Endings

Endings

Things do not explode,
they fail, they fade,

as sunlight fades from the flesh,
as the foam drains quick in the sand,

even love’s lightning flash
has no thunderous end,

it dies with the sound
of flowers fading like the flesh

from sweating pumice stone,
everything shapes this

till we are left
with the silence that surrounds Beethoven’s head.

– Derek Walcott

Wishbone

Wishbone

You saved my life he says   I owe you everything.

You don’t, I say, you don’t owe me squat, let’s just get going, let’s just get gone, but he’s

relentless,

keeps saying  I owe you, says  Your shoes are filling with your own damn blood,

you must want something, just tell me, and it’s yours.

But I can’t look at him, can hardly speak,

I took the bullet for all the wrong reasons, I’d just as soon kill you myself, I say.

You keep saying  I owe you, I owe… but you say the same thing every time.

Let’s not talk about it, let’s just not talk.

Not because I don’t believe it, not because I want it any different, but I’m always saving

and you’re always owing and I’m tired of asking to settle the debt.

Don’t bother.

You never mean it anyway, not really, and it only makes me that much more ashamed.

There’s only one thing I want, don’t make me say it, just get me bandages, I’m bleeding,

I’m not just making conversation.

There’s smashed glass glittering everywhere like stars. It’s a Western, Henry,

it’s a downright shoot-em-up. We’ve made a graveyard out of the bone white afternoon.

It’s another wrong-man-dies scenario

and we keep doing it, Henry, keep saying  until we get it right…

but we always win and we never quit, see, we’ve won again, here we are at the place

where I get to beg for it

where I get to say  Please, for just one night, will you lay down next to me, we can leave our

clothes on, we can stay all buttoned up?

or will I say

Roll over and let me fuck you till you puke, Henry, you owe me this much, you can indulge me

this at least, can’t you?  but we both know how it goes. I say  I want you inside me

           and you hold my head underwater, I say   I want you inside me

and you split me open with a knife. I’m battling monsters, half-monkey, half-tarantula,

I’m pulling you out of the burning buildings and you say  I’ll give you anything.

But you never come through.

Give me bullet power. Give me power over angels. Even when you’re standing up

you look like you’re lying down, but will you let me kiss your neck, baby? Do I have to

tie your arms down?

Do I have to stick my tongue in your mouth like the hand of a thief, like a burglary

like it’s just another petty theft? It makes me tired, Henry. Do you see what I mean?

Do you see what I’m getting at?

You swallowing matches and suddenly I’m yelling  Strike me. Strike anywhere.

 I swear, I end up feeling empty, like you’ve taken something out of me, and I have to search

my body for the scars, thinking

Did he find that one last tender place to sink his teeth in?   I know you want me to say it, Henry,

it’s in the script, you want me to say  Lie down on the bed, you’re all I ever wanted

          and worth dying for too

but I think I’d rather keep the bullet this time. It’s mine, you can’t have it, see,

I’m not giving it up. This way you still owe me, and that’s

as good as anything.

You can’t get out of this one, Henry, you can’t get it out of me, and with this bullet

lodged in my chest, covered with your name, I will turn myself into a gun, because

it’s all I have,

because I’m hungry and hollow and just want something to call my own. I’ll be your

slaughterhouse, your killing floor, your morgue and final resting, walking around with this

bullet inside me

‘cause I couldn’t make you love me and I’m tired of pulling your teeth. Don’t you see, it’s like

I’ve swallowed your house keys, and it feels so natural, like the bullet was already there,

like it’s been waiting inside me the whole time.

Do you want it? Do you want anything I have? Will you throw me to the ground

like you mean it, reach inside and wrestle it out with your bare hands?

If you love me, Henry, you don’t love me in a way I understand.

Do you know how it ends? Do you feel lucky? Do you want to go home now?

There’s a bottle of whiskey in the trunk of the Chevy and a dead man at our feet

staring up at us like we’re something interesting.

This is where the evening splits in half, Henry, love or death. Grab an end, pull hard,

and make a wish.

– Richard Siken

 

I’m struck down by this poem. It feels as if I’ll need years to digest this. 

In a Goodreads review of Silken’s book “Crush,” where “Wishbone” is found, reader Kristine writes what I’m out of words to:

“and the gentleness that comes,
not from the absence of violence, but despite
the abundance of it.”

I read Richard Siken’s poem “Wishbone” on the internet. I read it once and closed the page. The next day I was painfully aware I couldn’t leave it behind. That my mind kept circling back to his words. So I read it and re-read it again and again. Dozens of times, until I realised it would never be enough, so I ordered his book.

