Here is the ending before the beginning:
I pick you out of my teeth like spinach.
I take a bath and I don’t think about drowning myself.
My sister spends the weekend at the apartment and
doesn’t ask me about it, even though she can see
that my teeth have gotten sharper since last time.
Your name is just a name.
I am still in one piece when I close the door.
I say “thank you for everything” and wipe my mouth.
You watch the Discovery Channel and see a lioness
lick her bloody paws after a kill.
You think of me and wonder if the grass was really so tall
that you couldn’t see me coming.
I am growing into something fierce and hungry.
When I kiss your skin, I am only trying to taste your bones.
Whatever is left of you, I hope it forgets me.
And when we crossed the state together you could feel its insistence. And when we crossed the state I knew you were my husband from familiarity. Two hearts can know the length of something more than one alone. Two people can live in one house, and day to day it can feel like a large or small house. If a year passes should I feel more or less alone, more or less a function of the family I am? If a car passes on the highway that looks like ours, can we believe in an alternate universe where we are coming from or going to other places? Do we then have to imagine all the places we could be where we don’t pass ourselves, and what if I am alone in the car? And what if I am happy or sad in the car? And what if we pass the car again and inside we see two teenagers we never looked like? When we get home the house looks bright enough to welcome us, the clementines still ripe in the bowl. The brightness fakes a cleanliness. We could return to the couch. We could build a whole cat from all the fur under the furniture where the vacuum cannot reach.
I do not forget the north
of your naked, nor the froth
of your ambition. I wear that
compass like tattoo.
To grow is what I like
about you: how it looks.
How you draw the icon
from its tooled&pearled holster.
Hot as a star.
Probably 90 percent of what any artist does is practice. We practice
and we fail and we fail. You set your pen to the page every day, and of course, you’re hoping that something grand will happen. But the chances are slim, and you know that going in, but you go in anyway. That’s faith. You keep hitting the page, hoping that something’s going to fit, something’s going to happen, something’s going to bloom up out of it. And the more you practice, the more that possibility of success is present. The more you do anything, the greater the possibility that something might actually come of it. So you constantly live with failure, and yet, you know that that failure is teaching you something.
When we see a good poetry reading, we are witnessing a writer becoming open enough to get in touch with what they’ve written, the same openness they’ve implicitly asked of the audience. It takes a risk to stand in front of people as if you have something of value to share. Let that come through and be as uncool and awkward as you need to be to get it done. The writing deserves it.
Here’s a brand new video of a poem that I am very excited about. It was filmed a few weeks ago on a rooftop in New Orleans by Travis Henri and the BalconyTV team. This poem was written for New Orleans. It was written for Lexi and Sasha and Sophia and my mother and Kaycee and Julia and Sam and so many other people that held my heart.
It was also written for you, human.
2012 was one of the most challenging years of my life. I made it. I’m here. Reading poems on rooftops.
(If you like the poem, I’d love for you to share it and ‘like' it on youtube. It would mean a whole lot to my little ol' heart.)