At first glance, I mistook your name for Khaleesi. I don’t remember the first poem I read of yours, but I remember the fire that engulfed my skin. You are a reminder that my body is allowed to be a match and my voice is able to burn louder than the mouth of a dragon.
You are a reminder that has helped me understand that if you unwrap my body, it is more than what meets the eye. My veins are woven with my lungs and veins and heart and poems to let everyone and myself know that I am not a mistake or an apology. I am a statement of what it means to be alive.
You are right, my voice will crack, but it is not broken. I will fall, but I will not shatter. I will clench my fists and bruise my insides if that is the price that I must pay for feeling too much.
I am a reflection of beauty and fear, but you taught me that you must not forget that although you will spit your teeth out and bite your jaw, it is okay to wrap yourself around the sky and cry out to the moon and watch as your skin oozes charcoal.
I am a statement. I am not an apology. I am a kaleidoscope.❞
YOU ARE THE KIND OF SCAR
I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE ABOUT,
I SAY IN THE FIFTH POEM I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT YOU.
HOW COME MY WORDS FUCKING HATE YOU SO MUCH?
HOW COME THEY ARE ALWAYS SO HUNGRY FOR YOU?
HOW COME I FUCKING HATE YOU SO MUCH?
HOW COME I’M ALWAYS SO
HUNGRY FOR YOU?
IT GOES LIKE THIS: I TELL YOU THAT I’M LEAVING
AND YOU HOLD MY HEAD UNDER WATER.
“MY HEART WAS SO GOOD FOR YOU,” YOU SAY.
“NO,” I TELL YOU. “YOUR HEART WAS A CEMETERY,
A GRAVEYARD, A MORGUE.
YOUR HEART WAS THE DEATH OF ME.”
MY MOTHER THINKS THAT
MAYBE IT WAS YOUR CHIPPED-ICE HANDS,
THE BROAD OAK TREE IN YOUR BACK YARD, THAT MAYBE
IT WAS THE CIGARETTE SMOKE.
THAT MAYBE IT WAS YOUR MOUTH, THAT
MOUTH ALL TIED UP WITH SECRETS
YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO,
MAYBE IT WAS YOUR MOUTH
BECAUSE IT WAS THE UGLIEST THING ABOUT YOU.
THAT MAYBE IT WAS MY BODY LYING
NAKED ON THE FLOOR, MAYBE IT WAS
THE BLOOD UNDER MY FINGERNAILS, THAT MAYBE IT WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE BEAUTIFUL.
THAT MAYBE YOUR TEETH
WERE THE WHITEST THINGS I’D EVER SEEN,
MAYBE I WAS SICK FOR YOU, BOY,
MAYBE I WAS ON MY FUCKING KNEES. BUT STILL —
I AM A CAT SCRATCHED JAW, I AM BLEEDING
OUT THE BELLY.
I AM SO MUCH MORE THAN A COFFIN
YOU CAN BURN.
I tell you to write the rhythm of this strange beating of my traveler’s heart.
Cue: metal on metal; my rattling blood; a waxing moon all tied up with teeth.
Cue: insect lights; the sweat of your choked and broken spine, crawling towards morning.
Cue: your body in my bed; the way my poems always turn dirty these days like I don’t know anything else, spitting love against my knuckles; all bent; all bloody.
Somehow, the countryside is the same everywhere. I’m just getting further from home, forgetting my own language of your ruin-strewn bones. Here I am, satellite shaken, loneliness already ankle-deep. The poets don’t tell you how hard it is to write by moonlight, or to sleep in traincars that only hold strangers.
Cue: dreams about your mouth, hungry, with the windows open.
Cue: bullet wounds; a hollowed-out battlefield of foreign tongues.
All this time, but the sea will not wait for me — it turns on its heel and sweeps away.
Yesterday, I was a shipwreck.
Today, I smoke a cigarette,
and I do not feel a thing.