memento mori I.
Death has been standing outside my house all night.
Last night I wiped my eyes against the cool glass and I watched him out the leaves of my window; watched while he circled the perimeter, his hands dancing near my rosebushes, giving light touches to the leaves and breaking them off along the neon vein lines. I touch the patches on my face and I try to make out the lines on his body: hooknose frame, dark lidded eyes, nailed mouth. The ceiling of nighttime rushed over him like a blanket and a smile, and I fell asleep with the crook of my head against the sill, images of his dead-star hands floating on my eyelashes, dripping off onto my cheeks.
And when I opened my eyes and saw morning stretch its back in a curved imitation of blue and white clouds like drippy wings, I knew who he was.
Now it's midmorning, and I take the knife and shiver until it cracks against the board. I bring the end dangerously close to my fingers,
cat-burning one and a half.cat-burning6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i cannot teach babies to speak, cannot take their lips into my fingers and impress the words upon them, cannot summon the voice with my nails and form it between my fingers like loose ripped cloth, syllables dying their tongues pink and brown as they speak until they turn white and die, legs snapping like frictionless fingers. once i close my eyes with a little palm curled around mine and i heard him, talking to me, and he said:
i want you to take my skin and peel it back, as though i am just bloody silk and you need to find my real flesh, underneath, white and hard; and i want you to bite me, to chew me, and i want you to crawl your teeth inside my tissues and attempt to swallow me with the misplaced and torn organ-skin of your lips, your can
of monsters and menTime does not wait for you. He walks down the train tracks with squared shoulders and looks ahead like he is going somewhere. In his eye you can see the horizons of concrete buildings dying for a touch at the sky, raising antennas up to grasp onto God's outstretched palm. Time is the seventh grade boy in overalls who walks unfumbling along the gutter with his feet like bound rivers, and if he were to stop and smell the roses we'd all be afraid we'd have none left, sucked up his nostrils into the secret garden of his lungs. Time wears wristwatches like snakes along his arm, traveling up to find his clavicles bent out of shape with want and desire, and his knuckles could pinpoint you from miles away. Time is the seventh grade boy that you watch enviously, his skilled feet and his unfurled tongue and the confident way he sits at his desk and speaks Latin in school, and you are the kid who sits in the back row and draws ants on the back of his neck with your scrunched fingers, mumbling a dof monsters and men7 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
the other sondear james,the other son6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
your name means "hold the heel,"
among so many other things,
and i think i could list them:
your eyes are funny. during saw v i saw your pupils
and i thought, hazel. his eyes are definitely hazel.
and they aren't: they are green-gray, they are gray,
they are tinted with blue, they are stung with brown,
but mostly, they are a soft, indecisive green, and your
lids are permanently half-closed, lazy, and you continuously
look like you may be waking up from a dream, and i am
continuously wondering if i was in it
i can recite things about you.
all kinds of things. your middle name is
david. your cat is a gray tabby with bright, vibrant green eyes,
and she has been de-clawed, and her name
is samantha. your bed is on the floor. when we are on the
phone and you get a text, and you sigh and tell me
to hold, i close my eyes and listen to the sound of your telephonic
keyboard, tap-tap-tapping, and think maybe i could
fall asleep to the sound, but there'd
senses poemsSenses Poemssenses poems6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
1) meet it halfway
when hope finds you it is yellow,
and it is underfoot, leaves crackling
like a spine,
and the earth cries it out,
spilling it from the green-smelling
tree branches, and it is
pacing around your room, hands
quivering with prickly words and sweltering language,
exploding stars inside its mouth,
and you expect to see white and gold glitter
fall through its lips, but
there is nothing; and
when you open the door, metal in your mouth,
it turns around and reaches
2) that other organ
the bluejay hits your window with
his wings spread out, eyes open,
and you listen for the sickening
slap and the smell of your window
slipping up with feathers and blood,
trying to hold onto the small blue
and the bird is the red-stomach curls
on the tip of his head, and the bird is
every endearing little girl asking you to
be the other sack of tissues and nerves
on her see(sea)saw, and the bird is every
old man who tugs at your ears with a sick
take my hand. I.take my hand.7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
It all boils down to fear.
You just watch. Your depression, your anger, your terror: fear (manifestations of, lovers to, expectations within). I know you have these things and I know what you make of them, because no one knows you quite like I do.
You sit and you are afraid of dying and you are afraid of madness and you are afraid of losing and clutching and grasping too deep, and you are afraid of other people and their unpredictable interactions and words they expect you to reply to, and you are afraid of what the world can do to you and how little you really can do for the world, because trees grow and they die and you bury more seeds but there is nothing there, because you are afraid of n
fear of butterfliesI have discovered that I am invisible.fear of butterflies7 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
I think about this in the middle of a crowd. It comes into my head, a gray and blue thought, and I hesitate and stretch my forefinger out before me. I wrinkle the skin on the side of my hand and I brace my knuckles, white and red. My bones leap out of their skin and I close my eyes, so the sun is a big silver-white flattened circle on my eyelids, and inside of it, I can see spots of black and orange.
I think about once, in the fifth grade, when I heard my first curse word: shit, uttered from a mouth with fork prongs for teeth. I think about the girls in middle school who called each other whore and then made best-friend necklaces. I think about PE and my best friend, who poked herself in the eye until tears came, and she would sit in the locker room and cry and wouldn't let anyone touch her. I think about boys on the playground chasing girls on the blacktop and I think about the two boys who ran behind the trees in the field and woul
existentialism in heaven1. First, we have a lesson in breathing.existentialism in heaven6 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
(I stutter, and in the back of my head there is a slide and small children are slipping down and losing their lungs, tucking under inside of them, and I came around afterwards and picked up all their organs and buried them inside the tanbark, hid them away in a little box that only I will have, every thought they expelled with their breath and would've liked to keep, and I press my fingers down and they are gathered around me and they say st-st-stutter with their necks like paper cranes for hope and peace and a hopeful mouth. They do not love me.)
She opens up my mouth, peeling back the ridges of my lips with her claws, and she looks inside and peers into some sort of mess and she says I can't sort through this with my hands alone, I can't, and she closes it up and says no, no, that will not do. And she holds her palms against my stomach like twin suns framing my belly-button with her rabbit-colored thumbs and she peers into the hole and wrinkle
for my motherYour daughter is afraid to go downstairs in her pajamas because she feels like a balloon animal inside of them. (Do not take this as an excuse to go out and buy her new ones.) Your daughter would extremely enjoy the sight of two men kissing. (In fact, your daughter is somewhat of a homophiliac.) Your daughter has only seen porn twice, but she has read porn more times than one should count. (The second time was in the corner of the screen during American Psycho; the other, on a stumbled-onto-out-of-curiosity Web site.)for my mother6 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
Your daughter is nervous about a lot of things. (Including, but not limited to: drugs, tornadoes, fire, insects, heights, pain, humiliation, strangers, large dogs, public speaking, real blood, childbirth, open wounds, flying, and people.) Your daughter is endlessly, inexorably, and inexplicably fascinated with both pedophilia and incest. (Don't give her that look.) Your daughter does not know why this is, but she blames The End of Alice, Lolita, the I
o balmy breath "Everything became quiet. Everything was the same as always.o balmy breath6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
'No, not everythingtomorrow you will come,' Cincinnatus said aloud, still trembling from his recent swoon. 'What shall I say to you,' he continued thinking, murmuring, shuddering. 'What will you say to me? In spite of everything I loved you, and will go on loving youon my knees, with shoulders drawn back, showing my heels to the headsman and straining my goose neckeven then. And afterwardsperhaps most of all afterwardsI shall love you, and one day we shall have a real, all-embracing explanation, and then perhaps we shall somehow fit together, you and I, and turn ourselves in such a way that we form one pattern, and solve the puzzle: draw a line from point A to point B... without looking, or, without lifting the pencil... or in some other way... we shall connect the points, draw the line, and you and I sh
i'll let you in on a secret: You suffer.i'll let you in on a secret:7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I know you do; you know you do. I've always been here for you. I've seen you cry and I've seen you yell and mostly, I've seen you dream. I am the one pinching your lids closed, I am the one wrenching your lips open, and I am the one squeezing the tears from your drainpipe eyes.
You don't need to tell me, because I know. I have you all figured out. You're sick, you know that, and you're nearly dead, always nearly deadbut you persevere, and you hold out, and you're so beautiful, and I'm just here to hold your hands, because you suffer, so much.
Yes, I know all about you.
I know why you are still alive.
I know about your love troubles. I know about all the people who have fucked you and I remember finding you coating the
they never quite doMara made pictures without a thousand words, without sounds or touches; Mara made pictures with a whisper, when she least wanted to, much to her chagrin. They hung thick on her walls; faces frozen, eyes wide at Maras word.they never quite do7 years ago in Horror More Like This
Mara was thinner than she seemed, taking steps towards the bright light at the end of the hallway. Not as sure as she was stoned, she meandered; her feet leaving strange skinny marks in the thick carpet. Her hair, blonde on black, wagged back and forth as music played somewhere between her ears. She rounded the corner and asked the man on the wall a simple question. Where were you while we were getting high?&
and, well,when i look at you i think of diamonds and stuttering and hands, but please don't ask me to explain that one.and, well,6 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
you know sometimes i just want to learn about you, want to learn through the way you let your fingers covet your face and the way you speak when your mouth is very wide open, want to learn favorite colors and lucky numbers and inside jokes and secrets plodding around in your skull, twiddling their thumbs, and not because i think it would explain something great about you, like opening up your palm and reading the scratchy notes left there, lines of deceit and perky thumbs, not because i think i could read the naked future and its sea-creature body from the pentapod craft of your hand, no, not because i think i could read you like your spine was a collection of bony, itchy, hard-to-scratch words, but because i think it would explain something little, just a tiny bit, and
you know i want more words, more words, i want to hold them in my hand until they begin to twitch and shake a
tonight's gift(There is glass in his arm, maybe shattered.)tonight's gift6 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
I've seen him, and he doesn't look like you. Someone is playing the guitar like they are weeping and all they know how to do anymore is fiddle with strings, bring music forth from their fingers. She is turning around in the car, looking past the window, and your name is suddenly on top of her lips, dominant. You are sitting next to me and pulling pink hair from the slivers of your neck and laying them before me: here, a gift you have made, a gift you have been given.
(There is glass in his arm, maybe shattered. You reach out, your hands a sinewed layer of white glare, and you reach for the latticework of bloody glass. He recoils.)
Someone is yelling your name in the background, coming up to desperately hug your back, cracking open. Her feet are curled up in my chair and she is peering next to you, as if she is afraid of what she will find in your eyes, something sitting in your pupils and waiting down the street. I've seen him, and h
our descent into heaven1.our descent into heaven7 years ago in Socio-political More Like This
He leans in and shakes his drink, and the ice cubes rattle into each other like old brittle bones, dancing and bumping haphazardly into the other.
You have to watch the quiet ones, he tells me, taking a swig. Everyone thinks it's the noisy ones you gotta be careful of, but that's wrong. The quiet ones'll get you if you don't make sure.
I wonder if he is a loud drunk, a mean one. If he likes to hit his wife, fuck his children. If he trips up crying to himself. If he likes to dredge up and whine about every bad, black-stain memory. If he's a giggly, excitable drunk. If he'll want to dance and sing and kiss.
If I'll have to quiet him.
You keep resurfacing. You are tender dirt that is hidden beneath all of my thoughtsyou are the tree that contains every last branch of my sanity, and maybe you're in some of the leaves, too, pulled apart by gentle wind and ripped up by an angry storm. I can't let you go, can't make you disappear, can't clap my hands and trap you inside
welcome back to kansas"Before you kill yourself," I say, not unkindly, "I want you to tell me what your mother's favorite flowers are, so I'll know what to send her afterwards."welcome back to kansas7 years ago in Socio-political More Like This
I wish I could help you, kid.
I mean it.
You tell me you love me while you are sobbing. The phone skips in connection when the thunder roars hungry and I nearly miss the end of "you." I am biting my nails and the rain outside begs for me to come out, asking for a retreat from this pavement and these cupped hands.
I feel like a burden on your white carpet. It molds like hot iron to my feet and I resist the urge to tell you that I'm stuck, stuck, so terribly stuck. You look at me apologetically and miserably and you begin to cry and I have to shut my eyes and let the world stop.
"Roses," you mutter, and it is silver and shaky in your hands, with a circle mouth and black air for eyes. "My mother's favorite flowers are roses."
You load and cock it.
I watch you aim.
The TempoA while back a colleague of mine brought up in a conversation that somewhere in the world someone dies with every second that passes by. On the other side of that coin, he said, every second someone is born. He said it so matter-of-factly, as though it made perfect sense that there be some sort of universal scale of grief and happiness, life and death. I dont know for sure that what he said was true, but today theres two particular seconds I cant seem to get off my mind.The Tempo7 years ago in General Fiction More Like This
I used to have this business associate by the name of James Silver. He was pretty young to be as far along as he was. I cant honestly say that he had much of a life outside of his work, at least not that I knew about. Of course you could see him out occasionally, maybe having lunch with friends or partners, and possibly every once in a while it would be a woman. But men like James simply did not have time for a personal life. Guys like him were driven to succeed, maybe by their own will or volit
anorexia nervosa. _part one a.anorexia nervosa. _part one7 years ago in Biography & Memoir More Like This
There is something you should know about me, before we begin:
I have anorexia nervosa.
The denial was thick.
Anorexics, I believed, were skinny girls with even skinnier bones, combing their falling-out hair against mirrors where they appear as a sliver of a profiled coin, dying as the air beats them and hating their folded-paper bodies. Anorexics, I thought, had to be girls who achieve your standard perfect grades and are incredibly athletically-gifted, all the while going on zero calories for days at a time. Anorexics were built of disgusted strength, sickened determination, and a muddied line between self-preservation and -sacrifice. Anorexics were withered girls on billboards, stealing the sun from the beads of the sky laid before them, pressing it into their arms, and yet somehow taking no pigment with them.
I was notand am, I am not, I am not I am not I am notone of theseone of t
Seasons of Violet.We called her Violet, and she was.Seasons of Violet.6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
We knew her when she was young and pale, during Fall
And when we'd climb old trees, their brittle branches
Like welcoming arms
Would snap in two
And we'd cascade to the earthy ground
Carpeted with golden and red and orange
And as we fell,
Secretly, she'd wish with all the goodness in her heart
That she were a leaf as well
That like a leaf, she could be swept away to some distant place
In arms that would not break
In arms that belonged to people who truly loved her.
We called her Violet, and she was.
And with the changing of the seasons,
Winter had taken away her smile and replaced it with the cold blank
A frown that could only belong to a soul like hers
To a soul that had wished to be a leaf
But had became only the scent of pomegranate and midnight
Perhaps people would embrace her only to get drunk on her scent
But my love was sincere, and it mingled with her berried essence
As I would try to will life and warmth back into her.
A gift sh
come and drown with meMy back aches where she sits on it. She adjusts her legs, her bare thighs scraping against my hips, and her knees release a sickened crack. She tugs on her bathing suit with one hand and tangles the other inside my head, pressing down. She cups her fingers and holds my hair and keeps me there.come and drown with me7 years ago in Biography & Memoir More Like This
The back of my throat stings of chlorine and her skin. I open and close my mouth, a guppy fish who does not understand the water. I can feel the bones of her hands, skinny, dinosaur hands, pummeling through into the uncomfortable red flesh at the back of my head. I can feel every aching, distorted bone inside my body. If I could, I would release myself of them, and let my bones lay in her dead yellow grass and bake in the sun while she sits on me, keeps my head down, and I am just a pile of red, irritable skin. Every time I open my mouth, I gulp, swallow, inhale. I try.
She moves herself up higher on my back, and my legs kick out, uselessly smacking themselves against the bottom of her inflatable
a moment of your time I am a writer because my mother says so.a moment of your time7 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I am a writer because I am teaching myself to look for my pothole blue eyes, fat stomach smile, and popped-bubblegum cheeks in mirrors, television screens, and reflective surfaces. I am a writer because one time I had an innocuous crush on my second cousin and I still cherish all of his two-line emails. I am a writer because I am the stereotypical, spoiled, overloved only child.
I am a writer because my grandfather, whose name is utter gibberish and the colors blue and red and green and radio talk shows and old black-and-white television sitcoms and whose beard is a medusa's pond of browned acid hair, tried to teach me to draw, croissants for eyes and big butterflies for chins. I am a writer because the entire time all I wanted to do was write poetry, turn a phrase,
Monologue"I could tell you that I do this because I'm insane, because God is in my head, because I go about my business with a thousand avenging angels conducting a symphony of holy amorality, directing my every move. Because organized crime killed my father, raped my mother, and tortured my sister, and that they had all this coming to them. That I do this because I like it; because I like to kill, and that I'm no more alive than when I stand there looking down on them, willing the light to go out of their life, staring down at their eyes so that I can watch--so that I can feel them die. Because I revel in it. Because I'm lost. Because I wasn't breast-fed or because society wouldn't have me or that I was abused, scorned and hated. That life was cruel and God disowned me.Monologue9 years ago in Scripts & Screenplays More Like This
That I never watched a violent movie in my life and that my parents protected me and nurtured me too much, and when I saw
Bambi's mom get murdered in cold blood, it unhinged my mind. That Disney walked away with my soul and tha
my, what big shoes you haveyou said, "how readymy, what big shoes you have7 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
we were to make love
My childhood: I never could get my eyes to bulge like SpongeBob's.
Conceited, I said I'm not finished yet and pulled on your ponytails like shafts of rain, and I hoped you would overlook my skin. I rode a purple Scooter and sometimes I would get onto my bicycle and pray that I wouldn't forget. You wore red hair once and sometimes it was black, and sometimes you were teaching me how not to eat and sometimes you were teaching me how to have tea parties in a backyard. At some point you were Irish and at some point you were Indian. Once I caught you Chinese and we sat and laughed in my backyard on a swing that couldn't contain us, and we giggled until you confessed that you had peed yourself, and for a second I had felt so close to you that I reached down and pricked my skin with fingernails like steel and glue.
Once I had hoped for a romance that could transcend words and flesh, until you were Kevin and you made fun of my elbows,