Tag Archives: poem

What I Am For

For taking your grief,
cupping it in my hands like soil

to plant, to water, to bring to you
the daisies that grow from it

and to give you back to yourself
as something new.

daisies

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How to Feel

“This is how to feel,” and I feel it,
hard, like a sunken stone in my stomach.

The wolf in my throat chokes,
gnaws it like a bone, raises its haunches
and howls with a blood-speckled maw.

You taught me how to feel
and I whimpered like an animal –

shot.

Now only the hunt.
Now only the endless trembling.

Is this how you imagined it?
The twisting of a head –
towards the moon or towards the dirt?

No. Only this:

shaking, shaking, shaking –
to see which breaks first:
your spine or my jaw.

Litany of a Sunflower

“The sunflower is mine, in a way.” – Vincent van Gogh

As God loves his followers,
so the sun loves her flowers.
You’ve never seen disciples like these –
they raise and bow their heads to her,
they sway like women in church,
they never turn their backs.

The closest I ever came to a religious experience
I was hovering like a hesitant bumblebee
in the French countryside, the day
I tried to pick one from the edge of its field

I wrestled with its stalk for minutes
before my uncle eased my hands away
and snapped it for me.

Because my fingers were gentle and incapable,
I carried my stolen gift to a grave
in Auvers-sur-Oise where I laid it six feet
above a painter’s bones

and I swear he was breathing at my neck,
nothing heavy, nothing threatening,
just grateful –

gentle and incapable
of grabbing me by the wrist
and pulling me up by the roots.

I know you, I thought.
I know that hesitancy.

The realization came like water from the dirt,
it came to me earthy, it came to me holy,
pure as an epiphany at the altar.

This is the closest to God
I’ll ever be.

October the First

Well if it isn’t you, October,
waiting for me by the door.
You flash your jack o’lantern grin
as I grab my coat,
candelight flickering between your teeth,
saying let’s go for a walk,
you and me.

The day is soft, the air is new,
nature is sinking to its knees
in a Shakespearean death scene,
let’s take a moment

or a month,
while the world withers and dies,
to get to know each other again.

A Fruit Apologizes for Its Ripeness

I am a pomegranate, sliced in half,
each seed exposed and ready to be plucked.
When your fingers come prying at the rind
I pray to god my insides don’t go leaking out.

Sorry for spilling my guts on the table.
Sorry for giving up so much of myself.
You just wanted a quick look at my anatomy
before I molded, it’s fine, I understand.

I don’t know how to hold anything in.
Barriers make no sense to me –
I seep through like condensation,
like rain on a window
dying to get in where it’s warm.

I am organic matter; what I lack in metal and structure
I make up for with blood and bones –
too human to mimic a skeleton,
too fluid to imitate something still.

And maybe I’ve been exposed to you for too long –
exposed like fruit to oxygen,
exposed like mummified skin.

If that’s the case, I’m sorry for rotting,
and I’m sorry for bringing the flies in.

Learning to Die

My political science professor says
to study philosophy is to learn to die.

Like the good pupil I am,
I experiment with stillness.
I slow my breathing until it stops completely,
my pulse growing softer and fainter,
a clock with a stalled tick.
I am Captain Hook’s crocodile,
a swallower of time.
It tastes metallic, I bite down,
then it tastes like blood in the mouth.

(Is this right?
Am I doing this right?)

Like an engine, I experiment with stopping and starting.
I move my fingers, one at a time, I twitch,
kicking in the coffin,
kicking in the womb.

I practice dying so that when the time comes,
the movement will come natural as ballet
and I’ll go into the grass with grace and finesse.

I will not struggle,
will raise no fanfare, blare no trumpets.
I will come to rest like the tune of a music box
growing slower and fainter as the lever winds back.

(I am learning not to go out with a bang,
I am learning how to pass gently by)

I watch smoke unfurl from the end of my friend’s cigarette,
hoping it will teach me something about softness
and the art of floating away.

There is so little time, they say.
Don’t waste a moment.

I chew on this piece of time, thoughtfully,
until my jaw locks,
and it has lost all taste.

I am settling into the shell of myself.

There is time, still, for this.

