works published in (parenthetical), 2016


I was going to start this poem by talking about tendrils:
    vines creeping up my neck, rooting into the brick walls of my skin
    like the tendrils of anxiety that sneak up my muscles every day —
but I realized that I fucking hate the word ‘tendril’.
it’s greasy.

anxiety is not; the tendrils of anxiety that sneak up my muscles are not
slippery, not pinguid, not cold, oily, unctuous. my muscles
splenius capitis, trapezius, levator scapulae they are well acquainted
with this creeping, growing, darkening engulfment and rather than
slipping, its grip is vice-like. visceral.

perhaps if I were to continue with botanical allegory
a better term to use would be blooming:
directly under the shoulder blade, just below the muscle there —
    the rhomboid the serratus and again splenius capitis and trapezius
    yes, fuck, yes. just there.
there is something growing in that small dark place;
roses, taking root in my back. blooming. up,
up, up through my chest and
piercing into my collarbone (clavicular head of pectoralis major);
thorny stems becoming intimately acquainted with my internal self.

anxiety is not slippery. it sticks.

I was going to end this poem by talking about hands: how yours
somehow calm the burrowing rose thorns in my back —
but somehow, that does not seem just.

I was going to end this poem by talking about backs
    how lying quietly in your bed somehow stretches out the roots
    entangled (in splenius capitis, trapezius, levator scapulae) simply by being near you
but that, too, seems not to fit.

instead I will end this poem by talking about (fucking) tendrils:
    how they grow ingratiatingly where nothing else will live —
    how their lack of obsequiousness   their disregard for any opinions regarding
    their growth is actually something to be admired.
yes, the word is oily.
but their perseverance, their continuance, that is where I find myself.
that is where I meet you.