All the feelings I had inside
raised to the surface of my skin as purple bruises
and when they faded completely—so did you.
That’s a lie—
I touched burst capillaries for hours
circling fingertips around smaller circumferences
I knew the blue and black wasn’t healing:
but rotting on my skin
slowly sucking back in decay.
I took a hit to the teeth
you knocked out my voice
and it lies where my knees lied.
I liked that voice.
It had never been to the seashore
but sounded like shells jangling in a Mason Glass.
I’d press my lips to your ear—
you’d swear you heard the ocean.
I didn’t hear you cry,
I searched the floor to pick them up
(as I imagined I’d do at the beach
one day with you).
Tides had already taken some
and pushed in new ones.
I left the shells
and I left you calling my name
and I left “sorry, sorry, sorry”
and I left my white sweatshirt.
I liked that sweatshirt.
A Certain Kind of Emptiness
Your lies were hellos
(cellophane and see-through wrapped
around last night’s Hunan Wok takeout)
and I’d match your greeting
just to clutter your head).
I never understood
why we pretended to believe.
It takes a certain kind of emptiness
to steal a sleepless sleeper’s phone
and search messages in the bathroom.
It takes a certain kind of emptiness
to watch a thief go freely
and kiss him when he comes back.
I was pretty eyed when I’d cry—
soft in all the right places;
I’d hold you up to what you thought
was my heart.
You were mystery, nose-ringed and tattooed—
dizzying, dark, and a kiss on my ear;
you’d hold me up to what I thought
was your heart.
But in all this silence
we heard no beating—
(didn’t remember a sound
was supposed to come from
the chests we rested on).
We won’t see sour nothings
spoken from lovely lips.
We won’t look past the skin
across the ribcage—
the ugliness behind the eyelashes;
if one falls out
we’ll blow a wish.
Eyes Too Big
Allie Caufield wrote poetry on his glove
in green ink,
and I think I, too, stand outside the diamond
(caught in too many ideas of beautiful
to catch the moon if it fell into left field).
I used to hang my feet over the dock
and wait with line and lure,
but the euphoria of the catch
flurried out when I’d see hook through mouth
and I’d set it free without thinking what freedom meant
with two holes letting water fill the thoracic cavity.
I run ahead of the ball, body turned slightly,
eyes squinted, arms toward then sun
everyone thinking I’ve got it—
then I shut my eyes and let it fall.
(Something about the eyes being bigger than the stomach—
but mine are bigger than my heart).
Twenty-Somethings Can’t Afford Gas
Pop open tank:
$3.37 a gallon.
Insert card; remove quickly.
Regular? Plus? Premium?
Bacon, egg, and cheese Shmagelz—
breakfast at Sheetz in the same
skirt I wore last night.
I noticed your eyes were brown
for the first time yesterday.
I guess we should leave the light on more.
We make excuses (we’re twenty-something
young and beautiful mouths on the can of a Natty Light)
laughing at commitments we don’t need
and no, Lana Del Rey, he won’t, I won’t.
we’ll tie ourselves down with sheets we don’t know
and morning-after strands of hair
dressed up like birds
singing freedom from feeling anything—
(but only the caged and the courting
You’re impossibly pretty and empty,
like the fourth button on my cardigan
I forget exists until I dress in the morning
and notice it’s missing.
you take my hand absentmindedly,
I let you,
I’ll burn through you
until I get where I want to go.
Because if you pulled me in,
sober, and asked me to stay,
I’d go (running
You see my eyelids like butterfly wings
stilled on flowering cheeks,
you lie so still
hoping they’ll land on you.
But I never was anything so peaceful;
I am not the color of my cheeks.
I don’t remember stepping into this light
to read lines,
but I’ve already got the role.
You love me like stars.
You love me like looking back.
You love me like a compliment—
like I fit into you—
a seed you swallow,
plant in your esophagus—
and grow within you.
You make me a moon
just your size to eclipse your light.
(I’d rather be a shape that won’t stack with yours—
I want everything of me to show).
You reduce me to tides
And I push into you, pull away,
push you to throw your mother’s music box
out the second story window
and drive to Sunoco for a pack of Newports,
though you quit 8 months ago.
I don’t laugh like skips of sunlight
off the Swarovski crystal hung in the rearview mirror.
It’s just a sound in my throat.
Sometimes I think
you produced that sound:
stuck a nickel in my ear;
pressed play, repeat—
your favorite song.
I breathe out carbon dioxide;
I won’t breathe your oxygen.
I won’t try to give your heart a beat.
I cross my arms around my chest,
reaching nails in my back,
checking for wings.
I want to rip open my skin and show you my spine—
how it doesn’t have your signature on it,
how I’m a quarter-broken inside,
the way you are a quarter-broken inside.
How I’m breathing my way
through my own life
how that life doesn’t exist
as a completion to yours.