Coping Still

And if I had stayed,
I'm not entirely sure where I'd be coming
home to.
If your lap would become rest stop
for my head,
would your fingers travel through my hair
a map made by tangles, the way they did
the first night I kissed you?

Were we really like that once?

And if I had stayed,
would that home be welcoming?
Would I not miss you the way I do now,
except be physically closer?
Would you leave the sound of lasers and
boss levels to stay with me until I slept?

But I didn't stay.
And lately I miss you more than less.
But I don't regret leaving,
because in the process,
I reclaimed myself.

So I'll stay lonely.
And the questions can remain unanswered.
It hurts, but it's truly for the best.

California Dreaming (Writing About You Again)

We’re on a hillside,
overlooking the Pacific,
and it’s 80 degrees;
call it California Dreaming

Chilled champagne,
a fruit platter,
me in a silk robe
and you with a notebook in hand.

And I can see it,
your eyes covered by shades,
but there’s a twitch in your cheek
and your hand is steady with each stroke of the pen,
and I swore I’d never fall for a writer,
but, man.

In the twilight,
I look below and see Byron and Mary
strolling on the beach.
I hear Charlotte, Emily, and Anne
swoon in time with the waves that are breaking—

when I look back at you, head bent over a notebook,
pen still in hand, I stretch out my arms,
wrap them around your neck,
feeling you relax into it…

and you know
that I only write poems about dreams,
because no where in Jersey could we
maintain a patio set
without snow, or wind,
or the chance of getting it wet.

Afterglow

I want a love
that feels like being sated;
where I am warm and sleepy happy,
but don’t need the sweet ache.

I curl myself into a comma
at night and pretend the covers
that cocoon me are instead
somebody holding me tight.

Tonight
my neck aches
and I miss the way fingers
used to massage me
in places I never knew were sore,
in places I’d never been
worshipped before

So give me a new one:
I want a love
that feels like the afterglow,
minus the hands.
A love I can sink into
soft and sure,

a love where physical
isn’t a necessity,
but a neck rub
will give me just as much
pleasure.

Gentleness

I crave
softness
in the same way
that I fear it.

Of wanting something
that feels like playing with my own hair
between two fingers,
but won’t slip away as easily.

For wanting patience
and the simplicity of
interlocked fingers
and eyes meeting across
the space of two feet,
sitting in the middle of a carpet,
knees pressed together.

I want a love
that I can study.
I want a love that
doesn’t fidget in the silence,
but let’s me take them in.

I want a love
with clothes on.
With smiles
and kisses that equally light
my body like a hearth.

And maybe this is best
that there is no current interest,
that I’m  happy with friendships
and the little moments
I can’t plan,
the adventures to be had,
and the people
who walk back into your life
as if days haven’t passed.

Maybe I am given a grace period
from the chaotic rush
of romance to discover
a greater want:
a desire for tenderness.

Sleepy Hallowed

Your fingers curl around mine
and we are drawing the curtains closed
together.
The soft touch of your palms
against the back of my hands,
the way my back leans against your chest
and you kiss my head and it’s
almost time for bed.
The room is dark except for candles
on the dresser,
the end tables,
and we find our respective
sides only to have our legs tangle under the covers.
We sigh against one another,
our breathing keeping time with the traffic outside.
The streetlights don’t stream through either
room darkening curtain or blinds
and I turn my face to kiss you,
to thank you
for peaceful nights,
curled into your side,
in a house on the fork,
falling asleep to the sounds of sleepy streets
and cars holding the kids
who can only find peace
in midnight drives.

Dear Future Love,

You have
five o’clock shadow
like sunset on your jawline,
like constellations peppering your chin in moonlight,
like letting the morning kiss your skin
and hairs stand on end
just so when your face brushes mine
it burns in a way
that I grow to like.

Because it’s not a forest fire kind of love,
it’s something subtle
and natural
like waking up to a new start,
a way to change yourself between
cleanliness
and grit.
Like we may never be perfect,
but our bed head and morning breath
is entirely worth it.

And God knows,
the last thing we need is
another love poem,
but let me say,
because of you
and what you will show me,
this love will be,
this world is
a more beautiful place.

The Actual Abuse Poem

I want a love
where I don’t have to
bargain my body,
where we don’t
fix things
by you hitting me.
—-
I want the only
kind of compromise
to be between my
Maker and me.
I don’t want another conversation
in the basement
with my mother
to tell her how badly
I was bleeding.
—-
I don’t want to be shocked
that it shouldn’t have
hurt me.
—-
As a concept,
I still miss us,
still want all the places,
the promises. I can’t listen to
classical without thinking of
the opera, and I’m
dreading going back to Philly
without a hand leading me.
—-
I want a love
where love poems
come easy. Where
‘hurt’ can’t be found
a concrete thing.
—-
I want a love
that loves me,
that puts in effort,
that keeps me happy.
I want a love
that doesn’t make me choose
between them
or me.