fly underground

five hundred and sixty five: nineteen of thirty

Today I keep remembering the moment before we kissed
with frightening accuracy. I can’t remember the kiss itself, 
like I’ve worn that memory out until it stopped being real. 
But the moment before, all that nervous laughter,
the clean reality that became broken, strained by affection
and attraction, that feels so current, still. 
Have you heard about the continuum of time? History is weird
and hard to understand. I go back and forth between
we-were-soul-mates and we-were-nothing
regularly, and I can say that both theories may be true. 
So, what if it’s not this continuous thing unfolding? 
Didn’t someone say once that you had to unlove someone
for as long as you loved them? Maybe this is that story in reverse,
my lonely heart to my loving heart to my hammering pre-kiss heart
to my lonely heart. Like clockwork. Like today. Like whatever,
six months ago, or who cares. 
The point is, there isn’t. Unloving is not the opposite of loving.
For all its worth, I keep falling asleep with the feel of your arm
across my waist and the memory, the hope, the wish, the regret:
you’re going to kiss me, you’re finally going to kiss me.
And you do.
And you did. 

five hundred and sixty four: eighteen of thirty

Last night I had a dream about the handsome man
from down the hall, though he wasn’t exactly the same,
more handsome, less mortal. Think demigod.
Think mythological hero. Same kind eyes,
the look of tenderness, except this time, I felt it.
He told me things were going to be good,
I just couldn’t see it yet. But it didn’t matter,
because I was inconsolable and sad
and he was just the handsome man from down the hall.
What did he know about life and my crumbling heart?

No, this wasn’t a sex dream. No, this wasn’t a love dream.
Although. I mean, the man from down the hall is handsome.
The one in my dream even more so. He said, call me Omar.
What a weird name. Long live, Omar, king of the strange,
king of knowing what I don’t. Omar and his kind eyes
and generous love, and his sweet hug.
Omar, who hugged me long and honest, my heart’s cadence
melting to his soft beat. Omar. Omar, come back.
Tell me, what did you mean? Of course you’re not the man
from down the hall. Of course. Omar. Just hold me again.
Just promise me that things will be good even if I can’t see it yet.

five hundred and sixty three: seventeen of thirty

If I have a favorite song, what I think I really mean
is I have a favorite chorus, a favorite beat, 
just one line that I could listen to over and over again.
So, I do. I play back a song, fast forward, rewind, play back,
again. I don’t want the whole song. I want what I want.
Imagine if this is how I treat everything.
Imagine it happens this way when I love someone.
I want the good parts, the honest parts, the right riff and melody.
Forget the extra details, the messy meshing of two distinct lives,
the slow tumble out of whatever good there was. 
Play it back, play it back. Give me back our hands clasped
against my stomach. Give me back that perfume bottle
and my lucky underwear. I don’t want the whole story,
the whole relationship. I want to kiss you. I never want to miss you.


Here’s the link for more information about the PS244 fundraising campaign

Here’s the link to the GIVE IT ALL TO ME Library Collection at

Not only is everything here super cute, but it’s such a good way to give back to a community in need!

P.S. 244 is in my hometown, Flushing, Queens, and has been recognized as one of the healthiest schools in the country, ranked 11th in the state of New York for test scores, and has been heralded for its innovative curriculum and extremely hard working staff.

Help us to give this school and its students the library they deserve. During National Library Week (April 13-20), we are donating a portion of our sales to purchase and implement a scanning system for P.S. 244 and to train staff to manage it. We will post updates after the donation and share stories from students and teachers about the impact of this new system.”

SHOP FOR A CAUSE. Help support a new generation of readers! 

five hundred and sixty two: sixteen of thirty

On my worst nights, I wonder why I don’t look at the moon more.
So, I leave the apartment, go out into the night,
stare up at the forever expanding sky, and I don’t expect
the stars to hurt, but they do. 
I don’t want to say that I hate nature,
but I hate nature. I hate how separated I feel 
from those blooming cherry blossoms
and the almost always encroaching spring snow,
me in my little fortress of indoor heating 
and curtains thick enough to block out sunlight. 
God, it all sounds so stupid and painful. 
Modernity. Technology. Architecture. 
All good things, but it doesn’t matter. 
It doesn’t help. Not really. 
But the moon doesn’t help either, which is confusing
and strange. The hard things are so often not things,
but they aren’t all dandelion seeds either.
Or, they are. And they grow. 
Blue moon. New moon. Full moon. 
Full of what? The end? No. No. 

