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Love Sorrow

Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her
into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street. For, think,

what if you should lose her? Then you would be
sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness
would be yours. Take care, touch
her forehead that she feel herself not so

utterly alone. And smile, that she does not
altogether forget the world before the lesson.
Have patience in abundance. And do not
ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment

by herself, which is to say, possibly, again,
abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult,
sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child.
And amazing things can happen. And you may see,

as the two of you go
walking together in the morning light, how
little by little she relaxes; she looks about her;
she begins to grow.”

Mary Oliver, Red Bird

POEM FOR ALWAYS MISSING PEOPLE

“there’s the sun going down
creating that fluorescent glow
reminding me i’ll never be able
to re-live this day, except in memory.”
- m. kozelek

there are two oceans on either side of me yes i touched them both yes
there is no stopping me apparently. if i put a pin it, can we save
it for later, can we come back to it. can we ever come back to it.

i put my fist inside of him in the same house that i once slept
in a closet, in the same house where we sang snow in the night,
where they almost arrested us for trying to see above the treeline.

i put my tongue inside of him in a park just down the street.
we kissed outside of a denny’s. he didn’t say much. we fucked
in his car and i pissed in a river and i said: what is enough.

i kept moving because what else. i kept moving because home where
home how. i watched the landscapes around me change colour
and i watched the hair on me get thicker and i knew i knew

nothing. i knew she put a wreath of flowers in her hair i knew i hardly
recognized her. i knew i woke up and didn’t know where i was. she took me
to the emergency room and i tried to laugh it off even though what is

solid is anything. for a few days my hands didn’t really work and
for a few days i felt like i could feel it only when it was raining and it did
rain, quite a lot, so i stood out in it, and i waited for the feeling.

it came and it went. i went to that diner again with someone else.
i carved an x into my wall where his name should have gone, but it had left
me so suddenly, so severely. i snuck him in and he snuck right out.

maybe it’s because i know where he lives and for the first time i can feel
a beard on me, on both of us. i think: i am a man now and he thinks
the opposite. and his hands are kept so neatly away from me but his mouth

says it’s all that he wants. i knew not to pursue, i knew not to want, but
there was some of him in him, of him in him, and we so pressed our lips
together, tucked up against the wall, the sun rising. when all the girls vacated

the room, we were boys. at least that’s what i knew i could call it, what it could
feel like even if i could not call it that or feel it, even if his body was not just
boy and my body was not just boy and a poet is not to be mistaken

for a poem. this mistake can be made when trying to read someone. do not
ever read, he said. it is not about words now or ever, instead: let them come
on your face. this transaction is more likely to be justified as poetry.

we want it to be poetry because then all the words would fit and then we could
say something about coming home, having not come, covered in bites, bit,
bitten. he said: there is no pleasure. i think there must have been but what

does it look like, what shape is in it, what language, what words can we claim
around it. oh yes i was sick i was very sick, indeed i thought i was
dying, and a word could revive me again, but what word. not complicated:

a simple syllable, some sound how, some thing we can say easy and say often
say as often as we can because we must live through it, we must speak
it to one another constantly as if a suggestion of how, how do we

tell each other a secret when what is secret after having been
told. i saw secrets; i saw sections of seas, dreams, our most
vulnerable parts, our times of most guilt, most guts, wanting a gun, or

wanting to say something about being close to a light, a life form.
in a basement we gathered around and sung songs because we knew
how to say some, but there was still so much i could not speak about.

i did not know what to do so i put on a disguise for a while. i gave myself
a new name and i closed my eyes and i said i love you to everyone
that i encountered except the people who took off my clothes.

i shut off something in me because something in me was too big. i was
wondering about rope too much, lead too much, and the stomach burned
and there was the burn of it, lingering, and i decided to let it be, to let it burn.

i lost all of my identification papers and then i lost track of time. i rode
a bike (not mine) out into the streets of a city (not mine) to find anyone.
to put some skin in my hands and to remember that i have skin on my hands.

i swigged a beer and then both of us were inside of him. we called it sharing
the body but how do you share the body how do you locate what the body
is when you are sharing it, when is there some discharge when

there never is. he told me that he didn’t have enough money for gas so
i never saw him again. i turned up the volume and now noise. i got off
the plane and was in another city again. i got out of the car and wiped

my snot on my sleeve, my sweat into my teeth. i walked between
ferris wheels and surfs and found our names still carved there in the wood
because apparently nothing changes even though everything changes.

some storms came and lifted the wood away, some rain and some thunder
lit the sky and some of the water from one part of the earth moved to this
part of this earth, here, where i am standing, and i felt closer in the distance

but he was long gone. i forgot, or tried. i took vitamin c. i got better, some.
a map i was making got larger and they drilled into my head while
i kept quiet. they stuck wires on my body and said: something, something—

i could not make it out. i tried to stay away from things that brought
out the skull too much, that made it need to scratch, sure,
but then the blinding, the nights gone black, the numbers erased

from my head. waking up somewhere not knowing how there became.
not knowing how the feet got slivers. wanting to want to want
and not knowing what to want but so much wanting, so much waiting for.

