time trapped in a bottle 

went to see how they trapped time in a bottle on south orange ave. went to the other side of town to see how the other half lives. walked around. saw lots. saw little. it doesn't matter.

people are always surprised at how i lose my breath at the smallest of details, but it is only they who can do that to me. all the really big things knock me out, and i'm not sure that isn't how it shouldn't be.

you fell asleep at the wheel of your empty threats and woke up one morning far, far away from me. and as i walked the streets yesterday, that was all i could think about. i saw lots. saw little. it doesn't matter because i don't remember a thing. in the buildings i saw you looking angelic in the morning. in my steps i heard echoes of past steps.

under the excuse of a pair of clouds, rain began to fall. the sun, however, was still out. i couldn't understand. i went to see how they trapped time in a bottle, but everywhere i looked all i saw was the images of you that are still trapped in me.


my best smile 

i didn't want to write this today. not today. all days but today. i woke up in the morning and put on a smile. i picked the nice one i'd been saving for this very day. just for today. and i rinsed off the dust. and i put on a new shirt. and i headed for the door absolutely certain that i would find something worth this smile. that beyond the door the street would spring forth something to make the smile real, not forced. so no, i did not want to write this today. did not.

i didn't start out the day thinking about you. i showered in peace, humming an echo off the tile and letting it come back like a boomerang, softly massaging the tired muscles on my upper back. it was soothing. it was another reason to put on that smile i'd been saving for today. like for once, it was all coming together.

i thought i'd just be happy today. i thought i'd just have a happy day. but happiness is ephemeral. it springs up quickly only to quickly fade. it's relative. and i'm not even sure it's tangible.

i've felt happiness, but only for short whiles. actually, it was more like euphoria. and i've felt content, comfortable, at peace. every time i've said, "i feel happy," i could also have used other adjectives. and so the word becomes an escape, a copout. an illusion we willingly adhere to.

i'm not unhappy today. no, i'm having a very good day. but yet, why do i still feel that i put this smile on for nothing?


i'll ghost out of sight 

it's never like you want it to be. it's never even close to how you thought it was. just crazy. insane. no rhyme or reason or reason to rhyme. they just do it to sound like something is being said. but no. nothing is ever said. it's never about anything. it's about nothing, really, and that seems to be everything i see.

the disappointment stops short of a tear, even when it tears up the fabric of the illusion. and you sneak a look through and leave before they see you watching. no one knows you saw it, but you did. you keep the secret. you don't tell a soul. you hope to forget but they won't let you. they want to know what happened. why you went away.

and let me tell you, if i haven't already shown you, that i can just disappear. i am very good at playing the ghost.

put on your make-up 

i want to steal some of the water's shine and turn it into a mirror so you can put on your make-up.

i got a sickness that won't let go. i found something and it went away, like smoke. you're never sure where it went. it joins in with the air. the air joins in with it. it all goes away and you're left with a scent, but no trail.

i got a sickness in my heart. i'm fasting on ideals, i'm starving for recollections, i'm hungry for more of the less they left when they erased the paths and paved the streets. i got a sickness that won't let go and these flashbacks weigh me down. they weigh me down, love.

i want to take the life out of the trees and sing along with their ballads.

i want to drink from the clouds and walk on water just to get a better view of the fish, and sea and things.

i want time to stand still like it does in photographs and if i have to be silent like a picture i'll do so.

i want to know the answers to all the questions the crabs ask the days as they navigate backwards.

and, finally, i want to lick your shoulder, neck and ear, and get lost in the amount of time it takes to make you fall for me again.

so go ahead, put on your make-up. i'll hold up the sea.


seeing everywhere 

sometimes the sea resembles the night sky. i pick pearls out of the waves, pull the clouds safely ashore, and in the cold i find myself chiefly chapped and cosmically concerned. even the simmering sand is a cement cemetery. rain drops flop around on the dunes like fish out of breath.

coming back home i have a notion of your lotion but there's an ocean of potions between us. why is everything an excuse to think of you? why is your face painted on all my memories? even when you weren't there, it's like my brain places you there. and i miss you more for that. i miss you because now it seems you were everywhere with me. you held my hand through it all. through every one of my 24 springs. you're in all the home movies and in all the pictures.

i gave you a picture of me once, and you took it to be a joke. in part, it was a joke. but it was also very serious. there are cultures, nations of peoples who believe that a photograph captures the soul. steals it. in that picture i gave you all of me; or rather, all that was left from the other pictures i took before meeting you.

i'm getting close to home now. i'm waiting at the light. i see you at the corner in your dawn-colored dress. it's my mind playing tricks on me again. i can't trust anything i see so i close my eyes. i think of you again. how you took the words i said, even the ones i'd forgotten in corners next to visions of you, and carried them all back to your dreams. you looked at what i'd written and said, "i want you to write like that about me," and i answered, "break my heart and i will," and you went ahead and broke away.

i licked the places where your tears would flow upon my departure. you didn't cry for me, but because you were alone, and loneliness wants company, even if it's tears that run down your cheeks where i once licked you before going away. it was all a game of payback. i wanted you to drive to the shore looking for me. i wanted you to see me in the corners of your memories.

