a moment’s pause when work
reveals clouds outside
grey and huddled
like a hotel blanket’s
that can never reach
of the sky’s
it’s only a temporary reprieve.
the room of your body
can be put to rest
but before long the clouds
you always wake up
to styrofoam cups
and cold powdered eggs
and cracked spoons.
“Oh, I’ll just call a taxi; I gotta get up early tomorrow again.”
-Dodie Clark, “6/10”
To think that the ocean came all this way
for a chance to lap at your toes
is foolish, but you can’t help remembering
the puppy from your childhood home––
his drooping brown belly, his tail wagging
along the carpet, never happier
than when you came back from school
and he could ride the surf of your arrival.
Although it shot aches through his aging frame,
your tiny grandpa never failed
to greet you. These days,
the people you love are more apt
to push you away from their warmer pillow,
sending you a little closer to the carpet
than the ever-thinning blanket.
You wish nothing more than to feel
the sweet sea wind of your love’s breathing,
soft as the eyes of a puppy grown old,
and to know that the tide rises for you,
that at least the water is happy you’re home.
A strand of hornets has formed a nest
around my aorta. I am contorted
as they wriggle and writhe,
a malicious mimicry
of the honeybee’s synchrony.
They must perceive me
as an acceptable host;
the most I can do is hope, mouth
agape, that they will vacate
my cardiovascular space,
granting me privacy,
allowing me to move
by willpower alone, on my own
without feeling their medical-needle abdomens
so tediously close to my blood flow.
after the party ends,
the piñata, battered blue,
red, and yellow, must not bemoan
the festering emptiness
that has supplanted her sweets;
she must instead (ignoring the shrill
of her dismembered flesh
scratching along the sidewalk’s
blistering bumps) recollect herself
and walk home.
The man was an artist, but that
we’ll ignore for now: the work in his hands
must be blurry, fading into the grey
that makes a depthless grave of the rest of his room.
Instead, his sleeve (the prominent crease,
that jagged mistake, unironed and unchecked
with all the tectonic error of a mountain range)
will be half-bright, half-black, its hyper-contrast on display
in fully-focused, eloquent grain.
We see his dishevelment disarm him.
It is this schism on his shirt, the light and dark
ripped apart, that gains the lens’ attention; neglected
are his talents, the bristles of his moustache
and the cautious fingers that guide brushes
along artful surfaces. The wrinkles of his quiet untidiness
trump anything his moment accomplishes.
The man in the photograph cannot be greater
than his nearest flaw.
She possessed a certain softness,
a particular fleece of the soul––
the sort of gentleness that would open up for you
the way a great grey cumulonimbus
splits its blustery darkness
to make way for hot rain.
The wool of her spirit
was not that of the sheep––
it was sheered from a ram
in a lightning storm, woven
by Rumpelstiltskin into the semblance
of a turtleneck sweater,
concealing the howling electricity
of the wind and the crackle
of the lightning and the fiery scratch
of the hoof––indignant, defiant, newly naked––
against the crisp beige
of the long-droughted grass.
A strand of cotton candy cloud
lingers on the sunset
like caramel on ice cream
or an ex-lover’s kiss on my cheek.
I’m in your car, on the way back from the party,
thinking I’ve done everything wrong;
the streetlamps are carpet-bombing us with yellow light
and dizzying uniformity.
When we come to the magenta stoplight,
which buzzes like one of the mosquitoes it’s ensnared,
I notice that the end-of-day wink is casting dim lavender
on the city’s bricks.
Midnight blue is encroaching from the East,
and the black spray-painted letters on the overpass
are as incoherent as radio static.
You turn to me, your hair orange and pink lit from behind—
your face grey.
You pull your hand from the steering wheel and reach it
towards my knuckles—which have been tight this whole time
like the braces I had removed in high school or an embrace
that you don’t realize until later will be your last—
and you’re soft with me, your skin like a butterfly
imploring a flower for permission to land.
For a moment, I want to give in—
stretch my petals out to you, offer you
my every inner sweetness—
but a glint of glassy green strikes your eye.
The whole world, it seems, is a candy box
and I can’t trust any of it.