I will soften like the light of morning: three poems by Tania De Rozario

A Hundred Ways To Say Your Name

I avoid speaking your name in conversation,
throwing it to the air as if it were nothing
more than an assumption of you; it is my last
mode of defence. The last item of clothing
to discard before I realise I’m naked in public.

Because they can hear it in my voice. I know.
Even in that one short syllable that means
everything and nothing; your name is as common
as you are rare. As easy as you are not.
As simple as love should be, but never is.

But when I’m alone, I tie my tongue softly
round the familiar sound, as if pronouncing
with conviction the phonetics of desire
will cause time to pause just long enough
for the earth to hear me naming my loss.


Without You

Before we parted, she told me this: she believed
we were soulmates, that in our next life, we would meet

again. I wanted to tell her that I knew nothing of this
next life she spoke of, and little of this current life

we seemed to be fucking up, that all I understand is
now-­‐the weight of the nod compelled by something

outside oneself: Yes, we say. I give in, we say. I will soften
like the light of morning, remember how it felt waking up

to love. I wanted to tell her that I don’t know if I believe
in easy tomorrows, am doubtful even more of second

chances for those who throw first chances away. What I do
know: we will watch years form lines across our faces;

that in your absence, I understand death, understand that
we are nothing more than fossils pressed together

by emergency; that I want more than anything
to write you poetry while I am able; not risk re-­‐birth

into a body whose heart is a knot tangled in the guts
of language; that even as you break us open like an

unkept promise, I will not watch my life go on without you.


The First Face You Saw

I wanted mine to be the first face you saw
coming out of surgery: lingering at the mouth
of the operating theatre. I imagined blood
as I waited; bodies at the mercy of discerning
hands, cut open by strangers. I remember
you recounting biology lessons, dissecting
an animal and the humbling truth of its insides
for the first time. “Everything fit perfectly”. We

do not collapse into each like that, the way
lovers should. You are open like the best
endings, I am a conclusion wound tight around
secrets: Words left over from the last time
I loved. You are right: I find no beauty
in the everyday, in leaves coaxed by gravity
to ground, in the symmetry between soil
and sky. You should know by now: I write

because I cannot connect, cannot marry
miracle to matter, metaphor to meaning,
head to heart: This anesthesia I am under
will not wear off like love, drugs, this thing
that is us: Yet still, I wait. Will breathe
again as your body is rolled back towards
mine: You are mine, if only for now. Slipping
out of sleep: Let my face be the first you see.

Advertisements
I will soften like the light of morning: three poems by Tania De Rozario

Whatever falls is a figure of rain: four poems by Andrew Zawacki

Credo

You say wind is only wind
and carries nothing nervous

in its teeth. I do not believe it.
I have seen leaves desist from moving

although the branches move,
and I believe a cyclone has secrets

the weather is ignorant of. I believe
in the violence of not knowing.

I’ve seen a river lose its course
and join itself again, watched it court

a stream and coax the stream
into its current, and I have seen rivers,

not unlike you, that failed to find
their way back. I believe the rapport

between water and sand, the advent
from mirror to face. I believe in rain

to cover what mourns, in hail that revives
and sleet that erodes, believe

whatever falls is a figure of rain,
and now I believe in torrents that take

everything down with them.
The sky calls it quits, or so I believe,

when air, or earth, or air has had
enough. I believe in disquiet,

the pressure it plies, believe a cloud
to govern the limits of night. I say I,

but little is left to say it, much less
mean it—and yet I do. Let there be

no mistake. I do not believe
things are reborn in fire.

I believe they’re consumed by fire,
and the fire has a life of its own.


