We grow tired of watching the incessant acts of the moon —
she is a thespian bargaining for attention so we swear to her
like we don’t have anything to promise each other. Fifty meters away,
a song takes its dying breath because novelties fade and
truth has accepted the offer to be a contortionist. They say
I’ve been sleeping a lot lately. They don’t know what they’re talking about
because your love letters pin my eyelids to my brows; there is
no such thing as waking when solace confesses to drug possession.
Tell me, were all those kisses just psychedelic images of the idea
we long ago planted in Persephone’s garden? Is springtime going
to bring a curse that will finally render us non-existent? Because
the smoke hits my nose with a vengeance and the mirror breaks
before forming constellations named after all the places we’ve been.
I read your name in print and suffocate myself with the consolation
that I can still read you. Consolations are the worst thing you can
hand out as gifts, have I ever told you that? They claw at the wrapper
until paper eventually surrenders to spirit and cling to every wall
they deem bare. It’s unfortunate that I already tore down
all your sketches and photographs. They would have sufficed,
they would have sufficed. But now I save my ‘sorry’s for the rainy days
and shove them inside the freezer for preservation even though
it’s perfectly clear they won’t survive the cold. It’s okay.
I won’t, either. Your jacket remains hung inside my room and it still
smells of second place. The moon turns crescent to mock me
before disappearing without a curtsy — she’s done with her scene.
The applause is deafening. I’m done fabricating you from my memory.
23 Things I Know to Be True:
1. Not the entirety of the universe conforms to the rules of logic. Exhibit 1: everything (that’s “ours”) ends up leaving us at a certain point. She left you without looking back. She isn’t (your) everything. At least I hope she isn’t anymore. Exhibit 2: irrationality is far too tempting every time I think of an alternate universe where sharing a cigarette with you is the easiest goddamned thing.
2. Nice girls finish last. He didn’t even let me come before he pulled away and took the finish line from my reach.
3. Pretty boys have more to them than pretty faces. Sometimes they have voices that kill, lyrics that suspend your ability to speak, hands that burn even miles away from your hips. Sometimes they have eulogies that can wrap around your waist like iron vines and chain you to their sides without them even knowing. Sometimes pretty boys have a penchant for ignorance.
4. You are a self-proclaimed Narcissus.
5. Proclamations are not necessarily true. More often than not, they prove loud but null. At least, your poetic tendencies would agree with me on this.
6. It scares me how fond we are of fiction.
7. But it’s downright paralyzing to know that I just might be too fond of the idea of you.
8. Heaven is not empirical. How do we refute it?
9. How do I refute the momentary significance of a glance when you and I both know this anonymity fuels the choir of demons perched on our shoulders and singing loneliness away? There is no argument, only a dare that would end once we hear each other’s names from our own lips. Once I shake your hand for the first time and realize that that should be the last.
10. There are no definite lasts, you would tell me. It sounds exactly like the kind of thing you’d say.
11. Your grin suggests you’re willing not to care about my sweaty palms. I never know for sure with you but I make it a point not to grin back.
12. Another dare: we can’t write about each other until one of us leaves. Whoever cheats falls hard. So no more metaphors. No more inscribing your death wishes or the way you brush your hair from your forehead or your midnight voice or calls that would’ve been or meaningless similes between the moon and my skills in bed or her name eternally present on all your other poems. This time, my knees would be able to resist.
13. The reason behind 12: I don’t want to be immortal.
14. À demain denotes certainty. So does À la prochaine.
15. Au revoir holds no such hope.
16. With you, À tout à l’heure would often end up an empty promise. Something tells me we’d never give each other the time of day. Not really.
17. The reason behind 16: the temporary in ‘temporary goodbyes’ is also arbitrary.
18. This is what my French teacher told me the day I started watching your footfalls.
19. I sincerely hope you already forgot about the language. I’m intending to do so as soon as possible. Wouldn’t like to break this habit of forgetting all beautiful things now, would I?
20. Sometimes pretty boys are haunted by their monsters, too.
21. And nice girls don’t get to save anybody.
22. But if the world shall end tomorrow, I’d be glad I wrote this without even knowing you yet.
23. And a huge masochistic part of me would hope you wrote about someone like me, too.
And One I’m Not Certain Of:
1. I guess we’ll see soon.
They say your irises are stones sent by Venus herself.
