a sort of pardonconsider your skin and all that’s dwelled in it.a sort of pardon by learningtobefree
where did your body find the curves and twists to move like that –
within itself, another house inside of a house inside of my body.
where did my body’s skin crawl with all those fingers grasping at it?
consider my skin spread flat next to your skin, the edges overlapping.
i found a spider inside of my mouth, it must’ve come from one house or the other house.
anyway, i let him stay there.
where did your head learn to bow like that?
thank you for letting me build one of the houses on the back of your neck.
consider my chest and the fire and the red in our throats — i forgive you.
the gameimagine your body — not how it is but how it isn’t.the game by learningtobefree
imagine two very strong hands pulling your mouth apart
until it’s a giant hole and imagine the hole your favorite color.
imagine the color spilling — trickling, really, out the sides
of your new mouth and try to taste your favorite food.
where did your tongue go?
high-five the two very strong hands for a job well done.
it isn’t easy to rip a body or invite one in.
say thank you and imagine your wretched, spilling body
on the floor of a living room that isn’t yours.
what color are the walls?
imagine your body inside of your actual body.
are you more beautiful?
Adam's HouseYesterday afternoon, I invited the part of me that holds AdamAdam's House by learningtobefree
in for a few drinks and now, I know why the chair
in the front room creaks apologies from its black leather.
I heard it in a dream that happened in the mocha-colored room
of the 1973 House and still,
I cannot recall why I slept there or what the bed sheets taste like.
Do I always smile like my brother, or really, only like Adam?
Tell me the shape of Adam’s Body, please,
since I can only gather his entire tongue
and even that spills from my mouth.
The time I couldn’t move fast enough,
he blamed me for the fire and all the fire took and the time I spilled coffee
I only tasted blackly, I delighted in its burn.
When Adam reads about me, he crawls to the house
to salt its bamboo flooring and sips at hard, hard coffee when he’s there.
I’ve made my bed only twice since the damn house disappeared.
The first, I scrubbed away all the dark stains.
The second, my ribcage cracked a soft “sorry” and beg
the shape of your palm when you reach for mein the Cadillac that is no longer real or even mine,the shape of your palm when you reach for me by learningtobefree
the old dog sinks its teeth into my neck
and i recall the punch of desperation.
in the body that is no longer,
i create a new body and name it
The Shape Of Your Palm When You Reach For Me
and it does not like that name. it smells
too much like Cadillacs and
chasing down anyone to ask if they’re yours.
Draw The Shape Of This Tremor, this one right here,
and feel my mouth against my other mouth’s ghost.
i ask the dog its name and it wags its tail,
almost to say
Smile The Way You Can
but i still haven’t.
tomorrow or maybe the next day,
i extract a tooth from the right side of my neck and reach it toward your palm:
Whose Tooth Is This?
Whose Pain Is This?
after all this time, you hope to finally taste my skin, its salt, its smile.
not lovingly but not quite in a hurry,
i place the tooth at the base of your middle finger and drive away.
in Appleton, Wisconsin, there is a boy named Cael
who dreams of Copenhagen and draws demonic flamingo.
his spine is curled the wrong way from countless years of binding.
his parents do not approve of his gender. he loves them anyway.
in Bay Village, Ohio, there is a girl named Roxy
who sleeps with her eyes open. her dreams climb
up her purple bedroom walls and sprinkle into her hair
as she watches, wide-eyed. she smiles like sunshine.
in Salem, Oregon, there is a boy named Andrew
who writes poetry about the laws of physics.
he is going to college to learn how to be a professional.
he has ramen-noodle hair and soup in his veins.
he told me once that sometimes, love can swallow you.
in Farmington Hills, Michigan, there is a boy named Jordan
with big hands and a smile that makes him look 6 years old.
his favorite word is cumbersome because he likes the way it rolls.
he kisses like a firework and hugs like a fireman.
i look for him in everyone.
in Pawtucket, Rho
Malalai heard a child scream once,
and it was the sound of Algebra,
the Cold War,
but also a mango seed
scraping wood to etch grammar rules.
my privilege mirrors bomb threats.
i have three dream catchers in my room,
all of which were created by foreign hands.
my hands tell a well-kept secret,
notebook paper and straight-edged rulers,
pencils with erasers attached.
the mango falls from the tree and the tree
understands its nakedness.
the student drops out of school and the school
understands its cut budget.
Malala nearly died for her right to literacy.
who am i, insignificant, ignorant,
to rebel against a system whose brokenness
is so manically coveted?
broken feverthe first time a boy
smoked too many
of me, he became
a man. he coughed
my blood into his
palms, tasted my
iron & grit, his tongue
finally learned the
inside of my body.
he clutched his chest
and felt only my heart-
beat. the pulse of a
moving car is one akin
to racing cattle or maybe
just a fever the moment
before its break.
i do not know what it
means to break; only
to burn out like a brilliant
star, or just another