Sunday, October 21, 2012


today my feelings ride me,
a big tired elephant in the circus of
the heavy things
doing the languid ballet in my brain, around you

one time you made me cry
because your kindness surpassed
whatever threshold I had established,
and another time you said
"one day, one day" and
"I think about your pale skin and dark hair"

if I ever made you cry
maybe it was because
when we used the word “love”
we were summoning different chemical arrangements;

mine are down by the dried river, cupping their hands
in the ghost of the stream
as it twists snakelike
towards the rumor of an ocean
whose waves gossip your arrangement,

gossip Light while my pain sleeps in me
like a second skeleton
beneath my textbook one.

I feel feverish draped over it,
like I’d rather drape
over any other thing, but

ancient memory of my own mortality
blooms before it realizes itself, it
feels like half my tombstone
is in my stomach,

growing like one of those rubber toys in water.

sometimes it pauses,
reflects on its growth
and apologizes to me
and it fucks off
and I imagine whatever it is that you imagine for me
and I bask there:

"one day, one day."

I think there’s a meteor shower peaking tonight
above and between us
and I bask there, in the whole sky,
I bask across the things between us,
I leave my second skeleton behind

and in leaving it behind I discipline it, I make it
subordinate to the minutes that precede its waiting secret,
as I wade in the preceding minutes that lend me my history.

it looks on in silence so as to not offend the wading,
so as to not alert me to the inevitable death that is my chaperone,

and I can mistake the silence as sacredness or respect
if it obscures the skeleton lovingly.

and if it is lovingly then how can I be mistaken
and if I know love, it is in the retreat of that prescient chaperone

it is in the way we fall down the same set of stairs,
stopping intermittently to achieve something mutually distracting

it is in the way we revel in that which is mutual,
as if it betrays to the skeleton the loveliest thing of all:

we all die
riding the same horse

Saturday, September 8, 2012


i was doing what i do best: waiting for a customer to walk up. the music was unoffensive and frank sinatra. a man walked up and put a few items on the belt.

he was old and appeared sort of glum. when i asked him how was doing he cleared his throat and said "okay" very faintly, like his throat was sick. i rang up his stuff and told him his total. he paused and looked at me, smiling unexpectedly. he said something to me that i couldn't understand because his voice was so quiet. it sounded like "how are you," but with the first syllable missing, so i said, "how am i?"

"are you," he said
"how am i?"
"are you"
"umm, i'm good thanks"
"no no, just are you, are you," and at that he lifted his palms outward to indicate that we seemed to be alive and in a grocery store

i thought "this is probably happening because i'm going to die soon," followed by more palpable concern for my thought reflexes and some unease at how confrontational the question seemed, at least in my immediate interpretation of it, which was admittedly laden with fear

i said "well, does it seem like i am?"

he smiled again and said "yes, it does. i wouldn't have asked you if i didn't think you were."

we exchanged money and i watched him walk slowly across the parking lot through the window, feeling some vague but warm thing that lingered into the evening

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


i walked into my favorite coffee shop to get my regular breakfast: a blueberry bagel toasted dark-ish, with a small coconut iced coffee. i loved it in there. best coffee in town, even though i knew nothing about coffee. best coffee in town, i tell you. i walked up to the counter in a jovial mood, feeling like i had established a rapport with the counter lady in the last couple weeks. i briefly thought i would say "i'll have the regular" but this seemed risky and i didn't want to come off like some asshole who had deemed themselves memorable. "i'll have a blueberry bagel toasted dark with a small iced coffee," i said. "we don't have any blueberry bagels," she said. "oh no, you ran out?" i said, trying to think of other bagels that might do. "no," she said. "we don't carry blueberry bagels." "ohh. i've been getting a blueberry bagel here almost every day for the past two weeks," i said. "pretty sure we've never had blueberry bagels," she reiterated. i felt vaguely uneasy, like maybe i was in a stephen king novel and i would go back to my apartment and it would be all boarded up or turned into a movie theater or an unfriendly senile woman would live there. i ordered a wheat bagel and ate it in my car in the hot parking lot. a loud truck pulled into the parking lot and a dozen birds flew from the dumpster, charging the sky in a synchronized fury of wings. i knew that they would never have blueberry bagels again

Monday, August 27, 2012


a guy from social security called and asked if i had a few minutes to answer questions about my anxiety and depression. i had a few minutes.

