Thursday, June 28, 2007

Shirt Like a Couch

Title from Grumble Grumble (MySpace)

I remember that between catnaps on our old couch
I would have dreams with one defining characteristic:

A blinding golden light sneaking sideways through our slate-grey window shades
and creeping along the dark oak-paneled walls,
bouncing through the thick dust that hung in the air because
we lived in a perpetually spinning snow globe.

The light would come and dance an Irish step on my eyelids,
grinning so wide that I could see every off-white tooth
even though I was sitting way, way in the back of the theater
on one of the stuffingless red chairs that they were reupholstering a row at a time,
starting from the front and starting six years before
that first time I saw you dance
and six years and five days before we first met
because it took me two shows a day for three days to work up the nerve
for the blue-fabric'd seats near the front
and it took me another two days to work up the nerve
to accept our mutual friend's invitation to go out with you both afterwards.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Erm... Whoops

This is the first and hopefully last unplanned break in the poetry project. I just had the two most manic-depressive days of my life, and after the emotional exhaustion, I'll need a little while to recoup. Expect a new update Thursday, June 28th.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Motion Picture Soundtrack

Title from Radiohead

Last night I spent hours making a silent film for you

because I couldn't sleep.

Like the box said, those allergy pills gave me insomnia.

I tried recreating that Méliès one you liked

where he conducts his heads on a musical number.

You said it reminded you of something out of Slumberland.

But the exposures and lighting and matching frames were all too difficult.

So I made my own Caligarian epic

with painted shadows planned from low-key lights,

massive walls full of darkened windows built to odd angles

giving reflections like a state fair fun house,

and the irony of me as a somnambulist.

And I starred with my best Buster Keaton impression,

with my mouth pulled tightly down at the corners

while I tried so hard to feel like a statue that I didn't even blink

so that you could paint whatever emotion you wanted into the wide stare.

And I hope you didn't read longing into those eyes.

And when I find it ten years from now in a stack of unmarked DVDs

I hope I don't read longing into those eyes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Irony Engine

Title from the Mountain Goats (MySpace)

(...Okay, it's a cover, but the tMG version is the one I know.)

It was ironic in a way that reminded me of Alanis Morisette,

which, I guess, isn't really ironic so much as shitty timing,

but whatever it was, it tightened something in my throat,

grasping at my heart with constricting muscles and an instinct to swallow,

like a big jungle snake,

as my heart tried to crawl out and declare,

"I love you!"

to the photo of you and your boyfriend

mushing your lips together so strongly that

your noses and foreheads deformed from the pressure against each other,

turning you into a single, monstrous creature that, in the next picture,

split and screamed with joy and laughter and drool pooling at the corners of your lips.

It was when I developed those two photos that I knew I loved you.

It was when you picked them up and all I could say was,

"Comes to $5.36," before my tongue turned into a halter hitch

that I realized I was born with too few guts for you to know.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wish Away

Title from Serena Matthews (MySpace)

Embarrassing admission #143:

As of this draft, I've loved you for:

Six years,

Twenty-five weeks,

Six days,

Five hours,

and Twenty-nine minutes.


You knew about the first four months because I told you

with clammy palms and seventeen pink pimples on my face

and thousands more goose-pimples under my shirt

in a crowded lunchroom while your best friends stared daggers at me

and the five guys in maroon letterman's jackets two tables down gawked and giggled.

You turned bright red, pushed your hands to your face,

and in twenty-four wide strides, you were out of the cafeteria.

I spent the next year and four months counting it out every day,

and I think I could've caught up to you by the 18th stride.

I wish I'd tried.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Title from Pinback (MySpace)

I was thinking about you the other night.

How I seem to miss you most when summer's starting,

in the middle of June, when the kids all get half-days

so the afternoons are full of shrieks and giggles

and the water-pressure fizz of a pump-action squirt gun.

And how you looked when I last saw you:

with mottled grey skin sagging at your joints

like a dirty old shirt you were about to rip off

so we could feel each other's skin as we lay

on my ancient double-sized mattress that worked

to make you feel every loose and firm spring in her ancient body

sticking into every fleshy part of your nubile form.

The parts that touching would make my entire body tremble in anticipation.

The parts I'd dream about in high school.

The parts that shrunk from your ill form.

And I realized that, for all I know, you could be dead.

Maybe you never got better.

Maybe you shed the grey skin and soft curves for a white death shroud.

I don't think your family would bother to tell me.

I almost hope they wouldn't,

because as hard as it is to miss who you were,

I don't think I could bear to miss who you'd never be.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dead Sound

Title from the Raveonettes (MySpace)

After you'd sneaked up to my photo counter,

you shouted my name in a firm, gruff voice

I instinctually attributed to a manager or a supervisor

or that kid from the front end who thinks he knows what my job is.

Once I'd stopped shaking like a Polaroid

you told me you'd stopped in to buy groceries for your boyfriend.

and as I stood slack-jawed and staring

at your smooth, beach-brown skin

and the extraordinarily ordinary way in which

your lips pursed together on the "B" in "boyfriend,"

my stomach stretched itself out into taffy

then proceeded to tie itself into a double Windsor

tightened 'til it turned off all my brain's lights.

With the lights out, my brain went to bed.

Didn't sleep, but went to bed.

After an uncomfortable silence

(that was actually quite full

thanks to Van Morrison and Price Chopper Radio)

you walked away to find mac and cheese in aisle six,

and when I went to look down at my sneakers

I realized I'd been looking there the entire time.