Your Hands All Over My Pages

Love, do not be jealous
of the verses I wrote
for the ones who came before you,
they were prologues
of heartaches I turned into art
with the clumsy skill of a heart
under the weight of all
that I thought I couldn’t survive
know that I’ve known how to love ardently
from the beginning
and I did not lose myself
know that I have been sure before
and have had my certainties mocked
yet I would gamble again

love, a lot has happened in the night
fights broke out and many have gone home
and the music and conversation
have devolved into noise
but my shoes are still on
and I have saved you the last dance

Dreaming in Black and White, Waking up

There are leaps of faith
and there are things like this

the same prayer
worn thin by praying
the old desire made weary
by wanting
over and over and
over
the sheer number of days
made all the days the same
and I came to accept that
this is what’s real

while I kept dreaming.

I wanted to tell you
how often I prayed for you,
how badly I wanted
to find you.
But when you came,
shouldering the lion’s share
of sacrifices to make your way
to me, flying against winds
of fear over cities whose
names you’ve memorized and
histories both written
and perceived,
you made of my past memories
of nights of yearning,
once votive and earnest
offerings in the shrine of my
naive persuasions, and that
later got reduced into nothing but
an old habit that died hard which
I only wore around my neck
like an amulet because
it defined me once,
merely a few minutes of words
and a windy afternoon’s worth
of kisses; and every other day
that followed, a beginning
of things unthought of.

Oh, how little my faith was
all along, and how weak
and tired I was of believing,
and never even realized, until
I knew your love, and
we shared a breathing reality
with a future that’s
rock-solid and tastes of honey,
and our faithful promises called
my attention to the fact that
they are too big to fit within
the margins of what
my wildest hopes had been.

Resolution

That night, like many nights before it
we rode the same familiar route
with me on the passenger seat, driving
the night down the same stubborn darkness
the same stars with their defenseless light
leading the same conversation down
to the same unresolved conclusion
until our time is up and we must
continue tomorrow, but we never do
and go back to square one every time

I was being unfair to him
he didn’t really need any of that
didn’t have to be reminded everyday
how much my mother didn’t like him
and watch my cowardice
spread inside me like poison,
making me bitter
and all I could do was talk about it
too broken and tired to even cry
but he loved me, and he never stopped
he kept driving
kept his eyes on the road
waiting for my heart to come around
determined to bring me home

that night I lay in bed
the silence of the room complaining
about the noise in my soul
his measured distance my only protection
I confessed to myself my complacency
that he’d always be there for me
was my most abused excuse
for treating him that way
forcing to him my flaws, my life’s flaws
without trying to make it better
but if he should ever leave me—

if he should ever leave me—

and the tears wouldn’t stop even before
I could know they had started
and my foolishness tore down
the flimsy walls of my makeshift peace
I tossed and turned in bed
wrestling with myself, my unworthiness
pointing fingers and cataloging my iniquities
stifled by all the time I had wasted
that I could have spent being good to him
that I could have spent loving him
because if he ever left me
I knew I wouldn’t make it

so I promised that
tomorrow would be different
I would concentrate on making him happy
I would make sure to grow with him
and show my gratitude for his patience
and the fact that I realized what I had
while I still had it
and can still give my all
to be able to keep it.

The Railing, The Ever After

I stood at that pier, once
with neither schedule
nor reason,
looking to the horizon
that didn’t change.
But sometimes faith
does that…

You are the truth that
makes returning to the truth
its own reward.
I believed in you
from the time when
the last thing I thought
I had proof of
was falling apart around me.
I fought for you
through winds and storms
and harsh judgement
because I somehow always
knew you would come.
My heart kept time with
the beating of yours
while I swayed inside
crowded trains
full of stories,
a heavy knapsack of
inanities and
stepping stones
strapped to my back.
I think I saw you once,
somewhere, between
shifting dreams
left of center where
a pointless struggling
dissolved in the sunset.
Or once, I think,
that strange day when
the sky was purple,
I heard your voice
lost in the summer wind.

