Monday, October 31, 2011

she liked to spell out words with my morning pills sitting
by the sink, she liked to
leave pieces of herself behind 
"i don't want you to forget me."
"i won't remember anything else."

years later
remind myself that it's just the seasons
breaking and that i don't really know autumn
without her.
i pray to empty trees:
"give me a face for this poetry give me
someone beautiful for me to fall in love

Sunday, October 30, 2011

when the year was young and your bed was cold
i was there.
when no one else even

i did.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hello November,
have we all turned to such wretched things?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

built on a mound of dirt, filthy from the start.
New York City ran wild in me like a
spooked horse and now is pressed
obediently to the wall.
windows windows windows-
we were enclosed in the urban veins.
to steal you in that lens-
to capture, to own
“oh restless petal, you fell from the arms of my sky to the
body of my earth.”

i sleep with negatives taped over my eyes; to live in a photograph
to die in frame.
overexposed in a pea coat, 8th Ave
past you with it’s hands in it’s pockets.

melt under the big lights and throw your smile
out of focus, just a bit. force me
to remember it.
white teeth and black shadow swimming up
in an old Polaroid
kept safe in my pocket, right next to my heart.

hundreds of days ago
 you cried into me over all the sadness of the world
of cancer, of famine, of stray dogs,
and touched my face as if I were

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

life is sleep and love is a dream

Sunday, October 23, 2011

you don't have to go, Blue
bold and broad, i know you're needed in the mountains 
 to yank up the sun but
it's hard to get up without you

i want to taste you, Yellow
sweet like a lemon on my lips and faded maps
keeping you locked in my dreams, twirling
right out of my grasp.

Red can rot.
you snaked up my ankles and set fire 
to an already burning lot, racing through traffic lights,
you never learned the concept of 'stop'

i loved you Green
and your emphasis on the 'ed'.
you were the pains in my calves and the sickness 
in a growing tree.

Purple, you were never meant to be-
a fresh bruise, puppydog eyes
grabbing with your innocent hands,
clinging to me like i once clung to Green.

I miss you Gray-
like a bridge over rough water and Beverly Hill's homes
gasping for air, my love sits
sunk at the bottom like a stone.

the spectrum all stood, 
proud in their hues
bleeding their colors
all over my shoes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

false false false
we tuck our demons in at night and lay
our accusations to rest.
you are curved like a shell; you are the brilliant bright
of a lantern in my dark.

leave some breath behind, dear
for me to find and hoard in the corner and dream
oh-; to dream
dream of you.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

it's licking the seal of an envelope full of 'hey remember that one time?'s
it's split ends of hayride hair and the smell of leaves on your hands
it's the sinking taste of growing up
it's a man who never let himself live dying in a hospital bed

i am twenty years old.

