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every time the doors slammed thunder
I would open my eyes, slow, checking my
panes for shatter and the soles of my feet
for flooding.

I would strip naked and stand
in front of the mirror and
examine myself —
looking for
splits in the bark;
charred trunk or branch

no one ever tells you when
you fall in love with a spring storm
that your life will be spent
trying to catch lightning in a bottle;
waiting for tornadoes to climb from their cradles —
hanging like mobiles from the green sky.

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every time she looked at him,
her face was 7 years old
on Christmas morning,
preparing to unwrap a gift everyone
promised was from Santa.

every time she looked at him,
he was backlit,
and she always thought about squinting
but was too afraid of missing
a single moment while her eyes
adjusted to (t)his light

every time he looked at her,
he was handing her a gift wrapped
in his empty hands,
unsure of how he would outdo
the last one

every time he looked at her,
she was covered in
his shadow, and he always thought about squinting
but was too afraid
she would think he was looking away.

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when we stopped talking
and kissing and whispering
things we couldn’t have spelled
in each other’s ears, the only sounds we left lingering and
echoing through the room
were the slow drip of the faucet
diluting the acid in our stomachs
and the prayers we squeezed between our palms
until they became feathers and dreams and
hopes that we hadn’t bunkered ourselves
so corrosive that even
holy water would only react
violently inside of us.

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Her: Morning after comforters are more cloud than cover.

Him: How so?

Her: If you close your eyes hard, and breathe deep,

Her: and allow your dreams to open them again:

Her: when you see the fresh-squeezed

Her: cracked-blinds-sunlight pouring over

Her: our amateur attempts at bedset-and-spread map-making --

Her: scandal, expose, midrift and thigh turned to any landscape you stretch them into;

Her: mountains, and valleys, and rivers,

Her: and waterfalls, and sitting, and watching days turn dusk from

Her: the porch of the home we could build

Her: together

Him: and the clouds?

Her: don't you feel winged here, too?

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I can’t tell you that I remember things that I’ve said;
somehow always been better at
“anything for yous,”
than “anything specifics” —
better at the way your hands felt in mine,
than the color of your nails.

I can’t tell you if the scratch marks
started at my shoulders and dragged down
like drapes your cat had swung from,
or if they started at my spine
and fled — high speed chases across my back
along a rib-cage-lane-divided highway
toward my sides,

I can’t tell you how your hair started —
only how it looked in the morning as you slept,
and that I hated the pattern of your carpet.
It made me dizzy.

I spent eleven minutes
trying to stare through the design,
trying to find my feet,
trying to convince them to join forces with my calves,
and knees and hips and spine;
to stand me up
to run me home.
too scared by how
I loved the way
you tried to love me
to try to stay.

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when the trumpets cried, it
sounded more like a riot
pouring from my stomach.

more like a revolution;
marching down my forearms,

more like spring kicking winter’s teeth in
because it layed a hand on May’s baby sister April,

Your name, sung brass or otherwise,
has always echoed off of things like the

june days you spend all winter waiting
for — sweet and sticky and suffocating in

all of the ways that make you
gasp for one more breath,
and use it to ask for more.

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She told me to check my shoes and coat
at her bank when i arrived;
promised that if i only
waited —
watered myself;
waisted by
her current —
she had a boat
coming for me.

but when the undertow
smiled wonderland;
I realized that she
was not the kind of river
you asked "why?"

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Freewrite[s] (3.25.14)


It feels like I’ve spent
every morning since I learned
how to bleed or
cry or
or whatever this thing we do with pens is best described as;

watching the place where land meets sky
as if the dawn I slept through and missed might
backspin if I ask nice enough,
might sunrise one more time;
just for me,
just for you —
might mercy mercy my hands,
show things how they used to and
show me love like the first breath you take
after feeling your lungs cry Mother Mary when
your kick-off lame ducks and it takes too long to find the horizon —

if I am the sun, submerged,
then you are the sky I see:
prayerful for another chance to breathe you,
kicking twilight into last night
and spending my day in your arms —

you are a dream worth fighting away the dark to chase.


I can never remember the song,
only hearing it
I can never remember the words,
only the hair that grew and stood straight along my spinal column when they landed in my ears,
if you hold me when I dream at night
you’ll feel the goosebumps come and go,
my lalaland is more of a merry-go-round:
surrounded by circus clowns and yeti,
and cops,
and white people standing their ground
and tyler perry
and other shit that niggas like me tend to fear, and
wedged between Madea and Zimmerman and Krusty is a speaker
playing our song,
and for 3 seconds of every orbit I make through my nightmare —
around our planet —
I can hear only the words to a tune that I know if I could remember to tell you
would keep you here forever,

so if you want to know why I wake up in cold sweats every night
and I tell you that “it’s fine,”
and promise you “it’s fine.”
I just need you to remember that I’m doing battle
with all the things that scare me, hoping that
every night, in 3 second increments,
I’m learning the thing that will teach me to sing
in a key that opens locks
on doors you had forgotten.
could open and
release millions of paper planes
chased by enough wind to carry them across the