The trickle of memories

I want to be better,
but sometimes
I can’t.

There are people
who use music
to revive
those
who are losing it
in their old age.

They’ll play an old
record
or a
phonograph
and the woman
who can’t remember
her own
name,
or who
calls her
grandson
by the name
of her
father,
and who hasn’t
smiled
in 15 years
will suddenly
grin
and dance
an addled
foxtrot
in her chair
as her
shins
spin
in the
retirement home’s
musty air.

I guess what I’m saying
is that
I
remember.

Schumann’s
Kinderszenen:
Op. 15, No. 7,
Träumerei.

I remember
lying
next to you
in your
too small
bed
and straining with
the silence
and the sound
of my watch
clicking away
like a
waterfall
and hearing
the piano keys
t
r
i
c
k
l
e
.
.
.
as they
held
the day
at bay.

(We weren’t ready
for the sun,
yet.)

I think
one day
I may forget
my daughter’s
face
or that I have
grandchildren;

I will forget
to smile
at the
sun’s
warmth
on my
face;

I will forget
who I am,
but
I will remember
the spun
gold
of that moment
with you
in that
coarsely-carpeted
dorm room.

I will remember
the way
my fingers fell
across and
.be.tw.ee.n.
the bumps
of your spine,
gently
tickling
your skin
like
the trickling
piano keys
that curled
around us
in
our
nest.

The people
who leave us
deserve to hear
what we say
to them
in our
cavernous minds
after
they’ve gone.

Hear me:

I
will
remember
dancing with you
tall-ways
as my feet hung off
the edge
of the universe;

I
will
remember
that slow dance
under
a canopy
of stars;

I will
remember
you
always.

I had a dog growing up

He was a lightning bolt.

The first night
we
brought him
home,

he bit me–

snapped food right out of my hand.

I didn’t know not to hold food
so low
when there was
a hungry puppy
around.

He made moving in the second grade
easier
on me.

He liked to lay his head on pillows,

and I liked it,
too.

He was spoiled,
but I never
denied him
the best pillow spot
for the royal muzzle.

He used to know
when I was sad

(he knew–
I know he knew).

When he did something wrong,
I would only threaten to–
I wouldn’t hit him.

He was my best friend;

He never left my side.

Through my first
heartbreak–

he never left my side;
he licked the tears from my face,
and fetched me back
my smile.

He never left my side

I found the courage to
love again
and sometimes the new ones would meet him,
but
he was old now
and their pity made me
angry
so I stopped showing him
to them.

We took him in
on his
last day–
my dad and I.

There was this little
fucking
yippy dog
in the waiting room;

he kept trying to get to us.

“Leave him,
sweetums.
That puppy isn’t feeling well.”

I hated her and her stupid
fucking
rat dog.

I wanted to
shut her up

I wanted to
throw her chair through the window
and bellow
inhumanely.

I was full of anger
and desperation
and fear of what was to come
and my heart felt like
a hurricane.

I had changed my mind.

It wasn’t better like this;

he wasn’t suffering so much;

he still liked to lay his head
on pillows;

and his limp wasn’t so bad;

and his vision wasn’t
as bad as all this–

as all these

whitewashed
sterile walls,

that fake
goddamn
lavender smell
until you want to throw-up

and the ethanol-drenched
cleanness
of a deathroom.

They called us back
and I carried him in my arms
and my dad slid on his sunglasses
so that the man wouldn’t see him cry

and I hated him for that–

it was so stupid
and comical
and fucking
poignant.

He shook in my arms
and I whispered to him:

“It’s okay, buddy,
I’m here.”

Then the man came in
and
asked if we were ready,

and I laughed–
a clipped sound
that barked from my throat–

and he shivered
and shook
in my arms.

My dad looked away
and took a rattling breath

and I nodded my head

(the needle slipped in)

he stiffened, looking to me
in confusion

(the needle slipped out)

(the man walked away).

It hadn’t reached
his heart
yet–

I should have hugged him–

I didn’t know how fast it would happen;

I didn’t
know
how it went.

He grew still in my arms
and I wanted to scream at my dad
that he had to

look

he had to

see

when it

His ear flopped over his face
in a way that it never had
in life
and the
awkwardness
of it
lying against his
still eyes
was so much like
a car crash.

And I could’ve said something
beautiful
like
a poem I had heard
in college
but I just
whimpered
instead.

The man came back
and said

“There. Now he could be asleep,”

and he smiled with his
fucking
kind eyes,

and my dad was
already halfway down the hallway
when I said:

“No,
he’s not asleep,
he likes to sleep on pillows.”

(And then I left his side.)

And all the people that
like my smile
never know

why

it sometimes

leaves.

I do not want you for myself

I do not want
you
for myself,

I want
to touch
your shinbones
and trace the sinews
of your calves
until they terminate
at your
untouched
ankles.

I want
to leave
soft,
silent, wet
jewelry
kisses
attaching your collarbones
so that
when my lips
move away
the air is cold
by comparison.

I want
to find
the spots on you
that no lover ever knew
and curl up
and fall asleep
in them–

the backs of your knees;
your candy cane wrists;
the speed-bumped road
of your spine;
the forest edge base of your
neck;
(shall I cool myself
at your
navel’s basin?);
the ridge of your shoulder blades
pathetically
unassailably
closed
against my
incursion.

