Our Stars on the Pong Table
Throwing up memories down a toilet bowl
right around 4 am,
I think I saw a kiss on the cheek somewhere
in the upchucked chunks of stuffed pepper
I’d eaten some hour earlier—
before the Bacardi, the Three Olives, the 1800 Tequila.
And whatever was in that Jungle Juice.
Our romance ends with the hangover.
I wonder how many real feelings I flush away
in the morning; how many genuine truths
had bubbled out before being chugged back down
with that fifth shot?
I think our stars—
shape solo cups on a pong table
and no one can ever make
that last cup.
He came to me in such a way I had to keep turning to keep him in my vision. Walking in circles made him think clearer, he said. The night he came his thoughts and the sky were clear. He traced stars with his fingertips to tarry the time—maybe he was waiting for one to fall to speak for him—for it, instead, to tell me what I’d made him do—for me. It took a few more orbits to talk. In a way, he was a constellation himself, that arched across my sky. Orion, he pulled my wrist until my pointer finger laid on the belt, is best seen in January and is completely gone by June. I’d have to turn my head all winter to follow him. He must’ve thought hard those months—I felt dizzy.
Now, he is footprints in the snow on the roof leading up to my window; a blanket spread shoulders to shoulders across a sill; a light on in a girl’s bedroom and two lips meeting between the line of 60 watt bulb light and cold specks of starglow between the blackness. I’d open my window to him and gusts of tiny white ballerinas would twirl in and the whole world around us would be magnificent and invisible. All the heights above us, I couldn’t see: the shimmering shingles beneath the tangle of power lines—moonlight catching stitches of sparkles in snow flurries—and the laced branches of trees bundled up in coldness. A little west—the highway headlights move slowly. From up in the air the mismatched patches of lined farm field terrain flicker with small shapes of light from porches and billboards and shop signs and traffic signals. Even higher still, an airplane blinks red light, by blue light, by red light—and the clinks of soda cans on a flight attendant’s cart repeat softly as she passes by a sleeper—quietly. Quietly, the world breathes its unseen magnificence. Quietly, the unnoticed beauty is humble.
I see only from my height. I see only his eyes and feel only his trembling lips over chattering teeth.
I think you thought my skin was canvas
(you painted what you wanted over it).
Maybe it’s my fault.
(Maybe I didn’t get enough sun), my skin became paper.
When about to share an ice cream,
you asked if I preferred strawberry or vanilla
and when I said, “either” (even though I wanted mint)
maybe you thought I was blank, I think,
I never spoke enough—
it’s only natural you’d french kiss me
just to fill my mouth with your own words.
And when you asked if I loved you and I said, “yes”
when I wasn’t really sure,
it isn’t strange you molded me into a drinking cup
you imagined and designed
when I never made an effort to give my clay skin shape.
Poetry is Vision
Poetry is universal. Even if you do not write it—you inspire it. How can you be so modest as to hate it? Probably none of your thoughts are original but it is somehow comforting to know the thinking patterns of life on this planet are shared throughout. You find your own thoughts in poetry—things you couldn’t make sense of on your own; lines of a poem, like picked up pieces of your own mind—like little lenses that make sense when compared to a different lens. A poet is an optometrist flipping lenses of the phoropter until you see clearly. A poem is an instrument to measure your refractive error and a prescription all in one. Poetry is necessary for vision.
When I come across a poem that reiterates a thought I’ve had in a more precise and articulate manner than I ever could have expressed—when I come across a poem that is able to transcribe my own feelings so that I feel a burden lifted (people are always afraid of the unknown, but a poem can make an incomplete thought or feeling a solid object able to be held and inspected and seen) than that poem becomes a light. That poem becomes a light shining on the soul of the poet—a flame that spans from them to me and on the way leaps to light the lampposts of all those who have read it and connected with it. In this way, a poem lights the darkened areas of hearts and souls and minds across the world and when we are able to see what we hadn’t before—when our paths to others are lit—we become less alone, we become filled with courage to travel them.
She was petal-rimmed blue eyes, not like mine: brown
like firewood. But they would burn, blazing
streamers stretching for the sky. You were
always watching to catch the clouds
that passed her pupils while I
would give rise to higher
air and always,