two rubber soles

ashes tryna burn through cotton
pierced a perfect circle in her canvas shoes
sketched a portrait of a hidden hemisphere
glossed 180 degrees behind his eyes
it smolders there longer than it should
peach fuzz sizzles on a hot grill
seared tinge of dna syrup sweeter
than lingering in bed on winter mornings

there’s skin underneath more than silver
& bones cauldron of flowers simmering
when she blushes she blooms sighs out
a house on fire drowns within itself
tried to save her once but the pain feels better
watching embers melt oil landscapes off walls
tried to save her twice but joint her instead
evidence in feeling crossed legs in bed

ashes burned through cotton:
two rubber soles
remain

white paint

i wish i could write epitaphs for all the dead peacemakers
musicians and philosophers
but, logistically, i can’t

i don’t know how anyone expects me to write for these people
and their admirers
for the people who need to be written for — not about
can anyone else speak a couplet on it,
and not sound like white paint on stripped fences?

“i’m nervous
i’m not in denial;
t r u sssss ttt  m eee, i feeeeeel itt too
it’ ss jusss tt harrr dddd to capppp turrr e”

i can only be empathic when the sun in me is shining
i will only love you on good days
when i love myself
when my hair is lightest, skinny gut

i will always write love to the wrong lovers —
     prized voyeurism, invisible man for whom i kick open the door
     a handsome jaguar or screeching bluejay —
and for the wrong causes — solitude in sadness
     there’s a whole world out there, babygirl
     you only need to want it badly

i love you, but i want to love people more
i want to be brought to knees
in contrast and saturated color
though my upbringing, through the—

     concrete bricks
     i slid my back down
     when the 3x-held-back boys
     ripped the seams of my levis
     called me blondie and
     revealed my pink florals
     stole my cotton candies
     so i bruised myself and cried
     my mom picked me up early
     the nurse called alligator tears and
     i’m still that same salty blur

while no one is watching and
when i know you are watching most closely,
i write for you and
try not to let the keys spill out my pockets
a jangling noise expanding guilt
onto the floor

VV

when the well runs dry, I hope you think of me
as the water that shivvered away
when you denied thirst

a freeflowing mass that goes wherevver needs filling
to whomevver needs filling
they call to me as deserts and plains
mouths open like tributaries
confessions prolonged and I’vve got to hear them
sixty-percent buoyant, forty-percent mystery
the neck is a bridge over a rivver to the body of an ocean
we swim within ourselvves
and just as much in others

when you forget me,
I hope you remember me as the perpetual force
winding mill of revvelations
the vvolume displaced
when you no longer needed water
to survvivve

act appalled

And so I steal my love back
All of it, at once
Actually Bukowski’s On Love
Because it is the antithesis of what I’m looking for
It’s shit, really
So, naturally, I gotta have it
And he knew very little of it – at least of the upkeep
But we know everything about it
Because we’ve lived it
Because we are it
Because there is little to know, but all to be

      Just be

But then — the apple bites back
(the heart is not inside)
And we both recoil at the sight of our once-favorite fruit

      Just being takes work

Pushing a rickety shopping cart through the intersection
Lighting a joint as you coast through the intersection
Crashing into the shopping cart pushed by the man rolling through the intersection
While lighting your joint
He’s got your face, my expression:

      Act Appalled

Be edgy with your mind,
He says
I am always on the edge!
Of mind and
Of everything else
I says,
And most all movements perpetrated by the mind
So that makes everything—
I need to be dulled

Sharpen your ax-eye-tooth
Go split some wood in the forest
Kill for survival
Something unpleasant and bloody
Then return to me
Do unto me like you have done to nature

Meanwhile, I will search for the
Rain that feels like sun
Rain that energizes and concentrates its iron in the ores of my body
To not feel nothing
To not feel everything
All at once

porous

I fill myself up with you
and become less like me,

yet your smell doesn’t stick
you offer large Ts or flannels after
I decline, scooping my gloom garb from the floor
sliding into anonymity and out the cracked front door

