This breath
falls from
my mouth.

And this one.
And this. And more.
A finite number more.

I try to gather them
in my hands,
in ink.

A coarse scrape
a body makes
of a life.



Is this perpetual
browsing a self?

Yes, every night
pain does come
from a different place.

There is nothing
but that thing
just down the road,
down there,
beyond the trees–
do you see it?

It takes a long time
to become
what you were
when one who loved you
looked at you
with all that love.

We never know
what holds us
in the dark,
only that it is dark,
that we are held.

And these few moments
at the Chilis
at the airport
feeling love’s clenched jaws
unbite its laws,

they are worth it
for as long
as they are impossible
to define.


There is a limit to knowing the self,
the clicks that link a thought
to its wounds & forms,
heard melodies reiterated
so many times
they feel like my own thoughts.

I am tired of what I can know.
I want the cold
to matter how a song matters,
the lyrics so internalized
I mouth them
without thinking the words.

I want not knowing to fill me
like a familiar song on the radio
with which I sing along,
my heart beating
the off-time of its own sweetness,
my own life plagiarized,
my own voice in this public mouth,
unwarranted, unpublishable
in any state
other than this police state.

The other day I laid on a my back
with my friend Georgia, who is five,
& we tried to list out everything we don’t know.

I don’t know how to ask
the right question right now.
I don’t know how to be myself.
I was trained to speak another’s voice
until I was very nearly what
I thought others might
have wanted me to be.

I don’t know how suffering works.
It seems we each
are served a too-full glass
from which we sip
& we envy
each other’s glass,
which could not possibly be as bitter
as our own
& right when we have put a dent in the amount
the server comes by
& refills the glass
with a kind smile,
whistling that familiar tune
from the radio.

Maybe suffering
arrives in a mess of disconnected notes
& we each compose our symphonies.

What stands in
for what we don’t know?
For the words that become our names?

I want to feel something
I don’t know how to feel.

I think the radio
plays these familiar songs
to soothe the dead air, the lightlessnesses
where bodies form & undo
without ever having been known,
or not as themselves, as such,

how a hole never knows
what it is a hole in,

how I carry a plastic bag
in my back pocket
to have something
in which to catch
the puke.

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