And I had been so scared
before, when I thought I
had already found you
and let you go.
But that was just
one of those lies that
the destiny who knows better
would have us believe
because that deception was
part of what would
help us recognize
the truth, afterward.

And you don’t think so,
but I don’t miss anything,
least of all the fact that
everything I’ve ever hoped for
is everything you’ve been
wanting to give.

I stood at this pier before.
And I didn’t know what
I was waiting for.
But we do that sometimes.
So when you finally came
I knew in my soul
there was no mistaking.

It Always Takes Two

I told him I loved him
the same way I loved the first one
and all the other ones I loved before,
I told him

that love was always about two people
and this was about the man that he is
and the woman I can do nothing but be,
about loving him and
about me being hurt
several times and not once thinking
that there must be something
fundamentally wrong with me
and keeping the faith that
achieving love was not
about the perfect woman
or approaching a state that
a woman worthy of love was modeled after
not about changing
but about holding fast
and believing that I am lovable
just the way I am and that
I would find him, someday,
and loving was about that faith
that this person in front of me now
will be the one who will make
the passionate unchanging
a triumph of two souls
instead of a failure of one.

The Shoes That She Wears

I have seen myself abandoned for dead
in the ochre sands
whose grainy and dissolute form
the soul’s corruption has taken

You were at first a mirage
and then a question, briefly
until, finally, a permission
for desire.

And I wondered the same things
aloud,
over and over,
wanting not as much to be addressed
as to have my right to feel,
acknowledged, validated.
I was the kind of tale
you can’t put inside any box.
You have to listen.
You have to put aside the bottled clichés
and watch how things—those you have
long established breakable—
can break differently.
And even then you’d have to
just stand back and let it
find its way through its own rules.

Who says you have to cure every ill?
Who says the work isn’t done
after you’ve granted them reality
by giving them names?

Because maybe it is beautiful in itself.

Because maybe the realm of what’s true
is clawing its way through what’s common
through the oldest of platitudes:
belonging,
identity,
even love.

My Rare Second Chance

I’ve been searching earnestly
some would say desperately
for the chance to prove myself
that chance to show the only truth I listen to
that I haven’t lost my senses
that I am brave and will not live on dreams alone
that I haven’t sold myself
for the low price of glitter
that I’ll still recognize real gold when I see it

see I have an unsettled score with fate

long ago, when my moonlight still danced
with the black space between acacia leaves
before my stars competed with the enlightenment
of acrophobic towers with staring windows of light
I was put to the test and I failed

because love knew nothing was above her
but so many blind dreamers walk, single file
and follow each other down the cliff
of worldly deception
and I was too young to know
love almost never gives second chances
you miss your bus and that’s it:
you end up playing with a shuffled deck
and clutch a random card to that hole
where your heart used to be
to keep you warm
to get you through the cold lonely nights
I was too innocent to realize
I squandered an honor not given to many

one moment’s weakness gave me many years of shame
such that I couldn’t look love in the eye
without feeling little
I sometimes pretended to believe
she was both fickle and cruel
but deep inside I knew it was I who fell short
and I wanted my second chance
I wanted to do right by her

because I will not be beautiful for nothing
I will not be any kind of genius for nothing
I will not be a bejeweled queen of fame and fortune
who comes home each night to a profound emptiness

still, every other soul I found were among the deceived
they would not pay the price with me
they turned their backs on the redemption
of their life’s biggest mistake and mine

but here you are, finally
love’s great test
love’s leap of faith
and I assure you we will succeed
I promise you we’ll make it all the way
I give you my word we will conquer it all
the distance, the time, the money, the cultural divide
I know enough to risk what I have to, to be with you
here, I’m putting everything on the line for you
it is a privilege I am thankful for
and it would honor me if you would take it