i wanted to kiss someone else so i did. we built a kissing tent, knowing
the ritual of the kiss well. he said: this is how i would do it. and i said:
this is how i would do it. and then we kissed. it’s like we were children

because we were. he put a ring on my finger and i put that finger
into his ass, then more of me, as much as he would allow. i smoked
alone outside afterwards. it burned and i didn’t care. i didn’t feel different.

every minute was heavier, but i didn’t consider this a change. it had always
been that way, bent and such, looking at the ground and feeling like i would
float away all of a sudden, like: delirious, like: desire, like: do you ever think

of me i am thinking of you all of the time. how many snowstorms we survived
how many rooms we filled with smoke how many nights we stayed up until
the throat stung, until we were swollen, until we had had out the hurt some.

it is easier to speak about how much you long for a body when that body
has been shared with even if also you want to speak along the longing
for which there is no body but only wanting the presence of another.

which is to say that there are other ways we have been intimate, other
greater ways we have been intimate and not always pressing the body
against the body and not even always speaking, but how to talk about this.

perhaps that is all there is to say: the sharing of something greater, even if
always temporary, even if always in flux, even if sometime later she is still
sore about it and he has burned all of your letters and the bones have been

excavated. so what: we cannot keep everything but we keep keeping
what we can. i keep and keep close. i am often scolded for this, but i want
to know still about those nights what i can know about those nights, like

when we put a lamp on the floor and made shadow puppets on the wall
of her house and the cat slept on my stomach and i wanted to kiss
everybody but i didn’t kiss anybody. i sang a song instead, in the other

room. we drove up through the mountains until the ground was gone. under
the night sky that came down on us, i wondered about how to draw
a map of this night or any. i wondered what our song was together because

a song between us could be kept between us if only it were between us.
i mean, that there was always a wondering about between, about
together, if only we had made an effort to try to keep things there, but

his location was transitory and i followed him. maybe: we followed each other.
i played his clarinet while he was sleeping, forgetting that somehow
i let him inside. i carved a map of highway 101 into my arms and woke

up seasick. i say: shore. sure. in the hospital i have a vision of him, i try
to remember later. i shake and shiver. i think sometimes he was
a fiction, but then i think about the folds in his clothes, the way we were

not kissing. and what, then, is a mouth or whatever, what is this moment
of mouths meeting, what is this feeling that i can’t name now when he moves
from one room to another to another to another, so: like i am clutching him

where there could not be a clutching, where there can be nothing to clutch
and so: cling and cling and what then. what then. we all disappear, still.
there is no reason to apologize. your body is not mine. this body is not mine.

for a long time i did not touch myself between my legs because i was not
sure what was there anymore. the salt in my mouth was so much
that i couldn’t feel anything and he touched me even though i didn’t want

him to touch me and i didn’t say anything because i could not
feel it. i let her do it, too. i looked at her house through the trees
and thought about setting fire to it, to get even, but what is even.

what is it to say no after the yes has occurred. to transform
in the middle of a sentence while saying that sentence
or to wonder if you are in the middle of a sentence, are you finished.

sometimes i can’t help but feel like i have lost everything but what is it
to lose anything. when someone is dead at least they are really gone.
what do you do with the losses that are still here but not here. we carry

them around and we say: yes even when it is terrible to do so and we
keep carrying it with us even if we will not let anyone see it because what
are we doing here with it, what can we do with it, what have we done.

do you know what it is like to watch a friend sob uncontrollably
while slowly picking up a bag of spilled rice from the floor
grain by grain? or worse: to later watch him make her cry harder

and to pick sides? and then, to hate him, to hate every thought
of him, to wonder what then to do with the memory, that first one,
the pain of it, the sheer size. how do you carry that around

and can you carry that around. do you have to make something out of
it, do you have to make something, or can it just be dull, can you
just say, dear, i am tired, can you just let the worry wear off, or not know.

maybe i like not knowing you because then i don’t have to lose you.
i don’t have to hate that you love so hard, like i do. i don’t have to hate
what of me in you i see. i see nothing except your pants coming down

and hitting the floor. i see nothing but the tattoo on my arm that every time
makes me think of her, that every time makes me think of all those grains
of rice, and how hot it was, and how far gone i’d got from the map. i see nothing

but a zipper and a lit match and a fire i’ve been craving that only you
can give me, stranger, how quick and wild we can be, how you can just
make me forget i have a head on me, that it’s so full of this, this blood

and tissue and bone some. that it’s just scars on skin, that it doesn't 
have to mean anything now, even though every word feels like the last
one so i try and try to cherish them, to keep them close. i had bandages

on my arms and i asked him to kiss them, which he cursed me for
later. i did not regret it, not a moment, not a waking one. even if it was terrible
to touch our bodies together, to be needing it, like i always had a fever

with him. he and i shared loved in a new way: once. we slept in songs, let
the room be full of semen and smoke, and the bridges barely touched
the sky. he took me to the see them. we rolled down a hill. we fucked again.

