My Beating Heart: a Poem

Originally written in 2018 (revised in 2021)

Within this shelter, your beating heart will be a bomb
(waiting to explode); instead of him, her, or me,
your rhetoric will be because of your enemy’s fractured heart
thudding in their cracked rib cage.

You have written yourself off as a casualty of this war
(a hostage of the situation), and you swear
there is no way to leave this zone unharmed.

(Yet somehow, you declare it a happily ever after.)

Your beating heart demands fireworks
(flashbangs with brilliant colors).
My heart begs for pyrotechnics
(as though it was crafted to create a show).

Cling to your memories, baby,
because as the hours tick onward,
you will be as distant as that far-off town you live in.

Release the demons you have been swallowing
because my memories are mere accessories
and my heart is a hostage to the situation.

Your beautiful energy is hemorrhaging,
losing consciousness with each passing minute.
My cherished self-pity is a refrain to the song we all knew the lyrics to
(yet no one picks that melody for karaoke nights down at the local bar).

How insignificant is this movie scene to the overall effect of the montage,
yet somehow,
it’s all we can think about for days (perhaps months).

This scene is a car crash on a rainy night home,
and we’re counting bits of broken glass as though they are stars.

We have made our bed, as they say,
now, we must lie in it.
(Even as the shattered glass scratches down our back
like a set of untrimmed fingernails, leaving scars and hopeless reminders
of car crashes.)

Your memories constellate at this exact moment in time
(where time ceases to have any meaning whatsoever).

I have to ask you, darling, how could you bear witness to
all the things you saw & still crack a smile?

Your cigarette cologne is a scent you wear
after all these years
like a weapon, like an aphrodisiac.

Your beautiful energy is hemorrahging,
losing consciousness with each passing minute.

My cherished self-pity is a memoir that fell in the rain
and warped all the pages, the ink smudged.

Cling to your memories.
This scene is a car crash on a rainy night home,
You’re as distant as a city far-off.

We will sing melodies of a song we all know the refrain to,
yet no one picks at karaoke nights.
I will remind you of graveyards and ancient tombstones,
fire escapes, and long-abandoned lecture halls

like a ghost.

Your beautiful energy is evaporating now.
We have made our bed, as they say, now we must lie in it.

A Poem from Those Left Behind

A flame was never meant to extinguish this abruptly.
Starved of oxygen, your origami letters became ash in a mouth that bled (for too many years).

I would say goodbye, but the word is a branding iron razed against a smoldering tongue.

Forgiveness never came easily for the dead.
Graveyards are full of grudges and barely concealed debts.

When I told you that I loved you, I disguised the words (behind shattered glass bottles and origami letters confettied like New Year’s).

I remember your eyes cold like marbles, frozen like winter ponds.

(I made a half-joke and thought myself funny, but your lips never curled up in a smile.)

This is autobiography, but all you ever asked for was a poem or a story (but not this – not an obituary or elegy).

I could never say goodbye. I ran from endings & ripped the last page out of every book I ever read.

Sometimes, I wrote stories that ended in the middle of a

Gasoline: a Poem

The sins of my past tasted like cigarette smoke
and drinking my depravities straight from the bottle.

My broken bones always set
and the lacerations rarely left a scar,

but your words burn through layers of skin.

I never contemplated my future
until my skull hit the floor after
the guillotine slammed shut.

(I wonder if hindsight is 20/20
when you have less than stellar vision.)

I’m the greatest self-saboteur you’ll meet,
but even before he doused his kisses in gasoline,
I was busy learning how to tape together scorched pages
of a survival guide.

(If a metaphor was ever to be scrawled on my skin,
it’d be written in indelible ink,
the tattoo needle vibrating like a lullaby hum

None of this fountain pen sketching,
drawing ink from a piston.)

I have seen the skies ablaze with fire
because his love was arson
(a torching incineration)
and I was the love he poured gasoline over.