the very idea of a bird

quote from a poet friend who is also very into birds …

The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life. . . . The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds — how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives — and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!

John Burroughs (1837 – 1921), Birds and Poets, 1887

How to Survive Your First Year in New York City

(work in progress) 

I Summer

Immediately in the city everything is just as hard as you’ve always heard it is: the disgusting humid summers. Finding an apartment. Getting a job. Locating friends. But the subways become easy, once you get the hang of it, and Manhattan is comprehensible, once you orient yourself. Be careful not to over-orient: you will change.

Invest in an air-conditioner. August will be brutal.

Distract yourself by going to every Brooklyn roof party you can find. Ask everyone for their New York survival tips. One boy with great hair says “a solid pair of skater shoes” ‘cause they’re so durable to the constant new relationship of your feet to concrete. A German girl who’s lived here ten years says, “an expensive, fancy pair of headphones” that she puts on before she leaves the house and takes off only when she gets to where she’s going. An older woman from the West Coast says “nature shows” remind her of the earth and essential oils give her that sense memory. A young queer boy says “a day bag, a perfect day bag,” with pockets for all the survival tools you need for the city: book, notebook, pens, subway map, Manhattan map, metro card, water bottle, wallet, hand sanitizer, tissues, smokes, cell.

Search everywhere for these tools. Your search will teach you the city. Do not stop until you find them.

II Fall

When the leaves start to become undone and summer’s oppression begins to unravel and the tourists leave, go to the park. Buy a skateboard or roller blades or a bike or a Frisbee. Borrow a dog.  Promenade the West Village with a pretty girl, any pretty girl. Fall in love, that’ll help.  Best if she knows the city better than you and can take you to her favorite Mexican restaurant, dive bar, dance club.

This is good. Keep yourself occupied. But be careful not to get too comfortable in her world: you won’t be there long. Do not assume you will get to keep anything from her, other than the memories. You are still making your own New York. Join some organizations, make some friends, make some art, take up time. There is so much to be done here.

Keep trying to figure out what you’re doing here. Once you figure out what you’re doing here, you will know how long it will take to do it, and then you’ll know when you can leave. But you won’t know until you know. And it always takes longer than you think.

III Winter

By the time the first snow falls, you will have an idea of what your own New York looks like. Re-read Colson Whitehead’s The Colossus of New York and remember that it is only after your favorite Thai restaurant becomes a coffee shop that the city will begin to show you its ghost.

This is a good thing. But winter is a hard time here, and you will loose two of the four of the following: your job, your apartment, your community, or love. It is hard to hold more than two for very long in this city. Watch the New Yorkers, they have these four balls in the air constantly but rarely touch more than two at a time.

You may loose the girl. The one whose hair swirls, whose breath you feel all the way to your toes. This will hurt. That’s okay. Feel it.

The girl you want isn’t in New York anyway, the girl you want would never live in New York. She’s too tender, sensitive to the overstimulation, just like you. But you can take it, for a little while. You can learn to put the armor on, and then take it off again.

This is how New York makes you strong.

IV Spring

When you’ve finally given up on the trees, they will start greening again. It is time for a few more things to hop into place. Your sister will become your roommate and you will learn so much about your childhood. You will begin to watch and understand how what you take into your body effects you. You get a friend, a best friend, suddenly, an instant connection, someone you call when something big happens, someone who is usually free for beers at the pub on the weekends.

This city may exhaust you, but you will never exhaust it.

me in a nutshell

Related to the Life/Lines post, though not quite the same thing, I’d like to offer up my poem Me in a Nutshell which was an “I believe” poem. It uses many, many quotes from various sources, mantras of mine, inspiration, quotes (it ends with a different Mary Oliver line, in fact).

 It was published online at This I Believe through NPR.

