Cadences and Regret

I cut my hair in front of the window,
you asked if I needed a mirror.
While rust coated the floor,
you packed your suitcase.

Gotta get closer to Canada before your heart explodes
(be from fragrant miles)
Gotta get lost on purpose once or twice
(stop, I'm already sold)

While you're gone, we'll learn how to land on our asses instead of our feet_
and we can be okay with it.
We can melt in with precision because everything means nothing,
and you can hold on to a newspaper with one hand, or two.



Lay in the handle of calling walls, then sink beneath their quipping.
You're living in a rusty body surrounded by a steal-heart, painted green.

There's just something about this knows us.
There's something about cinder blocks on a rooftop,
and smelling the start of Autumn with you.
No matter how far away we go, we're called back.

We walk for no reason now (not like before).
I'm short, you're tall...neither of us look our age.
We both have four names,
but we kiss like we share just one.

"It's staying rusty for a reason, Jan 
and the heart...
it was painted green on purpose."
"Everything is grey without you." 

Pulled the rug right from under me;
in your classic fashion, made me feel so guilty.
Not everything carries over from year to year.
Sometimes even old feelings will melt with the snow.

Didn't you know, that gray can be beautiful?
...and people pass on the right to prove a point.



When I'm gone and dead, when the white melts into red--
You'll be thinking of tonight, of what just happened.
"I think I feel too hard, 
but all you really need is for one person to get it."

Today I took a nap in a field, 
feeling the cold air of my old home.
My body calmly hustled into the dirt, 
muscles trying not to hear the impact of someone else's soil.

This city has edges, as I wait to fall in.
With your name on all my tongues, I cave.
I give. 
How safe, and confusing it can feel to give up your secrets.

It's the urge of the universe...
of a decade of wait, turning faster into a lifetime of regret.
And when we don't talk, I'm someone else.
Maybe someday I'll tell you that.

Standing alone on a rooftop with too many people.
Cigarettes are all around me.
I'm touching my own skin, to remember a memory that hasn't happened yet.
Wanting to kiss your mouth so the years between us can evaporate.

This is where I always fit, but somehow it feels wrong tonight...
because I want you here with me.


Six Years Behind

I pulled at an eager thread_
One week of total bravery.
Unraveled in front of someone, instead of alone.
I called, and he got on a plane.

In an instant,
everything that I thought meant the most, just went away.
He held me, said all the right things_
he always does.

He's not crazy, not even a little_
but he never seems to mind that I am.
He's kind and he knows exactly what he wants
(if we all could be so lucky).

We sang in the dark.
We laughed, we reminisced.
We kissed, sitting in our matching sweatshirts.
His hands on my face let me forget you for a while.

I shouldn't have called him,
he loves me like I love you.


I would still do

Friendship determined by birth order,
ferromagnetic material deciding the outcome.

We married as children in his dad's dirty shed.
He will always be my only husband.
He's a man full of vehicular offenses, now...
full of digging the dirt before the bodies are even dead.

An affinity for circles and gravel,
and keeper of the fountain that will store our secrets forever.

It doesn't happen constantly now...or even often anymore,
but he can go back there.
He's safe where he can read into things like he likes to.
He still thinks that the past is the answer.

...and when the spokes stick out, and the rungs are all broken,
his retention can still encourage him.

to draw a home in the fog instead of the heart
to rest, to recharge
to revive, to relive
to remember that day over and over again

As the lines formed in my head,
he whispered, "The rebel never sleeps."

The letters printing slowly up the length of my arm,
staining the hair follicles to keep his promises...
to preserve us, to protect us_
to no matter what - keep us together in his memory.

"This one will be permanent and your mother wont be alive forever - don't let her die before you tell her that her pain isn't yours anymore."


*When I was seventeen, I had a conversation with a friend about dead Irish ancestors. I wrote a poem about it. It was my prized poem from 1994 until about 2001. It's one of the few poems on this page that is from my girlhood. It's not very good, but it's mine, so I'm posting it.

For a Kiss

He had to punch his way through the water to grab onto her.
Torn canvas flapping above.
She was only there in his memory.
This had to have happened before, to someone else.
Someone had to relate to his last loss.

Him: "He died when he was 20, lost at sea."
Me: "Which sea?"
Him: "Doesn't say...maybe in the Irish?"
Me: "Sad."

Him: "Isn't it weird, we have no idea what he looked like."
Me: "He probably looked like you."
Him: " married when he was sixteen."
Me: "Old enough..."

Generations later, their faces wont ever be known. 
Their history just disappeared, like ours will.
Their words are long forgotten.
Words like 'scuppered' and 'chancer'.

Him: "No one remembers them except this church book."
Me: "It's called a ledger."

Found only on these pages now,
their names scrawled in big, curly letters.
'She was the daughter of...'
'He was the son of...'

That is their legacy. 
They were born,
they married, 
they died.

Me: "I wish we could bring them back to life, and ask them questions."
Him: "You're the strangest kid I've ever known."

I wasn't about to disagree.



Sit on the cold, wet cement and enjoy the last bits of winter.
You get to spend them with this super hero man.
It's hard to believe that he's real sometimes_
So perfect a creature...loving hearts instead of bodies.

Watch him smoke and say he's sorry for each puff.
Remind him that you've never smoked a cigarette and got cancer anyway.
Listen to him tell you tales from the road.
Listen to him mock his choices but beam the whole time.

Watch him reach out to help you off the curb.
Watch him smile for eternity,
and never hesitate to love you.
Watch him know exactly what it means to be alive.

Remember how his mouth was open when the rain hit his skin_
Eyes closed, mouth so beautifully open.
Remember how it felt as the rain dripped
down from from his face to yours.

Let him in just this once,
for real.
You lucky, ungrateful fool,
let him love you for today.


So Few

You muttered the words that I knew you'd forget by morning,
"Sleep now, because tomorrow is ours."
It was good to know what I was never really up against...
but, it made me think of the last time you had to leave.

