poem: k’s diner

We talk about twice a year, and every time,
you remind me that I owe you that poem.
I remind you that it ain’t happening;
that poem and its writer are gone.
But if it means anything, the poem was good.

It’s my fault for waiting too long.
It’s not like the love left,
but when I decided to release an impossible
thing, the words went with it.
You’re relegated to music, but since I never
learned to play the rotting bagpipe, at this point
I could only dance it, but I’m not foolish
enough to serenade you with my body.

If I were to ever leave this country,
I imagine that there would always be an unpaved street
reaching for me, that some nowhere diner
would whisper of a chili cheeseburger
perfectly built to birth my babies.
Even then, I would send it a postcard
from the city that watched my youngest kiss,
then leave.

The difference is that I have not truly left.
I just stop talking to you. And when I fail
to avoid you, when the phone slips into my hand
and your voice trips into my ears
more smoothly than bad boyfriends
into the wrong panties, you ask me about
that poem. And I feel a little guilty.
So here’s my compromise.

Go half on my plane ticket.
Give me the key to your apartment.
Leave.

When you return, I’ll be gone. You’ll not be allowed
company for at least a day.
They’d likely tell you to call the cops.

When you walk in, there will be dishes on the floor.
I won’t have broken your favorites. And all of them
will be washed. When you open the stove,
there will be a watermelon. With a marker
I’ll have nicknamed it Texas. It will be beautiful,
with a history that is all the redder for the fail.

After you’ve sliced a piece
and carried it to the couch, you’ll notice your TV screen
has been replaced by a mirror. Just because we’re paranoid
doesn’t mean no one is watching you. While you gaze
at Mirror You, over your Mirror Shoulder
there will be a shadow. You will ask if it’s me.
You will know the intimacy of a death that
stays with you, stretching your lungs,
teasing your sanity. Somehow, every mark on your
walls will spell the word beloved. Every time it
will grow louder, biting, until you’re bent over the bathtub
hacking it out. You will adore the hacking, and in fact
believe that prior to this moment your throat had never
hollered its god. The shower is spraying,
was that your hand,
your clothing is shredded,
was that your hand,

the soap is fucking with you.
How can a bar of Ivory smell like
every human body you have loved?

Your bed has been waiting. Under the blanket
you swear there is a sleeping child. You
know she is ours. You mouth her name,
and even that is too loud, the child is crying,
and your hands reach for her as you sink to the floor.
Your instinct tells you she is looking for the night light.
But you are already crawling under the bed.
Just for tonight, this is where we belong:

her cries dripping through the mattress,
her music filling our head,

We are the monster.
We are the monster.

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