Open Hands and Silence

Poetry by someone who cannot write poetry.


last time it was like this I was twenty minutes late
last time reset the clock
I had to apologize
last time it was like this you forgave me
I don’t remember what I remember
the thud of my knees hitting the kitchen floor
the vice of your hand on my jaw
turning my head
someone sobbing stop, stop
or I was laughing
or the time I didn’t say anything not a damn thing I didn’t say a word
I came back wrong this time
I came back forgetting
just like last time
like the time before that
every time this sound
my blood runs through my veins
my blood breathes ragged
my blood rattles locked doors
my blood wants out

While you dream, I am walking a tightrope through the winter sky.
I look down,
and your breath still holds the night up. I look down,
and I fall.

Under the sun of some other faraway,
you smile in your sleep.
Forget me not, Spring-weaver.
Forget me not,
forever the best of me.

The Man Upstairs is Always Singing

I hear him outside our bedroom window.
At four below zero, he doesn’t slip
on the ice on the stairs,
wears a scarf to protect his vocal cords,
and sings down the snow.
At ten AM on a Sunday morning,
he plays choral music in the room above my own.
He sings along to gospel,
At night, he dreams he stands on a balcony,
and watches a city burning.
He dreams the smoke rises and carries,
the voices of children. They sing,
“You will never learn.
You will never learn.”
The voices of children singing.
He still hears them.
He doesn’t sing along.

Ace of Spades

Forgive me.
Oh, forgive me.
Hold me underwater. Let me sleep.
Forget the thousand tired metaphors for what my autopsy reveals–
ashes, paper, melting ice,
nothing, nothing, nothing.
Forget my face is painted on,
the way it peels off, layer after layer.
Hold me underwater.
Forgive me for not struggling.
It is not enough
to force my way through three feet of snow just to escape
the place to which I must return;
it is not enough
to save myself from falling.

Someone says he’s afraid for me,
and I

I eat nothing all day,
polish every piece of furniture until it glows.
I used to rehearse my times tables in my head.
Over again.
Over again.

I’d like to join everyone in talking about new beginnings, but right now, I can’t forgive this year for what it has done.

Yes, it’s only time. No, time is not to blame. But I am human, and I am irrational, and I can’t forgive.

To be honest, I spent a lot of today weeping. For some things, tears are a reasonable and justified response.

I don’t forgive, but I will. I don’t see a way to separate the valuable parts from the rest of the toxicity, but I will. This is the last post like this you’re going to see from me for a while. This is a poetry blog. I’m going to write some fucking poetry.

I probably will never see you or listen to your stories or hug you or learn what your favorite band is, but I love you. Wherever you are, whatever you’ve done, I love you. I hope that anything that hurt you during 2014 stays in 2014 and that this next year brings you things that are unexpected and welcome and needed. There’s a lot of good coming, no matter how much bad also is. I hope you’re ready for it.

Be kind this year. Be kinder than you’ve been.

Happy new year.

I want to close my eyes and take a deep breath and be better.
Better. Do you understand? Not sick and dysfunctional and hurting everyone around me because I can’t hold myself together. Oh god.

Oh god, I want to sleep.

I hate that my life is so easy. I hate that it’s the education that I should be grateful for–that I am grateful for–that does this to me.

But no. My god, it’s the summer, too; it’s the quiet days, too; it’s every day; it’s every day and I can’t write anymore. I can’t write anymore.

I can’t feel anything as strongly as I feel fear anymore.

Please don’t worry; I’m not going to hurt myself. I am done with that. I am done with that. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without it and you’d better believe I’m proud of myself. But maybe please do worry. Maybe ask me, “what the fuck is wrong with you?” I don’t know. “Are you okay?” No. No.

I’m forcing myself to get out of bed, I’m forcing myself to keep the apartment clean and anyway it’s not clean, All I want is to sleep. Just sleep. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

This is stupid and self-indulgent and not what you came here for. I’m so sorry.

Some kind of an explanation

It’s not that I miss anguish, but maybe I miss something coming of it. I know something came of it. Something to fight means something to defeat, maybe, and if not, at least a story to tell. I was notorious for writing the opposite of happy endings once. I was notorious for writing. It’s not that I miss the blood on my hands or the dance along the edge of the rooftop, but I miss having something to say about it. I miss having something to say. My father and the blank page have the same complaint: “You make me do all the talking.” It’s not that I miss fighting. It’s just that so little seems worth fighting for anymore. So little seems worth mentioning. I stopped writing love songs to the war and now I don’t write anything, anything.

The Sky-Carriers

When she had a headache I opened the freezer
and put my hand flat
on the metal shelf, the frost rough
under my hand.
No one questions the way
we keep boxes full of winter in our houses,
and I stayed there until my palm was red,
was white on the peaks of it.
There are things you just have to do.
And in the winter this sky
grows cold,
It sinks toward the earth,
burdened with ice.
Before it numbs,
it’s like a knife, like fire.
I kneel.
Brace my shoulders.
There are things you just have to do.
Oh Atlas, I am sorry.
I am sorry.

Persephone to Icarus

Child, it is not for me to teach you to regret.
There was a time I would have swallowed fire,
held live coals
on my tongue just to feel warm again.
I still grow heavy
when the river rises.
He sleeps beside me while I
There are nights I sink
a thousand miles below the Earth
and never move.

Child, they tried to keep us safe.
They kept us in
out of the seasons, wrapped so tight we couldn’t
feel the wind. They said be careful. They,
the ones we leave behind.

There is so little light here.

The choice is not a war, child.
The choice is a pomegranate seed,
is just a little further.

I know. I know you never meant.

I know.

A secret, child:
There was such a thing as Winter
before I came here.
The choice is bitter, child, burning.
The choice is sharp
but ours.
But ours.


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