I reached for the folded cities in your pocket_
opened up the promise of new things, 
of real things,
of real places, and times written in a peaceful ink.

You wandered down the hallway,
singing "LHNP"_
reminding me how we were always us,
even before we knew it.

Tiny conversation over coffee and tea,
then a bigger one on our walk to the river.
Your eyes only look like that by the water_
green somehow and see-through.

Thick water that never lets us down,
lets us change what we need to.
Lets us heal the bones inside and rearrange the veins,
then leads us back to safety.

"All the blue minerals are disappearing, Jan...
blue minerals that can be ours."
"We can adopt them all and 
no one will ever know them like we will."

A walk back home, 
holding hands like we did when we were children.
I think of all these years,
how you love so desperately_

and how touching a piano,
one key spawned all of this.
and how you still sing for the ones who always loved you,
even when you were a fuckup.



The whispering is gone now,
but we're still tenants of the water.

"There'll always be books stacked up on my'll just have to accept it."
(and burn marks on your jeans)

Cold hands and pink cheeks.
Lips, brittle and pretending again.
Being brave together, always being brave.

"She's still in'll just have to accept it."
(and burn marks on my genes).

The gall of your breath to create this.
Reminding me of all the copper that pumps through my veins.
Cant you just let me try to forget?

Sometimes the shadows play a bigger part, than the faces in front of you.
So you go.
No matter how good it gets, you just have to drive north.
You have to stand in the parking lot of an IGA to feel whole again.
To feel poor, to feel alone.

Wet feet, with crying eyes.
It's the only way to silence the wishes.
It's the only way to forget that the past is over.

Drive, to remember who you used to be.
Drive, to where no one recognizes you, except me.



I watched you standing with your head down.
You looked angry and ashamed.
Trapped like a gorilla, then you saw me.
You lit up like you always do.

Turned a concrete face into something incredible
(easy smiles with a gambling problem)
Looking more and more like your father everyday,
but acting like my mother.

Get your ears pinned back and your teeth fixed up, then
...then things will work out.
Then the pain that you caused tonight will be worth it.
"Just hold out, in ten years you'll see..."

I can't keep bailing you out.

You said that you were surprised by the knife in your back,
but you weren' couldn't have been.
You knew all along that she'd eat you alive, 
but you knew I'd catch you when you fell.

All these years of trying to convince me, 
or maybe yourself_
that one of these times it will work.
It has to.

"I have these scary dreams...about being under water."
"Can you just sit here with me tonight and pretend?"
"I need you."

I'm not the solution to your problems.
I'm just another one before it happens.



I loved you, up to my neck...
'till the snap almost happened.
but the limp mind moves on, it has to, to survive.
The pain is too heavy to carry forever.

Spray the skin with glycerin and hope for the best.

I settled for someone else.
...and he says that I'm the last to show affection,
the last to patch the dents.
I wasn't with you.

It's all okay.

He says that he might need to disappear for a year,
to fall in love with himself again.

He's making the sound of England right tonight.
The whole UK.
I might not deserve this, 
but I like knowing that we'll be writing about the same moment.

"...and grab a book or two before you leave."

He took the time to think it through...
to form those words in his mouth,
to breathe out knowing what they'd do.

Believing that even when everything falls apart, 
the silence of us together is enough.



to pull down the typewriter on to your belly
to pry with your words, always to pry
to crawl back a decade or two
back to dirty fingernails snagging into everything

couldn't keep it straight in the waves
couldn't stop the crying

comma here)

we'll show time that we're in charge now...
and we'll build a home of love through air conditioning
together, we can try to untie the lies built by the machine
together, we can type until the words no longer overwhelm us


Meets December

He told me I was glowing...he asked why.

I said
"I think I've met someone who makes more sense than anything else has."
He smirked and said
"Well, be'll be easy to fall in love with someone who has a shelf life."

He says cruel things to me.

He knows that he can stop it with the revenge but he wont,
he's out for blood this time.
"I don't need you to send pictures to me, Jan.
I know what your fucking face looks like."

and I know what it's like to wait for the scars to form

Asking clay to cast without duty;
tearing tooth away from gum,
and promising each other lies for too many years_

It's like trying to store water in cardboard boxes.
Pretending that it'll always stay clean and safe in there
but before you know it, it'll be gone...
and all you'll have left will be mold.

Standing on the skyline; a horizon that used to be mine,
I'm loving you from here.
Even if he doesn't believe me...
even if you don't yet.

For the rest of my life, I can remember loving someone for real.

and even if it ends like he says it will;
I can still remember you,
and these nights when everything felt right_
and how I hoped with more hope than I've ever had for him.

I get to know now that I would defend you forever
and that I would care for you without agenda.
I might have to take forever away from him though...
he's getting meaner with every fall.


You Say TWO-gether

A bruise on the right, a burn on the left.
We've been outside too long, I can feel the cold in my nails.
Life is a series of almost endings_
of balancing perfectly on the edge above the unlucky.

I wrap leaves around my fingers,
as you talk business on the phone.
The sun isn't warm enough today,
and I'm starting to regret my words.

"It's hard to explain my writing to you...
you ask unanswerable questions."

You say:

"A good writer never thinks they're good,
a good writer never stops judging internally.
...and I love that they're always two-lined...
even when I'm away, we're two-gether."

(you and your twos)

Five days past your birthday, your dead-living birthday,
You'll be in Canada on mine.
Those two-lined paragraphs_
they'll help convince me that I'm not going to drown here.

You're everywhere I've ever been, and never need to go again.
I'm here in your bed while you're in Berlin, then Oslo (not home).
Home, where your cats live and home where we trip over cables...
I like them, because when they're here, so are you.


And. Might. Always.

back, to where the collapsing happened
pretending that I might regret you
you might not know this,
but, I still lug you around inside me

I know that can see him anytime I need to
and that he can remember me melting into that fire...
he can watch me over-cook
and try to pull me out before I'm gone

he can watch me disappear into the background again

but it wont be enough
it wont ever be enough to rebuild it
and I wish I were as strong as he thinks I am

holding tight to the memories tonight
and rejecting the choice I made
hating it, hating us, and all the love I feel
maybe let's give in, just a little?

