These voices that scream into my bones the agony of their aloneness, their sweltering rage and their raw fear, they tell me their rosary prayers and cry for a mercy we cannot name. They tell me of their infant too far to touch and their wife lying nameless in the desert sand, they say it’s a matter of time before they kiss each other goodbye through a telephone. I close my eyes and in the stillness I see the dark dragging you away.
“Je vais mourir ici-” I’m going to die in here- she says, and names her children so that I can hear the song in their birth. I keep their letters close, hope’s palimpsests erased and drawn in shades of despondence. They linger by our bedside, vesperal whispers of a thousand living deaths, visions of once-upon homes burned to the earth, and beloved, I have begun to dream of your face in their stead.
There will be a time, beloved, when I kiss you and it will be the very last-
maybe I’ll know it, or maybe I’ll spend the rest of my life wishing on the wind to brush my lips like you do. There will be a night when you drift into that final dark, and my arms will falter in holding you close. Maybe I’ll drift asleep easy, the blithe sweetness of your breath holding us afloat, or maybe I’ll spend each second willing my body to keep a trace of your ghost. We have always been unspeakably finite, but at last I can sense the immediacy of this end and beloved, I am breaking-
My greatest selfishness has become this wish to leave our heaven first.
There’s an easy rhythm
that measures each draft
in angular harmonies and
nostalgic rifts of bygone sin
the demure chic of the environs
on the cusp of gaudy, then
suddenly sly in their elegance.
I may find myself here
impervious to elixir’s lure,
but your revels in these implacable
always left an ache in my skull.
Nimble acrobatics of auriferous poison
Whorls of silver flashing before the riveted
barstools basking in your arrogance,
Your finesse for this wicked finery
was unmistakable unluckiness-
it is a strange dismemberment
to apprehend the hamartia
lurking in someone you love.
I believed you dead once,
the coldest hour, a mutilation
of soul subdued only by news
of your car in some government lot-
your breath still seethed its trademark amber
when you downed the morning in one
bitter glance of cracked recollection.
Love and rage being so close
I would have spat in your drink
had it not spilled over your clothes
and baptized us in grief.
It was a slow love, like the subtle rise of the sea as it pulls in the careless and the wild, lawn chairs and chrysanthemums swallowed in the wet while I planted my heart in the gulf and nodded gently to the tide, and his eyes on the horizon hearkened languorous shores that warmed in the sun like bathwater, so I swam to the deep and its beauty grasped my ankles, seized my hair and soothed me to sleep, and the reprieve of breathing was such that I wept watching the last pearls of life float to the surface and burst-
I always fall
asleep in you
like an iron lung
the breath that seethes
some calm in my limbs
seized by stratospheric
Even in anger
my skin will cry out
to you and weep
for your chest
and should you be far
my last hope of repose
in orange bottles
hid between the wall and
You can hate me
for saying this, but I
envy the shots of sleep
you take, instantaneous
needless dreams you never
remember in the morning.
Oh my love, I
and often wish I couldn’t.
I make love to an edge
and these ceaseless careens
between folly and purpose,
wickedness and some
kindness I learned
in a past life
this bleeding for
an assassination of the body
that saves the
Body that has never learned
to smother itself in austerity
to make room for brighter hues
Body I cut and curate and
burn to the ground so that
remember that it has
only ever been
Body that holds you like a child
and aches to be known by your hands.
a broken glass
through the door
or perhaps a creeping
' kiss on your
I could nudge you again
try to make you
r e m e m b e r
that I exist here
in a hundred ways
all of them made for you.
and I’ll forget those
I’ve stowed in my bottom drawer
should I ever learn
to burn these walls
and swallow their ashes
bury a love
on its grave
There are these oftentimes I cannot reach you.
A heavy fog over your laden heart,
curtains pulled over to evade the sun.
An oceanic trench of disbelief
in the vehement hope I try to conjure.
There are these broken refrains
that sing flat and hollow.
I can never get the notes right anymore-
my voice always cracks on the crescendo.
And in the subsequent silence
I curse my tongue for its stumble,
the wreck of sound that cannot rebuild.
Sometimes I think it’s me that failed, dear one.
An arsenic-lipped lover with no antidote to offer,
a slaughterhouse mess of misguided intent.
