February 23, 2017

Texting you made me feel better, my sister told me, her face a soft, pixeled glow. Once you’ve told somebody what happened, you forget how it actually was. But Elise is in Durham right now, and I – I have always wanted to be practical, a quick study who knows what he wants and does what is necessary to have it, no hang-ups along the way. The process, I imagine, should be simple: look around, decide, take the first step and then the second, a few each day. Spend the rest of your time having adventures, preferably with the people you love or want to love, or reading a book you’d like to be seen reading, maybe in some unconventional spot. A study Bible, anywhere, even in a church, or The Communist Manifesto at a country club, or an obviously pornographic romance in the stateliest university library. (You know the sort of romance I mean, because the bare chests on their covers have caught your eye and you’ve regretted that but wished you could bring yourself to buy one all the same.) I have also wished I were touchable, the kind of person who loves to cuddle and doesn’t mind sleeping in his friends’ beds when he stays over too late or drinks too much, or both. But I find that even on the most comfortable first dates, after battering at some stranger’s walls with the usual arsenal of tireless prying questions – or, if that doesn’t work, demolishing my own with a spectacularly self-sabotaging confession – part of me hopes they will forget to kiss me goodbye. I almost dread the feeling of their hand on mine. Would it cause him more or less distress, I wonder, if I were to flash him instead of divulging over calamari that last night – a Monday night – I stared at the wall for three uninterrupted hours before turning off my phone, eating an entire bag of Bugles, and then going to sleep on the floor to avoid my too-short bed? (Yes, they have Bugles here, and if they didn’t I would probably have ordered them on Amazon because they are perfect for devouring in large quantities at inappropriate times.) I often say things like this in a rush – even the part in parenthesis – after just a few sips of wine. My logic is not clear. Possibly, I hope that if I am able to prove right away my incredible openness through frank, lawless conversation and a stubborn commitment to ugly (but never pretty or unexciting) truths, these men will fail to notice later on that I am not open and in fact have trouble being held.

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My Head is a Jungle

My head is a jungle,

snarled with dreams,

drenched in the musk

of an endless summer.

This is where I hide away

to steal my secret slumbers,

to lick my fault lines

in the shade of a tree

I should never have touched

with friends I should

never have met.

 

My heart is a black box,

crammed in some corner

of the plane that hurtles

even now toward the

tangled green below,

lonely in the sky for the

very last time – a bride

with a train of smoke.

The black box measures

the passengers’ prayers,

sound and image both.

Survival appears unlikely,

but if the impact goes well

they will crawl as one tribe

from the wreck to find

themselves strangely at home

in this wilderness of words

and pools and glittering,

whispering snakes – this

sunburnt bower of bliss,

this strangest of utopias.

tree

Unbent

I drink like Gideon’s men,

My knees and nerves unbent.

I look up from the sink,

Face red and dripping wet.

But meeting my gaze in the mirror

Gives me vertigo in a blink:

So I shrink,

Never think,

Or I’ll fall right off the brink.

 

I stretch in the morning sun;

I reach for Cupid’s quiver.

I pray his golden dart

Will prick my straying finger.

But Cupid has something to tell me,

This maxim to impart:

That art

Without heart

Is not the right place to start.

Now Cupid must depart.

 

Like My Status

You like these tired games

‘Cause you’re twenty-first-century sane

And all your words are just so

When you put them in a line

One your friends are sure to snort up

Until their noses cave in, seeing as

Your stuff always gets a good price

Even though everyone’s selling

At the big blue boring auction, like

Twenty likes, fifty likes, eighty likes

A hundred; two-hundred likes, now

Three-hundred likes, five-hundred likes

And SOLD to the man in the back

Because five-hundred’s pretty good

For a normal guy

On a normal day

I mean, it’s pretty good, I guess

To get five-hundred clicks, or

Five-thousand friends, or

Five million Monopoly dollars

Like the best paycheck everrrr

Like my status or I’ll hate you foreverr

Write a caption I can use as a lever

So I don’t have to worry that

Nobody cares what I’m doing here

With my tiny phone

And its tiny frames

For tiny lives and tiny waists

The slimmest model ever, now on sale

So slim it’ll fall through the cracks

Of your tries to make one single meal

Taste as good as it looks on your feed

 

#1

I am an ocean of what you need;

you couldn’t drink me up if you tried.

I will flood your dry places with rain;

I will grow there like a forest,

green in the arid light.

Take shelter beneath my leaves

and rest in my shade at noon;

our garden will give you lungs

for new breath.