Love in Forms

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

It’s really easy to write about love. It connects so deeply with all of us; it’s a feeling we understand and can never understand. It’s complicated and filled with uncertainties. And we’re so deeply set in our ways and our preferences and our passions that sometimes we miss out on the greatest of loves. Sometimes we forget to love our families, our friends, our selves. Sometimes we think we matter to someone. Sometimes we don’t matter one bit, and realize it too late. Sometimes we don’t know we’re in love. Sometimes we think we loved, when we never did; it just seemed like love at the time, and that’s how we remembered it. Sometimes we love someone like family. Sometimes we’re in denial that what we’re feeling is actually love. We wonder if they think of us. We wonder about them often, more than we should. We’re tricked by lust or obsession or envy and masking it as love. We’re telling someone we love them because it gets us something. We’re saying we love, when we know it’s not real. We’re loving based on one facet of a person, instead of the whole of them. We’re using love as an excuse to stay. We’re letting the one that got away, get away. We’re loving only when it’s convenient, or starting to admit we are. When they leave, we don’t actually miss them. We’re not letting new love in. We’re avoiding feeling. We’re lying to avoid love.

Which is why it’s so easy to write about. Simply because it’s so hard to explain, to experience in one way. We write and we question and we wonder—what kind of love has taken place? And how has that love changed me?

This poem is about one of those kinds of loves. The one that never happened:

Strangers

We’ve never met.
We have, but not really.

Sure, we’ve talked:

we’ve shared our fears,
our life stories,
our anxieties,
our goals,
our ambitions,
our hates,
our humor,
our history,

maybe even intertwined souls at some point,

but we’ve never met.

You don’t know me
because you’ve never asked.
It’s easier to maintain distance,
even when you’re so close,
I can feel your breath on my back,
your words in whispers down the nape of a neck
that never had to be mine.

We’ve never met,
and in never meeting, we could never fall in love.

You’ve made sure of that,
as have I,
and my past experiences have guaranteed
that this lack of meeting would never be one-sided,
my heart never misguided
because I never let you let me in.

We’ve never met.

And from what you’ve told me
I don’t know if we should ever meet.
I’d rather spend my life never knowing who you are,
than to fall in love with the idea of us,
of what we could be,

and yet,
sometimes I have to tell myself I’m being silly,
that meeting you is no more dangerous
than meeting a stranger
that you’ve bumped into in passing on the sidewalk.

“Excuse me.”
“No, excuse me.”

And you part ways, the exchange and the meeting lasting only a moment—

and you never see them again.

The Feast

I’ve had my moments of dishonesty,
but honestly
at that point I was so unhappy
you could wrap it in your hand
and the sadness would slide and seek,
bite down with teeth
into the soft blue of the veins beneath
your wrist.

Make a fist, honey,
and release—
let the blood flow openly
like your door flew open
and let her in
so quick,
your heart thick
with lust and darker things…

But I’ll tell you the consequence that rushing brings:
you do not know her.

She’ll eat you alive,
she’ll roast you at 400 degrees,
20 to 30 minutes in that heat
until you give her all of you
so she can feast
on what’s made you soft,
then chew on your bones
like she’s one of those dogs you love.

I hope she doesn’t hurt you,
but she will.
Girls like her, they get a thrill
from pounds of flesh
they pull from far beneath your chest
in the caverns of a place
where you once loved me.

You’ve probably learned to forget
what made us break:
your first mistake,
to be made more of skeleton
than heart.
You made the concept of dishonesty
an art,
then pretended it was me
who killed us.

The Pillow

“Impressions” — a marble piece depicting a pillow showing the indentation left by a sleeping head — by Sebastian Martorana

Have you ever rested on a pillow
and wondered
whose head has rested there before?
Whose strands of blonde hair are caught
in the side zipper?
Whose body wrapped around it,
a snuggled head,
a little bit of drool,
the remnants of foolish love,
of heartbreak,
of her home before she knew him?

She left that pillow for you,
so you could rest your head
on what’s left of her,
a piece of
false comfort,
a pillow she used to love,
before time wore it into
faded fabric, unwashed,
the scent of her so intertwined in thread—
you couldn’t even tell
she had been there.

How to Fall

So due to a request, I am finishing a post I started about 3 years ago. There wasn’t much content to it to start (literally just a phrase or two), but some of the best work often comes from nothing.

So to begin: I haven’t considered falling. Haven’t fallen recently. Haven’t stumbled. But if I must…

A Guide to Falling Head Over Heels

Woman Falling

How to fall:

gracefully, with palms splayed out,
you should hold your hands just so,
ready to clench
and take the maximum impact of the world away from your chest,

breast shaking with the nervousness of seeing him,
the what if’s hanging like a burning halo,
the will he still’s tugging at the heart like it’s wrapped
with ribbon—
ribbon that’s been cut, scraped against the blade of a pair of scissors, and curled so tight
like a lock of unkempt hair.

