Ode to Converse

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People wondered why we didn’t work
What happened
When it seemed we were a perfect fit
Our pro list outweighed the cons

How to explain the intangible discomfort
The puzzle that fit but was jarring to the eye
The plaid and polka dots and stripes all vying for attention
Within a dusty slate

Like wearing rented bowling shoes
They don’t fit quite right
They smell a bit funny
They look a bit tacky
You have to tread carefully
Because it’s easy to slip and fall

Like the most beautifully sexy pair of heels
That were too tight and hurt with the first step
Like the ungainly weatherproof boots
That smothered you from the elements
Like the cozy slippers, filthy and fungal
That you knew needed to be discarded

Nothing could satisfactorily cover the naked foot
And I didn’t realize it until I found Converse to comfort me.

I Can’t Wait

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Bubbling over
troubled deeply
thrilling reach
spoken gently

Soothing hum
worries fading

Hold me
Taste me
I can’t stand

Waiting hopeful
patience tested
colors trilled
guided slowly

Running stops
breathing slowly

Take me
Mold me
I can’t wait

The Breakdown of the Breakup

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The reasons were numerous and ludicrous. They tried to talk it out calmly, but logic was not welcome here. There- an argument that made no sense. There- a request too disgusting to dignify with a response. On the one hand everything fit. They looked right. They fit just right. They were already traveling side by side. Why not join in other elemental ways? On the other hand, she was strung way too tightly, he was a pig. She was looking to slip into sophistication. He was looking to live out a real life porno.

Sometimes there is no middle ground when what you’re looking for isn’t even on the same plane. How they didn’t see this coming, nobody knew. Their volatility was obvious to even a casual bystander. Every day at lunch, they bantered at the pizza place on the square, scorching wit paired with playing footsie under the table. Sparks flew. Curses abounded. It was all very entertaining. But there was a brittle edge that belied the ease of the relationship.

She was a rookie in the corporate world, taking in her surroundings. He was a shark, swimming and feeding and fucking with no conscience. Their appeal originally had to be proximity. Too many hours in the office. You pass a decorated cake often enough, you’ll want a piece even if you’re more the pie type. They would soon find they weren’t even made of the same stuff; she was a German Chocolate cake, with several ingredients and complicated timing. He was a bear claw- a fried piece of dough with sweet icing and fierce appearance. OK. Enough with the bakery analogies.

Somehow, their wildly different backgrounds and cultures had been overlooked at the outset. They were dazzled by the sleek, new models they found in each other. The new car smell was intoxicating, so to speak. Before getting into vehicular metaphors, we can just come to an understanding that all was new and glorious and exciting, as it always is in the beginning. What was surprising in this case was the speed at which their “love” imploded. There is an acceptable trajectory and this was like a fast-moving comet.

Can too many metaphors spoil a saucy tale?

So back to the breakup. She wanted to see this through, give it a shot, at least have a last hurrah. He wanted to do things to her that made her gag. Someday maybe she’d have regrets, but she was still young enough to be shocked. Someday he’s find someone he wouldn’t want to use as a foul toy, but he was too jaded at that point in time to have any focus.

So there was yelling. Pushing. Nudity. Shock. Sleep. Accusations. Jokes. Incredulity. Leering. Magnetism. Ten states of matter that mixed and proved combustible to this couple. They would later only have flashes of memory of their time together. How they walked through the city, quickly and in step with each other. How they shared a few quiet moments in the elevator. How they ate in companionable silence and danced in a darkened club. How they moved together. Looked to each other. Like shards stuck in amber, those few moments will last longer than either of them would admit.

Tempest

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the tempest overflows the teacup
so much energy spills from you to me
on my own I thought I was full
but was empty except for the shell I could see

cruel the waves of passion
they crash, hurling you into rock
I can’t see for the tears streaming
scraped raw with secrets you’ve unlocked

winds swirling
dreams torn
feelings swept away
suspended in wonder

when the tide ebbs and my breathing slows
the sky’s dimmed to a greyish brown
I can feel my feet touch the ground again
but I’m too afraid to look down

down is up in this tempest
and I can’t get my bearings
tossed til there’s no more feeling
so I let go of what I learned

tempests can’t be contained
I can’t control my heart
seas and storms and memories
will calm when we’re finally apart

The Rain Stops Stopping

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The raindrops became larger, pounding a louder staccato on the umbrella above her. She wondered if it was loud enough to drown out the sound of her heartbeat. She wondered if he could hear it as they huddled on the corner, waiting for the light to change to cross the street.

As they stood together under the umbrella, she could not quite bring herself to meet his eye. Instead, she risked a glance as high as his hand holding the umbrella just inches from her face. He had smaller hands than she imagined, yet they were dark, wiry, strong. She had the urge to find out whether his fingertips were smooth from all the typing he was doing for his thesis or they were calloused from playing guitar at the club Thursday nights.

