Green silk and sea grass
Keep your secrets, keep us in the dark. //
Listen, we are learning to roar.
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Piano, for Amanda

the origins of language must, of course,
have started in song; from the wailing
of the crackling burning heart, 
to the laughter-sound of bursting joy -

what if we named every key after a constellation;
opened the gates to the heavens
with each fall of a hammer,
every melody a winding path across the night?

so play me a waltz, piano man; unstitch
that which holds me back, I will dance in step
as we only can, to the judgement of eighty-eight constellations, 
to what the alignment of the stars says about here, now.

set a wild thing free

debouched. You tell me you’re forcing yourself
into a corner, fencing yourself in with barbed wires,
and with the look on my face, standing
on landmines; you, who has freed yourself
from binding yourself to a boy who flies
nearly ten thousand miles this August.

You, who tells me that by saying friends
you have locked yourself in, when I offer you
the freedom-wire which hurts only me:
cut my wrists, you who is young
and needs to play the field. Date
as many as you need, I place my bets
on the gamble that you’ll find nothing more.

debouche. We who are liberal
find ourselves in conservative trade.
I have had six years to sow wild oats;
to watch how the field turns, with the rise
and fall of the sun. The soil is cruel;
you have not watched how my crops failed.
I know what I want. I know you don’t know
how to want me yet.

My fingers still hold on to yours.
Even in this public stroll
(how shy young love is)
our fingers still stretch,
tip to tip, dance till your hand
is in mine. These facts
are always looming above:
I am flying off. You have not
dated enough, to settle down.
We want forever, when we’ve known
only a month. You’re afraid
of hurting me, and I
fear that most.

Love could never be easy.
I thought that pain stemmed from rejection;
I never knew reciprocity could sting as much.
Still. It doesn’t take six years
to learn that nothing can bind another to you.
Watch how children spread their wings;
the way the flowers wilt. What will happen
must happen; if you were to find another
no wedding ring could change your mind.
Idealist, we need not be exclusive
to be ideal; we merely need this,
you who has made me, always flighty,
choose to wait, patiently, 
for the morning texts
and the nightly kiss.

debouchement. This changes nothing.
Unnatural as it may be, to choose to love
that which can only hurt you; uneasy 
as I may be, shaken, as one can only be,
by the uncertain future, I love you here,
in my arms, two figures
in a silent hymn 
by the void deck lights.
I love you here, uncertain
as I may be, I love you
enough to let you go;
to hope for a wild thing
to return, when tame.

waves and grapes, for meiying

there are tidal waves we cannot ignore

They call it forbidden fruit:
as if things are sweeter,
kept out of reach.

i’m dreaming of your hips, their crashing waves

I call it forbidden.
No romance here;
just a silent ache,
staring at you, here.

every wave begins to fall, sometime

I could get lost in the caverns of the spaces in between,
the way envy pools, its slow sour tang -
no love to slake its thirst, no dangling grapes,
only this hungry wanting;
only a lonely fox-tongue.

the sea recedes, always, to begin again

So give me the eyes of a sea-glass charm,
the forgetful sea; give me the salt-sweet wind-song,
that which brings the tide that washes anew,
awake, ashore. I call for my own baptism.
I bathe myself on these sands, I will shower
in my own prayers, anoint myself

to be the priest who hears my confession;
to be that which gives the grace
to forgive what cannot be.

for you and for me, for tiffany

every word i write, i want it to hurt

pain reminds us we are still alive, yes,
but there is a limit. we have hit that limit.
there is too much here; 
too much sticky-sweet,
the gunk of a love
needing too much.

the fortune-teller told me
the son that took care of me
is the genius - and which son?
i would know.

i never wanted to prove anything to you -
only wanted you to love me,
in a way that made sense.
this isn’t it - it isn’t this,
this is a spiralling insanity, and no matter
what you say now,
i cannot turn back
from turning away.

i don’t know why you and your brother
are so sensitive; all my other friends
do this too, and their children are fine.

silence was never meant to be consent;
it was only the steeping of old wounds,
us bathing in the sins you gifted us.
i cannot accept love,
because every night of being a child,
you told me how my father slept around;
and last year, my father
told me you did too.

i’m depressed, you know,
i just don’t take the medicine.
i don’t have anyone in this life;
you’ll take care of me right?

you taught me love hurts;
placing your hands 
against my throat, strangled tenderly
the words that came after, and you still
hold on here, your fingers
are in my ears, it is your words
which haunt me here, always.

