On Dog-eared Pages

You still have my book.

I remember when I was waiting for this book to be released, years ago, when I was working at a bookstore. The stock manager, or whatever her actual title was, set one copy aside specially for me. Its lived in various bags far more than it’s designated place on my shelf, with a beat up cover and water stained pages to prove it.

I was on a vacation the last time I was reading it, while we were together. And lying in the sun, studying its contents, I thought of you. We’d discussed the author before, I’d discussed the book with you before. So when I came back, I gave it to you.

Temporarily, at least in intention.

The time before the last time I saw you, you had it in your bag. You were bringing it to work with you – you were definitely reading it. And that made me happier than I could say.

Do I bring this up now? How? It feels seems petty and unnecessary. Reopening a wound that should be closed by now, and I’m still picking and re-picking at the scab. It feels both like an excuse to talk to you and an excuse to make sure we never talk again. So long as you have that book, I have an excuse to message you. Have a reason to reach out.

And again, it also feels petty and childish as all hell to ask for it back now, after so much time has passed. And I’m afraid of what would happen if I did. If I’m ready for the closure of you.

But really, honestly, I want my book back. I want it back on my shelf and the ability to carry it with me again. I want to revisit sections and reread favorite parts.

I don’t want to want to reach out to you. I don’t want to have this idea in the back of my mind. I simultaneously want you to leave it where I can grab it without seeing you, and sit down for a drink with you, and have the discussion we should have had months ago.

The discussion about more than just the book. About the things you still admit to me you don’t know, or rather, haven’t let yourself think about long enough to figure out.

I suppose, at some point, I’ll simply buy another copy. Let you be, and accept in my heart these are the things I must let go. But I’d bet it will stay pristine for far longer than the original.

On the Downbeat

There is a savage beauty in music

When a song completely consumes you 

Calls to your current or a past self 

Accuracy tearing at your soul 

Squeezing your heart 

Overwhelming you, emotion fit to bursting 

And what can you do other than experience 

Endure 

Breathe through guitar riffs & voices crooning in your ear 

As your mind screams 

This 

This thing, I couldn’t put into words 

Like calling to like 

That rising lump in your throat as it slowly saunters to an end 

Leaving you with that empty feeling

Do you press repeat? 

Do you suffer and celebrate through the experience once more? 

Like a scab you want to pick at, the refrain stuck in your head 

The tune cycling through your brain again, and again, and again 

How do they do this? 

These artists that read your inner thoughts through melodies 

Or is that your thoughts are not so wholly unique

You just needed someone else to express them for you. 

On A Drunk Text #2

Does the liquor bring my name to your lips 
The taste of smoke 
The sweetness of the oak 
Does it remind you of me 

Does drinking make you think of me 
Of your whispers in my ear 
My skin under your hands 
My softness against your strength 

Because I think life has done me an unkindness 
In that those people that meant the most 
Came back, eventually
In one form or another 
The grief both dissipated and compounded by a never ending presence 

And time flows like honey 
All at once, more quickly than you anticipate 
Then slowly, drip by drip 
And I’m watching the end of the spoon, waiting, as it crystallizes before my eyes 

Waiting for your message 
Your call
Your anything

Why am I only this eloquent when I’m not sober 
The words, the emotions, buried
Like the French long forgotten in that December so far past 

Je voudrais parler avec toi
Je voudrais passer de temps avec toi
Parce que tu me manques 

And I know you will come back 
Eventually
But you know I will leave
I have left you before
Forgotten you in summer nights
Shut you against the cold of this city

So I’m left with that song
The lick of the guitar
The taste of rye an assault against my throat
Your name on the tip of my tongue 
And swallowing it down and down and down 

And pretending I don’t miss you
Until you appear again, with that simplest of questions
“How have you been?”

You are like an itch in the back of my skull
A place I can not scratch without you there
No matter how much I pretend I’m getting over you

So, my love, tell me.

Is it just the bourbon talking

Or do you miss me too?

