worse for the wear

this is the poem i don’t want to write.

this is the poem that is not beautiful.

 

or maybe it is,

because it is true.

 

the truth is,

i wish she were worse for you.

 

the truth is,

i wish she would just disappear.

 

i wish she were not so much like me.

it would be easier to hate her.

 

for both

of us.

 

the truth is,

she is good for you.

 

the truth is,

she is better for you

 

than i

would be.

 

i try to woo you with

my words, mystery,

 

well-timed

misery;

 

but the truth is,

i’ve never had a healthy

 

relationship.

it feeds the

 

poetry, but not

the living.

 

the truth is,

if she disappeared

 

tomorrow, i would not

know what to do.

 

i would probably

cry for you.

 

and then

for me.

 

i am the one who

should disappear.

 

i am the one who

is worse for the wear.

 

 

 

 

 

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iii.

i thought i lost you:

on my own—

 

twist of lightning;

home alone.

 

open-chested

trinity:

 

a paradox of

riches—

 

first steps,

first stay,

 

first time

driving away;

 

the lonely light house

winks at the bay.

 

and we lay, we lay,

we lay down our dark

 

arms and rub up against

the furry light of day.

 

 

 

snap shot 4

“I’m in trouble.”

She woke with these words in her mind, almost on her tongue. She wasn’t sure if the words were spawned by her feeling of despair upon facing another day with the chronic aches and pains (some inhabiting her body, and others visiting from an unknown place) and still no answers—or if they had been triggered by the random patchwork of dreams from the night: her wedding to an old love, her pregnancy by an ex-husband, her strange reunion with an old friend.

At least she was human in these dreams. And, lately, sometimes Kevin Arnold. She smirked at this, at the knowledge of the television world seeping into her reality—of her growing dependence on nostalgic shows to help escape from what felt like a dying garden. There was still beauty—all around—and some soil, and some water, and a little cold sun, and a few people wandering about; but there was also the nagging feeling of death, of things being slowly starved and shriveled, of other things sprouting oddities and twisting off in the wrong direction.

Lee often tried to be optimistic. Not quite cheerful (that emotion typically surfaced only when buzzed or caught up in a love balloon), but grounded in a larger picture of herself and this life—stabilized by an ever-present, irritating really, knowledge that things would somehow work out, would somehow be okay. She had felt this stoicism from her father, this cautious confidence. But lately she could feel herself slipping, her knowledge fading, her hope becoming heavy under the weight of loneliness, age, teenage cynicism, doubt, and now—injury.

Leonard Cohen knew. And he knew that everyone else knew, too. This life was unbearable, harsh, cruel even. And yet, startling in its beauty and unpredictable kindness. Navigating between these two extremes was a heroic, gymnastic effort which exhausted the trifecta of mind, body, and soul. No wonder she could barely get out of bed some days.

Some of her friends were tired of hearing about it. She didn’t have as many friends because of it, and usually she was relieved by this. It meant less expectation, less energy, less investment. But the reverse was also true: fewer people were invested in her. Less energy was being tossed her way. She knew her readers would also become impatient eventually—especially if she didn’t throw in a love scene soon. At least some suggestive dialogue. She laughed out loud as she struggled to stand.

“Love waits for no man.”

She thought of all the love that was happening all around her—and of her own small doses being exchanged within this house, and without. Within this world, and without. There were so many different types of love, and she would be damned if she was going to let herself get caught up in one or two tiny definitions. And anyway, was it love that waits for no man? Or time? Were they one in the same? She pictured a wild time-love horse charging away into the tide without its rider.

After all this thinking, Lee became tired. Coffee was up next, with a side of berry yogurt to cushion the belly against the delicious acid. What came after that was a new hope in the form of a phone call. There was a treatment for her broken foot, and she had been approved for it. A new path—beginning next week. She would throw everything she had into this hope.

She thought about her fear of surgery, and wondered if it was related to her other fears. She would not name them just yet. She would not give them credence. Instead, she would spend days, weeks—months even—trying on yet another opinion about how her life could be improved.

november

i am a sad song

 

but at least i

am singing.

 

i have fallen for my

own despair;

 

but i hate the refrain,

i despise the ending.

 

i miss the joy bursts of chorus:

were they ever really there?

 

…. sailing away like cursive

into the sky….

 

i go to another place

but the mirror brings me back;

 

the looking glass

in reverse.

 

do these words mean

anything to you?

 

i am alone.

 

reflected behind me, an

empty room;

 

within me, a deep

loneliness and a tiny

 

hope.

 

i have nothing to give;

i have every thing to

 

give but no one who

wants it.

 

i am forgetting how to love.

 

waiting

i wrote that poem

while sitting in a

waiting room. every

room is a waiting

room, really: a moment

wanting to bloom, to

become, to sing forth

like a glass of warm

rum and a night of

stars. my messages to

you are one-way, like

prayers—red-eye wishes

in a bottle, floating out

to sea—bobbing, whispering:

see me, see me.

 

smells like chicken

sittin’ outside in

the sweet spot,

 

under the tree in

the parking lot;

 

the dumpster by this

joint smells like

 

chicken. and this is

living, counting coins on

 

a corner, trying to buy a tiny

piece of the power ball.

 

the first words out of her mouth

this morning were mother fucker.

 

they were not literal

:

 

her pelvis is locked up like a fort;

nothing to see here.

 

in order to get this flushed anymore

she has to walk in the night rain,

 

fast, uphill,

thinking, thinking—

 

her head and feet so far apart

they scream.

 

in love with a fantasy:

it sustains her like the whiskey

 

she needs to wash down her bread.

she can’t remember the first

 

words said, or the time be-

fore they met, before they parallel

 

parked their force-fed lives full

of love, war, birth, joy, death.

 

the dark side of the day

i burned my hand making a tuna melt.

i suck on the spot, pulling the skin off the

middle knuckle bone of my right hand into my

mouth. it’s looser than it once was, less elastic.

 

see you in the new year we say cheerily, as if

things will miraculously improve, solve

themselves, by the next time we see

each other—just by a calendar flipping.

 

it’s the eve of my birthday and i’m here to

say that nothing ever really improves;

we just find more ways to manage the sad-

ness, the loneliness, the expectations, the

 

inevitable aging. old friends drop away, new

friends are harder to make, and the dull ache

of an old flame is still there, somehow sustained

like a red poppy in a field of unanswered questions.