat
I don’t care which
And say
with this tie
around both our wrists
Same place you bit me once
I here thee wed
In sickness and in hell
for battered or for worse

I show you that line
and you laugh snort
You’re dramatic
but I’m melodramatic

You say you could write it better
And then
tell me more about affinities, you say
The ones between people

I like it best
when your fingers
cover mine
so I can look at your hands
You like it
when mine are underneath
Felt but not seen

Thoughts of death
always remind me of you
Not because you could
ever equal some thought
I don’t know the end
or beginning of
But because I can
walk across from one room
in my head
to another
from some starry image
of blackness
to a conversation we once had

When you said
You know when you’re lying
in bed at night
and you think of dying
then you’re paralyzed
You’re in bed;
Frozen

I tell you I know this feeling
Like this right:
Denial is looking down at you
from the ceiling
It’s out to lunch
for ten minutes
It’s so thick
Living in you so long
It could form a whole new person
And you could stare at each other

I tell you now
that this conversation
gives me comfort

You say you miss me
And I know it’s lips talking
that you just put on
You have a Velcro mouth
You go through a tin box
looking for the right press-ons
for the right thing to say

I’m the same
sometimes

We won a limo ride

We won a limo ride
to the strip club
from a juice bar

I signed up to dance
It was a contest
Me
against four other average chicks
and one professional pole dancer
who hurled her sweatshirt off
to reveal a lulu lemon set

As I unbuttoned my pants
to flash a cheek
your copy
of Catcher in the Rye
fell out from my waist line
I always kept it there
like a ready gun
It opened to a page
where you drew a little phone
beside “phony”

We wrote letters
Until we didn’t
I want to hide
in the speck of mascara
on your eyelid, he wrote

So I ran home
to call you
and tell you
it’s never too late

How I smelled
your bandana
that you sent me in the mail
Slept with it
on my pillow

When the professional
pole dancer
was grinding on my boyfriend
who sat listless in the audience
I thought
I could always end up with you

When he spent
the night searching for me
Paid the limo driver
to drive around town
while he looked out the window
combing through the dark for me
I was adding notes
to our book
Pretending
you would read them again

We played it every night

In the iceberg
was trapped a music box
19th century
Romanov

We played it every night
Because you drink like a fish
And needed a way to go to sleep

One day you came home
Four vodka tonics in
And said
“You know all that ugly shit
people have in their houses.
They picked out all that furniture
themselves…”

“You can really tell
if you’ll love a person
by how their house makes you feel,”
I said.

“…It didn’t land there
by accident or was delivered
by a ghost salvation army truck.
Some people just have no taste.”

So we threw out
the ass cushions
we got from the Indian store
and the lantern
you had stolen
once while on a bender
from that Mediterranean restaurant

They just let you have it
Another bored idiot

And me
I hung it up
And tried to match the drapes to it
Nothing see-through
for the night time

We had some African bowls
before
Giant. For family salads

You threw up in one
So we left it on the balcony
And let snow collect in it

The couch
you threw out alone
Because you were too distracted
sitting on it
to write

Then we were
in an empty apartment
talking about
how we don’t have sex enough

Poets too

We’re walking along
some rocky beach
in the middle of the fucking night
with a flashlight
to see a turtle hatch eggs
in a hole

I’m dressed like a slut
because I’m always thinking of sex
While he gets turned on
by the plop of turtle eggs

I have to take my heels off
to walk in the sand
and he’s mad that we’re walking slow
and he has to support me
by holding my hand

They’re always the same
The science freaks
Never picked up a book
in their life
“Yea my girlfriend writes poems.
Don’t know what the hell
goes on inside her head.
But we understand each other.
It’s all fine. Dysfunctional but happy,
ain’t that just love.”

They think they’re poets too

I sent him updates 

He would never reply to me anymore
I sent him updates
Like talking to myself
Like a journal

Went to Mexico
Got a tan
I look like honey
I want us in white sheets
At sunset
I want you to admire my skin

Contemplated suicide
Remembered I was a coward

Drank tea all day
Felt good
Now wired
Still unemployed

I got an email from another ghost
I’ve got a few
Funny how you’re glad
To hear from them

“Sorry to reply so late
…this email was three years late
to reach me.”

I’m dreaming of running away
To a foreign country
But reality could always slap me
With corrupt government officials
Rats
Tiny apartments
Dirty water
Overpriced food

I wonder if he’ll reply
To Neruda poems
It worked once

I once believed there was a secret room

When you live in an ivied
rock of a house
and come out
only at night
to pour milk for the neighborhood cats
You’ll understand the uncanny
of the comfort of hotness
of summer air
that is suddenly interrupted
When just beyond the garden gate
you swear you see only darkness
and you’re out among thorny bushes
In a sundress; no bra; bare feet

I don’t leave my house
because I once believed
there was a secret room
in my great grandmother’s house
Situated darkly
far from the window’s peripheral
accessible through a door
built for a body rolled into a ball

And I knew
that all the jewelry was kept in this room
All old journals, all tossed attempts at art
The impossibly windowed room
was brighter than all the others in the house

Only there can I meet the stranger
that stalks my garden gate at night
Only there will I marry him

My friend’s brain

My friend’s brain
is a patted white movie theatre
and on the screen
is a constant projection
of a marijuana leaf

The one cell
that hasn’t abandoned her
takes form
as the projectionist
“I had to adapt
to survive.”

I got her
a double sided pipe
so she can smoke with her love

I still remember
the time she got stuck
in the cat door
and licked herself clean
until she passed out

I don’t wear makeup

I don’t wear makeup
Every guy I meet is fascinated by this
They stroke my cheek
They pet my nose
They pull my eyes wide open
so they can look
at the underside
of my eyelashes

No makeup at all, they say, Hmm

I’m on a date
Smack my ass, I say
I can’t, he says, searching my face again

Let’s make a deal, he decides

Let’s go on vacation
Aruba, Bahama
Come to my parent’s house for dinner
If you get pregnant on our first date
don’t worry
I’ve got my grandmother’s ring
in my pocket right now
We’ll honeymoon somewhere cold
so we can shack up in a cabin
for a month
just the two of us
We’ll have four children
There is a lot of pressure on me
to become governor
I need a good wife to come home to

He’s on one knee

I’m crying
We’ve been through so much together
He’s the love of my life
I love you, he says through snot
I love you, I say as I taste my own tears

He’s calling him mother and his sisters
to tell them the good news
His whole family is on speaker phone
Aw gosh, goes his mother,
your father says you can have
the new Mercedes as a wedding present
His sister Dana
is going to be my maid of honor

I spot red lipstick
I bought once on a whim
I saved it to use
only for Christmas parties

I swipe it on
pout my lips
in the foyer mirror

I turn to look at him
He nods quietly
Remorsefully

He leaves