Regular Poem: Sweating in Rayon

16 Nov

i’m not trying to sweat in rayon

something about it and me
doesn’t blend well

a fabricated fabric
a sweet sweat
hot and gross

and yet
here i am
in rayon
sweating

at least i’m not
an old testament prophet
(an old mantra)
at least i’m not
any character in wuthering heights
(a new mantra)
at least i’m not
(an infinite mantra)

comparing is decomposing
a fallen leaf on the wet ground
waiting to be
annihilated
organically sun and shower frost and fever

i’m not trying to sweat in rayon

but here i am
in rayon
sweating

she doubles over at my vaudeville joke
she does a spit take at my regular observance

i understand i’ve been funny
(i always make myself laugh)
but i don’t get
how
i’ve been
funnier
than usual

it’s a personal essence

tapping into
palpating
a different
specific
succinct
personal

essence

whatever whoever
i am
smells bad
in rayon

to me at least

but he compliments
and she laughs
and she

tells and tells

(it’s more and too much)
(it’s more
than i’m used to)

usually

i’m talking and talking
but now
i’m listening and listening
contorting my face into a listening face
plastic athletic

(i would do push ups for you
you would enjoy them
clap and fawn over them but
that’s not
what you want
now
you want my silence
and my
listening
face)

it’s more and less than you’ve ever told me

i listen and tell
and you
tell and listen

you hardly sweat at all
and i

i hate to sweat in rayon

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Regular Poem: As Soon as Things Seem Good

17 Oct

if only
i were a painter

if only
i were a person
who luxuriated in detail

if only
i could detail that detail

***

i walk in
you recognize my step or my huff
you turn
your face brightens

this is where i wish
i were a painter

there are happy crinkles at your eyes
there is alacrity there too
shoulders and arms all welcoming noodles
al dente
throw it against a wall
watch it stick

“i haven’t seen you in a while”

your chair scoots and slides
closer and closer
your body language
open open open
talk listen talk listen
hello hello

(we bullshitted ad nauseum one week and two days ago
saw each other in passing five days ago)

you’ve been keeping track
in your way
and i’ve been keeping track
in mine

***

“i have nothing to say
there are no thoughts in my brain”
i say earlier in the day
and it’s true
i’m clear
but
wanting

and as you look at me
expecting
al dente
to the tooth
i’m still
blank
so blank
full of nothing

we talk
to produce something
something to fill a very specific void
a square peg a round hole
grinding on each side
talking and talking
now in the parking lot two hours later
a triangular peg a triangular hole
perfect
architecturally sound

we are one side
two sides
three sides

two legs good
three sides best

***

he says
i have a gift
she says
i’m too smart for this place
i say
what we have in common is our mutual penchant for

riling ourselves up
subjecting ourselves
to things
and ideas
so opposed to our values
that we
get mad

philosophically morally ethically
theologically

***

i’m not a good girl

when i pass a person i hate
i think the worst thoughts
(although i may not voice them)

(“he
‘s skulking around to take over proceedings
bastard asshole get fucked”)

i confess
“i think bad things of people”
each in turn offers a person
i don’t think bad things of
as an appendix addendum
people i respect admire and then

“you surely don’t think bad things of [redacted]” someone says
“it’s a different kind of terrible that i think of her” i say

everyone shudders

***

i can’t stand your earnest face

this is not what we are

i come to you
weary and wary

we talk and talk
like each other
indulge each other

you are not
supposed to believe in me so
advise me
think me

a real person

we are supposed
to accept each other

as the fantastical creatures we should be

but here you are seeing the real me
and here i am seeing the real you

and neither of us should like it but we do anyway

and as soon as we do thus
as soon as we do thus
as soon as he says
as soon as she says

the other shoe must drop

***

i will be proved unworthy

i am as fake as i am real

an equilibrium
so inequitable
i might snap

Regular Poem: Back on My Bullshit

15 Oct

The problem with the phrase “back on my bullshit”
is that it implies
I was ever

off my bullshit

which I,
for the record,
was not,
am not,
have not been.

“It’s been rough lately,” I say.
She rolls her eyes–sympathetic yet teasing,
“What does lately mean to you?

She’s right.
It’s been rough
interminably.

***

It’s my own special torture place.
God hasn’t deemed me ready to release me.
There are works yet to be accomplished.
There are punishments yet to be fulfilled.

