The Lack of Signs at Road’s End

It’s not the way we say goodbye
……….as if it were just words
……….as if it were not just words
…..how we mince intentions and try
……….to separate the hurting
……….from the designated survivors
that crosses the bridge
…..over to the place where
……….lasting change has happened
…..and things are done ending
……….and ready to begin.

It’s not the pieces pared thin
……….as if by a scalpel and
…..with hands that feel nothing
told they no longer make a whole
that will decide once and for all
…..that they are better off
…..not knowing what becomes
……….of the other,
…..abandoned half of the soul.

It’s not the pain
…..inflicted as deliberately as
turned backs and shouting can do it
that makes it finally easy
…..to curse the once favored.

It’s not the second time
…..nor the hundredth
……….nor the act of repetition
that makes it the last time.

……….It’s you.
It’s about how much more you can take.
It’s how badly you want the other thing
……….and how much is left
…..of what you had been when
…..you couldn’t imagine it ever
……….falling part, that it could
be anything but redemptive light.

From Man to Feeling to Symbol to Dust

I want to name
one of my mountains after you
or maybe a hurricane
or maybe a street.
I just can’t decide if you were
something I survived
or somewhere I used to live
or someone who once defined
the shape and impossibility
of how I perceived distance,
the backdrop of someday,
the boss fight
between the maybe never
and the blindfolded forever.

The Last Rendezvous

Dealing with loose ends
is autumn’s inconsistent lover

being high on a love affair,
both passionate and imagined,
with giving up shades of green
for reminders of gold,
streets that are littered
with wet love letters and
the feeling that everything
is about to change
and leave us alone

and so the bed of memory
becomes fire and we reach
a little farther than we are
prepared to let go
and try to finish things
haphazard,
the unkempt hair of last night’s
frolic with indecision getting
tangled with every goodbye,
every movement
towards the door

in turns negotiating,
then, lustily reveling
in the recollection
of once being so ignited
then, feigning indifference
as we run our fingers
along the place
where it still feels good
after it has stopped working

and we are dirty again
with moments
we’ve almost forgotten,
almost being the word we use
because it takes too much space
to say our innocence didn’t
get spared by the brutality
we have set the stage for,
because we gave too much

and we hurry to make sense
of the half-hearted healing,
parts of our skin still
covered in spring
and a bitter taste
on the corners of mouths
that find it too soon
to speak, but too late to kiss

reading between the lines
of the falling leaves before
they, too, become casualties
before the first snow
falls
as promised
and we should, somehow,
suddenly measure up
to this demanding, nearly
matrimonial devotion to shadows
and salting the frozen paths

and blaming the tilt of the axis
instead of chemistry failing
for the consummated,
unrequited, broken tether
to the lost summer.

Claiming the Scar

When the hurt released me,

– it was overdue

– I wasn’t home

– I was chasing after something that has
long ceased being my treasure but the
familiarity of the craving felt like muscle
memory leading a relentless dance, or
sleepwalking in a house where I knew
which way to go to avoid getting hurt
to the point of waking up and stopping

– I hadn’t arrived but it was the decision
to go that triggered my ascent into
freedom and closing the distance was
necessary but it wasn’t the point

– it happened inside my head

– I could argue that I’d been released way
earlier than this but seasons change
gradually and in the end you call it
spring long after the snow has thawed

– I had written everything there was left
to write about closure and divorcing the
past, and the blank page stares back at
me, lined with silver like the blessing of
rain

– it feels like a host of things happening
all at once: the pleasure of a deep
breath, the anxiety of a new world, the
ghost claws reminding you where they’d
been when they held you, the flesh
asking where to go now that they can
go where they please, the mind trying
to find the right way to say that it is its
own master and things are still the
same only with more light

– it was neither sophisticated nor editorial

– it was told to me in a language that
would have also been understood by
the younger version of me that signed
away her future to a period of hurting
because she hadn’t known any better
and had been led to believe it was how
love worked

