River Rocks, August 2017

Like a rock made smooth by the river,
I have been made soft my my caregiver.

I longed for my original jagged edges,
longed to remove myself from the soothing dredges.

Now I break myself against everything I meet,
hoping to be reformed: battered and beat.

And now that I am broken once more,
I wonder what I did all of it for.

Perhaps there is strength in being polished,
for there’s certainly weakness in being self-demolished.

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Poems about Noah, 2014

I used to think love meant making room
Meant being consumed
I used to want passion, fire and lust
A love that burned hot and turned doubt into dust

I used to see him and I in terms of what I had won
Our futures, our presents, all that we’ve done
I now know that winning is just consolation
The true prize is knowing—just knowing—elation

The first time I saw you wasn’t exciting or new
It was old and comfortable like I’ve known in few
We came together, inspired and awed
I wrote on your arm, “the world is full of gods”

I used to think love meant being consumed
Invaded, made new, allowed to bloom
I now know that love is being explored, to roam
I now know that loving you was like coming home

//

a boy touched me once, and it resounded forever

waves of something — emotion or whatever

 

he was number three of a list that grew after

to great lengths, i can’t lie

not like him (he was an actor)

 

I saw him read poetry and words beat out his chest

daring to be heard like i never could, like he was best

 

he was something, something real and without fear

if not a little egotistical

much like me (i’m an engineer)

 

maybe it was fate that our love grew damp

or — likely — that he left for jewish summer camp

//

My last summer here, I drink wine on an illuminated porch, twinkle lights all around me. A boy is sitting next to me, showing me his tattoos. I wonder if this is what falling in love feels like. It will take us hours to kiss, to get to the actual raw skin and bones of the act.

Until then, we satisfy ourselves with gentle grazes of the fingers as I draw fake tattoos on his arms of my favorite quotes, the things I like to doodle in class when I’m not paying attention. We retreat to his bedroom, a simple room occupied only by a bed and dirty clothes, to watch a movie.

When the movie is over, he starts to take off my clothes. I am frenzied; he is calm. He turns on the lights, and looks at me. I feel like I’m burning. I’ve never been looked at like this. Whether or not I am falling in love with him is no longer a question; it’s a certainty screaming inside my head as my lungs struggle to take the next breath and my hands struggle at his zipper.

Three weeks later, he has already moved away, but I replay the night over and over as I fuck his next-door neighbor.

Poems about Parents, pre-antidepressants.

(mom)

its her, with the walls around me

the taste and all i can’t see

shredding circles like the thing i cant think of

the woman who pushes and who shoves

 

memories fade like they’re wont to do

an aging smile and a morality true

what light, what dark,

what wanders and sparks

 

stories about potential choke in my mouth

tongue in cheek, birds headed south

like flying away would solve all

but I’m meant to stay past the fall

 

“stay, stay, stay,” she shouts

but the truth and my words have since come out

i’m not her, not the one she wants me to be

is this —poison— how i’m meant to be free?

 

not a doctor, not a lawyer, not close to success

would i trade it all for a “you love me?” / “yes”

mother, mom, sweetness above

and i thought i was done writing poems about love

 

//

(dad)

i am covered in sugar

made to taste sweet

i am bathed and borne

to be palatable

i can hurt, maim. i can break

as long as i only do it to myself

 

my father doesn’t love me —

“can’t you find some sort of coping mechanism”

“can’t you control your emotions just a little”

i am fire and ash, destroying myself from within

but far be it from me not to bury in myself in sugar

Talk Shit, 2016

learn to be messy and learn to talk shit

learn to leave places when you know they don’t fit

 

work hard to earn keep in a world you’re unsure of

work hard to stay steely, cast out notions of love

 

pray all you’ve done will reward you one day

pray that no one will know that you pray

 

breathe hard and breathe deep but know it will end

breathe in and breathe out, power pose, and click “send”

 

know that nothing you do is for sure

know there is no such thing as being pure

 

at the end of the day, open your legs and your heart

in the morning think that nothing could keep you apart

 

unlearn it all, make it all go away

make space in your mess for his holy day

 

nothing is certain, but blood, sand, and grit

take it all away, at least you know to talk shit

Poems About Erik, 2013

I told you

I knew

you didn’t like me.

