I’m slipping

In the corner of my eye
a face in the window
lit up like the moon
winks with a grin
it speaks to me,
press the knife on your chest
and your heart on the blade.

And I don’t ask why.
but my hand moves without me.
and it takes the paring knife from the
drying rack.

And it feels so good
the steel on my skin
its edge pressing flush
on freckles, constellations
the former places I was once wounded
in a past life
and
the silver blade straight like my smile.
So my reflection shows
the glimmer in my eye
a hunger for destruction
parallel to one minute to midnight.

Let me cut this body
and peel back the skin
until I am sheer, one cell wide
a delicate lacework,
holy and demure.
Unlike reality.

Because I’m losing my sanity
to little white pills
crushed up buds
mass-produced pints of
intoxication
it tastes like barley
living.
In every object, there is
an inevitable entropy
including me
and I have to take it into my own hands.

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An Incident, Not an Accident

Punctuations, exclamation marks of impatience
as cars argue over who can merge into the lane first
a police car peels past the mimed conversation
of angry drivers, waving hands
to stop only a few feet away
the black clad cop, clenched jaw
frozen behind the wheel

There’s a bicyclist on the pavement
eyes closed, resting on his back
as the wheel of his bike bends haphazard
to nap in front of traffic
a car with a dented grill
and several bystanders, speaking in silence
someone kneels and touches his chest
to exorcise the spirit
from a still body
but a twitching foot
a restless jitter
a rupture in the morning flow

I pass them like a picturesque scene
from a train window
but the screen refracts
the scene of the crime
the searing sirens, flashing lights
the death montage
across my skin
long after I’ve crossed the street

I close my eyes
to think of anything else, otherwise.

How funny, she says and the flowers in her hair bloom with her smile,
you are intimidating
you are gorgeous
and much more intelligent than him
it’s easy to see
you are sharp with your words
and you cut him because you can
and he doesn’t know what to do
because
you are the one who leads the pack
nipping his heels when he steps out of line.

Lilies, roses, and baby’s breath grow from the tangles
of a knitted brow
maybe he likes that, trying to control
the alpha wolf
who doesn’t take his shit
but serves it back to him
on his own silver spoon

I Lied

Leaning against the blackboard,
chalk dusts the hem of my conference dress
grazing my thigh, cutting a fake smile
as I smooth my hands down my leg
a simile of the pleasure of presence
in the appearance of a performative preening
he gives me no second look
over the terraces of students, under eye crop circles, sweats, and shaky hands, who look back
pleading in silence: get it over with.
They mean the midterm.

A coffee cup from hand to mouth breaks the boredom
the shuffling papers and scribbled pencils
like a scythe.
I try to be pleasant, that I am a professional thrilled to invigilate an exam I had no part in
but I am also ready to flee on sight of the first hand raised
a question: how do I pick an answer if both answers are right?
I shake my head
and it rolls down the staircase

Not to be outshone by the others, the TAs who catch my ears with their jokes
his chest presses against my elbow to monopolize my mind
whispering something about cheaters, clammy in their chairs
ones they have not occupied at any point until now.
His eyes burrow into my skin, and my smile bends under the weight
of losing ligaments to his invasive stare,
I say, zip it. That’s not nice.
But maybe this is play, two dogs wrestling with maws agape
my bite not sharp enough
to leave a cutting mark;
his tag wags as he walks around the class.

A Memory of Ramallah

On the rooftop terrace we split a pita,
strawberry jam down the middle and
some stolen figs, found about to rot in the communal kitchen
early morning
the sun is a drop of blood on our skin
spilling into the city, filling the eyes of buildings
empty, vacant faces
from the war

we dip our fingers in zaatar, olive oil
making sign language with the earth
as our stomachs bulldoze the swell
vomit and bile, the acidic contents
of a stratigraphic body, sedimentary
moments that sit heavy
amongst the groves, now
a thousand years of kindling

We’ll reorient ourselves to the lives
uninterrupted, unperturbed by
acrid sand swept into the water
bans on drinking from the tap
or periodic brownouts
muting our bodies to the tune of static
the sky that fills with sparrows
spinning wings or still silver arms–autopilot drones
so little light gets through
we shiver in the desert

And when our host smiles, breaking bread
to share
his breakfast with ghosts
we bow into his hands
unsettled in place

Over Under

I think it’s over
it should be over
better to be over
than to be under

I guess if you can’t tell, I’ve been pining over some guy for the last month. And how pathetic is that, that I put off writing my thesis to think about someone who doesn’t think of me at all. But this will be the last time I write about him. I will tuck him back into my wunderkammer where he can’t hurt me, where he can’t poke and prod my dreams, my fantasies. I will suture my wounds with a cauterizing wand and harden my armor until these moments disappear. I won’t be weak like this again.

So March marches forward.

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.