Us and Our
and what happEND
no You and I
but It and Was
with photos untaken
can’t be spoken
lines to keep in, keep out
I never told no one
nothing, no person
doesn’t know that We ever were any thing
I love having talented friends who make really cool projects like an entire anthology based around the letter V. Three of my poems, “Class”, “I pay tax to your grin”, and “Apology to the Palm Trees” joins poems by many talented poets, including some friends of mine, Dania Ayah Alkhouli, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Donna Hilbert, LeAnne Hunt, Tamara Madison, Betsy Mars, Natalie Peterkin, Wendy Rainey, Kevin Ridgeway, Joan Jobe Smith, Thomas R. Thomas, K. Andrew Turner, Aruni Wijesinghe, and Terry Ann Wright. V Poems is edited by Shannon Phillips and published by Picture Show Press.
My introduction to New Order was Substance. My first major crush told me about a song called True Faith and of course I had to become obsessed with it. They were the first band that felt a poem only I had read. Their music transported me into another quiet world. I know they were known for their dance beats and I definitely loved to dance to them, but it was something else that felt deeply personal about their music. Maybe I connected to how they came out of a dark past. Whatever it was, it was personal.
Another word for father, static
the chaos of electricity in white noise
every pop and crackle of it
holds so many nots
If turned slow motion, we can
hear all the misfittings
how many wrongs inside of us
Another word for mother, lightning
the flash of white against night
it circuits through tree limbs
into heart stops, into heart starts
If turned slow motion, we can
feel the strangled paths
motion of trembling feet stumbling
Another word for family, carbon
the black of what’s left after fire
after smoke and embers suffocate
resting in the ashes
Unforgettable Fire by U2 was the first album I listened to over and over and over. U2 was the first semi-secular band I was allowed to listen to because they were kinda Christian at the time. (I wasn’t allowed to listen to non Christian music as a child.) My sister had a cassette tape with Unforgettable Fire on one side and Under a Blood Red Sky/Wide Awake in America on the other. She’d play it over and over as we fell asleep in our shared bedroom. As a result, this album always reminds me of a dream state. I either copied the tape or stole it, but either way, I’m sure I still have it. To this day, I maintain that it is a perfect album. The music is dark, mesmerizing, and sensual. They are a band that has reinvented themselves many times over, but this remains my favorite.
Unlike car crash, our death was slow—peeled first nippled-breasts
and what you once called the art of my body. Tendons carved
from feet, keeping me put. Each muscle fibers layered in fat stretched
out all dance and joy. Yanked next nails from fingers, sliced entire tips
down to knuckles, every part that ever knew any part of you. Hooked
knives dug into ears, scraped out song, scraped out music. Same hooks
dove down throat, twisted cords of my own speak, tangled in steel,
snapped from neck. Sawed each hair from scalp, sawed lashes from lids,
sawed between thighs where your hands once reached. Eyes pinned
open, I watch you crawl out from under us, watch you wrap your arms
around Night. I watch Night curl her blood lips. Can’t hear singing,
can’t speak you down to me, can’t reach can’t touch can’t fight can’t
walk the other way. This is how we die with nobody watching.
As a poet, nothing has had a bigger influence on my life than music. I’ve been wanting to pay tribute to music I love by spotlighting an album each week. I have to start with Standing on the Beach by the Cure (also called Staring at the Sea), not because it was the very first, but because I can still listen to this album in its entirety today and feel just as connected to the music. These songs still feel like home to me. Strangely, it’s not about the lyrics exactly, it’s the feelings behind the music, the anger, isolation, sadness, restlessness, innocence, passion, confusion, love, happiness, mania, and resolution. It appealed to 12 year-old me and present day me.
What will I do with your skeleton bones
when your teeth can no longer hold
the flesh of your lips? What brown eyes
will fill the spaces in your skull
when these ones dry up, dissolve into vapor and dust?
Will your bones keep memories, keep the rhythm
of your laughter locked in marrow—
how your small hands grew into man,
how I kissed them tipped in icing,
wiped them from grass and soil, held them
to my cheek as I sung you to sleep?
What can limbs and ribs and vertebrae do to capture soul?
What does your skin encase when you are sloughing
out from under it?
Where will your soft curls rest
when your scalp surrenders?
When the cords of your throat fray and limp,
how will you say I love you?