Answer Me

Q: are you in love.

The lady in the chair
smiles big like it is her birthday
when I say my head feels like a balloon
that can’t explode.
“cool,” she says.

I am stuck in a maze,
the smallest mouse searching for the cheese,
the ring of the bell, the skinner box, ivan and frederic have conned us both.
I am misled by the 8-ball,
our horoscope has lied to me again, you should not be mine.

I grab out my heart and tell her
my lady, I am so sorry. She doesn’t hurt,
but she is too occupied with me, buzzing
like something other than a bee, not hibernating like a bear,
swimming like a toucan, submerged like our mouse – my mouse.
We’re going to have to lose her, too.

*

I have cut the tip of my finger off
with the longest blade over an onion,
the blood drops on mom’s white floor
and it is the rain that had fallen
on Tuesday.

My finger eats cotton. I put cotton in my mouth to hear the rain.
The black cat is not afraid of the rain, but she runs off the porch when I call her
here, kitty, do you know what it means, the Tuesday rain?

I tell the lady with the chair that it rained
on Tuesday, they said it wouldn’t.

“You are a hard worker, too hard, too much, too fast” she says.

I say, unfortunately, it feels as if I am inside of a soup can.
Ha-ha. I want to make her laugh because it is
the one thing I have left that I haven’t thrown
in the garbage, out the window, in the fire, under the bed,
with the ghosts, with the rain. What do we think about trying
for an exorcism?

Her smile would look best upside down, I think, the knife.
why aren’t you sad, lady on the chair.

Art smells like an oven upside down, out of the ash,
the end of a rope, the fish line broke, the spring, the hammer,
the catch, the holding bar —
the lady on top of the chair
is The best when she is suffering.

 

Q: are you in love
with the way someone makes you feel
about yourself

Indian Summer

I. The only thing that has died because of me were dandelions

You look like my mother. The way her face would turn upside down
when I thought of her dying.
You don’t have to die here – you’ve already done it.
Mom will come shortly after, too. She’s given into things that are bad for us.
She doesn’t change the lightbulb in the kitchen, she still forgets my birthday.

When I am small, I think mom will live f o r e v e r is a word that is made up of time that cannot exist. I try to find the beginning point, then pray to someone else’s upstairs neighbor that it does not end while I am standing
in line at the grocery store.

Mom doesn’t want to live forever, but I am seven years old.
You do not want to live forever, but she is two years old.

II. We saw you clock out before you did

Someone saw you for the last time in downtown Binghamton, said things were getting better, life is good, it could be worse and I am not doing worse.

There is a joke, not a knockknock joke, but a joke that goes like this:

Q: How do you know a junkie is lying to you?
A: He is still speaking.

III. You have negotiated time

There is a picture of a waterfall that hangs on its left side above you. Someone painted your face on upside down. The pastor stands on his toes; his brown old suit black tie does not mention black tar or your year long sabbatical inside or how you died alone surrounded by people who resembled black birds.

He looks at you, he sighs,
he’s never met you before until now. But he sighs,
oh god, we will always remember you. He sighs,
AMEN.

IV. It is summer in November, but only here

Your daughter sits on your first wife’s lap in a white dress, messed with licks of glitter and her mother cries. But she dances up and down, waves her legs, her arms follow soon like carbonated water shaking in its bottle.

The manufactured curls in her hair spin when she spins,
She does not have to think about f o r e v e r now
or the lightbubs in the kitchen
or her up and coming vulnerability to crushed up or shot up tiny pieces
of extinction that disguise themselves in yellow, green, white dandelions.

It’s all spinning now.

Time

I waited
up
for you,

check
the time

mindful
forgetfulness,
you tell
me
to find
a better use
of my
time

the clock
distorts
reality,
a construct
made up
in your head,
my head,

when it used to be
our head,

when you
called
me
ten-
eleven
times
in two
hours

the pause
is long
now

your
disuse
binds
us

a fictional
cord
tying you
to me,
to me
to you.

you said
I wasn’t
like
you

that’s
why we
don’t
touch
anymore.

The Day the Cat Died

The day the cat died,
you sat on a stool
in the bathroom
crying

I asked my mother
why you were crying

she said
because the cat died

no,
I said

that’s going to be me,
you said

you didn’t look once
at the cat we had
for twelve years,
the cat that hid
behind the couch
each time
you came home

you cried
in the bathroom
on the stool
with painted balloons
and carousel horses
not wanting to die
like the cat
that laid on the floor
on a blanket
in my bedroom

then I waited
for you to die,
just like the cat
with the brown and orange fur
and you did,
but I did not
sit on the stool
in the bathroom
to cry over you
or the dead cat
you didn’t want to bury
in the backyard

instead
I counted the hours
until the sun came up
without you
for the first time
dividing you
and I.

here/where

you
pick
up your phone

to call
her

and I laugh

here I am

I still
let you
fuck me.

her voice

sounds
like a
previous
me

before

I cut
my hair
off

before

I tried
to sleep
off
you sleeping
with her.

you tell her
i’m here

you laugh

roll your eyes

I get dressed.

you tell me
not
to leave,

i’m putting
my shoes on

you check
your phone
again
to see
if it’s her.

where am I

I said ‘ok’

I.

My mother
came home,
sat on the couch,
and said to me
that you were
dying,
and I said
‘ok.’

II.

I hadn’t said
your name
in weeks,

not once
to myself

so I had
forgotten
the sting
of it
when I said
your name
aloud
this time,

and you must
have figured
I knew

because you
said to me,
‘does this mean
we’re cool?’

I thought
back to the years
I would spend
in my bedroom
alone.

where my mother
told me I was a liar,
and where you
laughed
and told me
that my mother
would never leave,

and I said
‘ok.’

Thirteen

When my mother
never locked
the front door,

and your car
sitting
in the driveway

with me
driving around the block,
once,
twice,
hoping
to catch you leave
for work.

your footsteps
hitting
the hardwood floors,
with you
always whistling
a song
I never learned the name.

with our
thirteen steps
that I would count
each time
I heard you
walk up
to my bedroom,
to turn the doorknob,
and drag your feet
against the floor,
and say my name

you would
walk back
down the
thirteen steps,
with me
sitting up in bed,
to turn on
the lamp,
to watch you
leave
through the cracks
in my window

realizing
for the first
time

that the way
you spoke my name
didn’t fit
right.

you were
getting
into your car,
slamming the door,
turning on
the radio,

and I said
my name
once,
twice,
until
it didn’t
feel
dirty
anymore.

9.30

I said
to myself

I was done.

I tried
to speak
or to say
anything
at all
to you

but when I did,
it didn’t sound
like my voice
this time,
or the last time.

I wasn’t
coming home
for hours,
I slept
in my car,
I went
to work.

I came home
early
some morning,
closed the door
behind me
slowly.

with you
sitting at
the end
of the table

you hadn’t
noticed
how long
I was gone.

I left
my bedroom
light on,

or
I didn’t
shut the door
behind me.

and it didn’t matter
that I had said
I was done
or that I stopped
going home

because it
had never
been up to
me.

Repeat

I. 

you remember
the terrible
things
i’ve done
to you.

I pull
my hair up,
I cut
it off.

you fuck
someone else,
I’m ok with it.

I start
to resent
the curl
of your
hair.

you can’t
look at
me right
anymore.

II. 

I park
my car
on a street
named
after you,

I repeat
your name,

but you’ve
stopped
responding.