I have never in my life anticipated the arrival of a book more than I did with this. My entire body was aching for it. And then it arrived.

With a start like this, and with expectations as high as mine, you’d think the book would come up short. That it would somehow not deliver. But it does. It truly fucking does.

Siken is beyond talented with words, that much is clear, this entire collection is a work of pure art, something you rarely find these days. Every line is powerful, it’s got secrets. Every poem has meaning, and soul and something deeply terrifying about it.
I am in love with it. That’s the easiest way to put it. My copy is worn out from being opened, read in, then thrown onto the table or put carelessly down as I try to gather myself up from my messy emotional pile on the floor and try to deal with, well… myself.

I’ve read many books, some of them have taught me about the world, about people, about feelings or ideas. This book taught me something monumental about myself.
It changed me, and I’m not even kidding or exaggerating. I read it (or devoured it might be more accurate) and suddenly found a side of myself put into words. Words I was never able to find myself, but needed more deeply than I’d realised.

I’ll never stop reading this book, and that’s the great thing with poetry, analyzing, understanding and interpreting and simply feeling it, is a neverending process. I carry his words with me everywhere, both in the shape of his actual book, but also in who I am.

“Tell me how all this, and love too, will ruin us.
These, our bodies, possessed by light.
Tell me we’ll never get used to it.”

from “Bodily Harm”

from “Bodily Harm”

“Being in love was like running barefoot along a street covered with broken bottles. It was foolhardy, and if you got through it without damage it was only by sheer luck. It was like taking off your clothes at lunchtime in a bank. It let people think they knew something about you that you didn’t know about them, it gave them power over you. It made you visible, soft, penetrable; it made you ludicrous.”

– Margaret Atwood

Nursery

Nursery

We opened the door to the fairy house
& took our tea on matching pebble seats.
Somehow we got out of there alive

though something crystalline of us
remains in that dark, growing its facets.
We opened the door to the fairy house

at the oak’s black ankle. You asked
What could happen? as you disappeared
somehow. We got out of there alive

the strange tea still warm in our bellies.
Inside, our hosts gave damn few answers.
Who built that door? Is this a fairy house?

They had no faces yet. We spoke
into their quince-bud ears. You wept.
Somehow we got out of there alive

though we didn’t quite return. Our life
is different now we’ve drunk the tea.
They’re alive somehow. I got us out.
Why did you open the door to the fairy house?

– Kiki Petrosino

One Body

One Body

ID

Two ids walk into one body & fight over whether to break melon on the kitchen counter & eat it by the fistful or to throw the melon out a shut window & watch it break on the pavement, stabbed by shards of glass.

EGO

Sorry, for yelling through the speaker at the McDonald’s drive thru. Sorry, for not letting you through the door first. Sorry, I ate the dozen donuts in fifteen minutes over the sink. Sorry, I sound shrill, sound dumb, sound ditzy, sound spacey. Sorry, mom. I mean, mamá. 
I mean, miss. I mean, nevermind.

SUPEREGO

Dear body: Cut the melon into slices with the sharpest knife you can find & enjoy the pain you are causing this melon. Stop saying you’re sorry, instead feel guilty for being shrill, being dumb, being ditzy, 
being spacey. Feel guilty because your mom is your mamá is your miss is the one who is guilty for giving you this body with two ids, 
& one ego, & one superego who hush-hushes you whole.

– Natalie Scenters-Zapico

He Has an Oral Fixation

He Has an Oral Fixation

He can’t stop putting the dead
flowers, the deadhead nails, the deadweight
sacks of flour in his mouth. He can’t
stop writing about the mouth. The way

he woke up to his mouth full of bees,
their dead crunch still stinging
his gums. He writes: There’s something
beautiful in the way a mouth can be broken

by saliva and cold air. She broke
his mouth open and filled it with lead-
tainted earth. She made him
brain-dead through the mouth;

licked the honey she pulled
from his incisors like sap from a tree.
His mouth, with its stretch marks
running along his cheeks — she’s never seen

anything like it. His mouth a scar
of his hunger, a scar of his gluttony
after the hunger. Stop writing
about the mouth: the teeth, the gums,

the impacted tooth and its psychedelic
blues and greens. Stop writing how she bit
your mouth and with a blowtorch
welded its dark-open shut. Stop writing

about the mouth: the tongue, the holy
molars, the wear of grinding yourself
to bone. Stop writing about the mouth:
his mouth, your mouth, her mouth.

– Natalie Scenters-Zapico
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