On Time

It’s been over a year since I saw your face
So why is it that I’m suddenly reminded of things I thought were gone

Of that night in your garage
Of you holding me steady, your hands on my knees, my hips, as I try to balance, reaching for something high above me
Of the feeling of your smile

I don’t want you back
I don’t want you back
I don’t want you back

I hear a song,

And we’re back on your couch
We’re doing nothing, together
You’re telling me you like my legs
Your roommate is making us drinks

Four months after you left
I started seeing Someone Else.
And he made me happy, for a moment
And when he told me what you didn’t think to

When I felt the crack and saw him falling through
I held on like he was a man thrown overboard
Desperately trying to pull him back to me
When he’d wanted to jump in the first place

He wasn’t what you were
But I tried to convince myself he was
Because I couldn’t do it again
Couldn’t have the same reason twice in a row
Couldn’t be the inbetween

The rebound

The pause button

Again.

These things have been repeated in my mind, in my words, for so long, it feels meaningless to even try to write them out

Not that you ever would
But
You could come back to me, tell me you’re sorry
But I would want to say no.

How could I trust you again?
I can’t live in fear of your mistakes becoming reoccurring nightmares

I woke up this morning
And I don’t know why I thought of you

It’s been over a year since I’ve seen your face
And I never told you then, and I certainly won’t tell you now
But I loved you
I want my love back
I want my time and my secrets and my vulnerable words whispered in the dark

I don’t want to erase you
But I need your ghost disappear
Vanish under the cover of a smoke bomb
And leave no trace of itself behind

I need my memory to let me go

On Loneliness of the Third Type

I want to be alone, with you. 

Does that make sense?
I want to be alone
I don’t want to talk to you
I don’t want to do anything
I just want to be alone, but with you there 

Because you won’t tell me I need to talk, or be anything other than what I am being 
And maybe just being with you
I’ll be able to talk to someone 
Express the feelings that swallow me like a black hole
Pulling me in 
Pulling me under 
You don’t ask that of me 
So I feel like I could give it 

Does that make sense?
I doubt it 
I’m rambling 
Sitting in a lavender scented tub with a damp notebook and a hand trying to fly away from me 

I don’t want to tell you what is happening, but I also do 
I want you to know
To help me lift some of this weight off my shoulders 
Not pick it up for me – you wouldn’t, and I would hate you if you tried. 
But just keep me company while I set it down for a while 

A rest between sets
A momentary pause 
To breathe 
And analyze where to go from here 

Because in between the call that never came 
And the texts with no reply 
And the words still ringing in my ears 
Between the voices in my head telling me to stop 
Not to try 
That I will only ever fail, at everything 

I think of your face 

So, yeah
I just want to be alone, with you 

It’s all I want to ask of you

On Daydreams

I’m wiping down the bar when you come in. 

The door swings open, and I look up to say that we’re closing, I already did last call, but stop when I see it’s you. And I smile.

You’re wearing a faded shirt, and those dark jeans I love so much. Boots that are not weather appropriate. Your hair is a perfectly tousled mess, but you’re already running your fingers through it again. 

“Hey,” You look around at the empty place, and stay by the door. “Are you closed?” 

I shake my head. 

“Not quite yet. You want something?” 

You nod, and try not to look too awkward as you sit where I point, a seat at the end where I can be close to you. 

“What does not quite yet mean?” You don’t open the menu I put in front of you. 

“It means, I’m shutting down, but can’t lock the doors for another fifteen minutes. So, it’s last call, basically.” I smile, you don’t. 

“I’m not-” 

“Shut up and pick a drink.” I keep working, cleaning, running mats and tools through the washer, and try to ignore your eyes on me, remind myself how to breathe, keep my heart rate down. 

You ask for the beer I already know you’ll want, and grab one out of the fridge, and pour a whisky for myself. I tilt my glass to you, and you tap your bottle against it. 

You keep looking around, not sure what to do with your hands. You tell me, “I didn’t think it would be this quiet already,” 

I shrug, and don’t say anything. I’m waiting for you to speak, to tell my why you’re here. But instead, you just keep drinking. So I turn around and keep working.

“You always close this early?” You ask. I shake my head. I lean against the shelves, looking at you, picking up my glass again. 

“I don’t want to keep you.” 

“You’re not keeping me.” I take a drink, needing something to do. I’m afraid, afraid you’re going to leave, afraid you’ll decide it’s too awkward, that you need the break of other people around, other things to be distracted by. 

“I’m glad.” 

