A Sonnet of Invented Memories
1. I told you that I was a roadway of potholes, not safe to cross. You said nothing, showed up in my driveway wearing roller-skates.
2. The first time I asked you on a date, after you hung up, I held the air between our phones against my ear and whispered, “You will fall in love with me. Then, just months later, you will fall out. I will pretend the entire time that I don’t know it’s coming.”
3. Once, I got naked and danced around your bedroom, awkward and safe. You did the same. We held each other without hesitation and flailed lovely. This was vulnerability foreplay.
4. The last eight times I told you I loved you, they sounded like apologies.
5. You recorded me a CD of you repeating, “You are beautiful.” I listened to it until I no longer thought in my own voice.
6. Into the half-empty phone line, I whispered, “We will wake up believing the worst in each other. We will spit shrapnel at each other’s hearts. The bruises will lodge somewhere we don’t know how to look for and I will still pretend I don’t know its coming.”
7. You photographed my eyebrow shapes and turned them into flashcards: mood on one side, correct response on the other. You studied them until you knew when to stay silent.
8. I bought you an entire bakery so that we could eat nothing but breakfast for a week. Breakfast, untainted by the day ahead, was when we still smiled at each other as if we meant it.
9. I whispered, “I will latch on like a deadbolt to a door and tell you it is only because I want to protect you. Really, I’m afraid that without you I mean nothing.”
10. I gave you a bouquet of plane tickets so I could practice the feeling of watching you leave.
11. I picked you up from the airport limping. In your absence, I’d forgotten how to walk. When I collapsed at your feet, you refused to look at me until I learned to stand up without your help.
12. Too scared to move, I stared while you set fire to your apartment – its walls decaying beyond repair, roaches invading the corpse of your bedroom. You tossed all the faulty appliances through the smoke out your window, screaming that you couldn’t handle choking on one more thing that wouldn’t just fix himself.
13. I whispered, “We will each weed through the last year and try to spot the moment we began breaking. We will repel sprint away from each other. Your voice will take months to drain out from my ears. You will throw away your notebook of tally marks from each time you wondered if I was worth the work. The invisible bruises will finally surface and I will still pretend that I didn’t know it was coming.”
14. The entire time, I was only pretending that I knew it was coming.
by Miles Walser
Living the Good Life
There is only one locale for the heart
And that’s somewhere between the dick and the brain.
I don’t believe love is for chickenshits.
It’s low, dark, and cold-blooded, like a cottonmouth.
Children are often involved. They stink
When they sprout in the garden of light,
And they stink mulching their way back down.
Cold-hearted women, work, madness, and death
Are the things separating the nuts from the shells.
Everything else is strictly a pile of shit-
Except for childhood, which we moon over
Because it smells to high heaven. So, go it
Alone. Solitude is a constellation:
People can’t connect light anymore,
The only code they can break is darkness.
You can get a file in the heart
But you can’t jimmy love - a woman once said
by Frank Stanford
Letters from Exile - II
It’s snowing in New York
It wasn’t just the snow
eating up the suburban baroque,
or that you had just walked in,
cold as a welldigger’s heart.
It wasn’t the twilight leaving us
with our loneliness, or the night
unfreezing fireflies. It wasn’t you,
with your elbows shored up
on old sienna tables, nor me,
keeling my way to the moon.
It wasn’t the television
drooling relentless channels.
It was us: we were never geared
for love. The regularity was too dull.
Imagine the earth in orbit,
and this giant circumference
of light slowly slipping west:
everyone on that edge, waking
up together, lovers, still in bed,
entering each other and leaving
in fierce automobiles. It was
that routine we couldn’t live.
We were like a dog
in love with his bone.
You throw it to the far end
of the field and he races off,
not to recover the piece,
but just to clear
the distance in between.
by Hemant Mohapatra
The Only Animal
The only animal that commits suicide
went for a walk in the park,
basked on a hard bench
in the first star,
traveled to the edge of space
in an armchair
while company quietly
talked, and abruptly
the room empty
The only animal that cries,
that takes off its clothes
and reports to the mirror, the one
and only animal
that brushes its own teeth
the only animal that smokes a cigarette,
that lies down and flies backward in time,
that rises and walks to a book
and looks up a word
heard the telephone ringing
in the darkness downstairs and decided
to answer no more.
REST IS HERE
by Franz Wright
The second-hardest thing I have to do is not be longing’s slave.
Hell is that. Hell is that, others, having a job, and not having a job. Hell is thinking continually of those who were truly great.