my heart is bleeding
from the love you never wanted.
i feel no shame now, in saying this:
i need to breathe

before i could ever love you again.

untitled, for siying

if poetry could mend a broken heart,
i’d give you every word i ever had,
every poignant verse, let syllables
stitch over glass-shard memories

i’d write you rivers, sing to you
a song of swallows in mid-flight,
the way a hopeful heart feels,
the swell of a wave with no crash

i’d weave a cloak of prayers,
cover scents and whispers
till you forget the needless burning, and yearning,
forget tossing and turning, every dreamless night

i’d write myself a bridge, a key,
write into where it still bleeds
rewrite the walls, each broken brick
erase every name leaving yours

instead-

I can only tell you this:
When it hurts, do not pluck at your heart;
the strings no longer sing.

A gift of thanks

Maybe I wrote this in another poem,
but my mother told me to throw a stone into the sea;
you see, to avoid the chill of a greedy wave.

When I wanted to drown myself,
I threw a dollar to buy a year;
and it sounds horribly miserly now,
but believe me here, I had nothing left to give.

Three years on, the breakwater
is just a breakwater - not a stepping stone
to where we should not tread,
not the space between here, 
and somewhere there.

And I am writing this here,
my lungs drinking in sweet air,
I am writing this here,
happy to be alive, at ease,
my bones giving thanks
for every morning I’ve met,

every painful sunrise,
the call of the waves that holds me,
lightly, still, as I turn
from its embrace.

Off-spoken

for aaron: inspired by and in response to his poem.

you talk about distance
like it’s a person, like all these grains of sand
could be dips of skin and spine
and the stretch of land like steady pull of hip and thigh

you talk about distance
like you could cross it with the palms of your hands
walk for weeks in the desert until
the sun burns holes through your feet
then find that the fountains still fade

for you’re dreaming by an empty street corner
legs-crossed and shoes clicking on cobblestone streets
you’re on the veranda of a house in the South
a throat full of cigarette smoke and cricket cries

the church is loud with echos of ghosts
rattling their chains between priests’ breaths
between sin and confession
this cup is stained with imprints of your naked lips

you talk about distance
like it’s a person, and you’re
so in love with it
but yours are eyes made of constellations and starbursts

go back to bed
the galaxies are waiting

For a winter fling

Perhaps I wasn’t entirely honest with you;
and perhaps the answer still matters,
though the question has long faded to sentiment.

I do love you, still; I love you
the way I love strangers, that is
from a distance, an observation panel,
I say that’s nice, you two are going
to a baseball game, I love you
like how I love foreign countries:
how it is not in you I wish to build a home,
just a passing trip, but we both know
how the story goes with the visa and it is not
a glass wall between us, no, you’re mistaken
it is a plane flight I will never again buy the ticket for.

twice

for ryan. 

i think of you
while i am spreading butter across pieces of toast
while i sit idly in year nine history lessons
while i wait for buses that take too long
while i read 20th century feminist essays
i think of you
and the “compulsory heterosexuality”
of us all - how we are pushed and pulled
and we push and pull and hurt and hide
you
are my safest place
are the balm on my wounds
are quiet
good
better

than i
than i could say

all my life my words have been more than enough
but now they hardly suffice
for i’d rather wrap my arms around you
than these clumsy phrases of affection
i’d rather press my jigsaw lips to you
than these cliches of sympathy
comfort is a continent too wide

if i were not scared of ghosts then you could haunt me
you should anyway
whether or not i am afraid
of (too many) things
most of all that you don’t know how worthy of love you are
how i could wax lyrical
and when i say “i love you”  
- that is me trying to

i’m sorry this poem got a little long
sometimes my words crowd up against my teeth
other times my throat is a desert waiting

I don’t owe you this

When I said just friends, I didn’t mean
let’s be lovers one day, nor
I like you, I’m just not ready,
not even
wait, I’m not sure
of this flint stone spark.

When I said just friends, I meant that;
I meant this boat can go no further,
I have docked and you will not set sail.

I meant, you’re no weather witch;
no death-siren calling me to the sea,
I have anchored, and you’re no breeze;
not even a ripple, the faintest wave.

I meant my heart is not yours;
I meant my hands hold it still,
that you clawing here, now,
leaves no hint of a bruise.

Make and say what you will;
I can create fictions of this,
because it matters to neither of us
what’s written in the lines.