I fell in love with you in my basement,
Roaring and feverish.
A row of Christmas lights was the only glow that draped across the bare walls
But even in their dull luminescence,
The outlines of your cheekbones were sharp as you smiled.
We watched old 90’s television shows on a burnt out TV
Eating bargain-brand potato chips.
It was the simplest moment,
You were just a simple girl but
A complicated web of heartstrings and muscle fibers
Wove their way into my nerves
Into my skull.
Your fingers brush-stroked the canvas of my thigh
And then suddenly our lips were painting apples, and marigolds, and Augusts.
You left me
In embers scattered
Across the unfinished concrete.
We had unfinished business to take care of.
We couldn’t even make it to the bedroom we were so drunk,
Sprawled out on the kitchen floor, backs against the dishwasher for support.
Our hands clung to the whiskey bottles while we tried to cling to
Consciousness, trying not to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
I’d drop a line about how this moment was perfect
And you’d laugh back and say I’m an idiot.
Eventually we ended up on our backs, hours passing in questions and answers,
Ebbs and flow of the mind curling into understanding and passing back into the disconnect.
You said, “I love you” for the first time
While you lie there
Staring straight up at the ceiling tiles, straight-faced and unaware of how
Those three words either turn into a wedding gown and tuxedo,
Or a car wreck under soil and dirt.
But I’ve learned I never learn,
So I said that I loved you back.
III. Master Bedroom
We turned the lights off
And turned our bodies on.
We were no longer afraid of the dark,
Our hands were animals running across forests of skin
The tiny hairs upright lightning bolts guiding us to the heart of the storm.
Lip met shoulder met collarbone met breath met sigh
Met lungs evacuating oxygen into the ocean of the night.
I drowned twice in the honey of your hands,
I drowned twice in the honey of your hands,
I found candles in the caverns of my chest.
We were music, we were lyrics hastily written
Into the stitching of the linen
Lining the mattress with bruises from elbows and knees.
Our joints bent clumsily, boomerang bones working on finding their way back home.
I found you hungry, ravenous,
Sinking your teeth into my ribcage, hanging on to every crimson sliver of heart.
Your scarlet lipstick should’ve been a red flag that
You were nothing but danger from the start,
But I clung onto your body like a lifeboat
Until the sun rose.
IV. Master Bathroom
You singing in the
Shower showed me I spent most
Of my day silent.
The first month after I stopped seeing you
I got carpal tunnel from all the poems
I tried to bury you
In. I contemplated arson and arsenic,
Train tracks and bullets.
Have you ever had every rib of yours snapped?
And then used as knives inside your chest?
I loved you so bad,
I pretended the fractured bones were cupid’s arrows instead.
They were sharper than your cheeks,
I was silent for weeks,
I think my pen is bleeding internally
There are midnight massacres of memory as I lay waste hours
And hours in this study,
Trying to study the exact moment in our history where the kingdom came to ruin.
We were supposed to be golden,
But somehow we started to rust.
I should’ve realized that August is the Sunday of summer love,
I should’ve realized my wick was wrecked,
But I got stuck in the honey not knowing
Our twenty-two minutes were up.
VI. Dining Room
The god damn table had six chairs
But I was the only one there with a pitifully microwaved bowl
Of twenty-two cent ramen.
I burned my tongue twice and didn’t even mind
Because at least it meant I felt something other than the
Aching gnaw of absence.
Everybody says that sadness is like a black
That swallows, gaping;
A hole unending, exhumed of all light and teetering with silence.
But they are wrong.
It is a fog white, that rolls in slow and doesn’t rid you of sight.
It is dull and stands firm, you can see everything,
You can feel everything,
But there is just a layer of clarity missing.
It hums into your eyes and your ears and your mouth,
It is thick and it does not swallow you whole.
It chokes you,
VII. Master Bedroom (Revisited)
After you came back
We kept the lights on,
But our bodies were off.
