posts tagged "spilled ink"

Endlessly Becoming

1.

You used to practice flipping a Queen
of Hearts between your fingertips
so it disappeared, appeared,
disappeared.

2.

At the Huapalai ranch, facing
the West Rim of the Grand Canyon,
a magician had me write my name
on an Ace of Spades, 
before folding it into his shirt pocket, then
moments later, pulled my card
from a chest on the table,
unopened until then. 


Earlier that day, I laid on my stomach
and looked down the dusty colored lines
of the canyon walls. Layers
of purple, burgundy, burgundy-red,
red-orange—a sun setting down 6,000 feet.
It took 17 million years to form.

3.

I will not say we are carved,
or eroded until something beautiful
is left. We do not have
17 million years. We are built in pieces—
206 bones in bodies that die
so young—blinks
in space-time.
I have never met anyone unbroken,
in one piece, unable to bend their
knees, elbows, spines.
I’ve never seen anyone become
perfectly beautiful.

5.

We break each other, but then,
we can break ourselves, over and over,
layers of mixed sand-art color and glitter
and dirt: material for new selves, built
by heartbreak, daydream, a will to
change—always
forming, endlessly becoming. We are
not monuments. Maybe
water molecules in the Colorado River
that shape the permanent beautiful,
with all our ugly, all our broken,
all our impermanence—
we fade, brighten, lose ourselves
in emptiness, find new selves,
construct again—

6.

I watched, mesmerized,
as the card went invisible,
and then back into sight
through your index
and middle fingers. You
smiled as it appeared, finally,
seamlessly,
out of thin air.

Delete

To you I was a photograph—a photo-chemical reaction
recording the impression of light
on a silver-coated surface of atoms
that left you breathless, stunned.
I was always beautiful, drowned
in late afternoon light. Flat,
scrolled-through photos by the click of an arrow
on a Nikon D300S—
deleted the ugly, blurry, dark.
And you could see nothing but sunlight
behind my figure, without warmth,
nothing to squint your eyes against
or leave twinkling black Christmas lights
in the corner of your eyes.
White smile, smile, smile,
forever smile. Illuminated
pixel by pixel. When you held me,
it must’ve been like holding film—
a see-through outline of me. Shimmering,
smiling, held up to the sun to catch
reflections of clouds in my cheeks.
White-yellow-white light.
And if there was too much shadow, delete.

Worlds

Although I know
“future” doesn’t exist, “past” doesn’t
exist, and if
I learned anything
from American literature it was never
to let a dream collect enough starlight
it blinds you.
But when you told me
what you had done with her,
I had already created a world
from stardust and blown eyelashes
fallen from our lids. I had
created cities of steel and reinforced concrete,
windowed skyscrapers, mirroring,
shining, streetlamps,
streetlamps,
and so much light.

Still I remember, the drive home
sitting shotgun on the way back
from the Cinemark in Moosic,
it was snowing
but the windows were down. Shivering,
I watched the cool blue-green glow
from the dashboards
of the cars around us, bubbled in
Honda Civics and Ford Escapes,
and thinking we all
create our own Earths, worlds,
homes.

When we pull into my driveway,
you turn the key,
shut off the ignition, the headlights
disappear, and the dashboard dims
and there is nothing left
but starlight, blinking,
white,
black.

My house is empty and I go
from room to room, switching on light
after light.

Geminids

Two porch-side stargazers, wrapped in a red blanket,
mid-December, facing opposite directions.
I lean, my back, against yours. Your spine
is toothed and sharp, but when you turn,
I can feel you.
It is cold, and we take swigs of wine
from plastic cups. There is an ocean
in my stomach.
Twenty-minutes go by, and I have seen more stars
than you. The warm yellow window-glow
from the house looks inviting. Then,
behind me, there is something like a lightning
flash. The liquid in my cup lights red,
for a moment, we are suspended,
held together in falling-starlight.
I turn in the direction you are looking,
but there is nothing now.