Begins in Interruption

Begins in interruption:
an ambulance bell at the center

of sleep, the room tilts
sideways, furniture slides,

an octet of amber blue
verres à liqueur, one with a cut

at the lip, clatters as a quaalude
light in tatters mattes the

curtains ormolu:

                               I miss you

is what I want to say
like a rocket

stocked from the Reagan
years, its radar gone haywire,

wiring fried but
live inside a bunker of some

private Soviet
Union you & I —


Agrapha

Giving up isn’t giving in, but a different kind of poverty
And if we didn’t mention them all in order, it wasn’t our fault:
Our strength gave out before the daylight tapered,
Schedules were strict, the weddings obliged to go forward

Even with strangers involved, and sisters and mothers of strangers,
Playing Russian roulette with five bullets coughed into the chamber
And swallow the razor and other old parlor games,
Keeping appointments with overcoats and nautical charts of the crime

While someone kept telling lies about factory bylaws, saying
Don’t be afraid, I have called you by name, you are mine
And almost believing it, a survivor peddling insomnia’s cure,
Calculating which bridges to burn, which heretics, which beds:

A package that never arrived from a mispronounced province
Or a lightswitch left on overnight at the back of the hall,
Rehearsing the wreckage of telegrams, padlocks, and skeleton keys
And storms on the coast with other betrayers to please.


Vespers

Architecture it’s not, not even in winter.
Nor is it a draft of a river
to be put away for a lover to polish up later
after the nails have been paid. Nor
is it the finished thing
even if it has the look of a finished thing. In winter
but it is not winter, it’s almost a year ago. Water
that’s moving cannot be called a trigger
but almost a need. Our bodies are not architecture,
they’re moving, they have been put away by October.
A draft of an almost finished river
is not a crowblue cloud at the end of winter, but after
accounts have been paid, years later, a whisper
is polished up to have the look of architecture.
October has the look of a crow in a river. It’s a year
ago, our bodies are four-fifths water. Your
body is polished up to have the look of moving water.
Clouds are four-fifths of winter, but whatever
is almost crowblue or moving cannot be called architecture
or put away for our bodies to polish up later.
I did not say nails had been put away, or paid for
with our bodies’ whispered accounts. I did not say fever
or finished, or after; I did not call winter a need. I never
said I had been nailed to a river
even if you had the look of what’s already left.

Whatever falls is a figure of rain: four poems by Andrew Zawacki

In my defense, spring: five poems by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

December

When my body had forgotten its purpose,
when it just hung off my brainstem like whipped mule.
When my hands only wrote. When my mouth only ate.
When my ass sat, my eyes read, when my reflexes
were answers to questions we all already knew.
Remember how it was then that you slid your hand
into me, a fork in the electric toaster of my body. Jesus,
where did all these sparks come from? Where was all
this heat? Remember what this mouth did last night?
And still, this morning I answer the phone like normal,
still I drink an hour’s worth of strong coffee. And now
I file. And now I send an email. And remember how
my lungs filled with all that everything? Remember
how my heart was an animal you released from its cage?
Remember how we unhinged? Remember all the names
our bodies called each other? Remember how afterwards,
the steam rose from us, like a pair of smiling ghosts?


After Reading Old Unrequited Love Poems

If I didn’t think it’d make me appear crazy still,
I’d apologize to you for having been so crazy then.

Reading the poems I had written about “us”
resurrected all that nervous heat, reminded me

of the insistent stutter of my longing,
how I could never just lay it out there for you.

The answer, clearly, would have been
no, thank you. But perhaps that tough line

would have been enough to salvage all
that was good and woolly about us: your laugh,

that golden ring I’d always stretch a story for;
the pair of mittens we’d split in the cold

so we’d each have a hand to gesture with;
how even now, the paths we took are filled

with starry wonder and all that bright limitless air.
I’m sorry I could never see myself

out of the twitching fever of my heartache,
that I traded everything we had for something

that never ended up being. But if I could take
any of it back, it wouldn’t be the glittering hope

I stuck in the amber of your eyes, nor would
it be the sweet eager of our conversations.

No, it would be that last stony path to nothing,
when we both gave up without telling the other.

How silence arrived like a returned valentine
that morning we finally taught our phones not to ring.


Things That Happen During Pet-Sitting I Remind Myself Are Not Metaphors For My Heart

The dog refuses to eat. I keep filling her bowl
anyway: new kibble on top of old, hoping
that it will suddenly becoming tempting.

When I write, the cat watches me from a chair.
When I look at him, he purrs loudly, leans forward
so that I might touch him. I don’t.

Now the dog refuses to come out of her cage,
no matter what I say, no matter how wide I open
the door. She knows that I am not her master.

