Find a place
Cover your ears with thoughts
of escape plans
and tiny spiders crawling
up your arms
Cover your mind with things that used to work but now
only make you real.
Find a place and know
it isn't yours
sit down in the grass
Cover your eyes with
indifference and giant shades
Cover the holes in your mind with bandages made of memories
And lyrics from the songs you used to sing your kids
Find a place to hide and don't come out
It’s not like I thought you didn’t
fit in here, or whatever
Not that you seemed out of place, exactly
Although it’s the universal lament, isn’t it?
“I don’t belong here,” although Thom Yorke
(to his credit) sings like
he invented the idea
It was more like you were the only native and all the rest of us
(by which I mean me) some sort of
invasive creeping shrub you allowed and cultivated
for the flowers
and the scent
And at night I start these thoughts, and travel off along some strange tangential road and midway through
a sentence, you step away
“Hang on a second, there’s a thing…
I’m still listening”
But by then, my thoughts have settled in
Cozy in a den of softly played forgetfulness and by the time you turn
your face around, again
they’re fast asleep
And we go through the motions
of our day.
In the darkest part of the night, restless from your footsteps and your weight
against the mattress, I begin
“But like, that’s not all he was, Thom Yorke”
And you walk with me along the winding path of thought
The resident leading the visitor
the alien following blind.
They flatten themselves against
the walls, as I walk past
trying to make themselves
holding the breath
they never had
to remain unheard and I
flex my fingers
feel the cracks in my knuckles and my
as I breathe for them.
They are not shrinking back in fear
but in relief
heads bowed, ghosts
in awe of the living
hiding from the light.
It never comes
and still they stand there, waiting
flattened paper sculptures
where the spectres used to hide.
Every crack was a stolen breath
every smile an act of defiance, every
act of rage, every fast, illicit
a testament to life
where the ghosts were meant to be.
Every smile now
a fair exchange
every slow, deep breath at night
a token like the precious
bits of treasure taken from a child’s
A smooth stone, a penny, a tattered wing from a broken moth
their worth unknown except to those
who picked them up
The ghosts are watching from behind their paper eyes and I am
staring back with matches
set to light.
You don’t have to be gentle
You don’t owe it to the boot that stomps your face to smile
through broken teeth.
You don’t have to prove yourself again and again
worthy of the praise of those who aim
to crush your larynx closed; you don’t
stanch your rage to be accepted in
Manners are for tea time
and waiting in line for the sink.
You don’t have to look away avert your eyes pretend that you don’t see
Just because you can
Just because you get to.
You don’t have to be the one to plug the flowers into
the mouths of the guns while the bullets fly
and the bodies fly
and the flags fly
and the buzzards fly and wait
to pluck your eyes out
as they melt into the ground.
You don’t have to be gentle, but you are
because it’s counter what they’re doing
and so you’re not like them, but understand
You are the teeth
Or you’re the boot
Or you’re the laces
tied up tight.
Look at us, scorched and scornful
black-burnt stick-limbs scratching messages on the walls,
pencil scrawled profanity to make you
stutter and avert your eyes
like you never thought those words
in pleasant company,
gloves stretched tight white painful across your knuckles
buried deep behind your teeth, tasting
blood at the back of your tongue, fighting
not to swallow. Look at
us, small and sinful
brains gone flaccid, atrophied from
lack of use and no desire
they tell us
TAKE A BATH!
like you can’t even
make a spark
to light the way
Look at us, sunken-eyed and dark below
so goddamn depression-beautiful
we’ll let you know if we need anything
thanks so much for reaching out
the platitudes drip dirty water
down our chins
“If only we had known” and in truth
is all that separates us.
I am not
to look at the place
you left your shoes
(I see them at night, behind
my shuttered eyelids, I picture
side by side, one laid over sideways
discarded with the laces
struggling to catch up)
I have a towel, here
I have hot coffee
you can have my robe.
The waves creep in and I know it’s not the ocean
you never made it there, and still
I said this
then I forgot what it meant in the haze
of lost remembrances and words skewed catty-cornered
from the way they should have read
In my myopic misanthropic misalignment of the margins I
let slide the focus and the letters I was
sending in my head slid
off the page
burnt down to ash
and then to ash and then to
ashes as they scattered but the fragments
of the bones, they stayed behind
too hot to touch, still a spark
I think I’ll leave you here
to start a fire.
This avenue ain’t for the downhearted,
the heavy steppin’
This is where people walk who got
five pounds of flour under the stairs
and enough sugar left over
to make a cake
This where folks walk who got a dollar in their pocket
without the corners torn off
already half spent on
This is the bench where people sit and talk
to no one
about they diamond lives and how they mad
cause they don’t want everyone else
to have it too.
This is where they stand up and stretch, put their noses up and look
sideways and down to make sure the nets
they keep around them
ain’t come down.
This avenue ain’t for the folks who walk
authentically, worn-down soles
and battered souls, this is where they walk
on shiny heels, in the light so bright you
I don’t know what it says about me
that I don’t feel any less
to other people
than I ever have.
I can wear my Pink Floyd sweatshirt
five days in a row
and no one says anything
and the noise from the computer
is all but deafening.
Right now I hate
everyone I pass on the street
who isn’t her.
I don’t know why she left her shoes,
left her car,
shed her scent
when she walked across the sand
I only know
that her seat on the couch is still waiting
and when she comes back, I’ll cook
and listen to them play.