al otro lado de la pared

on the other side of the wall

that plexiglass fortress that keeps you

sequestered away in that little office of yours

complete with windows barred in rusted iron

there’s a million sounds to reverberate the air

 

there is

the sound of your tongue

tliq*tliq*tliq

against your teeth when you talk

 

there is

the sound of my feet as I skitter over to you

tuuk*tuuk*tuuk

a baby’s footsteps on the hard corporate carpet

 

there is

the sweet serious baritone of your laugh

heh*heh*heh

honey flowing from deep in that broad chest of yours

 

there is

the sound of wounds healing the

swish*swish*swish 

of your hand on my back the

scritch*pat*scratch 

of your fingers in my hair the

softest thud

tuht*tuht*tuht

of my chin on your shoulder when we hug the

prosaic hum of our bodies falling into safe rhythms

zoom*ziss*shhh*

 

all these million sounds to reverberate the air

in front of that red-iron barred window

where you’re sequestered away in that office of yours

a tiny fortress of gleaming plexiglass to keep you

on the other side of the wall.

 

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playing numb

are the thoughts still intrusive if its been four months,

or can you just be another in the litany of voices in my head?

I’m asking for a friend and that friend is me cause

between me and myself, between

hours of bike rides and the screams of little cousins

between the tequila I drank Wednesday night and the way white men talk to me,

I still remember everything.

 

and the hurt isn’t sharp, not anymore,

its more of a dull throb somewhere between my uterus and kidneys

the way pancreatitis feels once your enzymes reach 2K over the healthy limit of 20

and just like that night my gallbladder exploded, it seems

like I keep retching up more and more and more

every hour on the hour

of the things you did the way I felt

continual flows of bitter yellow bile dumped from the cavern of my mouth

But somehow I’m not getting better.

 

and maybe this means I need an intervention

except instead of a blonde doctor weaving a tiny robot’s hands through my entrails

it’ll be a white man weaving his careful green eyes and soft words around my head

avoiding the pieces that still scream ouch, ouch when touched until the day we both die

 

or maybe like the errant gallstone that blocked my liver ducts, that

scritchy itchy feeling under my ribcage

I’m still holding on to some calcified chunk of what happened

maybe that’s why I still remember the words you said so clearly

every time someone touches my arms

or when the smell of an IPA hits my nose

or when I catch someone staring at my sacred hair

 

words like

do you think that black kid is gay 

or

why do the gays need to have marriage why couldn’t they just have civil unions

maybe they do love each other the way my wife and I do 

or

of course I know that police treat blacks differently, I used to sic cops on black kids when I was breaking the law 

and even

I am waiting to see if you are okay 

 

I am waiting to see if I am okay, too.

 

 

 

intrusive thoughts pt 3

I keep getting all this advice on how to heal

on where healing begins

and how and when it should end

I keep being told

you need to write out everything that happened

you need to speak it aloud to your lover your inner circle your own self

you need to leave where it happened you need to go back

you need time you need to hurry and forget

you need to be positive you need to be negative you need to imagine revenge

a seafoam eye for an umber one

or in your case milk fed entrails spilled out in clammy calamitous hands

instead of those fed fat on green bitter nopalitos and red sweet tunas

 

But every time I take out the see-through paper to write every bitter word you slathered

every time I try to imagine sinking my brown fingers into your white tummy

every time I acknowledge that I left the place but carried the home with me

no matter how many poems I narrate to my boyfriend my cabal of witches my self

every time I try and do any of these healing things

laying in the hot sun or in the cool of a vernal pool

hands splayed over the waist you so unkindly grabbed telling her over and over

that I’m sorry I’m sorry  I am sorry

 

I can’t.

because instead of imagined violence bathing me in sanguine healing

it drives me to remembrance instead

I remember your chuckle, how the air would be expelled from your nose at the end

like a jade-green dragon blowing smoke from his scaly scintillating nose

right before he snaps off your head in his million-mawed jaws

 

I remember how your eyes are the exact shade of green of the ocean in Puerto Peñasco

when you wade in at sunset to the spot right before you drop from the continental shelf

where black dolphins swim round feeding blue jellyfish to white belly orcas

 

I remember how heavy your hand was when you pet me after the election

because you were apologizing for other people expressing the same sick thoughts as you

about black men and brown girls and folks who are neither but love both

 