emotionally invested 

the difference between the feelings at the moment and looking at the instants in hindsight is the proximity and/or distance to/from the subject. how many times have i said, "i wished i acted differently there," when back then i couldn't have possibly been but how i was. we become invested. we fear the future. we can't place any of it in context. because we're there. we're only there. and i fear that as soon as tomorrow breathes, this paragraph will no longer make sense.


thugs in the streets 

there are thugs in the streets. they walk the same steps we walked hand in hand (careful to avoid the cracks on the sidewalks). but we walked searching the moon and stars and they walk searching souls to rip out of the chest of those who are still clinging to one.

these thugs run and bend the concrete, they scream and shatter the glass. the thugs look in the veil of night for that which earlier today hid in the light. they come out of the shadows after the sun sets. they pound the earth and set off car alarms.

a lucky man managed to salvage a life. he took his soul to the grave, thought he'd sneak it into heaven. a soul so perfect the ghouls and demons came to sack its tomb in the night. a single ray of sunshine managed to make its way through the cracks of the cement, dug through the earth to arrive at a wooden box. lost in the darkness, desperately bouncing off floor and walls and hoping to save the night, it met only tears. the thugs, the lovers of the dark, had already been there. they had ran off with the soul.

there are things on these streets, love. darkness to scare the light away. so we take to driving everywhere. you in your car. me in mine. and we get where we think we want to go but it's all distorted. our journey is no longer hand in hand, and i can no longer count the cracks on the sidewalk because the thugs have shattered the glass with screams and bent the concrete in their rush to get there before us.

a escrita 

a minha lingua trabalhada despe-se perante de ti. sem vergonha. sem medo. é o que é. mas tu, vês o que lês.



i dreamt of you last night, which is weird because i never remember my dreams. never, ever. i remember about two per year, if i'm lucky and this time i was lucky. i was lucky last night because i dreamt of you and you wore that long black coat i love so much, and looked over your sholder to talk to me. it was like the old days. remember those?

i was lucky this morning because i dreamt of you and it was like you were still with me this morning, wearing nothing but the sheets, and looked over the lumps in the pillow to talk to me. it was like the old days. remember those?

you still smile. you continue to smile but it's different. it's a heavier smile. it weighs on your eyes. and it brings me down, too, because i don't like seeing you like that.

last night i dreamt of you and it was amazing. we just sat and talked, and it felt like the old days. the good old days, before the train fell off the track. i dreamt you last night, and you smiled unconcerned, and although i couldn't see my own face, or remember it, even, i'm quite sure that i smiled, too.



i still smile when i think of how jealous you were of her. you got so worked up i had to grab you by force (often from behind) and rest my face against your face and neck, shut my eyes and whisper to you about how you were the only one i had eyes for. why, you were the only one i had eyes for.

my eyes wrapped around your arms and chest and you feigned fighting me to break free. you acted as if you wanted space when in fact you were just wiggling around to perfectly fit your back to my chest. and i smiled. and soon you started to smile, too. and you'd turn around. and we'd....

you were so jealous of her. i know i spent way too much time with spring, but you knew (had to) that it was innocent fun. i couldn't help it; the skies cleared up, the breeze blew in the night, and i had to go and be with spring. i went to her like gravity to the street. i went to dance with her. to get lost in her. and you were jealous, so jealous that you threw fits and tantrums like a child, forced me to call you baby. i know, i know... i liked it too.

but yeah, in those days i did anything to be with her. went for drives, fabricated stories to be outside, sat on the porch, anything, everything, to be with her. and you, jealous, concerned for what that meant to us, said sadly one night, "i can't compete with nature." and i, honest even knowing this was hard for you to believe, answered, "no, nature can't compete with you."

but it did. i ran out. i hung out. at old men's joints and house parties and tittie bars, i always found a reason to visit her. and after the visit i'd walk home holding her hand. and i'd walk upstairs and lay with you. and you'd complain i smelled of her perfume. but i was certain, even if i failed to make you understand it, that nature, that spring, could never compete with you.

i tried to explain that it's analogous to that good friend that lives far away. the one that only comes to visit once a year, for three months at a time. you try to sneak in time with him. you want there to be more time. you relive your childhood. you go here, there, everywhere, you just want that friend. that's how i felt about spring. but you, you were so sure that i was getting in her pants.

but then she'd go away. spring would turn to summer, and i don't even want to remember how you got when summer came around and made me shed some of my clothes.

no longer serene 

i find it hard to say what it is i truly miss about you. it's not as if i can't find the words, or that they get lost in the saying, i just can't frame it entirely in one snapshot because there are so many things. there are so many things.

but mostly, i miss how i felt about you before. before, i didn't look at you as someone i had to fight the world for. before, i looked at you as my comfort from the fighting, not the cause for battle. you weren't my call to arms, you were my call to peace, and thus the love we cultivated in our sheets. you were the reason i didn't want to fight, my patience when my fists lashed out.

and no, these weren't fights for truth and justice. these were bar brawls, and alley-way matches, and uneven numbers... but because they didn't hide behind the regal suppositions of truth and justice, because they were just bar brawls, and alley-way matches, and uneven numbers, perhaps because of these reasons they were the truest and most just. and i, my love, i miss how serene your eyes made me.