Me in a Nutshell

I believe love is the closest we get to divinity
I believe in waiting patiently on the corner for the light to change
I believe in being kind

I believe that as birds fly, and fish swim, humans create;
it is our ‘natural’ mode of operation
I believe the opposite of war is not peace, it’s creation
I believe creative expression is a way to get to know
what we don’t know
that we already know

I believe in finding common ground and elevating the discussion
in wanting what I have and giving what I need
I believe in asking myself how it is that I will come alive
because that is what the world needs

I believe in keeping rocks in my pockets
to remind me to stay close to the ground
I believe stones and aerial maps of the ocean floor
teach me to fly
I believe to be free is not merely to cast off one’s shackles
but to live in a way
that respects
and enhances
the freedom of others

I believe in leaving everything and everyone and everywhere
just a little better off then when I found it
I believe when we let go of who we are, we become who we might be
I believe in paying my library fees

I believe in psychics, astrology, epigraphs
crossing fingers at cemeteries
lifting feet when going over a bridge
ice cream on the hot days
I believe in swimming at the glacier in the summer
and chomping icebergs like snow-cones

I believe asking for – and getting – someone’s consent is sexy
and knowing the pleasure you want and how to get it
is subversive and revolutionary
I believe gender and power and play is what makes the sex hot

I believe stretch marks and scars are beautiful
because they tell the history of the body
I believe the body is a temple to be worshipped
that we are not separate than the earth, but rather from the earth
I believe it feels good to shit outside

I believe in cranberries, avocados and cashews
in redheads and black ink
in leaving a trail on an unmarked canvas
in drawings on skin
in tiny yellow flowers under the chin to check if I like butter

I believe in watching the media, pop culture, consumerism,
and celebreality with a critical eye
I believe in turning off the TV
I believe in accessories: shoes, belts, bags, scarves, glasses

I believe growth requires the temporary suspension of security
in second chances and red balloons
I believe in wishing on the full moon and faery rings
and dandelions gone to seed and eyelashes
and shooting stars and lovers’ laughter and birthday candles

I believe very few people are actually out to get us
but are rather just distracted by their own
human-drama-bubble of daily life
I believe differences are the only way we learn
I believe intentions do matter
I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt
but still protecting the gentle red ribbed cage
around my heart

I believe you and I are not mistakes, we are stardust

I believe in unfolding my own mythology
like an origami swan
asking every day:
what will I do with my one wild and precious life?

“you do not have to be good”

The Poetry Thursday prompt today is on Life/Lines, which the Academy of American Poets did a collective project with and defines as such:

We each carry lines of poetry with us. Words that others have written float back to us and stay with us, indelibly. We clutch these “Life Lines” like totems, repeat them as mantras, and summon them for comfort and laughter.

Anytime I think of my favorite poetry, poems that changed my life, significant lines of poetry, I always, always, always think of Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. And while I can think of a dozen – two dozen – more poems that have profoundly affected me (Under a Soprano Sky by Sonia Sanchez, Eating Poetry by Mark Strand, Otherwise by Jane Kenyon, Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich), it is always Mary Oliver that I come back to when I have to name just one, and it is always Wild Geese.

At first, it was the opening lines:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

The simplicity of it. The miracle of letting go of suffering, and only allowing your body to “love what it loves.” Gorgeous. As if Oliver lept from the pages and plucked a diamond from my heart cavity and said, look. Just look what you have inside you.

But lately, it’s been the ending:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

… that has really gotten to me. No matter how lonely or alone, or scared or tiny or uneffective you may feel, you still have a place in the family of things. You still have one particular little pinpoint of light on the map, on the earth.

I’ve carried this poem with me for a long time.

a new place to visit

Poetry Notebook is a new project of mine (I know, I know, all these new projects. We’ll see which ones stick). Point being, I put the first poem up there, a prompt from Poetry Thursday to write a poem in dialogue, and I really like the result.

At first there was too much feeling so she
cut out her heart and fed it to a crying lion
cub. She meaning you. Yes. But the lion cub
was really her new kitten. She didn’t have
enough milk. Is that all? No, there were
other things she never had enough of:
greens, window blinds, validation. She isn’t
ready for summer to begin.
She likes the way
the branches make fractal designs in shadow
on her front door. More than the sidewalk?
Yes, and she likes the sounds her shoes
make on pavement. She likes the empty
space surrounding her to be wholly without
meaning. She wants to be alone. That sounds
overly isolationist. Sounds like freedom. And
her hands?
Her hands keep turning into
birds and flying away from her.

