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So, that’s new.

Spent the weekend with The Handsome Devil née the kid. A new adventure of life in my thirties, Today,  I learned what hip pain feels like. So…that’s new.

Was it worth it? Yes.
Does everything hurt? Also yes.
Am I a decrepit old crone? Positively yes.

But, I learned today that Vienna’s resident horny-chaos-demon is, despite all belief to the contrary, capable of being sated. Who knew?
More precisely, I learned this sometime last night and was reminded of the lesson this morning. Twice.

Anyway, the man broke me. I am satisfied, out of commission. The shop is closed. I am nothing but a glorious ache. A laundry pile of lazy bones and hormones. I should really go to sleep, but I am coasting on endorphins.

Perhaps I am in trouble with this one. Good trouble, but trouble indeed. Clearly, my taste in men cannot be trusted, it’s led me nothing but astray. Yet suddenly, people in my life are rooting for him. The question is, can the taste of my friends and family be trusted?

Nicole, my life-long best friend says
“He’s a keeper, I am rooting for him.”

My sister says ,
“So, hasn’t he outlasted like, 6 guys and 3 women? I’m just saying, maybe you should give him a chance.”

Maybe I should.

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Eurydice part whatever

Look at this little vixen, just THRIVING.

I cut off the dead weight and since then she has been growing so fast it’s like she’s in therapy. Look at this gorgeous troublemaker. She’s living off ice cubes, radiator heat, winter sunlight, and the carbon dioxide of my complaints.

Look at her new stem, cuddling the sunlight.

Eurydice, ever the metaphor for my life. For once, one I am excited about.

The little nubbin has become a determined asparagus. Clearly, I know a lot about plants. I am basically a horticulturist.

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He got that RCE.

I learned today that I am looking for a man with RCE, a term my friend just coined. It means “Ritz Carlton Energy”. I’ll explain. This post is a rambling humble-brag and also a thinly veiled excuse to tell a guy he doesn’t text me enough, and I want more attention. Ahem. Cough Cough.

I started casually looking at jobs today, seeing as I will lose my health insurance soon. I forget how hard I have worked, and applying for jobs reminds me only how it was when I first started, clawing by my teeth just to get an interview. I sent out an application for a job at the Ritz Carlton. I won’t get the job, it’s an executive position and gluten is my Kryptonite. So I didn’t waste energy on the cover letter, gave them a few sentences, “I encourage you to view my website” etc. I didn’t even write it in German. Attached a barely formatted CV.

They called me within the hour.

I forget how far I have come.

When I just graduated culinary school I set out for a job fair with my eye on the Ritz Carlton in particular. Did all my due diligence, intense research. I regret not dropping all the company history I still have holstered from the prep I did back then, because I could have sparkled on the phone call. Instead, I was just myself. I was relaxed, I answered honestly. Set boundaries. They asked me what I wanted, told me that they are looking for a longer commitment, that the application process is long but they set clear expectations. They asked if they could see me in a few days, eagerly. I can’t-currently quarantined at home- but I asked if they could email me and said I would follow up, and I had a detailed email waiting for me 15 minutes later.

I called my friend to talk about the day, the good and the bad,  and I whined about inconsistent men. Okay, I whined about a singular inconsistent man. Then I moved on to discuss the Ritz.

“…and as I am saying this I realize that the Ritz Carlton is giving me what I want from him: attention. “

“He doesn’t have that RCE… that Ritz Carlton Energy”

This job won’t happen, but I will go for the initial interview because they treat you like a star. I just wish I could tell young me that one day, the tables would turn and they would be banging on my door. I hope future Alessandra is telling me the same about men. I really hope future Alessandra has better news about men than current me does.

“Bread-crumbing” is the term the kids use for this sort of lackluster behavior, absent all day but he’ll show up with a text at 9 p.m. Maybe being gluten-free has made me more breadcrumb averse. But I am not into it.

So, if you’re reading my blog scanning for information about you, instead of just talking to me, it’s time to realign your priorities. If you want to keep me around, that is.

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November has made the days dark and grey, I found the sun hiding.

Lucifer /ˈluːsɪfə, n.
Old English, from Latin, ‘light-bringing, morning star’, from luxluc- ‘light’ + -fer ‘bearing’. Lucifer (sense 1) is by association with the ‘son of the morning’ (Isa. 14:12), believed by Christian interpreters to be a reference to Satan.”

………………….

Despite my best intentions otherwise, I’ve grown fond of him. The kid, the man, the handsome devil. Like a special delivery to me from the Universe: a Man who will fuck me into oblivion and then feed me mashed potatoes. I’m living the dream.

We’re both a bit baffled by the situation, how can the sex be so nuclear without romantic feelings? We fuck like we’re madly in love. We fuck like we hate each other. We fuck until we’re both proposing marriage and simultaneously threatening to disappear.

“We could be a couple for the sex alone.”
“I adore you. I will do anything you want”
“Come over tomorrow.”
“I can’t, I’m getting divorced.”

We fuck like a cliche. Like the world is ending. The world has been ending for almost two years. The city is going into lockdown and I took a $20 cab ride to his place to avoid the subway because a man on the escalator was coughing.

“Tell me what you want.”
“No.”
“Why?”
“You just want me to say you can come inside of me.”

We fuck like we’ll never see the other again. Sweat drenched, hair in a bird’s nest, and my hands on his spine and his hands on my neck and his mouth between my thighs and my hand in his hair and my teeth sunk into his shoulder and my voice thrown to the corner, echoing about the apartment and my… and my…. and my God
“Good, call me by my name.”

He kneels on the edge of the bed, bent in prayer.
Kisses like the light bringer.
Gathers me onto his lap,
my limbs branch around him.
He makes me a naiad,
a nymph,
an ivy vine on a brick building.
I’ve grown on him,
and just when I am convinced
I will collapse,
when I lean back
to rest on my arm,
he takes me by the waist
and pulls me in,
“Trust me, I have you, I will always hold you.”

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The Bar for Men’s Behavior is So Low, it’s a Tavern in Hell.

Yesterday I got glutened, despite my best efforts at due diligence. It’s the most gluten I have consumed since my diagnosis, and I was upset. I had been having a lovely day, and when I found a gluten-free cake pop I was just about nuclear with joy. But, after eating it, I realized it was too good to be true, and called the bakery to find out I was right. Oops.

I miss New York sometimes, but especially when I find myself crying in public. When a perfectly delightful treat has ruined what was about to be a perfectly lovely weekend. I miss being able to cry on public transit, without so much as a glance in my direction. Or, on the opposite end of the New-York-subway-manners-spectrum: a crumpled tissue and hug from a complete stranger,
“That’s right honey, you just cry it out.”

New York is a great place for mad public sobbing, everything there is both open and shut. The subway is a living room and a locked closet. Public and private, a woman applying her make-up, the mascara wand hovers in her hand while she waits for the train to stop.

I’ve done my fair share of sobbing in Vienna. It’s a cleaner sidewalk to crumble on, I’ll give it that.

On Saturday morning, I languished in bed with a new lover, discussing, as one does these days, the current plague,

“Yeah I had it last year, I got it in the hospital.”

“Wow, you just have everything, asthma, and your knees don’t bend. You’re a wreck.”

It’s not like I had a choice in the matter? I don’t know, it’s fine, it was just an aside. I am just annoyed he was right.

Well, I left Mr. Honesty’s place and made my way to a market in search of new artwork for my apartment. I took down the wedding photos, a long while ago, but there are still hooks hanging on the wall, like the empty frames in the Gardner Museum. Evidence of a robbery. I pushed the thoughts away, about the wreck of my body, and bounced about the market, enjoying my newfound health. And a delightful lunch: french fries in a dedicated fryer! Then a fucking cake pop proved to be my Achilles heel.

I’ve dated rather ferociously the past few months, as evidenced here in my various posts of Sunday night sex poetry. I keep a few handsome playthings in rotation for when my wreck of a body wants to be warm for an evening. They all have their nicknames: The Hunk, the Kid, The Chef. I rarely keep someone around long enough to warrant my friends learning their names. That’s not true, I rarely let someone close enough for my friends to learn their name.

I was furious at the bakery that told me the cake pop was gluten-free, and I posted about it on Instagram. How glamorous, how sexy, to announce to the world news of my poisoning. I am sure that anyone reading it could connect the dots of precisely how my evening turned out, and it’s not exactly glamorous. My stomach was so bloated, the boudoir shoot I planned for Monday would have looked more like a maternity shoot. Welcome to the world, baby Gluten

But, I was surprised by the outpouring of support I got. All the men I have dated who saw the post reached out to me with kind messages, Really kind. Even the ones I don’t talk to anymore, the Professor and such. What a delightful thing, to be surprised by a man’s compassion. Of course, my friends all sent me messages as well. The bar for men’s behavior is so low it’s a tavern in hell.

After what happened a few weeks ago with A., and the IUD, I was jarred. Hurt. It stopped feeling like fun. I tried to laugh it off, but I was furious and scared. I deeply questioned my taste in men. My doctor counseled me that the IUD isn’t 100% effective and I could still be pregnant. “Don’t worry, I’m one of those liberal Boston girls who get abortions” I had told him. It’s not true, and it’s a decision I am grateful I didn’t have to make.

When I was recovering from the procedure, everyone reached out to me, except him. God, what a fucking Saturday that was. Kind messages from my ex-husband and not a whisper from A. Then he dumped me over text on Sunday, with nary an “I hope you’re doing okay” or, I don’t know, “Let me know if you’re pregnant”. I would have settled for “I hope your okay”, a grammatical error befitting him: a mistake.

But, for now, it feels like A. was more an exception than a rule. Even if none of the nicknames has turned into a love story, perhaps my taste in men isn’t quite as terrible as I imagined. They all passed the “basic human decency” test with flying colors. Even Mr. H managed the feat, texting to say he was sorry. I admit it made me smile. I should know better by now. Here I am, seated at the Tavern in hell, drinking watered-down gin, convincing myself I am having a good time.

I won’t wait around long, sustained on bread crumbs. Your girl is hungry.

Perhaps I am unfair to these men, sometimes. Perhaps. It seems a fair exchange though, come over and use my body, and I will use your body: I’ll make you hang Christmas lights. I have somehow accrued a harem of giants. I should buy more high heels.

I know I should have stopped calling F. “The Kid'” a while ago, but when I do it makes me feel a bit like Humphrey Bogart. Say what I will about the Kid, who is unreliable for a rendezvous, he is the most reliably sweet thing to me. Always greeting the day with a “how are you?”, and such. Always rooting for me to find the right one.

“What are you doing tomorrow morning?”

Coffee with Mr. H, it seems. Followed by a mild poisoning.

“You should have come over, I’m certified Gluten-Free.”

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Just Scribbling

I am anxious today, editing the final piece for my writing class and it’s tricky: vulnerable. The critique is more specific, and all the feedback I’ve been given is conflicting. Of course, the editing process itself is tricky, confronting demons and details and all that. A graveyard of darlings and the teacher prodding me for more honesty. More. More. More.

At last, the Christmas lights in Vienna are up. The city turned snowglobe and god, it’s a romantic misery of cold.

The covid numbers are daunting, and I am not sure what to expect. Winter arrived in full form today, announcing that the era of my leather jacket has come to an end. I will miss it, for it gave me power and pockets.

I’m feeling awfully vulnerable these days, but happy sometimes. I’m not short on company, friendly or otherwise, I have a bit too much time on my hands this week, it won’t last long- I should enjoy it. I should let myself enjoy things. I should let myself enjoy you. I have my guard up, it seems.

I am rambling, I am not sure who this post is for, it’s just thought spillover. If you’re still reading, my apologies.

The class focuses quite a bit on the great paradox: “Specific is the best in general”

I think I need to be held. I think I need a walk. I think I want to be held, but need to go for a walk.

I want you to hold me. I want you to spoon me and pull me close, and when I say “I should head home”, I want you to pull me closer and gently wrestle my underwear off as I try to put it back on. I want you to kiss my neck and leave a mark, so I can text you about it and pretend I am annoyed, smiling all the while.

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“See you at 7, should I bring anything?”

Yes, on an island off the coast of Italy there grows a mythical olive tree. Countless men have died trying to reach it. Journey there, in the port, you will meet a raven-haired woman with a one-eyed dog. To the dog, you must feed a piece of your own flesh. To the woman, you must reveal your deepest secret. If you do so, she will provide you a map to the island. It’s a two-day sail from the harbor, past schools of sirens. The tree itself is atop a mountain, climb it, and find the tree. In the tree nests a silver dove, with her baby chicks. Each of the three chicks will ask you a riddle. Answer the riddles correctly, and the dove will allow you a cutting from the tree. Bring me the topmost branch.

Or, just bring me flowers, yellow roses are my favorite.

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Good Morning.

“How are you today?”

“I think if I drink another coffee I can emit a pulse which annihilates every straight cis man in Vienna.”

“That good, huh?”

“But you were nice to me yesterday, so this is your warning that the Reckoning is coming some time this afternoon, after I meet this deadline. I suggest you move beyond the city limits, swiftly.”

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Things I Will Yell At Our Child If This Little Condom Mishap Bears Fruit

“Don’t ever drink coffee after 9p.m., that’s how you were made. ”

“Always wear delicate red lipstick on a date. Otherwise, you’re always kissable, too kissable. The lipstick is war paint. I let myself be kissable, that’s how I had you.”

“Don’t read books, next thing you’ll start talking about books with other people. You know what that gets you? Pregnant is what it gets you. And library fees!”

“Be quiet. You know who was a great conversationalist? Your father. You know what that got him? That’s right: you, it got him you.”

“Only date someone your own height. That way, you always know you’re at kissing height and your defenses will be up. The tall ones are surprisingly sneaky and charming. One second I was looking up, the next I was pregnant.”

“You should have seen my hips before I had you. I went on two dates with a giant, and this is what I get. Jaqueline and the goddamn beanstalk.” 

“You know what?! DON”T clean your room! In fact, never clean your apartment, you’ll just invite someone back to it, and next thing you know, you’ll have someone like you, and be screaming at them to CLEAN THEIR ROOM!”

For those wondering, I am now a card-carrying member of the gold IUD club. They literally gave me a gold card with the serial number of my IUD on it. I had to have it put in as emergency contraception, because hormonal birth control was no longer an option for me after hormonal BC caused me to grow a small benign liver tumor. I had to have it put in on a rush on a Friday afternoon right as the doctor’s office was closing, without dilation or numbing, and I SCREAMED at the pain and almost passed out. To quote my doctor “Are you still alive?” I am. At least I (probably) won’t be screaming at a real child, for a while. But maybe someday, when I am ready, and I promise to never treat a real child like the imaginary one in this little post.