i thought i knew you, thought i understood your reasoning. but i no longer do so. you're too far away, i'm out of the loop. i can't love you because i don't know you anymore, and i miss that the most.


no conversions 

they preach on in the churches. tell me of seasons, reasons and treasons. they tell me there's a season to die, a season to cry, a season to heal and a season to gather. a purity of soul. all that good stuff. the meek shall inherit -- and i don't have much, but what i have is mine.

there's a church on my street that is older than anyone i've met, older than any other house on my block. so i wonder who it was built for. if there was no one here, who stopped there to pray?

they preach on in the churches. they tell me how to live. but i'm not much of a listener. every time i'm just counting syllables in my head. i'm composing lines of verse, lines of prose, lines of lines that add up to pictures composed of symbols. the letters. the punctuation. it's all i do.

they preach on in the churches but i, i know only how to be. i can't say just because i heard, can't believe just because i want to. how i'd lose myself in faith if ever i could. the narrator can rise from the page to show me how his arm shakes at her memory, transposes thoughts to the page. but i can't do it simply because he does it. my arm won't shake like his. i can only listen to the voice in my head, even if when they learn i do so, they'll think me crazy.

they preach on in the churches but i, i'm no victim. i'm not he who anyone should feel sorry for. for when the lights dim and the day is done the preacher goes home alone. he is lonelier than me because he doesn't even have my memories of you.

a kiss 

can nothing match a lover's request for a kiss? not even the kiss itself. not even the open-eyed peck, the tongue-draped exchange, the torturing approach, the expecting instants leading up to and just before said kiss. because we know it's on the way. we understand it is due to arrive. but even when it does, nothing is as sweet as knowing how craved it is.

a whole new world 

there were no more places to take you. i'd exhausted all this city has to offer. i'd exhausted all this country, continent, planet has to see. i could show you no more, nothing newer than the endless corners of the dreams i spin from my pillow.

so i ran to your house. i ran down streets, sidewalks, taking every shortcut i knew, and arrived at your house to find your windows shut and the ladder hidden. your curtains like blinders, i whispered something (i forget what). needless to say, you didn't appear at the window.

i tied the sun to my back and ran across your yard. it went dark in a flash. you ran outside and found a shooting star across the lawn. you stood there. the silence was everything. so i grabbed the sea and shook it like a dusty carpet. shook the salt out of it and brought it to you in a bag to make hills on the horizon of your street. pulled the clouds down to the height of your knees and made fog. and we napped on those cotton sheets, hand in hand, breath in breath. i made the world new for you.


i wrote you sonnets 

we sat up late listening to music. this was when we'd argue about stupid stuff, trying desperately to be witty for each other. and you told me form equals force, and so i wrote you sonnets.

the best i ever wrote was aboard a train on the way to spain. i saw a mountain ripping through the clouds as if it'd made it to heaven. and i thought it was beautiful. and i thought that if you can bum-rush eternity you can do so with love as well. because love is eternity. it does not last forever, but swimming in its waters you never see the shore. so i wrote for you. i wrote a sonnet right there, under the shadow of the hills.

i wrote a lot for you then. i pressed on pressing my pen to the page. it was always clear, even when i totally missed the point.

i mailed that poem, that sonnet, to your house, on your block, on your street, in this town that borrows your scent. you put it up in your room, taped it to the mirror, and told me that if i ever wrote something like that for someone else you'd kill me. "i'll kill her, too," you added for emphasis. and i never doubted you. i did not doubt that you felt so strongly at that moment that you would kill me, and her, and the poem if ever a poem could face an end. but you came to a new turn. you stopped feeling like that. and now i can write for her, or her, or her, and you would merely read it, smile and say, "he's still got it," as if it's something i should be proud of.

i never wrote to be good. i never wrote because i liked it. i wrote because i wanted everyone to know what i saw when i looked in your eyes. you told me form equals force, and so i wrote you sonnets.


big cookie 

we sat at a table just big enough for two people. i'd bought you a big chocolate chip cookie. big cookie. big like your smile. too big to eat. more for show. i doubt anyone eats those things. they're made to sit and look pretty. like your smile, they're not meant to be eaten.

our legs crossed each other, touched and rubbed in comfortable intimacy. you read a book, had homework to do, and i, like always, taking the verses i'd written for you on loose sheets of paper and editing them into my little black notebook. that's where i kept you when you weren't around. in there i could always find pieces of you. you were every rhyme i wrote and every word i spelled correctly.

i caressed the curve of your calf -- that was enough for me. you'd give me more, but that was enough for me at that instant. people went in and out, coming through the door and diving back into the street. and it was flooded with people. and rain. and people swimming in the rain. and you touched my face, you let the stubble scratch your fingers and left behind whipped-cream fingerprints for someone else to lick away.

a blond-haired kid ran around the coffee shop, making noises while gliding his toy car through the air. he stopped by our table, finally aware that someone was watching him, and smiled at you with that cute, embarrassed way that only innocence can boast. and i joked with him, asked, "hey, you puttin' moves on my girl?" and he ran away smiling, still embarrassed. you said, "oh, he's so cute," and marked your prints on my face yet again. i winked in response.

