You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.”
“All this time
I drank you like the cure when maybe
you were the poison.”
“I stopped going to therapy
because I knew my therapist was right
and I wanted to keep being wrong.
I wanted to keep my bad habits
like charms on a bracelet.
I did not want to be brave.
I think I like my brain best
in a bar fight with my heart.
I think I like myself a little broken.
I’m ok if that makes me less loved.
I like poetry better than therapy anyway.
The poems never judge me
for healing wrong.”
“If anyone else were to kiss me, all they would taste is your name.”
you and I
are not about poems or
other sentimental bullshit
but I have to tell you
even the way
you drink your coffee
knocks me the fuck out.”
“I’m scared you will realize I’m just bones and questions and leave me for something solid.”
“I pity the woman who will love you
when I am done. She will show up
to your first date with a dustpan
and broom, ready to pick up all the pieces
I left you in. She will hear my name so often
it will begin to dig holes in her. That
is where doubt will grow. She will look
at your neck, your thin hips, your mouth,
wondering at the way I touched you.
She will make you all the promises I did
and some I never could. She will hear only
the terrible stories. How I drank. How I lied.
She will wonder (as I have) how someone
as wonderful as you could love a monster
like the woman who came before her. Still,
she will compete with my ghost.
She will understand why you do not look
in the back of closets. Why you are afraid
of what’s under the bed. She will know
every corner of you is haunted
“I wonder if you know yet that you’ll leave me. That you are a child playing with matches and I have a paper body. You will meet a girl with a softer voice and stronger arms and she will not have violent secrets or an affection for red wine or eyes that never stay dry. You will fall into her bed and I’ll go back to spending Friday nights with boys who never learn my last name. ”
“I mean you ask me
not to fall in love with you
and then you go write poems
with your tongue
and draw constellations
in my freckles.”
“My battered heart will always be
where the ocean meets the sand, I
will break over and over
Every day. That is the best and
worst part of me.”
“I. Those of us born by water are never afraid enough of drowning. Bruises used to trophy my knees from my death-defying tree climb jumps. Growing up, my backyard was a forest of blackberry bushes. I learned early nothing sweet will come to you unthorned.
II. At twelve your body becomes a currency. So Jenny and I sat down and cut up all our clothes into nothing. That year I failed math class but knew the exact number of calories in a carrot stick. I learned early being desired goes hand in hand with hunger.
III. The last time I tried to scream I felt my father climbing up through my throat and into my mouth.
IV. There is a certain kind of girl who reads Lolita at fourteen and finds religion. I painted my eyes black and sucked barroom cherries to red my tongue. There was a boy who promised Judas really did love Jesus. I learned early every kiss and betrayal are up for interpretation.
V. I think he must have conferenced with my nightmares on exactly how to hurt me.
VI. He never broke my heart. He only turned it into a compass that always points me back to him.”
“You never need to apologize
for how you chose to survive.”
“A long time ago, before I even met you,
someone replaced my chest with a broken record.
For years, it’s been stammering through
the same old tune.
I want you to know I’m trying.
I quit smoking. I’m doing yoga. And those days
I wake up wishing for death are getting fewer
and farther apart.
No, I’m not ok. But I haven’t been ok
since I was 11, maybe 12. I am still here though.
I’m still breathing. For me, sometimes, that
will have to be enough”
“I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.”
“Everyone else isn’t you. It turns out that’s a huge problem for me.”
“All of us need to stop apologizing for having been to hell and come back breathing”
“But my heart is an old house
(the kind my mother
grew up in)
hell to heat and cool
and faulty in the wiring
and though it’s nice to look at
I have no business
inviting lovers in.”
“I want a tattoo of the first morning we woke up together. I want the memory to hurt.”
between being loved and being fucked
is I can’t remember how the first feels.
I come to bed quiet, kiss with my eyes closed,
hate how easily I touch you.
Find me the sweetest boy, with a heart
more hopeful than spun sugar on a hot day,
I will teach him the meaning of meaningless
nights. The whole time, every moment, wishing
he’d crack me open, rib by rib, to see
how I work. How I bleed.”
“It’s 11 am and I’m sitting in a restaurant
3 beers in. Believe me, even I’m surprised
I’m still alive sometimes.
I have been drinking about you for 2 days.
Lately you remind me of a wild thing
chewing through its foot. But you
are already free and I don’t know what to do
except trace the rough line of your jaw
and try not to place blame.
Here is the truth: It is hard to be in love
with someone who is in love someone else.
I don’t know how to turn that into poetry.”
“I thought leaving you would be easy,
just walking out the door
but I keep getting pinned against it
with my legs around your waist and it’s like
my lips want you like my lungs want air,
it’s just what they where born to do so
I am sitting at work thinking of you
cutting vegetables in my kitchen
your hair in my shower drain
your fingers on my spine in the morning
while we listen to Muddy Waters, I know
you will never be the one I call home
but the way you talk about poems
like marxists talk of revolution
it makes me want to keep trying.
I’m still looking for reasons to love you.
I’m still looking for proof you love me.”
“God I want you
in some primal, wild way
animals want each other.
Untamed and full of teeth.
God I want you,
In some chaste, Victorian way.
A glimpse of your ankle
just kills me.”
“Apologies do not make good bandages.”
“It’s just so strange.
You used to love me,
and now you’re a stranger
who happens to know all
of my secrets.”
“We are not in love. Not the way I’ve been told
being in love feels like. But we have been sleeping
beside each other for so many nights and I
am the most beautiful doormat you have ever
“Someday I will stop being young and wanting stupid tattoos.
There are 7 people in my house. We each have different genders. I cut my hair over the bathroom sink and everything I own has a hole in it. There is a banner in our living room that says “Love Cats Hate Capitalism.” We sit around the kitchen table and argue about the compost pile and Karl Marx and the necessity of violence when The Rev comes. Whatever the fuck The Rev means.
Every time my best friend laughs I want to grab him by the shoulders and shout “Grow old with me and never kiss me on the mouth!” I want us to spend the next 80 years together eating Doritos and riding bikes. I want to be Oscar the Grouch. I want him and his girlfriend to be Bert and Ernie. I want us to live on Sesame Street and I will park my trash can on their front stoop and we will be friends every day. If I ever seem grouchy it’s just because I am a little afraid of all that fun.
There is a river running through this city I know as well as my own name. It’s the first place I’ve ever called home. I don’t think its poetry to say I’m in love with the water. I don’t think it’s poetry to say I’m in love with the train tracks. I don’t think it’s blasphemy to say I see God in the skyline.
There is always cold beer asking to be slurped on back porches.
There are always crushed packs of Marlboro’s in my back pockets. I have been wearing the same patched-up shorts for 10 days.
Someday I will stop being young and wanting stupid tattoos.”
“Everything about my heart is a crime scene.
I drink to forget things it takes me 2 beers to name.
I pour my breath into things only worth forgetting.
I have nothing left to say to the ghosts.
Their cold hands and bitter mouths keep kissing me awake
when I have asked them nicely and then not-so-nicely
to be left alone.
I have nothing left to say to the ghosts.
Two decades full of nothing but monsters and crime scenes
and sometimes I am the monster and sometimes
I am the crime scene. There is nothing I would undo
so much as things I wish would wake up forgotten.”
“No, I’m not ok. But I haven’t been ok since I was 11, maybe 12. I am still here though.
I’m still breathing. For me, sometimes, that will have to be enough.”
“We are more than the worst thing that's ever happened to us. All of us need to stop apologizing, for having been to hell and come back breathing.”
“Let it heal you. Lie beside a man who's hands you trust”
― Clementine von Radics