***

I was always among the first picked
for sports teams in school,
somehow, for some reason.

I am not good
at sports.

So it was always
my inept body, flailing, attempting
to be a body that might
score a goal or win a race,
working against the opposing team
even as I was
working against
my stupid self.
I failed.
Or I executed a perfect interception.
Happenstance. The chance
that my hands were handy.

***

She’s crying.
My voice is my work voice
as I console her.

My body is my real body
as I hug her.

I want to hug her longer.
She doesn’t want that.

I’ve often thought of touching her skin,
not in a sexy way but an intimate way,
feeling the feelings pulse
through her capillaries.
But she’d rather
just now
that I just listen,
so I do.
I cross my arms over my chest,
look into her wet eyes with my own wet eyes
and do.

We all want
different things at different times from

different people.

***

Certain people
always

weave their way
into my poetry.

They probably don’t mean to be
strands
golden strings
taut
and part of a
bizarre tapestry
woven in my brain and heart.

Am I a weaver or a spider?
Either way,
these people are
here–

immortalized in an artful quilt or
consumed in my foul web.

***

I’ve heard
Kansas is the most depressed state
because there’s nothing to do.

There’s plenty to do.

We just don’t do it.

Missouri loves company.

***

Tomorrow is Tuesday.
Tomorrow is
tomorrow.

Tomorrow is almost today
but more.

Tomorrow is today
but a better today.

***

I’m back on my bullshit.
But it’s the future’s bullshit.
And the future

has yet to decide
its bullshit.

Regular Poem: Liminal Spaces

8 Oct

it’s one of those

words

that means something
and you know it in jolts and spasms but not in

words

you have to look it up every time
before you use it for real

but you think it
feel it
all the time

***

a corner to turn
and you double check the street sign as you do it

a door to open
and you double check the address as you do it

a pond to jump in
and you double check the depth as you do it

***

certain spaces are heavy dense
full

of something not themselves
but what they’ve been before
and what a sense of them is
or might be
or could be

a hot car on a rainy night
fog and shadows and smears of reflection
tonight
thoughts jittering and skittering

a rainy night four years ago
drunk and upset
same car
different roads
same person
different different same same

a rainy day ten years ago
same car
same smell
a passenger who said
it smells like mocha
maybe it did
maybe it does
maybe that’s just cheap leather seats and smoke and
me

surreal encounters
a wet sheen over everything
hazy and hopeful faint and foreboding and on the cusp of something

***

she and i
talk about a lot of things
but it always
sooner or later
turns to murder
theoretical hypothetical intellectual

an exercise of wits
but still

she knows

my preference is
(would be)
physical intimate
rage and release

i know

her preference is
(would be)
tactical efficient
clean and clinical

we run on parallel tracks
but one of us is freight the other passenger
i don’t know which is which
but the coal is burned the same

***

she and i
talk about a lot of things
but it always
sooner or later
turns to how brains work
how we think what we think when we think
of certain things we think of

i pry into her mind pick apart question analyze
her mind is such a mine
coal copper silver gold
all stunning and worth so much

if i could live in someone else’s brain for a day
to experience the cogs
to calibrate the gear ratios
it would be difficult to choose
i’ve known so many bizarre individuals
but i would ultimately choose her

it wouldn’t be as much of an adventure
so much as an equal and opposite force
we come to the same conclusions different ways
love the same things for subtly different reasons

a dining car on a train
a mess hall on a battleship

***

i wouldn’t know how
to exact revenge

i am a woman bound to temporality
i know the now
and have vague feelings about the then

sharp pangs of acute memory
encased in murky impressions
cloudy
foggy
and then
a lightning flash of something stupid

i read an article once
about a woman who
survived a lightning strike because of the underwires in her bra

of course i don’t remember the details
the how and why

i remember deciduous and coniferous trees
i remember adverbial objectives
i remember bogs and fens
i remember a certain kiss

but i don’t remember all the specific slights

i exist in a temporal plane
alas

***

joke’s on you
she laughs

she uses my phrases
now

we’ve come to be
allies
teammates
friends

i’ve always thought
in spite of myself
her hands were sexy

and now
even though we were meant to hate each other
even though they wanted us to somehow balance each other
we

see each other
match each other
protect each other
care for each other
know each other

love each other

we exchange words that express this
but we also
and more offen and importantly
exchange actions

