is the canvas where
Warmthhe presses his skin
beneath his touch.
his hands linger along the base of my spine,
caress the curve of my hips,
and trace the angles
of my shoulder blades,
his breath is slow against my earlobe.
that we’ve done this before.
I can taste the urgency in his kisses,
he lays his body on mine,
and I forget
that it is one in the morning.
I forget that my roommate will come home tomorrow.
I forget shame.
and kisses reverberate in the dark room,
I can feel every movement that he makes against me,
he slides himself lower,
dips his head,
I forget that I have fingernails.
I forget how to think.
his skin makes mine feel warmer,
we are open, cascading like waves against
knowing that intimacy is what keeps us breathing,
I become the clouds against his skin,
stars painting canvases of color across his lips,
I forget that I am human
bliss numbs your tongue the
73 - First-AidI’ll say it now:
I don’t know how to save a life.
The first time I wanted to learn
how to take care of myself,
I opened a first-aid kit
hoping that it would help me
I unwrapped all of the bandages,
glanced at the packets of medicine,
and wondered if the ointment would actually work
on wounds that weren’t on the surface of my skin.
That was the same day
I learned that an antiseptic stings more than soap on
this is why we use alcohol to numb
In health class,
they taught me what to do if I ever injured myself.
Figure out what is wrong,
raise the wound to prevent bleeding,
dress the wound after applying pressure,
make sure you’ve cleaned before otherwise
it’ll get infected.
Remember to put on antibacterial ointment,
remind yourself that there is a number to call
when you’ve lost all hope.
The pain is only physical;
Namelessdo not love me.
do not collapse against my waist
with frosted kisses along
I will love you too deeply
to remind myself
that you’re only human.
I will cling to you the way grammar clings to syntax and diction,
wrap you tight with comma splices
until we are both breaths in each other’s lungs.
You will be the moon, faceless,
pressed against the small of my back,
I will write all of our anniversaries into stories,
your broken wristwatch into poems,
I will weave tapestries with your broken bones
and tug heartstrings with the breaths
you’ve left me without.
It is too dangerous
for me to speak your name on this
do not love me.
you will only forget yourself.
AperturesI walked over to your grave,
marked with a rose, and poppies.
that in this movement,
we are just ghosts,
too silent to be heard,
too invisible to be noticed,
your body is riddled with bulletholes
and I wondered how long it would be
until mine is too.
you took me
to the Mekong river
where you crossed,
we floated to the make-shift dock,
before you went over,
I lit a lantern,
and tied it onto the mast of your ship,
you said you didn’t have an anchor;
you weren’t talking to me
we both knew that you didn’t need one,
you would greet the tides as a friend anyway
I told you,
as you sailed away,
to never look back:
look anywhere else.
Find silver linings in cloudscapes,
run your fingertips through the sunset,
You won't even feel it when you are punctured,
apertures created in darkened limelight, refracted on the water,
are just casualties
waiting to be remembered.
5 - Constellation KissesThe sun will rise
when you stop searching
Know that there are constellations
tucked between every
I have given you.
The moon dips low for those
who want to get lost in its gravity
and I wonder
if zero gravity can cripple a heart
because there isn't enough pressure
for it to keep beating.
The sun warms the Earth,
gives life, burns the skin
and I wonder if I could produce enough energy
to move continents if I stayed next to you
because you are the warmest sun
that has ever been in my life.
There are scars lining the curve of my spine
and the highways of my wrists,
The flowers that bloom in my chest
every time you walk away
are forgotten stars.
I kissed you to make sure that your lips
were as delicate as the clouds.
I never told you that my heart is too delicate,
the way sugar burns too quickly.
Too much exposure leads to burns
I am thankful for every snowflake that will fall on
my scorched skin.
The moon dipped low for both of us
and we learned what zero gravity felt like.
I just want to know:
do you ever wish on shoo
Frostbitei am cold.
I have loved nearly every single person
I have ever come in contact with.
There is a temperature for love in every human person:
I am frost against his desert skin,
lingering the way dew stays on the grass in the morning
until swept away by sunlight.