…. keep reading “the ending you don’t want to hear”

the ending you don’t want to hear

At first there was too much feeling so she
cut out her heart and fed it to a crying lion
cub. She meaning you. Yes. But the lion cub
was really her new kitten. She didn’t have
enough milk. Is that all? No, there were
other things she never had enough of:
greens, window blinds, validation. She isn’t
ready for summer to begin.
She likes the way
the branches make fractal designs in shadow
on her front door. More than the sidewalk?
Yes, and she likes the sounds her shoes
make on pavement. She likes the empty
space surrounding her to be wholly without
meaning. She wants to be alone. That sounds
overly isolationist. Sounds like freedom. And
her hands?
Her hands keep turning into
birds and flying away from her. Her being
you.
Yes. Do you love yourself? I don’t have to
answer that. It should matter. She has two
dozen different black shoulder bags, but
none of them are the right size. She is still
searching. She buys one every week, just in
case it is the one. It should matter. She has a
diamond stud in her nose but it doesn’t
matter. She wrote ten poems yesterday but
it doesn’t matter. This is how she stays alone.
Everything is red and newspapers are printed
on the soles of shoes, the backs of hands.
You
miss the point: bookcases are only
bookcases when they hold books. All of the
letters are lost and scrambled. Like the time
the pages flew from the car and got lost at the
ocean shore?
Yes. Pages flying floating until
they turned into birds. What’s with the birds?
Everyone nests, then everyone leaves.
There is truth in migration. If you make it.
What else? She cannot see her hands in the
dark. They disappear under the shelter of
the moon even when the moon is lifted in a
pirouette. She meaning you. And you.
Everyone leaves. Every relationship must
end, it is the nature of us. We are
impermanent. Even stones. What else would
stones be?
Immortal. Bounded. Discovered
on the backs of glaciers, in the hollow of
trees. Birds don’t need stones to nest. No, but
I do. Where are your hands now? Turned to
feathers, feathers, turned to down, stuffed
into pillows. Place your head here, carefully.

[After Richard Siken’s poem ‘Unfinished Duet’ from his book Crush. Also inspired by Poetry Thursday’s prompt to write a poem in dialogue.]

where I am

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

four-chambered heart

for sunday scribbling: wingsI have said that she gives me wings.

I have said that, though I have been collecting feathers my entire life, downy and sweet, flight and contour and semiplume feathers, even occasional bristle feathers and filoplume feathers, it was her who gave me the map, the blueprint, for the abilities to soar, to take off and land, to catch a ray of wind and float.

I have said she takes me to such heights, takes me to the peaks of mountains, looking down over valleys where everything below is neat and organized, small, managable.

I could continue with the bird metaphors, hollow bones and unfolding; flying, nesting, cracking open; a four-chambered heart, ruby breasted; flocks and migration and hovering and perching.

But what I really want to say is that I was not raised to believe in pride. I don’t know what it’s like for others to take credit for my accomplishments, no matter how much my accomplishment was helped by your maps, your tender caresses, your careful slices of leather cut around the outlines of my feet for my landing.

This flight is my victory. And while you are calling to me from the clifftop, yelling claims to my own soaring moments, the air is so clear and still that all I can hear is the beating of my own wings.

inevitable winter

sunday scribblings, rooted

I want to get to the root of this. Dig it up, look at it, dip it in water to wash the imperfections clean, to give it a fresh start. Find the source of the root ball and strip away the dirt. Strip away everything that isn’t root.Sometimes trees seem so deeply rooted in the ground that their trunks seem like arms, their branches hands, their roots hands gripping the soil. And sometimes it seems the soil grips back, tightens, tenses around the tree to hold it firm in place.

In New Orleans, after Katrina, the trees that were left standing had protected the house next to which it was planted. The trees that fell often damaged more than the storm.

And it was the native trees, the ones who had been interacting with that particular land for the longest, that didn’t fall.

I want this with you. I want to dig my roots in and feel you grip me. I want to discover where I’ve come from by creating somewhere to go.

Right now, I can only see the trunk, can only see the leaves, and they are budding, they are quivering with blossom in the ready, they are tiny young leaves so baby-green and fresh, ready to burst into something grand, ready to spread and open and course chlorophyll through the veins of it until it courses its last green and turns to yellow, orange, red.

It’s beautiful, my darling. The way things grow and change and come forth in spring.

But if it is not rooted it will not last through winter. And winter will come, yes, the seasons change, the cycles go on, and we are nothing but animals on this miraculous circular ecosystem, after all.

as yet untitled

We want
each other. Want to crawl
inside the space between us
like a mine shaft, an air duct
we use to escape. You
always were a catalyst. Placed
your hands on my heart like
a difibrulator, electrified me
alive. I seek to cool.
Seek to calm, solidify
like lava into pahoehoe.

