“When in doubt, turn left.”

The story begins over bourbon.
No-
The story begins in Brooklyn.
The story begins with him.

The story begins on a train,
As any decent story should.
With a woman dressed in red,
In the sixth row of the second car
Of a train leaving New York.
Shuffling toward Boston
As no decent character would.

Well, the story begins with me.
With poetry.

The engine nags the tracks,
With a hiss,
Resigns
With a sigh.
Resorts
To the silent treatment.
Plastic clicks of
Slammed
Luggage compartments
Conductor’s announcements
Punctuate the sentences.
Drops of bourbon stain the second stanza.
Bleed though the paper
Reveal the mirror image of a
Girl’s phone number.

Here in row 6,
It could be any year.
Though it’s surely December.
The 23rd.
The day before the day before.
The air saturated with the roar
Of conversations stumbling toward an argument.
Reminders of the last minutes-
The Cousins they’ve forgotten.
The impulse purchases.
Timeless husbands making timeless mistakes.
In fact, it could be the days
Of men who still wore hats.
The whole scene filmed in black and white.
It could be
Silent.

Suddenly,
The page vibrates
My cell phone rings,
Reading the message on the screen,
I realize.
I exclaim,
             Oh shit. He read it.

The story begins with poetry
The story hinges on a mistake.

I met him on a Saturday afternoon that was meant for someone else.
What matters is the moment I turned left.
You see, I was caught.
Not in a lie, not yet.
Just standing in between two men.
I should have turned right,
But instead-

It all goes back to my mother.
To the days before I could drive a car
When we would wander.
Get lost in what we deemed
The Bermuda triangle of Boston
My mother taught me,
“When in doubt, turn left.”

Which, makes zero sense.
Which, in practice,
Has never lead me anywhere
I meant.
Instead, it’s usually the start of an adventure.
A story of the trouble
A woman like her could cause
A reminder
That she never warned me of the flaws
Of turning left.

To be continued…

One. Year. Later.

One year ago was, by all accounts, what should be described as the “worst day of my life.”

When it happened, I promised that it would be the start of a great story.
It has.

Today, I celebrate.

Everything fell apart. In the span of three hours. I found myself without a partner, a home, and a job. It was heartbreaking, but secretly what I wanted. It was also the most liberating experience I’ve ever had. I packed up my car with the bare essentials, as if the house had caught on fire. Then I left.

I left.

I never looked back.

I have seen many times in my past that though I worry over small situations, in the face of a true emergency I’m a good one to have around. This was an emergency- the house was on fire. My entire life reduce to ash. I didn’t know what to do, so I called my father and he said,
“Just come home…just come home.”

I knew he needed it more than I did.

So I set my sight on Boston, but I promised I wouldn’t stay. This was my chance at New York.

I was here by February.

This city has been everything I ever dreamed it could. The first time I have ever exhaled.

I was talking with a new friend last week, about the warnings people give when you tell them you are moving here.
They say,
“New York is so dirty.”
“New York is so expensive.”
They warn,
“New York is hard.”

They forget that love is hard, love is expensive, and sometimes love is dirty.
This is love.

In the last year I have accomplished so much, seen so much, loved so much.

Pa.
My Grandfather.
He has been the greatest of this. He is gone now. Had I waited, I would have missed my chance entirely. I spent so much time with him, and learned so much more about him, and myself, in the process. I wrote more about Pa this year than I have any other man. He deserves it. I miss him, but love is sometimes worth the cost.

Poetry.
I started writing again. I stopped writing when I started hurting, and on the day I left him it had been almost two years since I wrote anything of significance. I took ownership of what I had merely considered my “bad habit” until now.

I read my first spoken word piece in August. By October, I was asked to join the Epic XII. The vote of confidence Nichole Achosta gave me was worth a lot. As of today, I have 3 features(including my first) and 2 exciting collaborations to look forward to in the next year, as well as a film project.
Just, astounding.
This has been overwhelmingly rewarding, and the lovers, mentors, friends-
No, family-
that I have met along the way are the characters I’ve been waiting to write into my story.

It took me ten minutes to find a job. Well, it took me ten minutes to receive a response email. I play an important role in a small company, where I’ll gain the skills I need for when I start my own small company. I stuck it out part time until the business grew to afford me full-time. I spent eight months in a French bakery mastering croissants and the ways of moody French men

I watched a lot of sunrises set to the sound of French love songs and perfumed with the scent of fresh croissants

I moved to New York, but I spent the mornings as an American in Paris.

