Thursday, November 6, 2014

unhappy mouth.

so sorry
about your unhappy mouth
deceptively captivating curves
drawing my eyes
to them and back and them and back.
but then i find.
trickery, treachery, deceit.
small lips. dry.
gum-to-teeth ratio
not quite right.
so different than
mine. mine which are
made for movement,
for sliding against.
open. close. your tongue is
slimy, stiff, sad.
i say with a voice not my own
and your miserable mouth grins
its toothsome grin.
'i'llcallyou' you spit
then slip away,
slithering like a snake
back to your ugly Corolla
leave me standing
at my door.
i lose your number.
kissing you was a drag.

on needing space.

[ [ a work in progress ] ]

The first time you have a disagreement, it will be because you ask him for advice that you don't want to hear.  He'll spread his honesty around like tear gas and, have no doubts: it will choke you.  Pretend that his insensitivity is endearing.  Pretend it's part of what you like so much about him.  Pretend you're okay with the word "idiot" sitting at the tip of your tongue. You'll take your three #deepbreaths and sip your guava juice to avoid confrontation.

Lower your glass.  Here it comes:  Getawayfrommeyoustupidass. Howcouldyousaythat? Leavemealone. Ineedsomespace. And there it is.  Live.  In the air.  Soundwaves of regret the second you said it.  Did you mean it? Of course you meant it.  GIVEMESPACEDAMNIT.

But maybe come back later?  I still want to cuddle.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


fall into the sheets that are slightly damp with sweaty remnants of the last hour.  burrow your face into the crevice between his chin and his collarbone, and wonder if it's true what they say about oxytocin and sex.  consider if you will offend him should you move your deadened left arm.  close your eyes and focus on the  u p d o w n  of his chest as he breathes steadily into a soft slumber.

outside, a late night train rumbles past.  free your arm as he stirs.  let worry set in as the moon arches high in the night sky.  recognize the feeling of panic setting in your chest, hear the what-ifs and what-nows creeping into that toxic mind of yours, urging your voice to rise.  ask if he's okay. (he says he is.)

talk about superhero powers and read him poetry from the book on your night stand.  it's dark in the room but know he's staring at the odd curve of your mouth and the knots cascading through your hair. note the way it makes your skin feel electric against the bedsheets.  pull away when he wraps his legs around yours. pull away because you're afraid that if he's touching you he'll hear the apprehension rattling around in your head.  feel him reach for your hand.


recall the map of footsteps that led you to the wrong beds of the wrong men time and again. remind yourself that for twenty-six years, pulling has done nothing but isolate you.  fight the urge to compare this moment to the hundreds that came before it.  you are not a time traveller. this is new and he is different somehow but you can't explain it and shouldn't try.

study the increasingly familiar shape of his body.  notice the scar beside his left eye, the long fingers of an artist, the constellation of freckles across his chest, illuminated by the moonlight.  hear how his voice pitches and lingers, sticking to the syllables of your name like thick molasses.  listen as your heartbeat hastens - the cadence beneath your ribcage a symphony of affection, beating notes of comfortable madness into your busy brain.  know that this is real and certain and good.

his fingers settle into the space between yours.


let them.

Friday, September 19, 2014

crossed and dotted

another one i can't quite wish to lose.. not mine.

Crossed and Dotted

If I could write you a letter, I would
and I would write it with wire and string
so that when I sent it,
it would slowly unravel
and kink
and bend itself into knots around careless fingers
and memories turned jailbirds
flying to Cozumel but lost in highway-side diners
and the gabled lofts of old barns.

And when it finally reached you,
a whole day would be spent
untangling the intertwining jots and jabs
and picking through the bent mesh grill for scraps of tickets
to rusted-out Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds.
Two children rapt with attention
and miles of tin-can telephone line,
we would start, one of us at either end -
you steadily leveling-out and me all coils and curls -
tripping and twisting, slowly in concert.