I keep trying to deny the north,
pretending my words aren't about you anymore
this is all a lie,
I'm just gonna let you haunt me forever instead


As to mourn is for the foolish

he thought I was brave to write about what others fear
brave to write with crippled hands

horn pushed into my jaw, to gouge out the arrogance
his eyes dangerous and wet

belief can be the end of you and all the things you love
the wood, the snow, the mouse that crawled to the chute

the mouse that made it to the hearth, only to die
mourn no more, as to mourn is for the foolish



maybe seven years to itch.

"Goddamn you, December."
"Goddamn you, Jan."

How dare I be your reminder.
Calendar or not, I'd be there anyway.

Thinking about the things you did,
the things that no one else got to see.
How you kept your pills in an envelope...
I wonder if you still do.

And I wonder,
when the ringing finally leaves your eyes,
when the trees stop all their spinning...
will you want my arms to catch you again?

beautiful ideas of littering

He told me to
"Make a paper airplane and throw it out your window."
"Make another one."



Watching from behind the curtain,
you let me be invisible.

I thought about our days by the water...
how the sun felt on my face
your feather-light kisses and
the agony of knowing that it would be over in hours

All these new words you've purged, 
they let me sink deeper into regret
They let me think of the possibilities
and the thin, beautiful air that complicates our lives

Words that make me want to tattoo an anchor onto my foot,
and draw butterflies in all your books.



In hearing you speak to strangers,
I felt like I used to love you somehow (even though I still do).
I listened to you tell them about our lives,
and watched you share your pain with poise.

A poem that you wrote when you were 15,
turned into a song when you were 20,
and into a knife tonight.

You told them our secrets...
and it's hard to redirect rain.

You cant go back,
because now they know that your liver doesn't travel well,
and they know about the money that you stole from my father.

They know now, that our tragedy was dense,
and that before it tore us apart,
it forced us together...
Two scared kids hiding in a closet.

They know now about the night your heart caved in,
and that when it was over, 
there were pieces scattered on the floor_
plastic, whetted and clean enough to cut through me. 

They know now about your round cheeks, laughing crazy
as your eyes cried into my lap
...but you didn't tell them that in that moment,
your words grew teeth, sharp like daggers.

In your breakdown, you left out some things.

You didn't tell them how your eyes looked 
when you kissed my shoulder in the lake.
...and you forgot to mention 
that I can still recite what you said to me when I was 24.

You didn't tell them that soon you'll marry her, 
and that when you do, 
that painful night wont hurt you anymore
because it'll be too busy hurting me.



Smell this one
What does this one smell like?
Describe it in a color

Sparkling pieces of hard fruit
lined up like meteorites
waiting for their turn to land

your fingers long,
your mouth chewing
as you say

"We're both writers, but the difference between us is
that you really are a writer
and I just steal ideas from a talking sky."


E Double L

Him: "Even though I'm here and you're not, I still think about it."
Her: "Think about what?"
Him: "You pushing away possibility..."
Her: "Well this evening is going to end badly."

Today was so perfect, why ruin it?
Looking at the leathery skin of a million
You're why I'm here
You always think it's for the rest of's for you

Coffee-filter bathing suits in a pool of mud
Feeling safe with you and wanted
This should be enough
I've given more to you than any of the others

Standing on the street like we're the only two people in New York
Kissing your lips that are too tall to reach
You meet me halfway
and somehow I smell fire

It might be as wonderful as you think,
but knowing my history, it will be short lived
and I will leave you alone, hurting
writing new songs

...and you're just too beautiful to break that way



and now the store is second hand
and the streets seem less empty
the cold though, that's the same
and your hands are the same

standing in the rain, you looked behind me at nothing
maybe trying to see six years ago
(no sorries now
and none of that calm yelling)

my hands on your chest feeling a new heartbeat
counting the thumps with the wind kicking in
I picked up a wet leaf and put it in your pocket
"You'll want to touch this later...when it's dry."

a dusty leaf will console you when I'm finally dead
isn't that why we both write?
wanting to leave something behind
so we might somehow always matter...



Water rising high, the waves licking at your heels.
Pour quickly, the things that no longer matter.
Ribbons of honey to dismiss.
Over the grate, and under the sky.

The massive climb, that is the drink.
One wrong move and you'll be in it. 
and under it...
gambling on the future.

Accept the childhood that you left,
let the ugly fade away,
make them all disappear into your crowd.'s just lovely to be invisible next to you.


Like then, there

that date you had with a short story...

I want to see moments like that
and say nothing
just write about your face

as you sit there fingering the words
as you let them warp you,
let them turn you into a capsule

you are more beautiful than she lets you be
I wonder how her eyes look when she sees you
I wonder if she sees you at all

you are blasting fucking neon to me



You asked me to meet you, and I did
I sat down with no greeting, you just started to rattle

thumb against cup
knee against table
words against wall

Blathering on about Willie Nelson,
and Tibet
and how you've got all the answers

Somehow in your 30-some years
have become all-knowing
and we are
cha cha
the fools
who know nothing.

I didn't speak...


Breathing hard, blowing smoke in my face you asked me endless questions
You answered them all yourself.

You only stopped to hear what song was on...

I know why you stopped,
I know why you stopped.



Shoulder kisses, and wishing on bones_
It's hard to breathe when nothing seems as pretty as the past.

In one place, at one time.
and I wont forget you; not now, not ever.

Late at night when we weren't trying to sleep...
those soft taps against the wood
hoping not to anger the neighbors
with all that lawless art.

...but when will the cutting come from underneath?
when will the scratches stop?

I remember the way the curtain clung to your arm,
how the shifting happened without us noticing
the otherness 
and the failings
the long lines, and short sights
and the pain that I couldn't help you out of.

