The Nights of Turntables and Tequila

I first got lost in you
before I met you
and I had to come back to see
what a place looks like
without you in it
before I found the rogue pieces
of your permanence inside me

and maybe it sounds like a riddle
but it was even harder
to sort out back then

when your name was tangled up
in the street grids and all
accident-prone intersections
and I’ve often mistaken
your body for feelings
and my desires
for truth

open this door
stand with me on the sidewalk
they are watching us
I don’t care kiss me

when conquest is half
about ego
and half a revelation
in distances

because it doesn’t feel like circles
when your eyes are closed
but dead ends are such
tempting, poetic things,

and wouldn’t you agree,

when you were getting lost with me
and our cocktail of confessions
kept making the nights darker
and the sunrises nothing
but shared debris
and we’re the same,
we’re the same,
we kept telling that sign
we’d passed for the third time
and we could always go back
whenever we wanted to

that was the smallest lie we told

I left handprints of my naked
song on your turntable
I’m the jealous mistress of
your razor-sharp fantasies

I’d felt worried about the taxi
that had brought me here
and hoped he found his way out
and didn’t miss his turn
the way I did

this shit is confusing
and the whole world is drunk
half of the time

but oh, the music
and the kissing
and the now, the now,
our fragile empire

and conquest
being the sparkliest riddle
of a Friday night.

The Intoxicating Aesthetic

When I do indulge in pangs of regret,
it’s not for my heart
or for yours
but for a well-written story
that wouldn’t have the ending
I thought it deserved.
It’s no longer you that I’ve lost
but the verses that will never be written
about a love that once inspired
so much devotion to expression,
so much power in the hands of one muse.

For we loved more with our words
than with our bodies,

how we crossed over from nights to mornings
with lyrical movements
across the virgin white of the screen
spilling imagery that carried our mingled scents
and ran its fingers along the creases
of the yet to be imagined

how we chose as our meeting places
private symbolisms on the other side of the page:
the poised kiss, the autumn leaf, the caps lock

how we made of commonplace romance
complex allegories of freedom
layered in self-discovery
and nakedly rolling in ink and sawdust,
ego and beautiful lies and raw emotion
that sometimes stung,
sometimes burned exquisite scars on our skin

how we redefined our inner storms
with the thrill of tainted revelations
that were more rhyme than reason

how the darkness wept haikus while we slept
on fatal shards of bitter fights
and fragments of immortal sonnets awakened
to the shivering of broken pride
and found pieces of their lost soul
in the restless space between
our opposite stillness
anticipating the surrender of the first touch

how stanzas of light flowed
from the hiding of hurts
the unraveling of lies
the seeping into stagnancy
of a future once jealously harbored
like fugitive bliss
becoming taboo
crawling under the many goodbyes
we seemed to never tire of saying
and taking back.

I’ve come so far but every time I look back
the road is still paved with sentences
you and I would never say again.

I believed in us so much,
not because we might be right for each other
but for the possibility
that the poetry of our wrongness
might somehow architect a transcendence
and more—a redemption.

I forgot that some of those words were only mine,

not yours.

Boldly Drawn Shadows Blurring Past

Piercing the heart of the Windy City
at sixty-five miles per hour
aiming for midnight
with every arrow in my quiver
and all the windows down

something about this nocturnal wind
rushes at me with memories I never had
like a touch that never made it to skin
only imagined
but desperately missed

here, blowing through my hair
an unremembered dream
awakening at light’s tapered end
there, stinging my eyes with smoke
a heart that asked to be broken
if as a price for a pleasure
I never tried to understand

here, a handful of years
like a flood-prone interstate
and a network of roads
where accidents are commonplace

there, all the times I heard
the phrase “too young, too young”
they usually said it twice
like a votive incantation
a short code for primitive spirits
one for awe
and another for judgement

and then this one breeze
brushing against the bared shoulder
of the road close to home
tasted like the mess
of a forgotten bed
in a convoluted night
tormented by the impossible forbidden
that marked me for life

I am no longer marked
this is another life
I’m living
titanium and luminous and
consorting with raging winds

The Footage that Didn’t Make the Movie

And when they get
to this part of the story,
when the anthropologists
of all feelings ever felt
digging through the legacy of pages
get as deep as
this uncelebrated chapter,
may they judge it
not solely on the reasons why
or the absence of one that’s
socially acceptable,
not by the consequences of
a humanness not strong enough
to stand by a resolution,
or point their fingers at
the clicking of dominoes
tumbling forward to knock down
everything on their path,
unresisting and unconcerned
about right and wrong,
gravity the only master
they recognize;
because truly,
our actions here
will have no merit
under those standards.
They will have to narrate
this swatch of time simply as,
“This is what happened.”
and just try to be as faithful
to the facts as possible.
Only then can we have
a fighting chance to
have our beauty acknowledged.
Farther than acknowledged
but not as far as justified:
a few paces past forgiven.
If you frame us against
these ruins,
all we would be
is ugly.
But against a white wall
of neither premise nor prejudice,
we are the stuff of heroes.
Only then will we be able
to believe we did something here
that is worth the ink it takes
to be dug up,
when you and I are dust
and our love is echoes,
by those who will dare make sense
of what came between
the before and after,
and how we lived inside it,
for as short as it endured,
as if it were
a city of centuries.

