A lion among sheep.There are ghosts in my bloodstreamA lion among sheep. in Free Verse More Like This
kissing concrete cells &
the bedroom eyes of nerve endings.
( foreign words
engraved into my marrow, birds in my chest
& wars not yet fought between my hips. )
I've taken myself apart every night
since I learned how to swallow a pen
limb by steady limb.
Passed around by grabby hands,
a sold, & borrowed daughter;
I am a lion among sheep,
drunk on life & ink.
FeverI like pretending I mean something to the ghostsFever in Free Verse More Like This
who wreak havoc on my bones-
impaling these masochistic butterfly wings
on railroad spikes
between heartbeats and bedsheets,
I got a heart in New Orleans,
palms engraving names like
Juliet, Alexandria, & Christine
on the seats of greyhound buses.
& I'm offering up 102 degrees of skin to a godless moon
as I breathe in her night scent.
With a crack of bones, I've fallen So love is a funny thing.With a crack of bones, I've fallen in Free Verse More Like This
It sweeps you off your feet. It sweeps out your insides. It sweeps away everything else, whether you like it or not.
Falling in love is like falling into a cloud.
At first, it's not scary, no. It's beautiful. You're up high- so blissfully high- with billowing pushes and pulls of gorgeous white around you. At first, it's the most amazing thing you could ever think of. You could ever feel. The kind of feeling that can't be induced by the most potent drug. The kind of feeling that lifts you above all else, annihilates any ailments you'll ever have.
You collide with a beautiful array of a winter wonderland, a world of soft, divine dreams, an end to your hardships. Suddenly anything is possible. Suddenly, everything is possible.
And then you keep falling.
You don't realize it. Yo
the demons always winyou can fill my heart will all your might.the demons always win in Free Verse More Like This
try to weed out the sorrow lining it's depths.
whisper to me that i will not fall,
tell me that i won't lose it all.
you can kiss me on the lips, after you've licked away the tears.
and sit and wait for me to come home
as i run off to fight the shadows in my head
with your heart as my shield and your love as my sword.
but the demons sucking like leeches, plastered to my skin
creatures made up of evil and sin
their warm steamy breath rotting my flesh
they will always win
you can listen for the explosion,
and surely you'll see
the demons, and all that she's done to me
the woman, who smells so sweet-
who's so pretty and smiles and shakes your hand-
if you listen for the explosion
surely you can see
what she was doing to me behind her curtains,
you'll watch the blood snake down the walls
taste the acid of death in the air-
when you reveal my body you expose your deepest fears.
but the demons, laughing, they won't care
you'll only be
The InkwellWhat is it?The Inkwell in Free Verse More Like This
But how could I explain.
How does one tell others
what it's like to go insane?
I sit in my thoughts, and drown in my head
the gray world I dwell says I'm already dead
It starts at your finger,
but maybe your tongue.
a big black splotch- where had my skin gone?
I waved it in front of my father-
told him to help me, I said
"Won't you get it off, why won't it come off
I've washed it and popped pills and done all I can
but this blotch just won't come off."
so he took me to the hospital,
but not because of the spots
he took me because I'm crazy,
because he said
"there's nothing there at all."
So I look in the mirror and see them
crawling up my skin.
I can just feel them in the back of my head
telling me to sin.
And they spread so fast and only I see
what they're doing to me.
To everyone else I'm just like them
just a human being.
The more I try to get them off the more they just come back.
They all weigh a hundred pounds,
I can't carry them all around.
Heavier and heavier
there's something.there's somethingóthere's something. in Free Verse More Like This
i don't know if i can tell you
or just leave it on a wordless breath
with the rest of these confessions
that pass from my lungspace
to your neck.
but i'm not keeping secrets;
there's a garden of seeds unsprouted
buried in your fibers, where i
laid my last guilty conscience and
slept unsoundly, pressing my hands
to your chest, clawing until my nails
were black and gritty.
and i'd like to tell you, make sense
of the nights i just can't. i just can't
when the azaleas are dry and the rattling
begins at your thighs, when your touch
is the gardener's seeking my tongue
for rain water, asking for another
someday, i'll climb the trellis and
end your drought.