You brought the leaves inside and put them on the table.
Looking for just the right one, 
eyes doubling in size, as you quickly forgot all the things you'd learned.

Watching you; 
waiting for you, 
it felt too indulgent.
...and in the end it was.

I just wanted someone to write about.


Just in Time

I used to think in typewriters,
in old bookcases...
I think now, in the smells of your sofa
soft cloth worn so thin
like the skin on your wrist, ready to burst
brought to buckle by corduroy slacks and pot
button down shirts, unbuttoned
sleeves rolled up to make me follow...
your socks really stink 
you know I hate the pot


the accident

A broken mass of shoulder bone
and the reflection of a church in his uneven eyes.
A giant smile, just like my mother's,
with arms that were stronger than they looked
hands that were long and forgiving.

When the pain reclines, and the hair becomes thinner,
he will still be perfect to look at.
Giant and frail, 
and so happy that we made it.
Lips talking about Jesus,
like we were ever believers...

Gritting his teeth, as he chewed the meat...
the meat that slipped past his tongue with so much guilt.
"I'll only be loud for a moment,
one impervious yelp...
to make a scene,
and then I'll walk away."

He told me about the buildings across the street
(a conversation that only sparked denial).
Circle sponges that covered my eyes_
pressed in hard, leveling me...
turning me into mist.

Hands holding tight through the clay that kept us together.
Remembering the sound of brittle waterfalls drying up.
Sparing liberty
sparring with.

Trying to change the direction that he chose for us.
Reluctant feet drawing deep into the metal

- he's driving the wrong way -

Our molecules skidding along the slippery ledge_
the edge of the land that felt thin like paper.
Shifting down to meet the operators below

- almost buried me before I was dead again -

Lined up straight with the hole that he'll try to fill for the rest of his life,
the hole that he tried to fill before it even existed.

"What don't you already know?"
"What could I possibly teach you?"

Who the hell uses a word like 'impervious' anyway?
only him


Jackson Counties

Focusing on the tiny cracks where the light came in,
where the smoke blew out.
Thinking about everything we've said,
and everything we haven't. reaching for my hand somehow changed things

I want to have that day again...
right now.
I want to have it in the past,
before we were even born.

Trap you in a mason jar in 1955.

I thought about telling you...
that my body cant eat anymore, that I'm sicker everyday
that my blood is turning on me
that soon the poison will run out and I will be left to fight it alone.

I'm still wishing for another Fall...please, just one more.

I was gluing down paper (gotta keep busy until you die)
I kept at it until the morning
Making myself do this instead of that.
cut and paste paper until you feel clean

and I realized I'd been clenching my jaw all night.


Clear Water

Writing on a rooftop together,
and watching the sky blush into night.
Your thoughts are making you shy again_
Shy, like when I was all you knew.
Shy, like the world wasn't hanging on your words.
Your eyes still worshiping a broken history.

Typing on receipts because you were out of paper,
about the letters that you carved into the stairs... 
trying to somehow heal those scars.
Preventing the future that we would've had,
so someone might see it in 30 years.
They wont know, be we will.



somehow you manage to feel alone in front of the world
hitting the wall over and over with open eyes
and getting up each time, instead of curling in

remembering the flowers that lined our little tunnel
then again, 
after they burned to the ground

you hooked the light 
and that was it
we finally got to love each other at the same time

that was then 
and I don’t know you now
and disgust is setting in

it’s time to stop remembering
and it’s time to stop keeping an empty notebook in every room for you
it’s time for three lines, now


four words 

twisting finely into a thread_
a silver string of poisonous mercury
it winds around and briefly stops the pumping_
it stuns, but never fastens

"I still love you."

somehow I cant remember what the problem was in the first place 
how could I ever let you go? 
and how can four words destroy so much?
I'm trying to escape you and all these stupid years

I'm wishing I could take back that phone call
I could hear you smoking, as you cried
I shouldn't have said what I did,
but you broke us

"I want to come undone thinking about this, Jan."
you'll believe what you want to 
but I'll love you forever,
even though you'll keep pretending not to notice." 

you're right
I'll want you forever, but I wont ever let it happen
I'm selfish
I don't want to say that I used to love you

such a crafty web I weave



our ears wrap hard around the music now
it's all we have
it will never let us forget
words, and chords that let us pretend for a while
that we're who we want to be
that no matter where we are,
we need to stop what we're doing
so we can remember

I try to put myself back there
that night you sneaked up on my lips
I couldn't believe it, I still cant.
the defining moment for my heart happened in front of paint chips,
of raindrops in my hair,
of the clutter of friendship,
of truth that we couldn't deny anymore

that kiss twenty years in the making_
your hair was long then.

the whole world stops when I think about that night
mouth aching for yesterday
aching for anything that makes you mine again
anything to take me back to that doorway
back to those eyes that no one has seen like I've seen



Carved out soap creatures lined all along the window's ledge_
I did this to you, what he did to me.
I finally get it,
I finally understand why you hated me.

Thinking tonight in gray shadows, in ceiling fans_
in lips kissing the wrong person to fill the void.
...try not to judge me too much,
I just learned that a song that makes me cry, was written about me.

That's a lot to take in_
and it's hard to say "I'm drowning" with a mouth full of water.

Being that in love with someone invisible,
Man alive do I get that.

I fell in love with him, while you fell in love with me.
Pointless, misguided love seems to win every time.

I'm so hard on myself tonight,
just adding to the bruises

Thinking about the plastic cage that he keeps himself in,
the kit ajar,
the poison permanently in his veins,
the fucking venom prison that holds him back.

I'm doing everything other than what I need to do
Listening to corresponding chords and bells...
Do I accept?
To settle for a song, when all I want is to hear a crashing garbage can.


Dusting with the Dilettante

That relentless map brought me back to you,
the same one that brought you home
Geography changed your mind, 
and helped you cultivate a new man

"Gotta get some dirt on ya, to get the dirt out."
"Invested in a bundle of feathers little lady, 
cuz this might take a lifetime or... 

