How To Carry a Heavy Heart

Pick up Thai food takeout after work, from a waitress too busy to meet your eye. Carry the styrofoam box to your car like a newborn, warm and fragile. Drive home, a protective hand on the bottle of Savignon Blanc in the passenger seat. Blast Nirvana’s “All Apologies” on 99.9 FM, a station you never listen to. Pull into the driveway, blinking twice to wet bloodshot eyes. Pick your reddened cuticle, click the garage door opener. Carry the wine, the Thai food, your work bag, and a vase of cut daisies you bought to cheer yourself up into your bedroom. Put the flowers and the wine bottle on the end table and the takeout on your floor. Put on your favorite pajamas, taking your time to pick out the right pair of fuzzy socks. Untie hair and sift through it with your fingers, yanking on the knots. Send three emoji hearts, each to separate concerned friends. Join the noodles on rug, untie bag, open box and dig in. Open laptop and go to Netflix. Click on something, anything, mindful of any romance described in the description. Open bottle of wine, pour a hefty glass. Sip, wait, repeat.

Serendipidous Meeting

His dented brow in the black-orange light

turned me inward.

He explained a fall down an apartment staircase,

a scarf that staunched the bleeding,

a mother holding vigil by his hospital bed.

His lips, two pink parentheses, framed, “I’m not sorry about it,”

and he gazed into his drink with a cock-eyed furrow.

Lifted, I uncrossed my arms and spoke of my own lost footing,

no longer clinging to the deceptive railings

that’ve kept me upright for so long.

“I wish that’d happened to me,” I even said,

though it came out as insensitive and naïve.

I wish I had a scar to show

for my own impaired sense of direction.

Things tumble down, but we tumbled out, there,

swathed by barroom chatter and our tall-back booth.

I traced my forefinger over his jagged scar, his dimpled temple,

and recognized the heat, the pulse of letting go.

Begin Again

(This is a contrapuntal poem, so read rows from left to right then columns.)

Before you                   work                           we cook             the sunny side

and I                               come                           in                                       to

groove                           morning                     Motown                  barefoot

together                        (this is                     “Gypsy Woman”          soul)

Let’s                                 live                              playing                          Let’s

spoon                             sugar                           in the                              wake

Honey bunch               let’s                             back                                 up

and                                savor                             home                           again

Forget                           days                              like                              tomorrow

Detour

You can go your own way,

but when I go absent-mindedly

against that pesky one-way

at the end of N. State Street,

coffee cravings fall to the wayside

and I’m orb-eyed and snorting,

an insubordinate, spirited filly.

 

I should’ve seen the signs,

or had a second thought at the lack

of forward-facing stoplights,

but instead I sang distractedly

to Joni’s Mitchell’s Amelia,

(“Until you get there yourself,

You never really know,”)

and challenged the yellow lines,

ripping their reins away.

 

As if some gate were lifted,

I  sprint beyond the eddies of oxytocin,

the vales of mom jeans and Aerostar minivans.

Yet nurture strong-arms my nature,

And like whip to flesh,

I conform.

 

Beside an SUV I lock eyes

With a pig-tailed girl writing poems

in window condensation,

her finger scribbling like a compass needle.

I fear the pull of this arterial is stronger than

she knows, that her poems will be lost to

doodled dream houses and baby names,

the longer she follows this supposed one-way.

I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down

 

Sun teased in its last copper hour,

a keyhole in a red oak door,

revealing a room

where night wears nothing,

but black tresses

and dabs of rose water.

 

She whispers to her vanity

in the hush of self-solace

and fingers the latch to a

strand of marquise

like fetters

 

She’s captive of a masquerade

chaperoned by a hourglass;

Each bisous

tepid as a forgotten bath,

each diamond

a cigarette burn

on naked flesh.

 

 

Marine Park

Through the windshield the stars

are huge, distorted asterisks,

while my hands trace the steering wheel,

and my mouth cinches tight.

Tears mark my thighs like–

black holes,

age spots,

ellipses.

 

and I go through my universe

wishing

 

I was lost,

but I am found here,

on the hood of my Honda,

empty warmth at my back,

and infinity overhead.

 

The night is beautiful

despite your absence,

to say that it needs you to be so

wouldn’t be love,

but to say that your absence is felt,

despite the beauty before me,

is.

 

I turn over sickly, hum in agony,

until the jagged edges of life’s key

click into the ignition,

catch and push me forward

down this far-stretching shadow of road.

Exactly

My body is this opaque casing

for a spirit achingly transparent,

If it weren’t for my rib cage

it

would slip down my forearm,

out the half-moon of my sleeve.

I will tell you what I want you to know,

I will love you all I want to love you,

(despite convention or fear),

because when this world comes down,

I want you to know,

exactly

how and who I am.

Joy

He hiccups a laugh like

a schoolchild on the monkey bars

when his eyes find a wingspan

as far-reaching as his smile.

He can’t help but marvel,

this boy, who catches my gaze before it returns

to a more dangerous playground–my mind,

where worries climb and what ifs clutch the chains,

swinging erratic and wild.

But he points at the slender beak of a hawk flying low,

and my wrinkled brow smooths over.

His wonder salves every burn, and calms the beating in my temples.

With him I dangle free, legs kicking towards the otherside

and my insides tickle with a different kind of spasm–joy.

keeps me alight

We lie face to face,

the contours of our bodies inked in counterpoint.

Each of us one curve of a candle’s flame,

holding close, between us just the vapor of sighs.

Thrills fill my veins with kerosene,

that mass of beating muscle ignites,

and my cheeks burn magenta.

His breath whistles while he sleeps,

a crackling campfire against my ear,

and my chest boils over

with a sweetness bright enough

to take away        shadows.

When I flicker, he steadies me,

and when I’m nothing but embers,

he keeps me alight in his arms.