If You Can

Photo credit: C.K.

Let me know when you get home-

if you can.

I’d like to leave by 5 so get here by 4-

if you can.

It’s cold out here. Grab my sweatshirt from the chair-

if you can.

Just hold me again-

if you can.

Maybe can is too much.

Always asking for one or another
and then qualifying…

if you can.

And you don’t even hear it.

Of course they can-

can call and come and grab,

if they want.

Maybe they don’t want.                                                                                                         Maybe they can’t.
Maybe they’re tired ,
of calling and coming and grabbing
because you ask for it all the time,
expect it every time,
and never consider,                                                                                                                              for a time,

if they want.

Maybe that’s why-

why this whole tangle started,

opposite us at opposite ends of it,

the bite and the working ends of the rope,

knotting, twisting,
getting farther apart
with the same length of thread between us.

Because
if you can,
they can.

But You wouldn’t.
You don’t want to
You won’t ever want to.

But that doesn’t matter
because if you can,
they can.

Even if you don’t want,
they want,

and you not wanting,                                                                                                                   doesn’t make them want less.

Neither has anything                                                                                                                                 to do with can.

The converse, it has only to do with want.

Maybe doing so many cans
makes their want
that much more acute,
makes the want so much brighter and sharper,
and makes it ache so throbbing
and incessant that it veers from

can…

to want…

to need;

that space to
see and feel that

they can
so they will.

And you did.
You made it through
like I made it through
that messy war we made together.

Then you found it,
the real it,
not that make-believe
shit we heard about.

And I love that for you ,                                                                                                                    not you for that,
but there is still                                                                                                                                something that
is  loved
together,
which is irreplaceable
even if means crying
a lot
and smiling
a little.

We can do both.

But I do want.
This.
Don’t need.
Want.

And I’ll be here.
If you want, or don’t want,

Want, if you do.

Need, if you must.

And please stay-

if you can.

 

 

 

Hanged

 

Back to where, together

 

It hurts to be the hanged man.

You wait and you wait and you wait,
and then they push you,
one final time, one time too far.
You dangle,
you twist and you turn,
you beg and you swear,
ask forgiveness or don’t.
You hang because that’s what you are now.
Until you are gone.

It also hurts to be the noose.
You wait and you wait and you wait.
You lie in a field, and then you are cut down.
Gathered and garnered,
they twist you, they turn you,
your filmy threads become taut, thick, cords;
hard, hard, and strong enough to strangle.                                                                                              The weight of it all pulling, dragging.
So you tighten,                                                                                                                                              confine, restrict and suffocate to stillness                                                                                     because that’s what you are now,
and then, they are gone.

The noose doesn’t want to be that.
It wants to lie, loose and flowing,
exploring and feeling every curve
and angle of where it is placed.

It doesn’t want to stop,
or deny a single dream.

Its existence was bending.
Its joy was soft.

It’s been made hard,
changed and molded,
acted on by outside hands;
lost its whimsy and its nature
and turned into something
that can numb and choke
until the light is gone.

But it only wants to breathe;
to let the one inside it’s circle
breathe.
Because that’s how both
get to the next sunrise

They feel, know,  they have stars and bits
of earth inside them,
and they want to return
to that, to each other.

So, the hanged man fights the drop,                                                                                                                   and the noose unravels, slips its ties and                                                                                                             both look for safety in gentle shadow and moss.                                                                                       Finding their ways to and around each other                                                                             where they can choose to entangle.

Because that’s what was meant.
When they were both under the sky,                                                                                                              green and living and growing
together.

 

Not Me

Photo credit: Kristin Antosz


I’m not great in an audience. 
I can’t leave me long enough

 to be up there with them. 

I don’t laugh at the jokes. 

My head screams too loud to hear them. 

But I know they’re there. 

And I’ll say they’re funny. 
I’ll cry when it’s sad. 

That, that I get. 

But I won’t let them see. 
Mostly, I just wish I was on stage. 

Because there, I’m not me. 

There, I’m big and beautiful. 

I can talk. And mean it. 

I can listen and not stand aside,

Waiting for a quiet minute,

to step away 

and back 

and gone. 

Somewhere I have things to wear and 

words to say. 

And it matters. 
Just not off stage.

Please not off stage. 

That’s where it’s dark. 

Where you get lost

By yourself. 

