3:20

things are different,
in the dark. in the middle
of the night when I’m
the only one awake – even
the cats are sleeping, and
the birds not even dreaming
of their stupid little chirps
for hours yet – my mind
starts to play tricks
on itself. thoroughly unfun
little games like “let’s remember
twelve times I was
hideously embarrassed”
one hopscotching to another
reaching back as far
as I can remember;
or “how many moral failings
can I count in the next
hour”; or “let’s analyze
every interaction
I had this week to see
who hates me and what
I’ve done to deserve it”
and nothing stops it because
there’s nothing else
to do.

that’s when
I get up and smoke
yet another cigarette, shivering
in the cold air from the
open doorway, feeling
it’s my just punishment
for still being awake –
if I had gone to sleep
two hours ago
like I was going to, when
I actually felt sleepy,
I wouldn’t feel the need to do this
to myself right now – but
helpless
in the face of the relentless
assault of a mind
brewing up horrors –
like when you go too long
without eating and your stomach
starts digesting itself – I
desperately take the stopgap,
in the hopes that this distraction
will give me a break.

that’s why sometimes
I wait until dawn
to sleep, when at least life
is happening.

because
the darkness breathes
at me. things that are not real
seem dreadfully, hugely
powerful, and only daybreak
robs them of their strength.
I suffer for that choice too
but sometimes
it feels necessary.

I’m sorry. I fear
you daywalkers
will never really
understand.

desire

a stray thought of you
crosses my mind as I lay
reading. I push it away, but
you come back, insistently
luring, distracting me
from my novel with the
imagining of how hot
you’ll be, how juicy –
but no. I want to fling
myself from my bed and
rush downstairs – despite
my man sleeping peacefully
on the fold-out (he’ll
never know, a little voice
whispers) – and fix you
right up and then
devour you with a
three a.m. passion. but
I shouldn’t. I should just
go to sleep. I don’t
need you right now.
I turn out the light
and lie there in the dark,
tossing restlessly,
trying to ignore your siren song,
my mouth watering, heart
racing, until finally
I succumb.

I am going to eat you,
frozen pizza, and I’m going
to love every single,
sinful second of it.

by any other name II

recently I found out
your middle name, and
caught a glimpse
of the alternate universe
in which you are a Dave.

weird, isn’t it? is that guy
drawing comics
about being a superhero
whose power is going
mostly underappreciated?
is he taking the subway
every day to his white collar job
wishing he were freewheeling, wheeled and (barely) heeled, but able
to pursue his art? or does he
work in a library and have
endless borrowing privileges?

does that guy have friends
who make fun of him
but only because
they love him? or does he
have a wife and kids, a
suburban walking-dream life
and no discernable inner narrative
worth speaking of?

we’ll never know. unless
a movie adaptation of the
– totally true story, mostly
autobiographical –
best-selling comic written
by Dave becomes so huge
that it spills over into
our universe, and even then
I’ll probably wait for it to come out
on Netflix.

empty

you cook for yourself, and
eat what you make. you used
to finish it even if
you had to force yourself
past the point of fullness
or risk gifting the fridge
with yet another container
of instantly suspicious leftovers.

but yesterday when
the French Toast had been made,
and mostly eaten, and you
realized you had stopped
eating because
you were no longer hungry,
you didn’t eat the rest.
you got up and threw
the rest away, despite the
voices in your head saying
wasteful
children are starving in China
you spent good money
for those eggs, that bread,
those sausages.

you remember sitting
at the dining room table
as a child, for hours upon
hours, stubbornly refusing
to eat the food your mother
had slaved over a hot stove
to prepare. you don’t
remember if you actually
ended up eating it,
or if she gave in and sent you
to bed without any other supper
than what you had
already eaten.

you probably drank the milk.
(there was always milk.)

you wonder at the expression
about eyes being bigger than
the stomach. first of all,
how is that even possible.
your stomach is quite
sizable. secondly, after all
these years of cooking
and eating, wouldn’t you know
by now how much is enough,
and how much is far
too much? it’s as if
those years of being forced
to eat food that was not
what you wanted, being shamed
and mocked for the food
you wanted, taught you that
there’s never enough, that
only too much is correct.
just in case. better than
not enough.

it doesn’t stop you from
feeling empty.

idol

I read a book
about Sylvia Plath
and despair. it seems
so much easier
to write poems that
scorch the earth
when you’re not planning
on being around when
those cruise missiles
touch down.

well, I do not plan
on dying, ever,
so where does that leave
my stabs at poetry?

blinded,
broken, Oedipus at Thebes
could relate.

maybe I’ll just wait
until everyone I know is dead
before I document
what I really think of them.

by any other name

well, I tried to hold out. early
in the new year I thought
to myself that it was remarkable
that I had not yet written a single
poem this month. it would be
a funny, fun challenge to hold out
until February. a little test
and trick to play
upon myself, since certainly
no one else was noticing. and
it wasn’t as if I had anything
to say for myself anyway,
so abstaining from blathering
about nonsense

was no big hardship. but
I simply could not do it. this month
seems fucking endless and
it turns out that eternity

by any other name
feels every bit as long. at this rate
we shall never reach the promised land
of the shortest month, let alone
get any closer to summer.
may whoever have mercy
on our shivering souls.

manifesto

don’t tell me it doesn’t matter
if this person understands me.

as a poet, all my writing
is a constant attempt at
self-defense before the
uncaring judges of eternity,
I’m always arguing my case
in Anubis’s eternal court –
THIS is why
I am the way I am
this is why
I did that thing I did –
I do this even
(maybe especially)
when
the only person I’m trying
to convince
is myself.

so this is why
I did the most recent thing I did:
there was a little girl
whose father left
when she was seven years old.

she didn’t understand
why
she didn’t understand
that her mother did
the best she could
in an impossible situation.

she was told
her father loved her
but still he left.

her mother smothered her
and told her lies
about her nature, trained her
to abuse, invaded her sovereignty
so that she had no space
to be herself.

is it any wonder
she grew up thinking
the ones who really care
are the ones that
walk away? and the
ones that stay
can’t be trusted?

is it any wonder that
she doesn’t know how
to take care of herself?
she only has two models:
never there, or always.
so she ricochets between
extremes, craving togetherness
until it gets to be too much,
and then needing more space
than exists in the entire
universe.

weigh my heart
against your feather, and see
which one comes up
guilty.