debate

Staring out the window of an eleventh-floor conference room. Beyond glossy tables topped with glasses of water, the sun sets over Melbourne. She never looks the same. Skyline always seems to change. Haven’t been here long enough to recognize what was, let alone how it becomes. Alas, I distract. Watching red and white pass, to and from flowers and the hive. In a split moment, into those lights, I feel detached from this life. Will anything we say here translate there? What to make of a tower. Bathing in philosophy while people without water. Sliced by fences. Strip-searched of rights. In here, few cushioned. Sipping. Talking, thinking, reading, and writing. Arranging thoughts, growing fields. Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here. I mustn’t belong. Not—able—enough. But who is to say who gets to stay? An amniotic slip, gasping for air. Between pockets of meaning and earning. Where are they going? Home to families or alone in boxes. Nowhere and everywhere, staring into a screen, just like me. That space I crave, pushing every him away. Curling “Learn Spanish and Leave” into the margin. Not complaining, just debating. What a fucking gift: to be a student. But what’s the point trying to hold a line? Seeking a PhD? Injecting Latin. Punctuating rationality and morality. The letters and numbers don’t add up. An insufficient balance = halted reach. Or can it seep from seats into policies? Alter the next for this planet. Where’s the ripple? Bouncing on a grid, sliding through that divine intersect, I giggle. Prefer poetry. But isn’t it all when the last petals fall?

may be

maybe too soon to understand
maybe each used the other as a means to our own misguidance
maybe we weren’t ready for It
maybe I like to make messes just to wipe circles
maybe it’s impossible to look back in a curl
to name the before
could have sworn we felt it without words
maybe we’ll recollect these scattered selves
restrengthen the illusion we’re becoming ends in and of ourselves
find that place there’s nowhere else to go
for now I’ll just keep going and going

maybe I think what may be too much
certainly we’ll never know

ride

cycled the whole city
river to the sea
terraced lanes my map’s never seen
but didn’t shed a bead of sweat
cheeks just got a little red
negotiating gears
to coil her chain
thinking back, peddled so fast
I didn’t feel a thing riding into that crash
locked in bed the next few days
wading within some psychotic break
until leaving again
for another spin

Deforestation

Nothing in all the world is quite so lonely as a lover who wants to love but loses his beloved in a jungle the two of them helped one another create, plant by tree by vine. Nothing in all the world is so pathetic as a lover who thinks he wants to stand but always finds himself lying down, thinks he wants to speak but constantly falls silent. Nothing in all the world is so helpless as a lover lost in a jungle he has helped to make and cannot find even the edge of.

There is no escaping, either for the lover or for his beloved, when the vines have closed off the sun, when the trees have closed off the wind, when the plants have grown into a thick wall that no foot was ever meant to penetrate. Escape is never a possibility, anyway. The only possibility is demolition — either the jungle or themselves. They must choose. No one else can choose for them, and they cannot escape the choice. It is their choice. They will live with it forever.”

-Burton Raffel
Lovers Losing Lovers

Poems for Pedro

(x of xx)

vii

sea shells he brought for me
stained with my ankle’s blood

ix

it’s just sun on a page
until you look away
at another man with a suitcase

x

as soon as I drank him,
I went into a trance
and knew exactly what to do
oh no my pages run up quite soon
didn’t know he’d take up so much space

xii

everything else
the ink leaves out

xv

he wouldn’t want to rush anything
all these weddings around me
a man sprints past
a woman poses
a boy in Doc Martens shamefully stuffs
plastic checkered picnic blanket
into an overfilled trash bin
a little girl screams
“FLOWERS!”

xvi

all the leaves
I can’t collect or recollect
still fell

xvii

two men on their way
with a gallon of cooking oil,
preparing love

xviii

eye contact with a skater
as he bombs the hill I climb
it’s all happening in front of me
while I’m busy writing it down

xix

back through
the same alley I entered
of course I can’t breathe
with my nose plugged

xx

he gave me a poem