I have never won a gold medal. running track [poorly] in high school does not lend itself to glory. I told you all of this once, in the middle of the night, while you attempted sleep. there was cinnamon on your breath & I held you tightly, like a boa constrictor who’s discovered what he hopes to devour. you had asked me, the previous night, if you could eat my skin & I reacted negatively, though you fumbled through an explanation. something about loving the way I smelled, or how I somehow took all your senses hostage while we were in bed. you were half asleep. I made a joke about you coming in 2nd to Hannibal Lecter as subject matter for Silence of the Lambs. you failed, unsurprisingly, to commit to the role & also, to find my joke amusing. “nothing,” I remember saying, “is what it seems, kid.” this morning, my eyes crackled open to the dead air in my bedroom. I found your name embroidered in the pillow beside mine, in solid gold thread, though [obviously] you were nowhere to be found.
around sunset, there was a river.
beside it, a regular-sized bookstore.
in its left shoulder, I found a divided café.
the fumes of a pie left too long in the oven
cut deeply through its rafters & pipes.
to my right, a snowbank doing its best
to hide the fallen trees at the water’s edge.
I drank beer after beer & imagined summer;
the river near my house, not this one.
the long & winding road where I can’t help
but misplace myself. in your name I pray
to be found. to be fed. one conversation
every month until the end of our lives.
I pray to be whole. I pray I will
dig up the treasure of me first, & soon.
I will discover the many books
& long-empty souvenir tall cans,
record sleeves & napkin wishes,
which I have hidden for too long.
with all of this, I’ll hurl fire at the sky,
in your name, old lover. I will falter
in the face of hope, I will shout
threats I don’t mean & can’t bring about.
I will fear for the rest of my life:
the end of the road will not be
paved with our letters.
Last night I slid through a dance party
gulping down every glass of I could.
Your voice sang from the pit of each one,
every word I wish I could say to you:
You are my burning ghost limb,
every day. In the useless sunlight.
In the snow drifts outside my apartment.
In the orchestra of Drunken Whispering.
You are The Planning, The Planning, The Planning.
You are all of these goddamned things,
& none of your smiles are for me.
I cower in the center fold of my bed,
unmade in the ruin of the sun’s fading.
the walls are a canvas the street lamps spill onto,
carrying shadows through my windows:
the trees that litter pearl street have arms that end in points
like a rabid animal’s fangs. I tremble at the trap of sleep.
my bedroom may be guilty of behaving like a cage,
but it has always been my closest confidante.
sometimes I am sure its voice is really my own,
calling out I am the house you two could have owned!
these are the colors your eyes could have met each morning!
here, the rapturous shudder of the dog you might have gotten together,
the hallway where your daughter might have soared!
the fear that seizes me on nights like this is cutting.
imagine it yourself – you are not
the be all end all of your own living heart.
so I continue to lie in the middle of my bed,
stretched out to avoid feeling too alone, & afraid
of what it means to give up or lose memories.
I leave sacrifices at the altar of forgetting,
hoping I can make of myself something
strong enough, dazzling enough,
to keep a grip on what I love.
I am the pit of a frozen well.
I am the long-dead scent of strawberry’s bloom.
I don’t know what our world will look like
once the sun is risen over the last parts of town.
what I know is that I will risk everything.
I will collect a series of breaths to pass the time
& I will grind the bones of my mouth
& I will present all of these to you in a few days,
the promise of once buried wreckage will be enough.
“do we have to do anything special when it ends?”
“because it’s never going to end, bones. it’s always going to be just like this. just like this.”
Picture a little kid – stupid looking,
with glasses & a too-large purple shirt,
great white shark painted on like a threat,
standing in a backyard, surrounded
on all sides by cousins, children, parents.
the look in this kid’s eyes. how it paints
the suburban family as venom.
he is afraid of horses, & razor wire.
he is black & blue each time it rains.
I am that little fuck – awful sense of smell
& all. the years that shaped me, lost in boxes.
after the many fractures of growth,
“who I am” is a thing in so many pieces
I have a hard time drawing lines
between one version of me & the rest.
this is why I wrote, directed,
& starred in a film called
I eat, drink, wear, laugh at
all of the same things I used to love.
here is a summary of the film:
- the shoes I wear throughout it?
they are my 8th pair of the same shoe.
- the flavor of ice cream I call my favorite?
mint chocolate chip, since I was 7.
- the very-important opinion of dogs I throw around?
fucking hilarious. always.
surprisingly, the movie didn’t do well.
Personally, I found the protagonist’s closing soliloquy
under the beaten stars with all their ruined glow
moving & just self-loathing enough for reality:
I try to keep the word repetition on my mind.
I try to keep in touch with the person I hated being,
with the one who lost sight of everything
in december, 2010. I was angry with a girl
I loved, & wanted badly to hurt her.
There was a pale bitterness in me,
about as much as any fuckup discovers
they are holding on to like a brittle gem.
I made a mistake, then
by setting my mouth to someone else’s,
someone I was not meant to write letters to
& never will again.
I signed the contract.
I cut the word DISAPPOINTMENT
into my bedroom door.
I cried every night, knowing
everything in me was a mistake.
& I remember how we drove
from your house in georgia, all
the way back to northampton:
windows down & black metal
exploding forth from the car,
feeling more torn with each second
because the clay seemed just
perfect out there
set against the glowing concrete—
like a backdrop to our arguing,
or maybe I mean a foil. a counterpoint.
what I don’t remember is when I decided
the south was a dead place,
but I think I must have been
a terrible person, in the car with you.
I must have been trying to find a place
I could blame for how I felt
you were burying me alive.