Hell is the moment you realize that you were ignorant of the fact, when it was true, that you were not yet ruined by desire.
The kind of music I want to continue hearing after I am dead is the kind that makes me think I will be capable of hearing it then.
There is music in Hell. Wind of desolation! It blows past the egg-eyed statues. The canopic jars are full of secrets.
The wind blows through me. I open my mouth to speak.
I recite the list of people I have copulated with. It does not take long. I say the names of my imaginary children. I call out four-syllable words beginning with B. This is how I stay alive.
Beelzebub. Brachiosaur. Bubble-headed. I don’t know how I stay alive. What I do know is that there is a light, far above us, that goes out when we die,
and that in Hell there is a gray tulip that grows without any sun. It reminds me of everything I failed at,
and I water it carefully. It is all I have to remind me of you.
by Sarah Manguso
Absence Makes the Heart. That’s It: Absence Makes the Heart
Waving hello versus waving goodbye
is an interpretative act. We could make it
directional: from left to right is hello,
right to left, goodbye. The buoy
clanged all night so my sleep
would know where to go. I could pray.
Tambourine myself to death.
Electroshock the worms. Wrap the maple
in tinfoil and decry the lightning
that splits it as misguided and deceived.
Nothing I do will bring you back. So this
is freedom: being ineffectual. Here
is where spiders set up shop
during the night, here is where a crow
decided to perch. Then it gets up
and perches over there, beside
where another crow perched last week.
It would be peaceful to be a sail
except during the storm.
During the storm, I would like to be
the storm. If you’re the storm,
there’s nothing frightening
about the storm except when it stops,
then you’re dead and the maps
are drowned. Within my heart
is another heart, within that heart,
a man at war writes home:
this is like digging a hole in the rain.
by Bob Hicok
Among the Attributes of a Basically Cruel Man
Today began a dreamsicle
made of dirt and up to us
to pilot this sky’s specific
dye lot. And why not?
Our lives are six or seven
people a lot, a couple dozen
less so, and an even call it
hundred lesser still. Today
it’s the cinnamon blush
of rust on a dumpster.
It’s the city’s talc of salt
and still ice bites onto the lot
in a couple spots. Took the skull
for a crawl is all and tried not to
fall through a city ultimately
solvable, mere matter
of form. The locksmith’s truck
fits surely into traffic. I’ve
climbed through four windows
twelve times, emerged smudged
or scraped, but home, where
the thing about charm’s it
doesn’t give a fuck what
comes after adoration, only
more and more.
by James D’Agostino
Meditation on Self-Mutilation
The difference between habitually
cutting your wrist with a razor
kept in your breast pocket and opening
your chest with broken glass—is it a matter
of impulse control or audience
or both? Which do we admire most?
If you’re going to burn yourself as punishment
for eating, I say make sure your mother knows.
I knew a dominatrix who said, as a kid,
what couldn’t be said by ripping out her
eyelashes. They’re featuring girls who cut themselves in
the New York Times Magazine, yet you’re still purging
secretly after meals. Imagine: someone
intentionally puking on the table—just once.
by Naomi Clewett
I have sometimes been accused of being a bore. I beg to differ: people laugh at my jokes, and I’m handsome. I would like now to talk more about myself: I don’t like going to airports and hospitals. They make me uneasy. In both cases, somebody is always going to leave. I was born in 1983, and have never been to Berlin. But I have a memory of being in Berlin in 1961. I have a memory of something that never happened.
I would like to elaborate on myself, but you will understand if I talk instead about the sky in Berlin in 1961: it was covered with dust. There were no birds. There was no sky.
Memory is brutal because precise.
She said: give me more space. I said: don’t you love me anymore? She said: give me more space. I said: why? Did I do something wrong? Is there something wrong? Is there someone else? When did you stop loving me? In what precise moment? In what room? What city?
I held her tight as one who’s about to lose his own life holds on. Then she said: give me more space. I said: no.
I have only one purpose: to live intensely.
I wish I never met you
and I wish you never left.
You taste like a river in June.
by Arkaye Kierulf.
Full text is HERE
Fuck You Poem #45
Fuck you in slang and conventional English.
Fuck you in lost and neglected lingoes.
Fuck you hungry and sated; faded, pock marked and defaced.
Fuck you with orange rind, fennel and anchovy paste.
Fuck you with rosemary and thyme, and fried green olives on the side.
Fuck you humidly and icily.
Fuck you farsightedly and blindly.