You say it as my face is turned, and I don’t hide my smile. Five minutes to go, and I’m counting the cash in the drawer. I move around to the front, decline your offer to help, and bring the sign in, turn off the outside light, and lock the door. 

And now we don’t know what to do. 

Because we need to talk. We really do. But neither of us want to. Neither of us know how to. There is so much there that we don’t have answers to. So instead, you ask me how much more I have to do before I can leave. I tell you, not much, and finish what I need to finish. You’re nursing your beer by the time I’ve finished and clocked out, but I need another whisky. Badly. Need something in my hands if you’re here, looking like you do. You smell like smoke and something else I’ve never quite been able to place. 

I sit down in the seat beside you, and the corner of your lip tilts up in a smile. 

“Do you usually have after hours drinks with customers?” 

I shake my head. 

“Emma,” You don’t know where to start, I don’t know where to start. But you’re here, and I want you to be here. And that’s enough.




But this is my problem.
I don’t know what happens next.
I think of you and how you’ll look and what you might say, but I don’t know from here. 
Because in my mind, this is where it ends. It’s you being there when I need you to be there. To show me that you care. 


But this is not our story.
This is not you. Or anything you would do.
And I know this.


But when it’s late, and hot, and I’m about to lock the door
I wonder what it would be like if you were there, hoping to be let in.

On A Red Brick Street

I’m sitting in the bakery.

This bakery, that I haven’t been to in almost a decade. With Douglas Adams trivia on the chalkboard, and cupcakes the size of my face.

It sits on a street paved with red bricks, a reminder of an earlier era, with little boutiques and shops and another cupcake place down the street.

It’s a beautiful place, the water right nearby, the air clean, the buildings so beautiful. It’s a place that screams of money, but with a vibrant energy that only those who are younger can bring.

And I think to myself, maybe it won’t be that different.

But, of course it is.

There is no longer trivia on the board, there is a sign boasting its lack of wifi, there is coffee served in the back and cookies line shelves in the front. There is still a place to sit, and the cupcakes are still there.

And I can’t help but think, you might’ve been here.

To see it.

To see it change.

To see it become what it is now.

Because it is a moment, if only briefly, of, this could have been your life.

And it’s not sadness, or regret, necessarily. It’s more of a wistful nostalgia.

For that moment, when you chose this instead of that. Turned left instead of right. Because where you are now is not where you thought you’d be, not where you a decade ago had planned.

Just like the walls of this place, you have changed.

Maybe, in another life, I walked along these streets again. I lived this. I came here, stayed here. And maybe I walked with friends, or a partner, who would laugh as frosting covered my nose. Maybe I’d do different work, sitting at this very stool.

But I probably would not be drinking milk in my tea.

And, again, it’s not regret.

It’s a wondering, about the life I almost chose.

And who’s to say which one is better, or worse.

It just is. A sign that we don’t always get the answers to the questions on our minds.

So, I will take this box of cake to the home I now have.

Say goodbye to those here.

And carry on, as any other day.

On Springtime

On a chilly dark night
You walk beside him on the street
“Just for a few blocks,” he says, “I’m close by.”
And you talk, and you laugh, and you shiver in your jacket.

When you get inside there are books, and things to look at. Things to compare.
There are candles, and dim lighting and music comes through speakers
A list you suggested and he likes
There are curtains that could be closed or not, windows that could be shut
You say no
Because in a few moments his skin will be on yours
And you don’t do well with sweat

Then it’s sighs, and moans
Fingernails scraping skin
The tickling of his scruff against the inside of your thigh
“Please,”
“More, please,”
Hands everywhere, gripping, pulling, supporting
softness of lips against the feeling of your hair being pulled back, and back
“Such a good girl,”
And he says your name
A whisper as he’s done.

