And when i’m slipping into ditches

all panic-drenched when someone

heart-wrenches me turquoise blue

you are the calm after the storm

you are frozen tamales and phone calls

when I’m cut off too green

too early before spring

when i think that my roots can’t handle

this detachment you brave through me

in my broken-dam tearjerk state

for a couple of imbued months

and send me back

backpack-full of humanity and

talking in the dark in your dusty room and

eight different kinds of tofu.

Mr. Smith says I do my best when I’m not over-thinking things. When I don’t hesitate between my tongue and the envelope, dye everyone’s faults yellow, inkwash my feet cold.

I am seventeen years of mess and bones and I am sorry. I am my mother’s insecurities and mania passed on like an explosive heirloom, a time bomb, a wristwatch, an hourglass. Something glass- I am my father when I get angry. I’m sorry that I’ve been so angry. That lately there’s been so much to try to condense into one small body. I’m sorry that I have too small of a body to hold all of me inside of it, let alone all of you, and all of her, and all of the people that have walked through me before both of you. I’m sorry that I try anyway and I’m sorry that it unravels me sometimes.

I’m sorry that the sun keeps coming out every morning and that sometimes the light hurts you. Because I know how it feels when the universe hasn’t let you catch up to its planets and their orbits and all of these gusts of wind and I’m sorry that you feel wind-gusted behind the sun in the first place. I’m sorry that there are days when I vacillate wildly between wanting to nail you down so the breeze won’t blow you over and pushing you further into a current, forcing you to swim. I realize now that I am struggling to walk through air too. I realize that some days I am also barely floating. That you are my waterwings as much as I am your parachute.

Yesterday you floated back through me, easily, like walking backwards uphill. Not being able to see where you’re going really takes the strain off of your legs.

Your face is the same (pink lipped freckled) underneath someone else’s new beard. You are just as unkempt as before but now it is calculated- unshaved hair orchestrated.

I remember the first time that I thought you were beautiful, driving your car in Capitola under big steel bridges while listening to your favorite band, half-soaked in summertime sweat and thighs stuck to the seats.

I remember the way your face scrunches when you laugh, how it hit me hard and pulled me under. I remember how strong the tide was that dragged me in, closer to you.

Yesterday your face broke my shore the same way (crushed me like sea salt) but we were on some roof, and not in Capitola- nowhere near the ocean, in fact. I couldn’t touch your face. I didn’t need to. There is nothing left in my fingers with your name attached; my prints wouldn’t register on your skin because the sun is too bright now and the paint has faded red to pink; dark to pale.

(pale)

(pale)

(you have gotten so pale)

San Francisco clouds overhead instead of bridges and thoughts of me.

So yesterday I am just past leaving six months of wondering what her voice sounds like when I see you in that coffee shop.

Our old bench outside, the one where we used to drink pots of tea, smoking in the rain. How do I catch you up when we’re so used to running at different paces? Our voices tangle together, straining against throats, a balancing act of missing each other without allowing ourselves the clarity of acknowledging it.

You tell me that I haven’t changed. That I cut off my hair and my eyes have gotten weaker but you can still see the me from two summers ago. I wonder objectively if the way you look right through me means that you want to time travel. It wouldn’t change anything.

We’re on the roof both cross-legged and it’s noon. The sun is directly above us, making the air too warm, but you just squint your eyes. I don’t offer to share the shade.

windowpane

image

My parents sleep on opposite sides of their double bed.

My dad, dark black hair spiked with silver and bloodshot-eyed from leaving his contacts in, often falls asleep on the couch in the living room, passing by the early hours with one documentary after another, letting his insomnia keep him on an eternal loop in which he keeps waking up. He is upright mouth wide open eye-peel staring in jean cutoffs as I creep past him to assess my 3AM house.

My boyfriend is approximately ten minutes away from climbing into my window. I know how late my dad stays up. I know he stays far from my room on the other side of the house.

My mom is in bed, also upright, dyed brown hair scraggly from too much straightening for work every morning. Contained. A magazine is scattered across her blue duvet and the light is on. Her glasses rest precariously against her long nose. She snores louder than my dad. I turn off the light quietly, pet my sleeping beagle, and close the door to the hallway that connects my room to the rest of the house.