Dialogues for Daffodils

I write dialogues for the daffodils you gave me in November.
You didn’t speak—you knew my mother was asleep.
You held them out, an offering.
I say nothing.
There is nothing to be said to flowers, ribbons, foam, and Floralife.
I watch your frame fade into darkness,
hunched and huddled against the cold.
I see nothing for a while. Maybe we both adjusted
our eyes to the stars. Then, the cabin of your Saturn lights up
and you step in, darken,
the headlights come on—
I am standing in a box of light cast from the open door,
you are a blue-green world lit by a dashboard
at the end of my driveway.
When your taillights are no longer visible
I pick the petals, one-by-one,
not questioning your love,
but my own.
I have written dialogues for the daffodils you gave me in November,
I imagine their faces turned, mouths widened in sunlight—
the dialogues are blank.
They say nothing. They are only flowers.

Out of Focus

Bokeh, from the Japanese word boke-aji:
the aesthetic quality of blur;
polygonal spheres of out-of-focus points of light.

I was smiling on the I-80 westbound
scenic overlook outside Allamuchy, NJ
as the golden almost orange purple sun-mixed starlight
had me looking more beautiful
than I was.

Selective focus: distance from the subject,
aperture manipulation—
and then I am clearer than sunshimmer
through blackberry bushes.

My body, vibrant, rained on by soft geometric bulbs—
head tilted back slightly, jawbone jutted forward.
Spectacular reflections.

Your camera lens had me looking 
freer than I was.

The interstate: dark blue,
dotted lined
red to redder gradients of light.

But there was a certain slowness in the air between the taillights
and headlights and the break to blacktop from highway everyone
mistakes for exit 19 and veers back into
mobility
upon realization.

In a flash, I become a thumbnail on a screen,
the snow had it looking colder than it was—
or maybe it was the holes in my sweater that let through

fiery threads, my left arm arched over,
hand balled in a fist, and a sunshined-chalk outline around
my still-living body.

Pyrotechnics

My grandmother announced she hated winter
as Stephanie, from The Weather Channel,
waved in bright blue splotches on the radar
and advised morning commuters

to break out the ice scrapers.
“Your grandfather was overnight snow flurry.
Unnoticed, he accumulated into
sight. Silently, he thawed into ground.”

If so, she was an explosion.
She was streaks of blue and red.
Her spine: curved, bent into a bowling ball on a bumpered lane
into sky.
She burned, ceaselessly in a beam of light
screaming and sparkling,
spilling ash and torch on anyone behind.

“I am dying, and they are eating,
potato salad and coleslaw.”

What could she do
but be bright and make noise?

Nobody ever called her eyes stars; they are
manmade. Her black satin slippers, her cigarettes and the accompanied
cough, her change-purse and checks, the daydreams of cruise ships
are all manmade.

She is an explosion, transient, a second in vision,
a shatter in eardrums,
an afterglow in blinking eyes.
Fast, bright, bang, and nothing.

And when she discovered fire at her fingertips
she must have used it to cauterize
cartilage, joints, arteries, synapses,
memories, longing,
her larynx.

She looked out the window and said, “Snow
sometimes looks like
ash.”

Butterflies

I could blame it on the butterflies—
the flightiness of things with wings.
(The fluttering
heart can only beat so fast; irregular
for so long before becoming a health hazard).

So they took off, one by one,
until none were left.

My stomach—hollow and empty;
I hope you cannot hear the echo
as you kiss my bellybutton.

I wouldn’t mention the mothballs
I swallowed to muffle my voice.
Perhaps I’m filled, actually,
with skeletons and broken wings.

Testing

Make dark marks.
Erase completely to change.

You ask me questions
you already know the answers to
(or think you do).

I fill in diamond designs—
crisscrossing patterns
up and down the Scantron.

I don’t think you notice.

I wonder when you became my professor,
marking red X’s on my answers.

I never wear mascara.
I braid intricate designs
pinned with flower buds
across the top of my head—

because it’s the only part of me you see.

You must hate the stars,
for having to look up at them.

You understand multiple choices or
definitive answers.

You’d have me write C programming
over poetry:
simple input/output.

I don’t know how you fit me into {braces}.

I’d write you essays instead,
but you’d need more than a magnifying glass
to read them from the height you’re at.

Already Broken

You locked away your heart
after it was already broken.

You keep pieces in a box,
like stowing confettied cash
or snippets of bills
in a bank.

You asked why
I’m not afraid of hurting.

I’ve been sliced to ribbons
and tied bows
with my remains.

I’ve frozen over
and built sculptures
out of my frost and ice.

I’ve shattered
and made suncatchers
from my shards.