"how long have you been depressed and anxious?"
"i've been in therapy for it since i was diagnosed with the kidney disease at 5 years old, but it's become unmanageable since the transplant. i feel like i'm always sick because of the immunosuppression"
"how does the depression manifest in your every day life?"
"i go to bed at 3 or 4am, wake up at noon every day unless i have to work. i feel anxious even around friends, so i'm not social very often"
"how many meals do you eat a day?"
"one or two"
"what are your depressive thoughts like"
"i think to myself, i know what is coming, i know what to expect in terms of my health, and so i think, what is the point of doing anything or trying for anything if i'm always going to feel and be sick"

last week my mom tried to talk to me about dating and i said "my life is so shitty that it would be mean and selfish of me to share it with anyone"; it hurt a lot to say it

one of my exboyfriends worked for a sort of detective agency that tried to bust people for "disability fraud." these people would literally spy on people who were receiving disability benefits to try to catch them doing things that would negate their claim to being disabled, and then those people faced losing benefits in court. one time my exboyfriend told me about a guy who lost disability benefits for a bad back when he was videotaped doing the robot in his backyard during his son's birthday party.

what if a disability detective catches me laughing in public or not being depressed or sick-seeming in public, like, having a drink with a friend and smiling simultaneously. what if a disability detective comes to the open mic at bishop's lounge and is like, "BUSTEDDDDD"

what if a disability detective catches me eating three meals a day. what if a disability detective catches me on  a walk, exercising outdoors, developing healthy habits, buying condoms, moving my cat's hands around to make her mime dancing, swinging on a swing, skating at a rink, singing in my car, joining groups on facebook, looking at a sweater i can't afford in a department store, buying an ice cream cone with unnecessary toppings,

Friday, August 24, 2012


I can feel my mind unravel when I Go Home

unravel towards a longing to experience
the world as a blanket,
bloom into sleeping things that twist towards
an ancient lulling,

like there is nothing I want more than to be
stuffed into the toy box that is a small plastic football
by a hurt sibling, like I

•    want the sibling to sit on top of the toy box
•    want there to be no mutual understanding that the sibling will move from the top to let me out

like the old days,
when love was acute and we were always capable
of fake murders, I

•    want to sleep for a long time in the plastic football, its former bones scattered on the floor all around my silent shell, glowing in the good sleep, safely enrobed in the imitation-pig skin plastic

we can never go back to the football toy box in a satisfactory way,
in a way that playfully challenges our faith in our immediate survival

and we never recover the lulling

we look for it in the perfect necks of the people
who decorate our bodies
with their own, when we are lucky enough
to host a fleeting ornament

to permanently host an ornament is to be able to cope with a year-round Christmas

I am the last haunted idiot to want to cope with a Christmas that dies when I die,
and a very specific sort of idiot in that

•    I want the coping to retain some quiet enthusiasm
•    I want the coping to resemble some mature romanticism
•    I want to be the aging Christmas of another idiot
•    I want to be someone’s favorite neck in the crowd
•    I want to carve his laugh lines in the winter
•    like he was a pumpkin in the fall
•    I want our reflections to seem intentional

and when the rain lays down on the earth

•    I want to feel its intention

in the company of his neck

Monday, August 13, 2012


nonspecific memory of looking at your mouth

not in a particularly lustful way
nor in a way entirely devoid of lust, in fact
the intention was situated
precisely in that liminal space
that enables a passively shared
meatless breakfast,
the night after a simple thing,

to have been with you, in a capacity
to have spoken with you,

on your bed, one of us
accurately estimating me,

who knows if there was a breeze

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I tell my nurse at 10pm that I want to take a walk, that I haven’t really moved from my bed all day and when I had in fact done this it was only to use the bathroom or to be unnecessarily, but necessarily by policy, wheeled on a stretcher to the ultrasound department where some goo was pressed over the kidney transplant and a young woman freely pressed buttons on a very intimidating keyboard while we both stared intently at the screen, trying to make sense of an ambiguous symphony of muscle and organ. Bright blue, yellow and red pulsating splotches indicated points of rich blood flow. The only thing I found gross was the actual shape of the kidney, utterly predictable and yet seemingly objectively, aesthetically offensive to the part of me that is an animal laying down, conscious of the object receiving the wrath of an otherwise invisible disease. The woman looked to be about thirty. I thought “I could do what she does. She is not smarter than me and yet she makes so much more money than I do. In virtue of her choices, she might be smarter than me.”

I ask my nurse if I can leave the floor, instead of monotonously making the same short loop from the nurse’s station to the back hallway and back, consciously making it a point not to look into other peoples’ rooms while also trying to avoid awkward contrived smiles with exhausted nurses. The nurses often stare at me and I always wonder why, and then I realize that I am no longer very conscious of the fact that I am the youngest patient on this floor by at least twenty years. When the nurses first interact with me they always ask about my history, and when they find I’ve been coming here since I was four and that I’m not scared of needles (I’ve had six in twenty-four hours), they seem genuinely sorry, and sometimes there is a well-intentioned “frequent flyer miles” joke.

