She was a tackle box full of thread and needle,
bits of scrap metal, paint sets, nuts, bolts, screws,
macaroni and Elmer’s glue, scissors and construction paper,
gas flames, an electric arc, a laser, an electron beam,
circuit boards, sculpting clay, typewriter keys, jars of glitter,
strings and beads, wires—she was a heart-maker and they’d come to her
with empty chests, saying,
“I must’ve left it in the pockets of the blue pants I sent to be dry-cleaned,”
“I think I set it down in the dressing room,”
“I swear I had it this morning.”
And so she’d assemble them new ones—customized, fully functional,
and they’d thank her and shake her hand
and run their fingers through her beads
and ask how much for accessories before swallowing the heart
she made, they’d wait for the beating to start
to love someone not her,
and then the breaking to start,
and the forgetting to start
and the losing to start
and they’d come back to her.
Falling for Her
Your friend looks up at you,
serious now, says,
“You’re falling for her.”
You smile that smile that
really isn’t one, sinking under
the RAM and sensory memory—(shut off the power and it’s gone);
the hard-drive and the cortex—
the cortex, a cache storage.
In you, what would be RAM transfers to long-term memory
when you’re asleep,
you wake up, look at her,
grasping at what you said,
what she said—
her dress on the floor,
mascara smeared beneath seas of hair—she is as fragile now
as she was beautiful then.
You blink away 64 bits of information at each clock cycle.
You want your synapses to stop strengthening—
stop weakening—stop storing information—
so much like a computer, yet there’s something else there
that isn’t on a circuit board.
Between chemical changes at connection points,
you try “clear history” of all the memories of her
and all the hers
and all the implications of falling.
You wonder why it isn’t lifting
she is not an anchor.
Falling is too quick,
and you are not so quick—
(curled under your sheets,
you think she is small enough to fit inside a seashell).
And she could not be so quick to lift you.
For her, for you
it isn’t so smooth as falling and landing.
It is a constant lifting motion—she offers to be a crane,
though not as able—still afraid of reaching the bell
at the top of the rock wall.
Says she can’t promise she won’t want to let go
and free fall.
She doesn’t want to be linked,
like you don’t want to be linked—
doesn’t want to be an astronaut alone beneath the saltwater,
keeping you in place—but ocean waters away.
Nobody wants to be held too tightly
their eyes see shirt stitches instead of sunsets.
But the neurons make their connections—
and you remember her soft, breathing
like a balloon,
and if tangled in you,
she might lift you up.
Don’t look at me like I drew wings
between my shoulder blades,
picking out pulled feathers from my pores
as if I were a down pillow
because I guessed ships and cars
sank and wrecked in your ribcage.
Everyone is a vessel of ruins,
of Macchu Piccus, of Pompeiis,
of Babylons, of Colosseums.
Brokenness doesn’t always discourage tourists.
When kissing you, it isn’t hard to taste the ash,
the rot with the sweet,
the mint, the alcohol—
it is almost like tasting wine.
Starting, straight angle view—
the color range rolled against the edges;
side view to spot brilliance,
tilting the glass so the wine thins out;
swirling to check for tears,
quick short inhales through the nasal passage
then a small sip held inside the cheeks:
fruity, flowery, herbal, grassy with hints of vegetation,
earthy, leathery, smoky, honeylike,
vanilla, beer-like, oaky—
complex yet balanced
—we are only complex.
It isn’t just your chest, a clock,
and my ear that listens to hear blocked trains and springs,
to notice the minute wheel is turned 20 minutes ahead
(when you’ll have left these sheets walking down Odessa Dr,
swinging car keys)
and the hour wheel spun so far back,
the hours are months—
it is still set on the last girl.
It isn’t just you, who runs this clockwork.
It isn’t just you, who doesn’t tell the right time.
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.