Archive for October, 2012

I burned a peacock feather in Calcutta dreaming of you.

Like the ghost of so many moons you lay dormant on my lips. When winter washed into our bones we huddled for warmth, stronger than the darkest sun.

I watched them hover over the body and wondered what spirits had been here before. How my hand worked over the skin like fragments of glass embedded.

The old man told me we were all stars working our way around the edges of life.

I wondered if a star could helix, impermanent, into existence. If my star had a twin, Gemini, in the dark.

Somewhere I’m sure she was wondering. Vacant, our hearts watching the same moon. Talking, maybe communicating, always wanting.

Thinking about distance and the cycles of the planet.

Imagining a future together, praying for a present apart.

I wear your star around my neck like a halo. I don’t speak, I don’t forget.

I’m still reading the smoke rings of our nights together.


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It’s New York, and it’s bigger than the moon.

That’s the way Laurel and I feel when we’re stalking through the city streets late at night. The moon is bigger than our eyes will ever be.

When we sit together beneath the lights we occasionally look up, two artists in flux.

I say something about how far away we’ve been lately.

She tells me the moon looks closer in my arms.

I tell her how her boyfriend would hate the sound of that.

She asks me to let it be for once in my life.

We look out onto the water. Everything is running glacial. We contemplate skipping rocks, but hold hands instead. I won’t be here long. But we love boarding passengers. We love when trains pull into the station.

I’ll pull my arm around and tell her how we’re always looking at the same moon, even in New York, even in Indiana.

And I know you hurt something awful the way I treated you. The way I spendthrift your heart. But I’ll be on the train tomorrow.

Laurel, you are my favorite star. And I want you to shine here.

She gets up to leave, tonight’s need headed off past Central Park.

In three hours I’ll be drunk in the hotel room with someone I don’t like. In eight hours I’ll be awake on a bed I don’t recognize. In sixteen hours I’ll be sitting down with him to conduct the interview. In 21 hours I’ll be on the train and I’ll send you a text message you won’t show anyone.

Hey Laurel, honey. I’ll be back in a few months. Look at the moon tonight.

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I was wearing the coat outside Sharon’s apartment.

I didn’t want to go back there after September, and I had the lapels pulled really high because it reminds me of frightened rabbits.

When she came to the door I could tell she didn’t want to let me in. Not after all the calls, or the post-card, or the thing with Maggie. Not tonight, anyway.

But she lets me in, because she’s dumb struck blind by something we found in each other on a beach somewhere, and this is where things get important.

She’s got a Lou Reed record on her coffee table. I make a joke about Transformer and she eyes me.

She tells me my hair is too long. I look like I came out of the wilderness. She says it softly. Softly enough that it only kind of hurts because I know what she wants to do.

She doesn’t say anything about my face while she works. I can feel the locks falling and see the swell of her hips. The whole time I’m thinking about grabbing her waist and going one of two ways, but I let her keep trimming. Eventually she moves onto my face, shaves me clean to the bone.

My eyes look like saucers, all drooped out and hazy. In the morning I’ll find a cut on my left cheek – Sharon’s not so good with the blade.

She peels off my shirt to see the damage. Scratch marks, lines, but doesn’t say anything. When she slips hers off it’s not like that, there’s a softness I don’t recognize in her.

Sharon takes my hand and leads me into the bathroom. And while every neuron is firing she’s so much quieter than usual, and she wraps her arms around me and then turns the water on.

Hot. Even though she knows I’m sensitive, she makes it burning. And we lie down together, both praying that we’re enough.

In the morning, I tell her, this is just a place I’ve been.

This is just the place I want you to be, she whispers.

And all of her cuts me to the bone. And I wonder how she cut me into the man who loves her.

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It was 3 AM – and we’d been drinking.

Lucy hung like a jewel around my ear, big puffy eyes and a drooping coat I’d given her when we first met.

To think about it – our whole thing had been about gifts. I played with the loop of the buttons while we waited. We didn’t talk much. Her hand crept into my coat pocket – I’d always wondered why they made it so deep.

