fury

I will run
until I feel my heartbeat
pounding in my fingertips.

I will throw punches
until my knuckles
leave blood dripping on the bag.

I will keep working
until my hair
is plastered to my face.

I will fight
until my skin
is slick to the touch.

I will claw
the skin from your back
and sink my teeth into your neck.

I want to unleash my rage upon the world
like a phoenix rising from the ashes
and have the world echo back to me
is that all you’ve got, I’ve seen worse
don’t worry, I can take it, lay it all on me

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oblivious

when I see you again,
I won’t say
anything
that comes to mind.

I won’t say look, darling,
look what we made together.
she has my eyes and your ears
and she loves to run by the sea.

I won’t tell you the little things,
like the way she picks me flowers
or how she shares her favorite toys
and how she watches her train set chug by.

I won’t share the photos
of her rosebud mouth
making her sweet joyful smile
and the way her eyes just perfectly find the lens.

I won’t tell you that she is love and light,
the she is made of laughter and music,
that she can hear a wrong note in a song
and how sweet her little voice can be.

I won’t tell you how her eyes
are so deep blue you could fall in
or how her perfect fingers form little fists
when she holds something important.

I won’t share the way she loves
everyone she meets,
and the way they all seem
to love her even more.

I will never say to you,
darling, look how beautiful she is
and look at the person
she’s growing up to be.

I will smile if I have to, and say hello.
I will follow with goodbye as soon as I can,
and I will walk away having never told you
your greatest accomplishment.

break the ice

If I’m being honest, I took pride that you were the first of us to break.
It was always me, before.
To know you was to be conflicted, every way, all the time. I knew, deep in my body where my conscience lives, that every touch and kiss was a lie. Every time our eyes met across the room, every time we let our clothes fall to the floor, I knew it was all wrong.

So some part of me tried. That logical, moral, honest core of me tried my hardest to let go of you. I did it to myself, to you, over and over and over again. I must have told you a dozen times that I was done. I told you this was wrong, it should never have started, I was walking away, I was going to be the stronger person and leave for good.

Only I didn’t stay away for long, did I? Whenever I left, I came back to you.

It was your humor, I think. You always said the most joyously unexpected things. It startled a laugh from me on more than one occasion. I laughed because I couldn’t help it; I never had to pretend you were funny. I don’t even think I would describe you as funny, it’s not the word that comes to mind. But you surprised me into laughter a lot.

I think you loved me because I didn’t love you for your looks. You had them, and everyone noticed, and I won’t exclude myself from that. I’d never lie and say I didn’t know you were handsome. You were sexy as hell, and I was aware of it, but it was never my favorite thing about you, and I think that’s why you broke your own rule and slept with me. Girls flirted with you every day, but I got to know you.
I really still don’t know why I was shocked by the way it ended. Knowing everything you and I had done, I was perhaps the very best equipped to know, ahead of time, that it’s something you would do.
If someone had told me this story about you, objectively, I would have said, “Yes, that sounds exactly like something he’d do.”

But it’s different when you are the lips being kissed, and it’s the man you love who decides to marry someone else, because you’re so scared of marriage that you panic when the subject is brought up. It’s different. There is no objective way to look at the situation when you are anything but objective; when there’s so much love and confusion and betrayal and nostalgia connecting you.

So when you said you’d given her a ring, and I said goodbye, I knew that I finally meant it. Something broke in me when you told me, and I understood that it was the end of us, of the complications that made our relationship what it had always been.

I went a full year and never contacted you, and I felt so free. A victory that I didn’t celebrate, because you finally weren’t important enough in my heart to merit that much effort.
A week later, you sent me a message; you reached out first.
And I didn’t answer. I really don’t think I ever will.

No matter what happens, though, I will always carry with me the knowledge that you broke first.

rosary-colored lenses

I have a problem with the concept of a god,
but mostly because I lack that kind of creativity.

in your version of the beginning,
the earth was formed by a creator.
when he got bored by himself,
he created man and animals and plants,
night and day and land and seas.
he imagined good and evil,
virtue and sin,
right and wrong,
faith and free will.