Then, and only then,
could we truly set this mess straight
and start to build
that fragile, immeasurable bridge between us;
the one that expands and contracts as we breathe
and trembles in our laughter,
but mostly sways as we walk together miles and miles apart.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

not mine.

Not written by me.  I found this and I want to save it somewhere.. here seems appropriate.

The one that got away
I did not follow
somewhere across a sea
with dried blood.
The one that took hook, line, sinker,
rod, reel, arm, wrist, hand, shoulder
swallowed me whole
            without breaking stride
or whatever it is the 'big ones' do
that leaves you standing slack-jawed on the shore

That trick of light on the skin
the shimmer-glide through the water
            just beneath the surface
that draws the eye somewhere beyond itself
and drowns it in desire

Open palmed
I stretch across the glittering waves
that hold a darkness I well know.
But eyes see only light or absence of it.
And even inland I still see the glimmer
            of her body as it flits away
shining in my misery
drowning in my blindness

Friday, August 22, 2014

july 13, 2006

18 year old ashley was strange. just thought i should tell you.  and you.  and you and you and you.

it was a mistake, most certainly, for so few great things come planned. quiet, quiet, quietly i whisked my scarf around my neck and crept through the slit between the door and its frame.

and i was out. the cool air danced, nipping at my cheeks and eyelids - it was brisk, slicing, vicious. rubber to the road, i ran, adidas sneakers in a whirl beneath me. it was away i craved.. and away i went.

headlights flashed in either direction, but rarely. it brought me there – it was the moonlight again. my destination. the water ahead and below me was inviting. i jumped! free-falling, falling, falling. seafoam all around me. wrists bound. scarlet fluttering. and burning, burning lungs.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


The humid air coils and curls around my body, tickling my skin and strangling my lungs.  I wheeze an asthmatic’s wheeze, obediently taking in as much of the thick air as I can.   Shifting my weight onto my heels, I toy with the idea of sitting down in the old wooden Adirondack chair, under the assumption that being indoors would be infinitely worse.

It only takes him three minutes and half a glass of tart, unpasteurized apple juice to get to the point.  He is dying and I shouldn’t worry.  He hands me a brochure.

I reach for my inhaler, panting now, wondering how I could have been so stupid.  He is dying, but with a capital D, and I remember why I’ve avoided magic shows for all my life.  Disappearing (also with a capital D) scares me, and I know that’s what happens when you Die.

The cancer had metastasized, they’d said.  It was aggressive, they’d said.  He’d beaten it, they’d said.

And now, here it is, a poison stitching itself into the sides of his liver, his bones, his brain matter. Here it is, making a fool of us for being so happy, for being so hopeful.   It is laughing at us as it digs its way through his body, tearing him from the inside out. 

Miles away, I hear words like “whole brain radiation” and “malignant” and “last resort” but they are just words.  They are the same as “bird” and “cupboard” and “mattress” but with more venom and less softness.  My breathing steadies as the Albuterol kicks in. 

He keeps saying words I refuse to understand.  Hospital. Stage IV.  Terminal.  I hate the words and I hate him for becoming Dead and my eyes begin to sting.  I don't cry but I do crush a caterpillar with the toe of my boot, making him Dead too.  I am immediately sorry for it.

The day they had said "Remission" and meant it, we celebrated.  We took turns reciting e.e. cummings poems and eating peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon.  We drank wine until I danced too much and threw up in a wastebasket.

That day, we were "in the clear" - we were "smooth sailing" - we were a million other clich├ęs that make little sense but everyone understands.  He was a Fighter.  He had Survived.  That day, he was Alive.

But now, he is Dying.  He is Dying, and I tear the brochure into infinitesimal pieces as he speaks.  I study the shreds.  They look like snowflakes, haphazardly strewn across the table.  I will them to melt. It doesn't work because paper is not snow and I am not stupid, so I expect this.

I realize that I never read the brochure.  I try to piece the shreds back together with shaking fingertips.  It doesn't work because the pieces are too small and my hands are too big.   I notice chips in the red polish I once thought looked brave but now looks broken.  I keep trying.  I try until I've ruined every last shred and chipped every nail.