To Him, With Loveintimacy is airing outTo Him, With Love in Free Verse More Like This
those facts you have held
allowing someone else
to draw his own conclusions about
your vain pursuits of existence.
IntimacyI asked to be slapped—Intimacy in Free Verse More Like This
and your palm met my cheek
with constraint, cupped to lessen
the ensuing redness, the responsive tears
that welled but only in my left eye.
There are things like tealights
and dinners after midnight that we agree
to be romantic: that we consume
through antique filters, lace
between our fingers, but your palms
sweat when we hold hands
and I've never liked skin webbing,
nor the catch of calluses—
So, I propose to rewrite
a definition: mostly for my sake,
but also for the sakes of others
who have found themselves wondering
if they might be a-something
because they don't like to be touched
softly on the skin
or loathe surprises of any sort,
who would like to make love
then smoke a cigarette,
go for a jog without meaning insult
to the man in their bed—
Because when I asked you to slap me—
I meant to say I trust you,
A Relationshipone.A Relationship in Free Verse More Like This
i liked him
because he knocked the ash
off his cigarette
with his left index finger;
he was drunk
and burned himself
when he forgot to pull away.
i ate two apples
and three rice cakes. he asked
do you always do this to yourself?
the first couch was red:
soft synthetic fiber that inhaled
quivered beneath our touch,
i like dogs,
he told me,
but i wish i owned horses;
he had a pony, once,
a shetland that hated brushing,
and we laughed.
i was the first to say
i loved him,
but not before he
touched my collar where it
i let him pay for dinner
and my train tickets.
do you always do this to yourself?
when i told him
i didn't trust my
i came home at six,
and he had quit
those cigarettes and asked
i do the same;
on the couch,
now brown and plush,
he left a pack
of Newports and said
found them at work.
at a movie,
sensational and scalding,
i touched hi
I have your number, SeabirdHis bathroom is small and bleak. The mirrorI have your number, Seabird in Free Verse More Like This
shows your reflection in seven colors which
haven't been named on the red-blue-yellow
spectrum. Your eyes are shaking like eggs
and he hasn't said your name in a year. You
think of everything he calls you: Jay, Jaybird,
Rose if he's playful. He told you particles of
every man he's slept with are in the carpet
when he pulled your head back to look into
your pupils. Your eyes are black. They run,
raw and rotten from fluorescence overhead.
He told you the shrooms weren't the same.
If you don't like LSD, you might feel better
trying something more natural. It grows
like marijuana: from the ground. But so does
every poison you can think of. You're natural,
bare with shades you can't begin to fathom.
Something like sulfur is in your nostrils. You
touch the furry rug and think of Vishnu. He
has so many arms to carry you. Jesus only has
two. The church was broad and heavy. It sleeps
in Chicago, beside a park that smells like piss.
He opens the door,
A FeatherHere, in the feigned quiet of a bedroom that's never plainly restful,A Feather in Free Verse More Like This
is not the dreamless sleep I was promised while reading novels
about human frailty and how it can be overcome.
There is no black of night when, for hours at a time,
my synapses cease to fire or at least pace themselves:
stretch like runners, envision ambition and set aside
the grueling hours of circling. To accomplish this,
I want you to visualize an object, and when you wake
from your meditation, that object will appear. Perhaps
not somewhere you can see it, but if you believe in it,
it will have appeared somewhere. It's just the matter
of finding it in the vastness of the your consciousness
that complicates this process.
I am dragged from one contemplation to the next on
a object's path with no resistance. Gravity doesn't temper
my rages, my pity, my faith—I have tried to assign meaning
to happenings, to symbolically shed my dysfunction by bathing
with the lights on or off, by shedding personal treasur
the yellow birdi have six pictures of youthe yellow bird in Free Verse More Like This
and none of them look like you did
that night. i smoked your cigarettes;
you inhaled the secondhand and
told me you thought i was interesting.
i never showed you my poetry but
you asked for it. would you be happy
to know i've written for you? would
you be happy, to know i remember?
we bathed together, in her apartment,
and you said you loved valerie.