He looks back on the memories the way an arthritic touches a guitar pick, flipping it through his fingers and falling into the old movies in his head.  There’s an indulgence in remembering, like throwing yourself a pity party and eating all the cake. The intermittent beeping of machines all around the room and the sting of the needle seem to dissolve away as the old kitchen fills his memory. He fights the flashback and presses a cotton ball to his own arm before loading his blood samples into the intake. A security guard passes in the hallway, his key ring jingling and Jacob holds his breath, praying that the light peeking from under the door doesn’t catch his eye. He can’t get arrested, the project is almost finished. Racing the memories as noise starts to filter through his ears, almost done. Almost there. Just as the loading bar reaches 99% percent the door is pushed inward. He squints down the bright of a flashlight as the guard shifts his weight from foot to foot. There’s a split second of recognition before the older man lowers his light.
“Doctor Broad.” The guard tips his hat slightly, not sure of what course of action to take.
“Hello Marc.” Both men face each other, completely still.
“I guess I’ll leave ya to it then?”
“Thank you.” Marc flips the hallway light switch on as he continues his patrol and Jacob breathes out before grabbing his expired I.D. card and exiting through the back doors. They can take him away now; he silently concedes to the memories and let’s go. There’s the brief scent of coffee before the blackness pulls him under.
“Caesar played the lyre as Rome burned to the ground.”
“That’s fucked up.” He barely lifts his eyes from the morning paper at the short burst of knowledge sitting across the kitchen table eating Fruity Pebbles.
“Yeah Jake. That’s fucked up” and she completed her sarcasm with two fingers on each hand doing air quotations. He enjoyed the back and forth but after glancing at his now serious girlfriend, he sobers his face. “I think its beautiful.” she lowered her voice to an awed whisper, “It’s this, insane display of giving yourself up to tragedy.”
“Well I agree on the ‘insane’ aspect. It’s well documented that he was mentally unstable. But you’re reading too much into it, he was just mad.” He sets the clutched newspaper down fully on the table and turns his body towards June’s. She’s got his attention now, undoubtedly her plan from the start. “But, I like how you can see stuff in things, you know?” His mouth was formed for equations and stumbles over emotions, its new territory.
“It wasn’t just Caesar. Guernica.”
“I’m not a history major or a human textbook like you are.” He’s taken the bait. The speed in which she gathers her words for the story lead him to believe it had been on her mind all morning and that she was just looking for an excuse to tell him. It was cute.
“1937, they picked a Monday. The German pilots were precise, circling around the busy marketplace three times before dropping the bombs. They were surveying, targeting the exact location that would claim the most lives. The town was never a threat, barely five thousand people but they wanted to make an example of it. Imagine ruthlessness so great that you go out of your way to kill innocent civilians. There were three bomber planes positioned in a triangle with three waves of attack. The town would burn for three days and a third of the population would die.” His eyebrows furrow.
“I think your metaphor is lost on me, Babe”
“Shut up and let me finish.” She leans into him slightly, as if the action of physical contact is so ingrained in her mind that her body is drawn to him. They’re like magnets and always would be. She takes a large exaggerated breath before continuing. “There’s a legend of a Spanish man, a piano player who kept his instrument under an old tree in the square. He played every day and never accepted tips. He spread his music to everyone. When they saw the planes they all assumed they were headed for the capital, Madrid. They couldn’t conceive that anyone would want to hurt them for no reason at all. Then bam. People were screaming and crying and everything was burning and that old man, he went to his piano. He played, he played sad songs and wonderful ones as people wailed and screeched in the streets. Even when the piano started to burn, even as flames licked up the old cracked wood, he played.” Jacob keeps his eyes glued to the left corner of the room as the information sinks in.
“I understood that one; he… gave himself up to something he couldn’t control knowing that he was going to die regardless. He accepted death. But luckily, we live in Manhattan.”
“One should always accept death” she says as she stands up and moves to the sink with her empty bowl.
“But why accept something when you have the power to change it? He could have run, he probably would have lived. I think he was weak.” Jacob was green and June was yellow and the stark contrast between them was familiar and soft like an old sweatshirt. She’s walking to the bedroom now and calling over her shoulder from the next room. He gets up and follows her, intent on finishing the conversation. “Death is a disease.”
“Really? I think it’s weaker to throw yourself against the natural progression of time. You can’t change it. We can’t control life and death is the great equalizer. Sometimes I think the only thing you and I have in common is our mortality.” She’s joking but it hits a nerve in him. She’s wrong. They were a lot alike, they both… were students, and they both… had hair?
“Nah, I would cure time for you. Bring you back as my zombie bride.” Spoiler alert. He tackles her and they roll together onto the bed. The grappling settles and he lies down on his side to stare at her. Against the sun, her profile glows like some ethereal mountain face.
“Did you like my story?” She turns to face him now, eyes shut and a ghost of a smile on her lips.
“I did.” He murmurs, struggling against the urge to fall back asleep. Daylight waits outside the curtains for them both, beckoning with the promise of long errands and summer heat sticking to the backs of their necks.
“Good. I made it up.”
“Wait, what? You made it up?”
“Well, the bombing did happen but whatever, I proved my point.”
“Y-you proved your point? When you have to make up evidence to win an argument it usually means you’ve already lost it. Oh, and usually people don’t openly admit to cheating. You’d be a terrible lawyer.”
“Who wants to be a good lawyer?” She arches her back and spreads out her limbs, stretching like a cat. “Oh, let’s move. Let’s go to Spokane or something.” He’s fallen back into the passive listener role, closing his own eyes waiting for the ensuing tale.
“Why Spokane?”
“I like the name. Did you know there once was a man in Spokane that fell in love with a painting? It was called ‘Marguerite’ and he saw it at a garage sale. Long black hair and a tight red dress, she was perpetually caught in mid spin. He knew it had to be love and whisked her away to his apartment where he would worship her. He bought her gorgeous rings and flowers everyday and dreamed that she would love him back. He spent years with her, growing old dusting her frame. When he started to feel death around each corner, waiting for his aged bones, he hired an artist to paint him as well. When he died, the two portraits hung next to each other forever.”
“Or until the next person moved in.” He breaks out into a smile at his own joke. She grows agitated.
“You’re such a Debbie Downer. Cynic” and she says it as if it’s a bad thing.
“Ah, they say cynics have more fun. Or wait, they say cynics have no fun.” He waits for her rebuttal but the conversation is already lost on her. She’s a million miles away, mouth naturally hanging open in deep thought.
“I want to change my name to July.” He’s surprisingly unsurprised at the sudden topic change.
“Or May.”
“You can’t go backwards!” She sits up straight now.
“You can go any way you want.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

i always thought of you as an ocean, endless
expanses of skin that my fingers just 
buoyed over. long seaweed hair and legs
floating like pale islands
in the water

i always thought of you as an ocean, stubborn
crayfish and sharp shells;
an anger in you
settled at the bottom like silt.

