Poetry is not dead but it’s not leather candy bodices laced with perfume either. This is what seems to be so hard for regular people to understand. That if left to our own devices, we crave the things we seek to destroy.
The way your fingers pressure the small of my back is the frothing of words I cannot find. Somewhere in the soft haze between sleeping and wake, I confuse the hum of your body in the dark with your desire to fill me, and we become a puzzle I can’t make fit. It’s the cruelest kind of poetry, the kind you mouth the words to in daydreams as you watch your own reflection splitting across train car windows but cannot force into existence.
Slow motion tears peel down your face, a fist comes through the bulletproof glass of my breaking heart.
Is it still poetry if I spell it out with paper straws in a language you didn’t study close enough? How can I help it. When love is the last word on the walls of a house that’s crumbling it sounds like renovation but out in the world no one seems to agree what it means. I’m only satisfied when the rain moves in and I wish you didn’t have to understand that when I tell my story I’m trying to give myself to you and spare you the weight of me at the same time.
The temptation is the trap; new lovers naked at the tip of a thousand knives.
You seduce strangers without losing sleep and still walk me home, chain-smoking cigarettes, talking about the way you used to make love to other women you thought would have been more tender at it. The ones you see in me when I curl up and threaten to leave. No one wants to believe that part of staying on the upswing of this pendulum life is to fall for the way it knocks the wind out of you when it slams you down. I avoid the fire the same way I walk into it, by shutting my eyelids over my feet. In the wake of the words I am the casual turning of corners, trust is a maze kept secret from me.
Words are to anguish as they are to ecstasy, a race without legs toward a freedom you’re never quite sure if you deserve. We are lions caught in butterfly nets, admiring our paws, licking our bloodstained teeth. All we want is to get close enough to abandon ourselves, to give everything away so we don’t have to eat what we’re worth.
I hand you my skin and ask with my bones if it is love. You hold tight, tell me it is warm whiskey charm, and don’t answer the rest.
In the vacancy of night, the moon washes over me a pale blue angelic light and I remember the way your beautiful jaw fits in my hands, the way the motionless bending flowers on the bookshelf mean someone’s in love in a vase, alone. When the soft creep of morning comes I’ll spend it sunk low in the hot soak of a pink salt bath, trying to be too many things. Cold cream: every face I try on feels closer to who I think I’m supposed to be, so I wear all of them at once.
No wonder it’s so hard to read me.