The sunrise burns us up. It’s been a long night
and nothing has been refused or taken back.
All of our friends are stealing night terrors
from the cracks in the walls. We have kingdoms melting
in our pockets. We have trails of crushed cherry blossoms
threaded through each rib. We’re reading The Ethical Slut
and hitting on German lawyers. In the Dutch winter
the parallel scars on my knees stand out proudly,
and at night when the clothes come off I’ll circle them
with black eyeliner, but he can’t recall
if they resemble any constellation he’s heard of.
I’m remembering an unscripted place, the picture of my father
with a blade between his teeth on top of a mountain,
and I want to earn the same grin that beams its own light
into the metallic wind. I’m remembering that time
I played an old-western villain, and I said that bar brawl’s
and pistol’s at dawn were nothing but child’s play.
I slid off my bullet belt like the softest dress and suddenly
I belonged and immediately rocket-shot myself
into the next morning, the next town, the next exile
that will lift me up from my sorrows. All of my stories
are about places, but all my favorite moments involve running away.
My first week in that small town in Holland I met a girl
and we went to a party where we pretended to be sisters.
We danced and in the dark I watched her glow
and I look at the Polaroid taken of that night
and I can’t believe that I take up any space at all,
can’t believe my own density when all I knew back then
was a faded girl who left so many times before.
Maybe I needed a strong enough winter
to push me back to California, or maybe it’s that night
that did me in, my longing to ask someone
to call me sister, invite me in, let me belong
completely, share blood with a stranger,
if only for tonight.
Something Sexier than Foxes
I tell him that any poem that mentions a fox
is immediately sexy. Unless it’s a ghost, blind,
or half-eaten, but we don’t bother with those foxes
when we mean sex. We mean the sharp-teethed
fragile beasts skinny young ones that run like
they hear a gunfire shower and cuts into the pine and horizon,
the brightest comet, last living star, blade of sun
in the wintered prairie and yet still wise
as ancient bark. The one with the grin
that says you’re not just the meal—
you’re the oxygen and the finest tangerine
and the vitamin D and just the dance partner
every forest creature needs. Maybe that’s just you,
he says. You—who is the fox. Who associates
foxes with sex. You who is younger
and historically flighty, but in this moment
it’s different. Amazing to carry stillness
without holding your breath first. Amazing
to be here in the wake of our human selves,
where when I say Fox I mean Sex and
who knows what tomorrow brings.
There are twin foxes with us in the bed,
neither one means what the other person means,
but what’s beautiful about him
(even in the midst of our disagreement)
is that he wants me here, now, human
Ghosts left a mess again, and I am talking to them,
delighted to be among the living and free to talk
to a calamity like this. Even when they go throwing books
from my shelves, breaking my spine, eating
the food I set out. I’ve got an alternate myth
of Icarus, where the radiation sought after
is a little more nuclear. We’ve all got troubles—
all the angels’ wings all have headaches,
the neon lights have insomnia, the meteorite
falls out of grace with its friends. The only continent
without any wars is wasting away, someone inherited
a fear of spiders. The bobcat wants to attack
the owl, the ark we built for ourselves
will give us splinters. Splinters multiplied
is a given. And if salt’s to melt the ocean,
then how else do we learn to be holy?
We’re still playing a game called
who broke the train because I’ve never heard
of a hunger this loud. If only I could strike
I’d be the best kind of matchstick, but to run away
with you would be divine. Hear me out. Take me whole.
Ghosts, delight me. And fear, be a gentle bonfire,
make my bed and cradle my wooden spoons,
but to burn me alive completely is up to the wind
and bonfire, I plan to bend.