The Only Thing I Can’t Forget: A Poem


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Molly slides a new calendar
onto the old hook. Last year was clouds; this year,
twelve mountains plasticine on pages,
each wearing a glossy white cap
as if it were mink. Molly’s brown hair is in a braid,
swinging like the pendulum
in a grandfather clock, and I watch it
until I lose track of time.

I still don’t know how many days
are in a month: for me, days
seem to swirl, elusive as heavy snow.
Flurries are impossible
to greet. Anything that touches my nose
melts in moments.

The kitchen is warm. Molly clucks her tongue
and makes hot chocolate. Under the dimmed light,
I see her first grey hair, glinting platinum
like a wedding band.
I ask her why she didn’t tell me it was there.
She says it’s just her inner child
poking its nose out to play peekaboo,
its color bright only with shrill laughter.
For a moment, I can hear it
in the hot water she pours over the brown powder.
I laugh along. She drops three marshmallows in my mug.
Her lips on my cheek
bring me back to our first kiss—

it was January, and I’d never been so cold.
I told her, “The only thing I know about snow
is that I’m tired of dragging my boots through it.”
She said, “The only thing I know about snow
is that we are never as alone as we think we are.”
Our gloves met each other,
wool as good as skin.

A fourth marshmallow arrives ceremoniously,
followed by a rise in the small chocolate tide.
“This is today,” Molly says,
sweatering me inside of her. “Tomorrow is the new year.”
Her flyaways tickle my cheek until I feel
like champagne. Another grey hair drifts
before my eyes. Everything is blurry.

Dear Patroclus: A Poem


On November 8, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States of America.

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The night of the election, you gave me
your arms. How strange it was—the first time
you’d ever seen me cry, and I was trying my best not to ask
for help. But your arms still came. I wanted to hold you, too,
to return the bolstered hope, but my fingers were busy
clutching my cheeks like a shield. A shield,
and you gave me your armor. Preparations for battle, for
our safety. Brazen gold, gleaming swords, iron holsters.
Was it a spear that I received from you that night? A rifle, loaded
with every safety you had to offer? Your cheek
was next to mine; I felt your hair
at my temple, like we were praying together. Eyes
closed, lips parted. This would get us through, I knew—these arms,
the arms of everyone. We all convened in convalescence.
Arms and legs fighting our way upwards. No one was alone
in pushing the boulder. We were sweating,
but we couldn’t spare our fingers to wipe our skin.
All of us, everyone who cared, on the night
of the election, heaving upwards, sweating tears
refusing to bleed in the face of it all, busy making sure
the boulder would never roll back down. I was on the couch
beside the TV, refusing to turn my head
to see the fateful screen. And you,
you stood up just to put your arms around me, radiating
safety. Two souls thrumming together— 
strength no theory
can explain. The archaic drum, the flutes, the marching millions
of sandaled feet pounding behind our eyelids, between
our hearts, in and out of pink lips. I felt you
in my veins that night, when you gave me
your arms. We became amor. Only our enemies were afraid.

Again: A Poem


volcano

you broke me like a shift
in tectonic plates.
revved with red, i combusted
when you said, “let’s just be friends
again.” the surface of the world smashed like glass,
lava oozing like the blood on my fists
as i battered myself, breaking free
of the hold your pyroclastic love
still had on me––it was your poisonous ghost,
sighing with an opaque, untouchable gossamer
over the gaping rocky wounds of my crests,
that killed what i loved best.
everything choked. the supercharged spill
swallowed all, entire deer omitted from existence,
falling to their knees, already carcasses, their nostrils loaded
with proto-igneous fire, eyes rolling backwards
and dissolving into flame—precious blushing blooms
i eradicated, their petal lips lit
until ashen, until ash, speciation undone—
i singed the coastline, shells swollen
to bursting with the heat, the red, the black, tiny crabs
dropping their pincers in defeat.

you wafted towards the ocean and took life
with you. but a volcanic eruption will always create
an island, bleak at first, but soon
populated in waves. first, by grasses
in greens and yellows, nurtured by sweet billowing breezes
sighing between pink clouds on blue days.
the plants are grateful as they sway. i will feel the same.
before long, the pores of my new land
will brim with heartbeats. even now, i can feel vines
stretching towards my peak, relentlessly sweet, twisting little leaves
and great trees creaking their necks towards the sun. the snow
still graces my steaming head—no matter how often
i make it melt, it returns to feed my streams,
winding into hot springs and summers
to nourish the colors. the fog, once dispersed
by my self-destructive rage, settles its pallor
calmly like a sleep mask after a laborious day.
life refuses to abandon me. i must possess some special beauty,
because it seems the world is adamant
about keeping me around.

The Light Festival: A Poem


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas was a blade that year
but, unimpeded, you took me to the Light Festival
in the park. From every tree
tiny moons were lynched in rows,black cords
like the shadowy arms
of spider monkeys at night, bright white lights
and multicolored bulbs swinging from the highest branches
to the ground beside our feet.

As I walked along the weather-cracked sidewalk
with you, who would someday cease to love me,
the promise of neatly-wrapped gifts swung overhead
like a corpse. You rapped me repeatedly
with what-would-you-like, your jaw
dropping with the dead weight of your voice
in the frozen air. Your limp tongue lolled
on the other side of eggnog teeth, and pink overran
my cheeks, though only because of the cold.

While, with a hungry merriment, the first hints of winter
bit through my peppermint-colored sneakers, the trees
infuriated themselves with orange. They faded
to pallid yellow. A child in a red hat poured hot cocoa
on their roots, and everything turned brown.

I wore my earmuffs as a shield against
what-would-you-like. I swore to you my ears
were cold. Then I tripped.
My sneakered toe was inhibited by a skinny rip
in the pavement; my chin collided
with cement, my white wool gloves completely useless
when I needed to make a pillow of the blow.
You kept plodding along, not noticing my absence at first
because you didn’t like holding hands.
I suppose for you, I was a dead weight.

When we saw Star Wars in the theatre,
I was stunned by the ships that soared
into the streaking stars, full hyperdrive
into the fathomlessness, the bottomless expanse, blasting away.
You looked just like a starship then,
walking away from me at the Light Festival.
My chin throbbed while a tiny LED moon
glared beside my dying tremble
in the frozen air. From the ever-furthering distance trolled
the angels’ chorus: what-would-you-like, what-
do-you-want.

A promise that you’d stay,
I decided,
in crisp silver paper and green ribbon
under the tree.