When It Calls, You Answer

Beneath your eyelids:
the measure of each drop of blood
as it counts
against honeycomb
and stone-baked bread.

You think of wine drying
five thousand years ago,
yesterday’s fingers brushing
powder from a cistern
that hasn’t been touched
in centuries.

What happens,

You cannot reconcile
with smoothness:
honey to lure the wasps,
your teeth,
your hungry tongue,
back to the cave and its
empty cistern.

How long do you vanish for?

When it comes
with wine-stained fingers,
to swallow you up,
kissing your scars,
erasing the body
you once knew
to be true,
you run.


Ocean Admits You (2)

Ages ago you found a well in me;
I only noticed
when it flooded,
pooling over the beaches of the Lethe

I lean in and in
and in,
and the crest swells,

Ages ago
I licked the salt from your tongue,
your smile hard on my mouth,
me soft, eager

This is what happens
when the river floods.

You go belly-up
like a dead fish



In second grade,
I learned that every person was once swirling matter
in the belly of a star
and that horrified me,
because at night my father would take me on walks
and I would crane my head up and look at the stars
over the field by our flat.
“There are two stars here,” and point,
crush my cheek to his so I could see.
I hurt my neck by straining it for hours
so I could pick apart two flames
burning years and years
into the darkness.
So everyone comes from
these hot stomachs,
but I didn’t want to believe
that the boy who tore up butterflies and stuck his scale-covered fingers in his nose
was made of the same things that the sun was,
and I did not want to believe
that there was no light on either end
but for the brightness
far away,
past the glow of Dad’s smile.
Loneliness still scares me: I think I am happier
as the dying remnant of some starry bile
than I would be as Sirius, as Betelgeuse,
as Alpha Centauri.


Birds Without Wings

if you were a bird,
my dear
(with feathers and glass-drop eyes)
i would have loved you
for a moment,
maybe watched you fly
into the air on finch’s wings

birds do not shatter the heart
which does not swallow easy,
finding love within the bounds
of nests and eggshells,
dying with the winter leaves

birds do not kiss
like starving men, nor shiver
when touched, nor wipe
away tears with five fingers
and a smile

birds do not teach women lessons
like how to love a thing so much
it purifies you,
finds a place
in the bottom of your belly
warm enough for a god to live in

so you are a man,
my dear,
though my fingers know your skin
like a bird knows her skies

& there is no nest I like better
than the warmth of your neck,
& no wings I prefer to your spirit,
& no song I’d rather listen to
than the words
that go so carelessly
spilling out of your mouth

Introspect, Retrospect

Do Ut Des

they do not tell you (your parents I mean)
how easy it is to steal.
Open folds keep the chill
and laughter buries insecurity,
your fear of death outlining
the eyes and the mouths.

you are given keys
that bite the softness of
holy palm.

the sweet and the sick
make children of us all, hoarding
secrets as if they will keep
the sun burning at night,
flowers blooming
in the winter.

They do not tell you (your lovers
I mean) that you steal
into the secrets; you
can’t reclaim the keys

but you can laugh
at the slipperiness of the feeling,
and how tightly
you let yourself be held,
and how scared you are
of the mouths,
the eyes.


I want to call you darling, but

I want to call you
darling, but
both of us fall undone
by the smallest drop of tenderness.
My breath has been stolen from my lungs
and gone out in search of you,
lingering dream.
It’s not so terrible,
I think, to desire this deeply;
the remnants of you
fill my stomach
in a rush.

walking through a summer blaze,
grass dry on my bare legs,
meditative cicadas thrumming
through your ribs.

your hands stir sleepy in my hair,
chin buried in that funny sweater.
there is snow outside,
but I am warm.

we play hide-and-seek in church ruins.
heavy tastes foreign on your tongue,
I run, but you
catch me. tiny lizards watch.

eagerly, we feed each other
with books, minds growing fat
in the decadence of it all.
shelves fill the walls.

my hand is cold in yours,
silently lost in a gallery.
with the other I slip
haiku in your pockets.

I am too small to beg, but
I do. My mouth to yours,
between your teeth,
breath happy between
cavities, the hollow
recesses of our bodies.


In Vain, My Love

In vain you swear,
my love;
where do you drop
your earnest promises
and why?

For even without the oath
I’d believe your pain:
that the moon’s dazed light
does not let you sleep,
that your hushed voice
only knows my name,
that without desire
there’s nothing the world
has to give

You repeat the words
in vain, my love –
I know,
you are pulled towards
and away from me,
under the dazed light.
My mouth
will never receive
my hushed name
from yours,
we have strained out
the desire,
and left the world empty.

(Translated into English from Paruyr Sevak’s original Armenian)



Seek me out:
creeping through your clouds
like the dark moon;
you find me
by clenching the fat
of my pale limbs, my eyes
stars in a vernal pool.

My rough tongue:
paper-dry, drinks up the blood
from your shoulder;
you pull me closer,
draw me into milk and honey,
your lips butter
on warm silk
as I tear, I yield.

Baring my belly:
reminded of my rawness,
my fury tamed;
and you suck up the fruit,
peaches and pears,
through the fire and the pain,
leave the juice dripping
in my mouth.


As Above So Below

you bid me enter
a clean temple,
the new stones gleam
I wait for the death
while garlands
are tossed to my feet.

and the wine
offends me, the sourness
filling the air in a rush
of ghostly promise,
but I follow
through the walkways,
without the sacrifice.

I am uneasy
without the challenge
of surrender,
my body half-asleep in its
dark circadian rhythm
as you obey the Sun,
and I learn
to obey you

(I think
we surprised each other:
my clothes
falling away not to marble but
a hot stream,
falling open; not a shriek but
a whisper,
into step
with the hunter.)