appetite

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.

hangnail

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.

fire/escape

I run away
kind of a lot.
smoking cigarettes
turns out to be a great excuse
to leave wherever I am
at a moment’s notice.

when someone says something
that touches too deep a chord;
when the effort of trying
to make small talk
becomes too much
all of a sudden;
when I can’t control my face
my eyes
my voice;
when I’m beset by
too many feelings,
I find it’s best
to run away.

I’ll even go
around the corner
and hide in a doorway
halfway down the block from the bar
where my friends are,
to be sure I’m alone,
to avoid talking to anyone outside.

a quick cry
a moment of freedom
from holding it all in
can do wonders
to reset my tolerance
for so many people
so much activity
so many thoughts
voices
emotions
energies
rattling around
in such a small space.

my box of Marlboro( Menthol Gold)s
should come with a label
like that on a
fire extinguisher:
“In case of rampant feels,
find a quiet place,
and smoke one to three
as needed.”

if only I could find a way
to preserve my sanity
without destroying my lungs
in the process.

appropriate distance

when we’re out
in public –
whether we arrived together
or just made our separate ways
to the place
where we both
spend most of our time
these days –
I sit close at the slightest opportunity
make every excuse
to touch you –
even just a knee under the table
a hand on your arm
when I’m making a point –
but you,
you keep your distance.

is it because
you want to preserve
that slim buffer of space
between our bodies
to make it obvious
that we’re not an item
so that if a younger, cuter girl
wants to flirt with you, she knows
you’re still available
and that I
have no claim
upon your heart?

or is it because you fear
that once you get too close
we’ll be like magnets;
the pull will be too strong
science will doom us
to be locked together
and you won’t be able
to break free?

or even that you can’t believe
I want to be so close
that I’m doing it on purpose?

I hope it’s one of the latter
but I very much fear
it’s the former.

if only you knew
that your touch
far from repelling me
instead thrills me
comforts me –
warms the very
cockles of my heart, even –
would that change your answer?

over.

if you haven’t noticed
how my feelings have changed
towards you lately,
let me spell it out, make it crystal,
so there can be no mistake.
I no longer love you.

stop talking to me
stop following me
stop projecting your crazy fantasies
of a future that never even
came close to existing
except in your imagination
onto me.
I never wanted that in the first place.
I wanted the one thing
you couldn’t give me:
yourself, in the present.

after all this, I think
you never really cared about me
the way I cared about you.
I at least tried to see you
for who you were.
I wanted to know the real you
as much as you would let me,
which wasn’t very much.

you saw only
what you wanted to believe;
you put your fucked-up shit on me
tried to make me think
that the sky wasn’t blue
up was down
black was white
love was hate
and hate was love.
you are a Minister of Disinformation
and I’m turning off
your propaganda channel,
ripping up the leaflets,
tuning my radio to another, better station.

please feel free to move on
to the next girl
who doesn’t know yet
how unbelievably awful you are.

déténte

we’re locked
in a Mexican stand off,
and no one wants to be
the first one
to put down their gun.

it’s about trust, in the end. do we
trust each other with the ammunition
to destroy each other’s hearts,
or do we swallow these secrets
burning inside our throats
yearning to be free
but terrified of the power
and the endless bragging rights
that the winner will wield over the loser?

it says a lot about the baggage we both carry
from all our previous heartache
that the loser will be the one
who confesses their love first.

I would wish us both free
of this wall of thorns, but
I can’t imagine myself
without my scars,
and I expect you
wouldn’t be the same person either, and
I like you far too much
just the way you are
to sincerely wish you
any other way.

if only we could find a way
out of this maze
without destroying each other
in the process.

tape. glue. gold. (you)

you hold me together.
you paper over the cracks
in my head, in my heart
and keep them
until they can hold by themselves.

when I’m at my most shattered
you pick up the pieces,
carefully reassemble them –
nestling each shard
next to its neighbor,
pressing all the sharp-edged curves
back into place –
until my fault lines are all
filled in with gold.

so after you rescue my broken husk
from the trash heap that I
threw myself on in despair,
I’ll be all the more beautiful
for having been so
utterly destroyed.

improved

you read my mind – again.
you wrote exactly what I was thinking
as I watched our mutual friend
kicking ass on stage.
she’s taller, skinnier, prettier, younger,
stronger, healthier, more energetic;
she has her entire life ahead of her,
can play guitar pretty well,
wrote most of her own songs,
and totally rocks the bangs.

at first I could only see how
she was far, far better than I;
how surely anyone looking at her
would forget all about the inferior,
flawed 1.0 version that is me;
how surely you would never settle
for such a pathetic substitute,
if you could strut around
with her on your arm.
but as she played I realized
that she is herself,
shining brightly in all her glory,
and I am
whatever strange and desperate
thing I am, but that to compare us
is to compare the sun to the moon,
the forest to the waterfall,
the endlessly susurrating sea
to the merrily babbling brook.

you got one thing wrong, though.
I have something far better
than a use for you.
I do have a need for you,
a pivotal role, in fact,
and it’s one that I wish you could accept.
it’s not as a chauffeur,
it’s not as comic relief,
it’s not as a shoulder to cry on,
but as a partner to stand by me, and
as a boyfriend to go on long walks with, and watch TV with, as a friend to confide in and listen to you –
reflecting yourself back to you
only better, because I see the inner and outer cornucopia of beauty in you that you are so sadly blind to –
as a lover to kiss and to hold me, and
as a reason to get up in the afternoon, and
as a slow-blooming flower by which
to measure my days.

you’re no substitute for anyone for me;
there’s no one else who has my heart.
you’re not my second choice.
If only you could say the same for me.