“The Lover” and Two Poems

The Lover

Don’t pull your hand away, let it rest
on my shoulder. Warm breeze through
the open window. Heart that refuses
passage of time, which will never
let anything last.

I was four at the time. He was
forty-two. It was love, sunlight
on the doorknob. Smooth, bright.
I was touched, which meant
I wasn’t lonely anymore.

You don’t know what shame is
until your parents teach you. You don’t know
you were harmed until you’re left
alone again. Sunlight on the doorknob
dripping gold. All was light and warmth
until heaven closed its black gates.

Because I felt loved, I was no longer
a child anymore.
Innocence depended on
my trust, which lacked horror,
which was lust for his touch.

Pleasure is never
alien to the body. It is always immediate.
If the man is good at what he does,
he’ll know: the child will say yes
to any words that will make
the loneliness go away.

Father on the phone, thousands of miles
across the ocean. The absence startles.
And the fulfillment of longing
comes in many forms. For the developing heart,
there is no distinction between
father and lover. The dark is disguised,
and truth’s blazing gaze is too
unbearable to face.

On Empitness and Euphoria

I was desperate for love.
My self-worth had been annihilated
by the coldness of my parents, the ugliness
of living in a body defiled by a relative.

I needed someone to remind me
that I deserved to keep living, that my soul
had a place among the elements.

The kindness from friends, the guidance
from teachers, the beauty of the natural world

were not enough. The love I sought
had to be demeaning, had to strip all
semblance of self.

Sex was the answer, bringing me
freedom I’d felt as a child,
brazen in my hunger for life. So I
slept with men, believing
that was all I was good for.

I no longer
had a mind, a heart. Anything
that could make me human and thus
prone to suffering. I was used. Life
made sense now.

The traumas of the past
had to be re-lived, to assault the present with
gratuitous truth. The books were wrong.
The soul did not need to move on. It should
stay seeped in despair, macerating in dark oils.

The pursuit of peace has asked
too much of me. I cannot deny desire,
I cannot imagine sex as
anything but sinful. It was never love I sought
but punishment for the defilement
I experienced as a child. What a relief now,
to plunge headfirst into ruin,
to be the answer to my own
cries for salvation.

An Ordinary Man

At the start of summer I thought
only love could make my body
welcome the earth. I thought my soul
could finally rest, knowing it belonged
to the garden hidden
from the desolation of winter.

What led me to blindly believe
summer wouldn’t harm me as well?
Sunlight, when it was always there,
becomes an ordinary thing,
and he was an ordinary man
whom my desperation took in
like the night does with the stars.

Last Boat Home

Why not jump in / and swim back to that place? We came from // the water.

"Almost" and Two Poems

the whale doesn’t move // the sea fills its stomach // with things that cannot sing