Without a thing to wear

Or words

And no one to hear them

Or listen if they did. 
When you walk around

without a mark

or a truth or a lie, 

Who are you?
Me?
Just sitting in the seats. 

Waiting in the dark. 

Wondering who to be. 

Just please,

Not me. 

Trapped

 

They don’t tell you you’re going to be trapped.
That once you’re in, you’ll never be out alone.
That it won’t get better, only different.
That it won’t get easier, just a different kind of hard.
They don’t tell you that you’re gone.
But you know.

You don’t matter.
What you think, what you feel
And that’s what cruelest,
you will feel everything.
Harder and faster
and bigger than you ever
nightmared.
Scares that will crush you.
Until there are only pieces left.
That’s all you have.

You’ll put them on like a costume.
Scraps and bits
yanked from the bottom
of a trunk life.
It might remind you
of you.
A flash of a place or
a tinny laugh from a corner.
You’ll put them on
and pretend.
Act like the savior,
the thief, the witch.
Whatever they want you
to be.
Whoever they make you play.

Because there’s no you.
Not anymore.
Them.  Acting.
It would be easier
it you didn’t know the lines.
If you could actually
cut the cord,
forget you ever were;
would make it easier
to be this new thing,
wearing old clothes
and speaking like a stranger.

But you don’t forget.
Not in the chilly morning.
Not in the hot day.
And never in the middle of the night.
Dark and red
illuminated.
That’s when you remember most.
That you were human.
Before.
Not anymore.
Now you’re clothes and food
and telling.
Doing and thinking,
never and always acting.

You may never get out.
Rattle the bars.
Make your complaints.
Only time to hear you.
And time is what trapped you.
Submissive or fighting.
Tied.
Trapped.
Time.
Your way out.
Only way out.
Time
to get out.

For Yet

 


I’m not bad.
I don’t kick puppies.
I do kill mice.
I do help with homework.
I will read your story.
I’ll say what you want to hear.
I’m bad.

I’m not good.
I don’t volunteer.
I’m not a vegetarian.
I’m selfish.
I won’t brag. But I want to.
I complain.
I won’t let you do for me.
I’m good.
I’m not fat.
I’m not fat fat.
I’m thin fat.
People won’t stop and look.
But people won’t stop to look.
I eat the food.
I eat the hurt.
I eat the pills.
I look in the mirror.
I’m fat.

I’m not smart.
I don’t know art.
I don’t know politics.
I don’t know music.
I try to learn.
I ask for help.
Listen once.
I stop.
It’s too much.
I stop asking.
I’m smart.

I’m not sexy.
Not for me.
Not for him.
Not often.
Not enough.
Not that way.
I want to.
Really want to.
I think about it.
Wish I could think
I’m sexy.
I don’t give up.
I push and need
and take.
It’s hard.
I don’t get it.
I’ll never get it.
I give up.

Please not yet.

I could add yet.
I should add yet.
I want to add yet.

To every time, every sentence,
every raging, awful thought
that rips and ravages
my heart and my will
to get up and say yet again.

I’m not waiting for the right time.
Not for the right one.
I have to make it
count because the
only one counting is me.
Now.
Give the courage.
Maybe not now,
or not just yet.

For me.
For yet.

For tomorrow

 

What I need
I won’t ask for.

I’m not asking for more.
I’m not.

You want to give
and you ask
and if there was something
to be had
I’ve have it.
I know you.
That’s why you.

But sometimes,
I just need tomorrow.
And you can’t give me that.
I know you, trust you.
My tomorrow.
Like I can’t give you yours.
I know me. Trust me.

You can give me today.
So can I.
And I’ll take it.
Because it’s a good today.
It’s a fantastic, wonderful today.
Where you measure your success
in my smiles
and you feel bigger
making my shoulder lighter.
Where my sheets carry your smell
and my corner your clothes;
some folded fresh and some crumpled worn,
some ready for tomorrow
some still tired from last night.
But all there. Comfortable together.
They’re making themselves
at home in mine;
where my table has your work
and your ears have mine,
and there’s always tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow.
Maybe a different thought.
Maybe not.
Are our yesterdays worth a tomorrow?
Today they are.
I’ll take today.
Best thing you could give.
Take mine, love.
We’ll keep them,
comfortable together,
in my corner.
Worry about the rest,
tomorrow.