black tense

I don’t see you anymore, but you didn’t seem to see me either, in the beating light of your tiny bedroom. I said no. I said no. You said something else, and then did something else. it smelled of fruit and florals, blended perfumes, all the little samples from Sephora. The lip pencils in your makeup bag clattered against the handheld mirror on the edge of the bed, wrapped in those scratchy lavender Target sheets. That was all louder than what I couldn’t say again, as you rattled me and my rib-cage and everything inside. Then you were bored and tumbled onto your back. See ya next time, you said.

 

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Flinch

I’m gonna buy you a house.

I think I forgive you
as I bled from my nose
after you took off your shoe

I’m gonna buy you a house.

You didn’t get to see your mother’s funeral,
or your father’s,
or your cousin’s,
but you saw me through all of this.

You buried your voice, next to your husband’s family,
as they called you crazy and pointed at you,
all this labor of love, and exclusive laughter.

I’m gonna buy you a house.

I think I forgive you
when you scalded me,
loosened your tongue to threaten me,
and then went to bed.

I’m going to buy you a house.

seattle 1

here, where your worn light blue sneakers skid on the perpetually wet sidewalks,
on 13th and Pine,
where cigarettes are a fashion accessory,
sometimes paired with a denim coat, a homburg hat,
maybe even a perfume that smells like vanilla and laundry detergent.

here, where the smell of local caffeine seeps in
with the pungent odor of the man in shorts
and a sweat stained Adidas long sleeve,
you’re pleasantly surprised by the narrow roads,
shorter crosswalks,
variety of scents.

here, where a walk forty-minutes uphill feels like
cold air, car honks, rainbow flags, artsy modern glass and wood buildings,
seahawks beanies, pricey boba, traffic cone jackets,
you try to blend in,
but you’re obviously not used to any of this.
 

check-in

don’t ask me about this:
morning routine
laced fingers atop abdomen,
no bodily urges, desensitization.

I’ll tell strangers about this:
deep night, biting night,
the smell of weed emanating, bad speaker treble from across the hall,
slight urges, rejection, check-in,

check-in, check-in, check-in.

nitro

at this time of evening, you will drive through medium traffic,
the type where the trucks tail you in the left lane
and where you stay your speed.

you will find neon tomato brake lights bleeding through rain droplets
on the windshield,
magnifying a man at the bus stop, crouched over
yelling into the phone,

which is presumably a better sound
than your mother vomiting into the metal sink
heavy, clanging knuckles and fists,
not a common occurrence, but you tune it out,
like it is.

at this time of night, you will drive through minimal traffic,
the type where no trucks tail you in any lane
and where you stay your speed.

you will find blinding headlights haloing through cracks in the windshield,
still wonder about the man, perhaps sitting now,
and your mother, perhaps sleeping
but most likely restless, legs stick straight in smoke and roulette tables.