"are you bi?" "no, not like that."
you laughed at me, and we
did something on the floor,
soaked the bathmat. i don't know
if it's making love if only one of us
was in love,
and i'm sorry. i'm sorry. i'm sorry.
you still love himi.you still love him in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
the bare bulb flickers, and aurora's bones quiver, porous with constellations. she is named, she believes, for the mottled color of her skin: black, purple, green, yellow, and blue erupting on the pale night sky. when she tries to bend her arm, it hurts, and he says, "just rest. just rest. just rest."
they freeze over.
he meets daisy at the clinic. she is yellow in the cold but tans in the summer: blossoming daintily, shimmering with pollen, beautiful amongst the long wild grasses. she whispers and presses a flimsy little card onto his palm; "i can tell you're better than the others."
aurora accepts her methadone.
in the arctic, the sky splits; aurora rests beneath the flickering sun and the snow melts, blistering.
OriginThey lived in a four room flat so close to the railway that their furniture trembled whenever the train thundered past. Michael often sat at the window and tried with his eyes to penetrate the narrow oblong windows that streamed past in alternating yellow and white, veiling passengers with fluorescence. He wondered where each man or woman was going, sometimes glimpsing a dark ambiguous figure who trembled like the water on his nightstand: someone quickly forgotten when he saw the next faceless spectre.Origin in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Before the flood, the landlord had them living in the sturdier basement level flat; crumbling exposed brick walls and a prophetic odor of mold and piss lingered in the forefront of his headache whenever he walked past the bolted door below the fire escape on the east side of the narrow house. It had rained for hours that night, bringing up to their shins a rank brown slush that stunk of death and human waste. Michael would never forget it, but their landlord gave them a spot of money to
acridi.acrid in Free Verse More Like This
a dead bird rots,
stomach heat-split and picked on,
feathers stuck to the concrete
when he peels it up.
he pours kerosene,
holding one shaking match litó
fat melts, entrails crisp,
marrow dries and bones crack,
ashes rise against the wind,
falling on gray buildings.
in his midmorning dream,
the phoenix soars.
discoveryhow to find the right words:discovery in Free Verse More Like This
whispers between barely opened lips,
when I breathe in, it's not oxygen I need,
but the words.
nowadays the knife is duller than polished stone.
and at night I find myself suffocating.
how to find the melting point of limits:
cigarettes stubs thrown to the blue,
almost burnt-out candles drowned in wax,
heat between bodies, lonely in the night.
warmth will set fire to everything eventually,
and then the world will finally become
how to barely breathe, how to balance
on the gossamer string of barely hanging on -
how to believe the things I tell myself.
how to discover all the things I miss
when I blink:
irrational fears never fade over time,
loneliness waxes in the darkness,
but still the flame I fear stays lit,
humanlylet me explain:humanly in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
i am many things half-heartedly, and only one thing certainly: i am human. but nowadays, does that even mean anything? sometimes it means perfect but sometimes it means utterly imperfect. i suppose it just means uncertain.
i read a lot of books to try to figure out how the world works and what it means to be human, but no amount of reading could ever teach me. you learn when you talk to people and see the way they move their hands or the way they shake their heads. you learn from the way they love you or betray you or hurt you or support you and then you learn how the world works, because the world is made up of these people.
i once told myself i was broken-hearted, and i think at one point i was. but now i think it's better to call myself broken-boned, cracked like a fragile eggshell underneath a strong wind. though i think the pull of the earth is enough to break almost anyone.
just keep this in mind: the world's still growing, and so are you.