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The Rumors Of My Small Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.


It’s a strange thing, to invite you in,
To ask you to stay.
To let you hear me snore-
To let my breath escape.

You know you yell in your sleep? A sort of half-scream. It’s scary.

I keep telling you to relax.
I’m a hypocrite on multiple counts,
A mugshot of smeared lipstick and a half-finished glass.
I’m not trying to get you drunk, I’m just trying to get to know you.

I think you’re cute, but I’m not trying to get you pregnant yet.

You’re not particularly nice to me. Evidently that’s my thing.
Men who are scruffy and vaguely mean.
Maybe it’s my kink?

Nah, my kink is people that hold me.
My kink is men who make me feel safe.

I don’t want to fall asleep yet, but we should cool down.

I am apprehensive, and hungry.
I am many things.
I am weird, you keep reminding me.

You did all the right things, but
Succumbing to coming is particularly intimate,
It’s a rare feat, for me, on the first time.
The rumors of my small death have been greatly exaggerated.

But the pleasure was real.
The lie was ethical-
A half-truth, I was overcome with bliss but not quite reaching a precipice.
There was behavior worth reinforcing.
In particular, that thing you do with your tongue-

Do exactly that, but just-
Do it when I trust you.

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Eurydice, a further update.

Part One

Part Two

Eurydice and I have learned to understand each other. I appreciate the ability an orchid has to communicate: its roots bare to the world. Heart on her sleeve, it seems.

She takes after me.

Spoiled as ever. Her blooms continue to dry out, but her stem is green. She gets a steam bath in front of the humidifier whenever she loses her perk, and she responds quickly.

After too much googling, I learned less about orchids and far more about orchid people. Orchid gardeners are second only to mommy-bloggers when it comes to anxiety and judging. They are one step above vinyl record collectors when it comes to snobbery. But, after some waffling back and forth on the best watering methods, I have indeed fallen for the ice trick, and Eurydice seems to love it. It’s counterintuitive, but it seems to be working. It’s a technique which requires restraint, and patience. Eurydice and I are both learning patience.

I had to attend to a funeral this week, a former coworker’s suicide. In lieu of flowers donations were made to the local animal shelter. The only flowers were rose petals, we each tossed a handful of them into her open grave, over her urn, white and glittering. They buried her ashes by a young tree, which will be there for at least 400 years. Tree number 9. The deceased was 31. I am 32. Sometimes, when you cannot stop crying, it helps to focus on something else: numbers, letters, the names on the gravestones. A phalaenopsis orchid has a blooming cycle 2-3 months long, and many people throw them away after that. But they can live 10-15 years with proper care. Some have lived to be over 100 years old..

I watered Eurydice when I got home, with ice. I reminded her that she needs to live.

So do you, she said.

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Greetings From Vienna’s Resident Horny-Chaos-Demon: Yours Truly.

I’m unfed, but I’m caffeinated.
Plied with rice milk and coffee.
You’re anxious, over-educated,
And unbearably pretty.

Scenes from a sunlit bachelor pad:
A corner bed-frame, comic books
Dry soap, a broken shower head,
Scraggy towels, a single hook.

You’re as broken as the rest,
But you get away with it.
I’ll leave in a minute, gorgeous,
Let me look at you for a bit.

Regale me with tales of your crises,
Lay all your despair on me.
Just, sit here a while. Let’s see
If you convince me to stay.

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I don’t need you to hold me, but you have to keep me warm.

“It is a nice jacket, very cool, Sandra Dee.”

“Yeah, I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying. I kept it on while I was waiting for you, just to show it off. It has so many pockets, I don’t even need a purse! It makes me feel mad with power- not to be weighed down by a bag. I realized on Saturday: this is why society won’t give women pockets- it makes it harder for us to run.”

“Yeah, I’m cold, wouldn’t it be nice if only I had my blue Cardigan…but someone stole it.”

“I’m not giving it back. It’s mine now. Well, it’s still yours, but I’m keeping it, permanently. I told you, I get it in the divorce.”

“Fine. Well, where did we get it? I will have to buy another one.”

“I think C&A? Not sure. I am sort of accumulating a collection of men’s sweaters at this point.”

“Oh…?”

“Well, not quite, it’s just two at the moment, but it was three for while. I mean, I was good, I gave one of them back. The other guy hasn’t realized I still have his cashmere sweater. I forgot a belt at the nice one’s place, not sure what that means.”

“So, it’s, like, your thing.”

“Yeah, it’s like a tax, or whatever. The VAT. Not that anyone is paying for the arrangement, but, like, I guess that’s the catch…you come into my apartment, you must sacrifice an article of cashmere to me.”

“Seems fair.”

“Yeah it’s a trade off- you don’t have to hold me, but you need to keep me warm.”

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You’ll have a Boston accent in no time.

I walked myself home from the date, alone.

Past the silhouettes of a couple breaking up
beneath the metal staircase at the construction site.
Backlit by the street-lamps on the square,
Snippets of her exasperation reverberating against the steel. 
Cold air and echoes of argument. 

I’ve done the whole flustered-but-adoring-academic routine before.
Perfected the art.
I could write a thesis on it.

I’m not interested in kissing a smoker.
I’m am somewhat interested in kissing you.
You seem awfully charming after a few cocktails,
And so on. 

And ho! Barkeep!
A salve, good sir, for the anxious polyglot!
Shaking like an over-caffeinated leaflet.



Today Academia informed me that someone in Rome cited me, or cited someone by my name.
My long Italian name which I am, it turns out, mispronouncing. Sure, I could be reasonable and assume it’s just a shared name. But it’s not so unreasonable that at last, one if the many PhD candidates I have nursed through their dissertations, went ahead and gave me some credit where it’s due.

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The hill I will die on is that I am not walking up that fucking hill with you.

Sunday, 12:59 p.m.

I think I can see it, the end.
There exists an illusion we face towards the exit, wherein the tunnel seems longer for a moment,
Stretching out towards the light.
Where we can slow down, hold our breath, and decide.

I say this every Sunday. The I’m done mantra.
But, it’s usually a ritual reserved for the evening, and it’s barely the afternoon.
My patience is creeping in, cutting off your time.

Monday, 6:13 a.m.

You make me pray for awful things, for the will to stop loving.
I won’t let you sap all compassion from me.

What a lazy and romantic poisoning.
You’re a grumpy patch of weeds.

“Have a nice week. Have a nice life, I guess. Be good.”

I will, respectively,
Do precisely that,
Do my absolute best,
And do no such thing.

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Christ, the man brought me a flower. Not flowers, a flower, a living breathing thing begging to be a metaphor.


God, I must be so convenient for you.

I want to be careful.
No,- I want to be adored.
I am absolutely incapable of being careful, and relentlessly capable of care.

You son of a bitch, you brought me a flower.
Not flowers.
Not some thing I can appreciate and let shrivel up by Wednesday
Like ten bucks of affection gone dry.

No, you,
You fucking asshole
Brought me a beautiful thing which I will surely destroy.

I was raised by a borderline wood nymph, and yet
Inherited nothing close to a green thumb,
I am reckless with plants
I am preposterously incapable.

Give me a man at his lowest depths and lord
Can I resurrect him with my tongue alone.

But give me a plant and watch it be
Smothered, drowned by my keen attention.

I am nothing if not
an affectionate thunderstorm.

And God, this poor blossom,
This orchid, doomed,
I’ve named her Eurydice.
For I, as Orpheus, shall do my best to keep her from death.

I do nothing but kill things.

God save her from me.

My friend warned me that she will shed her petals in the coming weeks
As the city turns cold and retreats.

Well, I will say, “here is Eurydice, my stick who imagines she is a flower.”

My friend warns me, further,
that the stem will also die,
but there will be leaves, and promises
A hefty requirement of patience
A relentless necessity of due diligence.

Eurydice, soon stumped and longing for sun
Perched at a north-facing window
On the corner of my dining room table
Dormant.
Indirectly sunlit.
Gorgeous,
Not dead yet.

Some thing I must nurse back in to existence,
A thing I must watch die
And sleep
And be reborn
And not once acknowledge as an analogy for anything in my life.

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Olfactory Conundrums of a Hum-drum Existence

My shoulders smell like your sweat.

I should soap up,

Should wash you out.

I’m sacred enough

I’m decently dirty.

Latex and lubricant scented everything,

All my corners, how you’ve kissed them clean.

What a thing to bend to,

Each joint angled toward a lustful embrace with your mouth.

I don’t even know you,

And you know so little of the world or the ways of women,

Yet.

Yet, you.

Skilled, some natural talent,

Gorgeous and you don’t know it yet.

“This is like a second g-spot for you, your lower back”

(I showed you how to hold me like he does. You learned well.)

You lift me into your arms,

Precisely, like some tiny, precious thing.

Press me me against the wall, a flower betwixt pages in a bible.

My moans escape into the courtyard and echo throughout the evening,

My everything captive to you for so long as you please.

So tall.

I could have used you,

Back when I had to hang the curtains.

I could use you.

So tell,

Tell me,

Should I keep you?

“Wow”

“What?”

“Beautiful. You. You’re beautiful.”

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Operation Over-Under

It would seem that I’m an insatiable minx,
Suggestively bruised,
“Did I give you that scratch?”

Just a bit of sweat
Between acquaintances. A bit
of latex, and
little left
to the imagination
I’m having a delightful time,
Save for the occasional sore throat.

Though, perhaps I should practice
more subtlety,
Lest my reputation precede me.
She makes a grand entrance,
a cacophony.
Rumor has it,
The girl goes down easy.

I’ve nothing to apologize for,
He tells me I’m a good girl,
Tells me he wants more.

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I Speak Not of Shepherds, Father.

“Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been innumerable years since my last confession. “

“May the lord help you to confess your sins, my child”

“Father, I have lied, but I have done so oft in the name of love, or companionship, but these lies have begun to weigh on me, and I feel I must speak my truth.”

“Yes, my child, tell me how you have lied.”

“I can no longer pretend to like Davids, father. I have lied about my favor for so many Davids.”

“Davids? Do you speak of Shepherds?”

“No father, I speak of artists. David…ack, I can barely say it aloud father.

“Tell me my child, who is this David?”

“Lynch, father, I can not longer pretend to enjoy and care for the work of filmmaker and personality David Lynch. I fear that by speaking this truth I will be ostracized by my friends and loved ones, but it has to stop.”

“Ahh, my child, of course there’s some disagreement about season two of Twin Peaks, and where his real vision came in to play, but season one seems in like with your interests, no?”

“Indeed father, whimsy, and murder mysteries, and Kyle Machlachlan are things I adore. But, I just don’t care for it.”

“Even Blue Velvet?”

“Even Blue Velvet, father.”

“That is indeed a burden to bear. I will keep you in my prayers in this trying time.”

“And Father, there’s more…”

“My child, do not tell me you speak of the other, the most sacred of Davids…”

“Bowie?! Absolutely not, father! I would never dare besmirch his honor. But, in truth, there is another David who I can no longer suffer to feign enthusiasm for. It’s David Byrne, father.”

“A yes, and you may find yourself, in a catholic confessional booth, and you may ask yourself, how did I get here?”

“Good one. A real dad-joke, or a real father-joke. Indeed, I enjoy that song when it comes on the radio. I nod my head when acquaintances, cousins, young teacher’s assistants, and even lovers espouse the “genius” of David Byrne. But I do not feel the same admiration in my heart, and it fills me with shame.”

“My child, these are grave deviances from what we have declared good. For your penance, you must learn the lyrics of an obscure talking heads song, and practice your poker face in the mirror 50 times. And 50 Hail Marys.”

“Yes father”

“Tell me child, are there more?”

“Not quite. I mean I always preferred the intro to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but that’s allowed, yes?”

“Ah yes, brother Eggers, indeed, we make room for those who love the intro as well as the memoir itself. Our flock is open to all.”

“Thank you, father.”

“Yes my child, I leave you with your penance to make at home, but before we leave let us say the lord’s prayer together. And may God give you strength to find your way back to the flock.”

“I am ready, father”

“You remind me of the babe…”

“What babe?”

“The babe with the power?”

“What power?”

“The power of voodoo..”

“Who do?”

“You do!”

“Do what?”

“Remind me of the babe!”

“Amen.”

“Amen.”

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The kinds of thing I text fuckboys. God save me.

There is, quite honestly, no where I’d rather be than on a train. Waiting in the car, at the station, early enough to have found a good seat, by the window, and next to a person whose arm I can gather affectionately across my lap, my fingers tracing lazy spirals on their forearm, their thumb tracing purposeful, flirtatious arches across my knee. And perhaps a kiss on the shoulder, it wouldn’t be so greedy or untoward to wish for one, in this, a description of a perfect moment.

There is nowhere I would rather be than situated in the blissful beginning of a good time: past the anxiety, the which platform and where to sit, the where is your ticket and it said I had to print it but I am sure they will accept it from the phone. And where to let go of the baggage, emotional or otherwise? And should we pack a lunch?

The bit after that:

In that blissful moment, the quiet, when I (when we) can exhale amidst the shuffling of footsteps, and look out a window toward something. When I know I am going somewhere.

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Ugh.

Well, everyone that was telling me to move on has to eat their words, because I bent myself backwards to do it.

I am going to hate myself when I wake up, so I am avoiding going to sleep. Avoiding the inevitable.

He didn’t ask for much in way of approval. The blissful ignorance of a handsome and preposterously well-endowed man, to ask nothing and try everything.

NO. (Don’t put your hand on my throat. )

At least he listened to that.

I proved…something? What a mediocre victory.

I am going to go shower forever.

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An evening with a smoker.

I spent some time last night chatting with a smoker. They aren’t rare here, or disregarded. Despite the protected status of the nicotine-smitten citizens of the city, things have changed. Indeed, even Vienna, time capsule that it is, has modernized slightly since I moved here, and I no longer must suffer through the winter with my coat reeking of stale tobacco if I dare set foot in a bar for even a flutter of a moment.

The issue was, she was smoking the cigarettes I used to smoke. She had quite a few of of them, but kept insisting that each new cigarette was her second. There were 3 or 4 “second” cigarettes. It was entertaining, she’s a funny girl, and she looks cute when she smokes. That was the lethal thing back then, being told I looked good when I smoked.

And the whole time I was watching her look cute and forlorn through a cloud, my mouth was watering.

I cannot start smoking again. Absolutely not.

And yet today, I am reading, and still thinking about it. About how nice it would be to stop thinking about everything that plagues me and pick up a cigarette. To watch the smoke curl about the corners of the page like a cat in need of a cuddle. Wouldn’t it be romantic to have something else to occupy my mind than all this knowledge, and nonsense, and (god forbid) all these fucking emotions.

