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.

milk for the cereal, and vice versa

say hello to the girl at the
grocery store.

she grabs the brand of milk
you use :: all-time favorite
frosted wheaties soaking in
a chilled bowl of soy.

you are the boy, avoided.

the aisle persists in its
wide declaration – your
footprints following sighs
and the ragged breathing
one only hears when
the other has stumbled.

she never truly forgot
and regulars could attest
to loud discontent
locked in bent cans
rolling down, down –
further down.

metal rods clanging
against vineyards
on new glass.

the lids disappeared.

regardless, you both
spend every Friday
racing to the corner, a
lopsided box with
creased flaps, eyelids
reproached for looking
ahead and away.

shopping carts collide
and curse in light rainfall.

Cat No. 121 of the 500 Cats Project

conventional nothings

told to pack your bags, I guess.

whatever they contained, no one
remembers. perhaps they’re
lost in a dandelion thicket, paper
airplanes’ missing wings stuck
on the roof, or further broken on
sidewalks leading to a gas station
that grows in its barren longevity.

I feel that everyone already knows
that some books sell without the
last page. coffee stains reveal
more than we’d hope to awaken to
while the rain misses its quivering
targets. we’ll see there’s another
flash flood warning, and agree that
a lot of people shouldn’t be talking
on roads, or water that’s not wet.

doublespeak and jewelry hang from
wrists as you point at the breathing
sky, its grayness so dark. maybe “you”
means “we” in proper sense, etiquette
taught some time ago with too many steps
to follow before ten o’ clock p.m.
only the unseen speaks the nicest word,
but letters never leave closed mouths.

we all need an umbrella.

Cat No. 118 of the 500 Cats Project

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

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.