Road Trip

He held her, 
like the shuddering soup
in a ceramic bowl
gone cold
on a road trip with potholes;
hands trembling 
with mistakes, 
steady 
with his effort
to hold her together. 

Things 
were bound
to get messy. 
She
was bound to escape,
but he’d love her just the same
only she needed not
a love that played safe.

He held her,  
like the moment
you jump off plane
and dive into sky. 
He was clutching for her life
as much as he thought
she was for his but, 
she fell in love with
free falling into herself, 
when nothing about his actions 
ever made her feel
more grounded. 

His words
were parachute, 
his hands
confounded, 
his touch
felt like calculus, 
rigid
and rugged. 
Tender 
is the lesson you learn
when you kamikaze your heart
to spark another’s 
into flames. 

But love felt
rehearsed here.  
He said
all the right things
at all the wrong times;
but could never
nurse her hurt here. 
He spoke
often to her mind, 
when she craved a whisper
to her heart. 

So if you’re going to love her, 
love her bold. 
If you’re going to heal her, 
heal her whole. 
Give her something 
to hold on to. 
Give her something 
to believe 
that there’s more spine 
behind the letters you construct, 
than the bones
you align in your closet. 

She’s aching to trust in a future
that doesn’t resemble
familiar road trips
that left her stranded beside herself,
hitchhiking her way
back through the potholes 
she spilled herself into.
At least she knows
where to find herself,
do you?

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Break Even

I needed you
to break me Irish Spring 
bar soap clean. 
Needed you to break me
like cellphone screen shatters
the day after warranty 
and no insurance
to play safety net with. 
Needed you to break me
in higher definition,
play me back 
at thirty frames a second
so the fractures in my smile
can be seen
with more meaning. 

Then,
let the shards 
fall where they may,
but if I have any say, 
let them fall 
where I’ve known love the strongest,
known love the deepest. 
Embed me
back into the walls
of your veins 
to pulse back into your heart. 
Inscribe me
into one of your valves
so I can feel
the current of your love again. 
Chamber me
into one of your ventricles 
and I will pump 
more than a heroic effort 
to keep us alive. 

Just, 
don’t let me feel
like I’m paddling ashore 
with one oar;
circling for reasons
why you’d leave 
without a ripple of an excuse 
to wave by me. 
I always thought
we had more depth than that, 
more weight 
than our mass. 

But if that’s not the case 
break me deep, 
break me even. 
I’ll add the odds of myself
into a sum short of you
to keep me whole. 

Leave the Gloves

When true love
formally introduces herself
it’ll feel like
a sparring match gone wrong.
She’ll be seasoned in MMA
and carry an unblemished record
in the UFC
and you?
You’ll be decorated
with hand-me-down gloves
from a family tree
that left you ill-prepared
to land a love tap,
and forget about defense. 

She’ll punch you
square in the face.
Laugh.
Ask if you’re okay,
then repeat.
You won’t find
any of this funny,
but she’s just trying
to knock your ex
out of your future conversations;
so if you lose any teeth today,
you won’t lose their wisdom tomorrow. 

She
will then jab you with a combo,
a multiplicity of questions
to question your masculinity.
You
will pretend to be unphased
until she has you in a choke hold asking:
“Who’s
your
Daddy?” 

Understand,
she’s not trying to offend,
she just
needs to make sure
you know who you are
before approaching the mat.
Far too many men
have desired to fill her in
with half-hearted efforts
in filling themselves.
Now that she’s whole
she’s searching for another mind
to color out of the lines with and,
is that you? 

She’s going to play dirty.
Land cheap shots
below the belt,
connect your jaw
with an uppercut
after the bell has rung but,
there’s no refs in love.
The rounds
are eternal and
she’s going to need you to fight;
and if you can’t stand
on your own two feet
in a sparring match then,
tap out now.
Letting go
is the least you can do.
Please,
leave the gloves
for someone who’s worthy. 

In a Burning Room 

Trust. 
I built her once. 

Cemented into her foundation 
was time well spent, 
patience, 
bloody knees well bent 
upon pavements
to plead my case
for a love that lied latent
for you. 

I prayed
for my emotions
not to be preyed upon. 
Prayed, 
for my heart’s strings
not to be played upon, 
for some
altar of a heart
I could be saved upon but,
I was wrong. 

Altars are made of stone
not to build faith upon. 
So how could I expect yours
to hold mine dear 
like a sacred song
full of promise,
full of truth.

If I’m honest, 
and I were you, 
I would’ve called it quits
from “Hello, 
how are you?” 
“I’m…?  
not interested, 
but thank you.” 

Truth is 
you would’ve still had me at
hell no, 
but at least
I could blame myself
for wanting to be the pyromaniac
trying to light
the nothingness between us,
for trying to be the flame
your wick of attention
would never give a flicker of notice. 

I guess
what I’m trying to say is:
there’d be no museum
of betrayed memories to walk through
if you 
had any appreciation
for the art of honesty. 

I hung portraits 
of my intentions
as tokens 
of every act towards you
so you’d already know
the inspiration
behind every stroke. 

