Bones in my Inbox

I no longer hold against you
your sub par love
I know you only learned how to treat me
by watching me
and I had that habit of
putting myself last,
giving you more room,
gathering to myself my flourishes
and feathers so you might feel safer,
so next to me could feel
more like home to you.
I thought by making myself lighter
you’d be compelled to trust me
with the gravity of the battles you carry,
the trophies from the demons
you’d slain to cross a desert’s
worth of ancestral blood.
I did everything right
you could sculpt perfection
from the sum of my sacrifices.
I was a nobody, I was nowhere
you touched me whenever you wanted
and none of me stained
I cleared the way, minimized my needs
so that my future could be
your blank slate, your life’s stage
but you never danced for me
you never sang for me
all those spotlights on you
and you never saw me
and in the end I begged but
you had made up your mind to be free of me
and the world had only gotten smaller
for you since then
but you never got the irony

and now you see me loving myself
loving a love that doesn’t require
erasing myself,
being unapologetic for my wild self,
my loud self, being unafraid
to leave where I am not
adequately wanted

and suddenly you want me?
suddenly you spare no grand,
sweeping stroke in expressing
the devotion you offer me
suddenly you’re dismantling
the performance you’ve built
just to get me to reconsider

please don’t disrespect the lesson
it’s no longer 2007
and I’m no longer stupid

you learn how to treat me
by watching me

stop watching me

Beautiful Trigger

You are the name of my insomnia
the face of the hunger I keep choosing

I can’t eat
I can’t sleep
I’m too old for this shit

you are the longing ravaging
my nights like your hands
ravaged my person

and wanting you is so, so
motherfucking clichéd
and passé

and I wish this were
something as simple as
excising a malignant growth
from my flesh with a scalpel
something I could do alone
in secret
clean up the blood afterward
pretend it never happened

but you are both the blade
and the blunt edge of the knife
and there is no cut deep enough
to extract you from me

and time, my old friend
so slow and so tricky and elusive
you are both the urgency and the waiting
with you I’m always just
a closed door away from missing
something amazing,
life-changing

now all my doors are open
but you won’t cross the threshold

my hands are not fast enough
to write me into a safe place
while I continue this downward spiral
I’m wasting my time
I’m wasting my time
you’re wasting my time
please take all of my time
please give me all of your time
please give me all of you

or some of you

or anything at all

give me something before
I disappear

I have barely caught glimpses
of your darkness
it is dark enough here
but, but
your light was so tantalizing
like an insatiable fixation
choking me with passionate fingers
lighthouse and a rocky harbor
all the mad, mad decisions

you took the light away

I can’t eat
I can’t sleep

Leaving Orbit

In some translations, will
is not an arm
stretching from what is
to what is desired, just

a drop of dye in the water.
Restless fingers of smoke
diffusing across the compromised clarity,
making everything

no longer pure,
dark rings around the event horizon
the future no longer absolute.
This is just another copy
of a pain I’m familiar with,
the static of your radio silence
chafing my mind’s edges
where once you have awakened me
by running your tongue over
the parts that are permanently

broken.
Just another rerun
of the trope of
going to bed with solstice
and waking up no longer wanted.
I know the script and
I know how to turn my back
on just another summer.
In some translations
the ripples are not infinite
and eventually run into something

immovable.
And we are walking a path
that billions have walked,
in the history of crashing
and forgetting,
but we’ve made it shimmer too,
to our credit,
because you know how to wield
the casual intensity of your eyes
to let me know with certainty
I was flirting with

chaos,
the kind that Nietzsche said
I needed to have inside me
if I wanted to give birth
to a dancing star,
and before you I never thought
an afternoon could feel
like a piercing,
the profound soul of a black hole
stopping light in its tracks
so that everything I’ve ever
regretted or been ashamed of

could hide,
the moment next to you
a proud vacuum of time and place
where all the dyes of the world
does not stain,
your unnameable mystery
the core of diamonds.

If only for this.
We are are not inferior copies
of the same inglorious taboo.