This is the ninth night in a row my parents have slept in this arrangement. I know at some point around 6AM my dad wakes up and crawls into the left side of my mom’s bed before my grandma and my brothers wake up. At 6AM I wake up too, nudging Brad’s shoulder until I hear the sudden intake of breath that tells me he’s awake. He rubs his eyes and pushes his head into my shoulder, all milkstained teeth and morning breath kissing the corners of my mouth. He slides out my window while it’s still dark, stars still dotting the patches of dewy front-yard sky unobscured by trees. The air filters through, icy, as I return the screen to the window, watching him walk up my driveway to his car down the street and we’re both bleary-eyed and happy-sighs.

I fall back into bed counting minutes half asleep until I feel the sounds of my house as it begins to wake up.

    I hear my mom and cringe, anticipating her pounding footsteps as she bursts into my room, hitting at the switch until my blinding room lights turn on unapologetically. Wake up. If you’re late again you’re fucking grounded. You are so fucking irresponsible. I am taking away your car if you don’t move. The muscles in my shoulders tense but I force relaxation. I know she never follows through, her moods mercurial and seemingly always out of my favor. I am followed around the house until I leave for school, dodging barked instructions to brush my teeth faster, brushing off lazy declarations of worthlessness and I like her more when she’s asleep. But then I drive to school, leaving her and my dad more and more behind me with every block.

I pull the sticker off a peach and eat it; the glow of interlocked arms under blankets had already stained my cheeks pink. He is half-asleep driving home to fill the next few hours with sleep before work. Twenty miles away my dad sits in his cubicle, surrounded by computer parts and greyscale and I wonder how he pulls through without that slow-fading warmth.

capricorn eye-peel

i have been sucked train-ride dry

placemats and napkins and forks on one side

there no footprints here

there are no mudpuddles

or bloodstains

or inkblots.


We are in sponges soaked (bleach & soap like milk + honey)

i have been feeling tower-trapped

with all of my hair cut

brown string falling

sewn down into your embroidery

needlepoint illustrations

of my inside skeleton

sitting stagnant


left behind when I leave

you behind.

these days

I would rather

brave someone else’s weathervanes

It was that brown-haired boy at science camp. I was eleven.

In hindsight, I guess I always had these fleeting thoughts about other boys, even early on. God, especially early on. Those shampoo smells off of dirty blonde hair passing me in the hallway. Light reflections. Jawbones. Elbows. Insides of wrists. I pushed it down.

I wasn’t ashamed- to be ashamed I would have had to allow myself some degree of awareness. There was nothing resembling self-acceptance or even acknowledgement then. There was just terror, dull horror, the constant incessant feeling of waiting on the deck of a ship slated to sink. I was a big, gay Titanic- the closeted boy in Sunday school, a walking, stupid stereotype.

I had avoided myself fairly successfully until that summer.

Until brown hair, nameless in my head and faceless in faded-jean memories but permanent in my mind-concrete. Him in the bunk next to mine, breathing bedtime stories with every intake of breath as he slept. A pale blue catalyst to my disease. I swallowed love like rocks in my throat.

I had been told that it was easy to sin but this longing was so, so far from anything resembling easy. I had read in all of those pamphlets and children’s Bibles that it was all too simple to let the devil into your heart but I just wanted to know his favorite color, I just wanted to touch his hair. I wanted to know if he read books. I wanted to hold his hand but my fingers were tied and sewn to holiness mistranslated and I was just fat, blasphemous roadkill bloated and nailed to a crucifix.

I fell asleep every night that summer to the cadence of his breathing, soaked in sweat and realization and shame, staring out the cabin window next to my bed, looking for shooting stars, distracting myself from God and the pressing need to cry.

7

Lately you’ve been sitting heavy
all whipped cream smoke puffs
smoking a joint out the attic window
call your boyfriend, he’s not home.

You are glass shattering at the
bottom of your parents’ bathtub
You are a gun loaded
and he is holding all of your
trigger words
between his tongue and the roof of your mouth.