The nurse says I can go down to the third floor, to the atrium where the doctors eat lunch every afternoon. I know my way around almost every wing of the hospital. The hospital is enormous and occurs in several different buildings and I know my way around those buildings. I take my ipod, put on my sweatshirt and sneakers and leave the floor. I take the elevators to the third floor.  Wandering the entire empty hospital by myself seems appealing but almost too romantically contemplative. I bypass the atrium and go to the bathroom, where I stuff my hospital down behind the bar behind the toilet. I roll up my pant legs and take off my big hospital socks and pull them into a ball and make a fist around them in my pocket. I tuck my hospital bracelet up under my bunched-up sweater sleeve. I tuck my IV under the other sleeve. I look in the mirror and fix my hair and smile. I try not to look like sick shit. My face looks old and I can’t tell if “I don’t give a fuck” is “giving a fuck” just in virtue of the hostile way the sentiment is articulated in my mind. By all appearances, I am just a doctor going home for the night in my blue pants.

I take the elevator to the first floor. The plan is to leave the hospital and walk outside. I want to walk to Park Street and lay on the common. If I walk ten minutes down Tremont Street I will be at the common. If I had my phone I could call my brother. If I had my wallet I could get something satisfying to eat. I don’t have either of these things.

When I get to the first floor the revolving door and handicapped doors are blocked off because the entrance is closed and locked from the outside. A doctor walks by me. I ask the doctor if the doors at the other end of the lobby are locked from the outside; he says yes, but I can leave through the emergency room door. He casually asks me if I work here. I tell him I’m a patient who wants to go outside. He asks if I got clearance from my nurse. I say no. He reluctantly tells me it’s probably not a good idea. I take the elevator back up to the third floor. I go to the bathroom and get my hospital gown.

I throw the hospital gown down on an atrium table and throw my head down on the gown. I lay there for a few minutes with my eyes closed. I open my eyes and out of the corner of my left eye I see a vague tall figure. I turn to see if it’s a person who wants to talk to me, but it’s a bottle of hand sanitizer on a tall dispenser stand. I think about how this would be the perfect setup for a romantic drama: two night owl, chronically ill patients meet each other wandering the same hospital late at night. They are both in the hospital for a long time because they aren’t expected to live very long. They make a pact to meet at the same time every night at the atrium tables. They fall in love with each other. The night before they’re expected to die (because they discover that they have the same life expectancy), they escape the hospital together and die on Boston Common, completely engrossed in each others’ love and unafraid of death. For added drama, one of them could not show up to the tables that night because they are too weak to do so, and the other has to kidnap him/her. There could also be an ironic situation where one needs a heart transplant and one needs a bone marrow transplant, and Bone Marrow Lover (BML) wants to die first to donate his heart to Heart Transplant Lover (HTL), thereby saving her life, but she doesn’t even want to live if he’s not alive, so they make a pact to die together holding each other in their sleep on the common, or maybe BML tricks HTL and kills himself or does something to expedite his death so that HTL must accept his heart, and when HTL goes to meet BML at the atrium tables on their big night, she is met instead with her own doctor, who has known about the pact all along and informs her that they have a heart for her and she tells her slowly, compassionately, that the heart belongs to BML. HTL accepts the transplant and moves on, or possibly not, or she “can feel that he is always with her,” or “he lives through her now,” or something like that. And there is closure in that, because there has to be, because that’s all there is.

I walk back to the seventh floor of the North building, the floor where my room is, and do a couple laps. I stop in front of the window at the end of one of the hallways, the window overlooking the airport and the highway. The light in the hallway is bright and fluorescent and its loud reflection obscures the city. I walk closer to the window until I’m almost leaning against it so that my own darker reflection grows larger, blocking some of the light and revealing the details of the airport and the highway. There are many cars on the road but there is no traffic. There are lights on in all the buildings and the moon, in the upper left hand corner of the sky, seems large but not full, a cloud covering half of it and receding slowly towards a town that I grew up in. Boston looks beautiful for the first time in the history of my opinions about Boston, which is a long history full of sparse, bad opinions that aren’t sophisticated. I think about being driven in to the hospital as a child by my drunk stepdad, driving fast and talking confidently about how Boston sits on the world’s biggest fault line and one day there’s going to be a huge earthquake in Boston and no one will be prepared. Even now when I drive into Boston using highway ramps that are as tall as some buildings, I think of this and feel a muted fear. Being on the seventh floor of the hospital, I feel a muted fear.

I return to my room and find a clean hospital gown with towels on my bed, with a plastic packet of pre-moistened towelettes that say “BATH” on the front. I go into the bathroom and stand in front of the mirror, letting the large hospital gown fall from my shoulders and onto the floor. I think about how she said she couldn’t visit because she had nothing to wear, and when she could sense my confusion she elaborated that she had to do laundry, and then I consider her failure to sense or address my still in-tact confusion. I take a towelette out of the package and run it from the top of my right hand to my shoulder, then down to my underarm where I scoop away a faint musk. I wash beneath my right breast and then make a circular motion over it with the towelette. I maintain eye contact with myself in the mirror and make one more circular motion and realize that the reflection of this has triggered a desire to masturbate. I think that it must be impossible to masturbate with a roommate in the hospital.

