new born

For Talya

They say a person

replaces every one of their

skin cells

in 27 days. You

then were still new

when you lost your

first shell to the world.

How can your hands

now 84 times new,

still grip my finger

until I feel my heart

unfurling in your palm.

Perhaps because the cells

of the heart

will never be replaced,

leaving traces

of the person I

was that day, just like you:

new, clean, terrified

and so blind.

You are right, my child,

my love, when you said

you have destiny in your belly.

For just nine months

I did too.


Reading Cosmo’s tips for getting over a breakup

One. Create an ex-free environment.

Make a break up

box with all their things

left behind. Except

your skin

though it still feels

like his.

Two. Don’t shittalk your ex too much.

Be the bigger

person. Even though

he drained your veins

until you shrunk


than he can ever be.

Three. Don’t drink alone.

Call your friends

for support.

Though he’s the only

one who knows

what it’s like to sing

until your voice is


Four. Don’t drunk-text him.

If you are tempted, then

throw your phone

in a volcano. Better

to burn

the words than let

him suck

them out of your chest

before you think them.

Five. Take baths.

They are half caring

for yourself and half

wallowing. And soap

can wash away

anything, or at least

its skin.

Six. Stop blaming yourself.

Don’t think if

only. Unless it is

if only

he were a spider

in your room.

You’d be terrified


to crush him.

1) did you know


used to think

the nose could sense

and the brain remember


different aromas.


studies show

the number is


And so I theorize

I will never

smell so many


that my nose will

let me forget



if words were elemental

yours would be fire.

hot, mesmerizing

pirouettes that burn only

when air tangos

with their forked tongues.


that can only dance

when the oxygen

from my chest

touches their faces.

i wish my speech

were water or earth

to cool the blaze

on your lips or suffocate you,

untouchable, the way

you force my breath

out of my neck until

my eyes burn to smoke

and fade away.

if words were elemental

mine would be air.

without them

your mouth is full 

of ash.


what i want you to say

let me turn

around three times and lie

in your nest

of ribs just next

to your rhythmic lungs

and warmed

by your scattered heart.

let me take

your chest flesh in my hand

and fold it

over top of me

like i’d never been

born. let me

close my eyes and count

sheep or veins, whichever

comes bursting out

of the place your soul

should be. let me

lie just here and feel

on my very skin

what it’s like to live

inside of you.

don’t look back

i woke up one morning

with a mouth full of

anxiety. Because i thought

i saw the shadow

of a man who looked

just like you in a dream

i may have had.

it’s been like this

since the day we stood

inside the parking garage,

your arms around me in the yellow

light. “see you,

space cowboy,” you said to me

because i hate goodbyes.

i closed the door

and drove away, trying

not to look back

until i turned the corner

and then it was just


vestigial structures

“we all start out

with gills,” she said.

i scoffed because how

can such prehistoric

memories be buried in our skin,

when even our oldest scars

are younger than us.  

“the gills go

away,” she said. “before

we are born.”

but some of us still breathe

when we are drowning

and my neck feels

like sand without marks on it.

because they aren’t gills,

just slits or arches,

with no real purpose

except to remind you

of when you swam with

ancient sharks and stingrays

and survived

just long enough to be


word association

++++ you might say
++++ (bonfires and booze and the first time
i went ocean-side skinny dipping
trying to prove
i was warm-blooded and free.)

++++ you might say
++++ (even if we climbed every pine
in the cascade mountains
we still wouldn’t be able
to see the horizon clearly.)

++++ you might say
++++ (a fling can happen
during any season
but it should be spring
when you expect sunshine
and only get rain.)

++++ you might say
++++ (it first consumes and then
conquers entire forests
so why did we think
we would stay uncharred.)

Bewitchment for Dummies: A guide

One, two, twenty-one, thirty,

thirty-seven, forty-four.

Count the concentric circles

on your lover’s chest.

Their steady breathing will set

the pace for your fingertips.

Sternum, heartbeat,

collarbone, breath, trace

from one to the other and listen

to the stories they tell you.

Notice where their skin dips,

where their muscle tightens,

how every crease radiates from

their soul. Here is where

you will fall in love,

by their side at 3 a.m.

as you read the Braille

on their skin. Close

your eyes to the streetlight

through the window

and you will see.

how fungi grow

We did mushrooms together

that one time. You danced naked

to Hozier in the kitchen

while light filtered

from the open fridge.

Time stood still

as we listened to everything

from Katy Perry to Phantom

of the Opera, floating

on my scratchy cotton sheets,

just to see how they

made us feel.

I told you things I hadn’t

even heard myself and you held

my hand anyway.

Your eyes were the happiest

I’d ever seen them

when we lay in my backyard

under the misty sky.

And we fell in love

with the way the rain

wouldn’t stop falling.