The forest was on fire from where the lightning had struck,
Our muscles were tired and worn like the sheets where we lied.
I suffocated from the wax in my throat trying to
Find your form between my awkward knees and elbows.
The mattress was caving in, too many dents on its surface,
I went underneath your waterline and never resurfaced for air.
My lungs deflated, I could barely hear the music
Over the ripping of the seams and the sutures off the skin.
Your bite marks were red flags etched into the concrete of my shoulders,
I dry-drowned in the lifeboat
Looking for your body in the wreckage.
VIII. Guest Bedroom
Have you ever tried to start a roaring flame with tinder and twigs?
We said we’d try something different,
A night in the guest bedroom like we were travelers in our own home.
We were pretenders,
Heartfelt offenders looking to see if just the neuronal sensation
Of finger ridge to spinal peak was enough
To ignite memory into being.
But I didn’t know those sheets,
There were no coffee stains on the linens.
Your scent wasn’t the same
And that pillow
Left me with a constant headache.
We were cold before the winter even rolled in,
You rolled out of the bed before the sun came up;
Your body was a stranger in the dawn light.
The way your hair cast shadows across your shoulder blades was crooked,
The goosebumps, little imps marking you loathsome to my touch.
I felt your warmth leaving with the coming month.
IX. Guest Bathroom
This time you locked the
Door when you took a shower.
I heard the silence.
X. Living Room
You left again and I died.
XI. Kitchen (Revisited)
My body, back at the disconnect,
Flipping between all these fragments of memory.
Staring straight at a flickering light bulb on the ceiling
I think the burning of tungsten filaments is trying to spell out in Morse
The exact moment where our ship sank.
The cold wood of my kitchen floor has its smooth skin over my back,
The liquor bottle in my hands kisses my lips like an old friend.
You are toxic, my dying brain cells.
You, this poison in my veins that I shouldn’t come back to
But you seep into my mind again.
Here I am, the twisted shards of metal wrapped around the idea that
Two bodies could ever be something more than just gravestones in the waiting.
My throat is a candle on its last limb,
You have the matchstick hidden.
The fog comes
Rolling back in to dim any hint of light
Or of progress.
XII. First Floor Bathroom:
At least I made it to the toilet,
I’ll call that forward progress at the least.
I am trying to vomit up every last bit of you that
Sits churning in my stomach, an ulcer,
So I can flush you into the drain.
I taste you acid on my tongue
My teeth are decaying,
The inner linings of my cheeks, decrepit.
My flesh is searing just thinking about how
Your flesh is wrapping into somebody else’s skin like
An old, woven blanket, calling it home.
The headaches come roaring and
My forehead feels feverish,
This fever is making me sick, sick, sick
I need to stop thinking about you with him, him, him.
I’m humming old gospel hymns
To the melody of how you left me but
God I can’t find the music anymore.
I fell out of love with you in the attic
When I packed away all your things into cardboard boxes,
Going as far as to drown them in gasoline but still
Not having the heart to leave you
The unpainted walls are half-hearted reminders that to me,
We will always be unfinished business.
I want to say that you miss me
But I know that you don’t.
For awhile the only escape was sleep
But now I don’t even sleep anymore.
I used to call you home and
I used to be so homesick;
Now I roam the rooms of the house always feigning surprise
That I don’t hear the echo of your footsteps in the corridors.
I know sometime soon I will find myself outside your house,
Not doing anything wrong but
Not doing anything right.
There is a disconnect that has existed from the moment you left,
An unending haze, an unsettling fog.
I feel like it’s always December,
I’m drowning in the gray.
Trying to find solace in Christmas lights won’t do a thing for me.
My veins and blood vessels cuss me from the bottle
But I can feel myself sinking again.
Most of my days are spent in silence while
I drip out the last drops I have left in these pens.
Sometimes I forget if I am writing poems or prayers.
These cobwebs are older than the calendar pages you and I traded
And we, once ripe, are now rotting.