I think about the old woman who is my roommate, who has fluid around her heart and three stints in her heart and who seems pleasant. There is a man with long gray hair who comes to see her from the beginning of visitor’s hours until the very end. He is with her for the entire day, watching the television and talking quietly. I have heard her say quietly that she “(doesn’t) believe anything any of the politicians say, not a damn one.” He orders her lunch from the hospital cafeteria, orders extra food for himself, and they eat lunch lying in that small bed together. Then they are tired from the eating and I can hear them fall into a nap because they snore quietly in unison from the other side of the curtain. When her nurse comes in for a vitals check she peeks over from my side of the curtain first, and she looks at them and she smiles, and then I smile, I piggyback on the smile of this thing that I can’t see but that I can feel very strongly. When the man leaves at the end of visitor’s hours, the lady rises from her bed; I can see her slip her varicose-covered feet into a pair of purple flip-flops at her bedside. His shoes are slightly larger and are facing hers, they are hugging goodbye and I hear her say to him:

“You are a good man Paul. Thank you for spending this day with me. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

I smile in silence from my bed, and the part of me that is an animal both uniquely human and chronically injured, feels a heavy water lying in the sills of its eyes

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


we climbed down through some tall grass to climb over a fence that said "NO TRESPASSING" to get to the place in the picture. the last time I was here I was with the same person but it was several years ago, and it was nighttime in the summer and the stars were somehow gorgeously immune to the light pollution from the university

now it was daytime and very nice outside and it was perhaps a little more trespass-y to be here, since it seemed to have been developed a bit. there were important trucks in the distance and they had been doing things to the sand, and the bowl in the earth had changed but it was still lovely and large, too large to capture with my phone camera

we sat in the sand bowl in the earth and kicked sand and rocks down the steep slopes, creating small noises that were the only ones present besides the voices of the birds. I talked about how you could do a lot of fun things in the sand bowl: hide and seek, bikes, a big camping trip

I said "I've never successfully meditated"

he said "do you want to meditate?"

I said okay and we sat overlooking the sand bowl and he talked me through it, or explained to me the ways in which he was succeeding in meditating so that I might do the same. he said things about focusing on your breathing and then something about a feeling in the stomach that I couldn't find. that's why I've always felt like I'm bad at meditating: I don't feel air or oxygen spreading through my body like other successful meditators do. I know that in the past I have claimed to feel this moving energy but I have always been lying to myself in the hopes that the lie would turn true. I am missing out on a crucial sensation that, if felt, might act as a momentary salve. but even though I didn't feel that particular sensation, I did feel very good with my eyes closed

the birds were very vocal and I could sense that there were many of them and my pulse slowed and I thought "here is a group of animals that I greatly admire." I felt very positive that these birds were happy while being simultaneously aware that this perception existed inside of me, a member of a species that has very specific ideas about happiness. but I didn't pay this awareness much attention and it felt very nice to feel positive about something, and about something such as the state of mind of a group of birds

I opened my eyes and watched them, and he was watching them too. there were two hawks circling the sand bowl, above the smaller birds that were flying around in circles for apparently no other reason than to sing at interesting altitudes. there seemed to be no reason for their behavior other than enjoyment. there were a few small drops of water from the sky that never actually turned into a lot of rain

because my eyes had been closed for a while I had strange orbs floating in my vision. they would bounce around to adjust to wherever I was focusing, and as I watched the birds fly back and forth the phosphenes followed them, and they were synchronized without even knowing it. I thought about the niceness of unknowingly being synchronized with the phosphenes that exist in the eyes of a person you care about. I thought about how you could portray phosphenes in a film. I've been thinking about this for years

he said "try to hear the sounds without classifying them"
"try to look at the things without classifying them"

I said "when I was a kid I used to stare at my face in the mirror until my eyes would unfocus and my face would lose context and become something weird, until it was too scary to look at"

we decided to leave. right before the fence he found a raspberry bush with tiny raspberries. he ate two and I said "are you sure those are raspberries." he said yes. I ate one. I went to work covered in dirt and nobody said anything about it to my face

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


we were in brooklyn at a café. I was dating him for the twelfth month or so. we were eating breakfast before I was to embark on the bus ride home. it was a very hip café and everyone at the café was attractive and eating breakfast or drinking coffee. I just wanted water. I didn’t start drinking coffee until this year, 2012. I had sat in this café alone the day before, doing women’s studies homework while my boyfriend was at work. ryan gosling had walked by the café the day before and the baristas were talking about it and I felt annoyed that I hadn’t seen him, and I also felt annoyed by the fact that I felt annoyed that I hadn’t seen him.

