my corner

what now, am I supposed to
sigh and cry and die
alone in my corner?
maybe this is a boxing metaphor
and I’ll come out swinging instead.
you really expect me
just to take this lying down?

here’s a punch: ask your therapist –
or your mama – how it is
that I’m not good enough for you
and too good for you
at the same time. ask yourself
what kind of life you get
after always taking
the path of least resistance
out of fear.
you’re the one telling yourself
this bullshit story
where you’re always the serf,
never the fighter.
you’re the one who’s deciding
there’s no point in even trying.
you’re the one who’s choosing to be
on the outside looking in.

I made a place for you
in my heart – which is not
something I do lightly, or easily,
appearances to the contrary –
and you don’t even want it.
I could fight you; I think
I could even take you,
but there’s no point.
I refuse to battle
for a place on the sidelines
when I deserve to be
the main event.


I’ll be the one to light
your funeral pyre.
my heart is already aflame,
steady as a sanctuary lamp,
it won’t take much
to set the rest of me alight.

if I do it quickly enough,
no one will be able
to stop me.

maybe once you’re
beyond the veil, you’ll see
how pure and steadfast
my light was.
maybe then you’ll wish
you had let me love you.

artistic license

you can take your ironic detachment,
your artistic license, your universality,
and shove it. it’s such a cop out.
like you don’t have feelings,
like everything you write is purely
in the service of art and contains
nothing of your emotional truth.
I call bullshit on that.

you say you never broke
a girl’s heart, that no one
ever cared enough
to cry over you. well, now
you can cross that off
your fucking bucket list.
congratulations! so glad
to be the one that gave you
that experience. oh, wait.
you wrote that in a poem,
which means it probably
didn’t even happen, it was
just more words you said
to get a certain effect, to please
or trouble or engage your audience.

you can try to hide behind
your artistic detachment
all you want,
but I know how
to read between the lines.
the problem with that is
that maybe you don’t even realize
what you accidentally said.

so – got it, check, nothing
you wrote was about me;
I’m delusional
again. now I can go back
to critiquing your work
purely on its merits
or lack thereof. our literary
romance aborted,
we can go back
to being friends.
as soon as I get over my
trivial little broken heart,
everything will be fine.


I wish people would stop
assuming we’re together,
and saying what a great couple
we’d make. at first
I liked it; I thought surely now
you’ll see how we’re perfect
for each other, how obvious it is
to everyone that we should date.
but now that you’ve told me
that you’re not feeling it,
that there’s no future
for us in that way,
all this commentary
from the peanut gallery
is just rubbing salt
in my wounds.

yes, I know. tonight’s
complimentary bum
was clearly trying to soften us up
in the hopes of getting that elusive
pocket of change.
but even a stopped clock
is right
twice a day. it’s too bad.
our glorious possibility
could be written in the sky
in letters of fire
eighteen feet tall,
and you’d still claim
not to see it.


you just gave me another
person to avoid, another face
to have to look away from,
another set of feelings
to bottle up inside
letting them escape only
in eye rolls, sneers and withering remarks
uttered in attempted
sotto voce.

gee, thanks.
like I don’t have enough
of those already.
I could really use
a few more.

in the audience

as I watched your set,
I could feel
how my face and eyes and heart and soul
were lit up from within
by how very much
I love you, how much
I need and want you
and I felt that anyone
who glanced at me
even for a moment
would see everything
written on my countenance
because – as I’ve been told
so many times –
I have a glass face. I was glowing
like a candle, like a miniature sun,
quietly burning away
in my little corner of your life.
you might not have seen it –
and I cannot blame you in the slightest,
being that you were pretty busy
expressing your own wonderful art –
but I felt myself shining
like a lighthouse
in the fog. If you’re ever lost
in the dark, I hope you’ll let me
guide your way home
and that I can be that refuge,
that steady burning heartfire
of warmth and light
for you to reheat
your dormant passions
and reignite the pilot light
on the stove within your chest.

my days away from you

I think you don’t quite understand
the strange way
my brain and heart work.
I spend my nights in company –
lately mostly yours, though
not nearly enough
alone time (tête-à-tête, if you will,
and oh, how I would love to)
to satisfy my heart –

and then I go home
to find that one of the cats
has puked on the bed
and there’s only leftovers
to reheat and reluctantly,
eventually eat. I play a sad song
fifty times on repeat, smoke
too many cigarettes,
compose, post and delete three poems,
four selfies, thirteen tweets.

and by the time I lie between
the sheets, my mind
ranges far and wide,
reviewing every moment
every look
every dumb thing
I said and/or did
every friend I insulted or offended,
every other man
I led on and talked to, flirted with
I couldn’t bear being
in the same room with you
without being with you,
but especially carefully
I must test the memory
of every accidentally
-on-purpose touch
and imagine the faintest hint
of your response,
seeking to detect the slightest bit
of warmth in your eyes
softness in your voice
electric resonance in your skin.

I feel again all the sensations
and my skin is tingling
as if I’m holding a live wire
but this time I am safe
from myself and from you.
I can’t do anything about these
delicate, intense, intimate
feelings. there’s no danger
that I’ll say something
stupidly real, no risk
of my hand grenade heart
igniting some long-banked
answering fire in you.

eventually I wear myself out.
sleep ambushes me
and I dream fragmented shards
of a mirror world
where we are both brave. waking up
feels like being dragged
up from the bottom
of the ocean; I rush out again
with the tide’s swift and certain need,
drawn by you, my lonely moon,
and by the time I
see you again in the flesh,
I’m so exhausted from all my
solitary imaginings
and agonized reviews
that I can barely hold up my end
of the conversation. I’m sorry.
I’ll try harder to be more present
in your presence
and less intensely tortured
by your absence
when we are apart.

that heart

I’m sorry
I sent you that heart.
not because I didn’t mean it,
but because I do.
I’m so used
to sending them to my girlfriends
and saying I love you
every five minutes
that my fingers just
ran away with me.
these symbols are
so much less freighted
when the love in question
is that of Phileos and Agape.
enter the spectre of Eros
and the whole thing falls apart;
the center cannot hold.

so it’s okay. I understand.
if you’re not ready
to accept my heart,
electronic or otherwise,
feel free
to change the subject.


I’ve never seen anyone
clean a plate like you.
you are the King
of the Clean Plate Club.
it’s utterly adorable, how you
pick up every speck
with your fingertips and lick them.

and yet
when I order food and then
go outside to smoke
and get caught
in a fascinating conversation
for fifteen minutes or an hour,
and you’re left sitting
in front of a plate of food
that’s not yours,
you don’t touch it.
you message me
to tell me my food is there
and sometimes I get it
and come back in.

we’re so lucky that our tastes
in food are the exact opposite.
I haven’t really tested your patience yet.


just a tiny piece of flesh;
unwanted, painful, unnecessary.
I kept touching it as if
that would make it go away,
but instead I was only keeping
the agony alive.
if I could just stop
messing with it,
it would have healed itself –
but apparently
I have no willpower.
(like I needed a hangnail
to tell me that.)

finally I realized
that I could easily excise it
with a simple clip, banishing it
to the realm of things that
could no longer hurt me.

you’re like that hangnail.
now that I’ve taken out
the psychic scissors,
the emotional nail clippers,
and surgically removed
your useless remnant
from my heart, the wound
you left behind
can finally begin to heal.