I’m asthmatic. We’re in the midst of a lung disease epidemic. I am far too logical for this.

But, wouldn’t one more bad habit solve everything?

If I am going to pick up smoking I will have to give up starting sentences with capital-A “and”. And I would rather die.

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4-leaf clovers are 1 in 10,000. I’m always looking for one.

“I see that, too. Everyone here is broken. All these women I meet and they want love but they just can’t. You just look at them and you see, they can’t. I don’t know what it is about this city, if we all come here because we’re broken, or if the city makes us that way.”

“I always say, ‘Vienna is a city built on Roman ruins and heartbreak.”

But, I want to stay. At least for a little while.

I’m going to set roots, and grow like a weed from the cement.

I’m here to officially revoke my membership to the Broken Hearts Society.

Give me the form to fill out, the hotline to call. Go ahead, charge me an extortionate cancellation fee.

I’m ready.

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The moment it becomes a story.

“So you like your men like you like your furniture: Scandinavian.”

Making new friends and swimming in new waters. Getting my feet wet and talking too loud for my own good, perhaps. It’s nice to not be the most-American American girl in the room. I’ve been in Europe for six years and I still feel like Minnie Mouse, but I’ve grown to accept it.

Someone told me that when he is with me he “feel[s] like less of a stranger here.” So, maybe I am doing something right. Or maybe I am just making him feel normal by comparison. Who knows.

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We’re Some Undefined Massacre of Embraces

I’m supposed to go away with you tomorrow.
I was supposed to be done with you, well before yesterday.
All I do when I’m with you is orgasm relentlessly and ask myself,
“What am I doing?”
“What am I fucking doing?!”

You make me feel worthless.
You make me feel so good.

You trace your thumbs along my bones,
You draw me so precisely.
Let me bask in the illusion of being known.
You don’t want to get to know me, really.

I just want to dislike you enough to remind myself not to want you.

I’m just here for the ride out of town.
I’m just here to get you out of my system.
I’m just here for the starlight.

I’m just here for a few more weeks,
Might as well enjoy it.


And were we to take an inventory of the friendship,
What would we find?

A few dozen skipped rocks.
A generous handful of sunsets.
Hotel receipts.
Gasoline.
A reckless dearth of caffeine.
Some spilled ink.
A couple wishes each, made during the meteor shower (What did you wish for?).
Enough peach pits for a cyanide poisoning.
A multitude of small deaths, some of them faked.
And perhaps, and most importantly,
Two people who are slightly happier than they were a few weeks ago.

The spoils of war whatever-the-fuck-this-is.

I feel comfortable with you.
Cozy, numb.
An affection relatively devoid of emotion, and certified gluten-free.  
You taught me to love dirt again. To get my hands filthy.
It’s under my fingernails, you’re under my skin.

I should learn to garden,
to cultivate something I can actually grow
and have a say in.
Something to nourish my body beyond pleasure.
I could grow herbs.
Vegetables.
Roses.

Who am I kidding, I can’t grow roses.
I can’t keep a cactus alive.

Perhaps, this week, I will buy myself some flowers.

That’s a start.

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13 was her lucky number, I like to think she watches over me every Friday the 13th. It seems I survived another one.

You make me feel beautiful. Not just beautiful, gorgeous.

You make me feel gorgeous.

I’m not exactly great at taking it slow. I’ve been known to be impatient, My imagination is overactive. My hands are fidgety, and your skin is awfully soft. But, I will make an exception.

You are, or so it may seem, exceptional.

And what a thing it is, to not only be a thing worth wanting,

But to be a woman worth loving.

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Biblioquiescent Panic: A Case Study

I decided to escape the confines of my apartment’s white walls for the confines of the Austrian National Library’s white walls. I tried to visit years ago as a tourist, and left embarrassed, having never really seen the inside. Which I was told is gorgeous.

Today, I decided to be brave. I bought an annual pass, and went in ready to be dazzled by some gorgeous Austrian architecture. There isn’t really a good map of the reading rooms, at least not one I could find. It just looks like…a library? Not sure what all the hubbub was about. From what I understand there is a fancy reading room somewhere, but it doesn’t seem to be available for actual reading. Just for instagramming and private events.

Anyways, libraries, I forgot, are an absolute ADHD nightmare. It’s so…silent. I know, genius that I am, I forgot. But, this is excessive, more than library quiet. There’s nary the shuffle of a page turning, nor the occasional cough. There are dozens of people here and I’d venture to guess not a single one is breathing. My shoes were painfully loud while I walked in. I took a sip of water and the sound echoed violently.

I somehow picked the squeakiest chair not only in this room, nor in this library, but in the entire world. Honestly, scientists should be studying this chair to learn its secrets. After cacophonously scraping it in place to get myself seated, I am now stuck here, a bit too far from the desk, until the end of my days, for fear of ever making that noise again.
It was nice knowing you all.
“She died doing what she hated, being quiet.”

Since arriving, I have gone through the formality of opening my copy of Gray’s Anatomy for Students to the first page of the chapter on the lower limb. Chapter is a polite way of putting it, it’s more of a formidable, insurmountable heft of paper with a vendetta against my attention span. Honestly, I can’t bring myself to start, knowing I won’t finish. Thus, I have spent my time looking at what everyone else is studying. I took a seat at the furthest table back, lest anyone else give me the same treatment,
“Hmm, what’s she up to? Not studying, by the looks of it. She should really get started reading that section, it looks awfully long and she has to finish this class before September, tsk tsk
Honestly, it’s astonishing how many details this imaginary stranger knows about my procrastination.

Oh god, oh dear God. My stomach is going to grumble. I should have eaten something. And I have to cough. I have never had such a strong desire to cough in my life. I guarantee you, there is a German word for “the sudden desire to cough knowing that one is in a quiet room”.

I should look it up. Better yet, I should make one up. Biblioquiescent Tussis.

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In the dream, I was here, but also in Boston. Where were you?

Last night I didn’t dream of you, but I was thinking of you in the dream. Talking about you, trying to call you but the phone wouldn’t ring. Telling mutual acquaintances a bit of everything, all the falling apart and the pain.

And wouldn’t it be easy, wouldn’t it be convenient, if we could just retreat to a cave and grumble about the world. And love nothing but each other.

And perhaps my opinion on the matter will evolve. It’s a cliché ripe for disproving.

But, for now, it feels terrifyingly certain, that there is nothing I will ever love, the way I loved you.

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You saw the journal, you were warned.

I was up one stair,
the height difference compensated for
I figured I might as well,
kiss you and all.

Let’s get out of here.
If you take me home I’ll go down on you.
Nice try, and not the first time
a guy has used that line on me.

Maybe I give off a certain energy,
Maybe you all think I taste sweet?
I’m awfully vanilla, but
l hope it’s crafted with the expertise
only a pastry chef could manage.

You’re bringing back memories of Brooklyn,
and the bar hounds I used to know.
7 years away, I’m out of practice.
Same lines, different accent.
Dogs, all of you, really.
Puppies, lately.
Here boy, come play.

You can walk me home
but you can’t come in.

You can show me the sunset
and bring me a box of chocolates.

We can sit by the water
while you drink gin & tonic.

You’re allowed a certain amount of me,
the pleasure of my company.
A handful of skin, or two.
But, I’m not here to heal you,
not your manic pixie dream girl.
I have my own story.
I’ve been known to kiss and tell.

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What a thing it is, to be a thing that is wanted.

Polite kisses, not enough

to smudge my lipstick.

A younger man with thin lips

and a leather jacket.

“Are you cold? You can have it. “

There’s enough romance

in the city center at night,

That it even gets under the

skin of a guy who grew up here.

There’s enough moonlight to go around.

Enough street lamps to lean under.

“Are you a boy, or are you a man?”

“I’m not sure, what’s the difference?”

“Well, what do you value?”

“Absolute honesty, even when it hurts.”

“Well, I can’t tell you the precise difference. But one is that a man has an answer to that question.”

“Can I sit closer to you?”

And in the morning he calls me,

Texts me.

What a thing it is,

To be a thing that is wanted.

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And were it so, that I could do it all again, I would.

Ours was the greatest love story ever told. It was never going to end well, it would have been too much. The universe needs some sort of balance, and two little people can’t going on sapping all the joy from it.

But here I am, in the falling action of the fairy tale.  He returned his apartment keys, and the wedding ring. The gold came from my mother’s favorite bracelet. When she died, we made 6 rings from it: one pair for each sibling. My father made me get mine engraved, with our names and wedding date. I was the first sibling to use them, and I will be the first to remelt the gold, and erase this chapter of the story. I don’t know, I don’t know if the rings could ever be worn again. I don’t know what feels right, or what is final. I know this is a story not worth erasing. I would do it all again, I would.

I mean, to be fair, the gold came from bracelets bought for my mother by her first husband. So, maybe they can stay, dates engraved and all. The story of the rings was always intertwined with the fact that great loves still end.

And the heartbreaks which came before this one, they all added up to this. My last relationship before K, was with A. It was bad, toxic, I was young and naïve. It ended on a gray day in January, and my life went up in flames. I left in a hurry, so suddenly that I forgot to bring my jewelry box, with my grandmother’s jewels inside of it. A friend from the town brought them to New York for me, after we had both moved there. And she invited me to a play, Sleep no More. That was where I met K.

So maybe this is just another one of those moments. Another perfect heartbreak, maybe this is building up to something. But, even if it isn’t, even if this was the last great love of my life, and even though it ended, it was worth it.

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I was meant to be living up to my potential today.

I was meant to be on a first date, with the doctor. Cancelled at the last minute, rescheduled for tomorrow. I wish I could say I care, but I don’t.

So, I am at home, all done up and with nothing to do. A storm arrived at 6 p.m. on the dot, banging the doors and windows shut.

And maybe, just maybe, I have grown accustomed to spending thunderstorms with you.

And maybe, just maybe, absolutely maybe, I prefer to.

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It seems a good way to get to know a person.

Send me pictures while you are away.

Of all this nature you long to return to. Of the things that make you miss the city.
Show me the dirt you grew from,
your well-trod paths,
the back alleys frequented in your youth.
Your most familiar patch of sunlight.

I’d venture to guess that you have your
initials carved into a tree somewhere.

You said your favorite color is green,
show me the precise shade you were imagining. 

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On getting back into it, or getting out of it, or something of such a sort.

I went looking for a muse in a crinkle-eyed architect with affection for hard white lines and poured cement. I stumbled across a red haired charmer studying data security who says she “mostly dates men”. I fell back into the safety of my husband who doesn’t live here anymore. At some point, I have to stop calling him that, husband.

I spent the afternoon on the eve of turning 32 playing poker with 5 people who didn’t remember the rules, betting with blueberries.
I learned to skip stones today. I swam in the river.
I ate a cherry so ripe it bled down my palm while I moaned at its sweetness.
I had a day of blissful, childlike joy.


I did not get sunburned.

The crinkled hazel eyes looked at me and said,

“I have a problem with the color red”

“I can’t look at it anymore after so long staring at screens. For example, that car, if the sun were hitting it I couldn’t even look at it.“

And what am I if not the woman in the red dress?

Evidently, I am an acquired taste.

When I awake on my birthday my husband won’t be there, but he’ll visit for breakfast and some performative cooking. Some obligatory romance. 

I‘ll be sad tomorrow, feeling stupid about the things I said.

I feel foolish already, and full of regret, and uncomfortable with silence. And somewhat ashamed of my bright colors.

 But I did not get sunburned today.

And perhaps it would have been better to have ended the night early. But I am glad I got answers. These days, my heart’s dalliances are more and more fleeting. They just don’t make them like they used to, and so on. 

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Alessandra and the Great Glass Elevator

This post is meant to be read while listening to this song:

You know, when I moved here- it was the elevator that I really felt in love with. It’s bizarre, obviously custom, shoved into a corner. It’s triangular inside.
It’s walled in glass on three sides,
and you can see out the window into the apartments across the atrium as you go up. You can see where Daniel and Rene, our only English-speaking neighbors, were at last able to change the blinds Rene said she hated the day they moved in.

The  elevator ride always made me feel like this was all some great glamorous adventure. To live in Vienna, spitting distance from the Opera house. Inevitably, every single time I went up in the elevator to our fourth floor apartment (fifth floor by American standards), this song would get stuck in my head.

It’s been an adventure indeed, perhaps not the great one I imagined, certainly not in the way I imagined it. Certainly it doesn’t seem to have much of a happy ending at the moment. I take the elevator up to the apartment these days, on the rare occasion I have braved going outside for fear of the virus. And I come home to an empty apartment, just me and the walls, and a pile of homework and unfulfilled dreams.

What a secret it seems I am keeping, but barely. What a glass elevator it seems I’ve built around me.

“There is no life I know, to compare with pure imagination.”

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Cliché discussion of the weather, and a window looking out on to nowhere.

I love rainy days, I do. I prefer thunderstorms. Actually, I love thunderstorms and I am neutral about plain old rain- it depends on the temperature. It depends on the company, the evening, the street cleaning and the neon reflecting and the particular awning one takes shelter under. The I’m just here for a burger and to dry off, but thanks for the drink. The cash pocketed for a third of a cab ride from 60th to Brooklyn, laughing all the way.

And to think what he would think of any of the men, of all these men. And me. And to think what he would think of me.

And the roof tiles opposite my quarantine chamber are slick with rain for once, the rusted green metal drain tapping about and I am pretending to read. I am pretending to be doing something worthwhile. I am actively avoiding you. I’ve been thinking about what I want, and it isn’t to hurt you. That would have been simple, nothing about this is simple. I still.

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Regarding the unfathomably gargantuan 12mm spider residing in the courtyard.

I want you to know that I killed the spider
who has been living by the elevator window for months now,
coming and going
in her orange-and-black and
increasingly terrifying fashion


far too close to the mailbox.


At least, I think that I killed her.

I came at her with the edge of a cardboard box
and she dropped
to the cobblestones.
At least, that is what I hope.

Perhaps, she ran up my sleeve
and she is in my hair now,
waiting.
Perhaps, her thousand servants are now congregating
for the sole purpose of plotting my demise.
They are laying out maps and dealing with issues of nepotism
and who is really the first born son of a thousand and so on.
I can only hope their diplomatic issues hold them at bay for some time.


I have no idea what she has been sustaining herself on
for all these months,
since August,
through Christmas,
and deep into winter.
Whatever it is,
it was likely rather meaty
given her voluptuous frame.

She’s a behemoth, truly.

She is most definitely crawling into the apartment,
and into the bed.
But before she inevitably kills me,

I just want you to know-
that I did this courageous thing for you.

