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

To myself in grief state

you don’t believe you know how to grieve. death loss feels different from heartbreak, sits wrong in you. you keep moving your mouth from hour to hour, minute to minute. you fear if your mouth isn’t full of sound the ache will surge up and slump off your tongue. you surround yourself with people and want desperately for them to see through you. both in the way you can be unseen and in the way they see below your skin. you don’t want them to ask because you hate the effort of simple answers. equally you hate the weight of darkening a party of light-faced people with your honest answers. you are a paradox of love and emptiness. you want sleep like submerging oceans. there will never be enough sleep. you forget and want to be forgotten. want to remember before when you were the light.

First published in Incandescent Mind: Issue Three, Selfish Work.

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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.

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

Suffocation Is Anxiety’s Friend

she says
I have paper bags in my throat
she says
I am coughing up light
she says
mother is recycled pulp
she says
he filled them with his shredded drafts
she says
paper-cuts are her father’s tongue
she says
she speaks around them, crumpled masses growing acid soft
she says
sleep was the first lover who left
she says
mother is glue-handle secure
she says
she’ll swallow stones to make them pass
she says
bags will either suffocate or fuel brighter flames
she says
salt-pulp are her father’s hands resting on her shoulders
she says
she’ll wrap her mouth in brown silence
she says
coughing aches her ribcage
she says
I am emptying light

First published in Incandescent Mind: Issue Two.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

To the Men who told me my Love was not enough

1. They told me with their hands

the first man I loved used his hands to pull down
my panties without asking
I had loved him without question
his carpenter hands
rough against my abdomen
my five-year-old heart was
blackhole becoming

2. They told me with their mouths

the second man I loved used his mouth
—when I gave him my free forward,
my unrelenting, my wide-open
when his empty was filled
with the red vacuum of my sex
he mouthed “I still love her”
and the her of me was vacated

3. They told me with their silence

the third man I loved used his tornadoed
soul against my earth-bed body for landing
then he pulled his sleeve up to his wrist
and wiped my name from his eyes,
rubbed my wetness from his now-landed
—took his relit fire and left
my heart, soot-thin
and never

First published in work to a calm.
Nominated for a Push Cart Prize.

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.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Circles for Words

Us and Our
became That
and what happEND
no You and I
but It and Was
boxed up
shelved
with photos
untaken
said again—
it’s unpersonal
something
so intimate
made demon-
strative pronoun
can’t be spoken
in Now-space
disrupts fragile
lines to keep
in, keep out
I never told no one
nothing, no person
doesn’t know that
We ever were any
thing

First published in Black Napkin Press.

2010s · Conversations with Gravel · Poetry

Slow Skinning

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.

First published in Black Napkin Press.