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.

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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.

on resourcefulness

I press myself dutifully against the creases
of my first sofa, curling pink toes and taking
a breath here and there because I cannot rely on
the increased intensity of our 2AM releases while
we’re both so grounded in not exactly knowing how
to spell something other than “astronaut” after
they continue to ask us what we’ll come back as
when there are no more shops selling milkshakes
within the hours we both gasped at just how good
it feels to wear everything backwards (everything).

slow it down, the lights don’t sleep like you
assume I can’t, and this is unusually fine with me
as you stub your toe on tables in ways I don’t
understand like the laws of physics multiplying in
heat while anyone with pity says my fear and lukewarm
speechlessness run to each corner of my faded paper
brain that’s more like a balloon skidding across a
sandy road with the shortest string trailing behind.

making the most of what brevity rustles on your
front porch and the flimsy reminders of old windowsills.

that’s all we have to do, and we will be just fine.

the song

I was sitting on the front porch of a house I didn’t grow up in
and most would say this is not proper etiquette, but I promise
a handful of people nearby do the same thing, quieted by cats
in their afternoon battles with dying leaves stepped upon by
some people with a lightness that captivates and confuses me
the way sunburns sting thinner faces on days when it doesn’t rain
but the neighborhood came close as I hoped I’d find that boy walking
across the yard of the house I didn’t grow up in, but I do know a
boy had lived behind its door, that he sang so loudly before the night.