2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Your Dark Sunlight

You, carried by wind, fill my horizon
I am tangled in your kite strings
knees bloody from the drag
arms ache from wind yanking

I squeeze eyelids tight
can’t find sleep in your sunlight
eyes grow dark
circled by your high maybes

Your wild flight, soar and dive
I have no wings to carry
can’t pull to your height
you only rise, grow farther

Hand me your knife
cut me clean of you
Let my wrists bleed and clot
let me fall asleep

in the quiet dark

First published in Snorted the Moon and Doused the Sun.

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2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Somatic

I can’t treat you like phobia
try to desensitize you out of my skin
so that my muscle fibers
won’t gather together
at the soft crease of your eyes

you are not a fear to faceat the height of a bridgeopen my eyes and gaze
at the depth of youlean forward and release

I cannot see you spider
across my arm and deep breathe the shiveryou raise in me

you are less like fear
more like heroin
a need I must starve
from myself
fast out the hunger
until the follicles
in my hair
have escaped
your scent

First published in Snorted the Moon and Doused the Sun.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

What To Do With Empty Hands

I don’t know what to do with my hands
I opened them up, I released my grip
the rope was ripped away
last strands tangled in my fingertips
so I cut one thread at a time
with the razor of my teeth

I still don’t know what to do with my hands
I washed off the blood, cleaned out the burn
they are bandaged and gauzed
but my fingers keep curling
around the ghost of your wrists
I press them out flat against the shower wall
against my bedroom wall, one hand
against the other, finger to finger

I still don’t know what to do with my hands
I’ve been writing you out of my heart for months
I run out of lead, I run out of paper
still my hands move around the ghost of your neck
your voice murmuring in the center of my palms
I try but I can’t suffocate your shadows

I don’t know what to do with my hands
so I press them to my mouth
let my lips surrender to your memory
I drag them everywhere you’ve been
across the back of my thighs
down the tip of my nose
they circle the round of my shoulder
(the last place you ever kissed me)

First published in Snorted the Moon and Doused the Sun.

2010s · Poetry

How She Will Be Remembered

Before he left, she offered a box of light
a spectrum of color against his black;

red scraped from her pulsing veins
orange plucked from her sunset sky

yellow combed out from her morning hair
green cut from the edge of her irises

blue pulled from the song in her ears
indigo peeled from her darkest night

and violet picked from her truest words.
She tied them with her blind-heart kisses

and let him steal her rainbowed sky.
Let him pour them out into his grays—

let him remember her only in this way.

First published in The Bastille.

17 Poems Not About a Lover · 2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Keansburg Park, 2012

After a hurricane, you must sift through the rubble. Be it car or house or theme park ride, all loss is for grieving. For months you will bloody and purple searching for what’s worth saving. On the news, there is always a small child who’s managed to hide between the gaps. Keep searching for her. Or, if you’re the one buried, make yourself heard. At some point they will begin to haul away the wreckage. They will want to clear land for rebuilding. But if you’re still searching, be louder. Keep kicking through splintered wood and twisted metal. You cannot and will not find every savable piece, but remember that small child. She could under the Ferris wheel. At some point, you will also call off the search. You will also want to clear land. But be prepared. When you stand on the edge of the sifted soil, a new loss will settle in. As heavy as roller coaster. If you stare into the ache of what was never found, the weight may collapse you. The name of that child may trouble your sleep. You must find her. Use the old wood or the old metal, but build a new park to welcome her home.

First published in Angel City Review.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Love Letter No. 4: To the Nail Biter

You will remember again
lying on a dry sunny beach
warm skin against rested bones.
This swim is not endless—
these swells you fight,
this constant coughing up water
will eventually subside.
Even the bleeding
edges of your cuticles
deserve your tenderness.
Because his hands will never
work that soothing magic again,
you must hold them away
from the sharpness of your teeth,
purse your lips,
and tell them they are as worthy
of your protection as your breasts,
as your pit-bull heart. As all of you
is worthy, so is the clear line
of your fingernails curving.
Cut them clean.
Even you, Olympic-storm swimmer,
can drag yourself up
on some long shore, wash the salt
from your skin, hold your hands up
to the sun and say it.
Say even your cuticles are worthy
of being loved.

First published in Elementary My Dears.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · How to Unexist · Poetry

Mouth of Fireflies

What God there was in me saw
the God there was in him,
and it was beautiful.
-Amélie Frank

he speaks floating sparks of light
and lights a thousand eyes around him
he won’t follow their leaving paths
throws them out and lets them land
like seeds he’ll never see grow

I chase the fireflies of his mouth
the ones that miss their mark
I want to catch them in jars
drink them to kill my own night-growing
they sky-float beyond my reach
past the dim canopy of city light

I once drank him like a fountain
my wet lips glowed for days
my eyes shone too bright for sleeping
maybe I only dreamt him at my mouth
since the universe won’t return him
it steals his beauty for dreamers
and says, light your own fire

first you must crack your ribs
break them into brittle shards
cut your palms in your own grasp
next you must rub the sticks
of your rib bones fast
do this all on the inside
then sing out to the dark unknowing

your sparks aren’t made for eyes
your sparks are made to burn hunger
burn the ache in their bellies
throw them out like seeds
don’t wait for them to grow

First published in Cadence Collective.

2010s · Poetry

No Epilogue

the pages in this book
are coming to an end
they are thinning out
no epilogue to read
just an end
this chapter is closing
it was inevitable
our story is done
I want to put it down
to make it last
to keep it going
it was an unexpected sequel
you returned to me
there was suspense
and conflict
and romance
these characters changed
our plot turned
each chapter a revelation
but the final twist
it was brutal
no one saw it coming
least not our heroine
and it’s a tragedy
it’s not a happy ending
the mystery was revealed
the story is resolved
I keep turning pages
and it’s thinning out
this will not be a trilogy
I know your part is done
our story is done
I will have to finish
the final pages
and read your last words

First published in Cadence Collective.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Dead Song

I wait no more for your polite
I run no longer to your cordial
I let no wind carry
let no night star
I fight not for your uncertain
for your wander, for your lost
not for your stroke, not your soothe
No more gray ink
photograph gaze
No collar bone
valley of skin
I set fire to your words
I drown your colors
all swirl of rainbow
I lie in your grave of kindness
I cough out your breath
I spit you out
wipe the taste of you
from my mouth

First published in Ekphrastic California.