It's nice now, to hear it how it should sound again_
with no strain on the cord, no pain in the teeth
I dragged my feet around to see the color of the floor... 
I cut our initials into the dirt while you worked on one more song

Soon you'll walk me down to see the water that's got your name on it_
a place to maybe drown someday...just like you always wanted
Submerge yourself with the ghosts of all the people who were here before you,
all the people that aren't remembered now

Someday we'll become them,
Someday no one will care about the mistakes of the old you,
or this new broken man that you've become



This day just keeps on growing, exploding like it knows my secret.
My mind smells of olive oil, and the idea of your tobacco.

I let myself linger longer than I should have,
as that song became my web.

The universe keeps pointing to you with water-like detail,
and maybe you'll reach out for me when that 7th year starts to itch.

We cant ever sit together though,
It'd be all I could do, to not crumble at you feet.

Saying good-bye to you was the hardest thing that I didn't get to do.


Porcelain Life

I heard 'Lilac Wine' playing when you called.
Made me think of that walk to the polls.
Hearing the harmonies in our heads, feeling the season change early, 
and fighting the fight the whole way home.
How could we know the destiny that was next to me?
Time lapse, and a decade is born.
You're a man now, but belong to someone else - everyone else.

and tonight your city exploded
There's water where the sand used to be.

You came to me tonight so broken.
Trying to convince me with your eyes,
to try the ways of the world, and just let you in.

What fruit could calculate?
What fragrance could divide?

There isn't a sound that you cant hear, I promise.
You don't need me to introduce you.
I'm sorry that I hurt you back then,
that I keep hurting you...
but, I promise,
you will make it on your own.



Feeling the tighter grip of the life ahead,
trying to brace for the impact.
Nothing can really prepare you for your demise though,
for the truth that follows the war.

The fade, you can feel it.
It's okay to dwell in it if you need to.
It's okay to accuse, to disregard_
and the pain, it can live in you longer than you thought.

You learn to accept it, 
you learn to appreciate that no one gets to know this but you.
This break-up of safety,
this expiration date.

He called me callous tonight...
that might be true
I think that's okay, too.


Roch Ness

Jumped in along side you, so dark my eyes couldn't adjust.
You kissed my shoulder and whispered,
"It can be like this forever if you want,
I can fake my own death and live like Elvis."

cold, cold water
thinking in dismal parallelograms tonight
maybe I was wrong,
maybe I should've stayed.

You wanted to know about him, so I told you
"You know that kind of love you see in the movies?
that cosmic, disruptive's like that
I'd bet if we could sit together, we'd glow."

I cant have him, and you cant have me.
Love is rough.

She wore blue, how dare she do that to you?
She wore blue and lied in front of the world.
Happy Anniversary.
Another March makes for cold, cold water.



I cant remember your real voice anymore,
and your face is getting harder and harder to picture.
Our eyes haven't met in forever,
and the scars go without kisses now.

Chunks cut out of the bricks that we used to touch_
they're filled with shine now,
and lots of wishes.
You'd be so surprised at the changes.

I don't need to cut soap anymore,
strands of glue consume me instead.
Neon drops pulled apart like candy,
(you'd just love the green).

I'm waiting for the fall...

for the leaves to blow away from the windows,
for the smell of fire,
for the surgery to stop and the irons to cool,
for the sand to become song-soaked, again.

Your head will lift back up then,
those moving squares will fill you with envy all over.
So what, you needed to be nameless for a while,
you'll see soon enough, that the world never really stopped.


things that were said
(things that should've been said)

you: "Tonight we hang teal, tonight we win it all."
me: (well, you do...)

Laid the paint down and pulled the trigger,
I never thought I'd long for winter like this...
but now the cold-cast that you made is right here to protect me.

you: "Let the liquid burn all the way through the paper this time, Jan."
me: (it's going to burn your skin off)

The floor still coated in the wax that covered your feet,
and every night, I remember your words until I fall asleep.
Even when you're gone, you manage to pull the sky down around us.
It's either you, or this Cancer that will finally break my heart.

you: "Tonight the past is trying not to die, and I cant feel guilty anymore."
me: (you have nothing to feel guilty about)

So I forgive you for ever loving me,
for ever believing,
for always following the rules,
and for trusting that the concrete underneath would be enough to support us.

you: "...and when the water floods in?"
me: (the mourning will be mine)

I try to remember it how it actually happened, and not how you wanted it to happen.
You have a tendency to remember things more perfectly than they were, with more adjectives.

you: "Knowing that you know what this city smells like, makes you seem closer."
me: (that's the softest your voice has ever been)

"When the redhead from your past comes back to haunt you...her hands covering your eyes,
your legs will crumble, letting you sink to meet her, to make sure that dent in your chin is hers again."

right now
you: "Forget what we should do, forget everything, I love you, please come home..."
me: (I love you too, but we're building up to the break.)



plan B
plan A
look like a lying drunk.
I miss plan A.


Fragile Night

Lost in ideas, in questions that I've never considered.
The wind is whipping up sounds that seem like raindrops,
and my eyes are ink-black and heavy.

I'm letting gravity win tonight,
I'm letting your words get to me like you want me to,
You always have a plan.

Sometimes you ask too much of me,
and I always ask too much of you.
Watch me wait forever.

Grabbing my face with a sentence,
Vowels twisting into fists.

You want to break me,
Want to walk me into water up to my lips,
It would be so easy to take a breath, or one too many.

You don't know me like you think you do,
and I cant do this anymore.
I cant get over what this isn't, what it never was.

sinking lazy in our metaphors.
Implying that you knew all along.

It's comfort that you can never compete with.
It's friendship and loyalty,
you are not capable of those.

He called me incorrigible...he thinks I'm defective.
The sun is rising again, and all the art has died.


Lilac Scent in my Backyard

We talked for hours tonight.
(like old times)
I was driving so recklessly today.
I didn't go off the road, but my mind was everywhere.

