I just have to make rent.


this is how thoughts start
and then ten years go by
and you’re still spiraling
like you hadn’t found the answer
but really I just
had to make rent.
that was my first priority
and I think I may be a masochist
which could wait just
keep everything in some sort of order.
focus on the task.
the one thought as I open
the door to the mid-August heat,
89 degrees which is nothing compared to
the south that can swallow you whole
in one boiling breeze and I’m out of
my now near empty row home
that you cleaned almost all the way
out before you left
except the dirty armchair, old couch–
all the furniture found.
all the dishes donated.
everything I left come back,
everything kind of circuitous
like my anfractuous spine
that stood straight once but
fractured under the weight
of this constant need to materialize
public ovation and actual groceries and
the ability to discern between a happy
thought and an actual hand to hold,
I become the reed reaching deep
but bent,
become the way the wind moves
when it’s surging.

i’m counting tokens in a
donated tank top and barely fitting
jean shorts, everything about me
awkward and also sort of heavy in
the impassable space between states
I learned to love,
between beds I’ve been thrown on
and various seasons of us;
theorized or touched
whether it’s real or not,
irrelevant to the curve that’s forming
in my back as I hunch over the weight
of things I stuff in my bookbag
that I find on my walks out:
China set, forks, two new mini
skirts, pot holders neatly placed in
cardboard boxes on people’s
front porches and  I am,
crammed with charity,
stretched to my limit
and timorous.
I’m two miles to the El
with enough tokens to get me there
and back and enough money to pay
one phone bill,
one internet bill,
power and gas but we are still
working the rest out and
I feel drops forming at
the base of my
sweaty and salt-lined,
un-licked neck.
thatss what I miss most.
the way a man curls behind you.
the way his curtness catches you.
it’s just one breath.

you never ask about my mornings
or daydreams; just
twirl the edge of your Merit
between your thumb
and pointer and
years of pleasurable
silence,    it’s just one breath
look at me with such
masked inconsequence,
cold front and
lick whatever sugar is stuck to
my teeth,
go back to your lighter.
go back to your preoccupations.
go back to your opinion
that my anarchy is the danger of the
couple, not your ability
to wrap your fist around a throat
without a safety word.

it’s rent I have to worry about.

I put my headphones in.
began to spin the happy thought
into years; of us.
your brusqueness
  it’s just one breath
syncopated with whatever song
I assign it like I walked
into a film set, replay a scene
of you coming back and
behind me, your mouth
hot with acrimony.
your hands rough in
both touch from the ungloved carpentry,
spackled with white paint
and the way
you take my waist.
I hum out loud.
the loop is what I have to
worry about.
the way you press your teeth
to me.
        it’s just one breath.

“the men”

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