let me explai
tick ticksometimes your name appearstick tick in Free Verse More Like This
somewhere in the upper-right-hand corner
of my peripherals -
blurred, unfocused, but there -
and it's strange how i know
the rigid lines and spinning curves
of those letters, those sounds,
without even making eye contact
i wish i could look your name in its eyes
without feeling blinded or blindsided,
without feeling. however, you are like my sun:
i watch from afar with averted eyes,
knowing i will never get close enough
to feel you, although i need no nearness
for your warmth to wash over me.
i am writing this and it is 6:43 pm
and your eyes will probably sweep over my name
as if it were just another small star
in an impossibly large sky, with constellations
too intricate to have a place in.
soon it will be 6:44, then 6:45, 6:46.
i am the tick, you are the tock,
a decelerating dance of the hours,
and we are just the hands
of a long-broken clock.
time holds power in the palm of its hands,
and i can only hope it will work its magic
lustmy empty handslust in Free Verse More Like This
bring to attention
how achingly difficult it is
to put into words.
the pearly silver
from the lazy stars,
trapped in hushed whispers.
it is the deep orange,
glowing with warmth,
filling the spaces between
the caverns in our skeletons.
with my head to my knees,
it is the dreaded pulsing in my gut,
the gnashing of my teeth,
the clenching of my fingers.
it is the gravity pulling me to darkness.
it is the murmur of loneliness
and my slow descent
into unfulfilled sighs that blow hurricanes
and desperate heartbeats that start earthquakes
and fluttering eyelashes,
like uncertain butterflies
wishing to sink back into their cocoons
to avoid facing the morning sun
april twenty-fourththis morning i slid out of a bedapril twenty-fourth in Free Verse More Like This
that's never felt like mine,
heaving an exhausted breath
and prying open still-sleeping eyes.
when i exhaled,
i felt as if my life was seeping
out my lungs.
when i breathed back in,
the cold air slid between
the slits of my skeleton,
bringing nothing but emptiness.
it's strange to think that this is my life
in its rawest form, and that
if i decorated it with
ribbons of good grades
and certificates of good friends,
it wouldn't really be my life
in its rawest form
and something about that saddens me.
i'm just another girl, really,
who uses frilly words
and too many run-on sentences,
and hopes against hope
that one day i'll be able to lift my life
in its truest, barest, rawest form
in the fragile jail of my fingers
and the cracked cup of my palms,
and look it straight in the eye and say,
"today, you are not a tragedy
and you are not a sad lullaby.
today, you are the most
to ever grace these ears."
flickerlet's find solace in the candlelight dripping through the cracks in the glass. let's find comfort in the twisting limbs of the hearth. there are no burns this time, just warmth. just warmth hugging itself around us and wrapping us in its arms. nothing more, nothing less.flicker in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
a spark is all we need to start a forest fire; but we'll need an ocean to douse it. yet sometimes a spark is all we need to see in the looming darkness; sometimes a spark is all we need to hear in the raging silence. fire is fear. fear is fire. but let's not run from the flames.
fire doesn't bite every time.
there's a sort of hidden ferocity in the way a flame lowers itself to the wind, yet will then jump back, renewed and restored, in a greater fury. fire hides a rebellious spirit, but remember, even rebels know when to yield. remember, the chains of gravity still bind fire to the ground.
let's not fear the heat or the brightness. let's climb closer to it, brush it with our fingers and just watch it dance in its own w
of victors and survivorsFear is a poison that rips through my bloodstreamof victors and survivors in Free Verse More Like This
and tears at my arteries and fills my vision with red -
and all I can do is sit here and let it. Submissive,
but not passive: that's the difference.
For the first time, I am blind and caught in
utter darkness, engulfing and suffocating,
and I find myself thinking there is nothing here
that is not a tragedy; not me, not you, and not
even the constellations that we name after dead heroes,
or the meadows that we name after wars,
or the scars that we name after nightmares.
I am poisoned by terror, slowly seeping through
the marrow of my bones, inching closer and closer
to something resembling a soul, and I plead
for an antidote, but am told that I already hold it
in the pale palms of my hands, and would find it
if I would only uncurl my fingers and unclench my fists
long enough to drink.
