I’ve been told over and over, my grandpa
taught me how to use a computer:
“Move the mouse up,” he asked of me,
and so I lifted it into the air.
When I had better speech, I asked
and he told me what my erection was,
what it meant, and why to hide it.
Once I was able to form and hold onto my memories
– sitting against the red piping of my Mickey Mouse daybed
– he told me how much life I had left to live,
and wiped my tears away with words I didn’t know
I would ever see inside of him,
like when he shrugged his sloping shoulders after burying his mom
and whispered soft enough only for my ears to catch it,
“I guess this means I’m am orphan now.”
It was a long time before I was taller than my grandpa,
but I still look up to him
– even if he and my grandma aren’t speaking anymore
– even if I haven’t seen him outside of sweatpants in nearly a decade
– even if he goes to the library to meet his former physical therapist
and her five-year-old son
– even if he gets choked up when he thinks about him
– even if I don’t know why,
and likely never will.
We all stand
to one another.
When I was a boy,
I went down to the cave
where the pendulum hangs.
It showed me
how the world had moved.
When I’m my worst self,
hang your hair on my chest.
I’ll let go of the rest
– just remind me
how I’ve moved for you.
Come in from the snowfall and darkness,
when we let those starry dust petals
– as brilliant and unique as the strands
of our DNA, winding through us
– rest in the tangles of our hair
and soak into our top coats.
Come in and run the numbness
of your palms below the faucet,
wishing warm water was the lone
and simple cure for this feeling.
I’d bet every song I love
that it hurts.
When your important, fragile pieces
are the coldest they’ve ever been,
I pray you find your equal.
I wish there was a word like
for the way I crave you
and for all of our days.
I bloomed: A pair of tealights sat glowing
along your canopy, dancing at such height.
“All flowers in time bend toward the sun,”
they said. Though, in daybreak and nightfall,
I still swam in the riverbed of your lights.
The image in the mirror doesn’t beg me
to look back much anymore
– but I do listen. Home: after petting hello
to the pooch and unlacing both shoes,
I slip immediately out of my ironed
and pleated skin. Plucking lukewarm clothing
from the dryer’s lifeless mouth, I fold all which lies
within – only to unfold by sunrise. I once made
my daughter’s bed in this way, too:
perpetually in a state of undress.
Back behind those bleach-white walls each evening,
I remove infantile blue jeans and forever
stainless blouses with frill like eyelashes, socks
too small to even have bothered buying. Some days
I think the dryer has made my wife’s clothing
into miniatures… but then I remember
the endless cycle I go through often
– of running my daughter’s clothes
once more. She’s gone from here, yet
I still stand holding her gown. The covers:
the skin of her skin. How clean
her wardrobe cannot become
is no matter. Only the adults played dress-up:
on that Monday, draped in her finest,
she let us throw dirt in her eyes.
After every instance
in which you have pressed
the tips of your fingers
to the gates of your mouth
and offered in my direction
the seal of your lips,
I have caught
than the last,
and I hold each kiss
within my fist—
So when I am given
your final gift,
when I loosen my grip,
a lifetime will pour out,
and the winds of our love
will shape the skies above.
I fear nothing less than mortality
and its dearest old friend, infinite Sleep,
which calls to me from its mountain throne, steeped
in the unknown desire for peace: to die
still believing in a walkable sky.
I have thus had many chances to weep
over lost loves I once intended to keep
near, so no longer must I dry my eyes.
Though, on that final bed, watch as my brain
wars with my heart, building on their aged feud;
search within me and discover this pain,
and watch as my last breath becomes a rude
awakening: that this life is the main
life, chiseled into marbled magnitude.
I seek a time away from home
in a land unknown— somewhere
I can go and shape around myself
a sense of longing.
I could use pain;
I could find it in an experience
like this, like a journey into
the foreign nature of discomfort.
I have slept,
for so long.
Shouldn’t I shake?
I have stood,
through each song.
Shouldn’t I shake?
I have hanged,
like a gong.
Shouldn’t I shake?