On the couch, the cat crawls on top of me
and loves me so hard, his claws draw blood.
I was so lonely, I did nothing to stop it.

There are lights in this house I want to turn on,
but I can’t find their switches. Outside, an engine
turns and turns in the night, but never catches.


Not Doing Something Wrong Isn’t the Same as Doing Something Right

In my defense, my forgotten breasts. In my defense, the hair
no one brushed from my face. In my defense, my hips.

Months earlier, I remembered thinking that sex was a ship retreating
on the horizon. I could do nothing but shove my feet in sand.

I missed all the things loneliness taught me: eyes that follow you
crossing a room, hands that find their home on you. To be noticed. Even.

In my defense, his hands. In my defense, his arms. In my defense,
how when we just sat listening to each other breathe, he said, This is enough.

My body was a house I had closed for the winter. It shouldn’t have been
that difficult, empty as it was. Still, I stared hard as I snapped off the lights.

My body was specter which haunted me, appearing when I stripped
in the bathroom, when I crawled into empty beds, when it rained.

My body was abandoned construction, restoration scaffolding
which became permanent. My body’s unfinished became its finished.

So in my defense, when he touched me the lights of my body came on.
In my defense, the windows were thrown open. In my defense, spring.


Op-Ed for the Sad Sack Review, Regarding News of Another Rash of Writer Suicides

In a fit of gloom, I googled the word failure,
just to see if my name would come up. Instead,
Google told me I misspelled the word failure.

Recounting this makes me feel like I’m starting
a very weepy poem, or a very dull suicide note.
Never begin a wedding toast with the dictionary

definition of marriage, and never begin a suicide
note by saying you googled the word failure.
These days, the number one thing preventing me

from killing myself is likely the idea of people
learning of my suicide via Facebook status updates.
There’s no dignity in that eulogy, its collections

of sad face emoticons, studded with apostrophe tears.
This is a dumb reason to keep living, but it is a reason.
I’m sure all you other sad sacks have your reasons too.

So let’s all cling to them. Let’s all agree that living
for a dumb reason is better than killing yourself
for a dumb reason. Let’s feed tears to the dragons

of misery, but let’s never crawl into their mouths.
Let’s write terrible poetry, dress like late-era Rothkos,
wear out the relentless hate machines of our brains,

but let’s never break. Let’s just keeping living. We can
do this. Trust me. Yours Sincerely, Me, A Poet Who
Doesn’t Even Know How to Spell the Word Failure.

In my defense, spring: five poems by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Repairs are made to roofs which will never cover me: four poems by Cate Marvin

On Parting

Before I go let me thank the man who mugs you,
taking your last paycheck, thank the boss who steals
your tips, thank the women who may break you.

I thank the pens that run out on you midsentence,
the flame that singes your hair, the ticket you can’t
use because it’s torn. Let me thank the stars

that remind you the eyes that were stars are now
holes. Let me thank the lake that drowns you, the sun
that makes your face old. And thank the street your car

dies in. And thank the brother you find unconscious
with bloody arms, thank the needle that assists in
doing him in—so much a part of you. No thanks

to the skin forgetting the hands it welcomed, your
hands refusing to recall what they happened upon.
How blessed is the body you move in—how gone.


Landscape Without You

Roofers scrape the scaly lid
of an auto shop beside the house
where I live. Where I live

shirtless men tear at the black

scabs of a roof’s old flesh, toss
scraps into the back of a truck
parked in the lot next to a house

where I live. Where I live

a tarp rattles at night, plastic
rustles, and trash is kicked along
pavement by wind. Roofers

curse and shell the tire shop’s

peeling lid beside the house
where I live. Where I live
a tarp shakes all night; cans

land on pavement, tossed from

windows of cars that blur by
where I live. Where I live
windows are ladled red with

light your sun leaves me with.

Repairs are made to roofs which
will never cover me. As I read
the road between us, tire tracks

unscroll their tawdry calligraphy.

Any day now you shall arrive, roar
into my eye with your mountainside.
Where I live when I live where
landscape cannot survive you.


Scenes From the Battle of Us

You are like a war novel, entirely lacking
female characters, except for an occasional
letter that makes one of the men cry.

