Betraying Closure

Do I no longer love you?
What was it again that Neruda wrote
about loving and forgetting?
We spend so much time being traitors to
the last ceremony of parting
instead of honoring it:
Here you are
showing up at my door at 1 a.m.
after making it through a whole week
without texting me.
We’d casually tiptoe around
those conversational landmines
and almost make it, make
a masterpiece of small talk
and just ruin it all
by one rogue “I miss you”…
and in the wake of the damage
might as well say “I miss you too”.
You’d open your heart “for the last time”
tonight, in gratitude for the ways
I made you better, and apologize
for all the ways you’ve hurt me,
and I would receive it all,
with tears that are worthy of us,
and still have tomorrow catch us
laughing over breakfast at Valois
or sharing the softest silence
on the sidewalk along South Blackstone
between 54th and 53rd as if
time were moving backwards.

Between us, life is desperate to be poem
and keeps giving us chances to create
more elaborate acts of closure, as if
it only requires a good enough goodbye
for us to let go.

And by God, our hearts keep trying.

But we never had anything to start with,
we never had anything to lose,
we never built anything that we didn’t
already need to walk away from
at a moment’s notice
if what we had were to survive,
if we were to share another kiss:
You’d been wiping your phone’s memory
several times per day already.
I’d been disguising my heart with
melodies of other people’s pains already.
We’d been carrying on with our lives
as if we didn’t know each other, already.

Even before it all ended.
Even during the days when they could have
cut us open and found my lyrics on your blood
and your name ready to spill from my mouth.

I wake up each morning next to
a thousand ways I might avoid missing you,
but what else is new? How exactly
do we cross over to a world
where we don’t exist,
when we have mastered the need
to stay true to something that
doesn’t have the right to exist?

Lie with me

You’ve told me many lies
some of them to my face
and I guess I’ve also told you quite a few
but that could be expected
it comes with the territory
I wouldn’t have found you
you wouldn’t have found me
if breaking trust wasn’t the premise

did you give me all your best lies though?
the ones that still taste of truth at the edges
the ones that feel like a hit of ecstasy at the centers
the ones that bend and stretch to catch
the out-of-the-way questions
and can still receive pleasure from
those complex sex positions
oh baby I never knew love could be so flexible
and when I was lying to you
and when I was lying next to you
the world we created out of thin air
was everything

tell me what was your favorite
among the illusions I painted
and now that I’m gone
do you miss my mind
or are you only too happy to be
back home from the clouds
back to everything familiar
where life is hard enough to hurt

that’s alright
because those heights could be dangerous
and though we were discreet
we didn’t think to be careful
as if our hearts were invincible
we didn’t come out unscathed
but at least we didn’t crash and burn
so maybe consider that a blessing?

guess just a little disoriented
like, where am I now
what do I do now

how about let’s start with:
none of it was true

Except I’m pretty sure
I was truly,
…………………… happy
every single time I was with you.


If I don’t write it down
it will destroy me from the inside
but you won’t stick on the paper
and you won’t separate from the pen
and you won’t separate from the pain
my heart refuses to cooperate
so convoluted
I’d rather put on my high heels and
chase you around the city

we’ve run out of time
so now suddenly there’s time
rushing at me from all directions
and the memories make as much sense
upside down as right-side up
I just have a vague sense that I’m drowning
except the concrete never moved
from under my feet
and the traffic of my senses
is still in a gridlock
from the last time we kissed

to be honest you’re the only part that’s missing
in a blueprint that only recently
started making sense

I used to be able to find my way
but Google Maps kept failing
every time I was in your presence
like a short circuit on the brain
survival instincts in suspension
who knew being lost could feel that good
and I’d come to need your deft hands
to untangle the threads
while underneath the layers
of smog and destructed denim
you’ve been wrapping me around your finger

and now we’ve run out of time
I realize I never had a backup plan
to reclaim the places that are rightfully mine

I just know if I don’t write about it
I will never heal
but do I even want to
if the whole damn city has become a void
after I lost you

To be Next to you

To be next to you
when the heartbeat quits
its feeble pursuit of sleep
starts rhyming with the restless night
and wonders where you are,
what part of the city,
is the moon over your left
or right shoulder,
are you in the presence of love,
the kind that pleases you,
the kind that makes
the surface of the lake look like
it’s covered in flames
and the hours till morning
your joint sentence,
and are you taking your sweet time
putting out the fire

stumbling on what will never
be spoken, not aloud,
not ever,
when will I next find you
when will I next coax the fates
to give me you
to surrender a memory
to tear out a parcel of time on which
to paint that ache that defines me
that forbidden that defines us
or was it you who found me
or did you even find me
or did you find a mistake
and was it worth making

to find you in the fall
and the falling pinpoints
of nautical light
shuffled cards and muffled words
clairvoyance, caste, chastity,
where impermanence meets
the impermeable darkness
that used to know us
used to witness us
used to know just where
you end and I begin
pushing and pulling with pleasure
and that ultimate pain

oh to be next to you
when everything that makes sense
to my soul feels so far away…

Said I wasn’t jealous but

every day as surely as
the cruelty of midday rush hour
eventually unclenches its fists
and turns Grant Park into
a river dream of yellow lights,

I’d remember that you aren’t mine.

