Disclaimer: Literally nothing about this poem has anything to do with me or anyone I know, so I honestly don’t know where it came from. But I like it!
The heat of
the brick oven in our local pizza place
the hand warmers we stuffed in our mittens and socks and hats and jackets in the winter of ’08
the beach bonfire where our lungs filled and sputtered with smoke and empty beer cans made the night sky blurry
rubbing two hands together on those precipice nights when summer became fall and the frost froze outlines of dead leaves and wove its way into our blood
our exchanged looks in the corners of confined spaces
the habaneros in our tomato soup
the watery salt-trails along your cheek mapped like the Oregon Trail
the burning flushing stinging heat of the words you left on that crisp, flattened note
I meant to throw in the fire
but I hung it up on the clothesline in winter
and let the cold do the work instead.
The curves like burgeoning mountains struggling to grasp new heights,
like a saddle swung sideways,
pouches fighting in awkward lumps against fabric meant
to lay smooth and flat.
Like even savannahs interrupted by
the clamoring of fleshy hills
that ruin the view from baobab to horizon
with round, bulbous objects
that shatter the sharpness of a geometric plane.
There is nothing beautiful about mountains.
My religion is hands steepled,
fingertip to fingertip
and our bones are their congregation
and touch is their prayer,
speechless yet forceful as a blow
or an embrace.
We can carve our ten commandments
on our palms like parchment
and match our scars each time
our hands clasp one another
like an unspoken promise
and a ridged reminder,
an oath that cannot be erased
until our skin has outgrown
and shed words we once found sacred.
Don’t tell me to appreciate another goddamn sunset.
I’ve watched the sun fall
and I know how it looks
as it sinks below the horizon
like fruit falling out of sight
don’t teach me the meaning of beauty
as if I am blind to it,
as if it can only be found in your cliché statements
on snowflakes or rivers or churches.
I know what beauty is
and I know how to find it without your direction.
I can see it in the sunset if it damn well pleases me
or in the taste of butter melting on toast
or the warmth of my blankets when I crank the AC
for no reason but to feel warm when its cold
and sometimes, even,
in my own reflection
where I can catch it in fleeting glimpses,
although I must try very hard to find it
in the rolls and the spots
and that dark pit I know rests sourly
beneath sober glances
and half-hearted smiles
don’t lecture me
don’t tell me
I need to stop and wish on dandelion stalks.
I saw the beauty of autumn
before you ever waved an orange leaf in my face
I don’t need your ocean waves
or your soft rainfalls
or your mountain tops
or your indie music
or your ruins.
You can keep your beauty to yourself
because I have my own now.
Sadness is a strange drug
intoxicating as any pill,
Sadness is a bed
into which you can sink and sink,
drown so deliciously
and sad, slow guitar chords
strummed with bloody fingertips.
Sadness is feathers
with cinderblock stems,
the exquisite beauty of moonlight
reigning in the wild sea.
Sadness is the song that makes you cry
and the lyrics which make you ache
yet you play it over and over
for the strange beauty
in the elegant shudder
of your sobs.
It’s why we find lovely
in the heartbroken folk songs.
It’s why I find gorgeous
in trampled flowers
and crippled butterflies,
thin streams of blood
and weather-beaten book covers;
yet what were they to me
before they were broken?
Sadness is falling asleep in the snow;
it is always dusk,
it is the end of electricity,
it is unused tires
and objects drifting in outer space.
It is floating
and it is sinking
in one fluid motion;
far be it from me to divine the difference.
Each moment of you past
becomes another ghost
haunting school hallways
your childhood bedroom,
a shade less innocent
than the first.
Every passing second
Every blow carved out
by hard falls
by edged words
leaves scar after scar
imprinted on your body
and if you lined up all of you in a row
the devolution might be enough
to bring your six-year-old self to tears,
your twelve-year-old self to sighs,
your four-year-old self might not even recognize
you under those layers of dust
A child is so unaware
of endings impending,
that every moment is metamorphosis
and she is constantly scraping away
pieces of a person that is moving on
to better things,
or older things,
that glint like pyrite.
The girl in the yellow dress
in your childhood pictures
though she may look familiar
is an entity passed on,
and you are that which consumed her.
May you bring wisdom into the world
in exchange for the innocence you have displaced.
There is nothing more lonely than a lost balloon.
I once let go of my balloon
in my mother’s favorite shoe store,
and I cried and I cried
until a man brought out a ladder
and he carried it back down to me
and tied it around my wrist
and told me gently,
“Now don’t let it fly off again.”
I didn’t cry because I loved the balloon,
although we’d been together many hours now
and I had grown quite fond.
It was blue, made of latex,
filled with helium so it soared
and not the cast-off breath
of exhaling human lungs.
I cried because it was wedged
up in the department store rafters,
unloved and alone,
doomed to shrivel down to nothing
in a small, unseen corner of the world.
When I see balloons flying up into the sky
my heart breaks,
a porcelain sliver,
to see something so light and carefree
hurtling towards something so
infinite and terrifying,
without anything to tether it back down to earth
and without hope of return.
We try so hard to hold tight to their strings
but at every carnival or fair
in a moment of rapture or distraction,
you’ll witness one plucked from a child’s hand
by a cruel, thoughtless breeze,
and tossed up to a place from which
no ladder can return it.
It hurts to let such a fragile thing go.