The Limited Perks

on the rooftop on Dearborn
with the sun setting slowly behind us
and all the light coming through the awnings
and lattice-work
the wooden deck aswirl with color
unidentifiable shapes, like they all are,
pink and green and blue
we say hellos and collect drinks
we stand at the table, invited but separated
trying to enjoy the limited perks of the Press

“Obviously, I want you to go with me.”
I won’t/can’t/mustn’t accept
the tour offered alone
that’d be too easy
I’m too wander-prone,
which you know, and like me anyway
which I don’t understand

as the other side of the party
turns to dancing and 90s music
my heart is, like they say, on my sleeve

coming out at the wrist

my propped up posture holding an empty can
with both hands in the center of the table
you knew right where to touch to
stop the bleeding

“I’m sorry you’re going through this.”

which is a lot

it’s a lot to say, I mean
like a salve made of syllables for me
saying forged from listening

my small word:
but in fact:
what a lucky friend I am to have a friend
like you
only, it didn’t come out that way


sweet sweet melody



you’re just fine and your song is a sweet, sweet melody
and I am not
when I was born, God strung my chest with violin strings,
stretched a drum skin from ear to ear across my neck
and tied my arms and legs up in woodwinds and piano keys
so that when I walked I sounded like a symphony of innocence
and oh the happy song I played
but I’ve long since smashed those instruments
and my chest has filled with brimstone
like all hell is trying to get out
and I’m wondering…

when does a museum of instruments
start sounding like music again?

cause I’ve been trying to make a joyful noise to no avail
so tell me now: how many bad notes do I have to sing?
and how loud do I have to get to shout out all my sadnesses?
and if I call my depression by it’s true name will I finally be okay?
I’ll trade a good day
for some of my anger
but then I worry that if I wasn’t so angry, I wouldn’t have anything left to go on
because I am anchored to the ocean floor
and some days a little rage is the only thing holding out a
hand strong enough to pick me up

and on those days it’s hard to tell the difference between self-destruction and survival
and I’ve grown pretty good at telling myself it’s all perspective
like sometimes a stiff drink and a cigarette
are a flower
and sometimes a stiff drink and a cigarette
are a weed
so tell me: is pushing the sadness away for a moment self-defense or not?

and do you blame me?

publish my letters when I’m gone
but don’t forget to put in the editorial that I was a very private person
and I didn’t want to be remembered for anything anybody didn’t like
I want to try to be positive for you
I take back everything but Push
even this, I’m trying
I’m trying so hard to write happy ones
and I can hear your sweet, sweet melody
but I
play it
and I don’t want you to get my sadness song stuck in your head
I’m sorry

and I’m sorry that one thing leads to another
and that in some ways it’s always been about
my anger–my mom and dad used to say I had to learn self-control or
it would destroy me
well I stopped throwing chairs

…just this last summer

and I don’t rip the pages out of my books anymore
so I must be getting better
but I still know what it feels like to boil
I have been at 211 degrees my whole life
right on the edge

it is so much easier to be angry than sad
so forgive me

I know we’re not all slamming doors
but from the ocean floor everything sounds like drowning
if you are on the surface and your song
sounds like a sweet, sweet melody
play a little closer to me, I’m trying to listen

ignore my clanging cymbals and my grinding teeth
I want to sound like music more than you can imagine