Saying Yes

I am not in love with him. But I keep chanting it. Saying I love him over and again is how I bring attention to myself. You see I cannot afford love, I can only tolerate attention. Yesterday when I was in the restaurant he owns, we stood together in the kitchen and shared a cigarette. He asked me out. I refused because once I say, Yes, the chase will be over. I should catalog all the ways he has tried to approach me. Like a storm hitting a different window each time. You never know which one will give in. But every
opening is jammed with a casual and distant politeness. However, to his credit, he never takes his eyes off me and turns his head every time I pass by. It is erotic and makes me think that he daydreams about different situations in which I might say, Yes, or when he wants some strange pleasure like I do, he imagines us to be apart and one fine day, when we come face to face after all these years, I’d recognize something in his face and ask, Are you him? And he won’t stop nodding his head, Yes, yes, yes.


First appeared in Visceral Brooklyn

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Trick or Treat

You dress up as my ex-lover: curly, blond hair and Scottish accent coated tongue. We collect treats and I steal a glance or two, stuff it between the candies. When we reach home, I sense a presence inside me, a light wobble, a tremor.

Two children are dressed as fairies. Their parents wait on the other side of the lawn. One girl looks at me, grabs three truffles and walks away. The other says, Thank you.

Tomorrow I’ll call the abortion clinic. But I need to talk to you first.

A woman walks up our driveway with a toddler. She looks like someone in a grocery line with a cart full of Campbell’s chunky soups and Hormel chili. Someone who drinks a lot of Coke and uses a lot of Bounty. After she leaves, I want to say something about her tangled hair, the delicate smile of her boy, but a series of elementary school kids appear: a bumblebee, two skeletons and a ninja. Twins dressed up as Snow White and Jasmine.

A pregnant woman is pushing a stroller on the sidewalk. Her shoulders are narrow, her gait unsteady. For a moment, I place my hand on my belly as if receiving a message from her fetus. I wonder if it is warm inside my belly.

We talk about what might be a cool Halloween costume: a talking gravestone, a time capsule, a laughing Buddha. Then we argue about right and wrong. More so about difficult and easy. The beginning and the end. How the wind knows its way even in darkness, how life always wins even if it seems otherwise.

There is a birthday party going on two houses down the road: the ruckus is on, teenagers in bandannas and ripped denim shorts, yelling, laughing and swearing all at once like a bad-flavored candy. A man dressed as a hobo shows up and says a mysterious word. You nod your head as if you know the meaning. He leaves without candy.

The sky looks like a translucent shell and an evening chill settles on our shoulders. You watch the falling leaves, the evaporating light. I sense the descending spirits, my child unfolding. Growing in the dark, knowing its way. We hold hands and I see your fingertips are all yellow from smoking. For a moment I forget, this is where I live. I could be a ghost already. A shiver slips through and lets me believe we still have time to be young and breathless. To treat ourselves with something new. To trick ourselves with love.


First appeared in Compose Journal, Spring’2016

 

the myth of being alive

I’m holed up in a motel following the night
buttoned down all the way to bloodied dawn
wrestling with  a fresh roll of USA Times.

Despite the police sirens across the street,
I remain asleep. Needle marks on my arm heal.
Coughs from the next room grow quiet.

The sun eats itself, footsteps outside the door
grow and fade, steam of cheap coffee and
popcorn sink into the semen-rotted carpet.

Some days I walk out of my skin. Red hollow
of an afternoon rivals my crimson eyes.
Empty pizza boxes cover my face.

Car clotted streets gasp for air. On dead ends,
I unfold a gang war. My hair turns gray in light,
my voice at the end of a muzzle, tries to sing.


First appeared in The Writing Disorder

antibodies

The clouds come in, lower the ceiling of light, and we bump our heads. You flip a coin and decide it’s Taco Bell instead of McDonald. We drive around in your old Chevy pickup, buy food with quarters. You squeeze a hot sauce sachet around my ring finger while we talk about your childhood, shots and homework — the reality slipping away, temporarily held by words. We become a family as we grow quiet and brush our hands against each other. Looking at the bare pavement, we contemplate what would we draw if we had chalk. The light changes and it seems the air is blurred with dusk. When you pass the cigarette, I touch your skin a little longer: it’s familiar, the expecting skin of another teenager. Uncertain like me with goosebumps. The world is reduced to our breath and hollow rings of smoke, and the pinch in my soul is brief. Like I’ve had a vaccination. And love circulates in my blood slowly creating antibodies of doubt and fear as if they always exist together.

 


First published in Ink In Thirds

Beach House Poem

It is March and your head is a moon resting on my left breast. Our bed is a boat without oars. Outside the ocean licks the decimals. It’s the same word the waves keep washing. I have a list to go through as I bury your love. I know I cannot wait any more. Desire is only a contract and the manuals don’t explain the science behind it. Maybe it’s time to be less sarcastic and go out more. Or release cool salt. There are uneaten loaves of bread in the fridge and velvet ash between my legs. A financial gap in the sky. There are no roads to reach you, only cracks. The sun has compound eyes and the rain is always willing to fill the longing. I hide my face in a box until the mercury expands. It isn’t winter that makes me dry, it is the night, defaced without a moon cycle.

 

 


First appeared in Bitterzoet Magazine, 2016

In the years to come

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
onto the winter grass, recalls
his life, a shrine of memories —
as a young rancher, he hunted coyotes,
slept on the snow-stroked mountains,
woke to the first spot of champagne light
and sighed, Another day of work!
Now, with the virgin spring, the acidic fall,
the loneliness of beer-swigged winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the tarred years, miles of breath
over raw land, his heart now halved,
God-bandaged, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with beaten man’s split skin, dirt rubbed,
time licking bones to nothing,
a heavy, unmarked stone resting on his head.

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
into the country club’s ashtray, recalls
his life, a thesis of memories —
as a young scientist, he studied particles,
slept in his chair, dreaming of fractions,
woke up to set a stopwatch
and sighed, Time always runs out!
Now, with the empirical spring and fall,
the uncertainty of quantum winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the esteemed years, miles of breath
trapped in the cold box of a lab, his heart a quark,
science-draped, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with golf-tanned skin, slick-white hair
time licking bones to anti matter,
a handsome plaque resting on his head.

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
onto the trash in a dark alley, recalls
his life, an experiment of sorts —
as a skid row bum, he rarely made bail,
always failed to keep a promise,
woke long after the smog-smudged sun vanished,
and sighed, If only I was loved!
Now, with the conjugal spring and divorced fall,
the salt from empty-sky winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the adulterated years, miles of breath
spread over the edgeless space, his heart an angry fist,
cocaine-rubbed, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with a tissue thin skin, a stray bullet piercing him,
time licking bones to garbage, a coroner’s boot tapping,
a blood-washed rock resting on his head.


Published in Bitterzoet Magazine July’2016