Breadcrumb #411




It was a ritual, burning what was done to me. I watched the flames eat the lace elastic, melting it so it fell in drops and splattered the concrete, molten black drops of tar. That fire burned my rage, my guilt, my grief, my shame, my regret. It made my blood alive, awakened it from a brownish-red stain to a boiling, bubbling black oil. Fiery oil that coated my lungs and eyes and insides. My blood frothed and seethed, in the veins beneath my skin and the veins of the cheap synthetic lace. It consumed the fabric like a lizard, snapping up toward my face, then curling in on itself, fusing to the pavement, and hardening into black twisted spikes of disfigured material. I breathed in that acrid smoke, a smell I’d been previously unfamiliar with. It’s on my fingers and face and sleeves now, and I want it to stay there. I want that smell to provoke people to ask me why – I want them to know that I burned him. Burned his fingers and his nails. Burned what he did not ask, burned him because he did not stop.


I’ve always had a fascination with fire. When I was young, my father would take us camping. My brothers and I would collect dry wood to pile and set alight. I would sit and stare into the fire for hours, until the ash stung my eyes and they started to water. I created cities within the burning logs. I imagined the tiny people who lived among the embers, building their homes in the smoldering sticks. When one would snap off and fall into the ashes below, sending sparks into the air, they would integrate it into the city’s architecture. The hotter the fire grew, the more they thrived. I wanted to join them.


I watched that fire until the flames had nothing left to consume and extinguished themselves. I rubbed the remains into the concrete with the sole of my boot. Then I stood up, lit a joint, and breathed in a different kind of smoke. I walked away, back to the city I’d be leaving soon, the city that had once felt very safe. No one would know what had happened here.

• • •


Breadcrumb #359




                 black robe        gold ribbon
                            adorn length and crown
                                             firemouth loving

                                                       curse leaving
                                                       cold     to touch

                   oysters            opening
                            in flutter shipwreck
                                           sleep sinking

                                                     under soft
                                                     worn    thinly

                                                                   veiled as
                                                     mourning lace beside
                                           white   witch   mannequin


                                  idle                                             morning
                                       lays                                     beside
                                                 drowning in sunlight

• • •

Breadcrumb #299


She moves to the rhythm of the flames, flickering,
nearly disappearing into the darkness and shadows
as her arms stretch upward
and blend within the tree tops.

I can feel the movement of her hips,
Solemn, unfettered, and unbroken--
longing to find a place within themselves.
She starts to run through the forest,
through the blackness, and brush, and pits of mud
chasing fireflies that light her way to a clearer horizon.

I watch her as she walks her milky body into the lake.
Her thighs part the indigo water
as if her intention is to drown
the opaque pieces she does not want the light to see.

She grasps the darkened water
and cradles it gently to her lips
like a chalice full of thorns and tousled leaves --

Her hands splash blankets of moonlight on her face
And she begs to have just one last chance
One last chance to argue with the sun.

• • •

Breadcrumb #281


For M.

When did this violet come                     
                                    to take you away?
It shifts in places we cannot know. As roots below the earth
                        of gold.
Let me hold you
                        in water,      of water.
Let me wash you
            from this coil.
Of suffering, you aspirate all over that yellow light
             & white coverlet;
                        a collapsing. Even the summer broke
            to you. How the fight
becomes kingdom. How dark blood
            becomes clean once it stops running. 
                        Weep now.
How life is a temperance of tears,
                        but not now. Now you can water your threshold.
You only have to make one decision:
            the salt of the earth
                        or fire.
You only have to sleep. You choose fire.
            You do not have to breath.
Your organs are not chosen.
You go when you are not awake,
            we wake when you have gone.
                        Your skin is free from poison.
                        In the smallest hours of night
I bend my knees.                They take your skin with them.
Of day I lay my head upon the ground.
            I crawl from water to land to mourn you.
                        They give your skin to those who need it.
You are the sound that lasts on and on, pulling
     us through its veil.

• • •


Breadcrumb #274


That tangy, burnt stench hangs in the air
on the subway, on the street.
It’s everywhere I go:
Clinging to the man with the hat, on that girl’s jacket.
The smell is so familiar, so intoxicating.
It’s you.

Every single time, amidst the smoke
— inhaled and exhaled —
I’m transported.
To your chest, where I stole moments of respite.
To your sweater, which I stole in the dead of winter.
To you. The one that stole my eyes and my soul and my heart so many lifetimes ago.

There are ones that came after, others in these eight years since we met.
Others that also sparked and danced and played with fire.
I used to hate it,
that thick smog that announced your entrance before you’re in the room.
But one whiff now, and we’re back in college.
Back to the comfort of your bed where I’d drink in your scent.
Back to the way our lips would meet — furiously, clandestinely.
Back to you and me, back to us.

It’s a familiar sight: a cigarette dangling from the fingers of passerby,
from the corner of their mouths.
You weren’t the only one to light the match, you won’t be the last,
but you were my first.
You ignited me, opened me up, persuaded that fire to spread in my bones.
Then you left me to burn.

• • •