i always thought of you as an ocean, a repeating
of waves, the breaking rise of memories 
turned to white foam.

i always thought of you as an ocean, up to
my legs in your salt and when the tide retreats
with it's tail between its legs i am left
with wet ankles and desire like clumped sand
rubbing our love raw.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Berlin is burning. Whispers spread through Ravensbrück faster than fleas, an uprising- a surge of partisans against the Reich and a line on a map that could free us all. The front moved closer each day and you slept to the sounds of bombs.
“Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.”
You whispered into her skin, the Hebrew feeling gentle and warm on your tongue. Her neck like a wheat field rustling under your breath; that was the night you fell into her. You fell into a place in her soul and she melted onto your bones. That was the night you celebrated your stolen visa’s with champagne and played Italian music, you were invincible together. That was the night they broke the door down, you had jumped up and she had screamed, grasping for the sheet and holding it to her chest. They bashed out the backs of your knees and dragged you away by the hair. Everything had happened so suddenly, the stitching still visible from where she ripped the triangle off your sleeve hours ago. As they pulled you down the stairs you briefly recalled that you didn’t even have the time to cut off her gold star.
The Russian’s tore down the fences and told us of men with American guns that didn’t even know we existed.  It was as if they freed a caged bird, most believe it to be a German trick. Men and women had forgotten how to exist outside a camp and one by one, they trickled out. You were one of the first, bounding to the train tracks with a single thought on your mind. Walking south in the dark; the sun, for sorrow, would not show his head.
Berlin is burning. The air-raid sirens sound off into the night and people collect bodies that lay in the street. You have known bodies too. You have known thousands of limbs and you have known her limbs. You have known the light as it falls on her bare shoulder; you have known mud caked to your feet.  Ash falls silent from the sky like snow and you leave your footprints in front of the apartment.
“Where did they send her?” you grip the lapels of your old landlord and shove him roughly to the wall. Thin arms are deceiving and your muscles burn on with anger as fuel. He’s grown fat during the war, eating double rations and selling out names to the Gestapo. You’ve suspected him all along but now, with him under your hands you find yourself suddenly disgusted by the thought of revenge.
“I do not know where.”
“You bastard, I gave you a thousand Reichmarks to keep us safe. I’ll kill you right now, where is she? Where did they send her?” He cowers under your words,
Łódź, they sent them to Łódź.” You release him and step back, wiping the stain off your hands and spit at his feet. The time for war has passed.
“How much did you sell us for?” It’s an afterthought that you aren’t sure you’d even like to know. He almost smiles at the question making your blood boil once again.
“Three pounds of ham.” At that moment you realize that you are no longer a German. You are not of this man at all, hate has grown heavy and you abandon everything for her. You would walk to Poland. He shouts to your fading back, “Łódź is empty. They are all gone now.” You reach him in three long strides before clutching his throat.
“Where?” Desperation crawls up into your mouth and you try to swallow it away; he points to the sky
“Birkenau. They marched them out like cattle.” He spreads his yellow teeth and you start to splinter
“Tempt not a desperate man.”
Berlin is burning. You kiss her hands in your dreams and you do not dream of uniforms. You do not dream of barracks, but you dream of her. You dreamt that your lady returned and found you dead. You dream of bicycle rides and when you wake, you feel her closer than ever. The walking dead slowly filter in from the further camps, what do they expect here? Life has ended, Germany is sick. They still wear their gray stripes and sleep on the street, calling out the names of lost people. You wait for word about Auschwitz. They arrive like locusts, sick and limping and covering the sidewalks with their yellow skin and protruding ribs. A man pushes past you and you stop him-
“Rabbi, have you any word from Birkenau?” You don’t know how to treat the man; you know nothing of his religion- only the Hebrew Eva taught you while you both sat naked on the floor those nights after making love. At the word Birkenau he falters, years carved into his face and a man has never seemed so tired. Sharp misery had worn him to the bones. He dips his head and kisses your hand-
“Auschwitz is gone. Let God be with you always” and he walks away before you can even process the information.  The cries of the mourning can be heard and but you stay quiet and call her name to the corner of your own empty room.
Eva, these sorrows make me old.”
You wait at the station, a sea of shaved heads and sunken eyes shuffling past you. They gather around the Red Cross tent for bread and coffee yet you can hold no appetite. Sitting on the bench for three days, just waiting for her eyes to meet yours across the platform. You think that you might wait forever if you have to. It’s sometime around dawn when the trains from Poland arrive. You feel her the second she steps down and you’re screaming her name and everyone is looking at you. And then she’s looking at you and she’s running and you’re running and she’s falling into you. Her back, her arm, her left ear, her pulse pressed to your cheek; water in the desert. A rushing of love into you as her body fits like an old glove against yours. Light rises from the east and you turn your eyes from the garish horizon to the sun you’ve wrapped in your arms. O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright.
And all these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come.