Oh miserable universe—

proof that beauty
is not created by a god—

a god
who could will into everyone
a joy
unspeakable, unalterable
if that is how he chose
to wield his power—

it is the blistering ordinary
of any given day
that crushes us
beneath its promise to be all
we can ever really hope for—

unions will begin—
ordained by the same god
who will orchestrate
their ending
in some far-off
inconceivable future—

and only a few of us
will be baffled
by the blind surrender—

by the way choice
is something most people
don’t believe they have.






“Getting Up” by Berthe Morisot, 1885


Out of Reach

He said it was years after the fact—
years after he walked away
before he realized it was the right thing to do.

He spent years waiting for her to leave him—
her husband.
He waited years for her to become his.

She went so far as to make promises on paper.
Promises he thought would be proof, one day,
that she loved him back—

that she wanted the rest of her life
synchronized with his.

But always—
always there was something blistering
between them.

Birthdays, anniversary’s,
graduations, first loves, a driver’s license,
a new car, a job hunt, motherly responsibilities—

all these events that accumulated
into an ongoing delay.

Even her beauty became tiresome.
He found himself not-quite-in-love-as-he-once-was.

And he began to breakdown, he said,
comparing it to the way one sip of tequila
leads to another.

And all of a sudden
he was incapable of moving—

and he said he realized it had been a while
since he felt drunk on her.
He’d been so long in the hangover—

and all he wanted to do
was get clean and put that bottle out-of-reach
on the highest shelf.




Letting it Burn

Hours have passed—
just you and the fire
that needs you
to keep adding
and you oblige
first with small limbs
that have fallen in the winds
and then with the old lumber
leftover from your dream
that came true
and you were so careful
to rake away the dry leaves
leaving a center
a circle
that could contain a small sun
in your control
and you know there’s no limit
to what you could burn
but the thing you need
to turn to ash
is that fantasy of perfection
the one where you go home
one day
to find the man you’ve loved
for a very long time
waiting for you
as you walk
through the door.





First time was in preschool
he and I were only 4 years old
after which
my heart needed to take a break
until it felt stronger
more mature
better equipped to handle rejection
and the boy who lived down the street
when I was 12 years old
was the apple of my eye
until he liked me back
and then I panicked
when he wanted to kiss me
so I told him he was fat
because I knew certain words
were cruel enough to protect me
from a kind of intimacy
that scared me to death
and it took four more years
for me to fall in love for the first time
with a disaster
who wrote in my yearbook
that I wasn’t enough of a challenge
and all of a sudden I was 19
with a boyfriend
who had another girlfriend
behind my back
and she called me on the telephone
to tell me she was going to take my place
and the baby in my belly
didn’t even exist
until later that same day
when I puked and took a test
that told me I failed again
in a strange and beautiful way
and then I spent years
passing out chances
as if they were coupons
buy one get one free, my daughter and I
and there were times
I thought it might be okay
if I couldn’t love him or him or him
it was enough
to have someone promise stability
even if the earth didn’t quake
and my knees didn’t shake
because I didn’t deserve a fairytale
after all
after the mistakes I made
and I need to be pragmatic for once
instead of romantic
so I said I do hoping I’d mean it
hoping a second marriage
would be better than the first
and it was
but it still wasn’t right
after a dozen years
so I set sail and dove in
to someone who wasn’t expecting me
to land on his shore
so I waded out as far as I could
back into the ocean of others
where love watched me and waited
for nearly two years
while I tried to convince him
he was overqualified
that I wasn’t worth the meager dividend
when he could have her or her or her
but he persisted
even when I cut my hair
to prove I wasn’t beautiful enough
he just laughed and said even a razor
couldn’t alter the way he feels
or remove his wish
to exchange the rest of his life
for my love.