Poems

Candles

But how I stared around me in wonder all day

After finding out that the lacy white curls that hover for seconds over an extinguished candle

Are not the product of the smoke itself

But the shape of the very air currents that are always around us

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Coffee

I started drinking coffee because

I wasn’t depressed,

Every day was just incredibly exhausting

And every task just felt insurmountable

 

But with my heart caffeinated and pittering as fast as a hummingbird’s

I was a wind-up toy able to lift my arms and legs and

Smile weakly at the right times and say half the right things

 

Until,

As the last caffeine would leave my bloodstream at the end of the day,

I’d retreat to my mattress,

Turn on both hot, salty taps,

And cry.

 

Now I take a pill, 8 am, half white half green.

It facilitates serotonin’s chemical reactions in my brain.

When I started treatment, a couple people noticed

That I looked more rested, energized. Caffeinated.

 

But I still drink coffee, black, 3 cups daily.

Black coffee tastes like woodchips.

I CRAVE woodchips.

At least I’m addicted to something

That’s warm and comforting held in my cold hands

Something I can fidget with at work

An ingestible, smooth security blanket

That makes me look alive and awake.

Bye I Love You

When I said those words I did not mean them

As an incantation to incite reciprocality,

Nor as a binding contract

Nor, necessarily, for obligatory reply.

 

As you pulled your hands out of my hands

And I pulled my sleeves over my knuckles

to protect them from the cold whistling wind

I wondered if you knew

I didn’t mean I thought we were cut from the same cloth,

Cortexes, parallels, halves of a whole.

 

I just meant that I could feel my blood pressure drop

And my breathing steady when you’d sit down beside me as I typed,

That I appreciated the time you held me when I was sick

And the way your apologies were not stick-on bandages

But warm steam rising from cups of loose-leaf tea.

 

I meant that I like sitting in silence with you as much as I like listening

As much as I value being listened to.

 

I guess I could have said,

“You are a warmth and a peace and a light.”

 

But I didn’t.

I said “I love you” and you walked away silent.

Super America, 7:23 P.M.

All I want to be is generous but not stupid.

 

Is it insane to leap and leap

and hope to always land upright

because I mean well, want to mean good

I feel the threads in the five-dollar bill

As I hand it over to you

trusting

you need it more than I

trusting

the look in your warm, tired brown eyes

 

I hop back in my car, turn the key in the ignition

The engine clears its throat

 

In my rearview mirror

(a gift)

through my glasses

(a gift)

I see the tattered brim of your Coca-Cola baseball cap

as you lean up to the window of the rusty Buick

lean up to check on the sleeping silhouette in the passenger seat

 

I pull the stick, bring the car into drive

warm hum steady

And behind me you hold up the waist of your too-big pants

while you push open the door of the Super America,

Cig ads swinging,

Sleigh bells beneath the “Open” sign jangling.

 

When I say “Godspeed,” I’m really wishing you

Not velocity but a higher love and protection, stranger.