A Working List of Things I Will Never Tell You
When I said I wasn’t with another girl
the January after we fell in love for the 3rd time,
it’s because it wasn’t actual sex.
In the February that began our radio silence,
it was actual sex. I hate the tight shirts
that go below your waistline.
Not only do they make you look too young,
but then your torso is a giraffe’s neck attached to tiny legs.
I screamed at myself in the subway
for writing poems about you still.
I made a scene. I think about you almost
each morning, and roughly every five days, I still
believe you’re there.
I still masturbate to you.
When we got really bad,
I would put another coat of mop water on the floor of the bar
to make sure you were asleep when I got to my side of the bed.
You are the only person to whom I’ve lied, knowing
I was telling the truth. I miss the way your neck
wraps around my face like a cave we are both lost in.
I remember when you said being with me
is like being alone with company.
My friend Sarah wrote a poem about pink ponies.
I’m scared you’re my pink pony.
Hers is dead. It is really sad. You’re not dead.
You live in Ohio, or Washington, or Wherever.
You are a shadow my body leaves on other girls.
I have a growing queue of things I know
will make you laugh and I don’t know where to put them.
I mourn like you’re dead. If you had asked me to stay,
I would not have said no.
It would never mean yes.
Sometimes you dance slow with your best friend
while a woman you love differently than you love
Etta James sings At Last into a karaoke machine
like she wrote it in the bathroom.
Sometimes every person you know is drunk enough
it becomes a new definition for sober.
There is a bar on the west side of Brooklyn
the fishermen call home (or they used to
when Brooklyn had fishermen), a siren carrying them back
to their whiskey. Sometimes there is tonight.
We are six people making footsteps that never disappear.
Can you imagine the lines we have drawn to get here?
There are people who have called us their homes.
Tonight, there is family in the oxygen. Sometimes,
two people is its own person. It has a lifespan,
it gets hungry, it too, can lie underneath its sheets
and wonder how it can still feel alone—
Sometimes it is more.
There is a phone booth in the bar that seats one.
Six of us scramble inside, crawl up the walls
until even our drinks fit. Our bodies are rediscovering
what it is to be possible. It is one night
when the clocks in Brooklyn begin to spill backwards,
then stop. The bartender — still as a stalagmite,
while the perfect pour stays perfect.
The couple at the corner table,
together like popsicle sticks in a freezer—
the ovvvvv from I love you suspended
in the air like a vibrating chandelier.
We, with our songs, with our slow dances,
our smiles — which on any other day
rotate like the swing on a jump rope —
we are the last to go, we are the last to go
we are last —