July Fourth and the cruelty of heartbeats (Revisited).

“Your heartbeat is mean,” he said.

“It’s too loud,” he said.

He was trying to sleep.
The smoke from the fireworks had long cleared our skies,
so he was going to sleep.

And I was going to think.

The blue lights from the TV licked the wall behind us and I looked down at his dark,
sleeping eyes,
his shiny, shiny eyes;
it was like our sadnesses were suddenly lining up against each other like
two sides of a magnet.

When we first met he found two scars on my hands
and he’d kiss them until he couldn’t breathe.
Now he’s found the scar on my heart (inflamed; ripped open; sewn again shut)
and he kisses it just the same, and then throws it in his closet.

Kid keeps me, not skeletons, in his closet.

“But it’s yours that’s cruel,” I said.
Sometimes it’s loud, like mine. Sometimes it’s loud
like the gunshots in Lexington, like the fireworks overhead tonight.
Like the tires screeching to a halt,
scarring the road in their wake.
And just when it has kept me company and sung me to sleep, it grows quiet.
It’s like my ear is pressed against nothing, like I’m burying my face against
air. And just when I’ve found my own background noise, my own steady rhythm,
it starts to beat again.

To Say Thanks.

To Say Thanks
2011. That first year it was all desperation, us getting caught up in our foolish ways. It was a thanksgiving with not much to be thankful for and the first time you’d ever seen me angry. Silence, I’ve come to find, is tangible—it bends and it moves, it was stretching across mile markers on unlit roads until last night. And it’s awkward. Oh, it is awkward. Don’t worry. Things get louder tomorrow. There’s a boy in my car and we’re dodging the cops and Ringo Starr is singing about his Yellow Submarine. The sunrise is bleeding into the morning dew, and his fingers are bleeding, too. Maybe that’s just me spitting words that bite again. I’m yelling, fog pressing its way up the car’s windows the way he was pressed against her. And her. Oh yeah. And her. Our sweaty little hands are grasped tight: Grace. Don’t ask me to absolve your sins.
2012. I’ve been saving room in my belly for this holiday all week, but still, I don’t think I can eat the turkey this year. It’s just that I’m too full– full of sad, full of awkward, or just too full of him, really. Resentment plagues me, jealousy has me gagged, and everyone’s pity glues my feet to the floor. When he sits down I can’t get up. When he smiles I look down—that used to be mine. I am red, having found out about her on Facebook. It was humiliating and everyone’s eyes are settled on me, trying to spot the difference. Is her hair different? New earrings? No, guys. My heart just isn’t whole anymore. Silence is drowned with the fog in my ears and the way I ration my breath when he’s around. Here I am hands shaking, not talking so he can’t hear my voice crumbling; steady now. And bitter. Always so bitter, he says. When I drive him home he’ll roll down the window, let it all burn. He is the mundane and the small talk, the elegant formalities that seem so foreign when I’m with him; deep-boned laughter those days we first met. It was the first thing I noticed about you, your laugh; how like this sadness it made me feel full. He asks me about classes next semester and coughs (laughs). “Whole lotta art and history there?”
“Yeah, it’s casual, just my major.” Listen to me when I speak.
“Oh, that’s cute.”
2013. It’s over a month until Thanksgiving, but all the same feelings are here. The feelings where we fall the Hell apart. This year I’m not silent (awkward and nervous). My breath is heaving, hot red rage, syncopated and staying in time with yours. Don’t touch me. I just don’t think I’ve ever been this angry with you. And I never thought I’d be so stupid. Did you tell her? Did you tell her about that night before you left me? Our hearts were beating so hard and you tried to kiss me and I put my hand against your chest to push you away. Does she know about that? And does she know how tight you held me? How your arms melted into mine and you counted all of my ribs just to know that I was real, to know that I was real and sparking to life in your arms? My mouth was so dry when I looped back round your house. Get out of my car. No. Here’s the part where you wanted to talk, regrets and your biggest what if, they shine like the stars through the windows. “You’re in a car with a beautiful boy… And you feel like you’ve done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you’re tired.” Richard Siken said that, and amen. Wasn’t this the greatest love story we were writing? But no. Its horror and I should’ve known to never open that door to us again.
I’m thankful for liars and for leavers because now we’re self-sufficient. I’m thankful for boys in my car, because they teach us how to drive away as fast as we can. I’m thankful for the miles, because now I don’t have to see his face for another month. And I’m thankful for that infinitesimal moment of complete clarity, because now I know that I’m way too awesome to be lied to again.

Published 2014 Thoreau’s Rooster

“…you’re a train and I’m a trainstation

and when I try to guess your trajectory I end up telling my own story.”—Richard Siken

You are a train. I am a trainstation. It is two AM and you lay sleeping in my sheets, and I am surprised that years ago I never predicted how formidable this trap would be once we shared state lines. You’ve held my hand loosely these days and I’ve held harder ‘till you could see the whites of my knuckles, like how my father used to have me hold one of his fingers, grasping it with shaking strength crossing speckled snow parking lots to the ski lodge. You read my diary months ago, and when I was waiting for you to be angry you pressed your lips hard against mine and I felt the wrinkled corners of your smile, reminding me of that laugh that always made me feel full. Don’t worry. I love you. It’s okay. But you cut the crusts off your sandwiches, and I wait in vain for the day that all of me will be good enough for you.

You are a train. I am a trainstation. It is two AM and you lay sleeping in my sheets, and I wonder again where your mind is, about your stops on your trip back to the north, how you were fracturing heart strings, and if you did this on purpose when you thumb tacked me straight on walls and told me to be perfect. And told me to be strong. It’s strange to think of all the ways someone can influence your life—an effort to please them, I think, is the most common. Like when you dated the girl who took pictures of wounds, how I wanted to be the one healing them. Or when you dated that blond, how I more than ever wanted to dwell inside of my books. Or all those times you were dating me. When you were dating me, and said that I was perfect, that I was good, that I always pushed you. Except for when I wasn’t good enough. Except for when you, again, were walking away. Too scared? Too bored? I never knew where you were going, but I knew where I was. I knew it because I was healing wounds, and I was writing it down in books.

You are a train. I am a trainstation. It is two AM and you lay sleeping in my sheets, and I am surprised that I let you crawl in there. But patient me and fickle you, I can’t help from waiting for my A-train, my Red Line, while you walk along rusty train tracks kicking up dirt with careless steps. I touch you and I am elbow-deep in diamonds, not quite breaking everything in my grasp, but ruining it nonetheless. I watch the sun rising yellow, pink, on my walls—“I guess it’s just that broken heart of yours,” you’d say—and see your shadows pressing in within in it, frankensteined and different each morning. You bite your lip in your dream, and I wonder how I am stuck in this nightmare again.