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.
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.
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.
Denial is the weapon of the vocal cords
The inner dialogue,
The ache exists only after we admit it
I never used the shiny things you bought me.
I grew tarnished, spotted. I was a shining thing once.
Why must you just stand there not thinking about me.
You give good headache
Take off your clothes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There 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,
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.
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.
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
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
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?
Quit meddling with my sheep.
You adorable something or other,
you keep me