I wrote stories.

I drove a wedding cake 16 hours to Asheville, successfully. I watched two wonderful friends get married.
It was worth all the trouble.

I decorated a cake for Pa’s 91st birthday using only my right hand(I am left-handed)

Love. There has been so much. I reunited with old lovers. Nicole is back in my life, a love in a different sense. Devin has been a great friend. I spent one night with a man who was leaving the country the next day, we still write. I will meet him one day in Bruges for the greatest second date in the history of second dates.

I have a healthy relationship with my father for the first time.
I spoke to my brother again after two years.
I have been able to bring my extended family back into my life.
I see my mother reflected in every bit of glass this city has to offer.
She shatters on sidewalks and raindrops- I miss her, but I get to have part of her back.

I have broken hearts and almost had mine,
I spent too much emotion on red haired poets
and learned my lesson.

I learned to love solitude, independence, myself.
I don’t need companionship,  it has made my relationships far more rewarding. Has better opened me to the opportunity for something worthwhile and healthy.

I finally came out to my family.
I dated a girl named Cecelia, but I broke her heart.
That sentence will always make me laugh.

I have had a lot of love this year, and a lot of poetry.

The best of which has been this city.

There are things on the horizon-
Travel.
Owning a home, maybe a business.
There are red dresses to wear and adventures to begin.
Trouble to cause, trial and error, hard work and reward-all the things.
Smudged lipstick and calligraphy ink-watch me paint this town with them.
There will be dinner at Per Se on my birthday.
Today, there will be Champagne.

And as always,

Infatuation, Bourbon, and Poetry.

Sometimes beautiful sneaks up on you.

I’ve grown weary of the games that I’ve been playing. Of keeping my distance. Of my wandering attentions, affections. I’ve grown weary of my lack of emotion.

I spent the evening quantifying my lustful ways, asking three men (and one woman) the same questions. Seeing who was brave enough to play.
To say.

Only one of them kept my attention, his stories of summer.
Of boats and parks, long walks and,
“We didn’t drink until the third date.”
His comment on the meaning of 5 dates in, of 5 months later.
Of, her.

Of,
“I can’t answer that, except to say within the last 5 years , because things change-their meaning changes.”
And then,
“She took me for a bike ride.”

How, when I asked if he had a favorite word he asked,
“Does it have to be in English?”
Then said,
“Pamplemousse”

I smiled, recalled to myself the story of how that was once my nickname. I filed it away with all the other things I choose not to say.
To him.

Funny, I try not to bore my muses, to instead devote my time to extracting stories from sighs and red wine. In the end he’s been the only one to ask, the only one who knows a thing about me. The only one to keep me wondering.

In the end, he’s just poetry.

I’ve been sorting through my old writing, having run the inkwell on my muses dry for the week.

Well, I just haven’t seen any of them. I’ve been stuck in this apartment shaking off fever dreams,
Coughing up the consequence of my weak American heart.

I have nowhere to run to anymore. New York was always my refuge, my excuse, my explanation for why something wasn’t enough. Or someone.

Well, I guess there is always India. Mexico. Bruges.

New York was something different. just feasible enough that at any moment I could escape. I did escape. Often. Until I finally moved here.

This is what happens when I get locked in my bedroom for three days. Alone. Until now it’s been enough. This city, I mean.

He asks,
But what about his skin?

I am in a fight with my dead mother. For the first time in almost 5 years she has been making regular appearances in my dreams. I resent her for being the inspiration behind my best writing. She will never know! She will never know. The frustration of that matter is overwhelming. I understand that as a human I am worth more than the part of me that is missing. Her absence has made her more of a presence.

I am the only art project she ever finished, and she will never know.

I should channel this artistic frustration into something worthwhile.
Or onto someone worthwhile.

This poem has been brewing for some time now, here is a bit of what I finally wrote down. It’s for him.

My brother is
The statue they built in your honor
They put your name in the middle of his.
In the hope that wherever it is
That he wanders
You will remain, to keep him centered.

My sister is
The hazel-eyed headline
Of every article you cut from the New York Times.
She has every statistic memorized.

And I,
I am the girl who made a promise she couldn’t keep.
When you asked me to be your suicide note.
Instead, I am the signature
On every love letter
You never sent.
I am the only woman who never left.

From an upcoming collaboration with Nichole Acosta.

