Queen Anne’s lace, spotted knapweed, peppermint wrappers litter the median, separate the comers from the goers. A neon sign hums above Interstate 40. Between two wine glasses at ChurchKey sit nine states and thirteen years. You are still depressed. None of the roads led me to myself. A ring of house keys with a bottle opener attached. The bartender’s raised eyebrow. Your hair pushed to the right as you have always done but now the hairline is receding. This is the language of lovers who have never touched. “Do you recall when I was in the east side of the city?” I laugh from my softening belly. I have remembered I have remembered.
Baristas who know my regular order, library clerks with long necklaces ask where the hole in my chest came from and I say it is a war wound and mean you. The day we met I said you looked like Arizona and smelled like Vietnam and I would worship you forever. Worship is a strange word for lament but it's been 1856 days and I still greet the dawn on my knees.
across blunt edges
light tumbles softens, the act
a love all its own.
stories bloomed out of orange earth
land I have not known.
like pools of light, falling
haphazardly, I can make
anything, a poem.
This will be the last poem I ever write for you.
Brooklyn made me dream of the orchards of my northern past
the one orange tree among a field of apples
its roots taken up with subway grating
A love affair of 50% carbon and alloy.
Standing on them you whispered
"It is finished" like
some Canadian Jesus
your breath moving across my face
(an eastern wind gone west then
the sun rises over Golgotha, now
I buy cookbooks and tiny pens and I buy candles that cost more than all the cookbooks combined. They promise to smell like the streets of whatever city's recipe I am attempting to replicate. I crush basil and remember my grandfather. I crush cardamom and remember yours. I am making a smoke trail from Lahore to Verona to Washington DC. Across the street my friend labours, bringing life into this winter. Babies always remind me of the cross. The blood. The work. The thin veil between this world and that and the gift. When your grandfather read my palm he said my love line was too deep to not be worrisome. I shut my fist tightly and only open it now to press my palms into dough. I roll until it is paper thin, then bless myself three times over the candle and light it. Whenever your grandfather is he sees my wick burning at both ends.
Your calloused fingers move across the page to the words I do not know.
They whisper for you to speak to me in a language we both understand.
That sweet comfort of your ordinary tongue
and mine, recounting every mile of your body
mapping where it stumbled and did not break.
Put your scars in my mouth so I can taste where life made you bitter and tender
and here, sweet.
Make a slow journey out of me
like traveling home
down a long road
in extreme weather conditions.
anxiety is a knit sweater
tight around the neck and
itchy under my breasts
I have had it since college
I do not know how to throw it out
cannot donate it to
some unsuspecting soul
it may provide relief
Plucked from road side shrubs and pock marked sidewalks
there were years I let feathers guide me
through my own migratory patterns
along the 401, south, and back again
trusting them as talismans because they had once belonged to a body that knew the way
that carried their delicate proteins on
trailing centuries and smoke signals and
would, with some coddling
my own soft spine the route towards
Home is wings tucked into tall grass
the down on an arm that lowers the newspaper when you come in from outdoors
a spring mouth which utters "you're back"
having expected you.
Everything is held together by
the unhappy marriage of general relativity and quantum mechanics
all it takes is
the movement of a particle, a
slip of the wrist really, to
unravel all the strings
G Major to
I hold onto your love like a house
brick by brick
on a concrete foundation poured over
a fault line we wouldn't know of for years and
the south wall already caving in, as
the ivy green laces over the garage
our comings and goings appear lush and lovely.
Held tightly in a fist
I hold onto
your love like a brick
thrown through the kitchen window
splattering it like eggs across the oily stovetop where
water boils for tea I will forget to make.
when magic hour light lands on the broken glass
all the hurt came before and never after, and never once in that backyard neverland where you fed me strawberries and buttered bread beneath a navy sailor sky. I'd search it for my lost boys, Hercules, Perseus, and Draco. They are forever waging war but will never fail to guide you home, as good boys always will. Relieved when they were finally located I would point to them and ask you, "oh, but can you touch me like they do?" and you would.
in the back corner booth beneath
the flickering Tiffany lamp that sways
with the music
loosens me up like liquor
you and I, are
bubbling alongside our gin and apricot sodas
bourbon scented secrets
(when I was small I dreamt of a man who wore glasses to read
my wet mouth is unafraid
the man at the bar is watching us)
When we get up they're stuck on our legs like gum.
my heart is a Polish village
routinely raized to the ground and
back up in the fist of a small girl hurling rocks
and for which
good men have laboured
whose blood soaked ground
better men are buried.
Promise me we will never meet. Intentionally or otherwise
along some backlit boulevard, its
gravel bleeding into Sunday.
or in white tiled cafes where the coffee is stronger than any
desire to see
you sitting alongside some potted fig tree, it's
branches brushing the back of your chair.
Whisper your whereabouts to the mourning doves who are as grey as I am blue
rouse them early, before dawn
that they might litter feathers around
as trail markers
allowing me to migrate around this city
without the threat of catching light
resting along the horizon of
I try to write by which
I mean I flip
yellow eggs in a pan,
pour salt into olive oil and over my shoulder.
Crush basil between my fingers. Everything is over easy.
I abandon the eggs to congeal in the pan and pad silently to the living room where
I put Rufus Wainwright on
the record player. He sings about cigarettes and chocolate milk while leaves fall absentmindedly from the lemon tree I have not remembered to water.
With my legs up the wall I see the window to my left. Outside it is snowing and I consider making a wreath, writing long forgotten, for
I am twenty nine simple years
and all these habits say is
I no longer hear your footsteps in the hall,
cherry bells and ribbons unravel from your open mouth
run like vertical rivers down your boughed body
clothed in evergreen eternal youth
a northern tumbleweed
glass needled birds
laughing in their own way.
I drink scotch to know what your mouth tastes like. Frightening and gold. Palace coloured, its borders lined with soldier teeth I never dared to slip behind. The sand your little life is built upon is bones from an ocean long dry and when you look into my water coloured eyes and call me your true blue I imagine myself as a livyatan whale caught in a bed of shells and limestone. Sunk, but with every intention of drowning you.
they say love and war are the same but I've yet to break a man in a fist fight.