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wine & iron
Listen to this one hundred.
(will you savor even two before I'm through,
spit the rest out, salivated cynicism?
Remember when you absorbed them all,
a sponge with faith in sincerity?)
This isn't some trick of mine,
to leave you dangling like bruised fruit
los arboles del otoño
waving a torturing fingered hello
from behind a pane glass the width
of half an Arizona desert,
leaving you to ponder
in strained suspension
when I'll pass the window again,
la ventanita de su alma
No, no trick of mine.
This is moving on.
It's got to wear on you, the way I waver one side to the other, leaping a line as wide as myself, expecting you to predict my footfall.
I keep converting – inconsistent, hypocritical, acquiescent – as though just borne from the bone of Eve's hip. Go on, try me; for all you know I've already taken a bite, am ready to spit the bitter pit at your feet in blame.
Twice a day now I consider our disjointing, the mental lists made that are about to meet their item quotas, every time erasing the items that fill the last vacant spot.
I slept all afternoon today,
naked beneath a robe as thin as bed linens,
on the old blue couch
feeling old myself,
as if just realizing that
youth is an apparition,
remembering Frost's caveat:
‘nothing gold can stay'
I felt the sigh of summer
banging the blinds into the sill,
an autumn-wet window,
the kiss of her coming.
Every so often,
you peeled away layers of sleep,
noting the clock's reading,
reminding me of obligations,
cautioning a day gone to waste.
But the afternoon buried me
in its seasonal quarrel,
summer's breathing of tired lullabies,
autumn sewing her red-leaf carpet.
Reading your sexuality text
I note a chapter on male-female
communication – you know,
the Mars vs. Venus,
heart vs. penis scenario.
Asking the status of our connection,
if our conversing is up to par…
And I'm relieved to see potential for
a few cents of thought.
"What you need to do
is start asking less questions,
start stating more opinions…
That's what you need to do…"
and I see you remove yourself from the riddle;
I feel the weight of failed language
sink my spine, squeeze my shoulders
to a hunch –
and you think we've just had a discussion.
In reply to why I've taken a poetry course,
I offer that it's all I have, my only constant,
the only sustaining thing that isn't fleeting,
carrying me farther than relationships,
than religion –
and immediately realized the truth in my retort,
flinching at citing art over the Divine.
In place of guilt, I juxtapose
this truth with another imparted today,
King's credos, convictions –
that my belief is not about
"the anesthetizing security
of stained glass windows",
that religion is the death of faith –
love, its birth.
God blesses the spirit (poetry, mine)
not the body in the pew.
He said, ‘I'm telling you
America – the whole world, maybe –
is just some giant computer'
and all I heard was the residue
of a drug-induced paranoia.
‘But no, don't you see?
people being reduced to numbers?
a system of social-security-phone-digit
‘Just think, nearly all
of our possessions, coded and scanned,
our purchases recorded, stored;
we're lab rats biting bait
under watchful eye
of a robot wearing
a white lab coat.'
And the conspiracy strikes me –
the monitoring of human
desires and sustenance
on a UPC label leash.
I love you in your quietude,
silence that should close the door
keeping your truths
Two separate rooms
walls all to ourselves
and one framed opening through
which to reach each other.
But instead of walking through,
breaking insulated dividers
that swallow our sighs,
making these two rooms one,
I have to slip notes
in the slit beneath the doorway,
wait for you to call me in;
somehow I never stop
thinking you might –
knowing, had we a window,
you would draw curtains over
the nose-pressed pane.
I love you in your quietude,
my seeking your quarantined heart.
Every time I have one too many, I break myself apart at the seams. I should've seen it coming – by keeping pace with you, at least; no question you saw it– maybe as early as my mid-afternoon pining, ‘I sure could go for a drink…'
What a task, to have to baby my ass in and out of the car, up and down the stairs, through my personal landfill of toxic emotions, the ones restricted and discarded for everyone's best interest but my own.
The hangover's easier to deal with than asking for my broken pieces back in the morning.
I would've answered anything honestly –
to the best of my feeble ability with words
from my tongue instead of pen tip –
would've invited you in to my curious world
of woman seeking knowledge of herself
through another woman's skin –
had I the chance.
But before an explicatory word
can be offered to save face
(why need to in the first place,
save face with the man who
shares my bed?) a 14-yr-old asshole
crawls out of your intestines
long enough for:
"…There must be a story.
There's this girl, and you apparently
want to lick her carpet…"
Fuck it. Nevermind.
Somehow, amid all the tumult
of a night that seemed it would
never end, and a morning
I deliberately extended until well
past three in the afternoon,
you woke, whole, and
somehow, even though
just last night I spun our world
upside down in less than 20 words,
you composed the fragments
back intact between
each sleepless toss and turn.
I, only hearing the quiver
of my weeping breath
keeping rest at bay, could not
catch a wink or stomach a bite
in light of our tempest.
a year's passing since meeting,
Why commemorate the day,
reliving the terror, parading the
of a disaster's birthday?