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Two isn’t always better than One

I’m not going anywhere soon. But I took a bunch of tests which said I might, maybe, possibly, be going somewhere soon before long. So, If I’ve gone off anywhere, well not “anywhere” but into that particular-ineffable-where, I want you to know:

I went there listening to Satchmo’s  La Vie en Rose and Gene Wilder singing Pure Imagination. And at some point I was dancing, and I was thinking of you-each of you. And there are different yous in this letter, but you will know yours when you see it.

I thought about the nieces and nephews official and unofficial and the box of shiny-sparkly things I own. And each of you are getting something from that box, that you can someday give to someone you love. Because I love you so much I cannot imagine you could be capable of anything less than such pure love.

And, anyways, worst case I went out eating chocolate and peanut butter and horribly-HORRIBLY- attempting to sing songs from Gene Kelly musicals. And I never learned to dance well, but I sort-of-kind-of tried. And if I am gone my knees will be the happiest of all, they worked the hardest. They deserved the chance to relax at least.

And I don’t think I will see my mother yet, I think I may have a few more runs around reincarnation before I find her, but I expect to see a few dead poets and dead movie stars. And maybe one of them will teach me how to dance at last. And T.S. Eliot was probably really disappointing to meet, but I can get coffee with my grandfather and Salinger and talk about how much of a phony he was. 

And I am thinking about you all and hoping you are dumping the trash boyfriends or girlfriends who were weighing you down. Or abandoning the dating rules and telling the person you were trying to play hard-to-get with that you love them. Because they probably love you too, and if they don’t, please refer to the first sentence in this paragraph.

You should go back to school and get out of this shitty career. I’ll help you make that happen. 

And I hope you all get off twitter and TikTok for a bit. For a long bit. 

And you- many of you- take your medicine especially when your friends and family beg you to. And stop taking it when they beg you to stop. 

And I wish for you to figure out your faith-yours, not your parents. I spent this year attempting to figure out my god-shit and I didn’t find god but I found some good people, and that is just about as close as I think anyone can get. And I never learned how to shut up,  but I started learning how to try. Which is, well, it’s nothing really but them again so am I maybe? Or so I will be maybe? But it is good to shut up sometimes.  

Speaking of god, my god- lighten up. You’re all perfect mothers. Get off the internet, you’re fantastic. Really- and I had the best mom in the world and she was really crap at it sometimes. 

And uh, you-you. You know exactly who I mean, or you will when you read this: Go buy yourself the puppy. Even if it isn’t a shelter puppy because, you know, your allergies. And finish the writing. And see the aforementioned note on Twitter. And remember to eat breakfast, and let yourself enjoy it with whole milk. And find someone who likes music,  and also still wants to share risotto. It might be the puppy, who knows? 

-A

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Some bits and pieces from my 30/30

 

I attempted to write 30 poems in 30 days during April this year, with mild success, and too much honesty to share it all here. But here are some unedited moments that were tolerable to share, though not good. Point is, I did my homework.

  1. (In)Complete guide to decorating a Wedding cake
Be kind
Be complacent. Be prepared
Have a hidden motive
a proven formula
Be nicer if the budget is higher
if they are getting married in a ballroom
Be baroque but not too much so
Be more expensive than the rest
Be Cocky
Bend slightly
If the are very nice or very cruel
or if they know somebody
or know somebody who knows somebody
Bend slightly,
your back,
your prices,
your rules
If they are wealthy and flirtatious
bend your morals
You charge 90 euros per hour for decor
on top of
the price of cake
you are the best of the best
you are on top of…something
Something great
and traditional
and historic
When the Nazis occupy your country
Host the head of the head of Hitler youth in your dining room
in exchange for sugar
Hide your waitresses in a passageway
between the kitchen and the bathroom
Harbor refugees and listen to illegal radio stations
listen to the truth
Tell lies
Hold your head high.
You charge 90 euros per hour of decor
This is not America
so you can only recommend against certain flavors
the soft cheesecakes.
The fragile things.
You cannot make them sign a form
that they won’t complain
when summer forces their wedding cake to bend to them
2.
Amazing how someone I’ve always known to have such low self-esteem
also believes he can literally perform miracles 
I told my husband it’s easier to deal
if you just pretend
there is no medication available.
That this is just how things will be
and sometimes it will be more this way
and sometimes less
but it will always be more or less this way
My doctor asked if he has mood swings.
Evidently mood swings are a good thing.
They give a better prognosis.
3.
He said he needed a magnifying glass to read it.
The problem isn’t my glasses
It’s my dry eyes and this damn
Tiny print
She said he had to find the app to call her back with video
That it should already be on his computer
He asked if Microsoft owned skype
And why the damn thing wanted him to make a microsoft account
He said his coworkers didn’t know the password was a combination of her name and her brothers
She said he was getting old.
4.

I am not a poet, I just journal
and put in big spaces.
     I am not a poet
I just have an affection for dramatic pause.
5.

I am sorry for all the things I will eat,
Especially the mindless ones. That don’t even taste good. The low fat cheese I ate three times as much of. The full fat cheese I was shoving in my mouth already on the walk home from the grocery store. I am sorry for all the times I went grocery shopping hungry. Or all the times I went with a plan, bought a garden, and watched it rot in the crisper drawer while I ate nachos. I am sorry for the inevitable split zipper, the ripped pants, the hundreds of unflattering photos. Especially the group photos. I am sorry. I hope I was better to you than I expect I will be now. I am not yet 30 . I hope you didn’t cry on your 30th birthday. I hope you feel still feel beautiful once in a while.
6.

On the night of the blood moon I make an appointment to go out and look at it. It is somehow always behind a building.
It is too cold to keep standing outside
 You’re shivering let’s go back in
On the night of the harvest moon I am mournful for all the summer days I spent inside.
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Dear O,

Dear O,
I have sent this letter with excess postage.
With an excess of longing, of sorrow. It’s been a year now.

You see, approximately 0.5% of the men whom I pass on the street look like you.
This phenomenon has been going on for years now. It stems from a pathological desire to unexpectedly run into you, and say,
“Of all the sidewalks in all the towns in all the world, you walked onto mine.”
Or some similar feat of seemingly casual perfection.
Perhaps, a bit more more effortless, along the lines of,
“I have written down words with mild success, I have only you to blame”
or,
“Here, have a copy of my book.”

I haven’t written a book yet. You weren’t supposed to have died.
It’s rude, really. I was counting on you.
I saw one of you just yesterday.
In front of me on the sidewalk outside city hall. He turned and looked right at me,
then 
he crossed the street.
Or, he turned and looked at the traffic and I was there, waiting,
and he looked at me like he could have been you and this could all be an elaborate lie,
then he crossed the street.

O, I have been rehearsing.
I have been dressing for the occasion of our encounter.
I am not sure I have occasion left to dress up for.
I can’t believe that you are gone.
See, I. Well, I.
I think about you too much, really. Always did, as I am sure you know.
Knew, rather.

I begged you once not to kill yourself after you joked about it. It worked, I guess. It seems pointless now. Well, perhaps not. Well, you died anyway and it appears that you died without finding love. I hope that I am wrong. It’s not a question answered in an obituary.
He died without finding love.
It’s just not the sort of thing the papers are willing to say.

It said you were surrounded by family. That you had a brain tumor. Like a goddamn film character. As if you coughed somewhere in the first act of your life, or complained of a mild headache. As if we were all supposed to know. A brain tumor.
I mean, come on. 

You had a profile on a group for singles. It’s still there. You were in a group for writers, too. You are still out there looking for her. The book is still unfinished. Was it the one about South America? You know the story, how your car broke down in the desert and you abandoned it there. Was that the one? Was that how it began?

I wrote you a letter once to which you never replied. I saw you in person and you informed me that I had used excess postage. That every year the postal service runs at a loss.

You have reminded me of the importance of maintaining distance from my delusions.
You’d perhaps find all of this grief obnoxious, self-serving. Exaggerated. Dishonest. Cliché.
So how about some honesty, at least you didn’t die from cirrhosis.
I remember that time when you sat next to me in the lecture hall.
How your skin smelled like alcohol.
How your elbow brushed against mine.
-A

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Parkeer de auto in de Harvard binnenplaats.

Today was my first Dutch lesson. Kevin and I recently moved to Eindhoven for his work, and after leaving my job in Amsterdam I am finally taking the time to learn some of the language before I apply for work.

In class today, there was some discussion of the accent in this part of the Netherlands, Eindhoven and North Brabant.

(Note: North Brabant is an odd name because there is no South Brabant in the Netherlands, and the province of North Brabant is located in the South-East part of the country. What happened to South Brabant? What secret is being covered up?)

Anyways, the accent. As I have gathered(likely incorrectly) the accent here is a bit softer, specifically in reference to the throaty “G” sounds (pronounced huh, but like you have a chest cold) and when it comes to the letter “r.” According to my teacher, the people around here use a much softer, breathy, almost non-existent “r” whereas people in the Hague used a harder “r.” Also according to my teacher, the people in the North think people from Brabant sound, well, less intelligent.

(Note: North of the country, not to be confused with North Brabant which is in the South.)

Supposedly, people here in the South think that those crazy Hague dwellers sound haughty and self-important. Pronouncing their Rs. Pfft. So snobby.

Thus, my interpretation of this lesson is:
Eindhoven has the Boston accent of the Netherlands.

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Open Letter To Any Man Or Women Within Shouting Distance.

Let me just start by saying last night I witnessed a domestic dispute so violent that the sound of, something, banging against the walls of the house next door woke me up at 2 a.m.

No, let me just start by saying that I also witnessed the police act in a way I can only call a hate crime against a trans woman who was trying to help.

No, let me just start by saying that the sex workers of this city are our community watch, they have more presence on this street than the police which are 45 seconds away. They are the heroes of the story.

No, let me start with the terrifying image of the open door of our neighbor’s house, the walls of the hallway covered in blood.

We live on a mostly quiet street in Amsterdam, between a bike rental store on the right and a building on the left that is so comically leaning its bricks wave up and down in a dramatic zig-zag. People often stop to take photos of the neighbor’s cat perched in the window of the very wobbly building. In the wobbly house house live and man and a woman, an Italian woman with long black hair who wears thick buddy holly glasses. She’s tall and thin and strikingly beautiful in a way that always makes me jealous. She lives with a man who we found out last night was her boyfriend.

To the right of our house, two doors down, we have a few red windows that sex workers rent. Sometimes the windows have blue lights, which advertise that the woman inside in also trans. I am on friendly waving terms with many of the women. We don’t live in the red light district, so the women who work these windows are different. Some have beautiful, what I like to consider “real” bodies, by which I mean soft, wrinkled, lumpy, lived in bodies. I like them. For example, one, named Marina, is a regular during the weekdays. Kevin and I think she is a mother working during school hours.
The other week while walking home Kevin noted,
“Oh, Marina moved windows”
“She cut her hair, too. I like it. Maybe I should write a sign to tell her.” I said. I never bothered to.

This isn’t a story about Marina. I just wanted to put something nice in here.

Last night at about 2a.m. I woke up to the sound of banging on our walls from the apartment to the left, the wobbly house, and what I imagined to be kids shouting. Then it began to sound like women shouting. I got up and went to the window when it was clear it was a woman shouting. Outside there was one of the trans sex workers standing on the street, looking into the open door of the wobbly house, shouting and dialing on her phone. In the middle of the winter, she was standing outside in fishnets and underwear, without her shoes on. I heard the Italian woman next door crying and yelling to call the police, shouting “My boyfriend is going crazy, he hit me he hit her he won’t stop. Call the police” Then she shouted her address.

I shouted to Kevin to call the police. He was already half up., and he grabbed his phone.

Then the Italian woman started screaming.
Not shouting, horror movie screaming.
Then bang.
Then screaming.

I started sobbing, thinking we were about to listen to a murder. While Kevin called the police, I saw the sex worker shout “Bastardo!” to the open door and then back away, scared.
I opened our front door and beckoned for her to come inside if she needed. She said no, she asked if we called the police and I said we had. She said she had called the police but they weren’t listening to her. This is the part of the story I am calling a hate crime. Because the scared cries of a sex worker aren’t worth the same speedy attention of a man calling.

When the police arrived they went inside, Kevin and I went outside to see what the banging was from. The front door of the wobbly house was open, the wall in the front hallway was covered in blood. Covered.

The sex worker told me that the woman had a head wound.
It looked like she had been pushing against the door, smearing her blood on the walls.
I asked the sex worker,
“The Italian woman? The skinny one with the long black hair?”
“Yeah, I mean I would say more dark brown but yes, her.”
“Is the boyfriend the man who lives here?”
“Yes, I see him walk by all the time, tonight, maybe 20 minutes ago, I saw him walk by drunk, he’s been drinking, he’s out of his head.”

Kevin and I stood by the window for a half hour, until the police escorted the Italian woman to a car, followed by her boyfriend to another police car.

Then we tried to go back to sleep.

So, let me just finish this by saying that all women are women and we look out for each other, that sometimes men only want to listen to other men. That the sex workers of this city are our community watch, they have more presence on this street than the police which are 45 seconds away. They are the heroes of the story.

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The Tale of Skinny Boyfriend

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 7.26.59 PMnce upon a time there was a noblewoman named Rachel.

She ruled over a powerful Co-Op Board in a rapidly up-and coming neighborhood. The real-estate lords had recently renamed it SOKIPA (South of King’s Palace). Rachel loved many of the joyous excesses of her kingdom: locally grown flowers, designer blue jeans, and home design catalogs. But she loved two things most of all:

The first thing was Sir Gregory, her boyfriend of 4 years. Gregory had light brown hair that turned red in the summer. He was exactly five inches taller than Rachel, which made him ideal for kissing. He wielded his smile with skill; he had, as they say, looks that could kill. He also had a trust fund that could make any man seem immortal.

Sir Gregory was in a band. He played guitar and wrote great love ballads for lady Rachel. He praised her eyes, and her mouth, her laugh and all her other features that were like totally specific, girl. Gregory had been courting fair Rachel, who wasn’t going to be 29 forever, through many summers and winters, so he better step on it.

The second thing that Rachel loved was food, in particular the variety known in her kingdom as dessertDessert was revered for its magic ability to bestow upon those who consumed it great joy and energy, followed by great guilt and sadness, followed by great hips and buttocks. Dessert was reserved for special occasions, only afforded by the fat-wallets of Christmas bonuses, or the lean thighs of the athletic. Rachel had no need of a Christmas bonus, she had no lean muscular extremities upon which to seductively lay her layers of lipids. She had only a persistent craving for sugar. It appeared the moment she awoke, followed her until she slept, and often into her dreams.