I wanted to pull over and write 700 things down.
Thoughts flowing fast again, and my writing might be changing.
Synesthesia is pouring over into my thoughts.

I'm seeing color everywhere, and I'm starting to smell the letters.
I'm seeing yellow, and orange_
smelling smoke and cherries, and it's all your fault.

Struggle causes the words to bleed out,
they start to live and molt.
Unresolved, maybe forever,
but discussed so beautifully.

Sitting on a sofa damp with raindrops,
your cigarette the only light...
"I do love you."
"and I love you."


roses and v.w.

I woke up at again at 3:30 am.
Even when I think I've got it beat...
Insomnia shows me who's boss.
You're far from here. I haven't seen you in weeks.

I got your stupid roses.
I got your bullshit card.
I read your gorgeous letters.
(all fucking four)

I was going to wait to get two more--
(you know, you know)
and you wrote "You're so sensitive to cyan."
and you wrote "My eyes only see magenta."

You want to force me to feel something else
but I assure you
to pretend this doesn't bother me is more tricky than you think.
There are things that I want to hear again.

"I love you and I want to kiss your tiny strawberry."
I'm half-assed in this sentence, in this paragraph of words.
My bones becoming more brittle as I type
and my mind still 'hates your stinking guts'

to ask me of my future is just mean
you made me watch
I saw you lie on the grandest of stages
to prove what?

I want to start making soap carvings, to try to forget you
That'll teach you...small replicas of your mistakes

and you wrote "Everything you see, someone else ignores."
I read it over and over
I cried, 
and hoped stupidly for the unknown

I can stop thinking about it, 
any time I want
Like you, 
I will just pretend to be clean

Maybe I will marry for real on paper,
maybe I will marry for show
Like you,
I will just pretend to be faithful

She loves you more than you love her,
what a romantic union you have
She's holding on so tightly,
because she knows how loose your cannon is

She wants fame so badly,
your ways are worth it to her
She wants to be in the papers,
not the pages of your books

You want to be in the papers
You are everything that you pretend to hate



You're about to be bigger than you thought.
You said that it would never get to this level,
and at the very least, if it ever did,
you'd remember that you didn't do it alone.

Hand picked, like fruit, to be the anti-hero.
If they only knew how wrong they were.
You're stronger than anyone I know,
You're honest and unaffected.

Lying there, hair all messy, lookin' like Tennessee Williams.
Your feet dangle off the bed, and your face, soft,
like that of the child you should've been able to be.

Arm curled under you, like a baby fox.
Why is it that men look so exquisite while they're sleeping?

You asked again before you fell asleep...
"Are you really still here?"
"This will be it, I know how you work."

Don't be the one to always flash your badge.
Done, be the baby.



remind yourself of the days that you'd sit and wait for him
writing in the hard-covered book that he gave to you
he was always late
...always late because the world just got in the way

someday I might confront your court
and determine the truth when it matters enough to me
I'll find out what really happened on the day your head exploded
I hate that you did that to me

To twist tighter the cord...
until the cracks begin to show
The grass is greening up but still,
as we do reprehensible things...


your torn jeans 

Prolific song says:

"You're full of words all of the should be a writer one day.
and you should never cut that hair off--it just might be your magic." 

(profound smiles follow) 

Your magic is in those jeans.
The pair that's ripped from the bottom, and sewn back up.
That pair you wore when I met your mother.
When we went shopping for a sled,
when you felt so good.

(who the hell buys a toboggan in June?) 

Someone with plans for the future.
always planning, always thinking ahead.

To do: 

buy socks
don't read mail
don't shower
buy needless toboggan 

(a life less melancholy, with more sledding) 

I know running, I know that high.
I know that fear that keeps it pulsing.
Question grips on, and somehow maintains the sinew--for all it has left.

one .
more .
run .

I will outrun my tumors.
See, see.
Just for you I will shed them all.
Cancer and otherwise.

This sled will wash the mold out.
It will bring us together before we die.
This sled can force love.
Real, not just settling love...

I can never be what you need.
I'm never going to be a wife.
I'm never going to expect anything.
Why do you need me to expect something? 

"Expect new things to happen." 

What is so wrong with the present? 
next level
next level
Maybe you want it so badly because I don't.



we are scenes filled with yellow umbrellas
of fake blood

of life and friendship
of faster death
of sunflowers

of eyes

those eyes
the hue is blinding
going...going...gone down on me like hands on a piano

and the masonry
the ideals
you work, work, work. 



Go quietly until the day ends, use your eyes to feel it out.
Believe them when they tell you, this isn't all there is.

This is the smallest part of your life.
Soon, the tornado.

The avalanche is coming.

It will sweep you off your feet and you will disappear.

Eat now, swallow and chew because you're entitled.
Soon, you will be naked, limping for the past.

Sometimes punishment is all we have.
I blame you, it's easier that way.

There's snow now...there was never snow.
I think about that water sinking us in further.

to the love, and hate inside swirling around us for years.
and how no one else will ever know the weight of that water.


l'gensture grand

rain on the grass
and that grin on your face
you stand up and say
"I'm about to destroy you."

waving to trains, and smiling at flowers
singing together on the ferry into the dark
being back here with you is surreal
under a harder sky this time

when everything settled down, I could collapse
I could crumble again, into the longest arms I've known
the most reliable,
and then you kissed me until the morning



...and now his pounding, agile heart is broken because of you
it was gorgeous gray, and you destroyed it
perfection in a tall, skinny frame...
he could have no face, and still be the most handsome man I've ever known

his voice got softer ... (rejection makes words so quiet)

I wish I could say all the pretty things to you that I can type
the prolific sentences that make you love me harder than you should

I shouldn't have said what I did
I went too far, again.

Your eyes remind me of everything I've done to you.
flashing back to the mud puddle
you said: "Someday, I'll tire of waiting for you..."

I didn't believe you.

Flashing back to the books, and nooks and the tiny coffee cups.
It's like we were the first two people to ever do that...
We invented the mid-day conversation, over beverages.
To sit in that spot
be so very...

