Everything I Have Never Known

Ruby (but they say hooker red) cloak and sanguine lips (slut); wash and go coils moisturized (nappy); chin high (uppity); eyes focused and direct (bitch). They are brown and for a long time you will want any other color.

Blue perhaps.

79 percent of the world’s population has brown eyes. Earthen eyes. Golden honey when illuminated by sun. Only when illuminated are they worth mentioning. They are godlike in their golden illumined splendor. Out of the sun they are forgettable. In a brown face they are dangerous, particularly when they pierce directly.

Speak carefully and confidently (show off). Work ethically and passionately (asshole).

Spend more money than you will ever repay (fool) and live with the crushing grief of your mistake.

Lose your religion like change in the gutter. Miss it, ashamedly, like an absentee father who you only ever wanted to please and could he (please please please) at least show up for your birthday?

Watch your dreams from the rotted end of a forgotten dock; you could close your eyes and put a toe in but you know the dock will crumble and you can’t swim. You took lessons but they didn’t take (failure).

Wear the ruby because it makes you feel good. They will call you slut. Your chin will unsettle them—who are you to move about, with nary a dream met, in complete chaotic splendor?

You will unnerve them. Unmake them. You must do this, or else be unmade.

You will be lonely and often, alone.

You must not yield for them. Should you yield you will lose the light and you will die. You will die anyway, but without the light—though fleeting—you will die an age before you draw your final breath.

Do not stop. You will see the bodies and bones of everyone you ever were amidst the ruins of everything you never knew.

You will be afraid to look upon the visage of past despair.

Climb over.



Crush them if you must. The voices in your head will never silence, the grip on your throat will never loosen. Use the fire of the hatred that laps at your heels to light your way, but keep moving.

Sleep No More

One of the last of the old guard

has fallen

And he alone remains,

stooped and slowed;

still, there is strength in his resolve.

Tangled in the cobwebs of what

they all were together

he, the god of time-rent yesterdays,

stands sentinel:

Holding fast to their firsts,

And their lasts;

Their triumphs,

Their failures;

Their inside jokes;

Their remembrances.

The smell

And the taste

And the stardust and magic

that made them

Escape him now,

Diaphanous and fleeting as dreams

Still warm

But fading and already missed.

He is weary and afraid.

Perhaps they will not be there

With the other half of

the memory he holds

The whole of it to fill in

the aged pieces

He grasps like anchors

in a tightening plane.

He is afraid he does not belong here

And perhaps there is no there.

He loses time

Gets lost in himself

When he awakens he is in the dark

Though all around him is light

Perhaps more brilliant

than any he has ever known.

In sleep he remembers whole

And he is whole.

He loosens his grip

Just to rest beneath

this old familiar veil once more.

Perhaps now

Or in a number of countable breaths

He will exhaust his space here

Will lapse into the dream

From which he will at last not awaken

And over that which they all were

He will stand sentinel

No more.

Tulips in the Snow

In early spring you clipped me,

still blooming.

You tore me by my roots,

then rent me until raw and vulnerable

I stooped before your

Vengeful eye.

You said I was too beautiful,

A mere thing surrounded

by beautiful things.

Before you I grew.

Should you leave I would yet grow.

So you clipped me.

Beneath your oppressively absent eye

I withered

grew dim.

I would never grow again.

Never know home again.

Everywhere I was was damned,

And you.

You beheld a being so beautiful

You wanted to watch it die

And become a thing less beautiful.

You yourself could not create beauty—

A beautifully damned nothing, then.

In the frost

Away from you

Unnatural to me

I sought the light.

A tulip in snow is an unnatural thing.

But a tulip in the dark

Is nothing.

I am not nothing.

Unnatural now, perhaps,

But I am.

to sir with love

I had thought to

kill him with kindness.

Perfectly pressed and poised,

I withstood him

as strong women ought.

Careful not to raise my voice I

fed him the spotlight and

all of the space in the world entire and

unsatisfied with

his own



He devoured mine.

Kill him with kindness

As I choked on my own tongue.

I took the high road,

unpaved and wild

While he claimed the road most traveled,

And I, on my own wretched road,

remained locked and dying

in the deep and the dark.

Kill him with kindness

As I spit out my broken teeth

My face crushed into his refuse

My lungs claiming all that is left for me—

The teeming mess of him.

With my dying breaths I chance to

gaze upon him

To see at last what they see

To know about him what they know:

That he is worthy of unyielding devotion;

That I, kingmaker, and him, king

Have played our parts as commanded,

And at last we will see each other

Unburdened and unbruised and equal.

But he is already past me

Pulling taut the string tied

around the neck of the next.

Eyes gleaming and afraid

She moves forward

And is unmade.

I thought to kill him with kindness

But kindness killed me instead.

a hastily constructed love letter, still bleeding.

Pull the shadows down deep until they are behind us;

Now only we remain.

Naked as you found me, but unafraid.

I drink you in.

Before, wordless, I would have let you

Take all the best lines

And all of the good light would paint your soliloquy.

But I have learned to fill the silence with pretty tokens taken from your tongue.

A marionette, I spend my days pretending

My painted face and human likeness dampen and crumble away like rotted wood about me

Until all that remains are splinters from

The useless mask.

Here I have laced together my clumsily begotten words

And too close you see the rips in the seams

And the wear

But when you are there and I am


And nothing but time stands between us

Know that they mean I love you.

And I loved you.

And I will love you yet.

Autobiography or, how to be lost.

She suffocated in silence, trapped in a room stifling with its many doors, all of them devoid of handles. Indeed, once one entered the room, one dug through or asphyxiated in the ashes of those who had gone before.

