early march

wooden veins
and i am grateful
shaky hands
and i’ve seen mercy

when the sun comes in through my window
i give myself permission to hold
little resentments
they grow in the daylight
and i temper them with
bald palms

people say they want to write more political poems
like the letterss they use to construct their
words aren’t boiled out from bone
aren’t food to eat
don’t come from the day that sits around your neck
tightly wound and suffocating
but our feet are not neutral and
our words are not just dreams

one foot cuts through tepid water
and one foot strikes through green soft grass
both have carried me to open caskets
both have dropped me on dirty bathroom floors
they have seen me sweat and build muscle
rigid in movement
and soft in sleep

i want to write poems
that make art ashamed of its masters
that bring you and i face to face

that bend the blinds and leave us

in stunning sunlight

poems that obscure and illuminate
the things we don’t want to see
the things we are reluctant to show
the places shame can’t hide
in shadow

we are never going to win

our atomized poetry

wont burn buildings
and we can be honest about that
that there are still a few tiny ways
to truly see each other
and forgive the platitudes of places we are failures
revolutions are fairy tales
we use as blankets
to keep ourselves warm
and that is ok
but it is not enough

i will not be held hostage by myth
there is no outside
there is just us
we will tear down and rebuild
and get caught in the confusion of
strategy
dignity
and self-preservation

i want to know how to cut
the humiliation of living
out of my hair
maybe i don’t know what i’m looking for
other than pleasure
and how to gracefully hold discomfort
when i see a truth that makes me twinge
and that is ok
even if it is not enough

i am here for shaky hands
for uncomfortable silence
i am here for the place
our hearts palpitate in fear
but still move and oscillate

between determination and hopelessness
i am here for the pulse of
the contracted eye
i am here for the hand that still
pulls the chord
and lets the daylight in

Beast in Kind

i always hear about this place
where self love is a gift
you can actually give yourself;
something with dimension
and weight,
something you can keep
and return to.

nobody ever told me
that it’s ok if i don’t know how
to love myself.

in the dark i draw a lonely circle
with gun powder
the size of a living room
and braid lighter fluid
through its tresses.
i strike a match
that sounds like a bell,
the ring a start
of an inquiry
meant to flower in fire.

i meet my memories
not in battle
but face to face
as fellow beasts
who can’t escape this place.
we will confront each other
or we will destroy each other
or we will perish in the fire.

i don’t remember learning
to hate myself.
i remember
a mother stressed and screaming,
retreating.
a mother changing medication,
hearing voices,
a million doors closing
at different pitches
depending on her memory or mood.
i remember fathers who didn’t want children,
fathers who wanted girls to be punching bags
or just tiny servants with tiny hands
holding up their heterosexuality.

i remember the affirmations, too,
the oscillating praise that detected perfection
but wouldn’t let me own
what it meant to be human.
buried amidst my god given insolence,
sometimes i wonder if i
was not a child but instead
malevolence
milking blood for worth.

i am trying to make new kinds of memories now,
to leave doors open
to loosen the flame lasso
constricting my wrists
and give my beasts room to roam.
maybe we will confront each other
or maybe we will destroy each other
or maybe they will kick out the windows,
let the flames breathe.

i don’t care about crushes
or moments of attraction that move through me.
lovers will never love me more
than i hate myself,
and i am trying to obscure the shame with smoke
and acceptance.

nobody ever told me it was ok
if i don’t know how to love myself,
so i am learning to collaborate
with fire.

Materialism

i decide
to ruin my body
before i give you
the chance

when the fear
seizes my blood
and suffocates my brain
i use the burn of
the cigarette
the whiskey
the razor
the end of sleep
and come back to myself

i reset
and try to control my
own flesh
in unproud punctuated moments
that turn living into
a hazy run on sentence

bodies make sense of words
in a particular way
mine uses
the force of history
to split my chest
and i knit ribbons through
the bony reliefs of my ribs
to anchor
a sensation that is not loss
i cast on to calcium masts
even though my body is wooden
a paralysis placed by
the repetition
of violence

bodies make sense of fear
in a particular way
my body is constantly tidying up the
purls unwound by exposure
my guts stored in an
ambiguous hull
i anticipate the punch
before the hand is raised
if my skin is the sail
and my body the boat
i freeze
while the rupture
i wait for
bludgeons this temporary
tattered blanket
that looks like a flag
shred from war

i am the enemy i cannot leave
whose strike is quick and calculated
doesn’t ask for
doesn’t need
doesn’t entirely know how to process
the freedom of hearing a no
the graciousness of uncertainty
or how to make a body bouyant
before it is drowned

Untitled

i think i am smoking away all of my brain cells
what i mean is that i am worried
i am turning inward
instead of outward
that my anxiety is making new anxiety
to befriend
instead of skinning it off my body
for a moment trying to breathe outside of its leather cloak
its suffocating coat

i do not know how to be an arrow
i only know how to name names
to read myself into the sky
to extend a shaky hand and then withdraw it
before we get to touch

i want to be a spectrum of light
a place we all meet
to arm ourselves with chosen weapons
to embrace each other and a certain efficacy

dreams of grandeur
only grand before i realize
i don’t know how to generate
a vision that materializes

i do not know how to be an arrow
i just have words

Untitled

i am in a boat
on an acid based lake

the chemosynthetic fouling organisms
nestle and burrow
making deep and beautiful
tangles of cuts
and weighted caverns
on the underside

the oars are toothpicks
dissolving
my patience waning
too

i am not sure i want to
make it back to shore
i am unsure i want my weight
to tangle and cut
through the water
i am sure i see my aging face
reflected in wrinkles and ripples

i am tired
of being told i put myself here
i am sleepy from holding the weight
of the water
with my feet

stress as a motivating force
is another wrinkle
cutting

cutting as a motivating force
is another wrinkle
being carved

time is an opportunity
an anxious future vision
propelling me through the water
the smell of the wood dissolving
a beautiful burning carbon musk

the oars cut
i am dizzy
i want to sleep
indefinitely

Montana

Your mother moved a strange man into your house from Montana
A love interest she met on the internet
They had only met in person once
for less than a week
She’s looking for love in all the wrong places
and you barely talk to her anymore
Can’t give her the social interactions she needs

She’s lonely and you see it
can smell the desperation
but a child isn’t a replacement for a community
your hands are too small
your skill set modeled on cavitied bones

Montana will defend you later
When she’s screaming and crying at you
because you left some crumbs
under the toaster
when you cleaned the kitchen

Your mother told you to pack to move to Florida
To be with a strange man she met on the internet
They had only met in person once
for less than a week
You find a naked picture of him in your scanner later
all tan and body hair and baby oil
She said she found out he was cheating on his wife
with three women in different states
wanted to out him
and abruptly stopped making plans
to move
You had already said your goodbyes to the desert

Your mother told you to pack for late summer
You are going to live in Bisbee with an artist
and work
She’s been talking to them on the internet
They haven’t met in person even once
but it might be character building
She forgets at the end of July
and your silent relief
is louder than your quiet cries of protest

Now you are grown
You’ve been to so many therapists
because you want to know
how to be consistently mothered
to receive care without
waking up and wondering where all the adults are
and you can’t do it by yourself
not yet

You’re lonely and you see it
Can smell the desperation
But a single-mother isn’t a replacement for a community
You know as much
that you are tired of feeling like
a backpack full of sand
while your mother
is trying to swim