When I said I wasn’t with another girl
the January after we fell in love for the 3rd time,
it’s because it wasn’t actual sex.

In the February that began our radio silence,
it was actual sex. I hate the tight shirts
that go below your waistline.

Not only do they make you look too young,
but then your torso is a giraffe’s neck attached to tiny legs.
I screamed at myself in the subway

for writing poems about you still.
I made a scene. I think about you almost
each morning, and roughly every five days, I still

believe you’re there.
I still masturbate to you.
When we got really bad,

I would put another coat of mop water on the floor of the bar
to make sure you were asleep when I got to my side of the bed.
You are the only person to whom I’ve lied, knowing

I was telling the truth. I miss the way your neck
wraps around my face like a cave we are both lost in.
I remember when you said being with me

is like being alone with company.
My friend Sarah wrote a poem about pink ponies.
I’m scared you’re my pink pony.

Hers is dead. It is really sad. You’re not dead.
You live in Ohio, or Washington, or Wherever.
You are a shadow my body leaves on other girls.

I have a growing queue of things I know
will make you laugh and I don’t know where to put them.
I mourn like you’re dead. If you had asked me to stay,

I would not have said no.
It would never mean yes.

Jon Sands

someone lives
in apartment four.
I know it because I’ve heard her fucking.
packages with her name appear
and disappear off the porch.
one whole week her snow boots were left
drying by the vents.
she likes to time her fucking,
ensuring it begins twenty to forty minutes
after I have fallen asleep, and lasts
until I have contemplated setting a small fire
both to force an evacuation (and a presumptive end
to the fucking) but also
in retaliation for the reminder
my own bed has never been
such a showy symphony.
I know she lives there
despite never having seen her;
the same way I know
the promise “nothing will change
between us” has been
quietly and unceremoniously broken.
saying we have not become
strangers by the distance
does as much good as saying
apartment four is empty.
(believe me, I know about the word empty
and the many meanings it can bear.)
there is no one to blame for this
but the both of us. I never put
my boots by the vents and now
it’s April and they are dripping wet

Brenna Twohy

The Meaning of Leaving

September 24, 2019

Maybe it was there
all along, in our shirtsleeves
on the heavy trees,
every time we
turned
left – as in the opposite
of right, which is also
wrong, as in the mistakes
I’m bound to keep making as long
as I long. I still love you but I can’t
stay still, that’s why I’m bound
for the coast in the old
truck blazened with rust, crest
of snow, crust of salt, the bed
that was our bed, you
in the rearview for hundreds
then thousands of miles – you
the cornfield, you the semi, you
the sirens pulling me over
and over. I’ve got my eyes
on the road’s gray throat,its soft
shoulder, its sign that says
yield. Maybe I was here
all along, driving away in the driving
rain, in the space between left
meaning remaining, and left
meaning already gone.

Ali Shapiro

Rain falling in the garden

September 21, 2019

Rain falling in the garden
I am not sad
we are both there, alone
you’ll light a fire, perhaps –

Wait, I know a story

Once upon a time…
it’s raining in my memory
I’m not crying, I’m certain –
Wait, please, I know stories
but it’s a little cold tonight
and this story is of people who
love each other.

The Dark

July 27, 2019

 

Wandering in the dark alone, feels strangely reassuring to me.

Poetry is the lonely, radical, precious expression of a single life. The singularity of the unique human soul who must cry out. Because of love, because of wounds, because of injustice, because of hunger, because of exile and migration, because of dispossession of every kind, because we have lost someone we love and cannot bear that loss, because night comes on and we are alone.

Anne Michaels
Infinite Gradation

The Cats Will Know

March 28, 2019

Rain will fall again
on your smooth pavement,
a light rain like
a breath or a step.
The breeze and the dawn
will flourish again
when you return,
as if beneath your step.
Between flowers and sills
the cats will know.

There will be other days,
there will be other voices.
You will smile alone.
The cats will know.
You will hear words
old and spent and useless
like costumes left over
from yesterday’s parties.

You too will make gestures.
You’ll answer with words —
face of springtime,
you too will make gestures.

The cats will know,
face of springtime;
and the light rain
and the hyacinth dawn
that wrench the heart of him
who hopes no more for you —
they are the sad smile
you smile by yourself.

There will be other days,
other voices and renewals.
Face of springtime,
we will suffer at daybreak.

Cesare Pavese
Trans. Geoffrey Brock.

unassailable serenity

January 31, 2019

…to make one’s center of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity – to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.

Edith Wharton
Letter to Mary Berenson
Reproduced in Edith Wharton: A Biography by R. W. B. Lewis

No map

November 17, 2018

I am alone here in my own mind. There is no map and there is no road.

Anne Sexton
January 24th

So you want to write…

July 21, 2018

In issolation

Writing is the hardest work in the world.

I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven’t been told a million times already – that writing is harder.

Lonelier.

And nobler

and more enriching.

When you’re all alone out there, on the end of the typewriter, with each new story a new appraisal by the world of whether you can still get it up or not, arrogance and self-esteem and deep breathing are all you have.

It often looks like egomania.

I assure you it’s the bold coverup of the absolutely terrified.

I don’t know how you perceive my mission as a writer, but for me it is not a responsibility to reaffirm your concretized myths and provincial prejudices.

It is not my job to lull you with a false sense of the rightness of the universe.

This wonderful and terrible occupation of recreating the world in a different way, each time fresh and strange, is an act of revolutionary guerrilla warfare.

Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison on writing