Lost in Space, Out of Time

You are no longer the stars
whose bullets of light
ricochet off the surfaces of my oceans

you are no longer the moon
whose dark scars grant sanctuary to my desires

we’ve fallen into fissures and gunshots
the once favored muse no longer
bleeding gold from her wounds

I used to be bound to you
like the impossible is married to the horizon
like the pleasure of our pain
unfetters our souls at the crossover
you used to be the second verse of my song

but no longer

we witnessed a supernova
it was both a death and a spectacle
whose forgetting would cripple us
but whose remembering is
akin to highly addictive torture
to being madly alive but incomplete
we were each other’s Catch 22
and our love was Purgatory
you could not keep me
I could not leave you

but oh, how we
would traverse entire universes
in the eight sacred blocks
between our two prisons
mine of my honor
and yours of your ambition
four to the west and
four to the south
not necessarily in that order

how there were multiple
permutations of our destinies,
and this is the version
where the odds overwhelm us,
where timing is not on our side,
where we do not have the fortitude
to follow our instincts home.

What the End Sometimes Looks like

a confronted permanence

a deceptive view of the city
through a car window,
with very few clues
to warn you the cold is fatal

from here it looks like
I’m fully equipped to face it

being in it is a different story

I haven’t been sleeping well
I still wake up at 2:00 a.m.
I used to send you reminders
to put your seatbelt on
when you leave home for work
now I only shift around on the bed
playing slow-motion tag with
the moonlight through the blinds
wondering how you’re faring in this cold

I’m sure you’re fine
you’ve always been fine without me
I used to worry a lot about you
I still do
but you won’t hear me say it

I lull myself back into dreaming
I use my favorite lies
that I’ll see you in the morning
that I’ll see you in the weekend
that I’ll see you next summer
that I’ll see you forever

there’s a fine line between
dedication to manifesting a desire
and commonplace, cowardly escapism

but right now I’m just frozen
afraid to even fall apart
I’m at the place where everything
I ever wanted before I met you
is finally mine
just a season late
just missing one set of heartbeats
but it would do if I could be quiet about it
I use my least favorite lie
that I won the lottery long ago
and this is what basking in
my winnings looks like
this is the safest place, the safest route
I am paralyzed by fear of feeling
but if I don’t move I can mimic
the deception outside the window
and be cold and fatal myself
without needing any help

there’s a fine line between
settling and the pains associated
with the last stages of healing

All the Festering Unpretty Truths

He is wrong for you. Write it anyway.
It was a mistake from the start.
Write it anyway.
Loving him is stupid and has nothing for you
but heartbreak and questions with
no answers. Write it anyway.

Write it like it costs you nothing,
like the sleepless nights don’t encroach
on your mornings,
like you don’t hear the bottom
of the precipice calling your name
write it like the words are fleeing
the burning building that is your mind
trying to stay alive
trying to preserve what
meaning they are able to salvage
write it like there should be
no shred of softness left unturned,
like the past is purging its soul
of metaphors it no longer has use for

and I am not talking about
Hallmark Channel reruns about finding
a shining grace among the wreckage,
or all the pain being forged
into strength like emotional chainmail
that would become your beauty’s
greatest asset someday

you are a poet, not a purveyor of bullshit

do not write to save yourself

write the ugly and give it a hundred names
talk about the hurt that turns the moon
into a throatful of spit
talk about the street that reeks
of quick fixes and losing gambles
and empty alcohol bottles
that you keep romanticizing
in your endless walks,
hoping to run into him

write about the infected needle
that your dreams about him have become

write about the remembering that
yields nothing but dissonance and decay
and the winter cold that so penetrates
there is not one muscle in your body
that hasn’t been raped by the awareness
that you have settled for so, so, so
much less than you are worth.

90 Proof Sky

Drink this sunset with me.
I know it’s not much;
winter has drained most of the colors
the reds are weaker and there’s
a tone of finality in the blues
like barbed wire.

But sip on the song of this waning light
anyway, a toast and a funeral for
the warmth we used to have in abundance
and the intensity we had co-opted
for our own anthem and gotten
so drunk off of in each other’s presence
the laughter that sweetened the four walls
as if we had out of thin air created love
of enough quantities to convince
impressionism to make a comeback
in the digital age just to rain down
ones and zeroes on our constellated bodies
in bursts of amethyst purple and
sparks of emerald green
and that unnamed and elusive
mad brushstroke of the divine

