Tell me now

Are you much like those sirens of yore

and with the seductive sounds of your song

pulling, drawing my gossamer-frail ship

towards inevitable destruction upon

the violent-tipped shards of your rocky shore

Tell me now

Cuz I honestly don’t know if I can do this

without some small amount of reassurance

without some kind of pretty-bowed promise

a declaration that you will not utterly wreck me

leaving me twisted, flinching, and smashed flat

Just tell me now




There have been moments

15 years’ worth of moments

where you enter my mind’s view —

they come and go like hummingbirds

just like those hummingbirds flying

over the mountainside as we watched

flitting closer and closer and then

just as quickly, gone from sight

these moments are just like that

And your features will shimmer into focus

and I will see you the way you used to be

or how I remember you anyway

all these years later

and I will hear your voice

though I’m sure I don’t remember

how it truly sounds any longer

and I’ll want to pick up a conversation

where we left off —


Or at least tell you how I am now

who I am now

I simply want you to know that I’m okay

that I lived through it, and you

I’ve lived since you

Since you called me that one day

more than 15 years ago and

snuffed out what I thought was forever

I’ve grown more of a spine since

 you attempted and were successful

in taming me

for the blink of time that felt

so endless and, yet

was not


I’ve been with other men since you

some better, most worse

I don’t talk to any of them any longer

much like I have not spoken to you in all this time

These men have done things to me

a lot of which I’ve forgotten

and a number of things I wish

I could forget

but I cannot

will not.


Don’t get me wrong

I’ve not been a victim

I survived you and I’ve survived them

and I will, most likely, survive more

And I’ve survived myself

the one who honestly was scariest of all

And know, too, that I am not a victim of myself either


I lived beyond uselessly

attempting to fold the country

the upper part of this continent, in half

so that West Texas could border

the northeastern corner of Indiana

wishful violent tectonic plate action

to put you and I that much closer together

You utterly wrecked me

leveled the civilization of my youth

so that I had to completely rebuild 

up from ashy ruins


So I write you

across a distance of 15 years

and something like 2,000 miles

I write to you because

I want you to know all this

And I write to you because I want

to know that you survived as well

that maybe you thrived even

perhaps you’re happy now

And I find that I sincerely desire that for you

It’s so strange

this urge to know you are well

but it lives in me now

It’s only taken 15 years


We live on fringes

and we are drawn

together as if we have

intimately known

the other some time

a long time before

and can’t quite remember

when or how


It’s lovely — really —

this magnetism we

have for one another


Floating in the chaos

of this world, we find

those who ring familiar

and we circle about

flirting and feinting 

at real contact


These are moments that

I cannot deny

when someone else

has spoken in a tongue

I truly understand

though I am uncertain of why


I just know it


I know you


I just do


And the hairs on

my arms and shoulders

begin to prickle-raise

from the flesh

pointing in your direction

drawing me towards

that inevitable force of you


She lived, for a time

on the fish she caught

bathing thin fillets

in cornmeal flour

from her stores

pan fried them until the

spongey, translucent flesh

transformed to flaky snow

white beneath the

crust of batter


When she had first arrived

the fillets had been crudely cut 

inexperienced severing


of muscles


and organs

But she became more adept

with task and fish

as time passed

her hand grew steadier as

it repeatedly guided the knife

began to understand better

the unspoken rules

of their anatomy 

combed through

the architecture

of these creatures

with her blade

so often that it became easy

nearly instinctual


There had been a time when

she had known another’s body

in this intimate way

memorized the baroque design

of flesh above knees and elbows

become accustomed to

the sway of back

curve of neck

lived for long moments

among the ladder of ribs

and notched column of spine


But she was forgetting that terrain


time was allowing

that slow

gradual reprieve

She had become

obsessed with fish

and the infinite intricacies

of learning how they

lived and died


She didn’t have much use

for other people now



He loved me — or I assumed so 

since he never said as much out loud

It was a feeling I had

because that’s all he gave me 

no words or declarations

outpourings of lovely verbiage 

He was too quiet and

too spartan for such extraneousness

The most I got was the occasional, “Baby”

when he needed something from the fridge

the remote for the television

or my easily-bruised knees to part

But there was a feeling there 

at least for a time

Then again

I suspect this was just me

willing it to be there with all my resolve

I can’t be certain at this point


We lived, for a time

on the bare beauty of the unspoken

It was enough to pass a look

from eye to eye during shadowed dusk

or share a close space of air and light

We rarely had urge or chance to talk plain

though the words we did muster were

never complicated or deep

and the kind of language

that could lend voice to desire

was left to haunt the back of a dry throat

But still, in those keenly pregnant seconds

I would color red like blooms of rust

and you would quickly cast your gaze



I believed so surely that you were more

than the sum of your parts

and I lent you credit even when you half-refused any

turning from me, elbow deep in the sink and silent

clacking dishes to bowls to spoons

Yet still, I pushed it on you with such fervor

and circled my arms around your breadth

so that my chest was against the place where

your spine radiated outwards in ribs and nerves

all shrinking from the embrace


And truth is, I’ve had lovelier

but time and space will always make

watery ghosts of memories

softening their hard-edged details

until they are crafty, deepening conduits 

that ripple across the prow of our senses

and our fate will be to drown in

our foolish devotions


Gift me once again

a certain easy moment

a particular shape of flushed moon

a gentle hand resting on nape of neck

a pin-scratch of needle on warped record

and melt me afresh

every time