Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they're falling likethey're falling in love with the ground.
That night when you kissed me, I left a poem in your mouth, and you can hear some of the lines every time you breathe out.
I would kiss you in the middle of the ocean during a lightning storm cuz I'd rather be left for dead than wondering what thunder sounds like.
For JennAt 12 years old I started bleeding with the moonand beating up boys who dreamed of becoming astronauts.I fought with my knuckles white as stars,and left bruises the shape of Salem.There are things we know by heart,and things we don't. At 13 my friend Jen tried to teach me how to blow rings of smoke.I'd watch the nicotine rising from her lips like halos,but I could never make dying beautiful.The sky didn't fill with colors the night I convinced myselfveins are kite strings you can only cut free.I suppose I love this life,in spite of my clenched fist.I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree,and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers,and I wonder if Beethoven held his breaththe first time his fingers touched the keysthe same way a soldier holds his breaththe first time his finger clicks the trigger.We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.But my lungs rememberthe day my mother took my hand and placed it on her bellyand told me the symphony beneath was my baby sister's heartbeat.And I knew life would tremblelike the first tear on a prison guard's hardened cheek,like a prayer on a dying man's lips,like a vet holding a full bottle of whisky like an empty gun in a war zone…just take me just take meSometimes the scales themselves weigh far too much,the heaviness of forever balancing blue sky with red blood.We were all born on days when too many people died in terrible ways,but you still have to call it a birthday.You still have to fall for the prettiest girl on the playground at recessand hope she knows you can hit a baseballfurther than any boy in the whole third gradeand I've been running for homethrough the windpipe of a man who singswhile his hands playing washboard with a spoonon a street corner in New Orleanswhere every boarded up window is still painted with the wordsWe're Coming Backlike a promise to the oceanthat we will always keep moving towards the music,the way Basquait slept in a cardboard box to be closer to the rain.Beauty, catch me on your tongue. Thunder, clap us open.The pupils in our eyes were not born to hide beneath their desks.Tonight lay us down to rest in the Arizona desert,then wake us washing the feet of pregnant womenwho climbed across the border with their bellies aimed towards the sun.I know a thousand things louder than a soldier's gun.I know the heartbeat of his mother.Don't cover your ears, Love.Don't cover your ears, Life.There is a boy writing poems in Central Parkand as he writes he movesand his bones become the bars of Mandela's jail cell stretching apart,and there are men playing chess in the December coldwho can't tell if the breath rising from the boardis their opponents or their own,and there's a woman on the stairwell of the subwayswearing she can hear Niagara Falls from her rooftop in Brooklyn,and I'm remembering how Niagara Falls is a city overrunwith strip malls and traffic and vendorsand one incredibly brave river that makes it all worth it. Ya'll, I know this world is far from perfect.I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon.I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic.But every ocean has a shorelineand every shoreline has a tidethat is constantly returningto wake the songbirds in our hands, to wake the music in our bones,to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that brave riverthat has to run through the center of our heartsto find its way home.
...It’s hard to watchthe game we make of love,like everyone’s playing checkerswith their scars,saying checkmatewhenever they get outwithout a broken heart.Just to be clearI don’t want to get outwithout a broken heart.I intend to leave this lifeso shatteredthere’s gonna have to bea thousand separate heavensfor all of my flying parts.
My mouth is a fire escape.The words coming outdon’t care that they are naked.There is something burning in there.
I wrote too many poems in a language I did not yet know how to speakBut I know now it doesn't matter how well I say grace if I am sitting at a table where I am offering no bread to eatSo this is my wheat fieldyou can have every acre, Lovethis is my garden songthis is my fist fightwith that bitter frosttonight I begged another stage light to become that back alley street lamp that we danced beneaththe night your warm mouth fell on my timid cheekas i sang maybe i need youoff keybut in tunemaybe i need you the way that big moon needs that open seamaybe i didn't even know i was here til i saw you holding megive me one room to come home togive me the palm of your handevery strand of my hair is a kite stringand I have been blue in the face with your skycrying a flood over Iowa so you mother will wake to Venice Lover, I smashed my glass slipper to build a stained glass window for every wall inside my chestnow my heart is a pressed flower and a tattered bibleit is the one verse you can trustso I'm putting all of my words in the collection plateI am setting the table with bread and gracemy knees are bentlike the corner of a pageI am saving your place
The nutritionist said I should eat root vegetables.Said if I could get down thirteen turnips a dayI would be grounded, rooted.Said my head would not keep flying awayto where the darkness lives.The psychic told me my heart carries too much weight.Said for twenty dollars she’d tell me what to do.I handed her the twenty. She said, “Stop worrying, darling.You will find a good man soon.”The first psycho therapist told me to spendthree hours each day sitting in a dark closetwith my eyes closed and ears plugged.I tried it once but couldn’t stop thinkingabout how gay it was to be sitting in the closet.The yogi told me to stretch everything but the truth.Said to focus on the out breath. Said everyone finds happinesswhen they care more about what they givethan what they get.The pharmacist said, “Lexapro, Lamicatl, Lithium, Xanax.”The doctor said an anti-psychotic might help meforget what the trauma said.The trauma said, “Don’t write these poems.Nobody wants to hear you cryabout the grief inside your bones.”But my bones said, “Tyler Clementi jumpedfrom the George Washington Bridgeinto the Hudson River convincedhe was entirely alone.”My bones said, “Write the poems.
..when a war ends, what does that look like exactly?do the cells in the body stop detonating themselves?does the orphanage stop screaming for its mother?when the sand in the desert has been melted down to glassand our reflection is not something we can stand to look atdoes the white flag make for a perfect blindfold?yesterday i was told a storyabout this little girl in Iraq, six-years-old,who cannot fall asleepbecause when she doesshe dreams of nothingbut the day she watched her dog eat her neighbor's corpse.if you told her war is overdo you think she can sleep?
Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion, or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain?
and I wonder if Beethoven held his breaththe first time his fingers touched the keysthe same way a soldier holds his breaththe first time his finger clicks the trigger.We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe.
The trauma said, ‘Don’t write these poems.Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones.
Let me also say I wanna make you sandwhiches,And soup,And peanut butter cookies,Though, the truth is peanutbutter is actually really bad for you 'cause they grow peanuts in old cotton fields to clean the toxins out of the soil,But hey, you like peanutbutter and I like you!
I know this world is far from perfect.I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon.I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic.But every ocean has a shorelineand every shoreline has a tidethat is constantly returningto wake the songbirds in our hands,to wake the music in our bones,to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that new born riverthat has to run through the center of our heartsto find its way home.
And I say,I crash in to things in the darkEven when the lights are onAnd I am wrong more often than I am writingAnd even then, I am often wrongBut when my friends are in the bathroom at the barRolling dollar bills in to telescopes,Claiming they can see God,I will come to you
I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.Tell me why you loved them,then tell me why they loved you. I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirroron a day you’re feeling good.I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirroron a day you’re feeling bad.I wanna know the first person who taught you your beautycould ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living.I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving,and if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes.I wanna know if you bleed sometimesfrom other people’s wounds,and if you dream sometimesthat this life is just a balloon —that if you wanted to, you could pop,but you never would‘cause you’d never want it to stop.If a tree fell in the forestand you were the only one there to hear —if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound,would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist,or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness?