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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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between the door and here

And you’re telling me you love me but why did you leave me?

And you’re telling me you love me and you don’t want to leave me.

And you’re telling me you could love me but don’t know how to stay.

And you’re telling me you want to love me but can’t bring yourself to stay.

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The Habit

In a church yard, it started.

A friend, well acquainted with the breath of

adults, told you, you could have one.

Could inhale the little fire you were taught to fear.

 

You did not cough.

A cough would have revealed you as one

who dabbles in playthings, who could

be turned away, simply, by the vestiges of play.

 

It tasted harsh and hot

and as the thin cloud exited your mouth

your body went limp

dizzy falling dizzy

and you did not think that Earth could feel

this light.

 

Then time came.

And passed.

Time came and passed you into expensive

little red and white boxes. You

transitioned into a church yard of your own

with no figures to mark holy.

 

The night is considerably smaller now

extending the length of a tiled verandah

and behind the frame of a man walking

up the street, his hands trying to burrow

past the machine stitched seams of pants pockets.

 

The night is broken into breaks

of tip-toeing out and hoping not to be seen.

The stick you pull to your mouth is ladened

with lies —

straight eyed ‘no’s’

looking away from the woman behind the register

who attempts to hand you the receipt.

 

No, the paper will not be your undoing,

but you imagine it away anyway.

 

This smoke does not taste good;

has never tasted good

has never blinded loss into function.

It leaves you chasing the night, though —

a night that recedes into nothing when you leave it.

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this is a move [impressions of people we love]

1.

Your hand, unattainable, is next to me. Grit underneath your fingernails, the joints of your fingers practicing scales on your knee. I played piano once. My teacher, who left, told me I had the shape but not the understanding. I took that to mean I had already achieved something I didn’t deserve. But your fingers are right there: nervous, bearded, ever-touching fingers. I remember how they felt that time you pushed me up against a wall and tried to shove your hands up my skirt. That was the first impassioned kiss I’d had in months – no teeth or calls to stop – just mouths probing each other for a peek into the darkness of our bodies always knowing it would be impossible to swallow each other. We could have said that we were lonely; we could have said a lot of things like we were drunk and didn’t know better.

We didn’t know better.

And we didn’t know better again when we watched videos in bed and awkwardly wanted to see if our mouths had grown wider, if one person’s insides could consume the other.

Now you are all fingers and knee taps; I am all half glances and feet pointed with concerted effort.

 2.

I am spatially uncoordinated. Physics, calculus, planes, dimensions, lengths, depths, time: all foreign. Sometimes I speak and my tense doesn’t acknowledge the proper time or my words lack depth or some other aspect of myself is painfully incongruent to the point that I am always floating somewhere near here and you are always there. See, the inability to master spatial coordination has me falling in love with people who never occupy the same space as me. At first, I thought it was a fluke, that I was unobservant and desperate. Even selfishly self-sacrificial: to pine endlessly for people I could never come to have. But I am not the only one to do the beholding. People  give me signals, innumerable variables, equations of what they want and each of those signals is miscalculated by me. I wonder how many people I’ve lost because I couldn’t properly interpret the coordinates of their system. And all of the men I have loved from distances that cannot be traversed. Distances inscribed along the lines of constellations I try to trace with an outstretched finger touching nothing but air.

I am always quadrant four, bleeding off the page. You look like a parabola dipping into quadrant one, exiting in quadrant two. Sweeping, sloping, infinite, gentle, fanning yourself over graph paper into creation.

I am a series of dots with no lines, pencil etchings so tenuous the shadow of the eraser is the only mark that will stay.

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your wings, too fragile

you wings (too fragile

to sweep the air)

mire you

to the ground like

a collar.

the asters of daybreak

(the bar between here

and boundlessness)

summon your quills up

(i see them quiver

i hoist you)

your wingtips

graze the stars

and

(the immovability of)

darkness pins you in the sky,

a curtain.

(you have always been my favorite fixture)

look at how the universe sways for you.