i remember that night. i remember it like it wasn't so long ago.


imperfectly symmetrical 

your right breast is just like your left breast, but it's not identical. i know, i know, i know, typically they never look the same. one is always bigger than the other. but not with you. they're the same size. same taste. same everything. but they're not the same. they're not identical.

your left ear isn't like your right ear at all. i mean, it looks just like it. smells just like it. but they're not identical. they're the same. but they're not the same. they're not identical.

your right hand isn't like your left hand. i mean, the nails look just like the nails on the opposite hand. the lines on your palms run along the same paths, take the same turns, and stop at meeting other lines. they start up again. they stop. they bend and fade out. but they're not identical.

the back of your right knee bends exactly like your left. it has the same lines. the same taste. the same feel. same smell, even. they crack the same way when you bend down too quickly to pick up something off the floor. but they're not the same. they're not the same. they're not identical.

your top lip isn't the same as your bottom lip. they taste the same. they kiss the same. but they don't look alike. they never set out to. they're not identical. this one is more obvious, i know, but i just thought i'd tell you they're not identical.

the reason for all this is simple. trivial, almost. i know all this. i'm certain you know it too, except for the back of your knee detail. you don't look back there much. but i don't know if you know that i know. that i've realized this. that i've looked at you enough to know it. that you're not symmetrical. you're not perfect like that, and that is why you are. because when i think i have seen everything, you show me something else.

leaving home 

we'll pack away all the demons within. travel light, a change of clothes, a bag of illusions, and we'll hit the road. they'll see us pulling out of the parking spot in the dead silence of a city that's never slowed down and listened to itself. the windows rolled up. you and me looking out at the sidewalks and shops. all the mute people standing still, looking at us. they have no idea where we're going. they have no idea we're not coming back.

on lafayette, the supermarket stands still. the mosquitoes nap on apples and oranges. it was quiet like this once but the crickets spoiled the party. so they shipped the crickets out this time, and the echo, and so there's absolute silence once and for all. everything that leaves stays away.

we're leaving this town. i'll make a left on 21, to 22, and we'll head west. i want to see different water; i've only seen one ocean. you've only seen one ocean, too. occasionally i'll look over at you, but mostly i'll just focus on the road. the road. the road. growing shorter before us. soon we'll have to turn. right? left? roads don't last forever. you have to change your course every now and then. we'll decide when we've arrived. we'll pick a destination when we run out of gas.

i have a jewel. shoes that know the way. but you're not really an emerald and this car won't drive itself. in the silence there's room to construct my own fantasies. it's all perception, anyway.

but for right now, there's a lot of noise here. until we leave there'll be an infinite number of voices reaching out to us like hungry old men. and they're confused. and they don't really know what they're saying anymore. but they'll eat. need to. and you and i can't change that. we can go... but we can't change anything. we can leave, but we can't come back.



i seek you in the humid caves of time. i seek you on jefferson. jackson. van buren. all the streets i share with you. up. down. forgotten steps of a journey.

a mountain in the valley of nothing, a statue of nature. this. the wind swept the fallen leaves, stored them at the corner of the curb.

i want you. your frigid tongue makes me shiver, leaves my hair on end.


procuro-te nas grutas húmidas do tempo. procuro-te na jefferson. jackson. van buren. procuro-te pelas ruas que compartilhamos. cima. baixo. passos de viagem esquecidos.

uma montanha no vale do nada, uma estátua da natureza. isto. o vento varreu as folhas caídas no canto da esquina.

quero-te. a tua lingua frigida faz-me tremer, deixa-me os cabelos em pé.

stealing from the mission box 

i'm stealing from the mission box.  i'm going through our old albums, searching for new ways to describe you.  i look at the pictures we took at parties.  the ones we took at weddings.  on the street.  at the park.  the more intimate ones i took with that old polaroid camera my grandfather left behind when he died of old age and stubbornness.  i look at 'em all.  because i miss you.  because i wish i was still taking pictures of you. 

it's not easy, missing you like this.  it's not easy still having you around and yet having that not be enough.  it's not enough to just see you. i want us to be closer again.  to cook you breakfast again.  i want to eat your freckles and swallow your scars.  the goose bumps on the back of your arms, thighs. 

you came by again just the other day.  walking up to me looking at the ground, as if trying to hide your smile.  walking with you notebooks pressed to your chest as if wanting to keep your thoughts to yourself.  asking me if i'm seeing anyone.  again.  you always ask me that. 

so i go through our old photos.  you keep telling me you want them back and when i tell you you'll have to pick them up at my place you frown and say, "i don't know if that's such a good idea."  you say, "i don't want to do something i'll regret.  we can't start this again.  we're both bad news."  i know.  i know.  i've heard it all before.

i sift through paper like old memories, like trying to remember the right word for something, this in my hand... what's it called again?  it doesn't matter.  i'm looking for something that isn't really there. 


the time, the rain, you 

it rains everyday now. the man in the box told me that the hours are changing and i wonder who changes them. who made that call? who said, "move the clocks up an hour." yeah, the day darkens later than before, but so what? what do i care? it's always cloudy here. i have to watch out for potholes, the water hides the depth. i drive blindly in the dark.