"Sometimes people are just meant to know each other forever."

Waking up next to you on the floor...
Using a book for a pillow, your face was pained.
I was so happy to wake up right before you.
Those sleepy eyes...
you loved me then, and tried to hide it, but your eyes never lie.

That day will haunt me forever...almost as much as today will.


Eastbound Tease

When everybody's making a truce, you're the hold out.
Don't do it baby,
because someone in Maryland is waiting to fall in love with you.
How could he have known?

My hair flung forward in a pile...
swimming in the pool of water that you built.
Thinking about my clairvoyant, dead friend_
how much he would've liked you, if only he weren't still dead.

You were working hard on your paintings,
Arms turning colors in front of me.
Tom Waits playing for inspiration,
and a cigarette to curb your nerves.

'To release them in the right order is important.
You need to be here for the opening, you're my beauty fuel.
...and then we can live together with the lightning.
Promise me.'


Fabric on a Wall

You there, liking that twall...
I think about that the most.
When you were slicing your watermelon all wrong
You said "One day our walls will be covered in twall".
I've always hated twall...even more now.
It's too busy like your mind, (and mine).

that was then,
and now it tastes just like a nightmare might...
I'm trying to understand your new plans...your new obligation.
I don't know how to handle it yet.
So I went just now, drove to the spot to do what you said we would.

I took deeper breaths than I wanted to, but I didn't cry at all.
I told the landscape that she was pretty--
because I'd bet it's been a long time since she's heard that.

You promised me, one day to photograph the broken together.

You and I alone with the machines.
Instead, soon your baby.



and I love the way you grabbed my hip,
as the cutest words escaped your lips
"We are energy."

Eating licorice in the morning,
watching your teeth turn blue.
Couldn't find the asterisks last night.
Looked hard,
looked like in the 4th grade when I lost my shoes.

I whispered to you:
"I'd give anything to have one more day with my jelly shoes,
the gooold ones"

You whispered back:
"Stay the hell away from me if you're wearing those golden, rainbow shoes!
and please for the love of god, make me a freaking shark cake!"

Twang you are,
South, you are.
Always yelling you are
...always shaking,

Your own shifting sand-castle island retreat.

I've never known anyone like you.
You stink. You lie. You make me write poorly.

We argue the prettiest,
oil on canvas,
hands on clay.

On some level everything is beautiful,
even ballet in an empty pool.


You are a damn mess

Left me a terrible message tonight
"You know where the fuck to find me..."

Oh I certainly do
At the bottom of a yuengling bottle


I was supposed to be

I was supposed to be nervous walking up to you,
or star struck...I wasn't.
Your eyes made it easy,
Your eyes were in it immediately.

Standing long, we were shivering.
Our friends wouldn't stop making noise.
You pointed with your head,
...rolled your eyes.

Smiling at me,
you said,
"Where can we go to get some coffee"?
What a line.


the Only Eyes in Brooklyn

feet with fingers, and lips with hands...
when your body starts to drip away,
when the olive becomes gray,

you will still have the words.
you will still have what others cant even comprehend.
you are the last of them, 
the last of the people who give a shit about anything.
you talk about full hearts, how you wish you could give more.
you give without speaking.
you want to be the one in the future...
somehow you cant you see that you're the one right now.


Thank you.

I got it today,
The stack of books.
Some I'd not seen in years.
I couldn't wait to get my hands on brain.

I searched for my sentence for 45 minutes.
I couldn't remember which book it was in.
I know it by heart, but I needed to see the words.
How fitting that I finally found it in Chapter 24.

How absurdly perfect.

Knowing your hands had held them last, I smelled the pages.
Smushing my nose in, I hoped to smell a memory.

I thought about when you read it, before you knew me.
Wishing we could have been children together...
So you didn't have to be alone.


Told Me

Mixing up some notes tonight.
Coming up with some angry words.
Now I'll get my revenge.

Told me some secrets, told me some truth for a change.

You miss the white,
and the lack of height,
miss the cape of fire.

Told me that you gave in, but she still wanted more to go.

I think you should keep your empty boxes,
let them stack high to the ceiling.
Build your fort that makes it easier to hide.

Told me the ball is in my court, that it always was...

I know your misery isn't fleeting.
It isn't a trend to admire while it's new.
She'll never let you be miserable forever.

Told me that I get the empty boxes, that she never will.

It's okay to regret,
to be sullen,
to need nothing more than a dark room and a guitar.

Told me that you know I'd take you the way you are.
Not anymore.


A lost origin (a blog entry)

Shaping and adapting plastic may have changed my life tonight.
I watched as it was bending in front of me, I watched until it broke open, and lost it's purpose.
It was frail and handsome. 
It turns out everything you thought you knew, was off. 
That sounds negative to everyone but him. He knows. 
It isn't negative, it's a promise...perhaps misplaced, but a promise.

I'm weird because it is 3:33 am. I've been in and out of sleep.
I think I was quoting Cohen again.
In fact, I know I was 'A dismal pine cone'. 
I quote Cohen sometimes 
I don't quote others or others things, I can just relate to his work. 
I can relate to the not knowing shit and thinking you know everything anyway. 
Such an arrogant way to live a life...such a private, lonely space in thinking that you know

While falling asleep, I heard him say, 
"I guess it depends on who you ask, but I think everyone thinks you're beautiful." 
"You're colder than I'd like you to be." 

My mind slipped away when I heard the two very different in their intent.
I let him hold me as I fell asleep. 
I don't let him hold me. I don't know why...sometimes two people need that. 
We have nothing more than friendship, and he knows that. 
Tonight I caved because he wasn't okay and I needed him to be.
That was hours ago.

So I'm awake again, thinking about what he said to me...
what he said to me under his breath, and maybe hoping that I didn't hear.

