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
…..to 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-
that-I-cannot-see
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.

The Foreign Melody Stuck on my Lips

Face retrieved from
the discarded burning
of an old flame

beautiful in your recklessness
I loved your spirit for that
but your spirit didn’t see me

we were two sides of the same hurt,
I thought,
you were the unforgotten beginning
and I was a much inferior chapter
to a story with an ending that
we both didn’t see coming

but you were a star,
volatile, gravitational,
flanked on all sides by darkness,
exquisite even during
those drunken nights when
I could have given you
a light for your cigarette
and you could have complimented
me on my shoes which
I wore to impress you, even
though they murdered my feet

you changed your hair
and I thought to myself,
I could try but would never
be anything like you,
or maybe I was you
in a parallel universe

the serifs on the words to
your tattoos and the burnished
gold on your many piercings
like a complex password
to a world that is closed to me

there was an adamant grace
to your lack of inhibitions

you were like the raw
South African sapphires that
he hid in a special place
at his house, you know where,
right next to his stash of weed
and your old love letters

I always envied the way you’d strut
across the España Boulevard traffic,
brushing off the moonlight
splayed across your amaretto skin

our hours belonged
to the same clock,
and we knew the same people,
and hell, bumped to the same
smoky beats on the same nights

but we only circled each other,
like poles in a magnetic field

because it’s not really
a socially acceptable thing
for me to want to be friends
with the woman who broke
the heart of the man
who was about to break mine

Arboretum Musings

You are so beautiful there isn’t anything to envy.

We never went there, but if we had
you would have found that
I was too broken for you to love anyway.
This is the first time in a long time
I consider that my fault
and not weakness on the man’s part
for you could hardly be blamed
in all your splendidness and promise
to put up with a woman like me
who was a patchwork of issues
and hangups and baggage disguised
as ten thousand poems in mid-flight
and you definitely could have done better
and did, but see,
the difference between her and me
is that she had been broken all the way
and healed properly before you found her
you could see the path
where the resin formed to close
the injury on the wood.
It is the color of fire and translucent like honey.
It would have been, in contrast,
impossible not to love her.
And this is the first time in a long time
that I lament the ways I had been rescued,
the coup de grace that missed, if barely,
the mysterious machinations of fate
that always kept the china of my many selves
from hitting the marble floor
despite the many times I had fallen,
always placing me back on the table
and passing me off as whole
just because the hairline cracks didn’t show
except through a deeper inspection
and yes, I’ve always been capable
of a deeper connection
but that thing—love, was so elusive
although I eventually found it too.
But for the first time in a long time
I’m doubting the whole story.
There is light spilling from the cracks
where nobody thought it important
to make my soul airtight.
And I see you.
You are a masterpiece of fire
and your memory tastes like honey.

Passengers’ Manifest

Go ahead and jump and
swim to shore
my moment will come

I’m just waiting
for the words to run out
I’m not skimming the blue
looking for new ones
because your warmth
has frozen over
you no longer have
your hands on me
they have moved on
to touch other flesh
you no longer have
your eyes on me
they have gotten tired of
watching these same old things
and there’s nothing left
to show, really
if my deep ocean
cannot sustain you
there’s nothing I can do

I am the captain of this ship
and I can abandon it now
that I’ve seen it responsibly
through sharp rocks and storm
of its doomed voyage

just a few more waves
a final ebb and flow
a slow, affectionate goodbye
to the tides that had
carried me this far
I said I’d stay
just a little longer
knowing that
my days are numbered
just like my words

so that when all of this ends
and my heart is dead
and all the metaphors fall
into the hands of someone else
and all the dreams
lay their sweet heads
on someone else’s sleep
and love no longer sets me free
it would be a complete
motion picture
with proper credit
where credit is due—
and I won’t be accused
of lying
when I tell somebody someday
that once, I loved you
.

leona
.
Image source (photographer unknown)

Thirst

There is a thirst named after you
burrowing like a dark seed
somewhere in my heart,
a little left of center,
next to the fear I’ve had
since I was a little child
that I might grow up
to be insignificant.
I’ve told you about that, haven’t I?
Once, when you and I
were getting to know each other
and I asked you what
your greatest fear was.
And you told me it was having
the woman you loved fall
in love with someone else.
I took my cue from that,
even if you didn’t love me yet,
because I wanted to make you
realize you had nothing
to fear from me.
I don’t look at anyone else.
But I see you.
I see the sexy smiles
you’ve been giving those women;
I strain to hear the words you say.
It excites me that your heart
is awake. But oh, yes,
the thirst. The throat that
leads to my heart is parched.
Dry. Like the desert
where getting lost always comes
with having nobody aware
that you’re there.
And the cries for help you cry
get more articulate over time
but only the rare wind that blows,
truly hears.
The schist and sands absorb the dream
as if to tell you they have gone
longer without water,
and you can’t tell them anything.
That kind of thirst.
That incompleteness that stretches
in all directions.
One of them leads to Hamunaputra.
Everything else leads to you
but my directionless love
has broken my mind’s compass
and I can do nothing but leave
random patterns of footprints
hoping they would help you find me.
.

desertwoman
.
“4705” by photographer Robert Bagnino Lubanski

Be Careful Whom You Touch

Because you touched me there
at that part that does not return
that part that does not
push back against your hand
and continues to take impressions
long after you have stopped feeling
that part that I barely
take the time to tame
for fear of
unraveling sleeping curses and
hearing the lament of distant suns
that part that becomes
a vacuum of indelible desires
that part that echoes

I am incomplete

because I can’t start to believe
because I am not as beautiful
as any of them
because you sometimes look at me
but don’t see me
because my hands no longer
belong to me
because of you
.

exoticcarving
.
“Once Upon Her Time” by photographer Vanessa Ho