When I am bored I merely
create letters in ink,
or lines in the sand,
or shadow figures against walls.

it’s a shame your creator
spent more time worrying about sin
and how to absolve it
than he did on sharing his imagination.

we’re all better people when we imagine things, I think.
it’s the only way to remind ourselves not to take life so seriously.

gifts

we saw christmas lights
so we walked through the doors
saw all the lonely people
out on the dance floor

we entered the room
he leaned in and said,
that’s your ex in the corner
so I turned and I fled

but he caught me by the arm,
said don’t worry, I’m here
I’m sure it will be fine,
you haven’t seen him in years

we crossed the room,
took you by surprise
and for a long moment
all I could see was your eyes

I could hear my own breathing,
it felt way too loud
until his hand touched my waist
and I remembered the crowd

I introduced you to him,
then ran out of words
because it was then that I noticed
you were standing with her

she’s the one, I guess,
the one I could never be
but you could have mentioned her
when you were kissing me

we kept the conversation short
and I was ready to run
but it was then that I realized
that this could be fun

you weren’t the only one
with a new lover in tow
so I kissed his cheek
and saw your eyes follow

when we left the party,
I finally felt free
because now that I’ve seen you
you aren’t haunting me

ghost light

it’s the space.
standing a hundred feet above the world
gaps between beams beneath your feet,
one misstep and you’d freefall.

it’s the light.
catching the dust swirling everywhere,
we all leave our stories on things we touch
and no one wants to wipe it away.

it’s the color.
the red velvet of the two-story curtains
and green jealousy over black lace,
it’s feeling blue and standing in yellow light.

it’s the music.
notes soaring into the catwalks
harmonies dancing through the seats
a chorus of joy swirling in midair.

it’s the people.
a pile of friendships overlapping on the couch
legs dangling at the edge of the stage
and someone’s laugh echoing in the wings.

I miss the questions,
the ones I always had the answers for,
because life is simpler here, like
“Am I allowed to eat in costume?”
“Time check please?”
“Would someone run lines with me?”
“What fell backstage?”
“Can I borrow someone’s script?”
“Does anyone have a mint?”
“Where is my (prop)?”
“Do you have a pencil?”

I miss the weight of the headset
the microphone by my lips
waiting for the phrases that
I don’t use anywhere else, like
“Quiet backstage!”
“Ten minutes until places.”
“Move downstage left.”
“Standby cue four……and go.”
“I need you back onstage!”
“Can you fly that back out?”
“No eating in costume.”
“House is open….”
“I need you to mute his mic.”
“Can you enter from upstage right?”
“Gather for notes!”
“Find your light….”
“Places, everyone!”

and my favorite of them all:
“Showtime.”

wild things

our life became simple inertia,
trying to swim through sand.
it wasn’t champagne and strawberries
spread over a blanket in the park.
waking up with him was habitual,
like a cigarette after sex.

that love story we spun for the kids
just a black and white framed lie
the rumble of floors, high and low
for my voice, and then his
climbing over each other
reaching the only ears
we wanted to protect.

our words were knights
began noble, good-intentioned
until the fencing began and we both
became vikings and gladiators
willing to wound and destroy
if only to win the kids’ favor.

I’d say put away your sword, lover,
you won’t need it at the table,
take off the helmet, no blows will fall.
but we have enough years between us
and he always knew when I lied.

and the kids know better don’t they?
our children wear armor to dinner
we eat without eyes ever meeting,
to the sound of forks clawing against plates
everyone trying not to be the first
to split the heavy black silence.

the worst of it wasn’t the quiet,
at least then you can pretend it’s calm.
but when his glass shattered
raining shards upon the floor
and the kids’ eyes shuttered closed
it became our last meal together.

when it was darkest that night
I clicked seat belts closed,
drove away without headlights,
and the radio switched off.
the kids didn’t even ask.
kids are more honest with themselves.