There’s a bruise on my leg, bigger than my hand
from when I slipped and fell off the deck
down the stairs and onto the pavement
I called an Uber to get to your defense
and hid in the back of the room, to avoid your gaze
you came over to thank me, I think
I murmured, “Sorry I fell. I’m disoriented black and blue”
you touched my arm, to tell me it was okay

after your defense there was the afterparty
and your peachy girlfriend, blushing pink
shy and demure spoke so softly
how could I hate her
you seemed ill matched
but regardless, you missed me to sail past me
without so much as a glance

I can’t stop thinking about you and how you consume my thoughts
you are hungry, starving
pointing me in every direction but one
a line to the heart, more like a bisection
uneven and bloody

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Call Me

“I heard your voice,” mom says,
“in the stillness of the house
in its rafters and floorboards, the wood rot
and mildew
I woke from my nap on the living room couch
to your fleeting whisper
interwoven in the white walls like Adam’s ribs
it’s empty here without you
so I called to see if you were okay.
it’s not important anyway though.
I’ll let you go if you’re busy.
Just wanted to know if you’re alright.
It’s good to hear you’re well.
Don’t be a stranger, I love you so.”

The short call glides through the airwaves
as I walk home in a daze.
An apparition, a voice, the threads of vocal cords
are a seismograph
and I, the pen move unwillingly.

In the glow of a rock lamp, the one you stole from a house party
when you thought no one was looking
several years ago, time folds over
stuffed under your shirt like an awkward tumor
you lean into me, bathed in rose
and breathing light
that still smells like our laughter
gin without tonic and a slice of lime
the skin on our teeth, our tongues wrestling
all the kisses we shared and the endless hurried promises of more to come
when we were locked together in the couple form
one body, one mind, many hands
grazing fingers that brush my collar, pull apart the buttons
enough to leave a trace,
a reminder that we were here at all
I remember our first time
as you look at me now, your softened gaze glazed and sharpened
parted lips
I sat on your lap in your temporary office
and between the books you lent me to read
we became a chimera
held together by your grip on my hips
and my arms around your neck
mostly clothed, conference wear couture, an errant panty hanging from my ankle
and your trousers undone, shirt untucked
when we made love to destroy it
amongst the sighs and moans, the panting and crying
whatever it was between us, irreparably changed
in the glow of the rock lamp, the light that has seen it all,
we are exposed, we are vulnerable
we see each other
but we look past it all
while the future falls at our feet
it is only one of many, you tell me
it is the fantasy of a good life
but it’s only good because of where I’m now
it’d be shit if I was happy to hear
a new girlfriend and how special she is
I don’t say that, but I wish I could
if only you didn’t give me advice
when I asked for tenderness, dolled out with a meat hammer
to unmake me a cocoon and into the salt
that might one day make up a new lamp
altogether

These Words Are Burning My Lungs

What happened?
Did a mean genie hear my cry
for compliments
and proclaim to grant a wish
like a monkey fist with fingers curled?

Did I deserve it
for the way I looked?
is it punishment for getting too vain
for asking to be recognized?
I don’t know
three words I circle
with the flick of my pen

Fizzle

Because you are you
you don’t love me
lust
is a nicer word for
letting your dick do the thinking
back-handed compliments
smack and slap
lips with a smile

Stupid me is struck
by the attention
shallow wanton needs
for a fleeting flirt
so I’ll make you suffer
I’ll crush your throat
with my nice new heels
but maybe you’d like that
you sick fuck

Yet I come to you
when my body is empty
under inky dark nights
expel shame with my hands
I trace your shape
in my own, a ghost
known by the lines of
sweat down my spine
or are those angry tears
a realization
that I am you too

Reflections of the Day

Korovka cookies–the ones with the chocolate siding
the only kind you can eat and still never have enough
delight, alight thoughts of a summer spent
drinking hot tea on hot days
our bitten fingers around a grateful cup,
overflowing with the sun’s rays
sweat, drowning mosquitos.
we share the
kr-kr-kr-kr-krrrr-shhhh
the hind legs of a grasshopper
through the brush
the buzz of blackflies
a leaded, dense weight
little cannonballs fluttering in the sky
and the k-k-k-tsss-ts-k-shh-ts-k
of the flame under the teapot
silver smoke, iron, ash, sugar
smells sweetened by nostalgia
stirred by our spoons
compote, compositions
the portrait of a memory long gone
shared in passing.

The taste is gone.

Some kind of reflection on Bruner

The narrative time of life
is the ebb and flow of expectation
versus the interruption
the fabula and the syuzhet
the scapula that leans against the door frame
pine bark lips and the yellowed beetles
lined up in the shadows
The story is the direction, power of the teller
to utter it into the world
with purpose
and if the story walks on its own
and crawls into the mouths of its audience
who tells it all again once more
then the story has not only legs
but a sense of being
that is felt and formed
by those who hear it
a body that is both life and art
uncanny.

What does Bruner tell me about narratives?
that we tell things to specific audiences,
that these stories are relatable
that we can suspend some disbelief
that there is something unexpected in it
that we conflate time and order
that narration has power
so what does that mean for my thesis?

If people tell me stories in the field,
then narrations are ways of structuring moments
of reality and non-reality, not necessarily fantasy or fiction
into a linear path
they tell me these stories for a particular reason
maybe they might think it’s a good story
but they also are life itself, refracted as art
and is art the goal of the story?
do interlocutors aim to make good art
or do they express narrations because they can
because it’s a weight
because no one will believe them
because someone will hear it
I don’t know
I think that letting the story express itself
lets things rise and fall
like yeasty bread in a metal bowl
How much of a story do we ignore or focus upon
because it shocks or excites us
how it distracts us on purpose
that we cannot look for something else otherwise.