I still feel like an unfinished
canvas every time I think of you

and to be honest I didn’t think
I’d still be here in December
watching the changing sky and wondering
about stars, wondering if they had
also written our paths crossing
a second time as they had ordained
and orchestrated the perfection
of our first encounter
but they are silent and keep their secrets well
no matter how hard I beg for answers

but later, as twilight moves to claim
your consciousness and you slip
into the softness as you would
if you had my eyes to drown in,
drink that haze that toes the line
between tomorrow and today

as if you are kissing me again
as if you are getting lost in me again

if this changing sky is all we have
make your thirst all about that
slowly fracturing dusk

Pendulum on Nothing but Gravity

The trick is to wait,
to put just enough distance between you
and the day everything fell apart
so that when you finally speak the words
that call the hurt out of its hiding place
it arrives dressed in echoes
with rounded corners and
its eyes half closed
and when it takes aim at your heart
as it has hundreds of times before
at point-blank range
it isn’t as earnest,
as if it wants to miss
as if it wants to spare you.

And I have no problem wearing my hunger
on my sleeve. What am I but a romance
and a long sustained awakening,
and you are in both places.
You are in all the places.
You gambled with me once;
I’d gamble for your love again and again.
And I tell you I miss you
because I believe words have power
and so what, so what if all you could
reward my honesty with is your silence
my bravery for your indifference,
real or imagined,
so what if I have to fill in the blanks
with daydreams when only a month ago
you were so deeply entangled in me
you only needed to kiss me on the forehead
to scribble lyrics on my conscience and
make my energies line up in octaves.

And I have no problem sending you
pieces of my naked soul.
What am I if not yours
and what does it matter that we
haven’t touched in a million years?
I tell you I miss you
because I believe your silence has power
every brick on the wall a wall in its own right
and I’ll press my palms against that unyielding
until the warmth in my blood stops resisting
part waiting
for you to see me the way you used to see me,
part begging the dream to release me.

I wish I still knew you the way I used to know you
just enough to not second guess
the worthiness of my pain
when I reach for you and you leave me hanging

Leaving Eden

And I guess there’s nothing left for me to do
but go back to the life you had disrupted
and just remember you
as a vision of the unattainable

I have to face the fact
that there’s no replacing you
there’s no substitute to that feeling
of a love that surrounds me like
a powerful revelation
and all the tenuous dogma that had been
propping up my autopilot mornings
and somnambulist afternoons
buckling under the weight of all that truth
every time you lay me down and give me
a new set of reasons for breathing
every time your elliptic gallaxy enters
my transcendent flesh
as if by sheer will you could deny me
of the mediocrity of death

there is no finding that again
not twice in a lifetime, so maybe
so maybe I can fashion an artificial grace
in the arms of the aftermath,
in the reality of brick and hardwood
and dark granite that’s been there
before and after
to read some meaning
from these hard surfaces

forget flight
forget the sky
let go of the eighty-two shades of green
the fruits we’ve only tasted once
and never been the same
and now have to do without

if I had used up all my chances
to rustle the layers of that craving
all my instincts and spiritual wars
folded among the various
names of your softness
the amaretto of your kisses
and the prophecies inside
your drunk-on-passion whispers
portals into iterations of the unknown
where you and I emerge as victors

they are closed to me now
and to you as well but for the noise
of this world preoccupied with finding
grace in its own destruction
you wouldn’t realize how much
we actually lost

Drunken Texts to a Psychic

Lie to me, fortune-teller.
Here, I’ll even tell you what to say:
say he’s coming back,
say he’ll be in my life again.
Make it good, though,
bring out your Tarot deck
and chakra balancing crystals,
name-drop my ancestors
and wield your jargon, say
all those hurtful words we exchanged
were the workings of Mercury in retrograde
and everything will right itself
if we stop flailing against the current
and just wait. Go ahead and
cold-read me, gather a bouquet of cues
from my past and my governing stars
but only enough to convince me
when you say his love is real
and not all is lost,

please

because I am falling apart
and drowning in the debris
and see no end in sight
to this ache that comes in waves
and stabs my sleep with nine-inch nails
and makes my waking days suffocate
on this sky the color of wasted time
and makes me question every little
thing I’ve ever been sure of
and creates this debilitating,
patternless noise that repeats,
repeats, repeats

like what even is peace?

I just want relief
even if it’s temporary
even if it’s founded on nothing
even if it can’t be trusted

look into my heart
and see what I am no longer
capable of surviving
and tell me the lie
that lets me breathe

make my hands useful again
make my mind belong to me again
make the concrete of these pavements
stop boiling, the city a raging
cauldron of all my bad judgments

tell me he is returning

I’m not here to ask you about the future
it wouldn’t help me if you were truthful
and told me what I
already knew, already fear
just give me something I would
actually want to believe in