i wouldn’t care to spend time in her brain
she ought to have something that’s hers alone

i don’t wonder how she thinks

i know

she’s smart
and thinks things i think and things i don’t

i simply
love her for all of it
regardless

***

i’ve been trying
to tell people

i’ve been trying
to show people

i love you
you’re worth something

i say to him
you can share the gospel
without sharing The Gospel
if you don’t cultivate a relationship

you have to care for and love a person for that person
to wonder about
the care and love inside you
where does that love come from
why do you care so much

he likes it
but it’s platitudes

i wish i could be as good as i sounded

***

it’s one of those

words

it’s one of those

feelings

i heard you want to buy a houseboat
she says
but that’s not here
she also says

perhaps she would miss me if i moved away

but that’s so fake and fantastical

it’s just
one of those things
that engenders that sort of reaction

it’s just one of those

words

***

dictionary definitions
lack

i have a lot of feelings about dictionaries
i have a lot of feelings

i have a lot of words

i have a lot and so little

Regular Poem: Pipe Organ

1 Oct

a pipe organ:
the flaps open fully
the sound blasts
fills an auditorium
reverberates and resounds
vibrates against molars
sonic energy palpable in the pulmonary muscle, arteries, vesicles

open and breathing
breathing such wind
as to blow through
such pipes
yards tall
sustained
to the ceiling
every wall

i don’t know how it works

i know the fundamentals:
air and vacuums and
vessels air moves through to produce pitches

i don’t know how it works
but i know
it works

it works aesthetically thematically musically

i know who plays it
but i don’t know how

(the organist gave a concert
she didn’t play organ though
she played piano
because
she said
she didn’t want her glory to surpass His in our eyes
she merely
wanted to play music
that would induce us to praise Him
she also said
it was easy for her
because
her hands were so big
she could span an octave and a third without even stretching
so it was inevitable she would be proficient at keys)

the valves open
and the organ blows
its notes
the organist taps keys
and the organ organs itself somehow

but before that absolute fortissimo
the choir is mezzo forte
just a soft regular before
LOUD MAJESTIC

to be cliche
a calm before a storm
a humdrum before a THE MOST

“did you see all your shout-outs in the company newsletter” (2.5 compliments, to be precise) a coworker says
“yes,” i say, pensive, tentative, suspicious, “but
i’m wondering why everyone’s extolling my virtues
now”
the coworker laughs, says,
“maybe because everyone’s been so shitty to you lately”

i laugh, baffled,

“but everyone’s been shitty to me for years; why should anyone like me now”

we all shrug
and laugh

“i feel as though i should print this out and get your autograph on it” another coworker says
she’s a coworker but not
similar frustrations
similar reprimands
different circumstances

same rage

we laugh
we scowl
we carry stress in our necks
get migraines in the same season
for the same but different reasons

i get a text
and then i make a call
“you’re a tough nut;
you’re so confident;
you know yourself”

it’s all the same validation:
so true and also
so useless

what i don’t say to all these people who believe in me
is that

this validation feels good
and right
and true

moreover

this validation
is valid
objectively
categorically
empircally

true

but fruitless nevertheless
i ought not
revel in these revelations
as soon as i feel good
people tell me i’m bad

we are a postmodern society
truth is meaningless

what is forte
if not tried against piano

the pipe organ blasts
but is it loud
if not compared to
when it doesn’t

Regular Poem: Is Your Unlikeability Holding You Back at Work?

13 Sep

these ads
i swear
how dare they

how dare they cut into me
with such a precise y-incision
hidden so easily beneath the blouse the mortician will slice in half and drape over my corpse

how dare they
see my insecurity of the week
and slap an attractive woman on it
just for spite

use my search history all you want
but stay away from my barely voiced anxiety
please
i beg you
a girl can take
only so much

“is your unlikeability holding you back at work?”

fuck you and the algorithmic psychic magic you rode in on

of course the answer is yes
but to my credit
my unlikeability holds me back everywhere

“you called me a
dumb
man
the other day” he says
“well it sounds like me but i don’t recall saying it”
“did you black out lmao” he says
“i talk constantly
i can’t remember everything i say”