That's party's going to be
I'll pass. I'll find something else
like the universal poet, the one
whose voice I heard tonight in
tens of idiosyncratic tones and
tongues. I'll commit to memory a vision:
of Dom fingering his ‘fro while
introducing the depressed man on 275th Street,
Jason Robinson's poetic departure to
New York City, leaving a grinning trace
of tattoo-injected love and empty kisses,
Logan's pre-flight reminder
of birth, sky, and the
imminence of life.
I dreamt of you last night,
It won't make sense,
but I dreamt Blake and I met
for the firs time in years
while I got a haircut –
something so arbitrary, you know.
Somehow we talked about
Jordan Ridge, our 8th grade pal,
and the disease that
led him deceased.
But when I went home,
it was you
with some cancer,
virus or malignancy,
and Blake (who never visited
Jordan in his illness) wanted
I tried to guard you, carry you
to safety, but you refused
my feeble arms.
I hid myself under your bed,
How did she always manage to be
in all the right places at
all the wrong times, with all the
wrong bodies creeping close to skin?
where the injurious dead air
stifles her jumping skin
until she jumps right out of it?
Someone says it's Friday the 13th,
as good of an excuse as any to
wreak havoc on a home
Toasting to alcoholic amity,
taking up Amaretto,
Seagram's and Jameson for comrades
from their residence above the fridge,
she cleans the kitchen with calm
resolve, wiping away the spots
like peeling the rind of
a bad night.
I can't seem to get off the fact
that I'm about to start counseling,
keep wanting to find a way
to make it unnecessary or to
heal myself with each word
written, a verbal immune system.
I can see myself, ten years
from now, still with sleeping pills
and painkillers lining a
nightstand shelf, still
apologizing for downer demons,
usurping smiles and swelling
serotonin, dumping it down my
spinal cord like a garbage shoot
piling up. The stench
Glad you're 200 miles away.
I'll chuck the bags of
emotional trash by the time
you walk through the door.
A steaming bath and cigarette
interrupted by your face peeking
around the bathroom door –
more welcome than I could
begin to explain.
Thirty-six hours of silence
and remembering myself,
I would not sleep yet until we
had loved and lain, lit up
and lingered in each other
in the dawn.
I was supposed to have
filled notebooks in my solitude,
heard church sermons or
stocked up on slumber;
I was supposed to prove productive
in not returning home with you
to waste time in my old skin;
somehow I ended up there anyway,
breaking out of it
in your homecoming.
I brought the keychain you gave me
in for a show-and-tell sort of day.
It was curiously funny, this recounting,
noting our return home from
a day of audacious sisterhood,
stopping in front of the door,
you suddenly remembering
a pocketed present;
weasling it out of your shorts
(the too-short ones that Mom
would rather forget you owned)
you hang a miserable yellow creature
rocking in the air between us –
jaundiced and frowning,
a plastic depression –
with one unabashed statement:
"I saw it and I thought of you."
I almost wanted to thank you
for embracing my sadness.
I forgot my parents' anniversary. Not just forgot it like I let it pass by. I was sure I remembered when the month rolled around – September 9th or September 11th… it had to be.
I thought if it had been on as monumental a day as September 11th, it would've been clear, obvious, joked about throughout the year. How could you forget such a thing?
But even given that, I couldn't remember.
I let the week pass, cardless, giftless, and hoped they knew I thought of them, instead knowing 200 miles away, in reality, they had only thought me careless.
I couldn't stop him.
Email after email and even a
phone call I'll have to
explain to my father – a
three-minute long-distance call to
a number he memorized to despise –
I still couldn't stop him.
I cried because I didn't like
imagining the questions in your throat;
in my head it was a why, why
why over and over again.
Excuses just try my patience,
lock my jaw.
Of all places to call, of all
numbers for him to have…
I could only hush an apology in
my cheek, saved to offer later when
I'm done hibernating in
plethora. christening. yellow. arduous.
cambodia. backstabbing. einstein. cry.
didn't. couldn't. wouldn't. shouldn't.
slave. corpse. cadaver. incredulous.
fortify. lion. poetess. champion.
juicy. justice. own. sizzle. toasted.
digital. green. president. haste. live.
mouse. boardwalk. lava. java.
wednesday. matchbook. marry. cave.
yarn. cling. virile. posthumous.
trickle. belly. hustler. deep. dandy.
swerve. shit. ecstasy. michelangelo.
bone. hover. glue. nanny. strangle.
receipt. implied. fluidly. lethargic.
cellular. pocket. flapping. waxy.
bite. bubble. endeavor. rabbit. july.
I. sound. thermostat. recollection.
hounds. bottled. grudge. truly.
slacker. tissue. newfangled. finance.
nerves. thrust. free. download.
void. fury. savior. marmalade.
ghastly. trashy. uterine. plexiglass.
one. awry. nebulous. crave.
body. disciplinarian. matriarchal.
I decided not to go home
this weekend.I dropped two
classes, too. In literature we read
another story blowing the sanctity
of marriage out of the water. I cried
two nights ago, but it's still been
a fair septet of day, I'd say. I feel
like sailing a motorcycle across
this Arizona sahara and building
poems from debris
on warm Mexican shores.
It used to unsettle me, seeing
an abandoned shoe, limp sock or pair
of panties, lone glove palming
the dirt in lonely death.