I am like a table
that eats its own legs off
because it’s fallen
in love with the floor.

My frantic hand can’t find where my leg
went. You can play the tourniquet. A tree
with white limbs will grow here someday.

Or maybe a pup tent
that’s collapsed in on itself,
it so loves the sleep
of men sleeping beneath it.

The reason why women dislike war movies
may have something to do with why men hate
romantic comedies: they are both about war.

Perhaps I should
live in a pig’s trough.
There, I’d be wanted.
There, I’d be tasted.

When the mail bag drops from the sky
and lands heavy on the jungle floor, its letters
are prepared to swim away with your tears.

One letter reads:
I can barely feel
furtive. The other:
I am diminishing.


Why I Am Afraid of Turning the Page

Spokes, spooks: your tinsel hair weaves the wheel
that streams through my dreams of battle. Another
apocalypse, and your weird blondeness cycling in
and out of the march: down in a bunker, we hunker,
can hear the boots from miles off clop. We tend to
our flowers in the meantime. And in the meantime,
a daughter is born. She begins as a mere inch, lost
in the folds of a sheet; it’s horror to lose her before
she’s yet born. Night nurses embody the darkness.
Only your brain remains, floating in a jar that sits
in a lab far off, some place away, and terribly far.
Your skull no longer exists, its ash has been lifted
to wind from a mountain’s top by brothers, friends.
I am no friend. According to them. Accordion, the
child pulls its witching wind between its opposite
handles: the lungs of the thing grieve, and that is
its noise. She writhes the floor in tantrum. When
you climbed the sides of the house spider-wise to
let yourself in, unlocked the front door, let me in
to climb up into your attic the last time I saw you
that infected cat rubbed its face against my hand.
Wanting to keep it. No, you said. We are friends.
I wear my green jacket with the furred hood. You
pushed me against chain-length. Today is the day
that the planet circles the night we began. A child
is born. Night nurses coagulate her glassed-in crib.
Your organs, distant, still float the darkness of jars.

 

Repairs are made to roofs which will never cover me: four poems by Cate Marvin

A secret I wish someone had told me sooner: five poems by Shira Erlichman

Onion-Vision

I
A man who forgets himself is poor at making bread.
That is a cookie fortune I never got.

Three virgins in the sack are like three happy vowels: aoe!
That is also a cookie fortune I never got.

The mountains have really big hands.
Once more folks, a cookie fortune I never got.

Don’t turn around – there are babies being made.
That is, again, a cookie fortune I never got.

II
The bubble bath was filled with lemons when I kissed her.
A secret, just nobody’s secret.

The extra pillow is to hump.
Somebody’s secret, someone close by, maybe right here.

I lick every scented marker in the set.
Gregory “Long-legs”s not-so-secret in fourth grade.

Every bad thing that ever happens to you
is either a thermometer or barometer.
A secret I wish someone had told me sooner.

I am not brave.
The heart’s secret.

I am too brave.
The heart’s secret.

III
A dishwasher that plays the dishes as notes.
Uninvented Invention #23

A holidiary where everyone shares entries
in a highly ritualized public format.
Uninvented Invention #68

“Burn the water” – a blues song revealing
the impossibility of abandoning those that abandon us.
Uninvented Invention #104

A miniature movie-theater suspended above the forehead
during sleep to, of course, project movies to a loved one.
Uninvented Invention #19

Walking campfire: built small and safe enough to store
in the breast pocket and familiar to all, so all may sing along.
Uninvented Invention #859

Onion-vision, so we may see sadness as it is, artichokes
as they are, sound, muscle, the truth as it is.
Uninvented Invention #44

Word-kites: you tie them to what you say
and they go wherever they want to go,
like, a tree-tangle or your mouth, some hot moon like that.
Uninvented Invention #960


The Unfinished Suicides of My High School Sweetheart

For Jake

We were platonic high school sweethearts that fucked in the front seat
without touching and with our eyes open the whole time.
Our questions locked at the genitals like children to bicycles.
Our distant tongues sparked like forks dreaming of sockets.
We were virgin high school sweethearts that fucked with the seatbelts on
and the headlights blazing, daring passing drivers to stop and peek,
challenging cops to pull over beside us and question how safe our conversation was.