I walked up to the counter and said “hi, can I just have a cup of water?” and the girl pointed to the bar behind me and said there was water there. I turned around and there was a stack of cups and a tall, skinny glass bottle with a long, thin pouring nozzle. I thought “this is a weird bottle of water. I guess this is a hip bottle of water.” I began to pour the water into the cup. it was taking an unusually long amount of time to fill the cup because the pouring nozzle was long and thin and not a lot of liquid could pass through it at once.

“these fucking hipsters,” I complained in my mind. “choosing a slightly more inconvenient and difficult water container just so it looks cool in their fucking hipster café. just so everyone can stare at me at the bar just a little bit longer, pouring this here water.”

I finished pouring my cup of water and went in for a big gulp.

it was liquid sugar.

I started laughing so that if anyone was watching and waiting for my reaction they would think I handled it well, but my initial instinct was to tell my boyfriend  “we have to leave immediately.” I ate my breakfast feeling deeply embarrassed and then I rode on a bus for four hours, with variants of "I'm not a city girl" and "the city is bad" looping in my thoughts, I'm sure.

Monday, July 9, 2012


I was trying to get some sleep because I had to work
and you were kissing my face anyway
and I half-woke to that
and was half-dreaming that we were in a courtroom
and in my mind I just kept thinking
“the judge, the judge, the judge, somewhere in my room”
“is this awkward for the judge”

as you kissed my mostly sleeping face
I tried to distinguish the niceness of it
from the reality of some poor bored judge
loitering in a pile of clothes probably
and waiting to decide some shit
and from the niceness I attempted to distinguish
even more sub-emotions that were on a limited spectrum called
"What Is Going On Here"
I was multitasking
it was weird

additionally, I had the very disorienting sensation
that I was the judge
I was both the judge and the most concerned unconscious witness
to the emotions of the judge
I'm not sure what it would mean for you to take that personally
don't tell me what it means
if you do take it personally

Friday, July 6, 2012


I am going to hire a person to split the rent with me
other responsibilities include reminding me daily that the world is not so profound
on sticky notes, on dry erase boards, in spoken words while we cook together
I am going to hire someone to remind me that dogs eat their own shit
and maybe after being reminded so many times,
I can finally relax
I can pour myself into the face
from which I have felt alienated
in the absence of this rented person

I am going to hire a person to be my favorite animal
we will feel many things
many of them will not be special
together we will solve for ways
to become less aware of our hands
if that seems to have been a problem in the past

together we will concede that we live in a world
of facts that coexist like strange birds on a sidewalk:
dogs eat their own shit, but also
love is a nice alternative to anything else

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


her: were you named after hillary clinton
me: no, i was named after a soap opera character in the seventies. my mom liked the name

*she puts the needle in my arm*

her: i wonder what soap opera it was. i used to watch general hospital in the eighties, but i don't know what soap operas were around in the seventies
me: it was probably 'days of our lives.' that show's been on forever
her: yeah, i used to watch that at my grandmother's house when i was a kid now that i think of it. she was ninety. that was definitely on in the seventies
me: yeah. i used to watch 'passions' in high school
her: i've never seen that one
me: it was pretty ridiculous. lots of supernatural stuff, and drama. always drama on those shows
her: yeah. and the people you always want to be together are never together
me: yepp
her: my favorite soap opera used to be (i forget the name of it now). have you heard of it? for so many years i wanted ___ to be with ___, and then they finally got together and got married. then, they divorced and she died. but that's life, you know?
me: yepp

*pulls needle out of arm*

*hands me plastic cup*

her: you have to pee in a cup. do you know where the bathroom is
me: yes

Monday, July 2, 2012



a lady came through my line today
wearing the same perfume my mother wore on the boat
she ran her credit card through the machine and i instantly felt sea sick
for a kind of lost love, dense
in my throat
like i wanted to be thrown overboard
from a boat i do not occupy
but only so i can admire it
as it sails away

and for some reason when i smelled the woman
i had the distinct feeling
that it was early december
that a new weather was happening outside
that the old weather had disappeared graciously

i imagined the boat going in circles around me
i imagined feeling extremely good

Sunday, July 1, 2012


yes I am being treated for depression
and I woke up early because of the heat
it does not help to be naked
there are many windows and my skin feels like the thickest blanket of all
very much like a barrier to some sort of imaginary relief

I’m in a dress instead
I have been laying sloppily on my couch
like a pale octopus
it helps to not have bones on a hot day
they only hold you back
structure enables exertion
and that is a bad idea for a fourth of the year

for an entire season I will pretend I have no bones
and I will admit this on the disability application

“sorry, no bones”
“please send check asap”

and I will brag about being a small pile in a dress
and if I make love it will not be very good

I’ve been drinking a lot of water and reading this book
and when something makes me laugh
I reread it out loud and I laugh loudly into the big empty room
and the dress is up around my waist
my underwear have flowers on them and they are old and unsexy

and when something in the book makes me feel good
it is because it resonates with parts of me that feel bad
and I feel good via feeling like someone else has felt something
resembling that badness
and I reread it out loud and
I do it again
until my bones reconstitute

