love song

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When I said I loved you it wasn’t a warning.
Let’s become all the things we are afraid of
Let’s be too proud to call it when it’s over
I will go back into the kitchen and cook you something that will make you cry
bake love and muffins and new hope, forged in a crucible of butter and sugar
We’re better than this
We’re better than our parents
Take me out to the backyard and show me the tree you picked out
and we’ll use the rope to double dutch jump rope
jump the the broom and sweep our history clean
there is no more use in remembering
We’ve bled our past dry a million times already
teach me new ghost stories
Let’s haunt this house until it echos back a new history
Let me carve our initials into the tree
give it something to remember us by
I am bigger than you thought
and you are deeper
When I said I love you it wasn’t a promise
It was just the truth
And you are my truth
Let me show you where it was on my body when I decided to live
unravel my spine
dissect my wrists
prop up and peer under my ribs
this sunlit clearing in the forest is my heart
And you are welcome here
And the space between our bodies is just a metaphor for time we still have left to spend
Come, let’s give it away, and sit here awhile, with nothing to be but together and here
letting the stars wheel about above us like the circus freaks that they are
sweet empty pits of light, let’s forget our past and lay in the grass like just being here is creation enough

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The Blind Make Up Artist

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The Blind Makeup Artist

He strokes his daughter’s face with fingers that have replaced eyes years ago
The world gone from lurid technicolor to faded pastels, to murky shadows, to this:
vision is memory
fingers trace the contours of her face
the hills and valleys
His mind creating the image, filling in the gaps
like a computer system
all blips and bits and beeps
ones and zeroes
blacks and whites converging to create a dream scape
of flesh and features.

The first time he holds her
his hand becomes a paintbrush
He dabs on imaginary makeup with the delicate wrists and spun-sugar sweet touch of an artist
He knows she cannot understand words yet so he whispers in her ear
“Let this be your war paint, your mask, your armor and your triumph. Let this remind you always of who you are and what you are not.”
she just coos and burps softly
and goes back to sleep.
So he paints her eyelids golden so that she never forgets the sun
strokes her eyelashes with deepest blue
so that she always has a shade to pull down on the world when she needs quiet
fills her skin with foundation and bronzer the color of beaten pennies
and baked sand
so that she remembers all big things are made up of tiny moments
and he palms her cheeks transparent
so that her mouth can only hold the truth.
Her lips he leaves alone
because they are the doorway to her voice
and that should always be her own to open or close,
to embellish or forget,
as she chooses.

Hands heavy with too much sight and love
he strokes her baby down scalp
holds her head against his chest
in a way her body will remember
when her first lover runs his braided rope fingers through her hair
untangling the charmed knots of her youth.
And her father rocks his gilded girl to sleep
staring into the ones and zeroes,
the x’s and y’s
the blips and bleeps
that make up this beautifully sculpted life.

Love Letter from a Dictator

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yes, it’s an odd title.  But it was an odd prompt from my writing group.  So roll with it.  Enjoy the oddity.  Let your freak flag fly!

Love Letter from a Dictator

Darling, the swing of your gait makes me want to smother babies
and the way your hair reflects the moon
calls to mind sweat soaked gun barrels
and broken windows
and cut glass
Baby when you wink at me so coy
I think my thudding heartbeat could destroy villages
it thumps loud as dropped bombs
and jack boots
Your smiles curves like a scimitar
Your teeth are polished to a dull gleam
that only weather beaten bones
and driftwood
have
Your hands were made to circle my neck
So Honey please
bring your gasoline soaked soul
near my lit match desire
and lets burn this fucker down.

 

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Silent Night

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A final holiday-esque poem, before I fly from frozen New York back to Georgia and get back to my gut punch, silent storm, angry feminist, ninja in the night poetic style…

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Silence is wrapped in swathes of Van Gogh’s Starry Night
Your breath is in my hair spread across the pillow
waves of love surrounding this bed like an ocean
and I can hear the distant tide thumping rhythmically against my shore
like a heartbeat, like loyalty,
I can smell Christmas and winter snow on your breath
multitudes of bright stars and dancing musical notes
and for the first time I want to be unwrapped like a Christmas gift
on a child’s first remembered Christmas morning
For now I lay still and hopeful
For now I lay still and faithful
Listening to the tide,
In and out
Listening to the sound of forever
Over and over
Breathing in the scent of pine needles crushed on snow
and candles, tapered and white
and thinking this must be the holiest of nights.

