Gifts

someone left a green ukulele
flawlessly kept
in a green case

on my old patio

I thought it had been forgotten
by a neighbor,
by a friend who came over to play music

everyone came over to play music

but no one claimed it
no one stepped forward
and it was never clear to me

who I should thank

my own gifts to others involve
small things I find
that remind me of them

and it’s easy for my friends to find me rocks on their travels
things they know I’ll cherish

the anonymity of giving
isn’t a mystery to me

but it’s so hard to not tell someone what you have for them

it’s very hard not to frame it

as something you’d like them to appreciate

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incarnation, catch 22

how am I supposed to write about it?
all of my heartbreaks felt the same
some are newer or older
some are dimmer
none are gone

how can I find different words
than the ones I’ve already used?
how do I retire it from what I say,
what I write,
what I do?

how can I even switch topics
when it’s almost the only thing
that I reliably dwell on?
(it’s the only thing
I’m constantly reminded of
the only thing
I’m too aware of)

and how long will it take
before this incarnation
of who I am close with
grows tired of it?

it isn’t even easy to talk about
so why do I keep trying?

I hear the words leave my lips
before I consider them

and they coat my mouth with a regret I can taste
a dry, bitter silk that I remember
as soon as I see the face
of whoever hears them

my faith
is in no living thing

it’s in the grain I bake into my bread
the butter I fold into my pastry

it’s in the way I know I annoy people
even when I try not to
at home, at school, in the workplace

It’s in my tears and in my breath,
in my arms stretched all they can
towards the sky

it’s in the constant dissociation

It’s in my efforts, in my failures.

It’s in my self

 

when you call
for Death
and Death can’t take you

when your mother finds you.

when your brother tells you
that it can’t happen
because he watches you,
loves you

I have never felt more trapped

 

I am trying to find
the pictures you took,

in earnest,

I am trying to find out
why
you thought
I was worth knowing.

The night I met you,
I wasn’t anything.

I wore a dress over jeans,
I was scared of where we were.
you made me feel better, safer, sweeter

you took my hand while I was shaking
you took so much while I was fainting

I felt better because you were there

I miss you
I wish I
had been there more

I wish I had more to offer to you
than a funeral

I miss you

when I cry about you I won’t tell them what it means.
enough happened in recent memory
that you aren’t the one on my friends’ minds.

I lost enough people this year
that it’s acceptable to start weeping in public space.
It’s commendable (to my friends)
that we recognize
our losses.

The worst part is that you still seem changeless,
ageless,
securing new foundations that same way that you wrecked mine

and I know that I’m bitter

but you gave me reason to be.

and you made fun of me
while I was crying.

Solitaire

I have an aunt in California
who came to visit us in Michigan
the last time I saw her
she taught me to play solitaire
on the computer
and then with cards
and we sat in that house that hadn’t yet been burned down
and she took me seriously
she was happy to get to know me
and I her
I think I was around 10
I still play solitaire
and I remember learning that it was considered a cowboy’s game
one for people who are alone for long periods of time
but who choose that
who like that
and it fits