BAPTISM

If you stand directly under that very specific jungle rain setting of the shower head, letting the water scorch down the ravines of an aching back, call it baptism.Wash away the toil of the day, the grime that anchors you, the dead skin voices of a cruel afternoon. Let it go– watch invisible dirt make love to the drain of oblivion; it is gone from you, but you are anything but gone. You can be born anew any hour of the day, in a townhouse, in a bathtub, under the disguise of fake rain falling from the walls. If you stand there long enough underwater, clutching a thin bar of soap in your hands, eventually you will be holding nothing. Your hands will remember the shape of what once used to live there, the precise dimensions of having, holding, being. But milky water, too, will leave, and you will wonder why the things that heal are the best at escaping. Let it go– it was never yours to love. Not everything you love will be yours. This is the cost of original sin.

Do not become the soap. Learn, instead, that what remains is a body, the physique of a soldier who fights without thinking about the carnage, loves too deeply, forgets to breathe new air.

Turn off the water.
Stand in the steam of all things abandoned.
Call it baptism.
You are brand new again.

JOY USED TO BE

Firecracker explosions,
pomp and circumstance,
volume set to maximum.

As a child,
it was Disney World,
upside-down on monkey bars
bubble wrap on New Year’s Eve,
chasing after ice cream trucks.
It is Independence Day 2000-something
and my megaphone heart
even melts loudly.

How simple it is now–
no longer broadcasted to the world
This is joy! This is joy! This is joy!
No, now it sleeps soundly
in popsicle puddles left in the sun,
in the wafting of gunpowder
hours after the fireworks show,
in plain sight, in the quiet click
of my heart finding another to call home,
holding hands, whispering,
“I have found you.
There is no need to speak.”

ONE OF THOSE THINGS

I love a boy
who loves me
and it is our secret.
One of those tight-lipped
magical things, those unspoken
meet me in the morning, let me
clutch your hand behind blind eyes,
only letting go when a twig snaps
kinds of things. One of those
classified, juvenile, underground things,
those blushing, clandestine, hush-hush things–
I love a boy under wraps,
under cover of both darkness and lightness,
and it is our secret.
Deception it is, we share the language
of fooling the world.
But he does it so well,
a master of hiding the loudest thing
we have ever known, loving like mimes,
like troublemaking children, like robbers.

I love a boy
who loves me
and it is our secret.

PASSPORT RENEWAL

I have learned
a light heart writes easier,
takes hold of the pen with a loose grip
and bleeds. Sweet scarlet red ocean,
a leaky faucet of abandon.
I have long since mastered the art
of carrying a heavy one– a heart, that is,
white-knuckling the words,
choking them out like forced allegiance
to a land that never loved me.
I pack lightly now, no longer cramming
the weight of the world into a suitcase,
but folding love into a duffel bag
so I no longer have to break my back
to feel something.
I conquer this land.
I pledge my life.
No longer choosing the words
but letting them choose me.

THE FINAL HALLELUJAH

I used to believe in God
and you
and the time bomb in my chest– so damn sure
of itself, unapologetically
ticking me into existence every day,
the metronome that built my frame
from bare bones, wiring the calluses of my heel
to the static electricity stemming from my scalp.
But I no longer believe in God
(at least in the idea of a bearded
Man, shrouded in porcelain white anger,
the holy Father we idolize
in cathedrals of stained glass deception)
and I no longer believe in you
(because you have grown fluent in the language
of leaving me in different ways
every day)
and neither in myself
(because I am an embarrassment to the truth
I was so close to becoming
but gave up halfway through
when I found out I was made of blood
and sin, just like the rest of them.)
The music in my ribs is terrified
it has been living an eighteen year old scam.

But what I do believe is
in a different God, but still a God,
that the Almighty is not a man
but the sum of all clumsy men and women,
all the forces of the cosmos intertwining
and melting and fusing together down
to the atomic, stringy fibers of the universe.
That God is the answer to the great manifesto,
every notion of truth erased, that God
is the flowers and the lump in the throat
after the person you love wakes up deciding
they do not want to chase the broken girl anymore,
that God is pouring rain and the chaos
and the pulse in the wrist, begging to be silenced.

And maybe God is so much of everything that
He, like myself in this midnight oblivion,
desires nothing
but to be nothing.

THE FIRST OF FEBRUARY

is the first day
of a second chance.
Define reparation: to teach hands
to build rather than destroy.
Relearn the dead language of apology–
let the bruises make amends.
You have spoken knives for all of January,
and now you stutter over Love,
your own native tongue,
how your mother long ago taught you
Sound it out, baby, sound it out.
You wish you had practiced more.
You wish you could have made her proud.
No longer do you bleed volumes
of compassion. The oceans are dry.
The suicide of young vocabulary.

Humiliating how broken the words sound
breaking free of hibernation,
the pitiful cadence resurrecting
as we watch layers of dust
rouse and dance.

Today you will speak Love again,
in dialects buried under calluses of time.
Allow yourself to stumble over syllables
once fluent, without expectation of perfection.

You will speak it wrong.
But speak it with abandon anyway,
the beautiful grace of tripping
over foreign alphabets.
And mean it.
Mean it without an iron fist,
but an open hand.
Mean it for the first time
since winter began.
Mean it through the summer,
over and over again.