in case you were wondering, the night i saw you i rode the train home with my shirt on inside-out and the rest of me was inside-out too
if i loved you, i’ll love you forever, which is heavy and happy in the same slap, and i was drunk and sorrowful slumped in an aged orange chair wondered where we put all the love when somebody moves without leaving a forwarding address
a woman beside me wrote a note in her cellphone: i’m not lisa, the importance of being myself, and i thought there are stories everywhere, and sometimes it’s so much to carry, and she looks a bit like a lisa, and
i considered the woman at the coffeeshop, scraping a scratch-off lottery ticket with the child she is paid to take care of, and does she know she is teaching him something about luck, and why does it all make me ache and exhale?
i broke a six-year silence the night i told you i loved you, watched you dance in the rippling glow, felt you like a memory returning, oh, i thought, this, and ‘i love you’ scattered loose from the shelf, the spines of all the other books tingling, knowing
that a story is merely a series of truths from the shadow, couldn’t unlearn you after the second I knew
told you softly and clearly, arm around you in the groggy aftermath, and startled at the sound of your breaking voice
and there we were straddling the before and the after another page gives way and away and away
a child will be born on the day the world ends, and you and i won’t have the wherewithal to cry
so much is cut short, and things go right on beginning, hope an obstinate usher, wishing down to the bone
geraniums in november, anger is sincerity in a funhouse mirror, i am treading the fury, smiling at strangers while i wait for an iced coffee, wounds open to wind, planting flowers, right now?
go right on living, get your kicks, break my ribs and keep building, i’m just angry at the bruises ruining my instagram afternoon, clipped stems in tap water, petals too fucking stupid not to crane toward the light.
watch the news and what’s new, can’t seem to catch my breath before another blow, does a lung have muscle memory? and do mine have any recollection of what it is to feel full? make a note in the margins, future reference, every lifetime carries a final full breath, and i will almost certainly take mine for granted
if you scan these stanzas searching for your face, i have to warn you, i wrote them in search of myself, a map etched in a maze’s murkiest corner, night glow hopes of where i am and where the story might just go
fresh out of blank pages, scribble meaning into old newspaper, fingertips bruised, wanting beyond want to believe i can say something you will carry within you long after i’ve said it, pull back and squint at the letters looped over letters, the blur, wondering what, if anything, stays
sad songs in the lonely glow of a hotel room in some unnamed city, writing in some anonymous voice, aching for meaning, aching for everything, and this heart is a hoarder, filled to the brim with every old, yellowed story
this is my body, break it for you, break it for both of us, til our cups runneth over, we drink from it and know it is good, thou shalt break it again
we were boys in pulpits, once, words of condemnation placed in our hands, scrap of bread soaked in blood, you are broken and will be broken again, run away from your wanting heart
and, o, were we to wander again through ornate wooden doors, shards of stained glass bound together, and tell them what we know, would they hear us, let our people go, breaking voices, thou shalt let our people go
the wifi is broken but i’m writing a poem and, outside, the snow piles in on itself like the good intentions that skinned our jawlines an airport holds its breath and counts the seconds wanting for home or the closest thing to it
do you believe i am lovely, i ask you, though i know it, already, i am so hard to love, i am stubborn, and broken, but i’m writing a poem
what kind of man, you might wonder, and i grumble the same, stone face in the mirror,
grasping for the surface of yesterday’s certainties, the lover who discovers he leaves bruises where he wanders, and he’s wondering, voice is broken, and he’s writing a poem
there’s really no such thing as wasting our time, or our love, or our whisky, because we gave when we were wanting, keep on wanting, blood spill against the unstained page, tell the story, rhythms broken, and i’m writing a poem
i am gathered here today to speak about love, wrote us a hundred verses and, wouldn’t you know it, left them stacked on the seat of a shrieking train, and isn’t that love, after all, showing up and hoping beyond hope we can get the words right?
and what do i know, except that a stranger can wander into your world and change the color of every old corner, write his name in songs you’ve sung a thousand times before discovering what they mean, make you feel foreign in your own home, adrift in your own body?
deep, shaky breath, the kind of air that rattles in the brittle doorways, and i’ll tell you not what i know but what i am fighting to learn: love cannot flourish in a body whose weight we do not believe anybody can hold, so tired of finding my arms trembling after believing myself held, untie the knots, again, again, and hope they don’t tangle again tomorrow
so here we are and here i am, voice unfamiliar to the lover i was yesterday, wanting and a bit bruised in the floor-length mirror, speaking on love and waiting, waiting, for the echo
I moved to New York City in summer 2018, and I arrived with a laundry list of things to track down. Knife block, reading chair, barber shop, gym, general sense of direction. Life was a fresh page in the open air. I got to write in whatever direction I wanted.
Those early, hopeful days were exhausting and invigorating. One evening, I walked home from The Container Store with two fifty-pound shelves, my arms shaking as I weaved in and out of everybody going everywhere. I arrived home and sprawled myself across the rug, groaning and laughing. What was I doing?