(How softly
might one
touch
one
whose skin
is made of
flowers?)

I want
to drive you
to anticipation
that never
ends,
that never stays still,
that cools as often
as it glows hot,
that leaves you somewhere
different
than
from where
you
started.

I want
you
to fall asleep
imperceptibly
and awaken
confused,
in shock
of what
a lover
has proven
by your
salt-spun
lips.

I want
hair
s
_p
__i
___l
____l
____i
___n
__g
over edges
and lips
to tire out the neck
from their exhaustive
traveling
and arms
to sh.a.ke
from holding
up the earth of
bodies
that are
crashing
together,
spraying love
into the midnight blue
air
and
leaving the world
of this room
drenched
in
all colors.

I want
the you
that you
have never met
before;

I want you

for

you.

My Cathedral of Waterfalls

Your hair
in ringlets
made me
ache
for the rock-
filtered
w
a
t
e
r
f
a
l
l
s
of my
youth–
the rock was slick
and the spot
was
secluded,
and, as a boy
of twelve,
I could
never
have conceived
that one day
a woman
and the
happenstance
fall
of her hair
would
transport me
back
there.

I thought
to say something
to you–
to tell you
that your hair
sent me
c
_a
__r
___e
____e
_____n
______i
______n
______g
back
into
the past,
but I knew
you wouldn’t
understand
and I couldn’t
tell you
any less
than the full
measure
of that truth;
better
to say
nothing
at
all.

Later that night,
I sat down
and poured myself
an offering
while
still feeling
the mist
off the walls
of my
cathedral
of waterfalls.

My
circumspect
12-pack
communion:
you,
me,
and
the blank
page.

An eloquence of still replies:

I keep waiting for
it all
to start;
for the trees to
dance
or the swirling stars
to
open their
silver-wrought
gates
to a
t
_u
__m
_b
l
_i
__n
_g
covenant–
an eloquence
of still
replies:
thy twilight
gleaming,
breathing
such
acrid
sighs–
but
shooting stars
are liars
and I’m learning
to accept
that

this

may be
all
there
is.

Uncorked Heavens

Either
we are all
in love
or
none of us
are.

What
they
are doing to us
is bad
enough
before you consider
that
we
are them.

The stars
are the victims
and we
are the jailers–
how could I
have missed it
before?

Thought is bullshit
and
hope is a starving stray
and
our breaths
are no one’s
for taking.

Either
none of us are
heartbroken
or
we
all
are.

back into the darkness

I want you to know
how
I love you

but

maybe first
I should say
that
I love you–

but
not like
some goddamn
flower
or a river
or the stars.

I love you
like I love
the feel of
fingers
wrapping around
my arm
when I’m ordering
a beer at a bar
alone;

like I love
a
stray cat,
moving
with more
purpose
than I ever will;

like I love
the sun
on a day
when I can’t
be
outside.

It’s strange
how
the people
who know
the most
about
grace
are those
who have known it
least–

or maybe
that
isn’t strange
at
all.

I love you
like I loved
a
beautiful and
gentle
woman’s
hand
rubbing
my back
when I was exhausted
and seated
and
my head was in my arms–
and all this
after
not having seen you
for 10 months.

But

how

do
I love you?

I love you
like I did
when I got up,
smiled sadly,
and
walked away
from her
and back
into
the
darkness.

37 poems

I’ve written
37 poems this year
that
I haven’t torn up,
and it’s only
June.

37 poems
made it.

I don’t particularly
like them,
but
I don’t hate them
enough
to bless them
with fire,
either.

37 poems.

I’ve been fed up
to bursting
37 times
so far
this year
and
I think I cried
four of those
times.

Twice,
I clenched my fists
so hard
that
I felt the earth
tremble
3,200 miles away.

I’ve written 37 poems
so far
this year.

Now,
it’s 38.

Please don’t say how wonderful things are.

Please
just don’t wear
high heels,
anymore.

Please
just lay
your feet
on my lap
and forget
to put on
makeup.

Please
just leave
your nude bras
lying in their
manicured drawer.

Please
forget to hold in
your stomach
and don’t
brush your hair
out of my face.

Please
forego
the lace
panties
that decorate
your hips.

Please,
no lip gloss.

Please
just be
too tired
to wash your face
tonight.

Please
just be.

Please
don’t say
how wonderful
things are.

Please.

I am not a good writer

Some people
think
that I’m a good writer,
but
they don’t know.

I can write
a hundred ways
and
in
a
hundred
styles
and someone who knows
would understand,
but they
don’t.

I
am not
a good writer.

I copy.

I steal–
subconsciously, sometimes.

I hate myself
and I hate
writing,
but I can’t
help it.

I am not
a good writer.

I wish I were
a humble,
self-deprecating,
heroic writer,
but I’m not.

I am not a good writer.

I only get lucky
sometimes
with a thought–
now
and again
a handful
of
coherent
thoughts
slither out
and I take credit
for the cosmic
inevitability
of their
utterance.

I am
not
a good writer.

I only allow
(sometimes)
that I am
a
damn
fine
thinker.