But now, now it is a poem
only unsettling in that it is
A party? Baby, let's get going.
Don't you want something to do
tonight? Don't you want to get
off this couch and away from
the screen to be how you once
said you are best –
with a beer in one hand and a
cigarette in the other (or maybe
me to replace one at times?)
So maybe it's not exactly how
I can be at my best… But it's
how I can pull out of this shell –
recollecting a wooded conversation
with Nick, asking Sammy about
his sister and her band w.o.m.b.,
screaming to make up for my
I could tell by the look on your face
and question hanging with your tonsils
that you didn't want to go.
Or didn't want me to go.
Either way, we did.
Somehow I reasoned out choosing
a Saturday night social event that's
anything but social or sober
over acknowledging the exhaustion
of your care-taking.
A dead sleep and afternoon later,
I wake and get the harshest account yet,
your 20-something brother saying:
"I felt like a child in
a broken home last night.
heard you screaming ‘fuck' for
every other word, heard your crying
when my music went low."
I don't think I've ever been
this upset with myself – ‘upset'…
upset like I'm upset about
a cat pissing on the rug.
No, it's past that.
I broke my own heart
when I broke yours;
mine just shattered in delay.
Maybe they were both
already broken anyway.
I can never say I'm sorry
enough, can never have
‘I have no deep regrets anymore' –
remember that? Well,
it was a lie too, you know.
I'm back in that dismal
pit I thought I'd filled with mud
to keep stable footing.
Must've been quicksand.
I want to be furious because
you stole my words, took them
like they were being displayed on
an all-you-can-eat buffet line,
an expensive meal only affording
a belly bulging pained.
I want to say it's your own
fault you can't understand this
because you only robbed one
half of the truth, left the
valuable documents because they
were written in a transparency neither
of us could reverse.
But the anger's capped before
articulated. I can't even scratch
a patch of skin without wondering
why it hasn't withered into what
I am – have always been? –
Didn't expect this to end soon.
and neither of us wants it to – you
because even needle-injectioned guilt
couldn't suffice; me for thriving on
single shattering emotions at a time.
Been finding daily new ways
to hate myself. The latest?
always saying ‘Nothing like my
father, didn't get a trait from him
aside from skin;' one week reveals
contrary in me, in Rae,
en sus hijas amadas
hearts adhering to what comes
close, habits of addicts gone bad
in excess; capricious hearts, fussy
and fickle for what to feel, to see
real, to bend; internal, eternal:
who what when why.
I packed the brokenness of
restless sleep and dreamless
dreams into a suitcase. I put
the weight of so few words
(so few but burdensome as
anvils on the backs of ants)
into another bag. I squeezed
the lumps of jagged boulders
from my stomach, esophagus,
ones that had already lodged in
my bowels, turning my intestines,
left them for the garbage man
to haul off in the morning.
Then that luggage, baggage, was
wrapped in air-plumped rubber –
parceled up, enveloped in a giant
blue balloon. It drifted into the
atmosphere, into another spatial
existence, away from my own.
Ryan and Tiffany came to visit, one last
trip before they head to Ohio with Mikey
who moved there for none other than
a girl. I get stuck imagining our own
"what if's". I keep saying
‘Let's go to Mexico…" Let's get to
Chicago or Portland with yours, Texas
for my brother, the whole West Coast
for my memories. I would've breathed
Canada with you in less than a heartbeat.
I don't know if I'm wanting to grow
with you, build something of us outside
of some apartment. Maybe I'd like even
strangers states away to know
I love you.
Watching anime all weekend,
Berserk, even, with its spiritual
undertones, I've been spiraling in
a spirit world of daydreams.
I can't remember them when
I wake, can't remember what
leaves me calmed like tranquil
prayer. But my parents are there.
Yes, my mother telling my sister
and I… to do something? To not
do something? I can't tell.
Enya rings in, new age and trifled
with emotional bullshitting melodies,
and inside I'm walking around a
crystal pool, peering over the
edge to see myself in God, Him
in demons, and demons in me;
swirling in a spirit world,
I have to ask my parents for money.
A loan, but still… this isn't my forte.
In any case, I'm asking for cash and
planning in advance where each
bill will go. A haircut, half bag
of grass, and maybe a 90-day injection
of contraception. It seems harsh, to
spend their own money in ways they
could never accept (for good reason).
Even so, I found out from Kim today
that her sister, Nicole, is having
pregnancy complications, some
sickness unnamed attacking her,
her unborn boy. I think on
my own belly, rounded with life
in time. And I'm afraid.
Another one of those ritzy dinners
in a place I can't even imagine staying
on some anniversary weekend vacation.
It's unbelievable that I get a college
education, filet mignon dinners, a jaunt
through Valencia, London, Guatemala
if I please, with someone else footing
the bill, paying checks in advance.
I fell into this marvel of benevolence,
a prestigious charity even the proudest
could not refuse… But no, more than
‘fell' into. I was placed into it by some
greater hand, some ultimate plan. How can
one merely be grateful for such a thing?
Can't I respond with more than thanks?
The Tip Jar