They were lonely days, too. Packing up and starting a new life in your late twenties means sorting out community all over again. I read books in gay bars, wandered the park, met boys for dates, banking on the hopes of stumbling into somebody who felt like home. It was, for some time, a wash.
I began a ritual: On Sunday afternoons, I slung my messenger bag over my shoulder, bid my apartment adieu, and wandered to the closest coffee shop. There, every week, I would write –– write whatever came out, words jumbling out of my fingertips, heart spilling meaning out onto the coffee-stained table.
I called these Sunday posts, and I shared them every week. If it matters to you, I’ve told presentation audiences several dozen times, give it time, energy, and space. Each week, I gave writing the room, and my spirit flourished at the opportunity to commune with itself.
As my first New York winter melted and gave way to spring, I joined a kickball league. We played on Sundays, mimosas and vodka sodas as vital bookends, and my Sunday posts became Saturdays and Wednesdays.
In 2020, the world rocked off its axis, screeching the world around us to an eerie halt. With all the time in the world, I placed my fingers to the keyboard, and nothing would come out. The tap felt dry. The meaning was missing.
So here it is, a Sunday in the back half of 2021, and my laptop is cracked open on the bus ride home.
Time. Energy. Space. Meaning.
It is in writing as it is in love and athletics: Picking back up, after a fall, takes courage and clumsy momentum.
Time and time again, I’ve written about learning to run on wobbly ankles, new skin stinging against the open air. I blame this recurrence on two things: my tendency to stumble while running and my need to find meaning from life’s scrapes.
And love. Well, love has too often been a scrape against rough pavement. The abruptness of its endings, the intoxication of the world soaring underfoot while it thrives. Never are we more conscious of the fabric of our lives than when we are healing; everything (every meal, every laugh, every rise from bed) becomes a deliberate act.
Picking this back up is an act of trusting the world to fall into rhythm again. It is a stone cast in the direction of hope, listening intently in the dark for its landing, hoping for some sound –– any sound –– that will resonate.
There is so much I hope you will know. There are so many phrases I hope you will etch into that notebook you carry within you. I hope you will trust the magic we saw together, in those days, that it will light something in you on the dark, hard nights. That you will look in the mirror and believe in your beauty, fully and without caveat. I hope I have not erased every good by stepping out into the night and making my way home alone.
I hope and hope and hope. It spills out of my mouth every time I’m not mindful. I hope, and I hope I can keep my hopes from drowning out what’s here and now.
I’m sorry. I wish my words could do more and I wish I had the wherewithal not to dump them out on the floor like they can.
I hope you will keep love letters until they yellow, and then I hope you will keep on keeping them. I hope you will go on believing that nothing dies, that those melodies go on circling several mountains ago, mountains you can visit. Close your eyes, tap your feet. Remember.
I’m sorry. I hope, and I hope, and I’m sorry.
It seems to come as surprise that I do not cry very easily. Perhaps I seem like a crier, a gentle spirit, a man unafraid of his emotions. But, when I feel the floods of anguish rising and crashing against my sternum, something in me holds those tears back.
I cry the most when I write and run. I write and I run on my own. These are facts, and I don’t think they exist by coincidence.
I am terrified of being alone, but I think I am more afraid of being rejected. I wonder, sometimes, if I have made a terrible habit of packing my things and slipping out because I cannot bear the thought of being ushered out. This worry weighs heavily, solid, in the indigo nighttime. In the gold-soaked morning, I find, it is often nowhere to be found.
I’ve written since I was young, told stories since the moment words found me. Writing is simultaneously an act of letting go and keeping hold. I rearrange words until I think I’ve really said it, the closest thing to what I’m carrying around with me, and then I can be sure I haven’t missed anything.
And yet I go on missing everything and everybody. Building ahead and wondering at the people who didn’t come forward with me. Spilling words across the floorboards and racing to tidy them up. I cry when I write, and I hope, and I’m sorry, and I go on hoping you will know.
the city is a museum, haunted, and every exhibit is your face, and yours, and me, memories grafted by a hundred thorns, new skin against the open air, i tremble with feeling after feeling, the after, and why were you so easy to learn
shut my eyes on the train, tilt my head, and it plays like a DVD scratched, looping stammered speech and trembling lips, anger and bruising, shut this off
there are a hundred things i want you to know, but only one of them matters, not the flowers i planted in your name, nor the way i hate every fucking thing i’m going to miss, just that i’m going, and i know it, i know it, i know, but i go on rambling anyway
there are rivers wrung down my colorless face, lift my gaze to find a woman watching, teary, she nods and i do, community amidst the roar of forward motion
home is a lonely finish line, the soft gold glow, and i collapse to a rest, love by attrition, cracked wide open for the sake of tomorrow, and you linger alongside me, so very hard to unlearn