I am told that it is neither of us,
that convalescence is a fortress
we cannot scale alone.
Please forgive, then,
the battering ram that tries
to shatter your iron door,
the stubborn want to reach
that which is beyond us both.
I suppose it fell in one
swift slice of tether
the sudden rush of robin-blue
from the jaded thrush of sycamore-
these hapless wings
awash in the fetterings of broken shell.
You came far after
the rest sailed south
on the bristled hush of winter,
made your nest
of moss and
In that surly crag of slate and rain
there never was a song like yours
but I so loved your slender alto,
soft on the snow’s sharp drifts.
…and baby this cigarette’s
not getting me any closer
to you or anything that
resembles your weathered memory,
this mortal tribute to every
nihilism you worshiped
with a seductive glance and
this relic of a time
when your tender presence
the malevolent empiricism
of all the demons
on my psychological infrastructure.
The enchantment never outlasts
the portentous gleam of ember,
but I can’t stop thinking I can
conjure another sequence,
a perfect bridge of
a connection that outstrips
the cold geometry
of conscripted circumstance,
the witless strife,
the final try
I ever built, ever wrote,
ever dreamed for us
reduced to a smoldering filter
smothered under my feet.
…and lately I’ve been coughing up more than just the acrid phlegm of our mutual disease, the blackened sickness of festered agony, you can’t hear the broken mechanism of my heavy breathing, but take my word for it that the amoxicillin’s not killing the cancerous remnants of what you’ve done to me, the dissociative quotidian of unrealized odysseys and everything we’ll never be,
you never wanted anything but a body haunted by a mind you could recognize, and honey the infection seeping into my chest is just my displaced adoration manifest, a culmination of antipathic disregard for everything I am, I detest these apathetic wastes of poisoned breaths, the one-man debauchery of loving you alone, but I’ll cherish to the end the chance
to be the kind of person who will sit outside with your shadow
and make sure that the heady flames between our lips don’t ever die alone-
Very soon these are the words I will be able to speak without the pen interposed, all these wonderings heard within the sweet proximity of you and me. And still I feel as though something innate and fearful binds my tongue, renders my ink-splotched hands nervous and fretful, like twin birds in impenetrable cages. That old nag, “Michaela, please put yourself away…” That old notion that all this feeling is something too heavy to hold.
And yet, there is so much left to tell that I imagine moments of confidence and conferred stories all of the time. It’s a ceaseless daydream of that evasive privilege, the chance to be understood by someone you love perhaps a touch too much. And it goes without saying that there are infinities left to know- crooked shadows that bare their teeth, gentle sublimities folded upon the highest shelf of memory, despised and desperate queries we dare never speak out loud, all of those invisible fingerprints and fossils pressed into your heart.
I think that it all comes down to a simple sentiment that I have nevertheless failed to translate- that I never wanted more from you; simply more of you. From, signifying an act of conference, an offering of word or deed; of, signifying essence, the very core of what and who you are. And even as I write that, my fingers recoil from the page. The enormity of such intimacy does not escape me, and you have always been at once ephemeral and indelible. It’s one of those things that comes with time I suppose, but isn’t that always what we lack?
There are at least a dozen letters like this one, scribbled on receipts and business cards, restaurant menus and the handsome pages of a fine leather notebook. Some are quite brief, merely a scrap of lines in scrambled languages, others more complete, but I keep them all in the secret hope that one of these days the paper will not feel so heavy, that not a single sentence will bear its weight alone.
This utensil I’m cowering behind
is a poor man’s tourniquet.
Its black effluence blights my courage
in a scribbled cacophony of ricochet
and unforecasted consequence,
and though these words should be
an airborne intoxicant of visceral pathogen
spewing from dauntless lips with no
ink-sketched mask or artistic trepidation,
an extemporaneous weapon to eviscerate
and devastate your impassive
they’re no more than a colony
of fire ants injecting subversive venom
into an immunized body of pulp and dye,
a wooden sword dulled to impotent pine
swung by enfeebled arms as it passes
through your fading shadow.
Fuck all of these
and hopes that these words
would find their way home,
this pen was my last
conduit to touch you
and it’s as good as Excalibur
welded in stone.