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fool me once
I will still love you
fool me twice
I will feel empty
but I will still love you
there is a train coming
and I can feel the ground shaking
under the weight of all that
the world gets smaller when
certain people go
what did they taste like? Salt or sweet?
how about the second time
when your lips were cherry red
with lies
when you came home
leaking love for someone else
their name trailing quietly behind you like a stray cat
I am making a list of all the ways
I will never compare to the
others you’ve been with
are they strong?
do any of them write honey?
my words feel like glue now
my grief has stained everything
slowed things down like molasses
you still got to leave me
you still got to walk away
all of your wrong tucked neatly into your pockets
waiting to greet you when you
want to leave again

I am not brave
I think I used to be, once
when I didn’t taste metal
in my mouth after I kissed you
when you came home on time
when you smelled like sleep and cinnamon
I was brave once, I had a voice that could move you to tears
now I am an echo
an empty vessel where you pour your love
when every other place is full 

() 2 notes
this is what you do
when you don’t know how to be sorry:
you call up time
and catch up with him
until he agrees to
tell you
I love you
I love you
but we’ve been through this before
you kill me
you’ll kill me again
I can tell
have you ever tried to cross
a bridge you’ve already burned?
it feels a lot like hell
1. Do you love with your hands or your head? Both?
2. How many hours a day do you sleep?
3. When you forgive, is it for you or for them?
4. Are you the leaver or the left?
5. What do you call your pride? How do you dress it up?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Do you dance with your sadness or do you call it a cab?
8. Favorite word?
9. If I don’t call when I say I will, will you wait?
10. What was the worst relationship you’ve ever been in?
11. Do you still miss them?
12. Does loneliness have a taste?
13. Are you afraid of being broken?
14. What about me? What if I told you I’m not a sure thing?
15. Do you want to be haunted? I’m a very good ghost.

here is what I know about
myself so far.

I have really smooth skin.
I went to the cardiologist once
and he asked me if I had lotion on my stomach because
it was so smooth that the stickers
for the EKG wouldn’t stick.

I am so impatient that writing this
poem is already taking too long.

I lie for no reason, when I am too bored or too lonely,
I go swimming inside my different
but they are all too cold to get used to.

I used to count everything.
steps. letters. sometimes I would spend the empty minutes coming up with different combinations of the same words.
I miss you always.
I always miss you.
You I always miss.
1,342 steps from work to the front door of my apartment.
56 steps from the coffee shop to the bus station.

I am an incomplete person. Parts of me are missing.

I am terrified of being forgotten
and do desperate things in order to avoid it,
like fake an illness or pretend my car broke down.

I count everything again, now that you’re gone.
I count everything.
my heartbeat when I’m crying.
101 bpm. 110 when it’s about you.
487 days since I met you and stopped counting
the cracks in the sidewalk just to watch
the way you said my name for the first time.
46 days since you kissed my cheek
the way my father did when he left.
56 minutes since I first thought about calling you.
2 minutes since I last picked up the phone.
7 voicemails since last week.
4 glasses of wine since I last checked my messages.

here is what I know about myself so far.
you were the only thing that made me lose track of time.
you were the only thing that made now such a comfortable place to live.

do not think, remember.
my mouth, your mouth
crushing grapes between our teeth
and drinking the wine.
the red dripping down our chins
like blood.
do not think, remember.
the rain in the window.
the daddy longlegs crawling
like a raindrop down to the floor.
your head in my lap,
hair sprawled like roots
across my snow thighs.
remember. remember.
our hands, always our hands
poking holes in each other
like train tickets.
you standing on the platform
just past the yellow line
waving, waving, waving,
unsure if it was hello or goodbye.
quick and fast movements in the dark
before the sun came up and
we had beaten each other tender.
a pile of intertwined limbs on
the mattress, breathing softly.
do not think, remember.
my toes. my ears. my freckles.
each place you tucked yourself
away and waited for me to find you.
my elbows.
the valley in between my thumb and pointer finger.
my hips. my tongue.
remember how we were two
people, discovering each other for
the first time.
how we got lost in the parts of each
other that went too deep.
how we clawed our way out.
how we wanted to go back.
how we couldn’t.
how every other place feels
like hiding now.
do not think, remember.
remember me.
if you are struggling with the idea of forgiving someone
try to imagine them when they were five years old
when they were a clumsy child
running around in a field of green grass
catching lightning bugs
try to imagine the first time they accidentally killed one
by holding it too tightly in their little palm
imagine them, their face raw with loss
maybe then, you will find yourself softer
maybe then, you will meet them on their knees
and forgive them

I moan in my sleep
I don’t really know what kind of moaning it is
not quite sexual but not quite innocent, either

My dog once stepped on a beehive
they all started attacking him
and I was so paralyzed with fear
that my little sister had to take care of it
she got stung three times
if you are going to love me
you have to know that I will never
forgive myself for what a coward I am

I am jealous of older people
people in their forties, fifties, and sixties
I want to cry when I see them
because I want a cozy house with a family
who loves me
I want to be done with growing up
and start growing old

When I feel small
I talk about things that I don’t know
I pretend to understand “Mulholland Drive”
because it makes me feel important

I always text back
I always answer my phone
I am always the last one to answer
despite my fear of always seeming too eager

I have broken my own heart
in the dusty corners of almost daylight
more times than any one person ever will
so I am not afraid of you

The life I lived before this one is bursting out of me
and sometimes I will act like a different person
who thinks that love is something harder than it is supposed to be

It is not your job or your responsibility to fix me
when I become broken

This is a letter to let you know
that it is okay to stop loving me
when the time comes