The inherent problem in the situation was one that many hetero-normative once-uponers suffer from, and that was that Gregory, boyfriend of four years who better step on it, was too skinny. Skinnier than Lady Rachel, which just would not do.

                  At first, fair Rachel was able to pretend. Through the early months of their courtship Gregory brought her to many feasts, at which lady Rachel consumed only the greenest of salads. Lettuce hung from her lips, painting her like the most noble of bunny rabbits. Rachel suffered through each meal, even the obnoxious bits of lettuce that remain at the end, stuck to the plate and impossible to pick up with a fork without creating a squeaking noise that distracts the entire court from their feast.

                  Try as she might, lady Rachel could only hold out for so long. In time, as her strength waned, her weight gained, and her resentment of Gregory grew with it. So strong was her jealousy that it began to consume her, and she to consume every morsel of sugar in sight. Gregory dismissed her worries with casual laughter, often biting into a slice of pizza as he did so. One night, Rachel snuck down to the kitchen for a midnight snack. As she sat crying over a tray of brownies, she concocted a plan.

The next day she sent out a decree, over email and twitter, calling all of the doctors and dieticians of the kingdom to come forth. He who could make Gregory larger would be rewarded with an insurance payout fit for a king. They ran blood tests and measured his body mass index. But it was to no avail, for Sir Gregory remained as lean as ever. So, the doctors were banished, with only their malpractice rates increased.

So Rachel summoned forth all the great chefs of the kingdom, who for three weeks held great feasts, the tables overloaded with dishes dripping in fat and sticky with sugar. The entire realm filled with the perfume of fresh baked cookies. For weeks Gregory ate, and smiled, but he did not gain an ounce. Rachel watched angrily from outside the feast, chewing on celery.

So, in a last attempt, Rachel summoned forth the great un-credentialed masses. The food bloggers arrived first, and mostly photographed the food. An army of body builders lumbered in, hoisting barrels of whey protein and vials of injectable potions. The hairdressers who swore tah Gawd they gots a cousin who ate only almonds and bananas for two friggin months and he gained like 25 lbs.  Yet Rachel did not have two months, her patience had run out.

Rachel raised her cellphone angrily into the air, threatening to banish all of the crackpots from the twittersphere. A hush fell over the crackpot convention as they all looked up in fear. Just then, a small voice called out from the crowd,

   “Follow These 3 Easy Tricks to Gain 15 lbs. in 2 Days!” it cried.

             The crowd opened around the place the voice had come from, and as they parted out stepped a tiny, adorable, dimple-cheeked dumpling of a girl.

  “Who might you be?” asked Rachel.

   “It is I, KaleAndOreos13! I have a blog and a pretty popular instagram, it’s for binge-eaters who also dabble in the dark arts. Send these people away safely, and I will help you”

Rachel invited KaleAndOreos13 into her bedchamber, where she instructed Rachel to disrobe, and drew upon her body in great circles of black marker, outlining all of Rachel’s flaws. KaleAndOreos13 spoke in hushed tones and explained to Rachel what must be done,
 “Tonight is the full moon. First, you must give Gregory a draught of this potion with his dinner, so he will sleep like the dead.”

She reached into her bag, and handed Rachel a blue bottle, marked with a skull, and labeled Nyquil. Then she gave Rachel an elegantly decorated dagger, a spool of red thread, and a long golden sewing needle.

“At midnight exactly, gaze into your mirror, take the dagger and cut the unwanted pieces of flesh from your body. Sew them into place onto Gregory, then speak the following incantation three times:”

Othingnay Astestay As Oodgay As Inthay Eelsfay

Midnight arrived, and Rachel stood in front of her mirror, dagger gripped in one hand, a wobble of thigh fat pinched in the other. In the reflection, she could see the great stripes of black marker on her frame, and behind it, Sir Gregory sleeping soundly.  She could not proceed. At dawn, KaleAndOreos13 saw that Rachel had failed. So, she pulled Rachel aside and said, 
  “Well, there is one more thing we could try. “

And that is how sir Gregory was made to join Weight Watchers, along with Lady Rachel. After two weeks of being forced to count up food points all day, Rachel found him secretly eating the last of her stash of brownies. Soon, he had to loosen his belt two notches, and she had to tighten hers. The kingdom rejoiced with song and dance and 3 point Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars for all.  

 

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Could Your Faded Passion Brighten Your Home?

Researchers out of Stanford University announced a breakthrough in clean energy technology. They have developed a generator capable of powering a house using the residual heat of the argument you had with your husband last night.
 
In a cooperative effort between the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the study was conducted over the past 4 years in the area of your living room. Results are preliminary, but researchers are enlisting candidates for future research, stating,
“Not tonight honey, I have a headache.”
 
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[ˈæləsən]

      They’re always bitching at me not to leave my till. Todd, Margaret, all of them. Always bitching. Though, they never explain just how it is that I’m supposed to know what the lady standing in front of me means when she says,
“A grande-caramel-latte, and one of those on the end”
and starts pointing her accusing finger toward the end of the pastry case.

      I mean, that latte bit I‘ve got down. I could take that order in my sleep. Hell, I could take that order and ask if you’d “like to try it with our new coconut milk” without turning my head to the cool side of the pillow.

      But I have no idea what she is pointing at. Not a clue, this being the second day of October and a whole new rotation of specials we’ve got on offer. It’s probably a pumpkin-something, a cinnamon-whatever, some damn spiced crumble etc. The lady, she is wedged into place by the crowd behind her that is raging for a cinnamon fix. I am standing, chained behind my register like a good boy, just like I promised last night, when they made me sign that employee responsibility paper. I was all, “It won’t happen again, sir” and so on.

So I stall, and ask the lady for a name to scrawl on the grande-caramel-latte. She says,
“Huh? My name? It’s A—–.“
Well, actually, what she says is,
“Huh? My name? It’s Al-uh-suhn.”
But if we’re going to get all technical, which people like to do with their names, what she says is,
“Huh? My name? It’s [ˈæləsən].”

      I mean, give me a break. Do you know how many damn ways there are to spell [ˈæləsən]? There are at least 7 if you only count the common versions. You’ve got the old stand-by, Allison but heaven forbid you use it if she spells it Alyson, or Alison, or god knows what else. I knew a girl in 4th grade who spelled it Alysen, like her parents had something to prove. So [ˈæləsən] is standing there, pointing and pointing, while I consider writing “Ellison” on her cup just to mess with her. Or, really, just to make use of my degree for the first time since I graduated. But I doubt Todd, who is working the espresso machine, would even get the joke. He doesn’t seem to have read much of anything outside of the employee handbook. 

      So, I hedge my bets and write out “Allison” but I kind of squish the two L’s together, like, maybe there is only one. I squiggle the “o” indecisively. Like, maybe it’s an “e” or maybe my pen is running out of ink. Like, maybe I’ve been using it to write the next great American novel on recycled napkins. Like, maybe I am the guy who gets her, who knows exactly who she is. Like, maybe I could tell she had a relatively normal upbringing but that her parents just wanted her to be a little bit unique. Like, maybe she knows that I am clearly overqualified for this position. Like, maybe she could tell I’ve got a master’s degree and a lifetime-membership card to the ivory tower. Like, maybe we should get coffee sometime, somewhere else. Like, maybe she will love all my jokes about Derrida. Like, maybe she’ll forgive me for messing up the rest of her order and I won’t get written up for it. Like, maybe this [ˈæləsən] is the Allison or the Alison that changes everything.

      All the while, [ˈæləsən] is holding up her resilient elbow, pointing toward whatever it is that I am about to get wrong. The moment is more or less a metaphor for my entire romantic history.

 And of course, where is Margaret now? Margaret, our fearless shift supervisor, who is supposed to be working the pastry case. Margaret who wore out her lungs from bitching at me about leaving my till. Margaret who is evidently taking a ten minute break, now of all times. While [ˈæləsən] is waving her finger toward some mystery cake. [ˈæləsən], who left her glasses at home and can’t read the damn sign. [ˈæləsən] who looks like every other damn [ˈæləsən] I’ve ever come across, like she doesn’t have the time to look at me. 

      The line of customers is stretching out past the door, all of them frowning, all of them decaffeinated-cranky. Here I am, alone, strapped to the register. To my left, Todd has barricaded himself behind a wall of paper cups and syrups. I can hear the espresso machine hissing and spitting, then suddenly it stops. Todd has run out of steam, I‘ve thrown a wrench into the machine. Ominous, that silence.

So I look up at [ˈæləsən], who is dangling my future off her left index finger, and ask,
I’m sorry, could you at least describe it for me?”

 

 

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“Who Are?”

Is it still- no,
Is that just rain still falling?
You know, dripping from the trees
still.

Yeah it is,
it’s just
what is left.

They look like they think
it’s spring. You know?
Like they are just blooming.
It’s pretty. The light really.
I mean. I hate to tell them.

God.
Is it fall already?

Not until September-
twenty first or twenty second?

They’re just setting their watch by it.

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Chance encounters with old shadows.

Your wander
Loves the cobblestones
Breaks the hearts
of street signs
Forgets her glasses at home.

Where you been
hiding’ love?
Who you been
Keepin’ your secrets from?

You look good.
Reminds me
I was thinking ‘bout the moon
I should call her up.

That crazy thing
Dancing through her walk home
My, she use to stop it.
Time, that is
My,
We used to make the clocks moan.

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You know, You were the only one.

I miss you. 
I wish I were there with you. 
I keep meaning to write, 
But. 

The other Monday I burst into 
A run sprint of writing,
Spent all my words in twenty minutes. 
I have been in recovery since. 
Too much distance from my muses,
It makes it hard to write anything. 
Let alone something worthwhile. 

I have your gift in my apartment
Every day I toy with it,
Contemplate
The cost of plane tickets
Hand delivering.

By the time you receive it, 
it will smell like me. 
Like vanilla 
Bread
 and poetry. 

You know, 
You were the only one 
Night stand I’ve ever had.
You know, 
You were the only one.

Somehow,
We remained in contact. 
Which maybe makes it less of that
One-night nonsense. 
In fact.
This all began on the idea 
That I am a terrible person 
Who didn’t mind your beautiful girlfriend. 
Well , I wasn’t sure. 
Still. 
It just seems so.
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Spanish poets discuss the breaking of things over a meal of fresh baked bread.

Spanish poets discuss the breaking of things over a meal of fresh baked bread. They scrawl their list on handkerchiefs, carve it into the wood of the table. Let it soak in the wine that is spilled with the laughter. The un-starched shirt collars and the orchestra of silverware.

1.
I thought I might send her the postcard of Madame X but instead, I spilled coffee on it.
It sat on my bedside table brandishing a threat of pale undress.

2.
That time on the beach in Spain.
Muddled mint and sugar cane.
When he and I didn’t do enough drinking and thus decided to stop being friends.
Without the formality of announcing it.

3.
Denial is the weapon of the vocal cords
The inner dialogue,
The ache exists only after we admit it

4.
I never used the shiny things you bought me.
I grew tarnished, spotted. I was a shining thing once.

5.
Why must you just stand there not thinking about me.

6.
You give good headache
Take off your clothes.

7.
I am more than all the loves I have lost.
My 5 year plan is to stop living in the past.

Then love calls, just to say
Please convince me not to buy an apple pie.

Love came home with a wheeze lunged smile, the exhale tumbling past it.
and I said,
You smell like sweat go wash your face 

and he said,
I forgot to tell you what happened on the way home! I was rounding the corner by our house biking behind a little girl and her dad-I assume it was her dad-but she was in a little child’s seat behind him in her little pink helmet. When I sped up past them she turned around and she was singing.
To me.

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Sugar and Spice and Everything is Pointless.

It’s matter of the it factor. I don’t have it, never have. Without it, baking is just glorified manual labor. I think about the anxiety that I was going through all for the sake of, what? I spoiled my health into submission, my thyroid gone lazy and my god my body is so revolting. I had great illusions for so long that I would end the cycle of abuse in foodservice, but I don’t think I am up to the challenge. The profit margins are too small, and there’s no room in the budget to afford the costs of being a human. After overhead the largest expenses are usually labor and butter, coming close to a tie. I guess I can’t blame the chefs for choosing butter over happiness.

Trust me, the end of the world is nothing like you imagined. It’s probably a muffin, or a misread order form. It’s 15 orders due at 10:00 a.m. and 14 of them are finished, and none of those are picked up. But the 15th shows up right on time.
It’s under-baked two minutes.
It’s the lie of a clean toothpick.
It’s slightly under-mixed or over-proofed or you probably forgot the salt.
Dear god pray you didn’t forget the salt.
Call in the National Guard, she forgot the salt.

Or it’s the button on the oven timer, always screaming. It’s when you check the timer, to see if the fucking-whatever is done and set it for 3 more minutes then you press start-and the button beeps but what has actually happened is you pressed the button so fast that you pressed it twice, so the clock stops again, hangs still at 2 minutes and 59 seconds and the fucking-whatever will burn. Because in the course of the next three minutes you will set your mind to at least 4 other tasks
and there is nothing like the smell of something burning to really make you contemplate suicide.
Though if you were to stick your head into the oven you probably wouldn’t even do that bit right.

I used to do my best writing in the kitchen. Repetitive tasks, the brief release earned by years of practice. Like a long drive on a mostly empty highway, like riding a bicycle as they say. Rolling croissants, rolling hundreds of them. That was nice, I wrote things then.
Perhaps it wasn’t really the rolling, the mind wandering. Maybe it was the pleasant terror that longing brings with it.

I am predictable at best and satisfied at worst, I am always in some unnecessary panic.
I am the pot calling the kettle, just to hang up when it goes to voicemail.
I am the pot that loved the kettle.
I am the pot that left the stove to all its burning.
I am the pot that can’t take the heat and honestly,
I just don’t see the point of putting all that hate into the world so that someone can eat breakfast and have no idea of all the pain that went into it.

Sugar and spice and everything is pointless.

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A letter to the words that got away.

Dear Muse,
I thought I’d escape the confines of the screen for an afternoon, see if my hands remember how to move. To trace along the outline of the moon. I thought of you, sweet poem. But, you know, addictions of modern convenience, opiate of the masses, and the online profiles of false idols and blah blah blah. I will get off my organic, sulfate-and-paraben-free soap box for the moment.

I promised myself I would spend more time shaking my restless bones toward the sunrise, that we would give up our nocturnal leanings and that I’d leave here with more freckles. I seem to have failed, and the pressure to sleep tonight will likely keep me up. Thinking about the to-do of tomorrow and the what if I am not off enjoying some great adventure? I have barely written down a thing. I have very few stories to tell and everyone speaks English.