It's all I can do to keep from Dying myself.

Monday, June 9, 2014

right away.

quick prose //

she was a wild thing.  her hair was unkempt and her shoes were almost always untied.  everyday, she wore button-down shirts - artifacts from a litany of relationships turned sour. he noticed right away the crow's feet flanking her eyes - the skin that folded and crinkled when she smiled - building a landscape he'd never seen on a face before.  it reminded him of the way a river broke into streams at its mouth, creating tiny flowing veins of water that pulsed and coursed their way to the ocean.

daily, she poured over crossword puzzles that she would never solve.  he wore mismatched socks that bore holes in the big toe, considering them too loved, too well-worn to ever throw away.  their initial exchanges appeared quiet, unassuming.  but from that first day, when she tripped on the frayed lace that dangled from her shoe like a spindly vine off the side of a tree, he knew that his life would be less full without her in it.

they didn't listen to the same music, or read the same books.
she couldn't commit to anything but herself.
he had a girlfriend he sometimes loved.

he tried to be good, but it seldom took shape.  at night, he'd lay in bed, beside his girlfriend who dozed peacefully with her back to his, but his thoughts drifted back to her.  he'd remember the night they had not-so-harmlessly sat across from one another, his breath: a haze of alcohol, and her sleepy eyes: lulling him with their boozy gaze.  they'd taken an empty train home that night, both swimming in a liquor-induced lust.  an hour of mechanical clicks and clanks served to do nothing but heighten their fondness of one another.  he chewed on what was happening, knowing his badness.  but her lips parted over her teeth, and her laugh danced across them in such a way that he yearned to inhale it.  the consequences of such a strange affair would prove heavy, he knew and yet her happy mouth eased his conscience.

not all love, they knew, would become the stuff of legend.  sometimes, it sustained itself only for brief moments, tucked between otherwise bittersweet hours and late-running trains.  this - this type of love - she knew she could do.. he knew he could do.  he, with wide, dark eyes and musician's fingers; she with an unnagging voice and infectious laugh - they loved each other right away.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

tiny wreckage.

i had first read his poem in a cold, dank room in the middle of a miserable building.  cockroaches scuttled across the floor with a sense of urgency but no real direction, and i empathized with them.  the air in the room was musty and stale, reminiscent of ancient mothballs and attic-bound stuffed animals.  but despite all of this, i had fallen in love in that room and so i recall it fondly.

the words have stayed with me over the last few years, even though The Author has long left my life.  they have sat with me, a strange call to a person i once was but can barely remember - the kind of person that someone writes poetry about.  good poetry.  hemmingway-esque poetry that tugs at sadness and nostalgia and deep, unencumbered love all at once.  i was the kind of person that inspired poetry.  i was that, once.

too much time has passed since i was that person.  bit by bit, that persona dissolved, flaking away slowly until i became a peculiar version of myself.  plump with years of experience - fat with the weight of the world, but emaciated emotionally - starving for the affection i once elicited from an inspired young writer, The Author i once knew.

i often consider the path i've made with my haphazard footsteps, trailing and chasing the wrong kinds of friends, men, dreams.  it's hard to say where i've even been, my memory a fog of the last few years since that poem. we don't talk anymore.  we don't write.  we don't acknowledge the existence of the other any longer, not since the end that we whispered that day.

for the first time, i remember the poem, and think less of The Author.  i think more of this newfound friend i'd wronged.  our blossoming friendship, crippled too soon by a moment of weakness, like a flower trodden by the boots of a careless gardener.  i, unhappy with the hollowness growing inside me, and he, denying the irreversible weathering of a relationship taken one step too far.  the circumstances gave pause, as is customarily the "right thing to do" in these instances, but it feels so desperately wrong that it consumes me, and so here i write.