We theorized about masturbation, weed, (and the combination), football players,
our parents, Bone Thugs’ rapping techniques,
and what percentage of wrong was it to think of someone else while getting head.

We could achieve orgiastic ecstasy on a pile of purple sweatpants.
Our bodies fit together without being in one another.
We were music.
We were honest.
And that is something World Leaders are too scared to touch.
And we got angry. We got scared.
And we weren’t enough for each other.
And we were lovers.

It’s true: you were a man and I was a woman and the birds didn’t care,
and the bees stung the both of us,
but the level of intimacy made slobbering couples at school seem like
they had the attention spans of goldfish.
We were Red Rock meets blue sky of Arizona boldness,
depth of mountains the color of dried blood.

You told me you wanted to die.
Parked outside my parents’ house, asked what kept me living.
I told you my brother’s name but you only had sisters.

You said it would be easy.
One acquaintance away from getting a gun.
Knew someone who knew someone.
You were inches from releasing your feet from under the rope around your neck
and I was there, and I wasn’t.
You were scattered to red needles across the sheet of your chest
and you were only a decision away from a vertical slice
that opened the drawers of blood inside you until you were empty.

How could I tell you: you never wear sunglasses and I like that about you.
You look like a muppet and that alone still makes me smile.
You are curious yet patient.
You never make me feel ugly, gendered or crazy and that is huge.
This is friendship I keep in a drawer I will never unhinge
and spill out.

I felt you tremor from across the cup-holder
as a closed door on the left side of your chest rattled,
which must have been frightening
because the days were all empty rooms you waited in,
and the women were laughter that lived outside your walls,
and the men were impossible to be.

Jake, you look at me like I belong only in my skin,
and you ask questions, which is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

So in the car we’re constantly in, outside our parents’ houses,
I swallow your keys to prove my commitment to finding a new way,
another road, a life you can live with.


I’m Not Falling

When I said the scariest thing I could think of sharing.
When you asked me to. When I couldn’t solve your
blood. When I sat by your bed while the nurses fed you

neon water. When we made love when we got home.
When I started weeping in the midst of it because
I now understood you as the silence. When I listened

well and carefully. When you told me so. When we endured
the moment. When I bought a bagel with runny vegetable
cream cheese for less than three dollars while you talked

in your sleep. When we mended. When I wished for everything,
twice. When brilliant. When this is not a sad song I am alive in.
When it is a horribly bright place. When you deserved the best

but instead got a ruptured cyst, barely made rent and your
father disappointed you. When I had no idea what to say
and you knew so you covered my mouth. When the bed

was the whole day. When my mother fell in love with you.
When the fire didn’t bury us. When I brought you your lunch.
When you paid for the cab. When you nodded, took off

your shoes and stayed. When you made the bathwater
laugh. When you whispered into my ear, bit my collarbone
and won. When everything weighed love, too love to be

put down. When I sat by your bed while nurse after nurse missed
and missed and missed your veins. When the Doctor came in
to solve the struggle, said “the others are too nice” and jabbed

it in, bull’s eye. When remember how I wanted to kill
and thank her? When me neither love. When it never rained.
When life weighed everything, too everything to pick up.

When that man in the brown cap never looked at us disgusted,
shaking his head, while we arm-in-armed by. When I paid for
the cab and forgot what you owed me because I was counting

your curls. When, especially, you fell asleep
without finishing your sentence:
I’m not falling.


Feeding You Grapes On The Mountain’s Soft Side

I want to write you a good poem: the water is cold and you step in.
The water is loud against your shins.

I want to write you a comfort poem: oh the ship is a dip! The banana
is a smile, dial! the little girl being carriaged sings, passing you.

I want to write you an awe poem: breath is a leaf floating in a mostly cream
coffee and you have such soft patience to pluck it out in a forest always falling.

I want to write you a silent poem: if every moment is the same moment, what
are you missing? If you want an apple, bite my mouth across such time.

I want to write you a bowl poem: noodles.

I want to write you a kite poem: blue.

I want to write you an always poem: the water is cold and you step in.
The water is loud against your shins.