– it’s not wrong to say it was beautiful
while it lasted

– it’s not the heartbreak that made me
special; it was the heart

– I feel bigger

– tomorrow I might wonder how I stayed
so small that long, but not today

– the hurt released me when I knew
enough to not miss what was hurting
me and that’s the part that takes the
longest

– anything is possible

Ballast

Sometimes we turn to the darkness
as we stand on the edge
of oncoming, anticipated light
not because it is preferable
or necessary, but because
it comforts and gives a sense
of belonging to the things we carry
and wonder if they have a place
among the changes that are coming.
We mourn all deaths,
even those of what had never been
good for us, those that had been
slowly killing us the whole time.
Realizing they are lost to us
after all the pain of coming
to terms with their presence
and the makeshift beauty
we’ve contrived from the ways
they had made us suffer is
a fear and a melancholy of its own,
and a guilt too, almost
for a time outweighing our relief
for not having to suffer anymore.
Like the passing of a hero,
or the need for one,
making us again ordinary
and searching for the next
difficult thing to live for
so we could feel keenly alive.
When they call it self-preservation
we think about staying the same.
And then we call it a loss,
shedding the things that only
weigh us down. But to live
is to not drown, and at some point
we realize we are surrounded
by water. We get high on breathing
because the perilous tide outside
us is made of the same stuff
as the part liquid our spirits are.
We forget that we are souls
that have bodies. Our intimacy
with gravity and falling belies
how majestically we can rise
without denouncing the ground.

Wind through Ayutthaya

I switch the radio off, sometimes
I switch myself off
when I hear the songs he used to
like to borrow his words from
when he’d try to say he loved me,
not because I still love him
or never did,
but something in between.
The passage of years that
took this place apart
has replaced the sacred relics
that rendered us so beautiful in our sins,
hairline cracks on sandstone and
inadvertent tarnish marks on bronze
subverting the intention of the light
and sending it elsewhere,
illuminating ordinary places
and casting in gray irrelevance
the shrines and milestones
that we had bruised with multiple
autopsies in our want of understanding
of what had gone wrong.
I’ve heard the other music,
borne of instruments suffused with
the spirit of a more benevolent
future and act of unmasking,
anointing our past with a melody
that leads us away from the cliff
instead of over it, shields us
from our proclivity to repeatedly
choose the same wrong things and
fall into recurring hurt like déjà vu
where hoping feels claustrophobic.
The corners of dawn curling
around lyrics yet unwritten,
freedom and her wild dark hair.
A newfound voice, towering
in effortless resonance,
waxing rhapsodic about how
a site of ruin
grew wings.

There Used to be Embers

You asked me, quite belatedly,
whether I sometimes still
think about what we had.
And I guess I do, the way
a survivor would look back
on the days leading to
a deeply scarring tragedy
while standing in the aftermath.
I’d poke through the debris
and find the warning signs
I hadn’t seen then, but,
in retrospect, have been right
in front of me the whole time.
The telltale chaos in the silence.
The life-sized truths we skirted
around while reciting
our soaring, empty promises.
There was enough mutual
denial to blindfold the sky.
All the indications of a long,
drawn-out but inevitable end
that I carefully chose to ignore
so we could pretend the world
was ours for just one more day.
And yes, I could watch the grand
denouement again and again
without opening old wounds
long healed or wondering
if there was anything either
of us could have done,
or tried to save.
We divided the drowned
and ravaged world between us,
and one of the coldest parts
of the ensuing solitude
is finding our place
among the same old things
after a devastating storm has
rearranged them. And they say
with every love that breaks
there will always be one
who stays behind long after
the other has reclaimed
their soul elsewhere.
I always thought it would be me.
But here, my half of the world
has been enough. I’ve given
birth to wonders and restored
my faith in the rain. Whereas you
are still laying your head
among spent kindling
and writing my name in the dust.