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new year’s eve/new year’s day

You say if you could leave him

stranded on a day

in a past you both shared

you would. You would

leave him standing on

the Jersey Shore

sight lines set on sea

and you would

whisper to the waves

the caries of love that

carry you back to his

tongue.

And when he calls your name

the sea responds

wave, breaking

wave, breaking

wave

of all the words

you will speak

when you’re gone.

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25. Sounds and Silence

A taxi driver said to a passenger, “In other countries you can listen.”

“You think?”

“Yes, there are too many people trying to speak here at once. And what makes it worse is that there isn’t any space for the words to go. So they pile up and you’re always bumping into them.”

“I know what you mean,” said the passenger. “When I went to the country I didn’t crash into anything and I didn’t have to say anything. I noticed the sky, even. It was pretty.”

“I’ve never been able to listen in the country of this country. The words are hiding places. I mean leaving the borders of this nation. I mean going somewhere else like, I don’t know, some remote part of the world no one’s discovered yet,” continued the taxi driver.

“Sir, I don’t think there’s anywhere in the world like that,” said the passenger.

“What makes you say that?”

“I think people have spilled into everything. I think even the quietest place is just waiting for noise. Maybe the best we can hope for is a place that has the least amount of words already created waiting for us to stumble into them.”

“The car is filling up. What you just said is collecting in the front seat next to me.”

“Is it?” said the passenger.

“Yes.”

“I didn’t mean to crowd this space,” said the passenger.

“Me either,” said the taxi driver.

 

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16. Construction

Y: “Let’s start love over.”

M: “How?”

Y: “First, let’s remove the word love.”

M: “Can we do that without destroying what we have?”

Y: “I just took it away. Are you destroyed?”

M: “Then what’s next?”

Y: “I guess we would have to figure out who we are?”

M: “Don’t we have to figure out what we are?”

Y: “How can we be a we if we aren’t singular people?”

M: “I guess.”

Y: “Then who are you?”

M: “I don’t know.”

Y: “Try again.”

M: “Who do you think I am?”

Y: “That’s unimportant. Who are you?”

M: “I feel like I am incomplete. I feel like I am a lot of things. That I am capable of being a lot — compassionate, curious, loving, neurotic. I don’t know if that says anything about who I am.”

Y: “But what would you call all of those things? Those qualities you listed?”

M: “Honest.”

M: “Then who are you?”

Y: “Not that honest.”

M: “But you are!”

Y: “Remember, we’re defining ourselves.”

M: “Then what’s next?”

Y: “We’re opposites.”

M: “They say opposites attract.”

Y: “And they sometimes fight to erase each other.”

M: “I wouldn’t fight to get rid of you.”

Y: “I’m sure you wouldn’t.”

M: “Would you try to get rid of me?”

Y: “Maybe if we reached an especially rough place. A place where you made me confront something I didn’t want to confront. And I’d run. Or turn on you.”

M: “You’re just saying that.”

Y: “Believe what you will.”

M: “Then what are we trying to start over?”

Y: “I think we started to reach one of those tough spots. You kept telling me you loved me and I didn’t feel anything. So I wanted to start over. To see if we could. To see if you can start love over. To retrace my steps and figure out where I went wrong.”

M: “Did you go wrong or do you just not love me?”

Y: “I love that you’re alive.”

M: “But do you love me?”

Y: “I have the words.”

M: “Say them.”

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14. Valentine’s Day [365 project]

“It’s just a day,” he said. “Doesn’t mean anything.”

“Then why are you wearing all red?”

“An accident,” he said.

“And why have you been talking about how lonely you feel?”

“An accident,” he said. “I don’t often feel like talking about how I get lonely.”

“And why are you trying to convince me that today doesn’t mean anything?”

“Because it doesn’t,” he said.

“Or because it means more than you’re willing to admit.”

“It’s a holiday created by greeting card companies. It’s a construct! You know, a construct. Like gender,” he said.

“But it means a lot to you.”

“What today symbolizes can’t mean anything to me if I don’t have what’s supposed to be symbolized,” he said.

“Like I’ve been saying: it means a lot to you. There’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of people want to be thought of.”