I want to write you a good morning poem: the crickets believe
you too tell the temperature just by how you let sing the spaces.

I want to write you a together poem: the water is cold and?
The water is loud against?

I want to write you a love poem: you are cold and you step in
to yourself, loud against God’s shins. God is dancing.
So cold! Ice cold! somebody says. But who?

I want to write you a whole poem: a bridge abandoned while it rains.

I want to write you a fart poem: somebody, but who?

I want to write you a cosmic poem: the ant on my kitchen table.

I want to write you a wake up poem: all you have been running toward
has been running toward you, all along.

I want to write you a disappointing poem: this is all.

I want to write you an exciting poem: this is all.

I want to write you a real poem: listening to the birds, I give up,
close the book on want, know this, I will come to you
when I am ready.


Ode to Lithium #188

I have to be honest with you: There were others.
& Some of them were good. Before you gilded my hippocampus
I lay in bed with fireworks: anti-psychotics, their distant cousins,
Risperadol, Abilify, all the dizziest bees.

When the SSRIs asked me to dance, I danced, heavier than I’ve ever been,
a weeping clockwork, but at least in motion.
Some even pinched a smile from me. I know you want to know:
Were they better Did I love them Would I ever go back Who is she.

But if you could see what they gave me: Years.
From the bottom of the lake they scraped my literacy for breathing.
Or: my mother & I, side by side on a king size bed, reading
while they ambled & flit through my thick helplessness.

I read books. I cooked meals. Forgive me.

A secret I wish someone had told me sooner: five poems by Shira Erlichman

I dissolve like a remedy in water, in wine: four poems by Kim Addonizio

For Desire

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look.


The Numbers

How many nights have I lain here like this, feverish with plans,
with fears, with the last sentence someone spoke, still trying to finish
a conversation already over? How many nights were wasted
in not sleeping, how many in sleep-I don’t know
how many hungers there are, how much radiance or salt, how many times
the world breaks apart, disintegrates to nothing and starts up again
in the course of an ordinary hour. I don’t know how God can bear
seeing everything at once: the falling bodies, the monuments and burnings,
the lovers pacing the floors of how many locked hearts. I want to close
my eyes and find a quiet field in fog, a few sheep moving toward a fence.
I want to count them, I want them to end. I don’t want to wonder
how many people are sitting in restaurants about to close down,
which of them will wander the sidewalks all night
while the pies revolve in the refrigerated dark. How many days
are left of my life, how much does it matter if I manage to say
one true thing about it-how often have I tried, how often
failed and fallen into depression? The field is wet, each grassblade
gleaming with its own particularity, even here, so that I can’t help
asking again, the white sky filling with footprints, bricks,
with mutterings over rosaries, with hands that pass over flames
before covering the eyes. I’m tired, I want to rest now.
I want to kiss the body of my lover, the one mouth, the simple name
without a shadow. Let me go. How many prayers
are there tonight, how many of us must stay awake and listen?


Ex-Boyfriends

They hang around, hitting on your friends
or else you never hear from them again.
They call when they’re drunk, or finally get sober,

they’re passing through town and want dinner,
they take your hand across the table, kiss you
when you come back from the bathroom.

They were your loves, your victims,
your good dogs or bad boys, and they’re over
you now. One writes a book in which a woman

who sounds suspiciously like you
is the first to be sadistically dismembered
by a serial killer. They’re getting married

and want you to be the first to know,
or they’ve been fired and need a loan,
their new girlfriend hates you,

they say they don’t miss you but show up
in your dreams, calling to you from the shoeboxes
where they’re buried in rows in your basement.

Some nights you find one floating into bed with you,
propped on an elbow, giving you a look
of fascination, a look that says I can’t believe

I’ve found you. It’s the same way
your current boyfriend gazed at you last night,
before he pulled the plug on the tiny white lights

above the bed, and moved against you in the dark
broken occasionally by the faint restless arcs
of headlights from the freeway’s passing trucks,

the big rigs that travel and travel,
hauling their loads between cities, warehouses,
following the familiar routes of their loneliness.


