blood-red wine and skeleton jazz

i.

the day you left,

your cobweb dress clung to you in ways

that i would dream about for years,

in hot, fevered nights

when the moon thought it might burst

in the sky,

and even the wind wailed your name.

 

ii.

i remember how you called make-up war paint,

and you drew it across your face like a message

i could never decipher;

i remember how i got goosebumps when i heard

your heels clicking across the floor at 3am

when you finally got home and slipped into bed;

i remember longing for you with every fiber of my being,

feeling separate from you even when our clothes lay on the floor

and your fingernails dug into my shoulders

and your toes curled into the sheets.

 

you were always just out of reach.

 

iii.

i tried to break my fist against the wall

the day you left,

but i couldn’t punch hard enough

so i lay in bed nursing my bruised knuckles

and imagined you going to parties in hell,

drinking blood-red wine,

your skin glowing in the light of the flames,

decomposed corpses playing you jazz,

party-goers flocking around you like

the devil queen you were.

 

iv.

i imagined you everywhere.

you were a ghost

and i was haunted.

 

v.

i saw you once, years later,

and i had to blink to make sure you were real.

you were so normal

so banal

so human.

you weren’t an angel come to save me,

nor an otherworldly creature with moonlight in your veins,

nor an all-powerful being with burning skin

and cruel, bloody lips

and perfume that smelled like bottled sulfur;

you were just a girl,

riding a crowded subway at rush hour

 

and you smiled at me with recognition in your eyes,

but you didn’t say hello.

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femme fatale

i killed a poet once

spoke words that grated against his skin

until he was blistered and numb–

until the frozen night air could blast

right through his hungry body,

whistling around his ribcage

and icing up

his veins.

 

i destroyed a poet once

when i told him i loved him;

i thought it was the thought that counted,

but it didn’t that time.

not with those words.

i got so tangled up in

lying to myself

i forgot he could tell

i was lying to him too.

 

i bruised a poet once

left fingerprints and scratches

as i tore apart his favorite words

until there was nothing left inside him but

the hollow beat of his heart

and my voice

saying things that mattered more

than i ever meant them to.

 

i kissed a poet once

and i tasted blood.

the fear of being alone

the blinds made the moonlight fall across

the bed in cold silver bars

and you looked like you were in jail,

lying there.

it wasn’t beautiful at all.

 

on those days when my lungs ache

and i hear the ocean in my ears

and feel the ocean in my eyes

i wish for someone

but i’ve never wished for you.

 

because of course nothing’s ever effortless

but apathy drains me more than anger

and the spark that we never had has disappeared from

my imagination

 

so we’ll keep kissing

and our teeth will clash,

and our hands won’t know where to go

and the right moment will drip down my thighs,

but you’ll miss it just the same

 

and there will come a day when my lungs ache

and i hear the ocean in my ears

and taste it on my lips

and i’ll wish for someone

but he won’t be there

and neither will you.

not quite synonymous, after all

maybe it should have been obvious
when you stopped staring at
me, your eyes crinkling
and shining
[maybe it would have been
more obvious
if you ever stared at me like
that to begin with]

maybe it should have been obvious
when i stopped holding
your hand
[because it’s too hot, i said
even though it was mid-october
and i was wearing goosebumps and a scarf]

maybe it should have been obvious
when you smiled too wide at the
waitress
and i didn’t even care
[because i trust you,
i told myself]

maybe it should have been obvious when,
all at once,
the silences became awkward and heavy and
we struggled to avoid them,
instead of letting them envelop us
[but maybe the silence
had never been nice;
it’s hard to remember]

but,
as things so often go,
it was only obvious
when it wasn’t obvious at all

because we ended with a snap
when we heard the word cartridge
[i thought ink
and you thought gun.]

the discovery

this endless morning made my

eyes ache and i found that

lying in bed doesn’t really solve

much at all.

 

and endless words tore up my mind

[the worst kind of words, too – ugly

wrapped up in beauty

the kind that used to find their way out of

your twisted lips]

and by the time i forced them

away, my brain was in shreds

 

and an endless thumping exploded

behind my eyes

and through my veins

rattling my bones, and

chattering my teeth

and i couldn’t make it stop

no matter how much

muddy tea i drank from clinking china.

 

but today i finally looked out

the window, and

the sun was beautiful and

the wind was gusting like it had

somewhere better to be

and the clouds were drifting slowly by

like in a miyazaki movie i saw once.

so maybe i’ll go outside, because

 

this endless morning made my

eyes ache

and, darling, i found that lying in bed

doesn’t really solve much at all.

tea colored eyes and worried hands

you took my soul with you when you left, but you forgot to tell me what i should do without it.

but that’s okay, my dearest, i can forgive you for that. you were always so forgetful with your tea colored eyes and your worried hands, and you took off in such a hurry that no one could blame you for neglecting such a small little detail.

you were beautiful. did you know that? you had a crooked smile and you were too skinny and your feet were too big, but you owned your imperfections with such confidence, such assuredness, that people would look twice and wonder if they were really imperfections after all. you made yourself perfect through sheer will.

sometimes at night i start to ache without you. all you left behind when you went were some pictures and a sweater and your smell. your smile looks fake in the pictures. i’m wearing your sweater. your smell makes me cry.

you know, when i close my eyes i see all those freckles on your hands. they stuck inexplicably in my mind, a piece of you i never knew i cared about. i wish i could trace patterns in them again, my darling. i wish i could.

you took my soul with you when you left, but that’s okay.

i wasn’t magnificent enough for you anyway.