Today my love seems sleepy, like the delayed selvage of the drinks we each had on Friday has finally hit. There was a moment he led the bar in a rendition of some Smiths song, this being some sort of a Manchester thing, I have gathered. Man-che-staaar. He had bad dreams last night and has been distant since he woke up, hasn’t revealed very much. I had an optimistic moment where I thought I might write letters to everyone. About the nothing, the slow death my muscles have been performing. And you, I was hoping you would be there in them. The sadness of rainy days and I guess I have always been this boring, this lazy homebody with no energy. I wish I could quit the love of screens. The issue of insomnia has been a complication, indeed.

I fear that the words in me have all fallen asleep. I don’t quite remember what inspiration feels like. How you used to wake me in the middle of the night. How your steps fall into place when I am tripping over myself toward some amorous horizon. Saying, look at me I make such lovely sentences would you like some of them?

I used to do my best writing in those rare moments of comfort. Repetitive tasks, the brief release earned by years of practice. Like a long drive on a mostly empty highway, like riding a bicycle as they say. Rolling croissants, rolling hundreds of them. That was nice, I wrote things then. Perhaps it wasn’t really the rolling, the mind wandering. Maybe, yet again, it was the pleasant terror that longing brings with it.

I guess I am predictable at best, but I can’t let my mind go on like that. Only awake when the lust is freshly brewed and an arms reach away. I can’t resign myself to only falling in but never being in love. I mean, I can, I do. I have and hope to stay this way I just wish that the writing would feel the same way. Perhaps, that’s it. Ah, damnit, this is it’s own example of the nonsense my love has been telling me about, somethingorother language. I don’t want to ask for the word but, you, dear poem(muse, muze), are like my own version of it. You are the catch 22 that keeps bringing me back to you. Does that make any sense? Do you know?

Have I told you that I have missed you. Have you been upset with me this whole time or have I just taken you for granted so long that I’ve forgotten how to fit you into my routine, My daily tasks of lazing about in my sedated-lovely just get me so stressed out.
I just have to sleep, I just have to sleep so that I can go to work tomorrow with enough energy to panic all day, and into the afternoon and well past the second cup of coffee and the swollen left knee.
I have to shower, and I have to put on concealer to hide how tired and sickly my skin looks and I have to subdue my gender but not too much
and I have to cram all the extra layers of fat that have grow like moss under my skin into an elastic torture device. This is how I mask my shame and my penchant for binge eating.
I have to take my vitamins, but not yet. I can’t take them for four hours because I have to take my thyroid medication right now, and my birth control. Which I probably shouldn’t take at the same time but I can’t risk forgetting it.

So I just don’t have time to love you today.

Besides, if I did I would waste it staring at a screen and letting all the Saturdays roll along without me. I would waste it in bed feeling guilty for being there and for having no friends and for having ignored you so long that now you just must have forgotten me. Surely. I would waste all the hours I could have been writing, not going to central park, but understanding that the seasons were changing and that I had probably missed all of autumn by now so what’s the point really.
I woke up too late to love you today.

Then you are gone, all of a sudden. Perhaps the music changed or the meds wore off or perhaps you couldn’t see my apology for the trees, dear muse. All the excuses and look at me stretching for miles around my sorry. But I am, would you please just stay. Just let me stay here.

I know I came into this room looking for something, but I can’t recall what it was that I had forgotten. Trains of thought gone speeding off the track in Philadelphia, and 8 people died. Mine just steam their locomotive into walls, no one searches for the missing.
When you go away all the trains in me keep going, but the engineers lose steam. The conductors announcements just don’t ring out the same. Come back, no, come with me. Bring me with you, maybe.
Tell me where you are going. Tell me how you have been sleeping
and did you get enough breakfast,
and I am sorry that I finished all of the milk.
That I left my towel on the floor.
The dishes that I didn’t wash and I know,
I know, I never bring you flowers anymore.

-A

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Why must you always insist on dirt. On your calligraphy of scars. You fell in love and got all boring. You owe me a poem. You owe me three dozen punctuation marks and a translation of all your sign language. You filled all of my pockets with secrets. You owe me less public display of your mixed signals, my body is not a performance venue. What were you trying to prove. That wasn’t a question. Take me home with you. You should have, I mean. Or you could have. But, you knew that already. But you can’t now, the invitation has been rescinded. Or something. It’s been a long time. You owe me 1 euro of postage, you owe me an explanation. A slice of chocolate cake. A small series of contained explosions. I would like to return these daydreams, these extra 10lbs. I will accept store credit.

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Native Songbirds of Nederland, part one.

unnamedThere are new words here, and while my ears have finally captured the energy to learn them I’ve been too busy wrapping my shoulders in the sound. I sleep in a room with no windows, and the words grow slowly. A soft bed of moss, I walk over them in my bare feet. All tip toes. My knees are learning to sew their wobble to the cobblestones, to be sure of their wander.

The humans here say, hallo.
We live in an apartment with two roommates, both Italian.
The men have become their footsteps. Coming up the stairs.
Then down. In and out of doorways and so on.

My boss in the states is half Dutch. She warned me that the Dutch do not like doorknobs, stating,
“I hated that when I first came here, I hate doorknobs!”
As if, you know, this is an actual thing to have an opinion on.
But she was right- all the doorknobs here are an illusion, they don’t actually turn. 

For ten days I did not own keys to anything, it was the first time since I could remember. Then Kevin made me a key. So I am once again responsible for the locking and unlocking of important things, it seems.

Kevin steps were the first song I learned to identify. They are the only ones that continue past the first stair case and climb up the ladder to our nest on the third floor. His footsteps always pause, then just before his head bobs over the landing he will say,
sweetheart?

I used to talk to him, too late. This was last year, before he moved to the attic room where we now slumber. He had a window then, and I lost count of the sunrises I watched crawl into the picture frame. I told him to pay no attention to the sky outside his window. So he would tell me instead that the birds were singing. 

Each morning I would ask him what the birds said,
and each morning he would reply,
“I don’t speak Dutch.” 

Though he mentioned once that their song matched mine.
Now, I begin the day with it.

I ruffle my feathers quietly and I sometimes drink coffee in the mornings, now. Kevin makes the coffee. He tells me that his favorite bit about the making-machine is that it provides the option of “extra heet koffie” which is pronounced “Extra hate coffee.” We brew our coffee with just a normal amount of hate. I take sugar in mine, the big turbinado granules that hesitate to dissolve entirely, they curl up at the bottom of the mug. Like they are still sleeping. I nudge them awake with my coffee spoon.

I tell them that the birds are singing, each to each.

I know not what they sing to me.

 

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Embalmed Blooms for the Blissfully Unemployed, 2 a.m.

Up late still unslept and unkempt- 
 Feet unswept up off my filth woven carpet,
 I am balanced here, tiptoed. Ankle twisted.
 Pretending to breathe. 
 Some reek of stained oxygen through diseased window screen. 
 The permanent burn of an abandoned iron sits dead in the center of the room. 
 It was there when I moved in here. 
 It will be there when I leave.

I am all my unpacked boxes of useless things.
I used to be better at compartmentalizing.
I keep taking you out to look at you, hold you up against the light.
I like the shine of you, The tarnish on your silver.
I like putting my hands on you.

I’m reading articles that prove that I listened when you called me this afternoon.
That I paid attention.
It was still Thursday then and I still haven’t slept but it is no longer Thursday.
So, yesterday afternoon really.
But who knows what a day means anymore, anyway?

I’m blissfully unemployed.
I am permanent Sunday morning
I am matinee films and orange juice
I am the entryway to my Great Aunt Francine’s apartment 
Where the hall table always has an arrangement of fresh flowers. 
I am those too, the embalmed blooms. 

More than you know.
It’s stuck in my mind like the moan of a love 
letter half written, never sent. 
Lately you’ve been on my… and so on. 
Words are best stolen after 2 a.m. 
Which is to say my words after 2 a.m. are worthless 
and my judgment long gone, 
So why not steal some? 
“Never ask permission only beg forgiveness”
As you say so often. 
You stole my affection and you ask me to forgive you everyday. 
You had my permission to take it, always. 

I’d be happy to have my essential organs notarized on your behalf.
Or perhaps just engraved,
If lost please return to: you know. 
And so on. And such.

Will have to look into the costs, 
If my insurance will cover it or not. 
And so on. And such.
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Fuffled(edited)

I’m all in a fuffle

Eyelashes all stumble, exhausted

Passed out on flushed skin

Words all mumble, 

all glad I caught you I’m in love with you what? Never mind

My meaning’s been hiding under the tip of some neighborhood tongue.

Hanging out on the store front

Vernacular.

Chewing up langues de chat

Cigarette smoke and unsalted butter


I’m not mad at you

Got no reason But I ought to.

It’s probably on the tip of my tongue, too.

All twisted up from missing you

And nothing tastes the same these days.

Gone all crimson, metallic

Left all my modifiers misplaced, you did recklessly.


I blame the water

The rust of the pipes

Where the iron prayed for oxygen

Turned the faucet drip to wine

                                to whiskey

It ages in the barrel of a man’s body.

 

The hymns that the radiator sings all night keep me awake

Breaks against plaster when it’s complaint heats to argument

The tin echo of domestic dispute in a rented apartment

The war between the wear of winter and the drywall

The story of a lover that crumbled.

It’s been cold here.

     Raining all the time.

I’ve got nothing but raindrops to tell you.

And that the skin of my elbows is cracked,

Revealed all of my bricks.

And that I miss you.

 

Can I just come home now?

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She taught me
How to swallow pills
Without water
Even the ones that you find it the bottom of your handbag,
Next to mysterious crumbs and
Shell casings of sugarless gum

Even those ones.

Or the ones that hide in that compartment in the Camry,
The one that clicked open suddenly.
It was meant to be an ashtray..
Those ones, too.

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Things the coffee cup taught me

I don’t believe in God but I believe in fate,
In scrawling out excuses for our mistakes.
For the wrong turns that the lungs make
And the thing I should not say.
For fear they prove true
I sat down with my coffee and considered loving you.
I drank two and a half cups trying not to.

I spilled the last,
It sprawled across the kitchen table
Muddied the headlines with stains of my regrets

I let it pour off the sides and onto the carpet.

I don’t know.
Who am I to talk?
Or not talk, really.
Or talk incessantly, though never say the thing I mean to.
I am one worth not talking to.
You see,
I’ve been thinking about you.
Never mind

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On editing.

I stayed up too late. I killed so many darlings. They just kept coming. Like zombie darlings.You cut the head off one sentence and it grows three ah-ha moments in its stead.
Then all of a sudden it’s four a.m. in the apocalypse- every word for itself. All the structure has been burnt to the ground and somewhere amongst the rubble and the fragments and scattered punctuation the bartender is still shouting,
“Last call!”
Like he doesn’t know he is the next to die.

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Next Year Just Send Her Flowers(Take 2)

6: 30, Valentine’s day.
There is neon pink vomit
On the floor of the L train.

You’ve been writing poems on the subway
Passing love-notes to the city.
Check yes
Check no
Check maybe
You lose them in your apartment entryway
When you fumble for your keys.

Last night, did you see?
The Empire State Building
It had a heartbeat.
Lit in great red lights they
flickered,
they pulsed
The evening had its cheeks flushed.

Did you know?
That When the city gossips
It creates the sound of footsteps.
It melts the snow off the cement.
The buildings lean down to the street lamps
and whisper
“Have you seen her?
I guess the rumors were true.
Red is a rather good excuse to break rules.”

I can only assume that the moon is out where you are,
That you are fast asleep, ignoring her.
That she is in on the scheme, along with the sidewalks and the subway cars,
The trees dressed in February woes.
Complaints against the cold.
I only hope that she left you chocolates.
I only hope that you are dreaming of such sweet nonsense.

IMG_2789-0

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Love is a lot like anxiety. It’s a good reason to stay in bed.

I owe a few thanks to those who have checked in on me as of late.

I spent the better part of last year in hiding, From words and poems and people, and decisions. I built a wall around me that was named one of the Seven Great Anxieties of the World. You can see the unnecessary worry from space.

I also fell in love. Which was the easy decision to make, to put in the effort to love a man across an ocean. It requires a few broken vital organs, undivided attention and a lot of time spent on the telephone. Or on an airplane. It has been gorgeous and trying.
Loving him left me wanting for wanting, as I am wont to do.

Love can be beautiful and most terribly indescribable.
Ineffable.
Peculiar and wonderful and inopportune and just at the moment when your knees threaten to give out.
That’s always when.

Love is a lot like anxiety. It’s a good reason to stay in bed.

I call my anxiety “The Domino Problem.”
I was surrounded by a wall of them, standing six inches from my nose. Big questions, About buying a home, and what city I’d be living in, and where was my job going, and so on. Piles of paperwork I still hadn’t filled out. Phone calls I had to make. Then there was the question of him, of how to get my body where my being has been living. I feared moving in any direction, that I’d knock over a Domino and set the whole thing into motion, into a great crashing mistake of shattered porcelain.
The question was,
“How?”
My answer was always,
“Tomorrow.”

So I stopped writing. I stopped talking to most people. It is hard to say which happened first, either way, I ran out of stories to tell.

I can be so weird sometimes. People are hard. I am lucky enough to know some who stick around.

There’s been a wild amount of change these past few weeks. I’ve been getting out a bit more and seeing people. It’s been liberating to say the least and then, the other day, the words began to come back to me.

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It’s hard to say, though, so much of me these days feels cold. Literally, figuratively, ineffably, Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera!

I had to throw my red lipstick away.
It was a hard moment,
saturated with symbol though lacking in substance
Diseased and relentlessly contagious.
Immune-compromised though not positive.
Excessively gendered breaking of hearts.
Paint the town cliché.
The great purge of feminine wiles,
A revelation of shame.

It was a hard moment in a series of hard days
Since, I have not felt the same.
There is so little within my bones of poem,
there is his scent still on my skin and there is the familiar sense of longing which I bring to meet the morning.

A shiver of autumn, of broken radiators and a cheap yet creeping towards overpriced apartment in Brooklyn. I fill the rooms with the passive aggressions of my imagined anxieties. I avoid the kitchen the living room I avoid the necessary conversation required to maintain a state of living.
I am sleeping,
always and never quite.
I snore, he has told me.
My anxieties climb up a wall of the evening, in search of the sun and inspiration, the something over the wall. The air thick with my delusion, turns the corners black, they decay and disintegrate with my footing, my hold on things.

At the end of the glass,
My questions rattle amongst the ice cubes
the answers dilute with the melting

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Dear Boy, Who Never Met My Grandfather.

