The table suddenly slips, warping into a muddy bend. Flecks in the linoleum melt, a grey river swallowing my coffee mug like quicksand. I reach for a knife and the metal seems wet but I can’t imagine how that happened. Suddenly everything feels wet and rain falling against the window starts to seep through the glass, puddles dripping onto our plastic booth.
Tonight we’re fighting so I squeeze out every drop from every bottle of soap while I shower. Bright pinks and blues run together in a river between my feet. Glue at the drain. Bubbles lick my heels in frothy swells.
“Excuse me sir,” I say to the hand,
“That is not yours.”
I am always polite, always
Placid, tepid—lukewarm like bathwater.
A well-mannered sheep, kept safe.
The hand does not withdraw.
It’s the steady click
of an 808 beat
as my heels thump against
the wet concrete
through the round
pressing winter silence
piercing and strong
‘till I lose my balance.
Sometimes I think my body is rotting inside out. It starts in the brain. On the bad nights I think of Ginsberg and his poem. I want to know what happens after I rot because I’m already rotting. I imagine pressing my finger into the seam in my chest and prying the chunks of skin and rib apart to reveal gaping, rotting guts.
I lost myself here. When alone time became the hour between labs, laying in bed and listening to musicals. Lost myself in the smell of weeks old laundry and Tabasco and a pet mouse—later two and then four.
There is a house out in the woods.
Its windows are broken, spiderweb cracks shivering the glass.
Frost on the panes like dead ferns.
Snow has drifted up the house’s peeling, weatherworn sides.
Where shingles have fallen, cavities gape. The house’s gums are swollen.
Walls groan with the wind.
The porch has splintered into brittle shards. Warped with time, it buckles inwards.
Rains stain a mottled pattern in the dark paint.
The doors are gaping mouths.
I think we should fly more.
Let’s sit in metal tubes
And huddle with strangers
Each one of us
If I could still write
I’d write us into a poem
While I still could
While we still existed.
dear mom: even after all of this,
things are ok here. portland is always
more sun than i think it’ll be; isn’t
it strange how that happens? i hope
Blood between my legs
Trickles down the creases in my thighs,
And they tell me it’s unnatural
Oui, in missing you i am missing me, Cherie,
For you are of me and my guts:
I have only one kidney, the other yours, ...
I broke a window on Tuesday. I stood barefoot on the toilet and reached towards the corner pane. When I slipped I took the corner with me, glass cracking in half.
I’m thinking about this window while I wait in the rain after work. When Sarah picks me up, we don’t speak.
Moiety could not work without a lab partner. It’s not that she lacked the skills—her five years in the Alkenia Academy of Alchemy and subsequent apprenticeships had brought out her talents and left her as one of the finest alchemists in the Kingdom—but it was negligence and frivolous errors that kept her fume hood fuming. Moiety knew this fact all too well. After too many charges to count for broken vials and spilt potions, she always made sure to schedule her work hours with the other alchemists’. She wasn’t even sure why it helped her; her partners never reached a hand into her bubbling setups. Maybe it was their positive presence. Moiety never knew. She didn’t need to know. All she needed was someone to work in her vicinity so she could actually get something done.
Portland sleeps; the city dreams. Eleven bridges cross the Willamette, not necessarily leading to the other side. Streets are reshuffled, entire neighborhoods rearranged, towering redwoods growing beside downtown skyscrapers. Portland’s dreams are full of rain, creating music in the puddles and reflections that refuse to stay still. Portland dreams of you, and you are not yourself.
Fragment No. 1. The Butte
I slid down the snowy Montana butte, slowly at first. I was still clumsy with the snowshoes.
Did you fall down up there?
Not yet! I’m on my way.
I didn’t rush. I looked out across the frozen lake with our cabin on the other side and the edge of little West Yellowstone. The clarity of the air could cut through your many layers.
The landscape was tricolor. The snow white had little blood pricks of red sagebrush along the 191 and the evergreen was dark green like the beginning of time.
My cheeks were always red like Christmas or childhood and I kept having these dreams of what my ancestors did when their mountains got misty and cold.
I bent my knees and down I went. The trees tightened the trail and I whooshed past the frozen branches of pine. Evergreens encased in ice glittered like insect wings.
I saw tiny paw prints I couldn’t identify nearly as quick as I could poetic devices like metonymy, the whole for the part.
It was that fox you like.
Or synecdoche — the part for the whole — the paws for the fox.
The broken man sat on the bus stop bench, his gray coat hanging in threadbare strips, his face the color of a gravestone. As soon as I walked by, looking anywhere but his face, he snatched my arm and pulled me close.
I am each and every person I ever wanted to be,
in many ways they manifest themselves in me.
Some call it inspiration, others call it copying,
but either way it's a reflection of what I'm embodying.
She hated the smell of cigarettes. There was no bright memory, no reclusive, subtle silver lining to be salvaged from the smell of cigarettes. Cigarettes were what her boyfriend always smelled like. Always does smell like. He started smoking a lot of weed and then stopped caring about school or anything really and then his parents divorced and he started smoking cigarettes and now he always smells like cigarettes.