Expensive, says the woman from the pawnshop.
There are no gods in the factory.
None in the gift store, too.
We never learned to pray or plead.
Sapphires have always been too blue,
emeralds too reminiscent of forests.
My eyes are rubies.
Too holy, would you say?
You are a family heirloom.
Expensive, says my ancestor.
Our roots and leaves and branches are all gravesweepers.
History has not been kind.
Thank the bookkeeper
they did not name you Pygmalion.
I cannot hold your hand.
Shoulders straight, corset tight.
Such is the curse of perfect limbs,
the promise of sealed lips.
Desperation laces your silence.
At least, the girl in the music box dances when she is asked to.
At least, Jack springs when the box is opened.
You can only stare.
My dress is made of velvet.
My skin is porcelain.
Sometimes I wonder if my heart is of either.
The graveyard sings. It sings so well.
The shelf where you sit trembles.
Alive, says your dainty pair of shoes as I find myself with corpses.
I hear their laments, lullabies. Lamenting lullabies.
But I only want to hear you.
Alive, says the vulture on your back when
they ask me what I’ve always wanted.
Except: I cannot want you.
halos are smoke rings in disguise, we never
stop trying to need the blessing of the gods
our mountains speak in tongues, our oceans drown
in promises of rainwater — when did earth begin day-
dreaming of gravity? there is no falling now, there
is no falling now, you swore to me in the name of beer
and our cups are echoes of the dangers of dusk
we are the children of false prophets and true banshees
i was fourteen when you called me ‘sister’ the way lynchers
kiss trees and chains before the execution, i never
knew what your tone meant until father caught us at the back
of the beach house with your hands clutching my thighs,
my hips against yours, our bodies indivisible like how we were
once in the womb — but i do not know, really, we never
learned because ignorance is bliss and bliss is our sigil
you went to college without saying goodbye properly
and now he kisses me like i am the pastor’s daughter
and i don’t want to be kissed, not if it meant my
pedestal would be apart from your grave
someday, love, we’d find the perfect coins to pay
for our sins but today only holds absolution
over my featherbed and your gold cloak
the ghost of your spite takes my place, this throne
is a rocking chair on the brink of ruin
Lesson number one:
Sunsets are lies.
You are ticking by the millisecond, smile
copy-pasted onto every millimeter of your face, stretching
from ear to ear, dripping down your forehead to your chin —
a grin almost arrogant. But not quite. She plucks the magazine
from the quivering stand and smirks at the lovely
little faces carved on every page. You watch her with macabre
interest and freeze the countenance lacing your lips.
You slip a paper through her wrist into her fingertips.
Her tiny laugh echoes in the bookstore.
The right place has finally grown.
calligraphy has never been this dangerous
yet the next morning finds her right outside your iron gates.
The furies are singing now. Mint tea sounds perfect.
She breaks the bottle of champagne three minutes
from the moment you opened the door.
Foxtrot weaves around your feet like vines
of poison ivy before rumba
brings you to your knees.
The housemaid says we’ve run out of band-aids.
She fucks you on the piano.
“Whoever started this never-talk-to-strangers trend
probably had a god awful one night stand.” There is a copious
amount of amusement in her voice. You ask her how the fuck
she came up with the idea to use god as an adverb. Her middle finger
rises and tells you your grammar does not make sense, either.
“How the fuck did you come up with how the fuck?”
Sanity has never sounded so prudish before.
The lampposts look like prettier mutations of matches before
she takes out her camera and pretends to be a cop
chasing a captive on the loose.
You burn out while she
works on her photographs.
This was meant to be.
Lightning lies, too.
“We are not far off from the apocalypse,”
a preacher tattoos on his left shoulder while shouting bible
verses in town. You shake your head and grin, the girl
gives you back that paper slip. “Call me,” it still says
but you think black widows were made to marry
and initiate survival of the fittest.
She leaves with a thunderstorm crocheted to her dress
and drives your car away, never to come back. You’ve been
eaten alive. Your mother and father would’ve been proud if only
you gave her hell, too. You were, after all, the snarkiest
toddler in town way back. Jumping around everywhere.
Biting off fingers and chocolate cupcakes. Seducing choir girls
with your rose red cheeks. Perfect little cherubim has been
None of this happens. You stare at the pretty girl across this shelf.
The bookstore closes at ten.