A Long Postscript

I think I understand you now,
that detachment that was almost
sacred, crossing it felt like

a disrespect. Those places we
have exchanged for home, each
an oasis for a single passage

and the desert around it eternal
and what makes it beautiful.
I understand you now, a hundred

years too late, long after I
loved you. The poetry of your eyes
was the ugliest of pains but I was

too busy reading between the lines
to find you as anything other than
tantalizing. You were a lost

continent and I was an island
besieged by storms and there was
nothing mutual about the tenuous

faiths we were torn from. Star-
crossed hungers in a cosmos where
there is no divine plan

and you are lucky if you chance
upon a life that vaguely resembles
the shape of the emptiness inside.

I’m sorry for not acknowledging
your darkness as overwhelmingly
larger than the light I offered.

My need of you was disproportionate
to the permission you gave yourself
to need anything. I understand

you now, breathing spoiled air
and all your efforts to be polite
failing, to try to love

what you have, what you are left
with, having nothing to give. And
ultimately, the pain you caused me

not an incidental but an echo,
a lesser copy of hollowness,
the loudest of sounds.

I Forgot to Ask

Tell me you knew.
After all this time,
after all that was
not said,
give me that as a token
of a neat ending:
that you knew,
that you had found my confessions
somewhere, written on some wall
in some city I’ve never been.
That the circle was complete,
radius unknown.
When we danced that
hundred-year dance
of sacred words,
of perfect words,
and their symbols for infinity,
that you knew we were dancing.
February and June locked
in tango across the spring rain.
That I had fallen among
the deltas and epsilons
while your haikus watched.
That you gave me copies
of the letters you wrote
to other people about me
because you knew words
were my oxygen, and I only
required a handful of lines
to construct a Paradise.
Not that it was something you
wanted me to have, or
didn’t mind my having.
You don’t need to go
that far; just that you knew.
That I shared with you
more than books; that you
had also been turning my
pages with those hands.
And that day when I came
to say goodbye for
the second and last time
to the world that you occupy,
to everything I failed
at being,
you kissed me on the cheek
not once, but twice
because you knew.

The Whispered Desert of Almosts

I could have written the dawn over the quivers of your conflicted flesh,
soothed the wars on planets that were always retrograding while you
were busy not seeing the breaks in your brooding sky, busy not feeling
the tidal pulls of a vast, empty distance being filled with more emptiness,
shaped like bodies. I might have loved you that impossible love, for that
shade of brown you couldn’t find in our corner of the world except in the
mirror, might have held our mutual truth hostage like the native language
you were so possessive of in your non-inclusive silences, but I guess we
would never know. The door was solid molave, you were barricaded in
several lifetimes’ worth of cigarette smoke, and you fed your solitude
with echoes that were impervious to all the ways we could have been
more than strangers on a collision course. In lieu of touching you, I’d run
my fingers over the DNA of the wood, markings that nature had left there
that we could have read as symbols, that might have shaped the landscape
of some novel conversation we could have had about the burdened pasts
that sanctuaries are sometimes built from, but maybe to you they were
maps of places one could only get to by sea, and all the vessels had either
sunken or surrendered.

Connoisseuse

I’ve tasted you with my mind

feasted on the plot hole,
the Deus ex machina of being here,
the sacrament of knowing you
and the profanity of loving you

I’ve bitten the lyrical sky
of the possibility of our karmas colliding,
of sharing pleasure and pain with you,
citrus notes of your baritone dripping
from the edges of my mouth.

All my five senses know you,
have tapped into the bold flavors
of holding silence while you
sit across from me evoking the sun
like dark chocolate and cayenne.

I’d definitely recognize you
if I saw your face in a poem

then I would speak you
over the restlessness of my remembering,
summon your echoes like strands
of an indelible summer
from love’s dissonant winds.

We never touched
but you left a trail of kisses on my walls
and a lunar crater on my flesh

from that one al fresco brunch
on the outskirts of Marrakesh
hungers rippling over the mosaic
and tracing the gold leaf on the rim
of the glass like the quiver of fingertips

where one of us waited
while the other came
to a deeper intimacy with time
tasting dreams of you with my mind

as you placed the exquisite secrets
of your lips on the back of another’s hand.