On Missing You
Here is the skin that you said you loved
draped over the back of the chair in the kitchen.
Here are the teeth. Here is the sternum, the
clavicle, the fibula. Here are the angel bones
laid out on top of the dresser like antique
jewelry. Here are the earlobes, the knobbly
elbows, the beauty mark near my temple
that always got a moan out of you. Here are
my thighs, my femur. All ten toes, all ten
fingers. My pubic bone, preserved and
wrapped in a velvet bag. Your name on the
tag. Your name on everything. Here is
the body that loved you. Here is the
heart, bloodied and wanting. Here are
those drunk voice mails, the sober texts.
Here is your promise of staying. Here
is the lonely hum in my brain where your
name used to be. Here is my spine. Here
is all the hollow. Here is all the longing. Here
is the heavy tongue, the scratchy vocal
chords. Here are all of the I love you’s.
Here is the shocking wreck of it all. Here is
how you were closer to me than my bones,
my skin. Here is the quiet city, your empty
side of the bed. Here is the empty. Here is not
knowing whether you loved me or not. Here is
the poem that can’t save us. Here.
by Kristina H,
Another Awkward Stage of Convalescence
Drunk, I kissed the moon
where it stretched on the floor.
I’d removed happiness from a green bottle,
both sipped and gulped
just as a river changes its mind,
mostly there was a flood in my mouth
because I wanted to love the toaster
as soon as possible, and the toothbrush
with multi-level brissels
created by dental science, and the walls
holding pictures in front of their faces
to veil the boredom of living
fifty years without once
turning the other way. I wanted
the halo a cheap beaujolais paints
over everything like artists gave the holy
before perspective was invented,
and for a moment thought in the glow
of fermented bliss that the bending
of spoons by the will was inevitable,
just as the dark-skinned would kiss
the light-skinned and those with money
and lakefront homes would open
their verandas and offer trays
of cucumber sandwiches to the poor
scuttling along the fringes of their lawns
looking for holes in the concertina wire.
Of course I had to share this ocean
of acceptance and was soon on the phone
with a woman from Nogales whose hips
had gone steady with mine. I told her
I was over her by pretending I was just
a friend calling to say the Snow Drops
had nuzzled through dirt to shake
their bells in April wind. This
threw her off the scent of my anguish
as did the cement mixer of my voice, as did
the long pause during which I memorized
her breathing and stared at my toes
like we were still together, reading
until our eyes slid from the page
and books fell off the bed to pound
their applause as our tongues searched
each others’ body. When she said
she had to go like a cop telling a bum
to move on, I began drinking downhill,
with speed that grew its own speed,
and fixed on this image with a flagellant’s
zeal, how she, returning to bed, cupped
her lover’s crotch and whispered not
to worry, it was no one on the phone,
and proved again how forgotten I’d become
while I, bent over the cold confessional,
listened to the night’s sole point of honesty.
by Bob Hicok
Shame on You by Mariah McManus
How do people stay true to each other?
When I think of my parents all those years
in the unmade bed of their marriage, not ever
longing for anything else — or: no, they must
have longed; there must have been flickerings,
stray desires, nights she turned from him,
sleepless, and wept, nights he rose silently,
smoked in the dark, nights that nest of breath
and tangled limbs must have seemed
not enough. But it was. Or they just
held on. A gift, perhaps, I’ve tossed out,
having been always too willing to fly
to the next love, the next and the next, certain
nothing was really mine, certain nothing
would ever last. So faith hits me late, if at all;
faith that this latest love won’t end, or ends
in the shapeless sleep of death. But faith is hard.
When he turns his back to me now, I think:
disappear. I think: not what I want. I think
of my mother lying awake in those arms
that could crush her. That could have. Did not.
by Cecilia Woloch
The Unbearable Weight of Staying
i don’t know when love became elusive
what i know, is that no one i know has it
my fathers arms around my mothers neck
fruit too ripe to eat, a door half way open
when your name is a just a hand i can never hold
everything i have ever believed in, becomes magic.
i think of lovers as trees, growing to and
from one another searching for the same light,
my mothers laughter in a dark room,
a photograph greying under my touch,
this is all i know how to do, carry loss around until
i begin to resemble every bad memory,
every terrible fear,
every nightmare anyone has ever had.
i ask did you ever love me?
you say of course, of course so quickly
that you sound like someone else
i ask are you made of steel? are you made of iron?
you cry on the phone, my stomach hurts
i let you leave, i need someone who knows how to stay.
by Warsan Shire
I Made a House of Houselessness
I made a house of houselessness,
A garden of your going:
And seven trees of seven wounds
You gave me, all unknowing:
I made a feast of golden grief
That you so lordly left me,
I made a bed of all the smiles
Whereof your lip bereft me:
I made a sun of your delay,
Your daily loss, his setting:
I made a wall of all your words
And a lock of your forgetting.
by Rose O’Neill
Don’t talk to me of love. I’ve had an earful
And I get tearful when I’ve downed a drink or two.
I’m one of your talking wounded.
I’m a hostage. I’m maroonded.
From In Paris with You by James Fenton