Third Eye Clarity

He turned his back
on temptation;
he is a good man
and he knew
he didn’t need it.
He was right.

He turned his back
on complications;
he was aware of a purpose
and his eyes admitted
a filtered version
of the world
where purity
shone priceless
and all else are vice,
heavy and auxiliary.

He turned his back
on what would only
weigh him down,
all those plastic bags
with fancy labels on them
and picked a humble cross
tailor-fitted to his
grown man’s shoulders,
perfectly proportional
to his strength,
and dutifully carried it.

I’ve seen him
at his best.
I’m too young
to have witnessed him
evolving and distilling
grainy truths
through his soul;
all I see is a vestige
of what he used to be
before tough lessons
put him on a Potter’s wheel
and pushed the pedal
and put their hands
around him
as he turned,
molding his spirit,
removing him
from the fire
of the kiln
as the work of art
that he is today,
but I see him.

And I go so far
as to presume
I know him enough
to understand why
he would turn his back
on everything
that would keep him back
from the man
he’d resolved to be.
That’s why I forgive him
for turning his back
on me.

Let Me Have This Morning

It was bound to happen,
what transpired last night.
That day our paths first crossed
all those stormy months ago,
it was a done deal:
no words were needed,
although we conversed in words too,
the first gaze you blessed me with,
the first smile I endorsed you with
were enough to let us know
some day, somehow
whether we let it or fight it
we would have to consummate it
it would have to run its course
and conquer us
and sweep us away
and just take over

I still remember
the way you tasted
the way you moved
how we danced together in the dark
like a song
how I did not have to try
to match your passion, because
you just drew the fire out of me
with your purposeful kisses
unraveled me with your hands
and broke me down
with the concentrated force
from the center of your gravity

it was beautiful
it was eternal
it was everything

at the threshold of pleasure and pain
you watched me lose myself to you
over and over
and every time
I called out your name
another wall came crashing down
another question was answered
another doubt was explained away

it was that powerful

but I know
it won’t be long before
the world,
overtakes us
makes us guilty for being weak
returns our faculties
from our flesh
back to our thoughts
and makes us
unforgiving of our humanity
and regretful on account of
the people who would be hurt
if they ever found out
what we did

that would take some time.
I still have this morning
to bask in the residue
of the bliss
I shared with you.

Off the Wagon

I had a relapse today
that you’re totally oblivious to.
There is no way for you to know
just how far I’ve gotten
without looking back
before I took that U-turn
and came knocking at your door.

Crucial day,
my date with destiny
only hours away
but I got there too early
saw my name in lights
up ahead
and got scared
just a few more miles
and I would be upon it
I was about to cross that line
where the scales would tip
and finally
it would be so much easier
to turn my back on temptation
than give in
like a hyperbolic curve
my fear made me miss my target
tunnel vision
made me forget my goal
and focus instead
on the terror
of not having you to run to

so I
turned around
and ran to you
when no one was looking
it was so easy
as easy as all the other times
I’ve done it

but as you
put your arms around me
that nth time
with familiarity
all my rationale
came rushing back to me
and with my closed eyes
I swore to myself
I’d try again
to escape this dead end

Your Escape, My Heaven

When we’re together
it’s like we go to our
little custom-made world
to the size and specifications
of our personal pleasures and needs
and no one else exists,
just you and me.
I stay up late on nights
just to meet you there
and maybe you agree
it’s easier to handle life
when we’re in that place,
where my soft laughter
can shift the mountains
of your many worries
and my soothing touch
tends lovingly
the mustard seeds of faith
you’ve sown in your soul.
Maybe you agree
you can be yourself with me
not only because in my presence
you can,
but also because you want to.

But that world
can’t sustain us
outside of its walls
both of us have to make a living,
pursue our dreams,
feed our children,
and keep the fire burning
in relationships with people
that are more real
than you or I
to each other
in that they are more tangible;
in that at some point
in our past, at least,
we could touch them,
literally touch them

(and it’s not worth telling you
my tears and weaknesses
and bodily hurts
are just as literal as hers)

and the mornings give me
more pain than I can bear
I always wake up
and you’re not there
and I know where you’ve gone to:
back to that bigger,
more enduring world,
the one without me
while the one we created
cannot exist without you
and my biggest mistake
is thinking I could
turn my back on everything
and live there forever;
a fatal blunder
for I am only
your escape
whereas you
are my Heaven.