The writing today has been not. Along with the finishing of chores and suppression of anxieties, along with the necessary hours of sleep and their prerequisite ignorance of moonlight-all of them have been decidedly not. The of-courses and always were still as such, nothing changes. The lunatic ways of this poet, of the impending doom of Mondays and plane tickets and Oh dear lord my boyfriend is coming and Oh dear lord it has been so long since I’ve been naked with anyone. Fairly certain my bathroom scale is broken. The barista at the coffee shop keeps insisting they are not closed until 7, while turning off every possible light around me.

I bought new old shoes today and a new old coat from the thrift store that is sort of across the street from my job. I needed the coat, yet I decided to just continue to wear his sweatshirt. Which just fits me. Not in an adorable this is clearly my boyfriend’s way, more of an I am fairly certain my bathroom scale is broken kind of way.

The barista continued his polite insistence that I am fine to stay, and not write. To not drink the sip of coffee in an almost empty cup. He sprays each table with sanitizer and wipes it clean. He runs the rag right across my face, my being, all the while whistling. I wash away the taste of ammonia and dish rag with my last ten percent of coffee, cold.

I left the coffee shop and went to a bar, avoiding the perils of my apartment and the walls he painted white for me. I have felt as little today as I have consumed, hunger being the soil from which affection blooms. The rhizomatic sighs of young, fertile Americans. Fingers intertwined.
Fairly certain my emotional scale is broken.

I have starved my loss into existence, turned numb toward all things save for the wind. The advanced ache of my young bones and their relentless complaining. I love my knees in all their wobbled glory, they get me home and they keep me standing at work and they make poetry seem worthwhile and they help me to wobble away from my anxieties, they avoid the walls of the apartment.

You see, the walls were so ugly and I whined and whined on phone calls to a boyfriend who was not here. Who was perfect in his absence, ever haloed and flawless. He painted them white during his last visit, and we abandoned the project when they were all merely primed white. Bohemian. Post-apocalyptic chic. Or something. Regardless, romantic.

They are waiting. The walls. Not just waiting for me, waiting for me to admit it. The pain of without him. For my emotions, at last unbridled, to declare something other than the thickness of the air around my skin. The winter of New York and never seeing Manhattan, of New York every day the same, of the cityscape sunrise outline orange glow off the empire state building and the smiles I no longer bring to meet the morning.

I want to not write it, or even to think it, to acknowledge the cold shoulder of my inner dialogue. I am the husband to my psyche, I will never wash the dishes or put the trash away. I stopped loving me a long time ago.

I can only hope that all this lack is a coping mechanism, not a falling out of, not a boredom. I never want to be wrong about him. I dare not admit it yet, for fear of his wandering eyes and my inability to lie. These things are so fragile, and he is so very much one of those fragile things. He is my fragile thing and I’ve grown tired of the chore of his mending. I haven’t at all, actually, but I have learned in the past that the day will come. For now, there is only the numb and the not writing.

I should clarify, I don’t love anything these days. Nothing tastes the same, save for the whiskey, the ice cubes. The cold weather and ammonia and the stutter of my inhale.

I keep my eyes down. I radiate taken, or at least not up for anything fun. My cleavage has been bound into submission, starved from the relentless consumption of my lungs. I do not want to love anyone but him. I am just overwhelmed with the anxiety that I don’t. I alternate, I have brief moments during each day where I feel something, and in those moments I miss him. Or his arms, the warmth of skin on mine. It hurts. The scent of autumn and alone, of decay and anxiety. The withering of things, the reduction of beauty to its sugars.
Nothing tastes the same, save for the whiskey.

Please, just let me be right to love this one, let me love him, let us have something easy and warm and eternal and lacking in struggle.

Dear New York, I will always love you and have you. Did I abandon you? I am sorry. You deserve more and I can’t say why I have been so reluctant to put up a fight. You are my girl over the body of water, my green light rich with envy and metaphor.

This is a long love letter to no one. Rather, this is a courtroom record of a heart not breaking. Though just faulty enough to hurt someone. To demand a recall, to question the meaning of this all and the cost of a settlement, of a marriage and a divorce and an inevitable guilt trip by my dead grandfather. I am supposed to be making a list of his things that I want. I want him back.

I am supposed to have found a place for his ashes but nothing feels right, so instead I talk to them. I apologize, I try to live up to their standards and I wonder if they are really the remains of the man who could not die. I curl round the box in my best attempt at the traditional fetal position, which was not mine. He has so much unfinished business and I had so many thing to, well, never say. Thing to say that I never would have, We could have lived for centuries and I’d still shame myself into silence at just the thought of his blue eyes, the anger. The strength and despair and he really had no idea how much I loved him. I know still he would be furious at the things I say about him, sometimes. When I speak of his cold ways, of his shame. I wish I had kept the secret of his illness, how it stole his mind away. I wish I had kept him as mine. I wish I had not been so afraid to love him.

I always called him “Pa.” My mother did not tell me until I was older that he wished to be called “Grandpa.” He was, by far the most interesting human I will ever encounter. His mind moved in ways I will never understand. I loved him in ways he never understood.

To think of breaking my grandfather down to a list of what I want has been a task that has consumed my thoughts, and questioned all my limited 25 year old understanding of what is right.

Were I to send an honest list I would ask for only one thing, I would like my grandfather back. Other than that, I would like my brother to call me. I would like my grandfather’s clock to have continued its infuriating chiming, every 15 minutes. I’d have loved to have spent enough time with him to stop noticing the time. Second star to the right, then straight on ‘til morning.

I would like to give him back his bowl from the prison camp and his filthy sarong of parachute. I would like please to take possession of the broken pieces of his heart and I would like to glue them back. Rather, to hold them together with my own hands, clasped, until the effort allowed his blood to move again. I would like to remain there. I would like to have one more Sunday with him reading poems from the New Yorker and listening to his story of T.S. Eliot in the library. Which is the best of his stories, and above all it is my story. That he told me.
You see, he knew exactly what Eliot was pointing at.

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What to Expect When You’re Expiring

1.
On the telephone.
On so many phone calls.
In particular, the first one.
When her voice registers like a dial tone.
Call your home phone number to hear her voice again.
Sob for the answering machine.

2.
Do not cry over food,
over drink.
Cry into the mirror
Watch your silhouette shrink.
The part you have lost,
let it cease to remain metaphor.
Starve it into existence.
Remember,
Your public display of unrequited affection.
Your moth eyes glowing toward a dying flame.
Your prayer of self starvation.
None of it will change a thing.

3.
So go ahead,
Take your mind off things.
Go grocery shopping.
Focus on the cans of chickpeas in aisle
I mean, really focus.
Breathe in deep.
Give up immediately
You never liked oxygen much, anyway.
Collapse, slowly.
Let your shoulders fall first.
Smack your palms against the price tags
Clasp your fingers to the shelf.
Feel your knees give out.
Focus.
Count.
How many cans of black beans are still left?
Desperate, Dig your nails into the red sticker of a discount
Claw at the adhesive
As you descend, as it tears.
Stare up at the rows of cans,
Decide you sort of like it here.

4.
In the car,
Preferably when on a long drive to somewhere Nowhere
Anywhere that requires empty highways and moonlight.
Oh, the glory of it
Oh, the wind, the sky
Drive away from the sunset.
Don’t look back.
Drive in to a thunderstorm, the rattle of raindrops
Heavy on the rooftop,
Relentless
Terrifying yet seemingly appropriate.
Drive under an overpass and
Just for a moment.
It stops.

Realize, that’s what her embrace is. Was.

5.
In New York City,
stand in awe of its beauty.
Of all its spilled coffee.
Of the missed connection
on the subway.
Cry into the boxes and bags you took on your journey
Gasp at the gorgeous of it, even the worst of it.

Outside your grandfather’s apartment, in the rain.
It has soaked through your coat.
Your shirt.
Call your sister Emily and tell her.
I am standing in my first real new york city thunderstorm.
I can see her.
I can see mom.

6..
Leaning over your kitchen sink.
Something about the washing away of things
Brings it out in people-the sobbing
The pruned fingers of reality.
It brings it out in you, too.
Not that you have energy to wash a damn thing.
Namely, your hair.
So, when the neighbors offer to help.
Decline,
<em>that is so very sweet of them to offer. </em>
Wash away the bowls of food she wont eat anymore.

7.
On the first of the hard days.
The nurse from hospice arrives. She is an angel.
Her laughter the sound of bells.

She will give you little pamphlets
Systematically designed to explain
The stages,
The symptoms.
The best ways to manage pain.
The exponential rate of decay
<em>What to expect when you’re expiring.</em>

The well of sorrow within your bones spills
The angel helps you clean it off the tile.
She shows you the proper way to slice a mango.
It will be the last thing your mother eats.
The pamphlets did not warn you.

8.
Grief is not a cycle.
It is a rolling ball,
Followed by a running child.

You have made it toThe final days. Her skin is blotchy, her breathing is raspy.
On and off, flickering.
Your handbook tells you this is the end of things.
The ringing of telephones.
Loved ones crowd Into her bedroom, whispering.
Any moment now she’ll be gone.
Minutes stretch like days when counted out in drops of morphine.
They wash a setting sun across the evening.

You fall asleep, miraculously.
She waits until the morning.
Your brother wakes you.
You find your friend Maddy collapsed in the hallway,
Her face in her hands.
Her palms spit steam.

You know she’s gone.

In a spare moment when she is alone
Whisper, Check if any of her is still hiding in thereCut off a lock of her hair.
Hold her and tell her to just let go.

Now it’s your turn to.

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After The Accident. (For Bobby)

(After the car accident, having been hit head-on by a drunk driver when I was 18)

….

To move was to gasp
To shake from the lungs
a series of sobs
A body designed to absorb impact.
Only when it can’t foresee it
 I could not.
I could not
move.
To move was to admit.

The floor of the bathtub
All was white light and the flaws of tear ducts.
He was. Trying.
To bathe me. To wash away.
The boy, without any inherent
Skills one could call mothering
Never taught, but trying.

He held the shower head too low,
Rinsed soap into my eyes.
The tub slowly filled with water turned grey,
The cooled iron of a drunk’s flame.

Though, despite the sting of any sudden motion
the stab of ache and oxygen-
the attempt, the inhale.
The water on my back felt wonderful.

Scabbed, swollen beyond the strength of my being.
More naked than I’d ever been
and
He,
He was just there, trying.
There was no thought of casually leaning back
Allowing my stomach to lay flat,
my thighs pushed together
My legs crossed In order to shrink my silhouette.
There was none of that,
Just pain
And water
And him.
I curled into a ball with my skin
Stomach folding over itself,
my entire body filled, swelling. Shameless.
The seat belt left
A strip of bruises across my chest
Knees steady turned shades of purple, green, and black.
But the water felt wonderful on my back.

His hand knocked bottle of the shelf
It flew past my face and smacked against the water,
My river of a grey after
I only saw the car
I only withdrew from my body,
Herd the conversation of my muscles veer wildly toward argument,
Toward a violent dispute with my instinct.
as I pulled away.
Then I was in the white light
Of the bathtub, again.
Shaking and sobbing,
The water still running.
His clothing soaked from climbing in.

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I’ve been here, technically.

I have just been temporarily broken-hearted, working at a back-breaking pace, and trying to fix the broken machine of my body. Replacement parts hard to come by these days. The repairman scoffed,

They haven’t made this piece since 1958. Where did you even find this thing?

I have been gone, I’ve been away in Belgium and love.
He went back to Amsterdam two weeks ago, and my body tried to go with him. It’s been a rare occasion fit for weeping and insomnia. Too much coffee and a new round of prescription medication.
Loving him was the easy decision. I really had no say in the matter.
Eventual sleep and some healing.
Second star to the right and straight on ‘til mourning.

We made it through those weeks 
With promises of summer and its brief freedoms
Its burns.
The forecast takes a sudden turn.

August was strangely cold in New York this year
Based on the headlines, it would appear
That Demeter already knows
That she has begun to let the plants go.

He is obviously not gone forever, or even for long. November or December will come. The year will pass and then he will be home. Wherever home may be, but decidedly it will be with me.

Trying to convince my being of these things has been impossible. My affection is a stubborn one, it seems. She has a flair for melodramatic wailing. Denial is best mixed with mild panic and caffeine. The connotation and denotation of heartbeat. Mine is fumbling in circles around Manhattan side streets.

Sleep has been difficult.
My sister will tell me I need to take my lorazepam.
My boss will ask if I am eating.
The poets will not ask where I’ve been but I will wish they had.

Lauren Bacall is gone now
and nothing seems the same.

I haven’t been writing much all summer, but the words have been cold brewing.
If there is one thing I am good at, it is spilling coffee.

(I am also well-suited to assist in a medical emergency.
Should that fail, I write a decent eulogy)

I have stained all my shirts with sentence fragments.
False starts of love letters.
They leave rings on all the  wooden furniture.
Like autopsied trees.
I have loved you for so long, they read.

I stood so long today that my left knee, left. 
It declared a labor strike and began picketing outside the doors of my legs. 
The doors were red at some point, they have been worn down in time.
 The warm orange glow of an exit sign.
The walk home this evening was decidedly difficult,
embarrassing, and painful.
The whole time I was wobbling like a fool I was thinking
If only,
I could only being wobbling foolishly home, to you.
Lend me your bones for an evening.

“The coming home was always to you”
My grandfather wrote that.
I love like he did, I make the same grand mistakes. Sometimes, it makes me mean. 

I have loved the wrong ones. 
Or loved the right ones,
did not make them home.
Or the one. So to say.
I, like my grandfather, take no joy in admitting the wrong.
Prayer is sometimes an apology one tells oneself.
But I was thinking, whilst wobbling,
that I would gladly take all the wrong
If I could please this time be right.

I have been thinking about knees quite a bit lately.
My knees were baptized with the rest of my body, but they cannot bend in prayer.
About what a privilege it is to walk. About my Aunt.
That is a story of heartbreak for another time.

I am writing this to say I am still alive.
I am just saying hello to the world. Myself included.

 

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The person you are trying to reach is emotionally unavailable. Please leave a message after the tone,

If you are satisfied with your message
You may hang up, or
Press 1
for more options.
………..
To listen to your message.
Press 1
……

To re-record your message,

Press 2
…..
To listen to your progressively angrier series of messages
Press 1
……..

To delete your message and pretend this never happened.
Press 4
…..
Or was it 5?
To question the impact of your mistake:
Press 5

To hear a lecture
on your numerous shortcomings
as written by you ex-girlfriends
and recited by your father
Press 5
……..
For a sleeping pill
Press 9
…….
For another,
Press 7
…..
She’s moved on. It’s late.
This may not even be her number.
You fool.
For a drop of morphine.
Press 8
….
To stare at the ceiling
Until the sun rises.
Press
6
…….