five hundred and sixty one: fifteen of thirty

Here is the blessing of our backwards love affair: 
like a pair of jeans ripping at the crotch
and our old joke about easy access, like my unsteady hands
shaking and you called my grip a luxury massage,
like a traffic jam when we were already in the rush of love. 
Nothing has changed. I smell exactly the same.
I just washed the first t-shirt you peeled off me, and you have kept
bits of my old laundry change. I start using the word “old” a lot.
Our old kisses. Our old nights. Our old love. 
It doesn’t lose meaning. It becomes meaning.
I told you once that I would rather be alone
than with someone I didn’t really want. You didn’t understand.
Is this the big secret? Is it something else? 
Love was easy. Time was hard. 

five hundred and sixty: fourteen of thirty

The first tattoo I ever saw
was on my father’s arm. A series of black letters
and numbers. I wish I could remember what they spelled out,
something intelligible,
but instead I remember only the story surrounding this rebellious detail:
the name of some woman, who my father loved,
and, almost too obviously, not the woman he still loved.

This could be a poem about my father’s embarrassment,
how he used to wear all shirts with the sleeves rolled up
only so high, how his face would pinch itself in
whenever I asked to see this giant physical reminder
of young foolishness.
This could be a poem about young foolishness.

This could be a poem about how my mother told me
that my father was the only man she ever loved,
and how the one time I asked her if she could say the same,
she told me, too seriously, that she couldn’t.

This could be a poem about a tattoo on its own
or the name of the lady I can’t even remember,
but my father wanted so badly at one point, he felt it
all the way up his forearm.

This could be a poem about what their love might have felt like,
brief, uncalculated, the story behind a tattoo
that is only entertainment for a young daughter
and how, when my father died
this lady had no idea. Where is the justice? Where is her name now?
The same skin I used to trace in wonder,
I wonder what she’s tracing now.

Most commencement speeches suggest you take up something or other: the challenge of the future, a vision of the twenty-first century. Instead I’d like you to give up. Give up the backpack. Give up the nonsensical and punishing quest for perfection that dogs too many of us through too much of our lives. It is a quest that causes us to doubt and denigrate ourselves, our true selves, our quirks and foibles and great leaps into the unknown, and that is bad enough.

But this is worse: that someday, sometime, you will be somewhere, maybe on a day like today—a berm overlooking a pond in Vermont, the lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. Maybe something bad will have happened: you will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something you wanted to succeed at very much.

And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for that core to sustain you. If you have been perfect all your life, and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where your core ought to be.

Don’t take that chance. Begin to say no to the Greek chorus that thinks it knows the parameters of a happy life when all it knows is the homogenization of human experience. Listen to that small voice from inside you, that tells you to go another way. George Eliot wrote, ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ It is never too early, either. And it will make all the difference in the world. Take it from someone who has left the backpack full of bricks far behind. Every day feels light as a feather.

—Anna Quindlen, from her commencement speech at Mount Holyoke College in 1999 (via waxenneat)

five hundred and fifty nine: thirteen in thirty

The leading man in my favorite TV show
hurts the leading lady, and while other fans
throw heavy accusations at the screen
whenever he appears, I am full of forgiveness. 
I don’t mean I’m better than them, more loving and patient.
I don’t mean I’m an idiot, though, perhaps
there is something to be said about what kind of person
defends a bad man
by saying he wants to be a good man. 
But he reminds me so much of you, all dark hair
and well-intentioned mistakes. The way he doesn’t say sorry
but the audience interprets sincere apologies in his radio silence. 
Which should make me the leading lady,
but it doesn’t. It makes me the fan
watching with absolute anxiety: “you were supposed to be good,
you were supposed to good.” 

apensivesoul asked: Watching the video of you reading your poetry is so great! (:

Ah, thank you! I always feel awkward watching myself in a video, so I had to upload it without playing it back at all, but! I love knowing that someone else is appreciating it!