i met you on the night of my birthday. i had a boyfriend. you had a smile that felt like quicksand. you hugged me as tightly as your jeans hugged your willowy legs. i didn’t even know you. we were the only straight people in a crowded gay bar. you bought me four different drinks because you didn’t know what i wanted. i didn’t know what i wanted, either. you said you loved me the following morning. i didn’t think you were crazy. what was i doing in your bed still? on new years eve we drank two cans of dr. pepper. your lips had ended their friendship with alcohol a year ago. your liver was home to bottles of lexapro. we sprinted aggressively for blocks after blocks in park slope wearing nothing but our underwear when the ball dropped. it was 30 degrees outside but my ribcage was holding in a radiator. we got drunk from the frigid air violently attacking our skin. you told your dad you wanted to marry me. he was concerned about his will. you cried like a maniac at the NQR union square station. your body trembled like a dog rescued from a lake. people looked at us strangely. you taught me to order avocado with my turkey burgers. i was convinced that my tiny fingers against your head would comfort you. they didn’t. once, i got intensely stoned and you tickled me for what seemed like an eternity on your kitchen floor because you wanted to hear me laugh for a long time. i didn’t realize that then but i do now. we would chase running trains and wave at passengers for fun. your mother was raped by a catholic priest. she was manic depressive. she asked you to kiss her once. you liked being softly kissed on your eyelids before you went to sleep. once, you were convinced i was making eye contact with your best friend’s boyfriend in a way that made your stomach twist and turn like a dirty rag against bathroom tiles. we rode the train back and forth until i managed to convince you that it wasn’t true. i don’t remember your smile anymore.
i stumble out
of the train wearing
lethargy on my face like
a little girl wears a plastic
tiara; my eyes
from lifting bags that are too large &
too heavy for them. i panic for
a millisecond while patting
my thighs to be certain that the
gloves that i accidentally stole
from you are still warm
in the hems of my
pockets. i own articles of clothing that
are scattered in different
states & continents; i leave
favorite novels on park
benches after finishing them because
my brain is the sort of
disobedient child who enjoys running
home. i do not care
about gloves or things that can be
purchased in department stores— but
i care about your gloves— two
little grey things, held
together by threads as loose
as my memory, because
they belong to you and therefore they are
a part of you and i would never want
a part of you to be left abandoned
in a moving train heading
to a strange quarter
she’s young, she said,
but look at me,
I have pretty ankles,
and look at my wrists, I have pretty
o my god,
I thought it was all working,
and now it’s her again,
every time she phones you go crazy,
you told me it was over
you told me it was finished,
listen, I’ve lived long enough to become a
why do you need a bad woman?
you need to be tortured, don’t you?
you think life is rotten if somebody treats you
rotten it all fits,
tell me, is that it? do you want to be treated like a
piece of shit?
and my son, my son was going to meet you.
I told my son
and I dropped all my lovers.
I stood up in a cafe and screamed
I’M IN LOVE,
and now you’ve made a fool of me…
I’m sorry, I said, I’m really sorry.
hold me, she said, will you please hold me?
I’ve never been in one of these things before, I said,
she got up and lit a cigarette, she was trembling all
over.she paced up and down,wild and crazy.she had
a small body.her arms were thin,very thin and when
she screamed and started beating me I held her
wrists and then I got it through the eyes:hatred,
centuries deep and true.I was wrong and graceless and
sick.all the things I had learned had been wasted.
there was no creature living as foul as I
and all my poems were
— Charles Bukowski