Naked

Blue painter’s tape used to wrap around my bars. Someone stuck it there to protect me, I think. To make me a little less beautiful, a little less tempting, and a little more average in the eyes of potential thieves. It worked all year long, you know. The only one who ever touched my rubber arms was my girl– my partner in crime. She, and only she, was there through everything. Even as my brakes failed, my tires lost air, and my gears jumped, she came to me every day, jingling her keys from a ways off— ready to slip the lock out from around my legs. For her, I’d run forever.

But the blue tape is gone now. That extra layer of skin that stifled my shining red was peeled off by your fingernails this spring. I liked watching it go, you know. When I heard the keys coming my way, I never expected those big hands to be so gentle and so understanding. Within minutes, you had me running better than I had in years. I’d forgotten what it was like to truly fly, unimpeded by my old rusty frictions and misalignments. You spun me around and around and made everything right. You replaced my broken pieces.

And when you were finished, you grabbed the edge of the tape and peeled. One piece after the next, you revealed my glaring red nudity. I was hardly ashamed, happy to impress you with the paint job that lay underneath. I didn’t care that the thieving men looked twice at me now, that they saw how fresh and smooth I really was. I didn’t care, as long as you kept tinkering with me.

But then you left me in the basement. And three months later, she retrieved me with her jingling key and small, awkward hands. She felt my bare structure and knew that things had changed. She took me out to the sun, where everyone could see the nicks and scratches on my paint that had been covered up. I was naked, and she couldn’t understand why.

You walked by the other day. I heard your steps and wondered if maybe you’d come and fix me again. Of course, a bike like me has a lot to do— I never wanted to just wait around for you and your wrenches. But when I heard your step, I’ll admit I held my breath. But you walked by, leaving me in my vulnerable, flagrant, damaged nothingness. You didn’t even slow your step. You didn’t even recognize the machine you created.

I didn’t ask for you. I’m not even asking for you now. I’m happy with my girl, even if she’s slow to pump my tires and quick to bounce me over curbs.

All I’m saying is that I wish you’d look a little closer at the bike who lost everything just to feel what it was like to fly.

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The Man We Block Out

Every night, around 10:45pm, a man in a striped shirt and blue trousers walks into the dining hall. Immediately, stressed students who have gathered around tables of endless homework stifle their groans. They share looks that spell out disdain and disappointment. Some even leave. All put in headphones and try to block out his presence.

They have no reason to dislike him, really. None of them could attest to a moment of unkindness or bad judgment, as very few have had interactions with him. He scarcely even ventures to look at the students as he watches closely the inches of the carpet over which he steps. With his earphones in, he creeps into their lives gently and earnestly every night, and at 11:15, he promptly leaves.

I, too, have loathed his presence. I, too, have sighed in relief upon his departure. But tonight, I looked into his face and saw a man with the worst job on campus. And as he unraveled the cord to his roaring vacuum, I smiled and made his deafening work the soundtrack to this blog.

Lullaby

So what is a good day, then?
With sun and weather clear
No ill-will or malaise
But only good.
Good by the nightfall.

And how will I, then, make one?
Making a good day, I
Find little guidance or perpetuation.
But Socrates, in Plato’s lips
Whispers to me, “Examine!”

And peaceful bed greets peaceful thoughts
So do I dare unwind my my heart?
I guess I’ll try
As I drift away
And find, again
A perfect day.

What’s Left Behind

What's Left Behind

Lately
I’ve heard too many poems about death
And the great After All
And the comfort that people write for people,
Not for the people that aren’t.
And lately I’ve been listening
To only baseline ploddings of
Whatever warmth and light comes from words.
What’s one more then, really?
A few lines upon lines that spell
Gentle Comfort.
It’s Not Your Fault.
Life Continuous.

I am no expert on grief.
But I am learning that
I, in it, do not dissolve.
I, instead, push grief into my joints.
My heart beats it away from my mind
And it rests silently
In my elbows, in my shoulders, in my knees,
In the ligaments around my ankles.
There, grief lies in empty gravity.

On Saturday, I couldn’t remember your last name.
On Sunday, your full name was reported and engraved.
You are stamped upon this day in somber formality.
When I don’t have quotes to quote
From wonderful books you gave to wonderful friends.
Me, I have empty feelings about a vague friendship
In which all I can cite is
Good Guy.
The Smart One That Laughs at My Dumb Jokes.
Half-Second Polaroid in My Mind
Of Hey in the Hallway.

I won’t win the game of grief,
For others have it worse.
But I have it just enough to want to stay in bed
And maybe to sit down in the stairwell.
To have a tiny swallow
Of the suffocation
On the downturned faces
That walk, funeral-isle quiet.

As I choke at the surface of Amazing Grace
And candleholders hold candles,
Abandoned-puppet parents
Are realizing that their tomorrows are over.

So let me be grateful for mine
And let me embrace everyone I’ve loved
In gentle gratitude.
For After All,
If I stutter from the loss of a friend,
I should be causing earthquakes
In celebration of
What’s Left Behind.

RIP, Luke.