i want to drive this car home to you. park in your driveway and come inside. i'll find you reading in bed and you'll smile, tell me to get out of my wet clothes. i want you to join me in the shower. again. like we did back when.

they changed the hours and now i can't keep track. i'm jet-lagged by time. i'm always late. i can't sleep. the maps don't make much sense. and your picture, in my coat pocket, wearing down with the water.

so baby, please... lets forget all the days between now and happiness, 'cause that was way back when. lets shed ourselves down to the bone the way we did when we were bare bones dancing in the dark.

i doubt you're home alone now. as i'm driving i think of you, try to picture what you're doing. on the phone with your mother. out to dinner at vila nova with some other guy. or enjoying a cup of coffee at the coffee shop on chestnut. (you always loved drinking coffee when it rains.) but i wonder if you've already found someone to buy you coffee and it scares the shit out of me to know that you probably have. that you're probably sitting in his car with the neat cup holders and leather seats and tints to shade away the outside.

i know you're not sitting home alone. i know you're not reading in bed. i know you're not thinking of me right now. but if ever you are, call on me. and i'll come on foot, by car, through the rain, whatever. if ever you are wondering, or wandering, call on me and i'll stop by and sing in your ear.


similes out of the ground 

it's like that movie everyone watched. the song that constantly replays on the radio without the singer's voice ever going out. the crowds will mouth the words without understanding the meaning. it's the way of things. that's just how it goes. no understanding necessary.

it's the unspoken, love. all the words that matter die before meeting the oxygen of the day. they evaporate and turn into clouds and in the spring it rains pretty words and phrases bloom out of the ground like trees.

it's like that man who went to fight a war in a faraway land. he didn't want to go kill anyone but he understood that if he didn't stand with his village the enemy would grow stronger and come to strike at the things he loves. so he went off to fight, to die far from home. what was he saving his home for? what will be, will be.

the bearded ones may come and strike us, steal our hearts, minds, souls, keep me from reaching out to you. they may come. this town inside a town will cease to be. we're not truly iron-bound; not where it matters.

everyone will mouth the words without understanding. at the village, they yelled charge from the balcony. that man understood. he died for it.

i don't want to die. i want to forget myself in bed with you and grow old like that. grow old like two fallen trees of similes. what else matters but the taste of the back of your neck?


years ago, when i was first falling for you, i wrote you a book. long before i ever published one, long before i ever found any type of recognition with the written word, long, long, long ago, so long ago that you, yourself, were just getting to know my skin, i wrote a book about you. i wrote a book for you. i wrote it on a notebook. i wrote it with the best hand-writing i knew how to write, and you know how hard that is. and you read it all, you said. you read the entire thing that night. i wonder how many more books will be written for you. i wonder how many more books will be written about you. one?



without you what good is paradise? i can build a hut by the beach and swim in the open sea. i can sleep on a hammock and run through the fine white sand. stand waist deep in the water and watch the fish swim eights around my legs like cats.

what good is paradise without you? what good is any of it? all of it? i need your voice giving color to the sky. i need your tan for a page so that i may write sonnets out on your stomach and take my tongue to the well of your belly button; a well that's shallow yet enough for me to get lost in. i need you to make this paradise. i need you to make this perfect. i need you to walk through the beach and say, "be beautiful." i need you to whisper to the waves, "break." i need you to guide the trees to where they should stand. i don't want you to feng shui paradise, i just want you to make it more perfect.

i need you to kiss my shoulder and scratch the back of my head and tell the sun when to turn in and ask the moon to echo off the water and into this hut i have built for nights like this, when it's just you and me dancing to the light of the night coming in off your eyes and through the center of me.

without you, what good is paradise? what good is the universe, the stars, all the pretty things? what can there be when there is no you? what good can paradise possibly be? without you, what good is paradise? without you, there is no paradise.

our heroes 

we bring our heroes down, love. we bring 'em down, down, down.

they fly while we walk. they break down walls and stereotypes, fight demons and injustice. they're the voice of the weak. all the things we're not. and what do we do? we bring 'em down. we bring 'em down. we're not content until they're just like us.

we're the enemy. the nemesis. love, we can't admire, only destroy. what we can't have we bring down, down, down. we clip their wings. we muffle their voices. we're the evil in the battle. and we triumph. we bring our heroes down. we don't believe their causes are as just as they claim because we would never be that good. we could never be that good. and so in light of their virtues our vices are evident. we are so much less and we hate them for it.

what do we do with our heroes, love? we bring 'em down, down, down. what do we do with the things we love? we break 'em. we break 'em 'till we can't love them any longer. i know enough to keep you from becoming my hero. but i don't know enough to keep from loving you.


the comfortable silence 

that february 14 i sat with you in that government building waiting for your paperwork. i wasn't working anyway and wanted to hang out with you. i hadn't bought you anything yet. i never thought about that stuff much. i just wanted to sit with you and place my hand on your lap, even if we sat in silence; me lost in my book and you jotting down stuff on your notebook.

you would look around at the people and their breathing was enough to tailspin you into inspiration. you narrated them as if you knew them. but you didn't. they weren't the same people you wrote about. you narrated different people, even if you sought to frame the ones before you.