You said nothing.

 

You just laid

kisses on my lips

your body too mine

your head into the nape of my neck.

 

I needed the words, too.

//

I am not a poet,

my mother scolds me.

 

But she’s never read about

the light blue of your iris,

the creamy haze the sleep spreads over them,

your soft malleable skin

and the marks my eager fingers leave on it,

your shiny white teeth

and the marks they leave on my neck.

 

I am not in love,

my mother warns me.

 

But she’s never felt

the soft steady gaze of your eyes

always willing to meet mine,

the eagerness of your lips

as they force themselves against my skin,

the vibrations of your throat

as you moan into my open mouth.

//

A priest tole me,

when asked,

“What does it mean

that you’re a Christian?”

to answer,

“I have seen

true

and infinite

love.”

 

He was thinking of Jesus,

lost in his own faith.

 

I was thinking of

the taste of sugar on my tongue,

the sway and sweat of sweet music,

and the indelible image

of your eyes,

searching for me across the room.

//

Do you think

the stars look down on us,

and marvel?

 

At our cells’ distinct purposes and rhythmic function?

At the lights string from our hearts?

At the explosions when our lips touch?

 

Do you think

we make them

feel small?

//

A neutron star

is 1.4 masses of the sun.

 

We are, combined,

7.6 x 10-29 masses of the sun

and more than neutrons —

we are electrons, protons, too.

 

But, together,

circling around each other,

we are more like

10 to 25 solar masses:

a black hole,

a gravitational collapse.

//

I want to kiss you,

until your lips

crack

and bleed

and pour out secrets.

 

I want to tear at you

until your skin

chafes

and scars

and bleeds out those poison words.

 

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

“I do.”

//

Your nails

draw ridges on my skin,

like glaciers

carve valleys from mountains.

 

Either kiss me

or stop looking at me like you’re about to.

//

a poem about your unmade bed,

a poem about your childish grin,

a verse about the way your hair combs forward,

a scheme about the laundry on your floor,

paragraphs about your messy stack of textbooks,

an essay about your victory dance,

a novel about your unbridled love of the universe,

epics about the smell of cigarettes and cologne on your sweatshirt

and i still haven’t scratched the surface of you

//

In the (short, sad) story of you and me,

I made twenty-one mistakes.

The first: I was drunk, and you were not

when I told you (I like you).

The second: You brought me candy

and I didn’t know what to do

(It was the sweetest thing)

so I played it cool, even though

I wanted to kiss you a dozen thank-yous.

Third through tenth: I liked you.

I liked, I liked you, I liked you,

I didn’t, I did, I didn’t, I did

(but I also liked someone else).

The eleventh: I got comfortable

looking at you on your balcony

every time I walked home.

Twelfth, I never told you,

but it was a big deal every time we kissed.

(It still is.)

Thirteenth, I never told you.

Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen: I never told you

how crazy I am

(about you)

(about the way your eyes catch mine)

(about the way you kiss my neck)

(and, in general).

Eighteenth: I let myself dream about you all summer,

and Nineteen: I thought you might be thinking of me, too.

The twentieth: When you didn’t like me anymore,

it made me want you more.

The last: I never told you.

(I loved you and I never told you.)

//

I am

trillions of electrons,

billions of atoms,

millions of cells,

thousands of acids,

dozens of organs,

one body.

I am everything.

I am made of stars and history.

I am hundreds of years of strength.

I am tornadoes and hurricanes and fire,

and all I think of is you.

(It doesn’t matter how my poems start,

In the end, they are all about you.)

//

I am

a liar

a cheater

a thief

and you are the realest thing I’ve touched in years.

 

How could

someone so true

love a thing

so broken?

//

You are the last thing

I thought I’d want

and the first thing I ache for in the morning.

 

I didn’t realize how much I’d loved you

until six months after I had last touched you.