After the Affair

I have only your scent,
Slippery as the pieces of us
Left in a room at the Belle Claire,
Against a window, in the shower,
In the unmade bed. And

Your eyes, those terrible bloodshot
Eyes—I would like to remember them
Differently. Not like creatures
Held captive, waiting—always waiting
For death, watching death in dreams,

Death by firing squad—phantoms come
To claim newly discovered prey.
Your mouth, a sea-black womb
Birthing silent screams,
Stuck in your throat like hooks.

In the mirror I am
A replica of you, eyes set ablaze
With fever, sniffing row after row
Of scutter like a fiend, asking
The burn to feed my sickness.

Our love has corroded, it
Will obliterate me, flooding
Lungs like smoke, like night death,
And it is not the death I fear, or the dying,
But the possibility of being killed.


After endless nights, no sleep.
A station, a realm of tireless travelers,
Stink of nomads, empty beer cans,
Worse than day-old urine.
Half-sleep on park benches,
Some strange stairwell.
               The swift grip of a hand held, then released.
               A soft kiss on the steps of a building,
               Any building. Every building.
               The words uttered, unexpected—
               (I wear my bravery like a mask.)
I’m the bravest girl he ever met.
He makes me brave, I tell him.
Something I’m not sure I believe.

When I think I can fool him
As he watches me dance with lackluster friends, does not dance with me,
A reluctant participant,
He says, How can you live like this?
               —such posing; all alone.

A shameless girl needs her secrets, needs her mask to
Wear like a coat in a morning freeze.

She never mentions what he missed, never bares
The masked portions of her face—
The anger, self destruction, that of a fatherless girl,
The loneliness that comes with being the girlfriend of a thug whose
               face you don’t remember
Getting fucked on an uncovered mattress, or
In the back of his friend’s Chevy, drops of sweat like grenades,
Breath stale, voice like dry dirt, always asking,
“You like that?” but never expecting an answer.
She offers only a roll of the eyes, a lie, and
She’s reduced to a cum stain his friend will not discover on his back seat until the

In dreams, I’m that girl again
               —so free; so all alone.

© 2008 Underground Voices