Panic Attack

Gravity assaults me, grips my arms and holds me down,
insists I won’t ever stand again.
I surrender my body to the dirt,
my face down in the grass,
each blade tall as a building.
I feel the tickle of an ant on my cheek
and cannot lift a finger to swipe it away.
It stays.
It is a part of me now.

Looking down at myself
I can’t tell where skin ends and earth begins,
it is like trying to tell sand from water
when the surf is in tumult.
Every inch of me tingles,
hazy as bad reception,
I am a mess of nerve and fiber.
Breathing steady is like remaining calm
on a crashing plane when the pilots are dead and
no one else on board knows how to steer –
better in theory.

I have to tell my family I love them
before this thing goes down, but
my voice has abandoned ship,
my words scattered like startled fish.
I mouth them at the sky
in case anyone’s listening.

Eggshell Heart

Day after day you pick at your heart like an eggshell
or the way a vulture might pick at roadkill,
peeling back the membrane, the layers, the skin.
Feel this, you instruct it,
pinching its fleshy softness between your nails.
Feel that, you say,
pointing to the bird lying dead on your lawn.
You press your thumb into its sides
until it bruises purple –
watching the color bloom
violent under your fingers.
You tell it to ache.
You tell it to throb.
You tell it to do
its goddamn job.

Different Breed of Poetry

My friend Logan writes the kind of poetry
that eats itself –
that gouges its eyes out
and fingers the bloody caverns.

His is a poetry that’s fascinated
with the empty spaces in its body –
poetry with a mouthful of cavities,
that spits out a tooth
with each sentence it speaks.

I want to write the kind of poetry
that roars in the face of such obscenity –

instead of whimpering
and lowering its head
in disgrace.

Hunger

The need to break the world down into bite-size pieces
you can fit in your mouth – to taste every continent,
wrap your tongue around every rock,
melt with your saliva the lines we have drawn in the sand,
the idea that human can be separated from human.
Lie with me in this non-space, this no-man’s land.
You are drawn here the way insects are driven toward light
with furious hunger, the insatiable appetite
to consume all there is to be consumed
at a table reserved for no one.
Do you know what it means to crave?
You feel it along the lining of your stomach,
the way you’re shrinking from the inside out.
Let’s have a picnic.
In honor of every famine, every time our plates were empty,
let’s dine.
Break bread and drink wine.
Let’s eat in honor of everyone in human history who ever went hungry.
Take the food you need, take the love you need
on this checkered cloth we have laid over the earth
upon which weary travelers have stumbled for eons
in the endless quest for nourishment.
And once you have torn the last bit of meat from the last bone
with your cracked and crooked teeth
tell me if you feel better.
Tell me if you understand now.
Once your body has fallen silent and the universe along with it
tell me if you look to the stars, to the moon, to the space in between –
if you reach out your hands like a beggar digging into his pockets and
beg for your hunger back.

Reverse Gravedigger

An extension of my last poem.

My job is that of a reverse gravedigger.
Instead of burying people, I unearth them –
hold up their bones and announce: Here they are!
Look, they’re not gone! They lived, and it meant something!
The dirt under my fingernails is testimony
to how long I’ve been scratching at coffins,
trying to extract evidence of life.
It’s comforting to assign each skeleton an identity.
This one here: Queen Elizabeth I, my inspiration as a woman.
And these ashes: Van Gogh, my inspiration as an artist.
Perhaps someone will dig up my own ribcage one day –
cradling it like an ancient relic, swearing it once held King’s heart,
or Gandhi’s.
And maybe that’s all life is:
scavenging through graveyards,
holding each skull up to the light and
giving it a name.

The Succumbing

Living –
I have tried to do it with my eyes open
Tried and failed, night after night

To be alive, after all, is to be aware

Awake

My flirtations with sleep are ongoing but
I refuse to invite it into my bed

I’m so tired
I’m so tired
I’m so tired
I’m so –

afraid that something beautiful will happen
while I am not awake to see

(I’m so afraid that something beautiful has happened
while I was not awake to see)

Claustrophobia

My muse now hides

in crowded elevators

because she thinks

the  world is

too small for her.

I tell her claustrophobia

is not romantic.

I step in with her

and the whole building

shakes beneath

our feet and

she hyperventilates

instead of rambling

poetry.

Honestly, I can’t even

tell the difference

anymore.