This message will repeat.</p

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This is my best impression of Molly Bloom. Which is to say I am a complete Mess.

I wrote this letter with the intention
that it be read aloud.
Forgive the limits of my voice.
Of my lungs,
Of this gluttonous muscle that
Struggles as ever
To wrap its way around a phrase. Please.
If you cannot understand my words
then take the sound
(The syntax, the perspective)
and know
That when asked any question deemed important
My bones will always answer
with your name.

I have taken you sublingually.
You dissolved your way to my bloodstream.
Then remained.

I spend evenings staring at my bedroom ceiling,
Arguing with my inner narrator
That if he insists on keeping me
From sleep again
I’d rather the conversation be about you.
You know, switch it up from my usual
statistically-induced-panic-attack.

This is my best impression of Molly Bloom
Which is to say I am a complete mess.

(Also, that I knew that line would make you laugh. Yes.)

The first time we were together
you seemed so nervous
I was afraid you might shatter
Might shake your veins
Hiss steam from your joints like a crazed radiator
Dissolve into dust,
Into some
powder-form moonlight.

Might lean in to kiss me
Then spontaneously combust.
Not in a double-entendre sense,
In a literal sense.
Which would have been a terrible thing to have to explain to the firemen standing in my apartment.
Let alone my roommates.

The are lot of things I should be doing besides writing this for you.
A lot of things more important than loving you and
There are hundreds of things
I am inifinitely better at than writing in general
like,
Spilling my coffee
or
Bumping into table corners
or
somehow eating an entire hamburger without smudging my lipstick.

But,

Loving you
is something that I am
Like, sort-of-okay at.

I mean, not great,
but definitely still better
than I am at writing poems or subtlety.

Though not nearly as good
as I am at not drinking coffee,
and
may I just say
that if anyone is going to mess up my lipstick these days
I would really like it to be you.

Wherever it is that you and I end up before we wind up dead
I hope that we find time again to have a 20 minute transfer in
the Antwerp Railway Station.
And,
did you know?
That your watchband is always too loose.
I have noticed
That if I ask the time of you
You would rather jerk your elbow violently until the face jumps around your wrist to be read
than ever let go of my hand.

It seems important.

At this moment,
To record these things.
Our story.
I am not entirely sure why
and I certainly have not come close
to doing it justice.
The best I can come up with is,

Do you remember the day?
In New York City.
In the rain.
We were standing underneath the overpass of the subway.
The drops kept settling on your glasses.
You just kept looking past them
You know, at me.

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Exsanguinated in the Antwerpen-Centraal Railway Station.

Like everyone’s been saying we are.

These days
These muscles of metaphor
Beat faster.
They loiter outside the skin’s side door
Look for trouble like they don’t know better.

The mosquito’s song-
A reprimand, shooed away,
You can’t just hang around here adoring me.

Slow burn of the wait
Soaked in sun
and a shop-awning’s-worth of shade
Scowl teeth wrapped in sugar cane
Say,
Go ahead, officer,
Tell me I can’t stay.

Limb kissing the lighting
Late night longing of conversation
Relentless pursuit of the clock’s alarm
Twenty minute layover in the Antwerp train station.
He warned,
       “You will love this”

Transfer between a pipe dream and a love song.

The boy who breathes jazz percussion
but don’t know a thing of swing.

Knees bruised by cobblestones,
And all his bending
Toward the begged question
Big love eyes always waitin’ on.

Mornings when the light sneaks in
I fixate on the long stretch of his windows.
His skin a fan of sandalwood.
The open. The perfume. The flutter.
The days with him when I wonder.

My night owl ways have gone,
My insomnia cure is pretending
To be where you are

(If it’s July twenty-fourteen in New York,
What time is is in Casablanca?)

And the moon-
Don’t get me started on her.

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Today, in a message,
you called me a poet warrior.

Today, I screamed at you in a book store.
Knowing you were not there
did not stop me.

You have put me in a difficult position today.
I have no choice but to adore you.
I’m sorry,
These decisions are made above my pay grade.
I am just the messenger.
I am just another
Insufferable sentimental fool.
Built to falter.

The starlight can suck it,
I am keeping you.

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Receipt For the Purchase of a Plane Ticket to Amsterdam, As Scrawled by T.S. Eliot using His Non-Dominant Hand.

I would love.

  These days I have little to say
  Which Billie Holiday has yet to sing.
     As though the radio knows I am listening.

  A symptom less pulmonary.
  An extension of skeleton.
  Rib shaking.
  Subtle vibration of bones.
  Antique shop echoes
                           from a Victrola Silvertone.

  Ghost of song.
  Difficult to explain.
  Listen.
      Oh, darling- listen.
  Watch the notes catch the light.
  Dust settled on a conversation long forgot.
  The repeat of a chorus stuck in the mind-
                                             I would love. 

  Could sell this love
  For a steep profit.
  If we just stuck a label on it.
  Called it,
     Vintage.
  Genuine.
     Hand-made.
  Artisanal.
  Repurposed salvage of symbolic muscle.
  Upcycled lost souls.
  Called it,
Retro.

  Good old-fashioned American trouble. 

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You Are My Favorite Lie of Omission

It’s like a switch sometimes.
With me.

There are days for no reason I’d risk the scratch of electricity
To cut it off.
Skeleton of emotional fuse box.
(Sometimes my knees click when I walk. On and off.)

If New York lost power you would return to before you existed.

(“Oh, let me remember you.”)

I could smile into the evening for once,
I could justify my panic.

Anxieties so faceted, they sparkle.

My must you be so sexy and neurotic.

Tonight,
I was trying to make a point about women.
I lost
track.
I meant to discuss the social implications of birthday gifts in modern mating ritual.
The symbolic value of exchange.
The habits of the domestic feline.

Women love questions they can answer by saying ,
“This thing means I am adored.
I am loved this many dollars.
This long.
These minutes.
This unique circumstance of timing, neurotransmitters,
and fate
Made particularly for me.
Would never fit you,
though you may envy it, if you’d like.
Thank you for asking.”

Mostly I keep you secret.
Woman questions she can answer by saying love.

You are my favorite lie of omission.
Gone until the phone rings.

Baby, it’s hot as hell outside,
Take off your damn clothes.

I don’t really want anything for my birthday.
Perhaps, a pair of wire cutters.

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Sun Salutation of Low Ceiling.

Cannot seem to wake  today.

In my bedroom.
5 p.m.
I stretch toward salute
Sun of low white ceiling.

A room considered large for its rent,  in Brooklyn.
Last tenant painted the walls forest green.
I curl towards the soil.
Bend into a child’s pose my knees are never capable.

Doctors built me legs that walk
and knees which refuse to pray.
They cease their bend at 87 degrees.
They pause to ask questions.
(My joints are agnostic, it seems)

Fetal position that my limbs never understood.
Vulnerable organs always open to the world.
I have never learned.

I beg my blood to move on these late afternoons,
Illness kept me in bed well past noon
There is writing to do.
There is the coughing up of consequence.
Must coax circulation to the window of this skin.
Call it out with a love song.
Soft crack of pebble on the window.
Threat of shatter, of romance.
Equally dangerous. Equally likely to call you from sleep.

Sugar moon skin tone
Stolen from my diabetic mother.
Everyone blamed the full moon on her.

There is no such thing as moonlight.

Picket fences gone out of style,
The millennial boys all bearded
Drinking the way towards a bourbon shortage.
This is our whiskey rebellion.

I moved to Brooklyn and now even my poems are gluten free.
There are BMWs parked along
Only one side of Lorimer Street.

 

 

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Statistically speaking we are some grand, terrifying percentage of doomed.

Ignore the color of the sky
Outside your window.
The sun reminds you of everything you should be doing
Besides this.
Tomorrow already started.
You are already late.
You may feel free to blame the fact
That men don’t wear watches these days.
The sun draws his blue lecture on punctuality
Along the silhouette of the trees.
The moon just tells you to call me.

Call this,
Sunday.
For a long time it was reserved for a different kind of man-
For my grandfather’s apartment.
In many ways the ocean you live across
Separates us less than his illness kept him from me.
One cannot simply
Buy a ticket across an old man’s memory.

Proud old men
Still die.
We build cities on top of their bodies.
They leave behind Sunday.

I read today
That the Sunday edition of The New York Times
Requires 63,000 dead trees to print.
I found this statement vague and unsubstantiated.
Suspicious.
The mathematics illogical,
Sources unclear and lacking in detail.

And yet, zealous imaginary crowds
I encounter on Facebook
Spread lies like new age paperboys
With all the shouting and selling
Though, less of the quaint headwear.

Proud old institutions still die.
We build lies on top of their bodies.
Sunday remains.

I read today
That in a sample of over 200 couples in long-distance relationships,
The average mileage between their bones
Was 125.
(I like to believe we are over-achievers)

Statistically speaking we are more prone
To idealize one-another
We divulge more.
And,
“These two tendencies become more manifested when they communicated in text-based, asynchronous and mobile media.”

(This is my version of romance)

Statistically pillow-talking
We are some grand
Terrifying
Percentage of doomed

Proud old romances still die.
When this one does,
I will build poetry over its body.

I will visit its grave on the occasional Sunday.
I will leave flowers.
I will guess at what sort you’d have liked me to offer.
I will never have asked.
Should my insecurities lead me to falter,
I will leave you carnations.
As they are both inexpensive and
Available in a variety of colors.

I read today
That the 7-day week was born in Babylon
Bled hrough Judaism.
I found several hilarious bits of propaganda attempting to argue,
That, evidently, when God was done sculpting
Earth, Eden, Adam, and Rome,
Woman born of bone.
He took the time to define
The standards of our modern calendar.

But really,
The 7-day week began with the religious significance all of us fools place on the moon.
In the end,
It’s always about the moon.

I’d venture to guess she likes the way you stay up too late to stare my way.
Perhaps she also misses New York City.
Or she likes the way you slant toward slumber
Yet, you wait for her to leave.

Every morning I ask you to tell me what the birds say.

You see.
This came from my grandfather.
I’ve never told anyone this before.
Before my grandmother,
There was her.

War breaks hearts and lungs
Reminds men that they, too, need oxygen.
There was a moment in 1945
When my grandfather needed a reason to live.
The moon wanted him to stay.
So,
She gave him Sunday.

When he died,
He willed it to me.
I’ve been holding on to it.
Just corroding away in my pocket.

I’ve been thinking.
It suits you.
So, if you’d like,
You may have it.

On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 3:44 PM, wrote:
Ignore the color of the sky
Outside your window.
The sun reminds you of everything you should be doing.
Tomorrow morning has already begun.
You are already late.
You may feel free to blame the fact
That men don’t wear watches these days.
The sun draws a blue lecture on punctuality
Along the silhouette of the trees.
The moon will just tell you to call me.

Call this, Sunday.
For a long time it was reserved for a different kind of love-
for my grandfather’s apartment.
The ocean you live across
Separates us less than his illness kept him from me.
One cannot simply
Buy a plane ticket across and old man’s memory.

Proud old men still die.
We build cities on top of their bodies.
They leave behind Sunday.

You may have it. If you’d like.

I read today
That the Sunday edition of The New York Times
Requires 63,000 dead trees to print.
I found this statement vague and unsubstantiated.
Suspicious.
The mathematics illogical,
Sources unclear and lacking in detail.

And yet, zealous imaginary crowds
I encounter on Facebook
Are spreading lies like new age paperboys
With all the shouting and selling
and less of the quaint headwear.

Proud old institutions die.
We build lies on top of their bodies.
Sunday remains.

I read today
That in a sample of over 200 couples in long-distance relationships,
the average distance between their bones
was 125 miles.
(I like to believe we are over-achievers)

Statistically speaking we are more prone
To idealize one-another
To divulge more.
And,
“These two tendencies become more manifested when they communicated in text-based, asynchronous and mobile media.”

(This is my version of romance)

Statistically pillow-talking
We are some grand
Terrifying
Percentage of doomed

Proud old romances still die.
When this one does,
I will build poetry over its body.

I will visit its grave on the occasional Sunday.
I will leave flowers.
I will guess what kind you’d have liked me to offer.
I will never have asked,
Should my
Insecurities lead me to falter,
I will leave you carnations
because they are inexpensive and
Available in a variety of colors.

I read today
That the 7 day week was born in Babylon
Bled hrough Judaism.
several hilarious articles attempt to argue
That when God was done with
Earth, Eden, Adam, and Rome,
Woman born of bone
Evidently, he took the time to define
The standards of our modern calendar.

But really,
the 7-day week began with the religious significance all us fools place on the moon.
In the end,
It’s always about the moon.

I’d venture to guess she likes the way you stay up too late just to look at me. How you wait for her to leave.

I never mentioned this,
But there was a moment in 1945
When my grandfather needed a reason to live.
The moon wanted him to stay.
So she gave him Sunday.
He willed it to me.
I’ve been holding on to it.
Just sitting here rusting in my pocket.
It suits you.
If you’d like,
You may have it.

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Let me tell you a story of

Starvation as prayer.

Nest of negative space
Home built upon fault lines.
Floor plans
Of the empty spaces on her.
Ever expanding, renovated.
Construction permit written in lipstick.
Bones
Grown wasted.
Warped with winters only known by time.
Saturated in longing.
Wooden doors no longer close properly.
Locks long parted from skeleton key.

A slow reduction of her fruit
Simmered with sugar over low flame
Ever present threat of burn.

Escoffier never translated
Carême’s recipe for
How to not love the wrong ones.
She’s at a loss,
Contemplating the consequence
of her weak American heart.

The Baumé of her blood.

Inverted. Caramelized
Maillard reaction of soul
in the presence of protein.
and flame.

Dispersed in solvent of poem.
Osmosis of ache and oxygen.

Hidden. Rhizomatic.
(These blooms lie.
Ask her, instead,
of what lives beneath the soil of her story.)

Medical chart diagnosis:
Love-letter induced delusion.
Prescription for
human contact and/or casual sex
recommended.
(Though, insurance will likely not cover cost of plane ticket, options limited)
Grief of love not yet lost.
Grief of something not love,
Just, not.

Dissolving her own skin.
Flesh eating fit of numb.
Less of her left to miss him.

When the shop owner asked
Where she went.
She meant the unnecessary parts of the girl.
The hips. The breasts.
Stores of energy carelessly spent.

The girl answered,

Amsterdam?
Or something.
Lost in transit by a Dutch mailman.
Floating somewhere in an ocean.

Washing up on the sand at Coney Island.

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