“The Witching Hour”

I sat by your side
and wrote about your shaking hands
while you spoke
about a project
that normalizes “otherness”.

You put your arm around me
and I lay my head against your shoulder
and I wonder why this world
makes you fight,
makes you explain
what makes you, you
and how it can be acceptable to them.

You rub your thumb against the back of my hand
and I don’t even have to think about fighting
for you,
don’t even have to second guess that the circus
is the world we already live in,
and if anything,
you’re the one with the top hat,
smiling in the middle of three rings.

I could watch you forever.
Listen to the way
you become passionate under a spotlight,
speak a world into being
so others can glimpse for a second
what you actually are:
my favorite kind of magic.

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Unearthed

Our eyes meet
and suddenly we are an excavation sight.
I’m pulling you out from my smile
and you’re scrubbing me out from under your nails.
We are laid bare,
fossilized laughter
and tear stains.

They find an urn of us
mixed with my childhood memories
and your grandfather’s ashes.
It says:
“Here lies
vitality,
promises,
stone warriors who didn’t dare budge,
who couldn’t for the life of them
imagine simply leaving someone.
Who had the courtesy to be cold to the touch.”

They’re dusting off your scar now;
brush strokes like my finger tracing the back
of your hand.
Like security in something;
love in someone,
even if it’s just at a personal level,
even if you just adore their smile.
Even if your heart stops when you see them months later and no words bubble to the surface,
but you’re now drinking coffee and they’re avoiding your eyes.
They’re just trying to get by
and accepting the change of seasons.
You’re no longer asking for reasons
to why they didn’t stay.

And once again they walk away.
And things could never be the same.
Your best friend is mad because of all the pain
you went through,
but you’re not “her” anymore.
And he doesn’t say goodbye before he leaves the store and it’s like you never happened even two summers ago.

They found the wreck of us, kid.
Picked it up and held it in their palms
as gently as if it they could break it further.
They heard all the words we said at night,
saw all our shared smiles.
They held back from brushing the tears off my face when I cried.
They saw the way two hearts beat in sync, but one still had to break,
because taking that leap, wouldn’t have guaranteed for an easy landing.
They saw what was,
compared to what is,
broke the bubble of what
could have been
and decided to bury us,
give my mind some rest,
once more.

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

I’m wrapping hell’s nine circles around me

like wedding rings,

like everlasting promises

to the misery I’m willing to marry

if only so they won’t have to feel pain again.

Ring one is for the moments when

her heart crushed into powder at the sight of him,

the bruises the size of baby fists on his neck and

how she had to hold it all in.

Ring two is for the slander shed against his name

and the way he locked himself away.

Ring three is for every time he questioned your decision,

that the love of human beings was not a good enough reason

to be a human being worthy of love.

Ring four is for all the scar tissue built up from the years

where she was worse for wear, but her voice was growing

to be the person she would put on every day, and know she could win.

That the sun shines in,

that some loves are binary,

drawn together no matter how star-crossed,

simply infinite.

Rings five through eight are for the ways I tried to save them

from themselves only to realize dragons smile

while delivering the pyre and don’t stay around to lick other’s wounds

as they let their scales harden again.

Ring nine…

I wear to flip.

Claddagh with death, with my own demise,

with selfless love and better-than-nothing’s kiss.

Ring nine I wear as a daily reminder I have settled for less.

I am marrying hell if only so that I may carry the burden

for those who have convinced me to stay a little longer,

and a breathe a little easier,

even when others have walked away.

I’m marrying hell

because what good is a Phoenix

if it can’t rejoice

in the fire and brimstone,

knowing there is always the promise of another day.

Just Carry Me Home Tonight

I tell him:
“We’re gonna travel this world
together;
just you wait.”

And he laughs
like each syllable is promised
and tomorrow won’t be just another day.

And I tell him about how
there is ugly in the hills
and there is beauty in the valleys
and I want to roll over both.
I tell him to be my back support
when I am arching my spine toward the mountain
pretending that for a second,
I, too, can carry the world on my shoulders.

He allows me to think this.

I feel it when my fingers
twine with his.
I see it in the way
he meets my green
eyes with his blue ones
and we are the colors
of this mangled chaotic
earth that are most recognizable from space
and dear God,
that is yet another plane
we will one day reach.

I don’t know if he knows this.

I tell him about how
I’ve never slept by anyone’s side,
but there is something comforting in falling
asleep to the sound of his voice
even if my only reply is me breathing.

I think he knows that travelling
is my way of saying
“We will survive this life
together;
just you wait.”

And he laughs,
like each syllable is a promise
and tomorrow could be more than just another day.

I sigh
and say his name.

I just wanna feel safe again

This is the thing about height,
that for once,
I’m shrouded by someone that can make me feel small again,
easy to carry,
wrap,
and engulf in one steady breath.

Like my outside matches how
I’m feeling inside
and someone is taking care of me,
for once.

It’s always
“for once”
but never twice
because otherwise
I internalize wanting to be this feeble
thing that craves protection
and affection
and forehead kisses like they are
all the same thing,
found within the same person.

That my life is (once) again
under his control
and I am no longer brotherless.
That hugs and hand holding are understood
to make sure my fingers
can still make contact
with warm bodies
even though I’m freezing
from the inside out.

I missed the memo where
depression
turns warm.

Glorious Ache [Rest]

Stop holding out your hand
like he can see the baggage that
twisted Indian burns
onto your fingers.

He doesn’t know the difference
between your lowest moment
and your highest,
the same way he doesn’t know
why one of your front teeth is chipped—-
all he sees is your smile.

We always talk about scars,
us poets;
our demons,
our pasts,
how one of us
is more
unlovable
than the next.

We don’t realize that
scars come from wounds that have healed over,
that demons
are just fallen angels,
that our past does not have
to repeat itself.

So take my heart in your hands
like a stopwatch.
We can run this race together
or wait until the alarm goes off.
Either way,
we will be together,
sprinting or benched.

I have not wasted bandages
to never risk re-opening my wounds.
I have not tried my hardest
so the next time could be easier.

Love
is all about that glorious ache.

That fear of falling before you fly.
That jump you take,
where there is no him,
or I,
but an us,
and goddamn it,
he will not notice
the blood under your fingernails,
or the dirt on your knees,
so please,
just realize:

You are covered
in new beginnings.

He does not see your failures
in the gaps of your teeth.

Let him peel off your layers
only when you’ve found peace.

Searching for Oxygen

And I want you;
more than ever,
the way that my right hand
wants to snatch a pencil
from my left
because it knows the left
will not treat it correctly.

The way you never
treat me correctly—-
now.

But back then…

My God,
you were my right hand.
Reaching inside my chest
and tying tourniquets around
my bleeding heart;
the one he left a car crash
mess.
Telling me to breathe easier,
the room is not filling up with
gas.
I’m only drowning myself,
so you will drive a little longer
to get me out of my cesspool head
and into secure meadow,
head lying in the grass.

You—-
saved me.
There was the
car turning into parking space I did not see.
You grabbed me,
moved me.
Safety-
net;

and yet

again
I fall back into step
with you
comfortably.
Easily.
Asshole
and his sidekick,
willingly.

You only held one arm out to hug me.
But when I wrapped my arms around your neck,
you pressed my back into your chest,
and maybe that is when I started
to breathe again.

I let you go off somewhere else,
where people know how to swim,
hearts beat,
and there is no me.
I am not certain,
but others have assured,
that when you’re without me,
you seem to breathe easy.