By the time my fingernails had split
and cut their way back in toward the knuckle grit
I had already chewed these teeth
clear down to the dirty nubs
from chattering about how hard I hit bottom again,
how far I had to climb up out of it,
shovel myself off and start over.
Been doin’ that long as I can remember,
as if it were my calling,
as if my name were Helter Skelly,
rising from falls I keep taking in vain
just for a reason to stand here
lookin’ like another loose jawbone
hinged on a Tilt-A-Whirl.
The question was,
“If God can do anything,
can he can make a rock so big
that even He can’t lift it?”
The answer is, “Yes,
all He has to do
is commit to defeating himself.
There were days when it looked like love,
especially if you turned down the volume.
But even if you didn’t.
Bus rides asleep on each other’s
shoulders, sharing an ear-bud
plugged into a song
as if sharing a secret.
Afternoons where we stayed in
our pajamas and played video games
after he bought us twin bodega sandwiches
and remembered mine without the meat.
And while I look back
on the memories with equal, if not more
repulsion, I know that I wasn’t an idiot
to stay. That my heart invented
its own verb which meant To Love
The Dog Who Licks The Scar It Gave You.
On a dirty bar couch on Valentine’s Day
he said I would fight with you every morning
if it meant I could kiss you at night and at the time
it didn’t sound like the Codependent National Anthem
or a vending machine where you put in fury
and get out passion
or even like the things I read now
in pamphlets—the ones I thrust upon other women
like my own righteous gospel—
it sounded like the sweetest thing
he’d ever said to me. A poem
I could fold real small and carry
around in my locket, not noticing, for months
how it also kind of
GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION
to turn down what doesn’t resonate with the core.
you’re not missing out.
that party last week was just like all past escapes.
meth is not for you. truly.
trying everything once is an immature mantra.
I see you. it is.