I can’t ask you to take
your hands away. We
are in the midst of unnatural
acts, recreating ourselves
cellularly so we will
eventually grow wings, find
levity, learn to fly, prove
Daedalus wrong. I hear the fire

signs are in trine which
actually lessens Earth’s gravity.
I hear you saying my name eight
avenues and a dozen streets
across the city. Your breath
smells of lavendar and the Z –
my Z – in your mouth feels
like crushed cherries, a glass
mirror held next to a crystal
a blue bowl of water, unsung.

secret identity

for sunday scribblings

I keep myself separate.

When I began the project of myself, I created a separate me for all of you to see. So many untruths, especially in the beginning. Of course, like all self-projects, it morphed into just one particular thread of truth, the bright silver-purple shining thread that I usually keep hidden in the center of all my cords and wires and ribbons, occasionally allowing a glimpse of its shimmering color but mostly it stays hidden, close, closed.

You have such slender fingers. You can easily pick the silver-purple thread out of the bunch and smooth it, soothe it, detangle it from all the rest and point it out to me, show me the places where the edges are frayed and breaking, thin, where things need repaired, where my old repairs of electrical tape and wood glue aren’t holding anymore.

Don’t look at that. Don’t shame me by seeing the pieces underneath what I am ready to show you. Those are my secret threads of light, the ones that make up my very core, the ones that I caught on a moonbeam and tightrope walked and strung up to make holiday lights in pine trees and the lifelines I caught every time I threw myself overboard to drown. Don’t look, don’t see.

I keep myself secret. Sometimes I don’t mean to, it’s just the core of me is so spiderweb thin and glistening, delicate, so easily damagable with even the slightest of breaths, the slightest of soothing caresses. And you want your fingerprints all over it, you want to leave marks, to rearrange and untie carefully knotted holding places and you want to touch the scars with your own fingers and pretend like you understand where they came from.

I don’t even know how you got inside of there. Did I let you in? Did I give you the key, the combination?

There are places in me no one gets to go. The caves of me, dark and damp and dank and full of refuge, where I drag everything back inside and sort through it all, discard what I don’t need and store the rest.

I choose how much to reveal and where. I choose when to show myself. You don’t get to show up and sort through the mush yourself. I know I’ve asked you not to.

Go ahead, tell me I’m not integrated. Tell me I’m living in secret, in hiding, in shame. This is the only way I know how to do this, and it is all I have, for now.

hemlock

I am delicate. This tough guise
comes along with the collared shirts –
briefs – jackets in mudpuddles –
but it is only a performance.
Do not mistake it for the same gauge
of pressure it takes to bruise
the skin of my heart. Purple

gives way to red gives way to pink.
Even the strong language I take in
too deep because I have no wall up
between me and you. I have no wall

up but you can’t tell how transparent
I am when I have cried, when I have
asked a question, turned a doorhandle

so you did not have to. I want to take
care of you. I want to take care of
myself, so invisibly that you won’t notice,
then take care of you. But that is not

realistic. I know. I am sensitive,
affected by all the madness marching
around me. I cannot get away from it

some days. Some days I am eaten alive
by the bees in the hive, some days I am
the hive through which everything flows.
I carry around words like brutal and

punished in a notebook and touch the
letters when I need a reminder of
the damage that can be done, can not

be undone. Phrases yielded like
knives. I refuse to use my words
as weapons, though I could, I could
cause hurt, could leave scars. Instead

I choose to swallow, don’t let it out,
don’t let things go, there is no way
to know what the words will become

once they leave my tongue. Possibly
dandelions, possibly stinging nettles,
possibly a poisonous cup of hemlock.
I drink it all down myself instead:

then there can be no misinterpretation.

burst(ing)

I am currently exploding in tiny nebulae (nebulaes? plural?) behind my eyes under my fingerprints inside my bones where the marrow makes blood. sometimes it is impossible to do anything but sit still.

has spring yet arrived? now that we are saving daylight things seem impossibly bright and warm. sun for many extra hours a day. illusions, all of it.

last night I dreamed I was walking, walking, wandering somewhere, all of that is so hazy and unclear, and then eventually I ran into that girl I’m dating and she reached up, took dark dark glasses off of my face, and everything was bright and clear. though I’m glad my subconscious thinks this makes sense, I feel little more than a vice-grip in my chest where my heart used to be.

what are you today? are you nebulae? are you full of marrow you cannot make into blood? are you loving, and loved?

from the inside

Sunday Scribblings

This is how it went.