We are an oasis
in a land where our love burns hotter than the
I am snowfall against his molten skin
he teaches me that
there is a delicate balance in loving
something that could hurt you
There are lines in the divide between my lover and I
and only on the streets
am I afraid of his touch:
flinch away, don’t look into his eyes,
don’t hold his hand, don’t look at him
make it look like you’re two strangers walking together,
look like a “bro”,
don’t smile at him,
when he compliments you quietly, nod your head
apologize for being afraid.
Why am I apologizing?
We both know
what happens behind closed doors
because my hands linger,
he lays beneath the
82 - BeautifulTell me that I am worth something beautiful.
The words that fell from his lips
would have told me the same thing,
he pressed his hands against the curve of my spine
asking why we loved so violently.
the act of loving a man in a society
that doesn’t always accept you
is a war.
He was more broken than the sun
that fell between my legs
with every orgasm and sound that I choked out
while he was attempting to “love” me
I never learned how to say no,
but I never knew how to say
“this is alright, please just stay”
Survivors aren’t taught
how to say yes,
I was taught to stay silent beneath his touch
and when my hands moved to break free,
I deserved every second of retribution.
I have learned how to justify every act of injustice against my body
by saying that I have deserved it for sinning,
for lying with another man
This is not another Bible verse.
you can look at
all of the pornography
that says violence is justifiable,
you can listen t
nineariel stole your breath more than i ever did -
when my heart was thudding between your lungs,
because that was the only safe place, or so i was told
i can't remember when my heart caught the fever
for you had guarded it with your own ribcage for so long
my memories melded between your synapses and
we became one
EmpyreanMomma said to never marry an astronaut,
they will always prefer the twinkling starlight
to the light in your eyes.
They'll only end up in ships that float
aimlessly in zero gravity and you will not be there.
Momma said to never marry an astronaut.
You will stand firmly on the earth,
clutching the ground and knowing
they will always prefer the twinkling starlight.
Planets will fracture and stars will collapse
long before he recognizes he can travel
to the light in your eyes.
State of MindThey buried her today.
I stood in the crowd, all of us dressed in blacks. I straightened my tie nervously as ladies I didn't know in big, veiled hats exchanged soft, sad words about what a shame it was. How she'd been so brilliant, how she'd had such a full life ahead of her. Ladies that didn't even know her.
There was a coffin, but there wasn't much in it. They didn't open the casket either, like they did sometimes. The man at the funeral home had said there was a limit to how much they could make fit for viewing, and I didn't really blame him for not even trying.
"This sucks," Cindy told me. We were sat at one of the cheap metal tables they roll out for occasions like this, both of us with a glass of alcohol in our hands. I hadn't asked if it was wine or something else. Didn't care.
"Yeah," I agreed, tone muted. We exchanged a look, Cindy's eyes heavy and ringed, her face lined in stress like a mirror of my own. Together, we drank. It was white wine, dry, about a 4. She would have li
TwelveThe orchids shivered
to the sound of
raw fingers on
your old guitar,
smell of tarnish, metal
and un-calloused skin -
the only songs you know
are your father's
lullabies and a
Christian rock band's
four cords strong.
Played on hot weekends
with the windows open,
twelve years old again,
fat against the waistband
of Walmart jeans
and straw hair stuck
to your forehead
in humid summer air.
I can't feel you here,
in the apartment,
know you're twelve years back
in a different town,
with no stubble on your chin.
Melatonin Addictioncan i fill you up?
on brine, boosts and bronze.
I mean that literally,
The Earth is hollow but we still drill through.
Space is a concept evidently named.
I'm a warrior and you be the princess,
you're already rescued, promised to curses.
is a line is a line is a line is a line
and I'm in enigmas, sure by shore leaves.
sunken ships launch from the beach front
and take their ghosts,
a secret suicide.
If ants drew us and we marched past,
would it be any different, would it be any different?
in a line to end all lines,
and seductive co-workers fling their shit at me.
once primal, always primal, just anthropomorphic.
I'm just a collection of piss stains,
wrung out and forgotten
stinky and melancholic.
addicted to that pin-prick well,
settling for justice with a bucket,
we dip our heads into water and crack the rot over bemusement.