“i know” he says “and you’re not subtle”
“i’m a loud bitch all the time
that’s why i can’t get anywhere in life”

this conversation
occurred way after this ad
but the ad is just so true
whether spoken or unspoken

a lot of versions of me exist
an infinite blinding stream of different same mes

earth 2 me is into bdsm
earth 17 me is a vegan health nut
earth 40 me is a nun

but even earth prime contains many mes
all the mes i am to myself
and all the mes i am to everyone else
all making the same jokes
with different people laughing or not laughing at them

“is your unlikeability holding you back in the theory of the multiverse?”

why shouldn’t it be

my unlikeability
is often my most memorable trait
so why shouldn’t it
carry over to any version of me

“i need you to be on your best behavior” she says
but there’s the rub right
all my behavior is pretty much the same
a baseline of
aggressiveness frivolity efficiency excitement excess
absurdity
contemplation

my best behavior
just isn’t the best
it’s not
nice enough
soft enough
accomodating enough
linear enough

i’m gaslighting myself
delusional
narcissistic
i really am as terrible as they all say
as evidenced by
memory 16b
intrusive thought 184
reaction 93 from trusted friend

“the way we grow is by self-reflection, taking responsibility” she says
i feel like a fucking kid as she lectures me
both because the things she’s saying are so basic and obvious
and because
my gut instinct is to protest that
those people who complain about me are just beyond stupid

what i actually say
is that once i’ve rubbed someone the wrong way
they’re rubbed that way forever
no right rubbing afterward is going to unrub them
because they’ve already decided
and they’ve already spoken
and they’ve already gotten me in trouble
no matter the severity of the initial offense
no matter the matter-of-fact apology i might issue

it’s not like i haven’t experienced it before
confronted myself
consulted myself
consulted others

and what i’ve ultimately concluded
is that we all sin and we all stutter and we all have flaws
but i’m so loud and visible
that some people just can’t forgive me the way they might forgive others
overlook me the way they might overlook others

i’m a hard woman
and an easy target

because who’s going to argue that i’m not hard

no one

it’s easy to believe i’m the way they say
the way they wrongly perceived
because
i’m not nice

i’m thoughtful
i’m pleasant
i’m funny
i’m truthful
i’m fair
i’m blunt
i’m sharp

but i’m not
nice

and what i’ve ultimately concluded
is that it’s the devil

he wants me to feel this way
this bad way
this marginilized undermined mean unworthy
thing
rather than the regular person i am

i’m a regular person
i have my own problems
why can’t people mind their business
and realize this
that their problems and my problems
are different and the same
and we’re all just trying to make a living
and also live
we’re all trying to just live

but of course
everyone reacts to stress differently
they made the best decision for themselves
and it happened to affect me adversely

they weren’t trying to hurt me

i wasn’t trying to hurt them

but we hurt each other
anyway

the difference is
(in my own fevered ruminations)
i was trying to ignore what i didn’t like about them
grow to like them eventually
give them a little room

but i don’t ever get any room
i’m not an acquired taste
just a taste you either like or don’t
black licorice cilantro quinine
it’s one strike for me

it’s the devil

when the sun’s shining but it’s still raining
they say
the devil’s beating his wife

i don’t remember getting married
but i’ve got plenty of bruises

Regular Poem: Being Known

7 Sep

When I can make her laugh in such a way
as to
see her filled cavities
in her open mouth,

I know i’ve done right.

I so hardly do right anymore,

but those flashes of silver against enamel–
those flashes
when i can see her scars and not ask,
those flashes when she laughs and

looks

at me–

(I experiment.
First
it was bottom eyeliner
then both top and bottom
then just top
and now

no eyeliner.
She doesn’t wear eyeliner.

I don’t realize until later.)

We mirror
each other.

I’m sitting across her desk,
and she’s using my gestures.

But

she’s indulging me.

I’ve disclosed enough that she knows
what makes me tick
and scream.

But she also knows
what makes me
stifle that scream.

She talks so I don’t scream.
And she knows that.

She knew that.
She had known that.

(I called her.
I told her.
But she had already known.)

We mirror each other
because mirroring is so subconscious.
We talk organically
and mirror the same.
I see her in me
and me in her.

She’s indulging me,
but it’s gone on too long to be one sided.

(I had called.
I had warned.
I had been

a cute Cassandra.)

But her oracle of Apollo
is so forgiving,
and she knows me

somehow better than I ever conciously think
she does.

She knows.
I told.
But she had known before.
And I don’t tell.
But she still knows.

She’s not even a chiropractor.

But she gives a good cranial massage.
And she knows me
without saying.

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