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.

When the “Door” Shuts

So the boy
you loved three years ago,
cried two years OVER,
finally is in a relationship again.

And you cry,
before you remember

this is the same boy
who told you not to dance in your seat,
who smiled when he dimmed the happiness in your eyes,
who left,
who GHOSTED—

So the boy
you LOVED three years ago,
maybe never stopped wanting
in some way, shape, or form,
is finally in a relationship again

and you spend the next five hours on YouTube
dancing in your seat,
and this time, it only takes 300 minutes
rather than 730 days
before you’re smiling again.

Which Hurts Worse

I’m crying
so that only leads
to writing poetry.

That what you want
isn’t necessarily easy.
That having someone
fall out of love with you,
even if you want them to,
is still heartbreaking.

That you know it’s the right thing
and yet,
tears still stream.

So,
you’re hurting again.

Everything,
this year, seems to end
all at once.

And you’re still too scared to run.

To chase after anything
worth having
to make you feel loved,
because you lost
another one.

And, even you’re surprised
that a piece of your heart went
with them.

So you cry
and write the poem.
You don’t say you love
them
’cause it’s not the kind of
love they want.

This time,
if they choose to go,
you’ll let them.

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.

Authenticity 

While I still lack resolve,
let me say this:
there is something about
when you say my name
that strikes fear in me;
because the next words out of your mouth
are always the truths I’m not ready to hear
like you care,
like you’re here because you want to be.

But what’s even worse,
is that I believe them

—that we find ourselves
listening to playlists
in the back seat of my car,
where I got excited over choirs
and clap-backs,
where your fingers are making circles on my skin
and I’m talking a mile a minute

and when I apologize for it,
you laugh. Say: “you’re fine”
(though I know it)
I tell you: “I know I’m too much to handle”
only to have you negate it.

Three weeks ago I told you
I loved you,
not expecting to hear you repeat it.
Last night,
for the first time in a long time,
you gave me a reason to believe it.