She was wearing a too-big fake emerald on her left knuckle. I’d given it to her when she made it into college, an idea of things to come. Simpler days, when a ring didn’t mean so much. She had a drawer full of rings now, and I was in regular rotation most of the time.

I don’t know where she found the t-shirt. It had an old print of an Osaka ad for coffee. The rising sun and a steaming cup. If I didn’t know better I’d guess it came from a Punk rock band in Bristol. Old is new. I sighed.

She pulled out a cigarette and started smoking. We’d danced, Dionysus, through the streets of New York when we’d first met. When she heaved her guts out in Central Park it was, naturally, the first thing she handed me. A lit cigarette. Which reminded me of her, somehow, with that hair. I learned how to use a lighter without her asking.

Her earrings, little pools of gold, still me. I couldn’t figure out how they worked, or how to unsnap her bra – I’m not good with my hands, really. The long, curving spine of the earrings confused me – but the fact they read Apart and Without You, to me, was always a good joke. She slipped her hand past the breast-pocket.

I didn’t look her in the eye. And nothing happened, that is, we didn’t say anything. Just stared at the ticket, like reading a murky fortune. The bus stop was just that way, seedy 6 AM. I didn’t want her talking to the bums out there, their eyes like mine still bloodshot, just because it was her and all.

I got on the bus at 6:53, which is to say I stayed an extra two minutes. And the bus driver looked at me real wild because of my heart all torn out. What was real ugly of me was finding a seat – it’d be a few hours. It wasn’t the old lady going to visit the boy in the hospital, or the Korean lady with the groceries, it was her in the black skirt. It was the one with the book, and lonely eyes. I sat across from her.

I watched Lucy through the reflection of the window. She’d drifted off and as close as the glass kept us I felt far away.

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The last time we sailed I thought about saving you from drowning.

Not in a tangible way – I mean, my hands never gripped you as such. But watching you in the water broke something in me. A valve, release, unfurl.

Watching you in the water, my hands wrapped around the wood planks burying splinters.

I realized in that moment all of the islands circling us were bodies, my boat too tiny to save them all. A starfish floated across your chest.

Your fingernails looked like meteors spread across a glass sea. I could see the coral wrapped around your skin.

The water was cold. I was cold. Your mouth was all bone.

I didn’t save anything the last time we went sailing. I was lucky to be alive.

I don’t want to think about drowning.

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Sometimes I imagine us buried at the bottom of the sea. Alone in a mist finer than eyes perceive, our bodies jutting like angler fish. The only dimmest light of a distant favor, there are old promises cloaked in sea-foam.

If you drew a picture of my mind, I hope it would be underwater. I hope the lines would be filled in with flotsam of our bodies pressed together like coral. I know the sharks would smell the scent of blood – like distance they’ve been circling – but I could keep we safe in an ocean bloom. At least until the tide rolled in.

If you saw the picture I made of the ocean between us, you’d know the waves crashed down like mouths upon your legs. And the sunset illuminated a patch of skin beneath your breast turned island by my hands and teeth. These are uncomfortable thoughts – circling you home like seagulls. I still have the sand you scratched into me with broken palms.

I still hear the ghosts of dead voyagers on your breath. I still feel the distance every sailor makes anomaly – I am the least faithful lobster of the sea. The ugliest clam split open. Spit me out like blood and sea-salt.

Let the wound heal. Run your tongue over it.

I know you know the water between them. I know you know that land is no savior. When it crashes, sinks into the sea like rust and exploding open, I will be at the bottom of the ocean. I have been making there since the beginning, crafting a rope out of strands of your hair. Attempting to build ladders out of your legs. The sunlight, a frail beam from the pools of your eyes.

Asleep at the bottom of the ocean, watching the barrier of the sea.
I am a sailor in the worst way.

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I made a new friend today.

Simple and clean – like polished tables – life is suddenly different.
Yes there is work to do, sleep to catch, dreams to flutter, hearts to mingle, hours to burst – yes.

But I have a new friend.

Who may disappear.
Or evaporate.

But I tell you I have a new friend.
And suddenly the world is a bit more open.
And suddenly my heart is a bit lighter.
And suddenly I see new things.
Suddenly my life is bigger.

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