what it means to be overbearing

I look it up in the dictionary
because like many other words,
I’ve heard and used it so many times
that I’ve exhausted its meaning.

usually, I think of a mother
crying loudly at night, demanding
that you drive to the nearest rural convenience store
to fetch some Nyquil for her imagined flu.

or, the boss whose list of directives
lengthens like the phone calls in her office
with a daughter who never listens,
a daughter whose flaws you’re told of.

I will leave you alone,
to the extent that you knocked,
every three hours, several weeks
when I was busy too.

eventually, the adaptation will fail
and I will worry,
seeing you’re back in the air,
flying kites dampened by melodramatic poetry.

I show these to the friend
who compared me to a headless rooster,
the one who gently told me
that everyone has feelings.

a search result mentions domination,
excessive energy, insatiable want
that I’d say you exuded openly,
myself the one at your call.

the most gratifying experiences
you claim you’ve had
in shorthand, prose, and video
the same day you request.

and like the boss, you had a list
and because I am a fiend with pens,
checkmarks, planners, Post-its,
it irked me to see things undone.

so I unraveled the spool,
each time you rang
in every color available
as I wanted to give you the world.

naturally, the more time spent with you,
I gave away pieces of my world,
finding comfort in our pseudo-anonymity
in an arrangement we both thought fruitless.

in spite of the things you’d divulge
and dismiss as things you’d never say,
or fantasies you’ve been denied access to,
you remained fairly silent.

my cups of water had spilled
to where I couldn’t mop up the mess,
and as the room began to flood,
I gathered the voice to call out to you.

fumbling again towards failure
as impulsivity grabbed what grew
exactly at the root, obscuring the light of chance
before the battery could even charge.

the best definition I settled with
discussed the application of emotional force
and the exhaustion suffered by one struck
with yearnings and aches unprecedented.

a positive side to this

you must have knocked
nearly a dozen times
and with those confessions,
opinions I shared,
you might have wanted
to know some more
about a girl
who was more than confident
she would marry a cat,
but you entertained
some slim possibility
of showing me
“a positive side to this,”
that being so far,
studious, yet typing
paragraphs of hypotheticals
at two, sorry, three
in the morning humidity,
you could not possibly hurt me
and I could very well
offer the most favorable appraisals
that your exes left you
regarding the curves of your pistol,
shining sincerities in our
soda can moonlight
the way we imagine
monogamy should glisten
across the full lower lip
of an actress selling beer
as if it were sweet sangria
or some aloe vera fragrance in a bottle,
petite like a frugal waitress
determined to carry a dozen plates.

letters from North Texas

you promised me letters and yes,
they were delivered.

so much meaning to a girl who
never had a birthday party, as
birthdays near Christmas bring
enough cheer as they come to
recover snowflakes’ edges so
rounded and spliced within life.

you had a point when you said
I could use a spine, and not the
kind between glossy covers with
cherry blossoms, peaches, the
hope that graced my evenings
before you came home to speak
of yet another disappointment
that could only emerge from my
off-white inexperience, marred
further by old crayons I still hide
beneath my almost-bed, these
almost-goals refusing to say they
are done with me, my failures in
following through with plans that
look so pretty on the porous face
of “Thank You” cards I wanted to
send, and for some reason, I did
feel that I owed you one, as well
as the signature that no one could
read in high school; they told me
to re-write it, or simply provide my
initials because we weren’t signing
anything the President reads, just
like I would be folding your grayed
boxers dusting every inch of some
up-to-date gadgetry you felt you
were entitled to, as entitled as men
should be to that perfect woman
I was, wasn’t, but could be if I only
took it easy on that small bright pint
of cookie dough ice cream, and all
the sugar I thought would stay, atop
my tongue that welcomed and asked
you to stay because you said I was
different, and I thought that this alone
was enough to fall asleep, a grin so
wide and hands enjoying the calm
of two admired breasts, awaiting an
admission of your follies and a pledge
to be yourself, to do away with deeds
you’d only distrust as an obligation.

I tore up each and every letter today,
realizing I’ve had enough time.

some dehydrated thought

there was once a time when I thought hazelnut
truffles fell from the sky, and I asked in the
middle of downtown morning traffic.

who am I to even mention traffic? I haven’t
had a car in years.

it’s an ethics thing for me, like not wearing
wooden square-bead bracelets showcasing
saints striking ten different poses.           don’t
press the gas if you can’t turn the wheel.

and don’t start conversations about certain
people who’ve received the same amount of
confidence you’ve placed in your sad self.

I watched a documentary on husbands who
can’t feel.           They mumbled their vows as
their mothers cried, like the brides would in
several months. occasionally, I stare at the
ceiling, crumpling napkins in colorless fists.

I wonder if I’m anything like these men, if
I’ve ever really wanted anyone.

undoubtedly, I’ve always envied the act of
being, but I’ve never met someone who
taught this.           pedagogy is a loaded word
long hallowed by some who can’t order fries
without leaving behind some slap-worthy smirk.

the hazelnut truffles rest on my countertop
that begs for Clorox, just as my eyelids
calmly give up their strained resolve.

listeria

he crossed a boundary, sturdy chest pressed
by a thin, pale finger (slightly bent).

plastic ring, the sparkling pink
invites a smirk to dance:
trivial moments shall upset
this one dry face.

composing some song, uneven tempo
that awkwardly mocks mixed signals
perceived weeks before autumn.

she lost her page, calendar torn
and no one provides the correct date.

three weeks late and stalled
at another rusted bus stop.

deadline on the yellow slip,
facetious detention with which
he threatens her between four
brittle walls, barely there.

honest warnings, clipped
and tucked for years, into
striped inner pockets of
a favorite purse with color
at its fullest, unchanged.

this new emptiness grabs her
by the chin, shaking her head
as boys of the past grab busted
pens, scrawling their numbers.

to discount and disconnect
all over again.

Cats No. 112, 113, 114, and 115 of the 500 Cats Project

our barest vacancies

Plastic, glass, transparency.

You who have given your best so freely while the vanilla
inside the busted freezer solidifies so stubbornly
and stabs all youth’s sides.

Go ahead.

Run in this finicky heat and tell me if you’ve won
today’s crackling debate.

Apply all you could know into the pores, some large
and some like the point on a pencil sharper than
your thesis statement born on foggy mornings when cars
kiss backsides with force and unfulfilled hunger.

Streets keep winding regardless of the time
your eyes spent lost in smeared fine print that
never seems to make up its damn mind the longer
you take to wrap a bow around runaway reasons.

Even in houses with manicured lawns, Swarovski
figurines convulse on clean tile floors.

as he talks

you could do whatever you wanted with
shallow graves and the scales of a goldfish
who overstayed his welcome during the flood.

he was a nice man, sharing his adventures
and gently asking me why I wasn’t making
anything out of myself, although my attempts
to figure out what I truly want continue, gray
blinds remaining flat like a composure that
once spilled over, staining my frayed bluejeans
as he lost himself laughing at his own jokes.

someone could say “I miss you,” and yell
my name while I stand under bridges, confused.

such a dizzied state, encountering those
you think you’ve seen before, in the suburbs
or a busy intersection choked by sticky
hands of teenagers we sometimes resent.

satisfaction awakes us like tart and big cherries
but like wedding rings, it sometimes escapes.

we point and ask if anyone’s seen it and
if luck had itself a merry little morning, perhaps
we’ll find that shimmering solidity nestled
in nothing more than another denim pocket.

I appreciated his sentiments while the clock
swallowed hard, and I took my time to chew
on imperfectly recited advice, even if it soured
out in the open like a lonely yellow Starburst.