I drove to the drug store today to pick up three orange tubes
I have had a crush on the pharmacist for two years
I want to be her friend mostly
I want to hang out with her today but she is working
I want to hang out with her today but she is working in a long white coat
I wonder if she needs a drink
I wonder if she ever puts her hair up
she is less like a crush and more like a consistent person in my life

this is the dress I wore to graduation

I took the long way home from the pharmacy
there is a flower memorial by the side of the highway
where dan last existed in a physical realm
the flowers look new and I feel something
I remember a voicemail
and shaking
lots of shaking at the kitchen table
a solid month of shaking, really

on the drive home I thought
“too intelligent to be treated for depression”
“too awake to be treated for depression”
“I hate this very mentality”
“as if I have arrived at a truth”
“and yet here it is”

I often disagree with and hate an idea while I believe it
it seems like these ideas have bones
I practice carving away at them
I practice dismantling both the idea and its terrible bones
how does a thing like that evolve to have bones
it seems like ideas acquire bones when they exist unchecked
for long amounts of time
I am desperately trying now to identify ideas
that don't deserve bones later
it seems like the bones remain even after the idea dies
and the spirit of the idea can resurrect around the bones
every so often

the bones make it possible to feel again
ideas I worked so hard to dismantle 

it is nice to have a partner in the summer if only for the naps
in high school I sculpted my ideas of love
from the naps and the half hearted sex
that followed the tiring of selves 

we would swim or walk and go back to my bed
the sun would get inside of us and render us useless except to each other 
sometimes we would tire ourselves in the bed and then go to bed
because we were tired from being silly in the bed

we were frequently horizontal
and we would doze at 4
and wake into a cooler evening

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


in the dream we are in new york, it is daytime but there is the sense that it will be night soon. we are walking in the impending nighthood and we are walking to a place where we can dance, a place where we don't have to just walk anymore. we want to go dancing. we want to move our legs over a floor in ways that would seem very strange over a pavement. we don't want to alarm the pavement or the people on other parts of the pavement. we are waiting patiently for a floor that can receive the leg and body movements that we want to do. we want to do it together.

and then there it is, in the sky, directly in front of us: the alien ship. something seems to be ending: the world, time, the people, our plans. for a minute i panic and think "i should wake myself up now." then i think "i don't have to wake myself up because i know it's a dream."

i turn to you. the alien ship is still there, hovering in perfect detail and morbid intent. i turn to you and i say:

"will you be tired tomorrow if we dance tonight?"

we will be too tired, we decide.

we turn around and walk back towards some hypothetical shared space, and we feel good

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I can’t perfect the logistics of the apocalypse, but here is the rough sketch that has been looping in my brain for the past few weeks:

all of the people go to bed at night. they do it with the intention of achieving sleep. all of the people are sleeping.  the people begin to feel cold. they pull their blankets up tightly around them, slightly bothered but not enough to fully wake. it grows even colder. instead of waking up they insist on sleeping fitfully, like when you put forth extreme effort to fight the onset of middle-of-the-night nausea via a strong commitment to evading consciousness via remaining horizontal. the people in the logistically flawed apocalypse grow colder and colder throughout the night, clutching their blankets and loved ones closer and closer, and for some reason they don’t know they are dying, they don’t know that something has happened to the sun and the thing is causing some fundamental changes that are enabling a large scale, silent passing. we go quietly, and with a humility that goes unrecognized, because we are all dead and therefore we are all severely humble
thought to myself while gchatting:
you make me smile with teeth
you don’t know anything about me
I have been obsessed with greenland for a very long time
mostly with ideas about greenland
I have been obsessed with very specific ideas about greenland
for a moderate amount of time

thought to myself while smiling with teeth:
sometimes when I’m smiling with teeth I can feel that I am making
the former face of my mother
I can feel that I am looking the way she used to look
when she was happy and lapping up flower paintings from a jar of turpentine
and not when she sat backwards on the kitchen chair,
facing the sliding door and crying into the reflection of herself crying
because frank sinatra had died

they played frank sinatra at work today
and I stopped briefly to remember his voice
but it was less like consenting to remembrance and more like
“here, feel this old thing via some noise coming softly from the ceiling,
via your brain recognizing the noise and rearranging its army of whatever
to forcefully yield a feeling of a thing that you want, a feeling that you want,
an understanding that you want and miss”
in my apron and behind my nametag, the voice of frank sinatra
found me in the kitchen of my childhood