The light changed and he placed his hand at the small of her back and they moved forward. The rain had picked up, forming rivulets along the curb and large puddles they had to step around. She pointed to the stoop of her building and they walked up the few steps to the door. They stood nervously just a moment before she quickly thanked him and withdrew her keys from her bag. She did look up then and smiled. When he smiled back, it was as though she was blinded for a moment. He leaned forward and she tilted he head a bit, expecting, hoping… He looked at her mouth, then her eyes, and then he smiled again. Asked her if she’d like to have dinner that night. She said yes and he said he’d pick her up in a few hours. He turned to leave. She walked up the steps with soggy shoes and a beaming smile.

As he walked to his apartment, he mentally kicked himself. Why didn’t he kiss her, he thought? She looked ready to be kissed. But when she smiled up at him, it was – he thought cornily- like the sun had come out. He forgot anything he had been about to say or do. Luckily, he had the wherewithal to ask her to dinner.

A few hours later, she answered the door and found him standing again, looking devastatingly handsome, at her door with his umbrella. Walk with me, he said. Where’s dinner, she asked. He cleared his throat and answered my place, if that’s alright. She said sure and as they walked, they chatted about the rain, term papers, the new sauce the local pizzeria was using, and the rain again.

A quiet descended when they got to his apartment. The rooms held the unmistakable mark of a bachelor in residence. Mismatched furniture. Posters tacked to walls. The smells coming from the kitchen were delicious. A family recipe, he said. After a companionable meal, they cleared dishes, poured wine and moved toward the sofa. She was diverted by the sound of rolling thunder. She walked to the window and he joined her there. They sipped their wine, watched the rain, listened to the thunder.

Now she was sure he could hear her heartbeat as he moved closer and placed their glasses on a shelf. Any other thoughts she had were washed away by the rain and the warmth of their touch as their lips met. Her hands found their way into his hair. His hands pulled her by the waist so close there was no space between them. Soon she felt as though they were above the clouds, looking down at the rainfall.

She felt him all around her. Pressed closely, their hearts were beating and ricocheting off their chests in an allegro tempo, with their breathing forming a lush backdrop to the rain. The symphony of sound and textures was highlighted by the dimly lit figures they made with the only an outside streetlight providing soft focus details.

She recalled her first glimpse of him across the lecture hall. In her memory it was like there had been a beacon shining on his beautiful face for an instant. Just long enough for the world to shift beneath her feet. With a burst of primal need, she predictably questioned her allure. Her closest friend from down the hall helped her in those first tentative days, with suggestions and dares and other childish tactics. It had worked. Here she was now in his arms. Watching hunger cross his features.

He didn’t notice the rain or flickering lights. Just how soft she was, how bright her eyes shined in the dim room, his own heaving breaths pushing against her. He couldn’t believe he was holding her, the girl he hadn’t even noticed until a few weeks ago at the lecture. He had seen her across the room and watched her walk down the stairs, moving like a sinuous swirl of smoke. He had been transfixed. Though instead of those jeans and t-shirt, he pictured her in a sundress with her curves highlighted. He would have to try to convince her to stop wearing jeans. And start wearing her hair down instead of pulled back all the time, too. She could be a siren if she tried just a little. Why pull all those glorious curls in a ponytail? He loved how they spilled across his pillow. What an astonishing sight. He would throw out all her hair ties to see her like this again.

That night proved to be a beginning of a whirlwind of pain and the end of the ideal. Over days and then weeks, there was a shift from the new and exciting and bright to something darker. She had thought him out of her league and he had thought her delicate, pliable. As she embraced her sensuality, he slowly groomed her to become his feminine ideal. There were subtle hints about wearing her hair differently, ditching jeans to show off her legs, adding a little makeup to “highlight” her features, reading suggested books and listening to suggested music. The scope of the shift of power in their relationship was not clear to her until she found herself one night waiting at his place at his direction.

Having spent less time with friends recently, she decided to go to a party making sure she got home before him. But soon after arriving, she felt him staring from across the room even before she saw him. He glanced away and she stood unsure before walking to him. He pulled her in for a hug, whispered menacingly in her ear and she was making excuses to leave within minutes.

She didn’t have to wait long before hearing his steps in the hall outside the apartment. There seemed to be a long pause, then he came into the room. It felt like time was holding its breath as the next couple of hours were filled with touching, kissing, pushing, crying, yelling, punching, slapping, tearing, pleading, then quiet. He had barely spoken anything intelligible. Just shared his body and his rage and his beautiful dark eyes became shuttered.

He watched her put herself back together. He watched as she gathered her things. He watched as she left. No words. No tears. It was as though they were both stunned and weren’t sure what had happened.

When she saw him days later in class, she squelched a slight ache in her heart and was able to avoid him. It took a few minutes of walking home, pondering, looking at the sidewalk, to realize it was raining. As she reached the same corner they had first shared an umbrella, she relished the feeling of the cool rain on her skin. She felt silly thinking it, but the rain was almost a cleansing for her. She felt lighter as she took off her wet shoes inside the door. Looking out the window, she saw him crossing the street towards his place. He was looking down, his hair plastered to his head. He carried his umbrella, but it remained tucked under his arm, seemingly forgotten.

A very small part of her felt for him. She knew how it felt walking away in pain but how does it feel when it lives inside you? She let the curtain close on him and the rain.

“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping
When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”
–Dr. Seuss