I'm not cold. I just don't know how to share my warmth properly. 
Someone worth my time, I blow off. 
I put all my attention into someone as distant as me. 
Someone far away so I might never have to come to terms with loving. 
Loving is tough. It's easiest to be disconnected. 
He's said before that I'll choose the wrong person to lay it on. 
I want to force myself to do something braver, I want to choose someone special.

'I want to stick a knitting needle up my nose and poke out my brain.' 

There I go, again. Sometimes it gets like that, like the thoughts will burn off your face. 
The options might be so clear to someone else.
It's just easier to see other people making mistakes.


a coastline is a fractal

If a coastline is a fractal, you are a parallelogram
If you think my heart is right for you, you need to let it breathe
I need space to understand why I'm this way
Why no one can make me feel at ease

I don't live like you do
I cant recharge after one minute alone
You fake it so well
Pretend to be so isolated
You are the definition of social

(lie number one)

You need to let me be honest because 
I've been having some troubles with that shit
I hurt us,
him and I

(lie number one)

You don't like when I tell you the truth
My guts are burning with this one
You 'wanna make it better'
want me to 'push his memory away'
You 'wanna hold me close, wanna give up smokes'?

Prove it.

If a coastline is a fractal that goes on and on and on...then let it
Let it heal me and recharge me in my own time

I have made you crazy,

You have asked me to ruin everything in my life to prove
that I don't want you_
that I didn't need you instantly

Rest easy,
I will always be your fool.

You are a shifty rock and I'm a shifty rock beside you...
on this coastline of perfection, we are fuck ups together.


Mug Sharing

Left foot on right thigh
Hearing only your voice in an empty room
Singing Sam Cooke

We can forgive this place now
and forgive, again

Stacks of wood 
piled high
I'm ready to stay warm with you this winter

to draw maps that aren't inaccurate
to make songs that aren't so sad
to forget the rest of the world and just stay warm with you

but, for fuck's sake, can we go to the store and buy a second mug?



I think about the obscurity that you worry about.
I think about the lies that you tell to stay at the top.
Numbers you can trust,
but words, they can turn on you.

Your lies have burned through me like the night.
I'm cold, and lost, and I cant recover yet.
Fall down into the ice, and just surrender...
I don't want to learn this one, this lesson is breaking me down.

New life is starting right now...
a new person to trick.
To cover up your pain,
to pretend away your sadness.



I waited while you talked to the sales guy
asking the specifics

I waited,
classifying the sounds of a thousand miles

waiting is all I do

"Wait...your tumor might just get gone."
"get going gone."

I wait for you to finally give up,
to just stop loving me

It's always the same
in the grips of hypergraphia,
of learn, of learn it
of always

"Jan, give it one more chance to start up again.
It will."

"No matter now."


He said

its like you wrote that song about us
He's trying to be you...
trying to fold himself up,
trying to fit into that scuffed up zip lock bag
trying to melt himself down to be one of those picks
In your hands...
if only in your hands


I wouldn't hold a marshmallow up to that...

Sitting by the campfire watching the past open up,
waiting for the truth to sputter out again...
Falling back in love with that unattainable face
Tonight, I can pretend that I don't know of the ways behind it

If I could somehow get my camera inside you guitar...
I could solve it all
That's where faces are born, 
that's where we're in love forever

You burned through the photographs in under an hour
Asked all your questions
I sat with my back toward you as I answered
"Take whatever you want, I wont need them..."

Pick this one,
then that one, 
then silence
I waited six minutes, then I started to glue

You fell asleep on my bed
and I went back to pretending that I don't miss you


to trust in all things unknown

Into the gray mouth...
Into the pain that somehow already knows me
The tacky edges make me want to stay,
make me want to learn more,
make me want to learn everything at 90 miles per hour
No matter how afraid I am,
will be worth it

Decisions seeming to be easier now,
the normal built-up walls are gone
To trust you seems easy

Trust is never easy,
but your voice sounds like home should
I've never really had one, but you feel like home to me

Writing about quarries and distinction,
you will be the death of me
Elegantly placing the letters,
on the jagged mouth of the beast

You are the gray abyss
You are everything that I never knew I wanted


Star Wars on the Windshield

Someday you'll have to stop your hands from moving,
your lips.
Someday I'll have to accept that I am broken...
that these words will never learn to pool in a neater fashion.

Driving slow, snow on the windshield.
Somehow seated beside you, I wished the ride would last forever.

Kissed you in my mind with every glance.

This will never work,
but you,
and that smile.


You Only Get One More

Twelve days and not a word,
...and soon the whole wide world will know.
May as well have printed out my name, you asshole.
I paint while you snore.

Seeing the tiniest of white slippers next to the ugliest argyle socks
on planet Earth.
12 spoons dripping with pigment to prove to you that you're right.

If I could stir the paint to make this work, I would.

This is it. This is the last one.
I just wait for the night to explode into memories of him.
The noise will come in soon, and I'll head for cover.
And to think, you're the only person who will know why.



 I hear the sounds sneaking up,
and then the rain comes in to blow me away.
The new book is like a bullet.

It's him,
it's always been him.
...and he said,
"white, not red."
...and he said,
"the jealousy rips into me, as she is living what she lost."

Forced the sinking into the crumpled sheets...
and into his slumber, deep.
I lay awake, and learn by mistake.
If I jump everything changes.

...and I think it was better when you were a ghost.
because now, I hang on every word that you don't say.


The keys can give me a voice,
the strings, always deliberate.
The sounds blend me into fiction,
into the ideas of maybe still.
I remember who you are.

I remember the night I tried to forget you.
He sang only for me.

It was over too fast, so I asked him to sing, again.
Just a few more minutes to remember you.

Separating the vowels, and dismembering the past.
Tongue licking lips, and a jaw devouring words like magic.

Right then, I caught a glimpse of who I needed to be in his eyes instead of yours.
Lines like knives into flesh, like hooks into cotton,
and it was too late for you.
He was next, and had no idea.


He accused me of setting the room on fire with my hair,
suggested that I could burn down the field that I let you live in.
I still cant let you go.