i'd try to look at what you wrote but you wouldn't let me read it. you wouldn't budge. you'd write. and doodle. i went back to my book.

a young girl walked in. she walked over to the receptionist and then took her seat. she wasn't any different from the rest of the crowd and i don't know why i paid her more attention than the others. but i did. almost like i could tell what was about to happen. her boyfriend (i take it) walked in with a dozen roses, baloons, and presented them along with a, "happy valentine's day, baby." the entire room sighed. even you, and you're not into that type of thing. you witnessed it along with everyone else there and immediately began jotting something down. i felt like a jerk. like the big idiot i become from time to time when i think i'm so smart.

but you wouldn't budge. i couldn't read what you wrote. i just sensed you felt let down by me. i tend to do that.

later that day, when i showed up at your place for dinner with roses and a teddy-bear you smiled and said, "you're such an idiot." you knew exactly why i'd bought them and it had never dawned on me, not until months later, that you didn't want roses. you didn't want a teddy-bear. you wanted someone who would sit all day with you in silence at the government building and wait for your paperwork to come through.


the following are lists of books that were or are currently banned along with a description of the reasons behind the decision. courtesy of my friend vic.

1st list


be very, very afraid of the fcc...

picture of you 

i’ll probably see you today. there’s a chance i won’t, but where i’m going i will probably see you. and your new haircut. and your manicure. your little black bag. i'll probably see you today.

just last week i was grabbing some coffee at the shop on market and ran into d. we sat down for a few and she had some pictures she'd just developed. i looked through the roll and came across one taken in your living room. you were wearing one of the old t-shirts i left behind. the blue michigan shirt with the yellow lettering. you wore that and a white short pair of shorts and you were grabbing on your wrist and pulling your knees up against your chest. your head was tilted to the side just a bit and you smiled into the camera.

i could barely make out the name of the school on your shirt but i'd recognize it anywhere. she noticed me noticing you (i did pause and stare at it for some time) and stepped in, "you know, she wears that shirt all the time. i'll never understand you guys." i nodded in silence as if agreeing to something i had no notion of. it ain't that easy. i don't get to hold you anymore. you wear my shirt but that's it. no more of me. i want you so fucking bad.

i recall the day you took it from me saying that you loved my smell and wanted a piece of me to be around all the time. so i left it at your place and drove home in a wife-beater. it was the summer. we always hung out late in the summer. we hung out late every night. just the two of us.

i'll probably see you today and we'll say hello and ask each other how things are going. and then you'll turn and run away from me as fast as you can and i'll flee in the opposite direction and that will be all. we'll leave without saying goodbye. i'll be left re-imagining how you fit in my clothes.



i’m different. i know as much. i’ve known it for a while. but i don’t always understand how i differ, only that i do.

i see them sometimes. i see them talking. they talk of subjects in generalizations with an “i know their kind” tone. in their matter-of-fact approach, they judge others. they’ve seen it all, supposedly. allegedly, they’re aware of everything.

and yet when i talk about improving our streets they don’t follow. they claim i have utopian ideals and that accomplishing something of the sort is next to impossible. in short, they say i’m an idealist in a world not fit for such.

but i think they’re the idealists. in their generalizations and a grasp of the world that doesn’t coincide with the way things are. in their reluctance to work for the equivalent of perfection they buy into a secure ideal of how the world is. only it isn’t like they think at all. they’re the idealists, and not in a good way. i’m just a dreamer.


i'll be there 

show me some of the things you've painted. not the paintings, but the subjects. take me there. show me the way. show me where to stand to capture your awe. i want to be in all the photos that make you nostalgic, and in all the paintings you admire, and in all the places you go to be alone and immersed in things other than you. i want to memorize the path to take you back when your day is gloomy. i want to stand dead in the middle of the portrait so that i can be part of that image that always makes you smile. show me where to go and i will never leave.

ferry street 

driving straight down the avenue with all the other cars in horse blinders. can only go straight. can only go forth. congested is not the word.

driving down this time-forgotten avenue, the ways it was it is no longer. the divide grows with each chance second ticking away the opportunities. cigarette butts. bottle caps. these sidewalks are the ashtrays of society.

was it all really different then, or were the eyes that looked upon it different? perhaps a little of both. perhaps my eyes were different. perhaps the street was different. and in changing we should still see each other the same way but we don't. i drive everywhere now. and the street looks on others. and sometimes, when i drive past her and our eyes meet, we share a nostalgic look for the eternity of an instant. and i drive off. and she mouths off at the new faces. we don't want to remember.

changing the radio station i recall summer afternoons stopping by the library. waiting outside with the windows rolled down. the bakeries are getting up there in age. the drugstores are still there, but you don't need a prescription if you make your purchase outdoors. and the apple stores give you more product for less taste, there's no depth anymore.

i'm stuck watching all of this from behind rolled up windows. the saddle is worn but will do. and i go off, down the path of the memories i can't shake.



could you keep the faith through it all, especially if you had none to start with? how would you keep it? how to you hold on to something that doesn't exist? you wouldn't would you? you couldn't.