Fuck you nude and draped in stolen finery.
Fuck you while cells divide wildly and birds trill.
Thank you for barring me from his bedside while he was ill.
Fuck you puce and chartreuse.
Fuck you postmodern and prehistoric.
Fuck you under the influence of opium, codeine, laudanum and paregoric.
Fuck every real and imagined country you fancied yourself princess of.
Fuck you on feast days and fast days, below and above.
Fuck you sleepless and shaking for nineteen nights running.
Fuck you ugly and fuck you stunning.
Fuck you shipwrecked on the barren island of your bed.
Fuck you marching in lockstep in the ranks of the dead.
Fuck you at low and high tide.
And fuck you astride
anyone who has the bad luck to fuck you, in dank hallways,
bathrooms, or kitchens.
Fuck you in gasps and whispered benedictions.
And fuck these curses, however heartfelt and true,
that bind me, till I forgive you, to you.
by Amy Gerstler
There was a beautiful girl
who came from the sea.
And there was just one place
that she wanted to be.
With a man named Walker
who played in a band.
She would leave the ocean
and come onto the land.
He was the one that she wanted the most.
And she tried everything
to capture this ghost.
But throughout all their lives
they never connected.
She wandered the earth
alone and rejected
She tried looking happy
she tried looking tragic,
she tried astral projecting,
sex, and black magic.
Nothing could join them,
except maybe one thing,
something to anchor their spirits….
They had a baby.
But to give birth to a baby
they needed a crane.
the umbilical cord
was in the form of a chain.
I t was ugly and gloomy,
and as hard as a kettle.
It had no pink skin,
just heavy gray metal.
The baby that was meant to bring them together,
just shrouded them both
in a cloud of foul weather.
So Walker took off
to play with the band.
And from that day on,
he stayed mainly on land.
And she was alone
with her gray baby anchor,
who got so oppressive
that eventually sank her.
As she went to the bottom,
not fulfilling her wish,
it was her, and her baby …
and a few scattered fish.
by Tim Burton
Parsley — Part One: The Cane Fields
There is a parrot imitating spring
in the palace, its feathers parsley green.
Out of the swamp the cane appears
to haunt us, and we cut it down. El General
searches for a word; he is all the world
there is. Like a parrot imitating spring,
we lie down screaming as rain punches through
and we come up green. We cannot speak an R—
out of the swamp, the cane appears
and then the mountain we call in whispers Katalina.
The children gnaw their teeth to arrowheads.
There is a parrot imitating spring.
El General has found his word: perejil.
Who says it, lives. He laughs, teeth shining
out of the swamp. The cane appears
in our dreams, lashed by wind and streaming.
And we lie down. For every drop of blood
there is a parrot imitating spring.
Out of the swamp the cane appears.
by Rita Dove
Maybe you’ve heard about this. Maybe not.
A man came home and chucked his girlfriend’s cat
In the wood chipper. This really happened.
Dinner wasn’t ready on time. A lot
Of other little things went wrong. He spat
On her father, who came out when he learned
About it. He also broke her pinky,
Stole her checks, and got her sister pregnant.
But she stood by him, stood strong, through it all,
Because she loved him. She loved him, you see.
She actually said that, and then she went
And married him. She felt some unique call.
Don’t try to understand what another
Person means by love. Don’t even bother.
by Ernest Hilbert
What Can I Hold You With?
I offer you lean streets, desperate sunsets, the
moon of the jagged suburbs.
I offer you the bitterness of a man who has looked
long and long at the lonely moon.
I offer you my ancestors, my dead men, the ghosts
that living men have honoured in bronze:
my father’s father killed in the frontier of
Buenos Aires, two bullets through his lungs,
bearded and dead, wrapped by his soldiers in
the hide of a cow; my mother’s grandfather
—just twenty-four—heading a charge of
three hundred men in Peru, now ghosts on
I offer you whatever insight my books may hold,
whatever manliness or humour my life.
I offer you the loyalty of a man who has never
I offer you that kernel of myself that I have saved,
somehow—the central heart that deals not
in words, traffics not with dreams, and is
untouched by time, by joy, by adversities.
I offer you the memory of a yellow rose seen at
sunset, years before you were born.
I offer you explanations of yourself, theories about
yourself, authentic and surprising news of
I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the
hunger of my heart; I am trying to bribe you
with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.
by Jorge Luis Borges
Razors pain you;
rivers are damp;
acids stain you;
and drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
gas smells awful;
you might as well live.
by Dorothy Parker