I fill myself up with you
balsam and cedar tonic straight shot
my eyes write over you like a printing press
taking you in so I can pull myself out and through

no matter what or how much you douse on me,
I remain: porous.

dodging desire like a motorcade,

you sounded your own whistle and steamed through
      no regard for pedestrians, brainy new haircut
       unwrinkled shirt, rubbed yourself shiny
        procured dalias in november fastened round your neck
         and shuffled as not to be too late
all for me: how could I not be taken with
     your discipline and want to feed me dregs
      of a season suspended in time melting
       sunkenfaced jack-o-lanterns crowd front porches and
        they look so sad don’t you get it, sleepyhead?

if complicated is the new black, I would know
     as a woman who dresses in sober widow tones
      and has played the same card, told by lovers that shit ain’t cute
after you pay for dinner, I need to feel brass on blues
     because you don’t put out, I make my last-call alarm,
      tear earrings from my lobes, ready to have someone my own way
       only to have one show up at my door
        pennyflip ‘em back to where he sleeps alone
turning on my incandescence to get myself off

    when I’m low, I’m lonely and I want you to pull your shirt up;
     but when I’m high, I’m punchdrunk
all the world’s roses are for me
and you don’t matter anymore
     here, I learn desire is fixating on what isn’t
      desperation dragging down my tailfeathers,
       beads of trepidation collecting in your body’s seams
the worst of it is, if you would let me in,
I’d learn to unlove you as nature allows
and just long enough to deepen my hooks

        all the while dodging the motorcade that won’t stop—

ode to NJ

I.

do you know many times we graffitied that overpass
and the next week it washed away?
you wanted to make something lasting,
and I told you this was not how it’s done.

not here, not in this town, at least.

II.

decompression–

I walk wherever feeling leads
when I’m trespassing, the trees own me.

trail runs through the woods, roots roll ankles
the Delaware river and gaps like toddler’s teeth
after hours we trample through dark golf courses
find the tallest hill, dig our heels into the turf
to get a better view of that gritty Philly skyline:

we want makeshift stars, we ignore the nuclear smell.

III.

I don’t know who said Georgia is for peaches, but they were wrong

we have farmer’s markets at every intersection

we bird watch all day long until we’ve dogeared every page in audubon’s guide

we’re not quite rural, not quite urban, and too poor to be suburban

we eat omelets on the porch, tend to our gardens, rub fresh mint between our hands

this is how we pass the time, this is the only way we know how.

IV.

humidity and salty seawater and—
taffys made with the salt of the water and—
the sweat dissipated off blue collars and—
tacky spinning carnivals—
—the ever-patient ferris wheel
—the never-patient passengers
waiting for romance to tip it all over, begin spinning again

the local music scene can learn you how to fight and dance,
show you how to kiss if you don’t already know how
as you grow older, it breaks your heart

me and all my drowning friends turned 25 this year and realized

only the music stays young.

V.

I won’t divulge too much about the diners:
a poorly kept secret that no one believes,
and the best place for a 12am date.

VI.

windows-down drives on open freeways
seventy-five miles-per-hour nonstop
50 minutes to the shore
if you know the right routes (and I do)
tangled wild hair to dodge the cops

abandoned blue quarries with sand the color and feeling of silk
illegal but worth it
2 miles by foot or risk your car in the overgrown thrush
and rumored quicksand

we are coastal and northeastern
we are made for this
we live like Californians in July and Canadians in January

some say the unpredictable weather rubs off
on the residents; I say, after you are born and raised here,
you can go anywhere
and be okay

–if you can get out.

VII.

war monuments
fireworks for every occasion
namesake songs and blown out wicks
ashes fall like summer snow
recon to the revolution

colonists’ bones are buried underneath the ground
in the parks where we went on school nights
when we needed somewhere to smoke
studying light pollution through the T-top

once I brought a metal detector to the banks
and the ranger told me I couldn’t do that here,
that anything I’d find would belong to the state
well, why aren’t you looking then? I asked
it’s as much yours as it is mine and

don’t you want claim to this dirt?