I used to dance in small tap shoes and feel extremely immortal
I used to sleepwalk through rumors of things ceasing to exist
I used to love like an insane person and I used to sleepwalk
through rumors of things ceasing to exist

my biggest fear is that I have spent my entire life
solving for the death of the only thing that lives forever: inertia
my biggest fear is that the disease has won
my biggest fear is that the disease has shaped my thoughts
that it has killed me before it has killed me even more
and in a way that permanently alienates me and prevents me
from every kind of love that enables happiness
my biggest fear is that I can’t change this even if I am aware of it
my biggest fear is that I have nothing else to talk about
my biggest fear is that I’m silent because I’m boring
my biggest fear is that boringness is innate
my biggest fear is that I’m right

at work there is a woman who reads the lifelines on peoples' palms
and i hid my palms from her last week
i put my palms in my apron and i wanted to burn my palms
i put my palms in my apron and i wanted to lose all evidence
of lines that speak about my life in fictitious ways that frighten me

my biggest annoyance is that I will never emotionally understand all of the things
I understand intellectually, that this inability will prevent me from being happy

and when the weight of this possibility dawns on me, it doesn’t even ‘dawn’

it does something even bigger to me
I swear it does the biggest thing to me

intellectually i can redefine the problem as my attempts to solve
for things that don’t exist
emotionally I still insist that my happiness demands that the sky
be less like a thing that mocks me, and more like a blanket,
less like a strange weapon and more like a gallery of weird birds
wearing the same wings for years at a time and existing to demonstrate beauty
at mysterious altitudes

I feel unhappy when the sky resorts to being too large,
like a thing I understand less the more I see it
and so I am often busy 
writhing in an endless riddle
subconsciously subscribing to a positive correlation between internal Writhing
and Getting Somewhere
paranoid for meaning and eager to believe that happiness is not Old,
eager to experience things without judging both Them,
the things, and my perception of them

eager to feel love
eager to love
eager to not leave when I become terrified that I am boring
eager to not think of myself as boring
eager to not be boring
eager to just hold you
eager to kiss you
eager to kiss you
eager to hold you
with teeth

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


here was my thought process:
I looked at myself in the mirror while I brushed my teeth and I thought
“I look bad, sick, deeply sick”
I went to bed
I thought about how my period was very late
I thought about the sharp constant cramping in my lower left side
I thought “oh my god, I have cancer”
“the cancer is all over my body”

the reality cascades

“it has been spreading all this time, and I have just been ignoring it because I know
that I’m a hypochondriac and I’m trying to move away from that and just let my body
Experience Pain without Judging the Pain”
“I am dying”
“I have been dying for a while”
“I feel funny right now, my heart is beating very fast”
“it’s just anxiety/panic attack, it will be okay. be rational”
“but my legs also feel extremely heavy and my head hurts and I’m getting random chest pain”
“dear god, I’m going to die tonight. I’m dying”

there’s an animal outside my window making a horrifying, threatening, very loud noise, repeatedly. I have never heard this noise and cannot even speculate what type of animal it is. but I feel that death is very near

“my throat is closing”

looking out the window I see no animal, just darkness and some puddles reflecting light on route nine

“it’s all so far away from me”
“I have been in the process of dying and I am entering the final stages. I will only be diagnosed with the cancer after it kills me, but I have had some sort of innate knowledge of it for months, I bet. I wonder if anyone else has ever suddenly died from cancer”

I think of the show “I didn’t know I was pregnant”
I feel some kind of Base Self slip out from underneath me and I feel insane
I feel like this mental state is the closest I have ever come to ‘intolerable,’
like it is setting a precedent i never wanted to know about
and i wonder if i can ever come back

want to live so much but want to escape impending death
and the only way to do that is to die
want to die to escape any knowledge of death,
want it to be so sudden that I am here and then I am gone and there is
no interim of terrible awareness

feel more alone than ever
want someone next to me, telling me repeatedly that I am not dying
want them to love me
even if they felt so far away, too
“should I wake up one of my housemates”
“should I drive to the hospital”
“should I call my mom”
“is anybody else as fucked up or dying as I am”
“is everybody pretending they are at  peace with the fact that they are going to die,
so they can seem ‘spiritually advanced’”
“do the people who are ‘at peace’ with death have a more shallow understanding
of death than I do, do their brains not grasp it fully”
“they have not had their very consciousness shaped by knowledge of mortality”
“they have never had a near death episode”
“near death episodes negate all hope unless your brain is kind enough to conjure
hallucinations of a heaven you were taught, and then you write a book about it and
my mom probably has it on her bed”

remember arguing with my sister about the existence of a soul, and how I don’t
believe in one (I’ve had general anesthesia)
she said “but you still have a soul even if you’re ‘out’ for surgery, you’re still there”
I said “no, you’re really not. you just Aren’t, you  are truly Dead”
she seemed frustrated with me
she seemed sad
that I believe what I believe

seems like I’m dying less for the moment
doesn't seem reasonable to pass away once the sun has risen
doesn't seem reasonable to pass away once the sun has risen
hello, yes, I won’t be coming into work this morning