my overreaction - the consequence of a softened heart, touched with a level of infatuation not seen since The Author.  inexplicable and all-too-soon, i focused on filling my emptiness with his warmth.  the glow of alcohol - chugged, not sipped - illuminated each of us across six inches of tense, magnetic space.  eyes perpetually fixed on his single raised brow, i let myself become enamored by an idea i'd thought i'd never again bring to life.  i silenced his mouth with my own and ruined it all.

now my mind travels to the poem, the tiny wreckage of our friendship sinking to the base of my brain.  and i want to resurface, greedily gulp in the fresh air of a new start, to begin again. the girl i once was claws at my ribcage, rattling from within my chest, asking me to try again.  but she is vain with the hope of a love that can never take shape, and my fear is what keeps me drowning in the loss - the loss of potential love, wrought with a possibility that i can no longer have.

i vow to not let more years pass, as the-girl-i-no-longer-am fights to be heard.  i wrap my fingers around the bit of promise i saw only weeks ago, forget The Author who spoke the words i call by heart, and free my old self.  to be the person living a hemmingway-esque dream.  the person who inspires again. who remembers the accidental arch of an eyebrow as the most beautiful thing.  the person who finds love in the most unlikely places.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


I tried to sew us together
with pillow talk and Tuesday date nights –
a twine, twisting around our half-empty hearts
like a boa strangling its prey.
It began with a sidelong glance,
a quick white lie settling on the edge of my tongue,
and you, wrapped in the enigmatic smile
she wore that day in the office.

You tried to glue us together
with our ancient conversations –
adhering us weakly to long-broken promises
that we strived to forget.
It was clear from the repeated arguments
about your ugly comforter,
too small, too patched, too thin,
how much I'd grown to hate your love.

Together we chipped away
at the foundation laid years ago,
when I confessed "I love you!"
that hot, windy night in Aruba.
I could see it: the look of terror
when you lied and said you love me too -
a look you didn’t think I saw then,
one you still sometimes wear.

And I know the days we live
are drifting us farther apart –
wedging themselves in the cracks
we’ve made with each biting word.
It tightens, the fraying tether that binds us,
as we stretch further and further,
and although we know it will someday break,
we hold on to each other for now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


the way that his mouth
twisted against hers
told her that he wanted to be
anywhere but in the moment.
yet his body
moved into hers
as if it had always been there
as if they were seeing each other
for the millionth time,
and he laughed, realizing
the ridiculousness of it all.

she looked at him as though
he was the most lovely thing she’d ever seen.

a thousand times
she told herself that
she was not bad,
but she was walking a line
and toeing it
less and less carefully.
selfishness flooded though her,
kicking his reservations
to the floor,
stomping on the respect
that grounded him
from touching her.

and they realized that
there’s always another line somewhere.

when he finally spoke,
he spoke as if
he was talking
through a tin can
and string,
grainy and mottled
strained with brooding guilt.
he mumbled,
“can’t... wrong...if only”
but his words were
underwater echoes
vibrating against her brain

she wanted to scream
but instead she said nothing.

she breathed
hot air
against his neck,
rejecting his requests of pause.
she touched him,
her fingers grazed his side
grazed the flat, smooth
skin of his stomach,
creating static movements
under the covers.
a fog of memory.  unreal.

yet, there he was,
more clear, more real than anyone she’d ever known.

all the “no’s” disappeared
into the sheets,
quietly overturned
by their undeniable 
he unraveled her -
carefully stripping
off the layers
that made her feel
like she was good.
raw and uncertain,
she sank into his hands.

for the moment, when
his mouth twisted against hers, she pretended it moved like silk.

she pretended they
were threaded together
by something
than they really were. 
like all the bad
in the world was good.
good enough
to keep moving
against each other
in that hungry way:

soft, delicate,
fine enough to tear -- and so they did. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


it took a while, she realized,
for her to see his mouth
in the way it really is -
in the way its softness is illuminated
when it's busy with sound.
but she noticed instantly how
its corners tugged upward in an
ever-present smile, and in a
wild instant knew her hunger for it.