I Have to Stop Thinking

I am fluctuating between anger and angst
my heart an angus tenderloin, blue rare
and offered up with wasabi au jus
grated thoughts, still green
growing pale in the places you used to be.
I remember when the feeling was fresh and in my step
the blush of spring
on my cheeks when you told me for the first time
“you look lovely today.”
And maybe you’d brush my arm when
we’d walk side by side, without a glance at one another
or you’d pat my back with a gentle palm as
we’d pretend we were colleagues, acquaintances, two people
who knew each other’s names
and nothing more than that.
But we flirt out of boredom,
bedroom eyes in the boardroom
skittering slivers of light between our silhouettes
the shadows, stretch into a kiss
while our lips unfold paperwork origami
the list of reasons why it won’t work.
But if there is love, then you are radiant
in your ignorance, in your hunger.
You corrode my head with pinholes
new windows to the soul
food for your ego
to stoke the smoulder glow behind your eyes.
If the game of attraction is to give you attention
from a submissive subject, an objet petite a
then I am the Other, who humbly obliges
my heart on a plate, bloody and raw.

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Butterfly Feelings

Chest fluttering with a thousand butterflies
the wings tickle my ribs
and make me lighter than air
to float down the hallway

And when they multiply
caterpillar larvae wiggle and worm
they sever my heart strings
to fill their happy bellies

I smile to meet your smile
mimicking the canopy, your slivered teeth
with my body bitten
between the stems

But butterflies live for only a day
they get overexcited over nothing
and die on the vines
the feeling passes
and the chrysalis, my chest
stays empty

Daydreaming

Graham haunts my days, he fills my head with cigarette smoke
clumped clouds of misremembered moments, projecting
the one time when he touched my neck
to feel the leather, metal buckle against my throat
he pulls the clasp

I
hold
my
breath
half waiting
for him to tie me
ebi shibari.

“I like it,” he says as he bats my hair back
and this is the closest we’ve ever been
palm skimming a jaw
awkward flirting in a coffee shop
unlike the teenage heartthrobs who get it right the first time
I wonder if he’s trying to get a rise out of me
but the only thing that moves
is the mercury
my head hot and the humidity
dripping from my clenched palms

Do you think
he imagines me too, that he is drunk on
his own fantasy?
do you think
ghosts have their own spectres
who haunt their dreams?

Poetry at the Edge of the Anthropocene

Climate change coats my batteries
a hunk of metal and alloys and cords and connections
knotted nests of interrelations
electric avenues
streamlining
Eric Wolf’s modes of production (1982)
and my ideas on a seabed of eco-debris
possibilities of the end of the world
on a white paged Word doc.

There is nothing dire about the decline
of micro-monsters, our amphibian foes
who make their homes on condo plots
refuse pools, renamed to man-made lakes
salty from crocodile tears

And say no more of the giraffes, jaguars, or rhinos
Big beasts with no opposable thumbs
So Caesar says, hands clenched
Slay

We’ve seen the apocalypse
gaunt horseback, gleaming armour
ravaging lands, licking lips
lipids squeezed between the fingers.
they cycle the ends with their limen nets (Danowski and de Castro 2016)
to ensnare the bodies.
it’s happened all before.

And from behind the laptop we can be enraged
at injustices aplenty, a world’s away
out of earshot from the rumbling belly
out of sight from the droughts and floods
out of touch with the colleague across your desk
out of empathy for anyone at all.
but the screen shows and conceals
the reflection of the writer
who makes this possible.

I’m Talking to You

Bored is your look today
blanched almond slivers, two drops of blueberry puree
and squeezed suspicion like lemon juice from your eyes
a burning disinterest
inedible

Who pissed in your coffee
to give you that sour mouth?
flatlined, sterilized to 180 degrees of disappointment
the closest thing to a frown
is a straight line, slightly ajar

Maybe you show you care
via the worry-lines wrinkled on your brow
but what work therein is unreadable on your skin
like words on ugly grayscale scans
heather polka-dots that only read out in braille:
fuck you.

Freeze, Don’t Move!

Fingerless gloves and a good woolen shawl
makes a babushka from the bumpkin;
a grad student with inadequate heating
in the asbestos mines called the social science building

Burn pages of your dissertation
or better yet, the several texts stacked by your right
you said you’d read this winter break
it’s a compendium of weighted words like shackles
to the mind that drifts along doodled post-it notes
but at least it might keep you warm

Just some thoughts today. It’s freezing in the office and I am alone, listening to Gregorian chants while trying to read Austin’s How to Do Things With Words. At times, it is crystal clear what he means. Then, nothing. No meaning, just confusion. At least the cold keeps me on my toes but Austin is great sleeping material.

Spaghetti al Dente

I started writing poetry as a way to deal with thoughts. It was cheaper than therapy, although not necessarily much more beneficial. So I kept a notebook. I jotted down my fears, my imaginations, moments of happiness, and the elusive, fleeting seconds of reality. Seems a little strange now, reading over poems about runny eggs and beetles crawling out my ears.

But I also see myself, a reflection of myself; it catapults my heart through the roof. It’s not shame I feel. I don’t feel bad for what I’ve said. No, it’s the relatability, the invested sensorium that makes it possible for me to engage with past versions of myself only to know I haven’t come that far. It’s not about measuring progress–modernity is a linear process perpetuated by colonialism and capitalism anyway. Rather, I am enthralled by the loops I have made knowingly and ignorantly that have turned my thinking into a plate of tangled spaghetti.

The brain, like noodles, is intricately folded and sometimes stuffed with tasty mashes of matter: pine nut and spinach paste or Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism. When I grind my teeth, I chew rhymes and riddled thoughts. I spit them out on the page and watch the ink run onto my hand. It’s not a sight to see, but it sure beats stewing fruit in the melting pot of my mind. When the flesh is soft, it becomes mush. Then butter. A smooth caramel composition that is nothing like it once was. It’s edible, but so are many poems. It doesn’t mean they’ll be good. But it’s an acquired taste.