The Problem with Fire

I wish I had contained you better.
I should never have allowed
what I had with you to spill
beyond the controlled environment
of my loneliness. That was all you
should have ever been to me:
on/off switch of adrenaline rush
whenever my heart flatlines,
flask of slow-moving poison
as a more socially acceptable
alternative to a quick end,
a sin for the body to dabble in
to distract from the shame of the mind.
You should have been the name
I never spoke, the taboo and the
noncommittal indulgence that dyes
the most broken of my nights,
too broken to even matter.
You should have been nothing more
than the lies small enough to pass
through the sieve of my vetted alibis.
There’s an entire world
for which I am the sun
and the art that I pull from my
reticulated soul should have been
infinitely bigger than the place
you occupy in my thoughts, in my time,
that my misery swallows you whole
without tasting you,

but then you started touching things.
You started getting inside of things.
You started speaking words that
ignited the walls and dismantled
the machinery of the restlessness
I call home. You started appearing
in more than one place at a time,
started pulling archetypes
from the shelves and laying waste
to every single one. You started
conjuring mirages of longing on
the surfaces of my immovable parts.
You started materializing at hours
when truth parades its naked thorns
and you refused to be put out.
You started becoming the size of
the faith it takes to make sense
of the ashes before the burning
has even happened. You started
reading from an impossible chapter,
turned the air that I breathe
into a hostage situation
with fate spelling out her demands
as you and I tugged at the chains:
all this happiness is possible
if you choose it.

You gave me the version of me
that blinds me.

The Prison of a Static Screen

I wish I could call you right now
and I would if there was even a chance
that you’d pick up and
let me come close to the fire again
it’s been a cold, cold two weeks
and counting, I can’t feel my fingers
or my heart
but I won’t take that risk anymore
because if you reject another call from me,
it would just be another blow to me
and I’m already covered in bruises

I wish you would call me right now
what I wouldn’t give
for the phone to ring and
have it be you again
on the other end
it’s been way too long
when it hasn’t even been that long
when we were both saccharine colors
tinting each other’s sky
each day I could step into the dawn
and see you rhyming with the stratosphere
and the sunset would bend like wires
around the serendipitous symmetries
of our loving

we wasted no time
turning into total strangers

I’ve been wounded, regretful
dissected down to bone-bare reason
looking for a way to bargain with
this distance that has become us
binding like a penalty
inhospitable like space

won’t you call me
it doesn’t even need to be
a long conversation
I wouldn’t even be weird about it
I promise not to mention the trigger
that had interrupted our ascension
nor repeat the words that
riddled the wings of our shared
understanding with bullets
I swear I won’t even refer to any of it

you can just say hi
and I’ll ask you how you’ve been
and maybe we can find our way
through the maze again
maybe I’ll find the answers
in your voice without having to ask
and maybe you’ll hear mine
and remember why you had
decided to love me before.

Of Lost Satellites and Phones that Don’t Ring Anymore

I saved your number on my phone on the first day. I’ve been careful not to memorize it, because I’m bad at forgetting, and I might need to forget one day. I have your number on my memory card, backed up by Samsung on the cloud, but that piece of paper you’d written it on, that you’d gotten out of the car, shirtless, to hand to me, on the bridge that day we met, I kept that too. I placed it between the last two pages of my copy of Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami, because you’re one-fourth Japanese and he’s my favorite Japanese writer, and I’ve read all his books but Sputnik Sweetheart had a happy ending I wasn’t expecting, coming after a dozen pages of towering despair. I remember my eyes clawing fearfully through the final pages, constantly checking how many of them remained unread, watching my hopes slip away with every completed paragraph, slowly resigning myself to a heartbreak with no closure, ready to curse Murakami for his literary cruelty towards a lover who just wanted to love. And that’s why the twist ending was so unforgettable to me, but then again I’ve always been bad at forgetting. Other diehard fans might argue 1Q84 had a far more satisfying ending, but Sputnik was the ending I didn’t believe I deserved and got anyway. Because I made the choice to root for a love that had very few things going for it, except that it was patient and true. And when the ending of A Wild Sheep Chase splintered my soul into a burned-up discordant sky, I cursed Murakami as usual but somehow considered it my just payment for that miraculous Sputnik reversal, and felt the author was justified for hurting me like that. Even in a Murakami universe, especially in a Murakami universe, you can’t have it all. My heart got its happy ending. The rest of my life can go to shit.

I picked that book to stash your phone number, though, long before you disappeared from my life without a single word. So maybe my subconscious was telling me something. I did end up having to forget your number. Your face. Your loving and your habits. The pattern of your calls and the shadow shapes of lost satellites in your voice. Just like K, about his love for Sumire. Except (SPOILER ALERT!) Sumire came back, in the very end. I remember feeling the weight of a thousand lonely nights lifting from me, I didn’t care where she had gone and what lead her back to that phone booth. That’s the page where I placed your number. Maybe my subconscious was telling me something.