Little did I know 
you had me painting
masterful illusions of our future;
permitted me to sell
these fanciful delusions
to those who only wished the best for us. 

Little did I know, 
the only image I ever sold
was solely of me
slow dancing
in a burning room. 

Connecting Flights

When her emotions
feel like they’ve been 
stranded at an airport
for half a lifetime
waiting for the next connecting flight, 
hold her hand
and don’t let go. 

She won’t need your words so, 
can them if you can
to the nearest bin
and deposit hope
into her lap
with a sincere smile. 

Let your eyes
voice reassurance that she
won’t be one of many
to compete for your attention;
may it express
that your itinerary maps a future
she can forget her past in, 
that you won’t abandon her 
for taking longer than most
in the security line. 

She’s
checking for explosives. 
Patting you down
for reasons you might detonate today,
or tomorrow. 
Understand, 
she may be used to seeing things
blow up in her face, 
but that doesn’t mean she likes it. 
No part of her
has adjusted to find beauty
in the flames. 

So when her touch
feels like it’s tired
of bracing for impact,
embrace her soul
and be gentle. 
Be patient. 

When the time is right, 
you’ll know. 
She’ll look back at you 
as if she’s found
all the pieces of herself
and you
have redeemed them
from the land of lost baggage claims. 

You won’t understand why, 
don’t ask. 
Let her love you
in the silence
of your heart’s connecting flights. 

Scars Deep

She says she
loves a sleeveful
of tattoos and I?
I’m currently
newborn bare,
an unadulterated canvas to ink.
But these scars
pigment my truths
more permanently. 

For instance,
I drew lessons
from when hurricane Andrew
drew blood from my knee.
Taught me
that severed fence poles
and knee caps
will never agree.
Taught my Dad and sister
that stories of nails through feet
should be reserved for the Gospel;
their story of redemption
was sponsored by:
tetanus shots.
You know
the type that leaves you with scars
for no reason? 😉😉

For instance,
the deja vu twins
that freeze tagged my forearm
from when I told the nurse
the oldest twin
is proof positive for TB.
She looked at me
in disbelief;
ordered me another round of shots
and I looked at her in
disbelief like:
“Oh boo boo, what is you doin?”
She taught me
to stand by your no
the first time;
that if someone
is going to stain you with a memory
make sure the price
isn’t set to your regret. 

For instance,
when I opened the door,
allowed you entrance
to my vulnerabilities,
permitted you to touch
everything
knowing good and well
you were never planning to buy,
it shouldn’t have come to me as a surprise
when I watched you fumble
with my emotions.
Your I love yous
always sounded jittery.
My name,
never felt safe
on your lips.
My love,
unwisely trusted your hands
to handle with care
the parts of me that
would’ve never broken. 

I may not be inked
with anything meaningful,
but trust when I say
I’m scarred where it matters,
in a place where memories of you
could never be effaced…

Next Crush

When she 
pretends to fall off 
the monkeybars, 
fabricates this scene
of disparity
to host your intro
as her hero, 
only to broadcast
that you have the cooties 
to every child present
after helping her up…

When he
writes you love letters so sweet
that your heart starts to
beat in Maple
and pulse in syrup, 
only for him to deny
that you aren’t his French vanilla
in the company
of “masculinity…” 

When she looks at you, 
eyes you down 
with disdain, 
disapproval leaking 
from the ceiling 
of her tolerance 
while you think 
you’re on the cusp of giving 
the world’s best 
best man’s speech… 

When he conveniently 
“forgets”
to introduce you 
as his better half
to his “she’s just a friend,” 
laughs it off 
in dismissive fashion 
as if your feelings 
were rations it’d be irrational 
to throw a war over…

When she sobers up 
after drunk texting you
her heart’s confessions
only to chalk it up
to a cup too many,
a will too weak… 

When honest conversations 
cease to arrest their attention.

When your weekend 
starts to feel like 
a merry-go-round of clubs
you’ve already seen enough of. 

When you find yourself questioning
why are you even here? 
What do you love about him
that keeps you around? 
What do you admire about her
that fuels your fire
to try to make things work? 

Step One: Self-assess. 
Never sit for a meal
where you’ve set the table, 
prepped the appetizers, 
main course AND dessert 
yet still expected 
to clean up after. 

Step Two: Re-evaluate. 
If this
wasn’t what you signed up for? 
Then do yourself a favor
and leave. 

Step Three: 
It really is that simple. 

Step Four:
Never stay
with someone who wants more
but is allergic to doing more. 

Step Five:
Remember, 
what made you feel alive. 
Remember, 
what about them sparked your flame. 
Remember, 
why he made you feel invincible. 
Remember, 
why you would go to war for her. 

Remember. 

Remember who you are,
that you’re priceless, 
worth going to war for, 
invincible, 
more than a flicker 
of flame dancing in rain. 
You are power, 
you are youth, 
you are beauty, 
you are truth. 

You. 
You are love so
drink
up. 
Get your heart
so drunk with yourself
that you get cited 
with a DUI while sober. 

Get your heart
beating itself in disbelief
for taking this long
to find you. 

Get your heart
unbroken enough
to breakdance
in front of your next crush and
may your next crush
be no other
than you.