(when climate change reaches a peak of mass destruction)


the day our breakup was finalized

national geographic released its issue
on how climate change was reaching a cyclical peak
capable of mass devastation. i’m flipping
through pages of coral reefs in their graves, cobweb grey
swallowing the pastel sponges, starving polar bears
with ribs like weapons, icebergs melted
until you could stick them in your
everyone on twitter is panicking about global warming
longing for a winter storm while i am ten feet
buried. winter isn’t gone, i want to tell them
looking around the bedroom i haven’t left
in two weeks, it is right here. frost
clings to the corners of my windows, remnants
of your breath laughing in the shower, into the pillows,
in my face, letting me know you could devour my heart
whole, telling me you could leave in the morning, tonight,
right now.
when my heart blares like a siren at a red light
i am tempted to look outside, trace the silhouettes
of trees with my eyes, seeing their gnarled, bare
branches, broken timber that looks like my body
in bed. i am so envious of these trees, how they shed leaves
in winter, how they are so good at letting things go.
like you. like your
sitting in the kitchen, you have my neck between your hands, scissors
hanging out of your mouth like a puppy who just found its buried
bone. i tell you i am worried you bury things
too deep, could never find them again. i ask
if you ever get motion sickness
from constantly leaving. eyeing your white t-shirt
snatched from a store in a mall i have never been to, tracing the words
emblazoned on them in a sad sky blue.
‘’just chill.’ there you are, cold as ice. here i am
frozen solid.
while the tv rambles about disappearing polar ice caps
you are cutting my hair, six inches
falling to the floor. you tell me i am cute
so cute, and i realize you only ever appreciate me
after i have already lost something to you.
while i was staring at the fragments of myself
on the floor, watching you step on top of them,
not knowing if i should cry, you told me
you dropped out of school last november
because you didn’t want to be an engineer, because you were no good
at putting things together.
i tell you your voice sounds like river phoenix’s, windchimes
dancing in a snowstorm, so much winter
in one place. the winters in your home country are so brutal
that you had to move here. but you brought
the snow with you, and you are moving out
i am crawling out of an avalanche and you are somewhere,
anywhere, else. i want to blame the winter
for the things that it kills, but after reminiscing
about how you scratched my back while i was falling asleep
like you were devouring braille, i learn that sometimes,
things die long before they start to smell, long before
you are prepared to mourn them. sometimes
winter sends things like you just to announce
that they are already
you are standing in my dreams, shadows
on my wall, your name in my head like an unannounced stranger
in my bedroom, tree-branch hands held up
in icy surrender. don’t shoot
the messenger.



(aren’t i?)

i would tell you i love you, but you won’t know
what that means. it means i could crawl up
inside of your body, make a home there. cradle myself
in the bowl of your hips, play you twinkling love songs
on your ribcage, transform into something
you tell me, in the shower, that i remind you
of the first girl you loved. say when you broke up,
you dropped out of school, sold your mirrors, didn’t leave your house
for half a year. it should have been an omen:
we are going to get
you turn your back to me, in the shower, and i’m thinking,
this is what death is. you’re grabbing at my hair, staring
at my lips, and i’m thinking, this is how you lose things.

your right side was partially paralyzed in Iraq,

and i’m thinking, maybe you stop living
when part of you
i’m wondering if when you leave, if you can find a way
to pack this too big too something too painful unexpected
love into your tattered denim backpack, i will tear up
my calendars, congeal
into my bed.
your back still to me, freckles like a constellation
in the shape of ares. i ask you if i’m pretty, hear you mumble
into the pillows that pretty doesn’t mean anything. i tell you
i am fascinated with the way you move, that i want to
write poems about it. you tell me that poems
are just an excuse to turn hate
into something else. that for a writer, i’m not very good
at recognizing the story. you tell me
that when you inevitably leave, i must remember
the good parts of you, slaughter the bad ones, take them out back
and drown them in the
now that you are gone, all i can remember is one halloween,
you standing next to me on the doorstep of an unknown
house with its lights off, and you were laughing
and telling me i should’ve come dressed
as an apology. i looked at my trembling
hands and i thought, aren’t i? aren’t



(about the earthquake that destroyed the tattoo parlor)

your hair was on fire, shimmering crimson
dancing with oranges and purples too hot
to touch, smoothness of a sunset kissing
the horizon, like you were the place things went
to die. standing apart, chalky chunks of gravel
leaving indents in the bottoms of my feet, i told you
‘please take me to the top of the tallest thing
you know, i’ve got something to say
to god.’ you flicked the top of your cigarette into your hair
and i watched the ashes rest like little broken bottles
lost at sea, cries for help that would inevitably be swallowed
whole. when i look at old pictures of you, i can still remember
the panic of choppy water, the cerulean tide pools
lulling us to sleep. i can still imagine the slick
of octopus tentacles, plums and roses you want to devour
whole, forcing you into submission as you realize
you’re suspended above so much nothing. able to fall
into everything. ‘you know what’s strange,’ you told me, kicking
gravel in my direction like you were ready
to bury me alive, like you were familiar
with the stench of death and the dark
of graveyards, different molecules of pitch
black. ‘the ancient greeks thought their gods
lived on top of a very real mountain but nobody
ever bothered to check.’ you blinked, long eyelashes
tangling together like some wild thing, repressing
the memory of your father’s winter voice
at 3 in the morning, all that broken glass, and went on.
‘heck, i once loved a girl i never even touched.’
it started raining once you said that, heavy drops
of that cerulean blue, and i thought,
here we go. i’m ready to get pulled under, to sputter
on love, to choke on the confession of it. you said
you felt like an earthquake and i ran my fingertips
over the crumbling gravel piled at my bare, bloody
feet, wondering, what made you
finally come apart?



(and she ran out in the woods)

in july your sister
went missing, & you still blame yourself
for not being able to distinguish between fire works
& eleven-year-old screams. we’d been looking
for three months, gathering townspeople
out of their houses like graverobbers & forcing them
to work the woods; after nine limp
deer carcasses i was beginning to
worry. the people in the search parties
were the type who lunge their arrows into something
then paint the targets around it. at night
you were so worried, your hands were thick
with worry, & i knew it must be hard to think
you might be related to a ghost. i told you
your body was covered in braille & all i wanted to do
was read but you were so far gone
that it felt like reading obituaries & the whole
time i was searching for your sister’s name
with regret in my fingertips. when november hit
you swallowed sunrises whole & didn’t miss
a single sunset in the woods. stay home,
i said. stay home. she’s not
coming back. i know, too, how
winter kills.