When I write, I feel a rare moment of barely holding on,
of teetering on the edge and regaining my balance
for a sweet instant, of recalling memories burie
scar-litthe scar-lit passagewaysscar-lit in Free Verse More Like This
of my throat twisting
and turning as the storm
of sound drums its way
edgy glass voices cutting
through tissue, exposing
bare throats that dangle,
helpless, in front of
flooding my mouth
drowning my tongue
tasting the rawness
of the words
strange how blood tastes
so dead when we need it
to stay alive
strange how it pounds
through my ears until
even i can't hear
my own words
speech in its natural habitat
the scar-lit passageways
of my throat
and yet i am still
and i shall never recoverhow does a secondand i shall never recover in Free Verse More Like This
drag into an hour into a year?
i feel as if i've lived fifty lifetimes
and i am not even twenty;
youth is an illusion, a magic show, and the curtain
has long since fallen.
and so time crawls sluggishly on
but in the quickest of ways
because sometimes i blink and it is
four o' clock
in the goddamn morning,
and i swear to god i can hear voices in my head
and i wonder how much longer i can hold on for.
my joints screech in protest when i move
and my muscles creak like i am
a tin man come to life.
i am not a tin man come to life.
it's on these sorts of nights
where the hopelessness starts
to settle in,
nestling its way into
† between † my † ribs † and
† in † my † spine.
it is like black poison
my marrow and my veins and
† † †i can feel myself decaying
from †the † inside † † † † † †out
and † † † † find † † † † †myself
† †wishing † † † † i † † †could † †decompose
† † † † † † fast † †er.
the way i close my eyesthis is the way i close my eyesthe way i close my eyes in Free Verse More Like This
while lying in the dark chill
and huddled under blankets:
shakily, with shivered hesitance
and a frosty breath of nostalgia,
with a will to turn the clock forward
and cheeks yearning for
the warmth of the sun.
this is the way i close my eyes
while sweating under the heavy air,
bare-skinned and bare-boned:
with resignation, wearily,
as if a hundred thousand years
have eaten away at my skeleton,
fragile as bird wings,
and the aching desire for another soul
to lie broken beside me.
this is the way i close my eyes
while trembling in a cold sweat
in the dead of the night,
too terrified to glance behind me:
with forced whimsy and
a manufactured, prepackaged diorama
constructed behind my eyelids
of your presence next to me
and a soft breath pressing
against the back of my neck,
an everlasting reminder that
i am not alone in living.
with thanks to salingerAudio version.with thanks to salinger in Free Verse More Like This
it's on those cold mornings
when you are nothing but indrawn breath
swirling and knitted up inside too-big
skin and weightless bones--
when the horizon arches up against
the half-thawed tendrils of sunrise
with golden teeth,
and smiling, begs--
it's on those cold mornings
when leaving is easiest.
the car will be cold, and you will
shiver, and the engine,
much too loud,
will smack of blasphemy
but you will find peace in the steady roll
of tarmac and the yellowing light
spilling across it,
with dust motes kicked up and carried
like fish in the undertow.
when you come to that first
crossroads, it will shock you:
the way the decision hangs there
trembling and desperate--
but there are no right answers and you will not
hesitate. and each successive choice
will be made of its own accord,
and you will roll the windows down,
and draw down the scent of ear
lovesong for sailorboyRead aloud and explained (somewhat) here.lovesong for sailorboy in Free Verse More Like This
i have always loved words as you love the sea
but i have grown to hate
because i have always had words
but never for you.
words for everything
but i have words for this, so
i'll take them
one by one.
the ocean was your first love and
i could always see it in your eyes.
most would call them blue--just
like a swell over a sandbar
blue like the spring sky over a poppy field.
but i don't think anyone
got as close as i did and they're not blue
not shorebound and
they're gray like the steelbellied sea itself
like the horizon at dawn as it
hems you into an impossibly vast canvas
like a demarcation line
or a promise.