I said I wasn’t going to interrupt
your life, that I had too much
and no time to want what she has

but I’ve been putting off
putting you out of my mind
and every day that passes comes with a price,

soft, innocuous hypotheticals
blown in by casual winds
(ushered in by casual glances)
grazing these pristine walls
and deciding to stay:

……would your passion taste the same
……..if it weren’t borrowed?

……could you kiss me any deeper
……..if you knew we had all the time?

………what does it take
… have and keep a love like yours?

It is a weightless pain,
not one I might feel
pressing down on my shoulders
and casting my eyes to the floor
as your irrevocable absences do,
but a cutout from the mirror
and an important part of the world
having no reflection—a shape
where a depth should have been

and me standing in front of that
pane of anything-could-be-
and unable to know myself.
My heart to the left,
your vision of the future to the right,
the way you’d described it to me,

and a forbidden question in between
scrawled in lipstick,
in a language
that’s too hot to the touch
(too risky to ask).
And somewhere in that big,
gaping unknowable
is you,
and the nights I don’t spend with you,
and the words I don’t hear you say,
and the sum and parts
and excesses and reminders
of having you all to myself
that I have no right to expect.

And sometimes what you don’t see
cannot hurt you.
And sometimes what you don’t see
is enough to make everything hurt.

Ode to Everywhere

The city shines harder
now that I know you are in it, somewhere
held by the same streets
unfazed by the same skyline
chasing your life brushing past the same strangers,
the same secrets, the same rumors

the morning mist over Humboldt Park seems
to rise in large fragments and the possibility
of you is all on the sharp edges
as if I might cut myself on a piece of sky
just by thinking of you

in this city I could run into you
or miss you and tell you I miss you
or we could conspire to close
the not impossible distance

oh, but if this isn’t what being alive means

The city streets have a louder radiance
now that everywhere I go I am seeing something
you might have already looked at
that your beautiful mind has bent around that noise,
that white flag on that North Side window,
that urgent caress from the early tangerine sunlight
tripped over that same news broadcast of that crime
and bled inside for those lost children

as if between us we have collected the world
and nothing I’ve missed in this city is lost to me
I could just ask you

The moans and sighs of the city have a different shimmer,
become almost an elegant mathematical problem
how we have lived in parallel and never met,
how euphoric to stroke now the question of
at which intersections I might have
already glimpsed your face and didn’t know
you would one day crash into me
like an accidental dose of ecstasy
or which silences we might have shared as strangers
in some finite space, the library or the bus stop
while waiting on life biding its time
spinning threads of the same mad urban rhythm,
two wanting souls like the lake and its shore
our cusps and curves lining up like jigsaw

just a few breathless blocks apart this whole time
like finely crafted characters sprawled in our humanity
before the big denouement, the Deus ex machina
such a majestic piece setting
for a potential saga for the ages
are we meant to fall in love?
are you going to break my heart?
and where, and has either of us seen Chekhov’s gun yet?
and what is it supposed to do?

±6 Miles from Gravity

Now where do I go
to be alone with all these
feelings I’m not supposed to have,
the knowledge of you who aren’t
even supposed to exist,
as far as I’m concerned,
a beautiful cosmic accident
of soulless, impartial equations,
the sum of my weaknesses,
and, towards the end,
a laundry list of reasons why not
that I irreverently pushed past
at the bus stop so I could
take the 52 on Kedzie,
all those roadside billboards
in Spanish, quite possibly
telling me to turn back,
but I couldn’t read them, until
I got to the part of the city
that would make amends for all
the what-ifs that ever tormented me,
when the earth was sterile
and there wasn’t a cubic inch above
the surface that isn’t somehow poisoned,
and yet we ripened, you and I,
and fell from the bough, bruising
the boundaries, your juices
running down my neck⁠—
Where is the relief for a love
I can’t talk about, tempered glass
and silence, dark flight
of stairs with your Catholic saints
papering the walls and everything
never written, because I asked
but your songs belong only to you
and the moment at the balcony
so short-lived, what’s left
of the blunt paper tossed over
the sun-baked railing leaving me
with a quiver of small warmths
and truths that feel good
but cannot be traded for
more time, pieces of you
and pieces of me too,
lost and somehow found
in a place for whom I am nothing,
I am nowhere, can’t exist either,
with your eyes on my eyes
and your blue sky arched
over my pleasure, taste of
a world on fire from your mouth,
imprints of your fingers in
valleys too deep for promises
to reach, landscapes I thought
I had long promised away,
but have never, after all,
left me, awake now after so long
begging for more,
calling your name