I remember that bottle of purple-throated merlot

the thought that I had lipstick that color passing through the tiptop of my frontal cortex

right before you tell the waitress to bring a straw so the baby can drink her juice

and I realize the juice is the glass of swirling merlot you placed in front of me

and the baby is me 

 

And I’ve left the place but when I close my eyes on the Bergen havn

it almost feels like nothing has changed at all and I’m back in that humid library

not realizing that your smile is actually a leer

not realizing that you aren’t listening to my gossip and the interest in your voice

isn’t about my words

its about how when I kneel on your carpet I’m at perfect height

not realizing all those times you were standing too close because I could smell you was

because you were trying to smell me under the perfume and the dry shampoo

not realizing the emotional buildup the community had built up around someone else

should’ve really been meant for you

because what was hotter to you than

reimagining what your petty life could be like inside a little brown girl?

 

And all this floats by me and hurts like the thousand flung needles of  jellyfish tentacles

the time I stepped in the gelatinous blue of a man o war when I was in Puerto Peñasco

because I was too busy admiring that green right before you fall off the continental shelf

 

it happens when I am alone in bed or in a sea of people at the market or

when I am laying in the cool of a vernal pool or in the hot sun

or when I am talking to that kind fisherman and he invites me for a drink

 

and all I can think of is how that merlot swirl, swirl, swished in the glass

as you told the waitress to fetch a straw so the baby can drink her juice

or about how if C and M and S and J hadn’t been blowing up my phone

that night outside the bar, vibration notifications a tiny earthquake in my hands

freeing me up to bury my face in my phone and my heels into the pavement

you would’ve really been able to reimagine what your petty life could be like

inside the abandoned body of a little brown girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

intrusive thoughts pt 2

I wasn’t brave enough to go to the bar today

don’t ask me why  I’m not sure

maybe it was the tumult and noise of the crowd

the kind that would ignore my pleas for help

just for one more shot of whiskey

 

Or maybe it was

the mix of tobacco smoke and hops laden smell of Nordic beer

that acrid combination that spilled from your lips as you screamed in my face

 

Or maybe it was the dank and the hot,

the cramped humid spaces

like the clamminess of your hands against my face

or the feel of your forehead against mine

 

Or maybe or maybe or maybe

it was a million other things

That you dragged out of the dark

that night you buried your hands in my tummy

and pulled forth more than just my hips towards your own

 

 

and even though all I want

is to walk those cobblestones down the harbor

feel the ligaments in my legs stretch under that cool sea breeze

my lungs expand with the full salt air

my heart race when I see that kind fisherman

to lose myself in the fuzzy grey of his sweater

or the seafoam green of his eyes

or the soft brown of his fine-fingered hands

I still keep the ice table between us

count the fine lines on his lips instead of looking at his face

no matter how obvious he makes it

that all he wants is to press his forehead to mine

 

because what if what if what if

one night it turns out

that he wants to add his own storyline

to the palimpsest of flashbacks

what if he spills an ocean from his seafoam eyes

as he shakes the life from me

or plunges his hands so far into my waist that my insides recoil

what if he, too,  is just like you?

 

I’d rather be alone and never know

what the velvetine notes of his voice sound like after-hours

or what his last name is or

whether his bed is as soft as his heart

than risk meeting another you again

alone in a hot humid bar

 

and this was supposed to be a poem but I guess now it’s a letter

to you

even if you don’t deserve it

or

the space you occupy

in my heart or in my head

 

But I thought I could bury you like I buried the first hurt

bury the feeling of being flipped over by coarse hands in locked rooms,

bury the feeling of being tokenized and erased in drafty labs,

bury the feeling of black sulfurous sediments sliding into my ear

by

wrapping it up in the good and the milk and the honey

in the soft dirt underneath pine plantations or

the smell of honeysuckle and sunshine on the mount

in the taste of freshly-cut pineapple and iced coffee and catered sandwiches

 

But I can’t I can’t I can’t

no matter how many times I try to lose the memory of you

every time I walk down the harbor

faster and farther away from men who look like carbon copies of you

because let’s be honest like you were

that night at the bar

when you confessed yourself to me

 

you were part of the burial before

you were a piece of the loamy topsoil

your smile every time we met and

your embrace every time we parted ways

the quiet way we would talk among the stately trees about anything at all

 

And I wish so much that that night hadn’t happened

that you hadn’t appeared in the doorway lurking like a ghost

that you never ordered that beer like hops in a glass

that you had never taken those hands

that once held me in hugs as soft as that fisherman’s heart

and buried them so far into my body

that you dragged out every black moment I ever had

from the interstitial space between my ribs

and into the space between us

that night at the bar

when you confessed yourself to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

intrusive thoughts

its been a month already, don’t you know

and while I try my best to audiate away

what happened

spending every second minute hour day week

playing music and singing endlessly

somehow

I always come back to the thud/thud/thud

of your fingers on the bar

to the ring/ring/ringing

in my ears

like the aftermath of a sad soprano’s solo

(you yelled so loud)

to the sloppy slush sound of my brain

colliding with my skull

as you

rattled me round

like so much sand in a maraca.