And this is where you tell your thighs to hold steady,
knees at the ready to take the brunt of the drop,
because you know full well what comes next
after the world stops,
and you feel your heart exit
in a stage dive into an audience of one.

Will he catch me?

The faster the fall, the less time he has to keep you
from launching forward,
your head hitting ground before it has the opportunity to think,
before the heart’s allowed to sink
into feeling
too much too soon.

But this time the fall is semi-slow,
unhurried from one phase of descent into the next,
and when he hesitates, like you expect,
you’ve already hit ground,
your hands cut up,
your balance unbound
to gravity.

You decide you don’t want to be hurt so badly
so you push yourself forward a little harder,
somersault through the hopes for something more,
and pick your head up from the twists of the carpet,
from the comfort of floor.

You rise from the ashes of your fall like a phoenix

you rise
you rise
you rise

from the fear of heartbreak,
a woman privy to the trick of falling
to sustain less damage
because predictability
is never something worth falling for
(at least not enough to actually hurt yourself).

You want something more:
something worth diving for
face first into the waves,
unpredictable in their undulation.

You want the clean chaos
of a home that looks neat to the naked eye,
but when you pry a little deeper
is littered with the artifacts of life.

How to fall:

you don’t.

You rise
you rise
you rise.

Young Love, a Poem

I was told very recently that I should not stop writing poetry, despite life’s tendency to make me procrastinate. But I haven’t procrastinated, not really. I started working at a job I really enjoy. Still doing Zumba (getting certified on Sunday!). And still making changes to myself I didn’t think were possible. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been, and I have my friends, my boyfriend, my employers (both current and previous not counting my internship), and my family to thank for it. So here’s a poem about young love, because love should always remain youthful—butterflies and all.

Young Love, A Poem

I fell in love for the first time,
when I was seven
because at seven
Disney princes
were easier to come by
than Followers and #hashtags,
walls you couldn’t climb
and photos unfiltered.

I used a typewriter then,
to finish science projects and school essays
taking paper to the back of paper,
to get rid of a mistake;
and
if all else failed
used White Out
before White Out
was cool.

I fell in love again
at ten
when young love kissed me on the forehead
without me knowing,
one year older
but not wiser
that one day
he would break my little heart
like cracking open a piñata
with a bat.

BAM!

And from there the candy flowed,
pieces of piñata heart fluttering—
playing with the air like twirling curls
around fingers

(much like I did at sixteen,
because I’d seen it in a movie once).

And if he saw me now,
another piñata heart later,
he’d see me whole again,
plastered together with little bits
of super glue
and glitter,

sun glinting differently with every
life turn or “I love you”
whispered in older ears,

against the faint jingle of mnemonic bells:
a dream a heart had wished it made,
a kiss to wake from sleeping,

the dragons finally slain.

How to Break Up with a Girl

It’s been a while since I’ve written much of anything. Too much has been going on. Or perhaps, not enough. Either way, here is my attempt to get back into the swing. The poem below originally started with the “Tell her” lines. I wrote the rest of this, on-the-spot, around them.

How to Break Up with a Girl, a poem

If you want to break up with your woman, lady-friend, lover,
I suggest you confess your intentions,
without mention of a lie.
Because once she sniffs it out, nose more canine than human,
lie-cocaine, lie-bacon,
lies that smell so delicious, she can’t help but sniff out more…

she’ll probably slap you
with some sort of comment
that involves a vulgar word
or two
or three.

She’ll hunt you
aggressively
until she feels her heart split open
like a crack in the earth;
you all earthquakes,
and her, tectonic.

Or you can:

Tell her you love her,
then go sleep with someone else.

Tell her you miss her,
then go sleep with someone else.

Or maybe just tell her the truth.
That you aren’t the kind of guy
who dates just one
or two
or three.

That you look for love
aggressively
in many women,
other women.

That your heart is a wandering dog.

Atlas Loved

I’ve been working on the below poem for a few days now. I know it’ll never be finished, not really. Feelings change, I’ll change. But for now, this represents how I feel about romance. That no matter what happens, a minute sense of innocence and hope is still there, shrugging as Atlas does—the weight of love like the weight of the world.

Single
written by Alexa L. 

It starts with a break:

breakup
heartbreak
breakdown

and when you realize you’re
sort of
maybe
possibly
OK enough,
you put yourself back together with the life equivalent
of super glue

(except you get a little on your fingers,
which probably won’t come off for days).

And then you’re single.

But when you talk about it,
you’ll have to elaborate.
because when you say you’re single,
you could be saying you’re lonely,
desperate.
unlovable.

That you’re happy.

That you have some guy on the side,
but you’re single
just for the night.

That you’ve never dated.
That you date too much.

Or that you’re broken,
the boy yelling “Opa!” as he smashes your heart to the floor
woosh
crack
(but at least there’s dancing).

Being that single girl, though,
the girl with the plate-heart;
being that girl is hardest.

Not because you’re broken
(the glue dries quickly, remember the fingers)
but you’ve forgotten how to be you
without him.

