flicker

this day is as new as the bud of you, 
tightly furled, 
easing into reluctant half-bloom.

the thought that I could hold is you is a memory now, 
stained red and faded from years that passed 
without daring to breathe your name.

I dare, today.

in cramped quarters,
with trembling, remembering fingers,
I fold a paper flower of my memories,
and light a tiny flame that will burn until the earnest morning.

you never drew breath outside,
but inside, you were the collision of bone dust and star fire.

your pulse never whispered outside,
but inside, you were the fast approaching dawn.

your name was the space between heart beats.
your name was the resting place of souls.
your name was mine, and my name was yours,
and together, for a moment, we danced in the place where dreams are born.

together, for a moment, we lived.

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don’t look now

eye and vein and heart and bone,
a candle at midnight that calls all the shadows home.

I am twisted and tall in your halls while goosebumps crawl and you stare at the walls.

find me broken and curse me whole,
obey the darkness at home in your soul.

lose your way so that I might prey on the memories of days you were more than just a good lay.

I am an owner of one-day tombs,
a raider of dreams in silent rooms.

I am a feast in the jaws of a beast with an eye on the street and a hunger for heartbeats.

watch out! they say, turn back!
but I’m a red flag in the black of a smokestack.
fight back! they say, break free!
but I’m the last you before you becomes me.

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on taming words and soul retreats:

my words do not belong to me.
they are imperfect, wild, creatures of the soul.
they are snarling beasts and chattering magpies and taloned and fanged and improper.
once born, they must be tamed,
trained to carry messages to the wider world.
they must learn to be quiet, to sympathize, to speak a thousand, thousand languages.
once born, they must begin to learn about belonging to other people.

the place they come from is mine.
the quiet glade inside,
the bubbling spring of ideas and names that sparkles politely and rages impatiently and sits forlornly stagnant by turns,
the lonely place where I pluck phrases like silver darting fish from the water,
where I arrange them into bodies and minds and souls of their own.
before the end we are crowded there, intentions swirling and desires straining and hearts beating in frenzied time with one another.

and then they are born,
and I am alone again.

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one at a time.

(whispered)
who are you?

(shouted)
I love you.

in my quietest moments I’m forced to admit the truth:
sometimes I wish you were someone else,
somewhere else,
someone I could rule the world alongside.

the misunderstanding that started us looms large in our legend,
making the rest seem almost fated.

how could we know, when we were always the silent ones?
how could we help but build a monument on sand?

how can we do anything now but watch
helpless
as it shifts toward its inevitable resting place?

not a fall, nothing so decisive.

just single grains moving under unbearable pressure until one day you wake up horizontal…
when you’d been vertical every day before.

(whispered)
won’t it be a relief? to rest?

(shouted)
I’ll never let you go.

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midnight in never-land

what’s the protocol for leaving behind forever?
I never thought I’d have to know.

within the comfort of your shadow my own grew bolder, 
eclipsing the light I once believed was mine alone.

I filled your vacant outline with stardust and loved what I saw,
but you were just the image of my own scattered, shivering soul.

I never learned your heartbeat,
I only heard the echo of my own in the leftover space.

in the moments I was quietest I learned the art of leaving,
the art of loving a not-quite-loneliness.

in the web of our closeness we built between us a beating heart!
but that heart beats outside of us now.

and us?
yeah. 

we have to go there, too.

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never ever

the surface is always comfortable, clean. it beckons. 
it whispers of good times, sunshine, name learning and freckle tracing and legend making.

you think: it’s been long enough.
you think: maybe I can go home again.

a walk down the street recalls nights you were infinite, 
never doubting that first would be only, 
incapable of imagining a heart that could beat so vitally between you could one day sputter,
could one day lie still.

the magic is dimmer now. the air seems older, stiff and stale. 
the sky never glows red as it once did, full and heavy and threatening to crack open wide.

when the record store is gone you falter, you reel.
this place has been empty for a long, long time.

cobwebs in the corners, nary a trace of the sweaty fingers that had once intertwined inside.

nothing left but the dingy checkered floor where your blood had spilled red, then.
changing everything, meaning nothing.

the tears come fast, thick. suggesting other tears on other days for lesser reasons.

you turn, run, cursing the thought of the home this could never have been. there’s nothing here but sidewalk cracks and caving ceilings and ghosts.
ghosts.

and what can you build on a pile of bones, anyway?

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about you, about me

I am looking for myself in your pictures.
A hint of my wild hair in the angle of your pencil line,
the color of my freckle at the edge where your pen began to bleed.

Here, you are always in my words:
The curve of each vowel suggesting the roundness of your lower lip,
the straightness of my consonants your proud spine, your cheekbones cut like glass.

Our history has always lived here, in the spaces between,
this dance steeped in secrecy, potent and swirling, hidden by casual snaps of our wrists,
by the nonchalance of our contrived explanations.

So far, always so far
from each other. From the truth.
So far from the late nights spent scheming,
the darkness we wore like a statement.
Like it meant something.

And did it?
Is there meaning still in these curling fingers? these renditions?
In the quiet gaze of the stars that watched us, then and now,
the constancy of our fickle hearts the only reliable witness.

Ever changing. Ever moving away.

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