An arm is draped around your shoulders
You lean back against the couch
And you discuss things, improvements for next time
Kisses, then more kisses goodbye
They are different than before, less restrained
“You’ll see me around,”
And he sends you on your way

And you’re walking back down the street, to a bar you know
That will always be open for you
And you sit back with self satisfaction

You won’t think
Well, you’ll never see him again
You could have said no, let’s go out another night.
Let’s go get a drink first
Treat me like more than a booty call
Because that was what you wanted
You wanted him on top of you
You wanted him to make you scream
To make you feel
To know that someone like him was not out of your league

So you’ll leave it, for a few days
And assume he’ll message
But
Eventually
You have to decide
And you think
Oh, he’s probably traveling
He’s busy
He’s with someone else And you hope
Well, maybe he’s just as awkward as you are

But you’re not awkward
You know what you want
And so you send a message, a joke, an olive branch
You say hello, in a way you know how
And your phone will stay black
And silent

You will come home, and light a candle
The scent of spice a reminder of another season
Of a past time
When things were changing
And leaves were dying
And you were hurting from new things and healing from old ones
And you will want to retreat, but you no longer can
Not the way you used to

You can no longer run and hide from things
From how you feel
Or the idea of feeling
And you what you wanted that idea to be
You will breathe in the calm air, the humidity will cling to your lungs
As you try to understand
That you were weaker then

Because to be the one that says hello
Is admitting that you want to talk
That they were on your mind
And all your time hiding in the dark, refusing to try
Did nothing to prepare you
For when you finally tasted the sun.

On A False Goodbye

I am writing this while sitting on your chair,
Praying I have the strength to keep this promise.

I need to walk away from you.
From your eyes that set my body on fire without a single touch. 
From your arms that pin me down, then hold me close to you, protecting me from everything but you.
From your mind that challenges me.
From your body that ignites me, makes me feel alive.

Because we were going somewhere, weren’t we? You acknowledged this before.
You met my friends. My family.
Before you admitted that there was someone else.

And you knew I didn’t care, but she does.
So we went from messages almost every day, talking about more than just my hungry cunt needing your dick to fill it
To you isolating me to booty calls in the dark of night.

You tell me you saw a show that affected you, that made you think
A show you saw with her
You said the illusion of choice, of having too many choices, affected you
I think you were trying to tell me something, but it’s something I already know

You chose.
You chose long ago.
And I thought I could withdraw, be just this with you, and I can’t. I want to hold your hand in daylight.

And now you’re done with your shower
So I’ll pick myself off this chair
Wipe away last night’s makeup from under my eyes
Try to do the things I need to do.

Because you will exist in this limbo for as long as you can, for as long as I allow.

I don’t allow it anymore.

Or so I’ll say as the sun is up, and my willpower is here. Until the next time you message me and make me melt with desire.
Because this is much easier said than done, but I know I will never find what I’m looking for with you.

Give me strength. Give me will. Give me the energy to walk out the door.

And never open it again.

On Compliments

Your hands are clumsy as fuck.

But it’s been months and I think I need something.

I am tired and I hurt. I am physically broken and feeling weak.

And you’re there, and you’re not…terrible looking?

You tell me I’m gorgeous.

Not hot, not pretty, not sexy.

Gorgeous.

And I didn’t realize how nice it would be to hear that.

It’s so silly, isn’t it? How these trivial comments can mean so much, even when they come from the most ridiculous of sources.

And you can’t kiss for shit, your tongue like a dead snake in my mouth, but I know you want me. You want me in your bed, you want me to stay the night. And I tell you no, because this means nothing, and let’s not pretend it does. But, we can maybe try again tomorrow, when you’re a little more sober, a little more put together. It seemed like a terrible idea at the time. But, I agreed the next day. You’d meet me, we’d hang out.

You remembered absolutely nothing about me. I’m about 75% positive you only remembered my name because it was saved on your phone.

I had to repeat conversations multiple times. Remind you of basic facts about me. I didn’t expect you to remember my mother’s maiden name, but maybe me repeating the same fact about my career three times in the space of two hours wasn’t necessary?

I don’t know if the conversation or the whiskey killed more brain cells that night. And I want to say the sex saved it, but you half-heartedly pulling my hair while saying you can’t feel anything with a condom, somehow, amazingly, does not get my engine going.
I don’t need to hear you call me gorgeous.

I don’t need to hear your pretty words as you try to coax me to stay.

Because I never called you hot, or sexy, or gorgeous.

I knew what I wanted, and I took it. And it was disappointing, but it didn’t need to be anything earth shattering or world changing. We were two assholes paired together for a moment, never to see each other after that moment.

I will wash your sweat from my skin. Brush my teeth to remove your taste from my tongue.

Your ‘gorgeous’ is as meaningless as the water circling the drain.

And I’m realizing now that I need something more.