Self Exam in the Mirror Down the Hall

All I wanted was the shadow

of your fingers

and cold eyes to kind of soften as

I gather my wounds in this tulip

and with you I would say



enter and close me up


I waited in your room

like this, folding and unfolding

my fingers over my palms as if it were

the tulip opening and closing,

bearing witness to my wounds

you know so much about,

and each time I closed them, I saw

a sort of smooth scar spreading

over old hacksaw stitches.


The clock ticking as it

pushed into impossible hours.

You are not coming, love.

And I swear I saw out the window an old comet

disappearing behind the horizon of the place

I fear this kind of shit goes—this intimacy, or the

promise of budding in Spring in this town

that never grows–just mud and dead-ends

and bent telephone poles.


This morning I have too much coffee

because my chest hurts.  The bright

rooms feel vacant, even disturbed somehow,

as if they have spent the night with me and woken up

hung over and filmed, my old whore petticoats

dimmed and faded blushes.


I look down into my hands and cup

them and close them and imagine little

black tulips hiding their centers,

not from me, but from the world.

From love. Rejection does this.


And I keep waking up at odd hours

in a box made out of black flowers that press

panic down into me

–an old panic, the kind that happens

when people leave.


And there’s his voice

repeating in my head

speaking in another language
and then nothing,

the silence plucking

sadness from me like grapes.


The chest pain I allow;

I switch to black tea

and cigarettes; to looking

into myself in the quiet noon saying


here I am

enter and close me.


You can’t cut a heart out of someone

if you’re not holding it.


3 thoughts on “Self Exam in the Mirror Down the Hall


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