salamander, fire-consumed like flames and reaching out at the source... when the trees burn like stars and the days are long and hollow, who will you turn to? where's the faith to summon up the faith with which to believe? when the murderers come to stake their claims, where do we turn? where do we go when no place is safe, new, when there is no home for our thoughts?

you won't want to get up... you won't want to finish the journey... sitting in a pile of old future trash as if the time went backwards. perhaps it does. maybe we are the true crabs of history and don't know it yet. that would explain why nothing makes sense. and why nothing matters. and why there is some sort of unexplained method to the chaos we can't seem to read.

no, i have no faith. i am faithless for being faith-filled when they thought me ready. too young then, i closed my eyes and asked for directions. followed in the dark. saw all the pretty shades of gray and black come together and forget each other. i'd go again. i'd go again just to forget one more time. the sweet taste of shedding memories, good and bad, and all recollection of faith in things we don't know whether or not to believe.

could you keep the faith through it? through all of it? i could not. i have proven thus. and with all that comes before me and robs me of dreams, the irony of the situations is not lost on me. i see her disrobing, coming forth to work her twisted fingers and break my hopes. i guess i'm meant to cast them with religion, in belief, in faith beyond comprehension of the things i was just beginning to understand. but that won't heal the bones of my dreams. they may take my funds and steal my loves, disfigure my face with the disappointment of all the unfulfilled promises made to me, and still i will not bow. i may kneel in exhaustion, but never because i sekk refuge.

everything i've come to i've come to free of pressure and wholly of my design. even that brought before me took me some time to embrace. some times too long. but to that which remained true to me i have remained true in return. that was my choice. that continues to be my choice. yes, the murderers are everywhere. yes, they burn me with their lies. and yes, for all my proper intentions i may end up on the wrong side of the track. but i will get there on my own. i will follow no one else's map. it's my journey. it's my life. i'm not in search of a cheap way of becoming rich.

there's no faith here. there was none to start with.


name game 

i can’t even read your name on a piece of paper without wanting to say it. i want to say it, “………..”

you thought i would say it just then, right? you thought i’d let everyone in on the secret of your name but i won’t. i’m green with greed like that. i won’t have anyone say it. no one but me. and if i remain silent at the jubilee of reading it, then so will they who don’t know the syllables, the order of things.

bring you flowers and jupiter 

and i’d come in the morning, bring you flowers and jupiter, and dance on the underside of the underused dreamscapes where the roses don’t grow and the orchids don’t bloom. there’d be honey hanging from vines and the rain salty like your tears when i leave without saying goodbye. i’d step through the fields careful not to ruin the grass that grows brown from a lack of light, and it would seem like i walked on air. and i would do so with the help of the grass. and you’d think me better. and i’d walk on air over to you. bring you jupiter and the flowers that don’t grow here, kiss your forehead and fall asleep in the dream i always wake up from.

i think of my days as if these things were true.

you said it 

out on the balcony, the stars were hiding that night. only the moon, brave enough alone, came out to play and we chose that secluded corner of all the corners in the world to hide from a party with people that didn’t matter. you smoked back then, and decided to do so at that moment, pulling one out by the end. this was before your brave stance against the minor pleasures of life. the cigarette between your fingers, reaching your lips, dying for your desire. you looked me in the eye as i glanced out at the city. even those lights were hiding. and i couldn’t look at anything but them, and you, and the cigarette going to your lips like a lover out of who you sucked the taste.

we went back to my place that night. it was the first time. the first time i lay on you and i lay heavy and whole. you were open to me in more ways than one and it was as you bit my ear that i first heard you say it, under your breath and through your teeth, but you said for me to hear; my name. it was soaked in pleasure and hungry for my skin, the way you said it. it wasn’t the first time for you. you’d said my name to others when i was not present. but never to me. never like that.

a fire went through me that froze thoughts and acts alike. the air i took in stopped short of my lungs. i felt a burning inside -- a pure burning that brought life and feeling. and i didn’t need the air i couldn’t breathe. i didn’t want water to extinguish the flames. i wanted only more fire. i wanted to burn at the sound of my name running like a stream out of the spring of your lips. and all i could think to do was lick the sweat from your neck.


never like that 

the guy out by the truck exchanges pleasantries with all the people who go past him without exchanging them back. a cup of coffee in hand. a choked cigarette, trapped between two fingers and a thumb tapping the ash away. he wants them to speak to him, these mute souls, so desperately and with such intent it leads them to overlook him and his kind words, gestures, his warm intentions. wanting only company, a few words shared over a cigarette and who knows what else. kind words. gestures. warm intentions. and the deaf hordes going past him a step at a time. i will never be that way with you.

at a loss for... 

i have no inspiration today. nothing pretty to tell you. there are no magical moments to relay to you or anyone else. i’m sitting in silence. let that suffice.

my brother, before going off to die in the world, told me that sometimes, the unspoken word is more powerful than any we can contrive to say. and today, for you, i am giving you all the power of the nothing i say. i will sit in the corner. i will watch the others. they will converse meaningless renditions of past conversations, and i’ll do what i have not done in quite some time; sit alone with my memory of you.

