You don’t know me.
My eyes are bloody
most of the time,
and breathing is like
knives in my chest.
I don’t know you, either.
Your smile is a fiction
I pretend to enjoy,
but your voice sparks
traffic jams and ambulances.
What are you like,
in your truest shape,
your raw, hungry from?
What an awkward dance,
neither of us particularly
gifted in movement, more
suited to staring into space.
The Best Poems
I have nothing to say.
Those are the best poems,
someone a grave over from
me mumbles, his voice
catching with dirt and worms.
There’s a camera in my soul,
you told me over Chinese and
too many bottles of wine.
It records the bad things I do,
and God will watch the film when I die.
What about the good things?
I asked, more concerned about
the leftovers than your immortal soul.
You smiled and touched my cheek.
Sweet boy, you said softly.
Later, we stumbled into bed
and told jokes in the dark until
you fell asleep, breathing deep
and slow, like the rhythm of a dark
ocean I knew one day would drown me.
I bloom darkly at your words.
Such nice things you have
on your tongue, silver and
gold that sink like liquid into the
mouths of my hungry children–
these thoughts are my children,
you see, the flesh has all but
abandoned me for better coasts
and cleaner air and heavier gravity–
but in this holy space of darkness,
petals like forgiveness float in the
breezes of memory where we walked
slowly together after a sad day
and searched all night for your fear.
“You were bleeding in your sleep
again last night,” you tell me as
the sun crests over hills so blue
they look unreal, under a sky
as dark as God’s disappointment.
I look down at the crimson sheets.
Your face is a mask of quiet thoughts
and concern, stained red, and I feel
myself falling back asleep as my
flesh opens again to mourn.
I’m deeply distrustful, and often terrified of, water.
The Pretend River Flatters Me, Plots My Demise
“Did you think of me as someone handsome?”
I asked, “someone capable, strong, with vibrant eyes,
quick, sure smiles, and hardy handshakes?”
“I certainly do,” Old Man River said and winked,
its banks rife with flowers and redolent with miracles,
its rocks glittering under a made-for-TV sunset.
“I competed in the Depressive Olympics,” I said, “and I medaled
in Free-Floating Anxiety and Abandonment Issues.
When they played the national dirge, I hid.”
“That’s the saddest thing I’ve heard,” Old Man River said.
and I know from sad. People dump their tears in me.
I’m more salt than freshwater at this point, did you know that?
“I often wring myself out like a murderer who regrets killing,”
I told Old Man River (which was masquerading…it was actually
just a creek with a over-sized ego and a penchant for flooding).
“You’re a golden man, and I’m deeply in love with you,”
the pretend river sang, but I didn’t believe one gurgling word,
because water lies, and it waits for the right moment to drown us.