They say things change

I suppose it's true
that
connections and 
friendships 
wax and wane

that
falling in love
and career pursuits
take energy
and 
priority

Still I wonder
or maybe regret.

the
appraisal of life's
needs and 
obligations 
and my own wants 

it's the balance
I have not yet learned

In the next room

In one room
my grandmother begs for peace.
She cries for her mother,
screams in confusion and pain.
 
In the kitchen, he cooks dinner alone.
Smelts, fresh bread, salad, a beer.
I watch my grandfather as he moves
quiet and purposeful.
 
He fries the fish as he holds back tears.
He hears his wife cry out in pain.
His own is angry, frustrated.
He tells me,
 
“this was not supposed to happen.
This is not how I imagined the end.”
 
He sits at the kitchen table
the Steelers’ game plays in front of him
He does not notice me watching
as he drizzles hot sauce on his meal.
 
He turns, sensing me behind him,
tells me to grab a plate.
I do, knowing this is an important offering.
 
He fixes me dinner,
too many smelts than I can stomach,
salad, and bread.
I begin to eat silently next to him
 
This is his language of love.
 
He gets up suddenly
grabs a glass from the cupboard
pours half of his beer in the glass.
He hands it to me.
 
I drink. I take him in.
I say nothing. Because I know
he needs this. He needs me
to be silent with him, to eat
the food he has made
to accept what love
he has left to give.
 
To do something
anything.

Burn

There is pain
at the center of my chest
it reaches for cold,
anything to soothe the fire
you had no intention of lighting.

Tell me,
what is the antidote
to loneliness?
To rejection?

You do not reach out.
It hurts more than if
you’d simply write
to tell me
I am not the one for you.

I am burning, burning,
don’t you see?

Moments and meaning and time
swirling around,
wasted.

Wasted on
thinking of a love
that never began
or lasted
long enough
for it to burn.

Language Barrier

In Portuguese
you describe
the point in your life
when you decided
to free yourself
from ties and commitment,
accountability.

In English
you said,

“Yes, I’m open.”

In your language,
in your truth,
you come to terms
with your spirit,
split in two
half existing elsewhere
the other seeking joy, here.

A vagabond has no home.
Potentially aimless,
leaving ruin in some places.
Excitement in others.

A vagabond cannot hold
what I’m asking to be held.

In your language, you proclaim,

“Eu ainda estou levando esta vida.”

Vagabundeando.

I reach for you in my own language.
Your answer is a mixture of
words I do not understand.

"Come here,"

I want to say.

Make a home in my chest,
have adventures with me.

You choose something else,
a different life.
A different person.
You choose everything but me.

I am no place for a vagabond.
I may be searching
but this heart has roots.

I’ll look to the south

You are 
your favorite authors 
your beloved
literary characters.

I dive to understand
your mind 
and come up
breathless and more confused.

I seek refuge among
the clues you’ve given me
in memories a decade old.

I review the
drunken truths you let
slip that evening. 

I only get you
when your guard is down, 
broken in with substances
meant to numb you.

I just hope I find you
before you meet the same fate
as the characters you look to
to fill your lonely heart. 

Loss

There is an understanding 
that emerges
with the experience of loss.

It's an emptiness
and fullness.
Grief mixed with hope.

It could be
two people
in different life events,
unmatched feelings,
let downs.

Whether potential is not met
or another chooses
to withhold contact,
it seems important to lose
because it means
one was open
to gain.

The loneliness remains
in the idea
that one day
there could be
connection and joy
in the company of another.

There seems to be
something compelling
in the act
of losing the potential
of another.

I want to acknowledge
that loss
doesn't mean
something was lost.

Dreamworld

 The other night,
I found you in a dream.
You were tender and kind
and offered momentary affection.
Even in this dreamworld
you left.

I awoke
feeling emptied of
the intense intimacy
you could provide
and chose
to take 
away.

There is no voice louder than my own (lavender)

I wish I could describe
the voice in my head,
with all its power,
as kind.
As a friend.

On its fifth hour
of circling around
with reminders
of what I do not deserve,
I look to another voice
any other sound,
to silence my own.

A friend sends me the song
"Lavender".
For a moment,
my mind calms.
My chest makes space
for breath.

After a few minutes
of peaceful silence
I let me voice speak.
This time it's easier on me.

Maybe the voice in my head
is in need of a friend.
A kind word.
An embrace.
Some lavender.

T-shirt

I’m thinking of
how it felt
waking up to the sunrise
in a room that wasn’t my own.
 
I watched it rise higher
as I thought of the night before
how magic was made,
co-created with quick wit,
intimacy,
hearing the stories of
the rocks and art in your room.
 
I tried to rest,
and when sleep wouldn’t take me,
I reached across you
for the cup of water on your nightstand.
You startled awake.
 
I rose from the bed to leave.
We talked lightly as I
put my clothes on.
 
I don’t remember the words you used
or the tone in your voice
when you instructed me to
leave the shirt
I had borrowed to sleep in.
 
And I think in that moment I knew
I wouldn’t be back in this room
or in that bed
or under the two blankets
sleeping next to you without
a pillow because you only had one.
 
I took the T-shirt off and
didn’t listen to your explanation
of what it meant to you
and don’t remember if
I even asked
or if I said
something funny to blunt
how it felt being told
to leave this piece of you.
 
It was in that short sentence
I realized
you didn’t want any loose ends.
I would be a temporary connection,
an afterthought.
 
Now looking back
at a moment meant to mean nothing
but charged with more than
I could’ve grasped in the
fog of alcohol,
I wonder what it is
that T-shirt means to you.
 
Maybe you just like it.
It’s vintage and cool
and worn and
it looks like its traveled and
I loved the way it felt when I put it on.
 
When I took it off it felt cold and
used and I
wanted to tell you that I
didn’t want to take it from you
in the first place.
 
And in hindsight I know
that the t-shirt didn’t fit,
it wasn’t mine to wear.
Maybe the contrast of it on me
was too telling.
Maybe it was clear just how much
it did not belong to me.
 
It was that simple request
to leave what was yours
exactly where you wanted it
that led me to hear
what you have said from the start.
 
In the end,
I’m thinking
of how it felt
waking up to the sunrise
in a t-shirt that wasn’t my own.
 
I liked
wearing something
important to you and
although it was temporary
I liked how it felt.

I liked who 
I imagined
you saw in that t-shirt.

Ghosts

I won’t convince you either way.
You decided this
before you met me.

I picture
the ghosts
that may reside in your heart,
ones you haven’t made peace with.

I hope you find enough ground
to feel safe letting another in.
It seems that
in keeping people at a distance
they leave in the end.

A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Perhaps you said those things
to be kind.
Or maybe they were your truth.
At any rate,
I wish your
heart
had room for me.

I’m no exorcist.
My light
shines too bright sometimes
in dark corners.
I can’t dim it.
Not even for you.

After I left your place,
I went to the water.
I’m not ready to
walk with this,
knowing our brief
encounters are over.

I sit in the heaviness of it,
equally as freeing for me,
as I know we negotiated
the best we could.

At the water I release
ghosts of my own.
I see them for what they are.

Some hope goes with them.
I see you with clear eyes.
Kind and gentle.
Perhaps lost in your own head.
Unsure, tempted and fearful.

I can’t pull out of you
words I’d like to hear.
I can’t hope you’ll become
something you are not.

Despite the release,
I'd like to believe
you won’t become
yet another ghost
my words try their best
to understand.