Let’s Think

Let’s think about you right now. Stretch your own mind and try to keep it from being guided by someone else. Let’s talk about not looking down but looking straight back into your brain and how much shit is stuck up in there. Let’s talk about how vast your memory is even when it doesn’t feel that way. Let’s talk about your familiarities and sensory connections and misguided interpretations. Let’s talk about being just right. Let’s talk about how hard it is to close your eyes when it seems like someone’s watching. Let’s talk about how easy it is to just receive input all day long and forget what ouputs are. Let’s think about how many little words you know and use and want to use. Let’s talk about things you actually feel and don’t just pretend to. Let’s acknowledge that this blog was never for anyone but yourself and that makes you want other people to want to read it even more. Let’s talk about what you’re afraid to miss if you focus on this a little bit harder. Let’s slowly unweave the roots you’ve dug into everyone else’s existence and remember that you are potted, not planted and that you have been and that everything will be a memory.

Let’s talk about how good it feels to type fast and how the sound of keys tapping reminds you of a nonspecific memory of rain on the roof and against the window and God you love thunder and lightning. Let’s talk about how you looked into the eyes of a horse today and saw your mom. Let’s talk about the dirty van you drive to practice and how it smells like chemicals and horse and old food and comfort. Let’s talk about how you need to work on listening and how nobody really understands your problems. Let’s try to understand things about you so that maybe you can live a little lovelier with the people around you without compromising your fundamental identity.

And as a voice drifts up from below the fire escape, let’s try to answer it: “Which one are you waiting for?”

Maybe I’m just waiting for a Romeo to saunter over to my balcony and tell me about the moon.

What a shitty way to live.

Watching Eternity from the Fire Escape

From our fire escape, we look down on College. Girls on blankets watch boys with disks and everyone is smiling. Couples and uncouples pass by with just enough distance to not look suspicious. Mediocre meals are made better by a choice of friends. I’m itching always to check if someone is watching because around here, there are no strangers and always there are impressions. Not judgment always, but always impressions. Different versions of the same music float through windows and blend with familiar conversations. There are roommates that enjoy each other’s company and walk around naked in the morning, forgetting the goodbyes that happen around here. The lawn has forgotten the snow that once drowned its white chairs, and for now it welcomes everyone into the afternoon mix of sun and shadow. Even if the buildings block the view of the sunset, the top windows glow orange with what we’re missing, and you remember that days still pass and the earth is still older than we are.

But today the world lasts forever and we’re always going to be the perfect age. Our faces seep with golden beauty we don’t recognize and our limbs tell us to hop onto bicycles and sit cross-legged in the dirt. We shield our eyes in the blaze of reality, unable to believe that this heaven is what will get us our real jobs. Here, an investment banker tightens up the slackline. There, Greenville’s ninth grade honors english teacher leans over to the head of sales and pulls up the Facebook page of the guy she hooked up with last night. Peter’s dad buys weed off of Ian’s uncle. The lady who hands out the best candies on Halloweens heckles William’s boss about the hicky she can spot all the way from her second story window. The graphic designer just noticed that her fly is down and casually fixes it while giggling about a joke. Three very powerful men bitch about morning lift just loud enough for three highly driven women to overhear and maybe turn their blond heads around. A lawyer highlights the key phrases in his first reading of the year, the only reading of the year with such careful highlights.

As the plumber lets go off the frisbee and the real estate attorney runs to catch it, the looming pressures of parenthood and rent and next week’s laundry shrivel up in the grass and watch dirty bare feet run by fast.

And ignorantly we slide into fall without noticing the growing shadows. With the backdrop of Worldly Knowledge, we fill our heads with wonderings about why he hasn’t texted back yet and why the dining hall never serves gnocchi anymore.

Before we find an answer, the sound of the shuttle echoes across the lawn, so we climb back in the window, grab our keys, sling a backpack over our shoulder, and dash out the door.

My Love Affair with This Cursor

Windows open and eyes closed, I lay dry fingers down on dark keys. One voice in my ear, and a little piano right behind. Lives pass on the street in a rumble of giggles and life.There’s always a destination, and these are off to a night of dark corners and sweat.

And I’m in my treehouse wondering how I feel. Just noticing that maybe something’s broken because his voice is making my brain buzz like the high pitches in subways in France that make the sensitive ears want to leave. My head feels lazy and my arms are too tired to type in this bed.


Here’s a list:

There’s gentle fragility that shakes the strength in my body
There’s the subthought that I never liked electric guitar
There’s chipping fingernail polish
There are two strings around my wrist that used to be four
There are two strings around my wrist that kept holding on
There are two strings around my wrist that I’m okay keeping
There’s a watch I tried to get rid of but couldn’t
There are cold toes in messy sheets
There are messages to stop caring about
There are songs you never knew but skip anyways
There’s a unpuzzable heart
There are hopes for a night that blow in through the window
There’s the taste of apple cider posterity
There are too many people
There are too many people
There’s cold and warm at the same time
There’s wondering through the walls
There’s the want to knock and whisper through the crack
There’s the want to not want to
There’s an appreciation for this
Because when the whole day is spent thinking about other people
And what they’re thinking about you
A cursor on a computer page is listening
And it follows every word.
Dancing with your backtracks, and rushing ahead just as it gets interesting.
It doesn’t mind your pauses.
It gives you time with no expectation.


As high heels pace sidewalks and slip through too many hugs
I’m starting a love affair with this cursor tonight
Because it didn’t ask for me to be here
But now I’m here it can’t be anywhere else and doesn’t want to be.
I can play through spacebars all night long
And it lives in silence, but waits at the end of it all
Just in case I want to begin again.