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Debt Collector

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Debt Collector

The calls come, unexpectedly but inevitably, at dinner time
An unknown number and an unfamiliar voice at the other end of the line, saying
“hello?  May I speak to Mr. Smith please?”
My answer varies from a cheerful “sorry, wrong number!”
to an angry “take me off this list!”
to a flat out “I can’t help you.”
And tonight I say, just plainly curious and plaintively exhausted – “why?”
Because this is the part of breaking up that no one warns you about –
So for all of you planning on ending things soon, here it is –
If your partner has debt and you have lived together for a while now,
you will get his debt collection calls.

And what a way for the past to, literally, come a’callin.

I want to say – lady,
he’s in debt to me too.
He took something from me too, something he promised to return
or if he kept it, he promised he’d make it better
He promised it would become so beautiful, so elaborate and fragile
that I would ask him to keep it safe forever,
clutch it loosely in the grasp of man meant to be a father
caress it gently with his carpenters hands
nurse it back to life when it wilted from the exhaustion of being so
heartbreakingly
lovely.
But he took it and he disappeared and I was left, grasping air in my palms
holding the gust of wind the door sighed out as he slammed it shut, against my chest
aching with relief and aching with regret,
and not understanding yet that this ending was truly just the beginning.

 But unlike you lady, hunting me down for lost dollars at dinner time,
I’m not trying to collect.
I’m not looking to rectify this debt
I’m not calling and stalling and asking the wrong people to point me in the right direction –
whatever he still has of mine is his now
and he’s welcome to it,
God knows it may be the last precious thing he ever holds.

 So lady.
When I ask you why you are calling my personal cell phone number and asking for my ex
and you answer “it’s a personal business matter”
please be prepared.
Please be forewarned.
No one knows a personal business matter with this man better than me
And while your tone turns from butter to steel as you think I’m helping a man hide from long over due debt,
I’m wondering if that car he bought me was stolen, and you’re coming to collect
I’m wondering if when I co-signed his college loan in a fit of love I can now be held liable for his unpaid bills,
I’m wondering if this call is about theft or drugs or about his new fiance getting another obvious bruise
and another hidden scar
I’m wondering if the place in my heart that I used to call by his name can ever be fully closed if you keep calling me at dinner time

 So listen lady.
I don’t know where he is.
I don’t care.
But if you find him,
please tell him he can keep the car and the old friends, he can keep the new fiancé and the new house
he can keep his lying honest-man hands off my heart,
he can keep his suspicious eye off my thoughts
he can keep his worry and his anxiety and his fear that one day I’ll leave him
and transfer that to someone else
he can keep his promise of forever to himself.
I don’t want any of it.

All I want,
is for you to listen to me, lady.
and take my name off this goddam list!

A Measure Beyond Love

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A Measure Beyond Love

Darling.
Remember those days we fired at the starry firmament like glowing rockets,
fueled by tequila and cocaine, driven by desire, driven insane
Running on empty dreams of rock and roll and promises,
Ruled by something that goes a measure beyond love.

I remember riding a rocket ship that went at the speed of light, it was dizzying
So fast I forgot if I was passenger or pilot
I couldn’t remember if I was bright star or black hole
Irrevocably broken or finally whole
And I didn’t care.
You were the one thing that filled the cracks in my soul
You were my one thing and this goes a measure beyond love, I need you
This goes a measure beyond desire, you’re killing me
and to die ecstatic in your arms is bliss

You remember-
the way electricity used to buzz through my veins like static
and I was using liquor to tune into the right station,
using pills to dial it back down
using powder to fire up the rocket again
and again
and again.
And when the world burst against the backs of my eyelids like celestial chandeliers
shattering monotonous repetitions of dull life
I was happy to die ecstatic with you, against the sun
cradled like a broken comet,
a burning flame-child, a shooting star

But we both know even rockets cannot defy gravity forever
and soon I was hurtling down from the heavens
smashing into a cold earth that never felt like home
And soon I found myself alone
in a bar bathroom
scraping out lines on the back of toilet tank
desperately trying to catch the next rocket going up.

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