Process

I want to give you precisely what you need
but what does that mean about my
beginnings and endings
and your endings and beginnings
and the obscured spaces where your
beginnings become my endings
Our faces blurred by smudged charcoal
driving out the stained yellow manes of our undoing

What happens when my sweat tastes your sweat
What happens when my skin breathes your breath
When we are sitting up
facing and folding into each others bodies
like two hands
two tender fists cradling a waxing bone map of coincidences
and miraculous recoveries

I am not used to sobriety
Not while naked and slight
But I am pleased to find
that when our eyes meet
there is still a place I am unmade
that hasn’t solidified from an architects pen
that hasn’t atrophied from mitigation

It seems contrary but
I am getting used to slowing
to initiating
to breaking and breathing room
sweetened spoil from the glacier of compact grief and germ and joy

I count time by the light of the motion of the moon
And the succession of shadows on the mountains
and I am still learning that
people are also just pieces of process
In an unending place

Affirmation

Sometimes sleep doesn’t let me forget

Sometimes we’re walking together
while I’m young
Your hair is still red
And you’re married to the police officer
Who is more interested in what it means
to shuck the weight of his two queer brothers
raised in a military household
than what it means to be getting good
or decent
A man who will later empty both of your joint bank accounts
Even though you have two children
and no financial support

He will never worry the way you do
about recourse or revenge
or the recurring fear that those closest to you
will do the most damage

In my dream we are on vacation
Acting like a real family
Like the light from the past has dimmed to
illuminate a sooty semblance of normalcy
Whatever that means
And there is a strange man shooting wily into the night
Gunning hoops through bodies
From the window of his house
Just because he can
or maybe for fun
because that’s what fun means to him

I try to de-escalate
to emphasize the efficiency of death
The permanence of an accident
born from the push of design

You keep disappearing
Walking out of frame
And I fall into a premonition about
Your frustration and desire to be swallowed

I look for you as you pull out an orange bottle
of small blue pills that look like 2-toned Tic Tacs
I don’t recall if I tackle you
or there is an escalation to a shove
But I will sit on your hips
framed in acid wash jeans
accented by white lace
and try to pin your wrists and arms
to the concrete ground
while you fight like a trapped animal
as if you hadn’t already given up
on chewing through your own paw
to fend off death for just a little longer

I knock the pills that match your eyes
to just beyond your feet
and let them scatter while I shout
I LOVE YOU
IT WILL BE OK
JUST HOLD ON
For a small moment I feel high from victory
Even though you look everywhere but at me
I think I can pummel your face with words
the way the Engineer used his fists
to show you how much he cared
Something will surely break through
Your devotion to die will disseminate
like energy pushing a wave to shore

Your boot draws in what I cannot stop
and you effortlessly sidestep restraint
An invisible hand moves the pills to your lips
Suddenly your mouth is blue
and the sky is full of you
but not your body
And I am sitting on an empty house
in a dammed river
on top of a large piece of myself
I will never get back

I knew then
There was nothing you or I could do
This world just wasn’t made for you
and this was my affirmation

You can’t keep the moon full
and you can’t pin a wave on the sand
Pain will change a person
into something you can’t understand

how do you hold everything in your hands? is muscle memory meant to pick up when your fingers forget how to knot & unknot? everything reminds you of something else, of a person or a situation that took a piece of tooth or a graft of skin, some of the memories distilled to silver hair that light the way in the dark, that communicate with cosmologies. you do not wield a wand, you become it; an instrument defined by nature, responds to human touch, casts messages and meaning from the universe into a song or poem whether in verse or relationship. we are only a series of relations, many prisms of light and shadow. meaning is a trap, an exit, a blood medallion, an inconsistent signature, a breeze spuming breath in the night. my professor told me i am a synthesizer. i still feel like i’m holding all of these disparate pieces, knotting and lacing them around my fingers, trying to turn them into Something, a hand to hold, a weapon to strike with, a noose in case i can’t take it. there are no literal translations. there are triangulations and trials and truer words. my skin is busy and there is a kind of rationality that skins the dog alive.