You’ve forgotten how to go solo,
Han Solo,
a solo cup.

This is just you, babe.
You talk, maybe he’ll listen.
But remember everything is new from here,
your comfort zone, decimated.

I want to blame this condition
on being post-breakup,
because forgetting how to date is both embarrassing
and totally not your fault.

You try,
oh my god, do you try,
to understand the process.

But the problem with forgetting how to date,
and having “experience” is this:
you compare this guy to the bad one
and then blame the new guy for not
being as good as the old guy was
when he made you happy.

Awkward glances,
awkward phone call,
awkward questions
gleaning interest from
“Yea, well, that’s cool.
It could be like,
a date or something.”

Maybe it should feel like when you’re 16,
when you meet at the movies
and hold hands in the theater
and you make out

but probably not

because you’re afraid
you kiss like
like
like
really badly.

Maybe it should feel like you’re floating,
flying,
fishing for something to fill the little void
the tiny, tiny space
filled with planetary systems and Milky Ways
of I miss yous and please don’t gos.

Maybe it should feel like nothing.

Maybe I’ll try my hand at online dating
(OK Stupid, Plenty of Sea)
and write something about how
my amazingness will amaze you,
how hitting single status
isn’t hitting rock bottom.

Or maybe it is.

The worst though, is the starting over.
And the fact that though the plate is smashed,
it doesn’t mean the pieces aren’t still there
pulsing with love,
now singular.

Love Story

I don’t have much to say tonight, so I’ll leave you with the below poem. It was originally written on July 11, 2010, but indeed life—much like poetry—is created in a series of edits; my heart, its red pen.


Love Story
by Alexa L.

A limp
Kisses in the dark
Phone calls and flashing lights
Will you be mine?
Duh, of course I will.
I’m yours
for a little while
I’m going to the Navy.
Phone calls
Car rides
Please, don’t do this.
A vase breaks
a heart breaks
Please don’t go.
Condoms, text messages, phone calls
I hate her, I hate you.
I’m alone but I know you want me lonely.
Forgiveness, a paper rose, I love you
I wouldn’t dare to turn back time.
Singing in the dark,
a brush of skin
Text messages, therapy, forgiveness
I’ll always love you.
Forgiveness
I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK.
Kisses in the dark
I’m sorry.
It’s OK.
No, I mean it.
I know.
Car rides, airplanes
Distance, fear, guilt
But I still love you.
Goodbye.
But I love you.
No answer
No answer
No answer
Click
Tears
It’s over, spell it backwards.
Love, love, love
Fireworks
Boom.
Song lyrics
Click.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
A visit. A kiss
with someone else.
Are you happy now? I’d do it again.
Skyscrapers, second chances
I missed you, but I’ll never trust you
Pictures. Sickness.
A scarf, a bus.
A phone call.
Two years.
Two years.
Two years?
Click.
A heart.
Crack.

Pain-Full

Moments as quick as shoulder shrugs.
The hurt, something longer—like a hug.

The bad, the awful, cuts deep, but my gosh does it make for amazing inspiration. In my memoir class, story after story is about a suicide in the family, estranged relationships, alcoholism. I mean, life is teeming with tears, bruises, slaps and scars. The Icarus. The Edna Pontellier. The myths, the fiction, based in the most basic truth of life that there exists sadness, that there will always be falls. That death, like skin, is a guarantee in our existence.

Life would be immensely boring without fear and failure. If we don’t bleed, we don’t experience the world. Writers hold knives to their skin to seek their stories. We slice into ourselves, exposing the organs, plucking at them with game tweezers until we feel that buzz so familiar to childhood’s Operation. If only my heart could look so plastic. To be smooth like the arms of a Barbie doll. To feel nothing when you pull my arms from their grooved sockets, my hand in a constant grip despite the pull.

My advice? Use the bad times and make them words, full and fit and alive.

An on-the-spot poem about depression, alcoholism, and suicide:

Sad
Drink
Die

An on-the-spot poem about a sad thing that happened:

I could feel your love
 
float 
like cotton candy
painting the wind 
in alternating bubble gum pink
and blue
like the Boston sky
in summer
up
up
into clouds,
so dark,
like Boston snow
two days after 
it’s 
fallen
onto streets.
up
up
until
it
p
o
p
s
.

April Fool, or How to Draw a Proper Hyphen

I am indeed excited that today kicks off National Poetry Month—come on, I finally have an excuse to thoroughly exercise my on-the-spot muscles. In honor of this splendid occasion, I plan to post more poetry, more often, starting with today:

April Fool
an on-the-spot poem written by (but not about) yours truly

You can call me a fool for falling
head over feet,
knees tucked 
     in a 
       constant 
   s
    t
   u
     m
   b
      l
        e


but I did not,
could not, 
would not
fall in love.

Also, I thought you’d enjoy my little drawing from my doodle-possessed, totally-not-paying-attention-to-the-class-lecture, hand.

Word Warrior versus The Hyphenator
dun dun dun

Yes, it’s true. I AM that dorky.