I wanted to say a red goodbye. A crystal goodbye. A goodbye hanging from the rafters of an old cabin in the woods, smelling of cedar and damn rainforest. A goodbye echoing off the silence of an underpass. Goodbyes the size of snowflakes, goodbyes the color of air on a hot day.

I wanted to say goodbye, and again, and again. You didn’t let me.

Instead, you fought. Brought me candles with flames, tall, and bright as the moon. Brought me mirrors in which to see myself. There are no goodbyes in moons and mirrors. Goodbyes in flames are flippant, final, but goodbyes in glass are generous. Giving.

This is how it went. But it didn’t have to go this way.

It could have been a brutal goodbye. The kind that tears up lungs and throats and insides and then wrecks your paper heart. The kind that tosses aside apologies like confetti. A party on your back. Chipping off bone from your spine like roots pushing up a sidewalk made of brick. From the inside.

That’s what you do. From the inside. A crystal goodbye echoing cedar smelling of rafters the color of someone leaving. Someone. Anyone. As if there is some definition of what that is: leaving. Left. Going. Gone. As if I can write these words and let you know what I mean when I say them. As if we have some sort of understood meaning between the times that my brain decides these words, my fingers tap these keys, your eyes scan these letters. There is no way to know what words are sparking what colors of goodbye inside of you. Only inside of me.

Only goodbyes are the color of goodbyes, and very few of us will ever know what it’s like to have the roots of a tree set us free.

waiting is my favorite part

If I had it my way, I would take back every time I said not I love you, but I adore you, my admiration palpable and thick as the silver tightrope between us. I would take back the times I needed you. Would take back the times you pried open my ribcage and I relaxed to let your fist close over my heart. Take back the revealing of my thin underbelly, every time I rolled over to show you how soft and small I was, a creature of defence, an animal with simple needs like adequacy. Not so hard really.

I would take back the times I launched myself into you like a pilgrimage, like an exhibition of discovery. Yes, I am an explorer. I seek to understand before I dominate.

Take back the love notes and red paper hearts sent special delivery. Take back the mornings I woke satisfied. Take back the days of shoving myself into a corner and letting you insert word after careful word onto my tongue like communion from a priest: the body of Christ. I took you as seriously.

If I had it my way, I would take back the longing, the pining, the days of anticipation. Really that was always my favorite part: waiting for you to arrive, because before you were there you would only be who I wanted you to be, which was exactly the problem, because while I woudl dream you one way and observe you another, you would rewrite my DNA to better match the way you dreamed me.

I would take back the times I let you rewrite me. As though you are the novelist (and not me). As though I am a character and you have a chart where you can fill in my attributes: likes. Dislikes. Coping mechanisms. Compulsions.

I would take back the times I told you what I want, because I should’ve known it wasn’t you and left it at that. But who knows that when you are a master at shapeshifting, at chameleoning to become what those around you need?

I am still waiting for your thin, soft underbelly, to see you roll onto your back, sit calmly and hold enough space still that I may walk right into it and unfurl my arms, uncurl my fiddlehead ferns. I am still waiting.

I am still waiting
for someone
who isn’t you –
no wonder the waiting was always

my favorite part.

vice grip

If she asked me the state of my heart, I would say: the barbed wire is built up thick, a little too tight in places, squeezing, prickling, where the blood escapes in trickles with every pump of the muscle.

I would do it differently, now, again, after this last time that I offered up my messy red heart on a shined silver platter, her name gleaming, freshly engraved. I would not go back to her apartment. I would not accept gifts of wings on a necklace chain when her heart leaps from her chest to my palm – involuntarily – and she forgets to ask for it back. I would keep our courtship in dark bars with indulgent mixed drinks, dance clubs where I stoop to knee-level and come on to every girl with heels higher than three inches.

I would not say ‘I love you’, not eagerly, would not hold the words on my soft palette like a marble, a pearl made from sand, from too much grinding. I got me a mouth guard. A machine to stop the optimism from forming sentences beginning with ‘I have never felt’ and ‘you are so’ and ‘I can’t believe’ and ‘I love.’