it was a city i had been in before but now not dark always, not just lack.
it was different, somehow the same. he took a polaroid of me in the park.
i have no idea what kind of a face i was making. i never saw it.

sometimes i wanted to be a little cruel, to say: you were just drunk
and i was in the right mood to allow it even if it was not allowed. as usual, after
you sobered some, you crawled homeward, you forgot my name

or at least, how to say it. but it’s sometimes easier to be cruel than to tell you
about how horrible it was for me to think of you elsewhere, to think of a weight
on your body that was not mine, to think of missing a moment of missing any

moment when i knew that it would be impossible to have every one of them
i knew there had to be apart and i knew i wanted apart but then the thought
of your body and my body and not belonging and not ever belonging.

it was too much. to realize that i could never be everywhere. to think of her
rocking back and forth in a room, of him licking the sweat, of them in the trees
sawing wood and making bread and putting lights up on the houses

and never would i see the lights or eat the bread or smell the wood or taste
the sweat or hold her close and hold them close and hold it all so close
so close all at once all at once it could not be done, it had to be separate

you cannot be everywhere you can only be where you are. and where are you
and what are you scratching away at? when you stay and stay and stink?
all you’re left with is a memory and a memory is just something you can forget.

i tried to keep a list once of all the different places i had slept or shared sleep
in, but it got too long, i could no longer keep track. i started to forget
the cities somehow, i never knew not where i was not. one had a river

in it and one had rooms filled with duct tape and one had no books, not
any, never words here. here we stood and stayed, stuck. we convinced him
to jump into the river eventually. we pulled the duct tape off of our mouths

and we spoke our own words, we did not need the books. all they were was
heavy and all he was was heavy and all i was was carrying him and them
around. if i could not carry i could always care or care less, so

i kept some and slept some and tried not to be too beat by it. still there was
this knowing that never could it be quelled or made quiet, that never could
collective be choirs always singing, that never could we always come

together, fumbling around it, trying to find form in one another. we could
ask about how to share something but how do you share something.
we could ask about how to have simultaneity but we are already having it.

i felt it all at once even when i could not name the feeling or feel the feeling
full. i wanted to pound in his chest to make him feel what i felt but it was not
raining it was snowing, so i caught it on my tongue and knew not what was felt.

there in the snow i fell in love again and once i said it i could not stop.
i let my heart be wild and i let myself know that it was so and i stopped worrying
whether i could keep it tame or timid or timed. i let it beat its own beat.

yes it was terrifying because yes two oceans and yes together here and yes
not together ever and always so far yes so much distance so much space
between and being in between not fitting a category not fitting a feeling.

there is nothing else to do with all of this blood. i mean you can keep trying
to clean it up or you can keep trying to keep it inside you but it’s out it’s out
everyone can see it and why should you even hide it what is even the point.

i could not hide anymore there was blood everywhere, there was no more
white shirts kept clean, there was no more not saying it out loud. there was
only what i was saying and what was i saying and have i forgot.

there are some things i do not remember and there are some things i do.
i would try to talk about them. she would hold my head and keep holding,
knowing. i threw up all night afterwards wondering about the shame i felt.

i knew, somewhere, not to feel it, but everything told me to. everything
told me to organize it and put it away in a drawer and forget that it happened
because you can’t keep it all so close. but i still woke up in a sweat most

nights knowing that maybe if i had kept some more of her hair, maybe if i had
kept some more of this sand and soot and sock thread, i could have kept
what it meant more, but then it still stayed so far and i still longed for it.

i wanted him and i wanted her and i wanted us all together somewhere
separate. i feel like i let her get lost, but what is that to feel, what else is there
to fit together, can you keep separate and together, can you keep coming

back. i tried to write a poem about all of this and it didn’t work because
it was too big. it didn’t fit. i said: swimming alone in the backyard
and he said: there is no water in the swimming pool. this did not

concern me. there is no way to make this sound poetic: it is not.
it is me thrusting into you and you wanting it. it is me not being
able to wait and feeling you up in public. it is everyone mistaking you

for him. it is the difference between us that i want so badly so that
maybe i will know who i am. so that maybe i will not have to be so alone in this
when i am not alone in this when i am not alone you are here with me

even if you are not here with me. because here is only a location and what
is a location except a place. i had a dream we were all in one place
and that night i really did kiss her when i wanted to and that night

i didn’t so much dream it as i let it fill me, it became part of me, all
of it, you. i didn’t feel like the maps were quite as long and large, they weren’t
looming like. we cut them up into paper swans. we folded them back over

and over until it was all together, we were all together, separate.
it was not about our bodies it was not. it was not about what we could
say with them because we cannot say anything with them. it was just all of us

always being near and always being apart and always being always.
i mean that’s all i wanted, really. so enough of this language in the book:
what i mean is that i miss you. what i mean is i will never not.

Be alert
use your voice

it is strong– it is
strong

keep writing 
keep writing about 
it– don’t stop 
memorize these days
memorize these faces
memorize the network of history

make sure it never repeats
not tomorrow
not tomorrow– not
ever.