In the first hour of another life, I named you god and took to singing the glory of you.
Even the feral saints called me mad but I was intoxicated, then, with the glory of you.
But that was another life, and its echo my curse. Somewhere in time, a symphony stirs,
but my praise songs and prophecies are nothing more than a sad girl’s story of you.
When I said I would find you anywhere, I thought there was nothing I could not foresee.
But blindfolded, bereft, I cannot locate the name you live by now in my rosary of you.
Do you remember how I came to your door, a vagabond, night after night? You asked what
magic or weapon I dispelled wolves and fiends with, but all I had was the armory of you.
And, lover, if you only knew – the only demon I knew was you. Caught between your teeth,
losing my head between your thighs, my fate irresistible, even knowing the augury of you.
I inhabit the past now, I speak no more predictions. To forget is mere Cassandra wish – and
would I want to? The nights are so long, and there is no body warm as the memory of you.
If a man is only as good as his word,
then I want to marry a man with a vocabulary like yours.
The way you say dicey and delectable and octogenarian
in the same sentence— that really turns me on.
The way you describe the oranges in your backyard
using anarchistic and intimate in the same breath.
I would follow the legato and staccato of your tongue
wrapping around your diction
until listening become more like dreaming
and dreaming became more like kissing you.
I want to jump off the cliff of your voice
into the suicide of your stream of consciousness.
I want to visit the place in your heart where the wrong words die.
I want to map it out with a dictionary and points
of brilliant light until it looks more like a star chart
than a strategy for communication.
I want to see where your words are born.
I want to find a pattern in the astrology.
I want to memorize the scripts of your seductions.
I want to live in the long-winded epics of your disappointments,
in the haiku of your epiphanies.
I want to know all the names you’ve given your desires.
I want to find my name among them,
‘cause there is nothing more wrecking sexy than the right word.
I want to thank whoever told you
there was no such thing as a synonym.
I want to throw a party for the heartbreak
that turned you into a poet.
And if it is true that a man is only as good as his word
then, sweet jesus, let me be there
the first time you are speechless,
and all your explosive wisdom becomes
a burning ball of sun in your throat,
and all you can bring yourself to utter is, oh god, oh god.
Favorite: ‘cause there is nothing more wrecking sexy than the right word.
When you want to fall — fall.
Evaporate and condensate,
but when you rain, come down
as a fucking hurricane.
If the birds stop chirping, if the sunlight forgets
you, if you’ve got your shirttail caught in the fence
of your spine, and you have no way of getting
remember that I am here, that I will bail you out of
your own prison, that I will lay with you the morning after
you fall in love and tell you that it’s okay to love,
that it’s okay to trust another human being
with more than you knew you could.
I will tell you how I held you as a child, listened
to your heartbeat on those sleepless nights, that I
loved your small body and your pebble fists and blessed
the skeleton inside of you —
that you are not beautiful because
a boy tells you so, but beautiful because
And I apologize for giving you such nervous hands and
a sine wave heartbeat. And when you start putting question marks
after everything you say — know that
I may not always have the answers, but
together, we can try to make sense
of it all.
I’ll take you back to my West Virginia. My Gloucester. My
honeysuckles and tool sheds. The chicken coops. The abandoned
loves. I’ll show you what the August grass feels like. I’ll
distract you with tree roots, with atlases, with lessons about the
sea, and until your question marks are bent into
arrows, I will not
stop. So shoot them blindly. Hurt and be hurt. Be the bird
as much as you are the hand.
For I will stand behind you, breaking every vow that I made
to protect you. When I notice your wings are peeking out
from beneath your shirt collar, I’ll
tie my hands back from clipping them. I will hide every rope
in the country so that the love inside of me doesn’t
tether your ankles to home.
You are seventeen, and you are free.
But when you want to come home, I’ll be here.
In the wind chimes, in the small moths that flutter
towards your light, in the way dawn still breaks the same
blue eggs in every place that you decide to
I’ll be here.
Less a ghost than the wind.
Less the wind than a soft hum in the back of your
throat, telling you that it’s okay to sing, that it’s
okay to bray,
that your song is a song that you’ll spend
the rest of your life trying to understand.
That when the birds talk you into flying south, it’s okay
to pick up
Let me be the first to say
that I know the name for everything
and if I don’t I’ll make them up:
dukkha, naufragio, talinhaga.
Just like the young
whose hearts give no shame,
I love the excesses of beauty,
there is never enough sunlight
in the world I will live in,
never enough room for love.
I fear none of us will last long enough
to prove what I’ve always suspected,
that the sky is a membrane
in an angel’s skull,
trees talk to each other at night,
ice is water in a state of silence,
the embryo listens to everything we say.
I am afraid for the child skipping rope
on the corner of my street,
the girl on the train with flowers in her hair,
the man whose memory is entirely
in Spanish. I am more afraid of losing consciousness
when I go to sleep, or that in my sleep
I will grow old and forget how desire
once drove me mad with wakefulness.
Just like the perfect seasons
they will die
and I will die
and you will die also;
no one knows who will go first,
and this is the source
of all my grief.
Here’s what our parents never taught us:
You will stay up on your rooftop until sunlight peels away the husk of the moon,
chainsmoking cigarettes and reading Baudelaire, and
you will learn that you only ever want to fall in love with someone
who will stay up to watch the sun rise with you.
You will fall in love with train rides, and sooner or later you will
realize that nowhere seems like home anymore.
A woman will kiss you and you’ll think her lips are two petals
rubbing against your mouth.
You will not tell anyone that you liked it.
It is beautiful to love humans in a world where love is a metaphor for lust.
You can leave if you want, with only your skin as a carry-on.
All you need is a twenty in your pocket and a bus ticket.
All you need is someone on the other end of the map, thinking about the supple
curves of your body, to guide you to a home that stretches out for miles
and miles on end.
You will lie to everyone you love.
They will love you anyways.
One day you’ll wake up and realize that you are too big for your own skin.
Don’t be afraid.
Your body is a house where the shutters blow in and out against the windowpane.
You are a hurricane-prone area and the glass keeps breaking through.
But it’s okay.
Remember that someone told you once that the breeze
is something worth writing poems about.