one you always chased.
maybe i had a streak of ocea
north pacificAudio version thisaway.north pacific in Free Verse More Like This
icewater and tumblestone beaches, and i wonder, clifftop,
if the fog tastes like forest.
the ocean carves its histories
in the driftwood--creation stories and
lullabyes worn smooth,
bleached to a polish.
it might be sand shifting but maybe--
maybe i can feel the whalesong,
low and deep
thrumming in the hollow spaces of my bones.
i envy the seabirds
who have more room to feel.
sleepon quiet islandssleep in Free Verse More Like This
we are quieter--
breathing with the ocean's heave,
sirensAudio version here.sirens in Free Verse More Like This
sometimes the mermaids will watch the sailorboys, and green ocean eyes will take in the powerful shoulders and the instinctive sense of balance, and sometimes one will fall in love. and sometimes this love will fill up her chest so much it hurts, and sometimes it will make her reckless--make her swim silently up to the sides of the boats and reach up (carefully, with just the barest sound of water droplets tumbling back into the depths) and rest her arms on the wood that's long since been worn smooth from salt and sun. and sometimes the sailorboy will turn, but he'll see nothing--but when he hauls in his net it will be brimming, straining at the seams, and he will look out over the ocean for a moment, all the way to the blank horizon, and sometimes he will wonder.
and it's easy to love the girls that swim up from the bottom of the ocean with nets knotted up in their
ghosts of the border townsRead aloud here.ghosts of the border towns in Free Verse More Like This
the desertgirls all wear their white dresses,
braids cinched with ribbons wilted
like the crops.
they walk barefoot, and they have learned
how to keep from kicking up
the sand--they have learned
how to be perfectly still.
the scorchwinds start up, and they
stand beneath the rattling ocotillos,
dresses curling and brushing against
calves dark with dust and
they stare such betrayal, such trust,
as though you are the devil
or salvation--as though
they haven't made up their minds.
say what you like.
they won't smile, only
until long after you are out of sight
and the horizon has
whiskey ghoststhere's talk curling up through the smokelacedwhiskey ghosts in Free Verse More Like This
sepia, brushing along the rafters and
making soft, swirling exits
through the chinks.
a friend on each arm, to the last man:
jack on the scarred wood, samuel
safe in scarred leather.
the rest are merely
of the most dangerous kind.
"the boys are talkin bout
eye contact is
economized--only the tightest of glances
to faces, to windows, to exits,
"let them." corner table--the hush
three steps and a mile
away, someone shuffles cards.
wolfish leer and baritone
rasp, rumbling through teeth--
"we'll all be
dark with age and
memory, has heard it all
the night grins on,
dragging with silver claws over the
escapeAudio--both versions.escape in Free Verse More Like This
the words the sounds
among these iron islands entre estas islas de acero
we fight to fill our lungs-- luchamos por oxigenar nuestras
our reptile blood venas frías--nuestra sangre
run cold. de reptil.
those lungs pulmones vacios,
empty with the asfixiados con el
click, clicki will make my unapologies--click, click in Free Verse More Like This
mark my skin in the patterns on prey animals.
i will hide but i will not stand transfixed,
and neither run:
lemmings are an urban myth,
summergirlNow read aloud over here. Do give it a listen, won't you?summergirl in Free Verse More Like This
you are crowthroated and tumbling
through the aspen grove
hair on fire with sunrise, lungs
full of sky.
eyelashes like wildflowers
and every morning brings
a new spray of freckles
and a sharper curve to your collarbones.
the cornfields hold no shadows
for your lighthouse eyes
and there are no endings in that
ii. you have grown
autumn finds you with broken ankles
leaning on an oak branch
and watching the skies.
crow to sparrow--you are quiet.
summergirl, there is peace in silence,
fallen antlers in your hands.
you will come to mourn your deer.
keep them close.
iii. by winter you have paled,
and like the streams
your eyes have frosted over.
you feel the chill--
there is no need for sight.