There will be no funeral for you: the soft circumference
of you in my bed, pressed to my belly, our synchronized breath
a facile dance. I will not get to tribute your mouthful
of crooked teeth, your mismatched eyes, how it feels to know that
I am one of your basic needs. When you came home,
a survival’s toolkit made flesh, I started counting
your life expectancy: 15-18 years. I thought by the time you died,
I would be old enough to say goodbye well. Instead,
that year has arrived, & I grab a handful
of your fur & shove my face into the warm curl of your body,
knowing that the time is coming & I do not know how to use a hatchet
One summer, I drove to a girl’s house,
skin lathered in coconut sunscreen, a dash of white on my nose
that I missed rubbing in. Back then, I wasn’t warned of loss,
how it peels itself out from under a burnt love until it is the only part of us
left touching the world, until we can’t remember what it felt like to hold something
I don’t recall what was said to me
about how I was no longer wanted, but I still feel targeted by unrequited grief.
With you, I am glad you will never have
to know Gone, that your life will be filled entirely of me until
it is not. & when it is not, you will not know it. When it is not,
only I will.
The Nights of Lost Cause
I admit, I wanted love without uncertainty.
Like everyone else, I wanted love like I wanted an object,
a mindless permanence.
I would bring anything into the house & keep it as long as it stayed.
J left for groceries & the rain fell harder than the day before.
I placed the last call I’d make on my own phone
& a car arrived carrying my rescuers - those who saw this reckless mind
& were still there to hold me,
my friends. The space between who they knew me to be
& who I was now
stared at us, making sound after sound, a tender-throated
prey-thing pulled from a jaw.
Glorious windfall. Unknowable chimes in the air. That day was the first day
of my freedom - how it has spoken to me again & again
in its ephemeral bliss. Somewhere on the other side of this ample time
& its distance, I am not a survivor.
I was not carried to a safe house,
did not need a new computer.
Somewhere, I am not worried that I no longer know where she lives,
& if it is here. I said every prayer on those nights
of Lost Cause & each year I will
pray again. This is wonderful.
Or is it sad? If I continue to shout her abuse
into the brittle air, can I keep anyone safe that she claims to love?
I have a hard time believing
a lot of things now, a harder time
being believed. But if this is naive,
I beg you; let me be this. Let me remain this version of me
that feels the right things are possible. For this
is what it is like to write about living, or what it is like
to feel it again. And what if
the ruin suits me?
You Are The Only One To Ask Me To Stay, and I Didn’t
I wintered with you,
where others have only sought you in your spring, your heart season, your late summer drip, pastures a soft green pan of biscuits,
I arrived in a metallic sheen (it was cold
that year, wasn’t it?). We were broken
in the opposite direction: you, from attempting to feel
too little and me, from feeling it all at once. I gave you all
I could. You were terribly frightened, the kind of fear with bravado. You sounded like a walk through a forest of twigs; loud and dead.
We talked and everything you said was
what do I do with myself now that I can’t drink
and when we fucked you got angry when I tried
to look you in the eye. Solstice always comes,
you little blonde tremble. The waxing moon, a lid
opening to see. It is bright though it cannot warm. I can’t tell you who you are without liquor and you can’t tell me who I am
without love. We can both let go and wait for the sun.
Baby Gay of Clifden
You were the first to not know enough
to want to keep me. To others, I was that object
they knew was in the house somewhere,
the one they could visualize in different places—
the junk drawer? the garage? the closet? under
the sink?—but couldn’t seem to find.
You didn’t know enough to put me away
for later. You were surprised that I was there,
a mirror you passed every time you went to the kitchen,
out in the open, a beautiful glass, and I thought
this must be what it is when someone loves you.
I thought this must be what it is like to be seen,
but really, you just didn’t know enough to be ashamed
of this reflection. When we say queer
we mean the times our fathers made us bleed,
how we have learned to grasp hands tighter,
like a tangled necklace, when someone stares in the street,
to not let go as they try to unravel us.
We mean queer like you better call the jeweler if you want to keep this
chain, and when you came to know this word
outside the confines of the beautiful inside,
the knowing was an ocean.
I understand the sea legs of your heart, my dear. I was happy
to row you out. You don’t know enough
to want to keep me
and I am a far worse teacher than water.
I’ll miss you,
I’ll miss you,
I’ll miss you.
Poem in the Voice of the Author’s Adultery
We woke up with nothing, didn’t we?
We cut off our funding to feed our groin.
Our fiancé had a West Manhattan bank account,
and thought that she could cover us in coin
to replace the beggar in you.
How many times do I have to tell you that you
are never to be trusted with anything nice?
We are a city of mouths, picking up these nice and
lovable things and exploring them with our tongue,
telling them we love them while we keep
chapstick and spearmint gum in our pocket
in case you meet someone cute at the bar.
I would never wish you upon love, upon goodness.
Remember what happens when you try
to be good and loved? Remember grade one, you studied
so hard for that math test after failing the first one.
There were five rows of sixteen tables, starting with two
times two. Two timing, you pressed your finger
so hard into your pencil it left a mark that would
later become calloused. The next day, you were pulled
into the principal’s office with your mother
and you screamed your innocence over and over again.
They wouldn’t believe you, nothing you did
could make them believe you, did you even believe you?