the boy who swallowed a star

the moon drizzles through the clouds.

i’ve been thinking of you.

 

sometimes during a storm,

i imagine that the electricity snapping through the air

is your touch;

that the rain splattering on the roof is your

fingers, tapping impatiently;

that the petrichor-infused wind

is your perfume,

your breath

 

and i walk,

letting the water kiss my eyelashes,

caress my collarbone,

tug on my clothes

 

i let the wind give me goosebumps

and fill up my lungs with the smell of

 

you, my nowhere boy

my shadow boy

the boy with constellation freckles and

sensitive veins, who would swallow a star

just to feel its fire.

 

it’s been storming a lot, lately.

i’ve been thinking of you.

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a ribcage drenched in dust

i have your ribcage, you said.
what should i put in it?

i told you i’d always wanted a fire,
the kind that would fill my eyes with starlight
and pump my blood full of passion, but

you’re made of wildflowers, you said.
a fire would burn you to ash.

you wanted to fill my chest with
the sound of a train, whistling
far away in the night;
with the sound of rain smacking leaves;
with the sound the wind makes
when it sounds like it’s trying to speak

and you wanted to throw in the
smell of midnight in august
and the feeling of sand being
sucked out from under your feet
when the ocean inhales,
and the strange little moment of
bittersweet joy you get when
someone else puts your soul into words
and you realize you’re not as alone as you thought.

i told you that if i had all that inside me,
i’d ache all the time
and you smiled a sad little smile,
because you already knew that ache.
because you were a writer, and you ached all the time.

i’ve got it, i said.
tell me a story. tell me the truest story you know.

and you brightened.
and leaned in.
and filled my ribcage with a story.

it was only three words long,
but it did the trick.

a mistaken man

he used to tell her
that she was the sea trapped in a seashell –
pretty on the outside but powerful
and mysterious
and ineffable underneath.

he used to tell her that the ridges
on her spine
made moonlight shadows down her back
and the freckles across her collarbone told better stories
than any of his torn up beaten down books ever could.

he used to tell her that
she smiled like poetry and smelled like
a rainy october evening
that if he had the right hands he could
play her ribcage like a xylophone
that her swollen chewed up stained red lips
were the quintessence of lust.

he used to tell her
that her eyes were the color of mint and starlight
and that, sometimes, her hair
smelled like the garden
he used to hide in
when his daddy came home smelling like whiskey and sweat.

maybe he ran out of words,
or maybe he’s just trying to think of the right ones
or maybe he never meant it at all

but he doesn’t talk so much anymore.

your own personal weeping angel

have you ever been in a

moment that already feels like a memory?

when everything is shimmering and easy,

suspended in time,

floating and hesitating and swollen with breath

 

and then you blink,

and it’s over

a memory after all.

 

i think every moment was

like that with you –

a series of memories that

i watched happen,

somehow trapped on the outside

perpetually present but never really there

 

and god how i tried

i tried to hold on to the moments

to hold my breath and

to never blink

i clung on to you and left marks with

my fingernails,

marks that fade every time i remember them

 

but you were always an other

an i love you and a wink and a smile

and the perfection blinded me,

i think,

because now i don’t want those memories.

i don’t want perfection and aching lungs and dry, pinpricky eyes

 

i want tears and yelling

and laughing until you might maybe be sobbing

and hours of nothing but silence and

the crinkle of paper

 

i want fingernail scratches on shoulder blades,

scratches that fade in the skin but burn in the memory and

i want pools of milky moonlight

settling in collarbones

 

i want eyes that can talk to me

from across the room

and lips that twist when they’re annoyed and

twitch when they’re witty and

tremble when they’re sad

 

i want a heart that knock

knock

knocks on its ribcage

and breath that mingles with mine.

 

i want mornings that are tired and cranky

with kisses all the same

and i want fingers twisted with mine and

moments that i get to be a part of

 

but mostly i just want nights.

those long, quiet, velvety nights

i want to be able to shut my eyes tight

and still hear that bird heart

knocking out a beatbeatbeat when

i wake up

 

because with you, i blinked

and it was over

a memory after all

 

and maybe you were perfect

but honey,

i can’t keep my eyes open forever.

hundredth time’s the charm

we left the cinders glowing

gently

a few fields back

and you still smell like smoke.

 

you reach into your jacket pocket,

looking for your cigarettes.

i wonder how long it will take

you to realize that i

hid them all.

[i don’t want you to get emphysema,

i whisper,

my worn-out anthem.

but this time you don’t swear or yell or groan

this time you laugh.]

 

there are fireflies drifting languidly by

on the breeze.

you wonder if any of them are from new orleans

you wonder if we could throw a floating lantern festival

you wonder if someday we’ll go to paris,

and put a love padlock on a bridge

[a best-friend-lock, you say].

i wonder if i still remember how to breathe

i wait for you to tease my voice out of me

to poke until i snap at you

but this time you don’t push

or pry

or tease.

 

when we get to my door

we stop

and i wait for you to smile your earth-shattering smile

to tweak my nose and say goodnight and leave

 

but this time

you don’t.

blue hour eyes

people say
sparks fly when you meet your somebody

but it wasn’t like that with you.
there were no sparks when we met,
no birds singing, no cartoon
hearts.

you were reading.
it was a thick book, and old,
and dogeared
and you glanced up at me,
and smiled
and i remember noticing that your
eyes were blue
[not blue like the ocean
or the sky
but blue like mountains that are fading
into the distance
blue like the moment after the sun sets
blue like snow in the twilight]

and when i heard your
voice for the first time,
it felt familiar
and new
and strange, but beautiful
twisting around me
like the music you sometimes hear in
the dead of night,
lilting and faint and full of potential
hinting at a life that’s hidden from you
so i listened harder, wondering
what your voice might tell me.

when we met there were no sparks
there was just waiting
and finding
and knowing
and not knowing
and fear
and safety
and the ground shifting and crumbling
beneath my feet.

two pairs of sneakers and a sprinkle of stars

i’ll trace maps in your skin

during sleep-soaked

purple nights

plotting out the paths of

all the places

we’ll go adventuring

 

while you look at me

and tell me you see the

stars under my eyelashes

bright and clear enough

to show us the way

 

 

so with our starry eyes and our map-inked skin

we’ll disappear together

into forever.

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