I hope you wake up
oh, god i hope you fucking wake up
Infini-Fridge 9000Barry loved his Infinity Fridge. Or at least, until he got married, anyway.
At first, it was amazing. As a freshly-recruited maintenance engineer on the Luxury Star Cruiser The Astronut, Barry had found his new home and workplace full wonders. He walked through rooms so tall he couldn't see the sky; he swept up litter from artificial beaches which captured more beauty than the real thing; he watched the stars pass by like rain from the sweeping observation deck.
And, of course, he had his Infinity Fridge.
An Infini-Fridge 9000 was standard-issue hardware for a Luxury class cruiser, but Barry had never seen anything like it. In the slums of his native Bomalomalom, pretty much everything was finite (except perhaps for misery). Water was rationed. Food was served via nutritional pills only. Even electricity was limited to ten tera-watt-hours per day. That was barely enough to run a sens-o-vision sim and have enough left over to purify your evening drink.
So to step into a room with a frid
honey-filled heartshe asked her if she loved him
and she looked at that golden boy
with a bumblebee smile and sad veins
like good champagne leaking onto the stars
only a million words were left unsaid.
Pocket UniverseI can smell the typewriters beneath your skin
metallic, halting, smudged vibrato
wavering note stretched out far beyond
the edge of the universe tucked in your front pocket
breathing out in time with your heartbeats.
All along the wall I find notebook pages
old teabags hung for too long, green flakes whirling
while you sit in the lean of the willow tree
and watch the play that is my life
chew the scenery; the stage collapses with a groan.
You pull your scarf in
and wrap the scars in burnt umber
while the show goes on
defeatheredand this is where we bury our hearts,
between self-defeating personality disorders
and burnt bridges and midnight ramblings
we promise ourselves aren’t true;
embedding our memories in forsaken homes
like it is a conscious decision to shed
our wings (reptiles don’t fly)
and maybe I am the monster of every
myth: wide-eyed and jagged toothed and
looking to regain a piece of myself the
world borrowed, many moons ago
as I falter and stumble over my own unaware
feet, wreaking havoc, reeking of self-acquittal--
all I ever wanted to do was belong.
dreams are flaws much like the hearts we
flaunt on our sleeves, and I seem to
have lent all mine away; I am
something entirely ignorant, in the dark,
believing fingers fumbling can find answers.
they never told me reflections are backwards
and the world spins the wrong way and
hurricanes are really an embodiment
of all our own withdrawals:
but one day, these walls will crumble,
and I will learn to breathe in dust.
supernovae"Wouldn't it be great if we could watch a star explode?"
It was just like her to say that. The violence of another world's ending was, to her, poetic. If our own sun exploded, I think she'd open up her arms to embrace it.
"I don't know that I'd want to be that close," I said.
"That's the cool part. You wouldn't have to be." But she still didn't think we were close enough.
That was how we always ended up like this, sitting in a car, driving to nowhere, with nothing but the sound of the tires on the highway and the company of the stars above us. She couldn't sit still long enough to color in the details, so we never did. We just kept driving.
She leaned back in the passenger seat and kicked her feet up, staring at the ceiling of the car as if it wasn't there.
"When stars exploded a long time ago, they painted pictures of them and wondered if the gods were looking down on them. What do you think we'll do when we get to see one?"
"Take a picture."
She shot an expression at me that I
Seam StressThe heaviness settled in like an anvil being dropped on me. I couldn't take the fog inside my head and the lead inside my heart anymore, so I sat in the sun to melt it away. I wanted to sear every surface until I couldn't feel anymore. What kind of life is that, though, to never feel anything? To never feel the joy of love; the way it wraps its arms around your heart and traces its fingertips along your veins? Even the pain of looking back at love's scattered memories is necessary to understand how beautiful the feeling once was; how lucky you were to have ever felt its lips press to your cheek, its breath collect in the hollow of your neck. Love does these things, sews itself right up inside you to close the holes within.
You'll be told you'll find another. You'll be told to go, go and find happiness because all this is, is hurt, and nothing else. The problem is, your heart doesn't understand the complexities of bad timing or fear or settling for another because of low self-worth. You
HomesickI am the river's son,
my arteries flowing turquoise
and turning to rapids
rushing around my frame,
filling me with this sense
of buoyancy, minnows
tickling my sternum.