 

 

and somehow

No matter how many times I sing

or scream

or beg

my skin still sinks back into the form of your

hard heavy hands

on my face on my waist

that feeling of being frozen as my insides melt

a puddle in your greasy gritty palms

as you gather my legs into yours

your knees leaving dents in mine

 

 

And some nights

when I’m still trying to scrub the smell of you

out of

my skin my hair my soft palate

the trickle of water down the curve of

my face my waist

reminds me of the ocean that poured from your seafoam eyes

while you did everything

and

the smooth oval of your face

intrudes into the blank space behind my eyes

 

 

and once again I’m singing endlessly

frozen as my insides melt

with the sloppy slush sound of my brain

bashing against my skull

as you drag my face to yours

and our foreheads clack together with a click

and my hair is a puddle in your greasy gritty palms

 

and the ring/ring/ringing in my ears

is the only distraction from

the feeling of each of your fingers

reaching around my face like spider’s legs

your middle finger digging into the back of my ear

(could you feel the thud/thud/thud of my heart)

as you rattle me round

like so much sand in a maraca

every second minute hour day week

since last month.

 

 

safe (2)

I brace myself to race myself

force yourself up the stairs.

(its been too long)

you know full well, just tell

Let him know not listening is disrespectful

who cares that he’s the light of your life

the only reason you smile

(he has a wife)

get past the kind eyes that leave you tongue tied

Be the strong woman like everyone always tells you to.

I don’t need your charity, just for clarity

I could’ve done this myself

(with what money?)

maybe i just want to taunt

others with how well I get by in the cold.

none of this comes out in our roundabout though

just the sunshined scent of your skin

(cariño mio its you)

nullifies what I had within

i cry instead of yelling.

just let me be! don’t do this to me

my mind is a steel seive

( you’re amazing)

all brave no cave what a lie

I turn into a little girl in front of you

this is a little city quite pretty

but its one giant hell

(I’m just a puta)

if people knew you bought me things too

this would not end well.

i feel so dirty please don’t think I’m flirting

I’m spaced out on a flashback

(who would trust me?)

I brace for a chase as you get up from your chair

But suddenly you hug me.

what do I say as the world melts away

I press against you, trying to melt

(I’m flirty, just like the dad I never had)

all these words I’ve never said try to leave my head

I bite them back

(I)

you’re saying words but my thoughts chirp like birds

(love)

my arms won’t hold you but in my mind they do

(you)

(I just want to feel safe with you)

Greasepaint (Memories)

Slinking back home

crawling into my bed

curled tight, finally alone.

dialing

smiling

crying.

Our eyes are red

as you scream

even though I tried to not make this a scene

I just wanted to be held

you wanted to be listened to

Our love, once of a seamless weld

pristine sculpture of the perfectly woo’d

in an instant, felled.

wailing

flailing

dying

It’s been a month since our implosion.

I’ve a new paramour

and you’ve told Cupid, “Nevermore”.

I remember, that morning in May

when we were first together

Endless messages, speaking every day

thinking it would be forever

that our souls would be pressed in lavish ballet.

At night I dream of you

Dabbing on your greasepaint with a cloud-white sponge.

Lighting your oval face with a hasty grunge.

Even just once, I wish

I could have held that pyramidal cloud

sweeping paint across your nose with a swish.

You are always  in my heart

Countless days you made me smile.

Please, why must me part?

Little bear, return to me

Why can’t things be like they used to be?

When I was young and wild,

And you loved me like a darling child.

Now you won’t even look at me

Bitter as rotted black tea.

I reach out, and you ignore

Splattering my heart, animal gore.

Little bear, you taught me what love felt like.

That heat that burns like a pig iron spike

in the brain.

Come back to me, dearest friend-don’t let this line be cut.

Mine is the hand eternally outstretched–but

I fear yours is the hand that will never be held.

(You’re so cold without our love)