He is stumbling into your bed at 3AM
all
marijuana grime and fish skeletons-
he is head shop eyes
not perfect.
But he’s the first person that tells you that you’re too good for him
without making you believe it
too hard.

He’s the only one so far that has remembered that your favorite color is lavender
and that you like the windows open when you sleep.

But I remember when you flew kites.
I remember rolling down the hill in the park by the creek
tiny cuts on our legs bleeding
from sleeping in razorblade grass
I remember laughing because it was November
and we had finally gotten our two dollar out-of-breath kite to fly
up and up and up-

I remember being the string pulling you closer to the ground.

I remember when you were all part of the skeleton holding my thin skin upright
I remember when we were each other’s joints connected
at the little meetings between our ligaments
when we existed in every exertion
of each other’s tendons,
knew the ins and outs of our pores.

We were all
jumping into lakes,
12 x 24
rollerblades
and your mom’s spaghetti.

I remember being thirteen,
and my boyfriend was nineteen,
and you just knew
and hugged me
and I remember thinking that
this is more important
in the infinite run of things
I remember knowing I was going to be okay.

And I wonder sometimes how things would have turned out
if we hadn’t found ourselves in the faces of all these other people
If we hadn’t seen our own reflections in different panes of stained glass
I wonder how we became
tertiary characters
in each other’s landscapes

I wish I could remember the muscle memory
of kite-flying
and honey tea.

B

waterline eyes, fill up my notebook
cut down ten trees
i want to feel you burn
charcoal smoke black lungs inhale breeze
let me in, let me in, let me inside
corduroy pants and saltwater pride
I want you whole and bruised
plums and peaches peeled and skinned
artichoke heart,
I want to breathe you in.
You are
pink air sticky on my fingers
cotton candy doorbell ringer
I miss spit and sand
water white washed out of seaside mouths
you are my coast
ytou are all pulling Chinese coins out of fountains
and I am drowning in all of this handholding
you are watermelon seeds stuck to the backs
of my front teeth
growing inside me like honeydew fruit
like jars full
of something

Nebula
you are pillowcasing and I am
suffocating
claustrophobic with too much language
A stomach full of raspberries and a
mouthload of ashes
There is no room left in me for jumpropes
for sailor knots
for riptide stomachaches

I can’t keep trying to tie you up to my dock
I can’t keep trying to pull you into shore
because
you only need me when the creek is dry
and I need someone’s whole ocean
barnacle spikes and all
I need wrung-wrist love
soapy hair shower clean love
lava rock brittle heart attack
I need someone who will cut me open
and leave me sponge-wrung dry

And I know that all we’ve known is desert island
flower bouquets
kiss you in front of your ex-boyfriend
text me goodnight kinds of love

But I want to be bigger than that

I’m not used to living inside someone’s chest
I’m not used to knowing someone’s algorithms
memorizing someone else’s functions

I don’t want to solve you
You are not a problem
this is not a test
I am throwing out my calculator
and the manual and the
light meter.

II

I miss you in peach fuzz
in braille bump stubble
Leaving fingerprints on your chin
I miss drinking tea out of mugs
that you bought me in Portland
sitting on windowsills
climbing up rooftops
baking in bathtubs
squinting our eyes
trying to see each other
like staring contests with the sun

I want to catch your plane back home but
this is still a test flight and
you left me so hard you blew up the runway

But I keep hearing your voice in phone calls late at night
I keep finding myself pulling your t-shirts off of different bodies
I keep finding your hair in all of the places that I wasn’t looking
running into rainstorms and doing desperate things
like sleeping in the indent you left
letting songs play through me
allowing you into my alone
pulling all of these chords out of guitar string organs.


Dear windchime,
I miss you in the margins
I miss you in comic book cracked spines.

I

I am feeling ceramic
like if I leave anything behind in this
smoothing over
I will explode in the kiln
I am undercooked
I am air bubbles under flammable silt skin

Yesterday I cut six inches off of the hair framing
my makeup face
I have been framed booked and charged as something fuckable
I am indecision like a half-shaved head
I am baking in your leftover sun.