3-5 years

When I find out about you
my ears bleed blood
fed from inner tributaries—
rivers to
a palace with no prince
in a forest with no purpose
vigil, sigil
growing grimy circle
I bind you to me
unsuccessfully

I used to say I came from nothing
that’s not true
I come from guilt and a legacy of not-naming
of breath barely contained by skin

Your mom dies and you draw the Fool–
shield with salt
shield with amethyst
Sheila with briny purple forehead bruises
a spreading sheen I can’t clean
and folded cold hands that feel like home

I carry the High Priestess
on accident
in a journal with reminders
to ground
to chew and swallow
complete the action
or the numbness will spread until you disappear

I come from bravery
arrogance in the face of cruelty
and a tired, stubborn love that is a little lost in the woods
it doesn’t know a body
or a grassland
or a country
but it has a memory tied to smell
so it can bury fear in the yard
and sit in proximate distance

You said
one of seven sisters has to go first
you laughed a spiteful toothy morsel
I want to talk to you through the monitor
I want my pain to radiate through time and technology
I want to hold your hands while they’re still warm
paint your nails with obsidian

In a dream we are running horses
and we are both free
to give each other exactly what we need
our language makes sense
and for once
the litany of lost words becomes audible

I wake and know
healing isn’t helpful now

I invoke exhaustion
sarcasm
new ways to store tension in the body
secret hollows between vertebrae
a slowed speech spell wrapped around a distressed tongue

I invoke a numbness that propagates new noises
a wild orca calling for a friend that’s not coming back
wrapped in wood
disappeared to embers

I got drunk and wrote down:
don’t blame young trees for not knowing
in the prolific absence of elders
It will take us as long as it takes us
there is a desperation well earned
deservingness absent as a point of reference

I invoke spacing out for hours
staring at the same ten photos
miles of untended memories
neglected trails of dried earth
barrel cacti sweating to burst

I invoke smoking weed until my eyes are crossed
in a perpetual sleeping wake
I’ve lost weeks to this bitter silence
and my friendships are quietly truant
in this smudged light the stars carry my heartbeat
to the other side of a black hole
and my forceful sighs are a sharp reminder
to remember to get it back

The last time we talked
you said Life’s Not Fair
I nodded over the phone
because I knew and know
and that doesn’t help me now

I still want to hang every ex-husband
boyfriend, father, doctor, lawyer, and stranger at the beach
that made you feel crazy and unsafe
from the moon, by their entrails
as a warning
I want to smear their blood across my face
as a beacon that bakes and stinks in the sun
I want to crush their bones for tea to get strong

What is a ritual but a process
bending points of history back to it
offering up flesh
that never quite belonged to us
we persist as decomposers and decomposures
relics insisting that sometimes we have to break down
and we do

I love you and language isn’t enough

practice

an oldie from november 2011

 

look the black bear in it’s infinitely toothed mouth
find the bone mapped route of the finite vein in my arm
i will bleed dry one day
what was will be and what is will be no more
wait
an apparition will be and what is will be no more
this is how we manifest ghosts and ruin them with flesh
i tried to hear you but something kept coming from behind
i tried to listen but it was deafening
i looked at your mouth for clues but the room grew dark
when i found the light switch you were gone
and i retraced our steps
while i moved alone

we’re not fearless
nor do we know JUST WHAT WE THINK WE’RE DOING
take this vein and follow it to it’s natural conclusion
it’s bound end
a cycle that changes with every revolution
and have the bear teeth give your breath back
so i can hear you clearly

all ways
maps lie
have ulterior motives
and sometimes so do we
as nonobvious to us as the culture we teethed on
wait
it’s not malicious
when i say stay another night
or i need you to leave
and it’s not cowardly
to say please be careful
please be honest
please

i still close my eyes when we’re talking in bed and our noses are inches from each other
fingers running the length of your spine
etching goosebumps and circling muscle
i still kiss my fingers and place them on the car’s roof when i run a red light
clammy hands and a cement foot
fuck the law, i am the interpreter

it is not a line i walk
and i am not in charge
like no one is in charge
but things happen
including accidents
i am not balancing despite antagonistic frenzy
it is a curve in time
a dialectic that lays a glass egg to break open
and explode the tension
a new course

i am not walking a line
i have been running
and all i want to do is lie here
kiss my fingers and place them on your eyes
we can’t stay here all day
and i believe in luck like i believe in fate
which is not at all
but that won’t keep me from pulling up the blanket
anyway.

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