i won’t reach out to touch you. i won’t beckon you with proverbs. i will stay my ground, hold my tongue, and smile through eyes broken and incomplete. i feel your absence in the absence of my words and to be alone like this is twice as bad as being alone like i was before, when i had the comfort of my words. now, i have nothing. i have been sitting here in silence while strangers unsuspectingly go about their business.

or perhaps, you’re just more than i know how to say and my silence is my inability to verb you.


trust and distrust and strawberry fantasies 

i could’ve sworn i saw you yesterday standing outside the ice-cream parlor with a two-scoop strawberry cone in hand. but it wasn’t you. you’re away, and i’m still here, seeing you in random street corners.

i remember what you said to me before you left, about needing to understand things. well, i sure hope you find some books where you’ve gone. and i sure hope they have all the answers someone else thinks you need. i gave you some, once. gave answers that were both great and honest, and you... you said only that you couldn’t trust me. you said you couldn’t believe anything i said because i’m a poet and you don’t trust poets. you said you were swayed by my silver tongue. you said no one can feel like that all the time. you said you couldn’t trust me because i write pretty words for everyone; but while all are welcome to read them i write them only for you.

you said you couldn’t trust me because i have a thing for blondes, but i always liked your roots more than anything.

but i don’t blame you. i blame the busy bees spewing out lies, dropping seeds of doubt in your thoughts. the ones who told you all the lies about me and you, us and them. they are the ones to blame. they who have cheapened the word love when before, at the mere mention of it, you felt it, and sensed it, and tasted it on me as on you i tasted honey-drunk lips, that strawberry gloss that now leads me to believe I see you at the corner even as you don’t believe me.

yes, i loved you once. i loved you wholeheartedly on that afternoon when we picked clouds out of the sky and dragged them home like giant-sized servings of cotton candy. but then i wrote about you once and enjoyed the feeling. i wrote about you again. and again. and mistook that fictional, perfect paper-love for one of you and who you really are. not this fabricated version. and so i loved you more than i ever set out to. more than prescribed. i loved you more than i actually did and that, unlike all my other love sentiments, is not an exaggeration.

that, of course, does not mean i lied. i truly do love you still. i could not have written this much without doing so. my words are not fake, just microscoped. i analyzed the little and it seemed so much more. i never lied about loving you; i just said i did more than i knew how to.

and still i see you when you're not there. you're away for a bit, but we've been away from each other for some time now. there are distances other than physical.


mine again 

i can have any woman from my past, and yet you elude me. you stop in just to see me, you say. you give me extended hugs and hold my hand when you talk to me. you look me in the eye as if measuring out my words for any deceit i might have stirred into the mix. and yet when i lean in to kiss you, you say no. "i can’t do it like this again." and you look me in the eye as if it hurts you to cultivate this distance. i can have any woman from my past. i can have one and all. but you, you’re the one i want. you come by to see me and ask if i'm with someone else. "hold me," you say. and while i still have you, you will never be mine again.

absence driven 

what is it about her i so crave? is it the feel of goose-bumps on the back of her arm? is it the way her hand so easily sneaks under my shirt? is it how her pinky finds mine when she’s nervous? or is it, simply, the fact that she’s not around? is the emotion absence driven?

what is it that leads to these maddening thoughts, this insomnia, this need to prick her skin and lick the wound dry? i know, i know, i know, this last bit is too much, but you know how you always hurt the one you love? yes, some times it’s purposely done. i want her to hurt so that i can be the one to make it better. i want her to wish in vain upon the smog-veiled stars so that i may be the one to transform her dreams into her days.

what is this need to be around her? why do i smell her in other women’s perfumes? why do i see her before my shut eyelids? why does she dance like that? and why does she say things like, "i have no IKEA how i’m going to decorate your heart."

this is sick. it’s not love. it’s not a desire pure and of noble intent. no! this is a need to be around because she’s not around. it’s pure insanity to love more during her absence than i did when she was mine. you can’t love as much when you’re loved. you love a little. you appreciate. you love very little. and then she leaves and you love more. and you want more. and the need inflates the rage and sharpens the edge. the little love there was exits shortly after her departure. you’re left with a need to feel. to touch. to hold her. a need stronger than all the strength you held her with. a strength that was, ironically, too weak to keep her here. and you cease to love. and you just want. you want. you want. you with greed. you want for the sake of property. you want. you want for all to see.

what is it about her i want back so badly? everything? nothing? perhaps something in between; a voice to wake up to...


love letters 

i wrote you love letters by lamplight. it was some time ago, but i wrote them and feel like i can write more by simply picking up a pen and pad. i can evoke those past feelings, and a heap of new ones, and write you love letters. again.

i can’t pick up the newspaper without seeing pictures of the dead and the murderers dancing for joy. even in the stillness of the photos their hate rages on. they dance. they dance. and somewhere else, far away from the camera, weeping mothers succumb to pain.

despite this, all i want is to write you love letters. and i wonder if you’d read them now. i wonder if you read them then because, frankly, you never made mention of them. none of those pretty words played in reverb on your lips.

i wrote you love letters by lamplight and i’d write reams more. i’d cut down all the trees in the world to make sure i capture every last drop of ink that spells your name. and somewhere else, far away from my words, the weeping mothers of cut-down trees, they too succumb to my saw. and my words remain as before, yet to be read.
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