She had not noticed the bones and the nothingness when she floated into the room; she was too distracted by the scene above. A pinprick in the sky, so small she had to paint the picture herself—paradise. She was embarrassed to admit how easily she was beguiled by an imaginary thing, the room. She would have walked past, but it was there and convenient and she was so very tired and perhaps her original journey was so far off—a quick detour? She might like it? So she tore parts away that might be unseemly and tried—really tried—to make herself small enough. She scraped herself inside but then a trick of the light enveloped her and she was lost.

She was so struck by the cloudless, brilliant above that she did not notice she was trapped in the cramped gray below until the door was closed and the only way out was up.

The doors were not true doors. Could she claw her way out she would have found unfinished wings and crumbled edifices. Perhaps some would enter the room and find other ways—but it was not her room. She simply did not fit.

So she climbed. Nothing above but what she could imagine, for the room shifted and all she had of above was in her mind.

The way was long and arduous and lonely, the only sound her gasping breaths, her guttural cries in the dark. The only company her own pulse, the steady beat of her heart keeping time.

Still, she climbed, for what else was there?

She climbs still.

spring cleaning

Hold my breath

Just a little longer

Until it burns then aches

Until I sleep, and the last breath we shared

Seeps out and is lost.

Rip the sheets from my desolate bed

Still drenched with the scent of you,

So I tuck them into the closet, unwashed, until

The scent of you goes stale,

And the ghost of you like

Tendrils sinks into me, claiming the whole of me and ruining my insides.

I can’t breathe for want of you,

Even if just for a moment—

Just fragment, stolen

From your broken life.

You have chosen the brokenness

And I cut myself on the shards of you

Left behind.

The blood seeps into the sheets

And intertwine with what is left of you

And we are once again.

The Marionette

At your leisure I danced.

I grinned earth wide

And my tears filled the deep craters

Torn into my rough hewn body

Chipped again and again by your strings.

You locked me away

And dust settled around me

And within me

And perhaps

When you drew me out again

You would remake me

Something more to your liking.

Perhaps I could be human this time

And you would love me?

At your leisure I performed,

And when I failed to please you

You painted over my lips

And used my mouth to spew your own words,

And the strings you strung and pulled

A noose about my neck

Stopped me screaming.

When at last I cobbled together a voice

From scraps you dropped beneath the table,

You crushed me under your heel.

You cut my strings

And ripped me apart, limb from limb.

Until I love you the way you demand—

Without desire or expectation—

You will hold my strings a guillotine,

And every breath I take

Will be a breath you have allowed;

And every step I take

Will be on legs you created;

And when I move just right

The perfect marionette,

You will share a sliver of your light

And shine your love on me,

And you will love me

And I will be worthy of love.

Of wanting.

In the pallid tension of a fragile dawn

That awakens stretching old legs beneath its tired sky

The wail of the mourning dove sounds the alarm,

Its hollow boned wings slicing the air, a guillotine.


I heed it not.


My resolve is already pulled like bootstraps,

Ill fitting and tattered, but

I have promised my mirror—today.


We have practiced our part a thousand times, my mirror and I.

We have ticked by uncounted hours of caught breaths and stolen smiles.

We have cracked its glass with smudged lipstick and clouded eyes.

We have lost one million days to wanting.

We have held conversations that only we know

And have imagined the tenor of your voice reserved only for us.


We are ready for the stage and perhaps you will know your part already?


In words that only I have heard

Deep in darkness, your lips pressed to the shell of my ear,

You have almost said as much.


Haloed by sun, sticky with humid summer heat

You, Adonis, and I, Medusa.

I find myself stone before you.



I would compare you to a summer’s day, but

You compare me to a bit character in a movie you like first.


It isn’t the movie you love.


Your love pricks sweet like knives in legs I wear for you—

It is devastating and gorgeous and I drown with want of it.

I know it because I am near enough to its warmth to glimpse it and know it,

Though it does not know me.

When you recount the character in the movie you like well enough

Your eyes don’t steady and you don’t soften and pause, remembering.

But you like it well enough and you offer the part to me.


I had words that would draw you irrevocably to me

But I lost the line.

I sold the best parts of myself for ill fitting pieces,

And besides we are surrounded and watched.

Therefore a chasm rests safely between us

In the event that together, we are seen.


I am white noise in the periphery of you.


I turn you over and remake you in my mind for hours.

The part and place was yours and it is now mine and it is precious.


You promise me one night.

We will dance, your fingers laced in mine

And under the diaphanous gaze of every star I have ever wished upon

We will be seen.


“Wow,” is all you manage and the word carries me forever.


We do not share the dance.

Your finger tugs mine in the dark and that small moment

Becomes every moment—

And infinite




But in the naked whiteness of light it is gone and we divide.


Years pass with the burning swiftness of a

Southern sun in summer,

And we play out our lives parallel.


I hold the myth of you to me until I find there is no room for

Specters in my ruins.

I bring you to daylight and I recount the tale of you.


I share you in a sacred space—

An offering.

A confession.

As the steam laps at my scalp

And the gentle crown of coils is made brittle and bone straight,

I await the truth of me

And my atonement for still wanting you–

For forgetting my line

And ruining us.


You are recounted to me, true:



And mortal:


were never we and


Were never tragically starcrossed, nor

Chained by the dark—

I was the dark

And by you, would never be brought to light.


You, a southern son,

Played your part;


(Your ignorant, grinning little fool)

I danced, dazzled by your splendor,

and I waited,

and I wanted,

and I—remanded to the shadows of a lesser you—

Played mine.