For You

For you I undress down to the sheaths of my nerves.
I remove my jewelry and set it on the nightstand,
I unhook my ribs, spread my lungs flat on a chair.
I dissolve like a remedy in water, in wine.
I spill without staining, and leave without stirring the air.
I do it for love. For love, I disappear.

I dissolve like a remedy in water, in wine: four poems by Kim Addonizio

I made up the best parts of you: four poems by Sierra DeMulder

Love, Forgive Me

after Rachel McKibbens

My sister told me a soul mate is not the person
who makes you the happiest but the one who
makes you feel the most, who conducts your heart

to bang the loudest, who can drag you giggling
with forgiveness from the cellar they locked you in.
It has always been you. You are the first

person I was afraid to sleep next to,
not because of the fear you would leave
in the night but because I didn’t want to wake up

ungracefully. In the morning, I crawled over
your lumbering chest to wash my face and pinch
my cheeks and lay myself out like a still-life

beside you. Your new girlfriend is pretty
like the cover of a cookbook. I have said her name
into the empty belly of my apartment. Forgive me.

When I feel myself falling out of love with you,
I turn the record of your laughter over, reposition
the needle. I dust the dirty living room of your affection.

I have imagined our children. Forgive me. I made up
the best parts of you. Forgive me. When you told me
to look for you on my wedding day, to pause

on the altar for the sound of your voice
before sinking myself into the pond of another
love, forgive me. I mistook it for a promise.


Unrequited Love Poem

You will be out with friends
when the news of her existence
will be accidentally spilled all over
your bar stool. Respond calmly
as if it was only a change in weather,
a punch line you saw coming.
After your fourth shot of cheap liquor,
leave the image of him kissing another woman
in the toilet.

In the morning, her name will be
in every headline: car crash, robbery, flood.
When he calls you, ignore the hundreds of ropes
untangling themselves in your stomach.
You are the best friend again. He invites
you over for dinner and you say yes
too easily. Remind yourself this isn’t special,
it’s only dinner, everyone has to eat.
When he greets you at the door, do not think
for one second you are the reason
he wore cologne tonight.

In his kitchen, he will hand-feed you
a piece of red pepper. His laugh
will be low and warm and it will make you
feel like candlelight. Do not think this is special.
Do not count on your fingers the number
of freckles you could kiss too easily.
Try to think of pilot lights and olive oil,
not everything you have ever loved about him,
or it will suddenly feel boiling and possible
and so close. You will find her bobby pins
laying innocently on his bathroom sink.
Her bobby pins. They look like the wiry legs
of spiders, splinters of her undressing
in his bed. Do not say anything.
Think of stealing them, wearing them
home in your hair. When he hugs you goodbye,
let him kiss you on the forehead.
Settle for target practice.

At home, you will picture her across town
pressing her fingers into his back
like wet cement. You will wonder
if she looks like you, if you are two bedrooms
in the same house. Did he fall for her features
like rearranged furniture? When he kisses her,
does she taste like wet paint?

You will want to call him.
You will go as far as holding the phone
in your hand, imagine telling him
unimaginable things like you are always
ticking inside of me
and I dream of you
more often than I don’t.
My body is a dead language
and you pronounce
each word perfectly.

Do not call him.
Fall asleep to the hum of the VCR.
She must make him happy.
She must be
She must be his favorite place in Minneapolis.
You are a souvenir shop, where he goes
to remember how much people miss him
when he is gone.



At First Sight

When she stops kissing you
with her mouth open,
find the screw driver.

Buy a newly cut shank of beef.
Leave so much blood in the kitchen
she has to ask what happened.

When she no longer calls you baby,
hide all the silverware
between the couch cushions.

Send her there to sleep.
If she does not complain,
let the sinks in the bathroom overflow.

Bake the wedding photos
in the dryer. Stand in
the middle of your flood.

Call her name backwards, forwards.
Wave your arms like your chest is a runway.
She is the plane you are crashing.

When she does not reach
for you, pretend
it is the first time

you’ve met.


Five Years After

You wonder why I don’t
answer your 3 a.m. phone calls

When you say “I miss you”,
I begin to undress myself out of habit.

 

I made up the best parts of you: four poems by Sierra DeMulder