I know you would say 'you owe me nothing'
But I know you think I owe you
just a little bit
You think you own a little bit of me
Not enough to say it
Or even think it out in
Enough though, to feel it in your hands somedays
on the insides of your cheeks
underneath the skin covering your ribcage that's stretched too thin
You feel it
Mid-day when your back is turned but you can hear my voice
When I brush past and the hairs on your arm wake up
On the cusp of sleep when your mind loosens up and dances on things you half-forgot
You feel 'I own you a little bit'
'You owe me something of yourself'
But you are wrong there
I am a little bit too much alive for you
I still have a vibrancy that you forgave yourself for never having fully
I am still finding how far my arms reach
and how tall I can stand when I'm standing up for something
You forget how much I belong to myself
I want to tell you (I want you to know)
that even though I make you feel something
in places you'd long forgot existed
in places you didn't know about before
doesn't mean I owe you anything
i'm trying to be honest
for a change
but you look better when i say your hair smelled of lemons
there was an aftershock when i kissed you
so strong i needed to hold you
with both hands
to steady the seismic tremor
that started in deep
and spread to all corners of myself
and i look better when i
tell you that i still wanted you
the night i took you to my unmade bed
and let myself undress you
with my eyes closed
but i can't sleep with your head next to mine
and i've been pretending i don't know why
but i think you know, already
(you've been pretending too)
it's funny —
being right after all this time
like some sick i-told-you-so
i've been playing with myself
and i see now that in this light
i don't look so good at all
but your hair has never smelt of lemons
and you weren't there the night the ground
did shake beneath my feet
help me god,
i still can't seem to tell the truth
the way i need to:
there is a warm bed on the floor of a
but it is not a home
i cannot feel safe
curled next to a man
who says he wears his heart outside himself—
like a badge
like a hand-stitched emblem on his shirt pocket—
but who maps out the quickest exits
as soon as he enters a room
who has already told me the ways
he will forget me —
the ways he has already forgotten me —
while i am still tangled up around him
you are a burner of bridges
of roads, of highways
you warm yourself
on all the endings you've ignited —
looking holy and alive
as the flames glow you a halo
and i've been trying to find a place
every time i'm with you
i smell smoke.
how far have you walked for men who’ve never held your feet in their laps?
how often have you bartered with bone, only to sell yourself short?
why do you find the unavailable so alluring?
where did it begin, what went wrong, and who made you feel so worthless?
if they wanted you, wouldn’t they have chosen you?
all this time, you were begging for love silently
thinking they couldn’t hear you, but they smelt it on you
you must have known that they could taste the desperate on your skin
and what about the others that would do anything for you?
why did you make them love you until you could not stand it?
how are you both of these women, both flighty and needful?
where did you learn this, to want what does not want you?
where did you learn this, to leave those that want to stay?
you covered me with burnt kisses —
with siren songs
waving your heart outside yourself
like a beacon
but it was just illusion —
smoke and lights and mirrors
aimed at those with simple minds
and i came running.
you tore me down
not all at once but in strips
thin as paint
one room at a time
until my body was made only of
the most basic elements —
nothing of substance
nothing to hold up to the light.
you seduced me with lips that tasted of
and words that sounded suspiciously like
· · ·
i only wish i had learned to speak firmly without
i wish i had taught myself the art of
in the sea of vulnerability you swept me into.
i only wish
you were everything i imagined
and i was the person i wrote as myself.
but we don't exist outside of the walls of what-might-have-been.
[don't listen to a word i've said
i've been crying bathtubs full
of crocodile tears since you left me.
trying to find the last shred of you
i lost somewhere inside these veins].