I am the river's son.
My palms caress each
silty shoreline, every
battered bank and bend,
and these places I know
so well become me
as my fingerprint,
even the bridge above me
inflamed by the afternoon
sun-glow, burning rusty and
the steel blue sky.
I am the river's son;
I bring my home along
like hermit crab,
where I step
I pull water from the earth.
You're Not A PoetYou’re not a poet because of strung words
Together on row upon row again
Of blank verse or perhaps liberal rhyme.
‘Slam’ all you want, other poets wonder;
Your ignorance of couplets a blunder?
Yes! I speak harshly, but it’s no gross crime,
To point with honesty failed verse of thine.
No real poet discards upper case words;
Lets prose crawl on paper like listless worms.
You seek to free verse of those stern letters,
Sever away bleak capital fetters,
But it doesn’t sing of great speech sublime,
Rather, it sneaks of writing in spare time.
Wait! before you throw me in the icy Rhine;
It’s hard to put verse together in rhyme,
To make our dull words sound great all the time,
Hear them ring out loud, like a clear clock’s chime,
Heralding a poet’s summer prime.
Yet the sacred muses weep at your crime;
Your pentameter mangled thick like slime,
The subject not gilded in raiment fine;
Your bold ink font, crystal waters divine
Tastes bitter to the ton
love poem from a pillar of saltthe words 'i love you'
have always tasted like forbidden fruit
an apple offered by a helpful serpent-
sweet and fleeting but
the words 'i loved you'
just taste of
i always thought that leaving you would be like leaving gomorrah
that i couldn't help looking back
and when i did i'd feel an ocean dry itself beneath my skin
but this is so much quieter
and so much worse.
my knuckles taste of blood,
there is no new testament here
just old testament fire
just lot's wife standing on a forgotten hill
rocksalt freezing her outstretched hands
watching her hometown burn below her.
there is no forgiveness here
just mutual loneliness
just a lost religion and a broken girl
far too tired to play pretend
watching you fall apart behind me.
What If We Were Poets?Do you ever wonder what it's like to come face-to-face
with the planets? To curl your fingers in the air without
meeting thousands of plaster ceilings? What if I showed you
how to cross Saturn's rings, inhale the atmosphere of Venus?
You would enter the Earth (and it's a strange place to call home,
really) with ice crystals at the corners of your mouth and ash
clouds stuck to the insides of your fingernails. Let me tell you,
it's a beginner's worry that you'll burn up in the atmosphere,
but I've had helium and hydrogen daubed on the base of my tongue.
Oh, and do you ever brush past the windows on train carriages
and wonder what cornfields are like when they're your sky
and your Earth's crust? What if I took you to the white cliffs
of somewhere or other and taught you how to spread your wings
and not hit the ground? What if I showed you mazes, and became
the red threads around your thumbs? If you'll just trust me, I'll let you
see that getting lost should only worry you in jungles of co
Sparrows and Train Tracks
She listens to the corpse of a wingbeat.
The stories of faraway people
etched on sea glass and flower petals,
like legends told for lullabies
printed with rose thorns
in the absence of paper.
Do the fingers of clock hands
hold the questions of children,
the way wine kisses guilt
and disposable wedding rings?
Handmade letters and gift-wrapped packages
resemble the music of a laughter
that isn't really there.
How many faces
are the reflections of a moment
dying in the second of a memory-
or the dances in the i love you's
that you never told me.
Stranger LoveI am not the sunlit wing-print
splayed out on the bedroom wall.
I am not the dark mass forming
in a corner of an airless hall.
I am not the viscous vengeance
where you sink your spinning wheels.
I am not the leaky bucket
hung up on your wishing well.
You are not my soul mate missing
wandering a winter's night.
You are not the sound of angels
singing by a candle's light.
You are not the rasp of fingers
fumbling with a hasp of steel.
You are not the tattered towel
soaking up the things I feel.
I am the oblivious child,
dancing where the wildflowers are.
You are my unwitting captive
lighting up a jelly jar.