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


the pavement is slick beneath endless sheets of rain
shy stars are grateful for thick clouds and
I am looking out my window
at 11
I miss you

all the schools are closed
the night is happening outside
something in me is in progress, too
I miss you

what is exhumed from all that I remember
sits idly in the worn treads of my mind
crack me open and some ancient happiness is found
I miss you

but which is the you that I miss

[it takes vigilance to not idealize someone beyond recognition
when you are clawing at the falling of your love]

is it the you that Can’t Try for This, the you that is Pretty Different From Me

please show yourself

I miss something in the shape of you
I miss your shape and parts of the you that constitute it
I miss being under you and
I miss being over you
I am far away and next to you
wishing you to fill out within yourself like a rising tide

and now you are under me
and you recede from my surging forward
so that I chase you even when I am with you

so that I am tired
I am so tired

Friday, April 27, 2012


you’re gone, your goneness
fills me, even though I don’t understand it

I have consented to a hypothetical understanding, but the understanding won’t come.
my brain twists towards a working interpretation of your goneness,
but the interpretation devolves into surrealism,
and your goneness takes the shape of a non-sequitur,
and I will try again tomorrow, try again the next day
and I will keep trying until the surrealism becomes the understanding

it is three in the morning and there are infrequent sounds issuing from route nine,
the cars like sparse waves crashing and their lights lay quick shadows on my walls,
and the shadows fall onto me and the shadows are with me here and I am lying awake

crafting your permanent memory with a thoroughness I rarely achieve,
your hot pink backpack and your boots on your Physical Body

I wish we were still working at the dining commons together, eating at a dirty round table,
covered in other people’s discarded food and listening to the Pixies blare from the dishroom radio.
I lay awake and watch my brain attempt to trick itself into flawed but comforting
belief systems and modes of thinking
and I wish it would succeed 

I ask myself over and over “if the modes are comforting, then why should I care if they are flawed”
“what is the incentive to privilege logical belief systems over comforting ones,
if logical ones make me miserable”

dan I have a confession, I am a lousy atheist when I remember you

tonight I sat in my car in the rain in downtown Amherst eating pizza at midnight.
I drove around for over an hour.
I played my music at a high volume and I stopped at a red light
and then a street light in front of me turned on. my first thought was “it’s you”

my brain is inventing a grace period for you, a grace period during which the remnants of you are so strong that they are permitted to yield a temporary spirit that can communicate with me,
can watch me cry as i struggle to remember what food we brought on our picnic at the pond last summer. these small details seem so necessary right now and when I finally remember
your bread and fruit I feel enormous relief, like I have fought hard to win back that moment
when you opened your hot pink backpack and said “I have bread and fruit,”
and now that I think of it there was beer too

and now that I think of it we went swimming as the sun sank
and now that I think of it it was cold but we never said so

and now that I reread these letters you wrote to me in the summer of 2010
my eyes grow heavy with a novel exhaustion, and the return address on one letter is
“unnamed dirt road in California” and on another “gas station/domino’s in Wyoming”

and I nod off to your cross-country musings on the best moments of your life
and your admission in one letter that you’re bad at transitions.

can I admit to you now that I am also bad at transitions,
that your return addresses make me laugh

that I’m asleep beneath your letters, remembering your smile
in pond water and on the modest shore,
asleep beneath the quick shadow of you

[this is for my friend dan haley who was hit by a drunk driver two weeks ago. read at the rao's reading on 4-27. no title]

Sunday, January 29, 2012


i have a twitter account!/h_a_gardiner

Saturday, January 28, 2012


(from the reading at Rao's in Amherst on 1-27)


I want to move to Greenland, which is the largest island that isn’t a continent

We can live in the lipstick-red house I saw by the sea in the dream

A psychic in Pittsfield once told me I would travel to Scottland and instinctively know my way around because I lived there in a past life, but I think she must have meant Greenland

She wore many rings which led me to believe she knew what she was doing, and ironically she also told me that my boyfriend, who paid for the reading and was sitting to our left across the cafe, was not my soulmate, and I looked at him looking at me, sipping his coffee and I thought “this lady is an asshole”

The only way to get to Greenland by air is from Iceland or Denmark, or we can charter a ferry from Newfoundland

We can forget all our statistically suburban pain to the fjords, ride the earth to our respective deaths, eat seals for breakfast and be cold but happy in the evening

I had forgotten Greenland existed until fairly recently, when Wikipedia reminded me that it did
and I wondered if Greenland gets jealous for being so big and so unrecognized as a continent

And I wondered if I could feel at home in such a barren place, and then I decided that home can be any pre-felt land

The only way to feel at home anywhere is to leave a place after having spent some time there, learning subconsciously  the way the sunlight lays or doesn’t lay on its most important streets, its least important houses

and then when you return your spatial memory is activated  and you say “ah, good old Greenland” and you really mean it this time, you are home, you are in Greenland