Night Birds

 

When the insomnia punches

the liver and my mind’s light

as my bones, I crank the heat

and stand naked before the glass. 

The disease is most inspiring

amidst the dark, when my skin

glows like a Chinese lantern

and the subcutaneous fat remnants

murmur along my muscles 

like ornaments. Scattered in the streets

are regrets paired two by two, grabbing

each other tight and halting towards

hangovers and sticky thighs. But this,

this is when I’m most lovely—

when I see my shoulders as coracoids

and not splintered, used up hangers.

When my ribs are strong and dangerous

as an iron maiden, not a cage whose every bar

I’ve memorized in bruises along my back. 

Find me

in the darkest hour and I’ll show you

something so beautiful it breaks 

and hides fast as a ghost 

in the excruciating light of dawn. 

 

______________

Conceptions

I’m writing a whole new

book, and just can’t stop. It’s become

so damned fast that I’ve screwed

my eyes shut and lifted my feet

to let gravity and nature do whatever

dirty dance they like. I said

the last one would be the last—

but that’s what we all say. Like,

 

when we have that perfect pair,

the boy and girl, 

and then Whoops! someone forgot

the condom or mistook the birth 
control pills for Vicodin again

and now there’s a brand new mess

brewing. But it’s fine, we can’t possibly

 

screw up this one as badly

as the last. Right? Or at least

that’s what we tell ourselves 

when the panic sets in at two

in the morning. This one,

it will be better. Stronger. More

stunning and durable than those

last shameful productions. Because

 

if we didn’t think that, if we believed

it would be just as hard, the same

hurt and demonic thrashings in the most

embarrassing of times, we’d just stop. Stop

being stupid, making excuses thin

as our wrist skin and be a goddamned 

adult for once. But we won’t. That’s not

 

how we were made. People, writers, poets

parents. We’re designed to forget. To keep

on, try just one more time to create. And maybe

this time, this time,

it will be so hellishly beautiful to erase 

all those blunders and ugliness that came before.

 

 

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Recollections of the Training Days

Dogs with prong collars adjust to the pinch—
that was me, immune 
to the warm blood trickles
when he petted my car’s hood, see 
if I’d strayed that day. My skin grew tough
against the spikes, so I got used

to the next telling me 
I was almost thin
and should only speak 
when commanded—like a dog,
a bitch, like something that scurries
on all fours tonguing up compliments
alongside filthy water bowls.
And then there was you. There are times
you make me feel like an animal

in the right ways. Times
when I need to re-learn tricks I lost
over the years like chewed
up toys or buried, cherished things. 
I remember the choking nails in the deepest

of nights and how it felt
when you slipped them off, easily 
and quickly
like my threadbare shirts 
when you undress me in the mornings.