You are not a prisoner here
I don’t like locks
and I will always leave the door open

on the phone
I told my dad that I have learned from my mistakes
that I study now, that I go to classes and
wake up early
that my professors know my name and
what my voice sounds like
but I like sleep better than I like television
I wake up at one in the afternoon and make breakfast
I sleep through my 9 o’clock class
because the thought of getting up
makes me physically ill

I am almost twenty
and I have not learned a thing about
being awake when I am supposed to be

on the phone
I told my dad that I have learned from my mistakes
that I don’t think about you anymore
that every breath I take is in spite of you
instead of for you
but you call me like a nurse to a hospital bed
and I always answer
even if you only stay for a minute
just long enough for you to gorge yourself
on the feast of me missing you

on the phone
I told my dad that the weather was getting
really bad down here
that there’s a storm coming
and that I am afraid
he tells me not to worry
that lightning cannot strike
the same place twice
but whenever you come by
I burn from the inside out

I am walking the dog when I think of you.
on the corner of Orange and Elizabeth,
a small world ends
while the neighbors cook dinner.

you are with me everywhere.
the empty space of your body
follows me like a second shadow.

I never told you.
I never breathed a word about the world
I was hiding,
the world where you never left.
the world where I never let you go
without telling you
that loving you
was the most honest thing I’ve ever done.

and, God, I miss you so badly,
I can feel it in my teeth.
your absence is the barrel of
a gun in my mouth.
each minute you are gone,
I am that much closer to pulling the trigger.

I am walking the dog when I think of you.
Somewhere in Michigan, a dam cracks open
like an angry vein.
I want to tell you that I love you.
I want it to destroy me.
I think about drowning.
I realize that I already am.

in the book of people
we should and shouldn’t love
you were the first and last name
on the list
the could, the couldn’t
the will, the won’t
I spent days twisting my fingers
into a shape that could touch you
months moving my tongue
until it could say what it needed to
and I know I shouldn’t
I know we couldn’t
I know you wouldn’t
but there is a ghost inside of me
and she touches everyone like they are you
grabbing at things that aren’t there
trying to mold you out of thin air
there is a ghost inside of me
and she will always love you against her chest
against her better judgement
in the book of people
we should and shouldn’t love
you are every name
and every space in between
you are the reason music makes me weep.
I can’t write about you without writing
about the morning
because that is the time I love you best.
over eggs and bacon.
you yawn and I hear cellos.
you blink and I hear drums.
there are birds outside the window
begging for me to shut up
but I can’t stop singing along to
the symphony of your body when it
is just waking up.
I love you best over breakfast.
you groan when you burn your tongue on your coffee
and I swear I’ve never heard a more
beautiful sound.
For practice, I sleep until two in the afternoon
and brag about skipping breakfast.
This is how it starts.
I don’t sleep, I stay up
until dawn
trying to memorize the burn behind my eyes.
I wait for you and this is how
I pass the time.
I fuck myself up.
I skip classes and I don’t wash my clothes.
I stop calling my mom to tell her
that I’m doing okay.
I want to be good and lost when you
finally show up
because how dare you.
How dare you get to see me after
I’ve gotten better.
How dare you skip the middle part
and then come back to me.
When you get here, I will be
an aching mess.
I will not put myself back together
just so you can pretend you understand
how I did it.
When you get here, you will turn
right around and leave again.
I will not be perfect for you.
You do not get to love me if you
do not stick around to see what it took
to become me.
Remember him, quietly. Let his name out of your rigid spine. Let him be someone else’s. Oh god, there are train tracks in your chest. They are rattling constantly, but nothing ever comes. When did it all get so heavy? Don’t ask questions. Concentrate. It hurts so much, somedays you can’t talk. On a good day, you’d settle for his hands around your throat, as long as it leaves a bruise.
What if God had given you to me as a man?
Did it hurt him to know that I could not follow you into whatever despair you crawled into because he had not given me wings like yours, a soul like yours?
Do you think he knew about the war in your heart or how
I wasn’t supposed to survive it?
What if your hand wasn’t permanently resting on my shoulder
like an angry scar?
Tell me what it would be like if the world didn’t end every time
we turned our backs on each other,
if I asked you to stay and you listened.
Did it hurt when the angels tore you away?
Did you find yourself in other things? Did you kiss other women
like early mornings?
Or was it my face you saw every time someone else tried to love you?
What if i didn’t spend my days thinking of ways to put my mouth
on yours? What if I didn’t have a theory on what you taste like?
Ash and some impossible light that can’t be touched, only felt.
I am trying to find my way to you in the kingdom
only there are brick walls instead of roads,
only there are guns here.
They don’t keep dandelions or wishes,
but if they did, I would wish for your hands, always your hands.
I am pretending your fists are kisses.
I am waiting for you to put your arms down and come back to me.
What if all my prayers did not start with your name?
I loved you through the blood in my mouth and forgave
the emptiness that you left because even after the hurt
and all the teeth,
I think of you when I think of home.
I think of you and a wide-eyed boy with holy wars moving beneath his skin.
It all started with burning, and I know we promised we wouldn’t talk about salvation
but I feel it when I look at you
and it is too much like an ending.
What if we did not ruin everything we touched?
What if we stopped being sorry for the things we couldn’t save,
like each other, like the wide-eyed boy I carried
out of a burning building, and even then
I didn’t really save him,
and even then, he never blamed me
because he was too busy blaming himself.
And you,
you were throwing yourself in front of any hurt
that could come towards me
like a car crash so that was how we loved,
like collateral damage.
What if we were selfish? What if we let the world catch fire
and saved ourselves?
What if love is made of burning things?
What if its not? But what if it was just all we could manage?
What if the fire was all we could have?
Do you know that I’d take it anyway?
That I’d take you in any way I could, even if our hearts
fell out of the wreckages of our broken bodies?
We are not human, we are fallen cities
and we are only trying to stand up straight.