Most of what I said last night was a lie
Every time I said “You”
But meant “I”
Every time I looked away and told you
I was fine.
All those dramatic and drawn out sighs.
Just imagine,
If for once, we cut the theatrics
If I was honest.
If I told you that my day was a mess
That you are my closest target
That I wish you would just
Kiss my neck
That I wish you would just
Wash the dishes.
That I wish you would just
Stop looking at that screen and,
Just look at me.

What If I admitted
That love is too expensive
The supply of your affection too limited
My demand too high
That I can’t afford the vulnerability
At least, not in this economy
Because this isn’t a relationship
This is a game
This is a power-play
I have calculated the odds
The cost of a new heart
I can’t pay for a transplant
I won’t show you my cards.

What if I admitted
That I want to build a home in your arms,
But I understand the risks
I’ve reviewed the statistics
The cost/benefit analysis
The overwhelming evidence
Which suggests
I shouldn’t gamble with my trust again
Because I’ve learned the lesson,
That the house always wins.

So go ahead,
Ask me one more time,
Watch me tell you,
“I’m fine.”

If only

I keep meeting men
With the same name.
By the time the 5th one introduced himself I said,
“Seriously?”
And just walked away.
I never explained.
He knew I was a writer.

I turned from my scotch to the snow,
Closed my journal behind me.
Perhaps he eyed the cover,
He asked if I had somewhere to be.
I said, no.
I was just thinking that snow
Means something different here.

He asked if I performed,
So I recited a poem for him
At him.
I brandished my weapon.
Then he asked my name
“I just figure I’ll be hearing it again sometime soon.”
I smiled,
“If only.”
And he told me,
“That can be the name of your next one.”

Take away as much mystery as possible. What is left?

Draw five cards.

In dim-lit psychic parlor
In back corner
Of old Boston building.
Between cobblestones and church bells.
The receptionist said,
It’s very rare to see a woman request a male psychic.
Well, if women can’t be honest with themselves
How can we expect it from others?

I sat across from Keith
Perfume of incense,
Con artistry and divination
Conversation and prestidigitation.
I asked him to tell me of love
And all the other usual nonsense.
Then I drew 6 cards by mistake.

Keith broke character
Holy shit, there’s a lot going on here.

I don’t know if I agree
With what he told me.
His warnings of the second week of January.
When evidently,
Some lover with whom I have unfinished business
Would wander back in.

That must mean this is finished, then.
But go ahead, call me lover again.

This is coming at you one way or another,
You can’t stop it.
You just have to let it
Run its course

I’m not sure if this counts,
If I have paid my dues.
I’m not sure if I believe in Tarot cards.
I’m not sure if I believe you.

This is like something else, some other moment.
The strangely familiar landscape
Of his apartment
Prisms hung in negative space
Everything is white,
Except the wine.
(I am trying not to spill)
There are mirrors everywhere.
There is limited candlelight.

I know this book.
This photograph.
I saw it during that museum visit.
With Johnny,
Right before I broke his heart.
I know this shirt.
I bought it for someone once.
This word.
This room.
This overwhelming sense of déjà vu
Seems in itself familiar.
How did I get here?

I asked him to tell stories
Of best and worst and histories
I asked him of his fixation
On his own mortality.
He kept saying
If I make it that long.
I asked him
Do you make a habit of bringing home
A lot of women?
Less of a question
More an observation.
Choreographed foreplay of glass of wine,
Can I kiss you now?
Can you,
Promise me something?
Promise me that no matter what
Happens with us

That you will still give me
Your smile,
And sometimes a cookie.

Last time I was here I left with
Another woman’s hair on my sweater.
Last time I was here I assumed would be the one time.
I assumed he wouldn’t explore my writing.
I have compiled a lot of assumptions
About this one.
Go ahead, kid
Prove me wrong.

I have grown accustomed
To New Yorkers
To their wandering attentions.
I have become more like them
Though less jaded, more fascinated
Thing is.
I thought there would be more poetry in this.
Instead,
I just heard the same story twice
We were friends, we became lovers.
      She is like a sister to me.
   I still talk to her at least once a week.

The bookshelf was rearranged.
Last time
I spent the morning dissecting it.
Plotting my escape.
Humming along to Nick Drake.
I never admitted,
I have always loved this song.

This time, he
Pulled out a black box to show me.
Have you ever seen these?
 They are designed to break creative blocks.
Then he said,
Draw a card.