If she asked me the state of my heart, I would lie and tell her it is crushed in a vice-grip of regret. Of longing. But really, it is rebounding like a glacial valley, too long crushed by thousands of tons of frozen water, and she was the vice-grip all along.

sunday scribblings: fantasy

She is the fantasy, and I am the dreamer. Or perhaps it is she who is the dreamer: she is the one who is always creating meaning from metaphors and analyzing the superstitions that are coming between us: bread and butter. Knocking the tree spirits awake and away we beg for forgiveness for being so presumptuous that we would know what is to come ahead of us. What nausea will pass and what we will be doing to ring in the next new year. How much of this will we weather? I already know how and where our great downfalls will come: flattery. Consumption. The great flaw of sunshine on a winter’s day.She is the fantasy, and I am the dreamer. She is the dreamer, and I am the magician with the magic hat who watches from the edge of the room after she cries herself back to sleep, never knowing which magic spell will bring her back into herself.

I have created a swirling romance around her. Sweltering inside a coil of smoke, a glass wall such that I cannot reach her. But that I did not place around her. Did not choose to erect such a barrier between us. She did, when she chose to dream me. I did, when I discovered the fantasy of her was more real than the real skin touch of her hand, her thigh, her kiss.

Is it only the dreamer who comes up with such fantasies? Perhaps I would rather be a writer than a dreamer, so I can write myself into something as solid as stones.

dark scribblings

I’m afraid of the dark. Surely I’ve told you this. In the city really this doesn’t matter so much, the constant illumination of even the smallest streets and most insignificant buildings brightens the dark enough that it isn’t dark any more. But at home, in the little town where the mountains meet the sea, where there are forty miles of roads and one hundred thirty miles of hiking trails, the dark looms around lamppost corners, in arched doorways, under decrepit metals staircases, ready to slither and seep into all my open wounds, those unsealed places in me that still welcome the dark, still wish for the solitude out there in the black.

Maybe it’s because my name never had a home, a culture, a story in which to rest, that I seek out narratives like I seek black-inked fine-tipped pens: compulsively. Maybe my dark places just need their own language in which to confess the simmer and scratch of nibs on parchment, on velum, on cotton, on wood.

This is how my body sought to become paper, this is how blades sought to become pens. There is no canvas greater than the back. No skin or hide or substance that seeks pigment, marking, branding, scarring like the epidermis, layered, regenerating so often one must lay the ink deep for it to stick.

Like the dark, the ink runs deep in me. The doom of the millennium is nothing compared to what lies within, those secrets of shame and pain and homelessness we all refuse to share, or even see.

thirteen and a half times

in the last hour
I only thought about you
thirteen
and a half
timestwice I thought of your legs your thighs clad in jeans or skirted fabric swirling or stockings (god) the way your knees touch when you’re driving the way your ankles curl when you walk – but then I stopped thinking of your legs your thighs the curve of the back of your knee ’cause my attention slips quickly quietly to the s of your spine down your backside – and I get easily distracted there, so I try not to think of your lovely, long legs

three times I thought of your luminous smile, the way your cheek feels like silk, like velvet, like ice cream melting when you’ve just come in from the cold night air

once I thought about twirling you on the dancefloor, leading you in inside-turns and outside-turns, in the sugarpush and the skid-pass and the charleston, circling around each other until we come back into a closed basic and I can kiss you as I hold you close and dip you low

twice I thought about the curve of your hips, the bone of your pelvis and how it fits next to mine like puzzle pieces like the cap of a pen clicks onto the barrel

once I thought of that look you gave me across the room, from the couch, which said, take me and i’m yours and i love you and i wish you were inside me right now and i still feel you everywhere (or maybe that’s what my look said) and I wanted to jump, dive, claw, climb out of my chair over to you, push everyone out of the way so I could taste you, put my hands on your skin, hear to you gasp, breathe into my ear, hold you close

once I thought of the way your fingertips feel on my neck, casual, the way you leave them there while we sit in a circle of friends

twice I thought of that way you laugh when you’re nervous, gentle and slow, while your eyes dance, searching for recognition, searching for someone to see you

once I visualized you in a rocking chair, homemade hippie afgan wrapped around your shoulders, cradling a baby, looking up at me with a look that said, look what we did, or we should do this too, or I’m an aunt, or isn’t this amazing, or awe – I’m not sure what it was, but you looked at me and saw me and I wanted to lasso the moon for you, wanted to sing buffalo gals won’t you come out tonight, I want to see that look again & again, what could I possibly do to get you to look at me like that, I would do anything

then I thought of all the things I’ve said to you, all the ways I want to tell you I adore you, I desire you, I want to know you, want to hold you, want to watch you grow and hold my hands like a stirrup you can step into, hands on my shoulders, so you’ll be able to reach the windowsill two floors up – and that was maybe more about me but half about you too, cause you’re holding your own and you’re holding me and we match blend mix together like a potent chemical combination, combustible, barely contained

thirteen
and a half
times
isn’t very many
considering how many hours
your magic
your trilling, smoky voice
your sweet smile
your raw insights
have taken flight, making nests
inside my canopies
settling in
hour after hour
after hour

Inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt “in the last hour.”Update: featured on the Fleshbot Sex Blog Roundup 08 December. (Thanks Jefferson!)

what i mean is

when i say i feel the
echo
of you
what i mean is
i feel you
in my skin
in my mouth
for hours
after

reverberating

when i say you are my
favorite
lover
what i mean is
i have never felt this
electricity
elasticity
strings of energy
between us

pulsing

when i say i’m
already
yours
what i mean is
i don’t want anyone else
i don’t want you
to want anyone else
i want to leave
my mark on you
suck on your skin
a little too long
bite your
tender
shoulder

a little too hard

when i say i
love
you
what i mean is
my heart is the bird’s nest
in which i live
and i am ready
to take flight
i am ready
to give my heart away
i believe deeply
in the tools
of relationships
and i want to use
everything i have
to figure out
everything you have
to watch your heart soar
to hold you up sometimes
to let you in

what i mean is
i want to help you
be the very best you
you can be
because i feel
more like myself
my best, highest self
around you
because i make
so much more sense
when i am with you

everything i am
has built to this moment
to this connection
everything i’ve learned
is so i can survive
thrive
succeed
in this
with you
for as long
as we possibly can
together

together

what I haven’t told you I believe about love

that I love freely and with dangerous abandonthat I fall in love at least twelve times a day – sometimes with the same person, sometimes each one is different

that love is a choice and must continue to be chosen in order to sustain

that love and sex are not for procreation or recreation, but for concentration – because there are just too many people in the world*

that divinity is within us, and accessed through practices of loving

that I am at my best when I am naked laughing with you

that I am trusting, sometimes to a fault

that I am fiercely loyal

that I believe in romance like a religion and will gladly offer prayer every time I see the edges of you blur a little bit

that sex play is always of the highest priority, and I will always be late, sleep in, and skip obligations for it

that I have never seen anything more gorgeous than you are right now**

that I live in my heart, nestled down into each chamber with a different story to tell and a different wisdom to hear

that I love too hard too fast too soon, but that is the only way I know how to fall

that most of us have unlearned the innate impulse of how to let the soft animals of our bodies love what they love***

that nothing is forever, but if we can bend together to time’s winds, we can weather anything

that I don’t really know what I’m doing or how any of this works, but I think I’m pretty neat, and I trust my strengths and virtues and vices to carry me through all of these paths that I am walking

that love is never permanent, but it changes me every single fucking beautiful time

references/quotes:

* the film “opposite of sex”
** poet andrea gibson
*** poet mary oliver

a note to her I have yet to send

Did you see the sunset tonight?

It cried your name. Or perhaps that was me. Or perhaps that was the book that I’m reading, which seems to make references to you every couple paragraphs. Or perhaps that’s just me, again, because I can’t seem to quite get the timbre, the resonance of your voice off of my fingertips – though the smell of your skin does seem to be fading from my black tee shirt which I don’t want to remove.

for Ally, because she kept me up late last night

tongue
to the back of your knee
ankle
to the top of my shoulder
waiting
for that moment of permission
to slide inside
slide inside

palm
to the camber of your back
wrists
to the wall above your head
waiting
for the telling luminescence
in your eyes
your eyes

lips
to the fragility of your clavicle
teeth
to the tenders of your earlobe
waiting
for the pulse of your hips
waiting
for that ring of fire
waiting
for that shudder of muscle
to make you mine
make you mine

I’m being eaten alive

… by bugs. I have bugbites everywhere. Small raised dots all along the arches of my feet. Silent predators taking bite after bite of me and leaving me with small memories of the torture. Beneath my clothes my socks inside my shoes, quietly nagging me, reminding me of the discomfort, of their small triumph over my skin.

And, of course, my bug bite salve is in my storage locker, along with everything else I own.

So all I can do is scratch the itch, and try not to break the skin.