Half-life

25 02 2012

Here’s one of the three new poems I read at last night’s thrilLITERATE reading.  The video of my reading it is at the bottom.

Half-life

When they say a heart breaks,
they speak as if it breaks once:

a glass,

floating in slow motion,

pulled down by the fingers of gravity.

Shards scatter,

run away on little feet, like repellent magnets.
And as the last screams die,
so begins the gluing back of parts.

But my heart is a half-life heart:

decaying and dividing again, and again.
It folds onto itself, like a supernova.

At every corner, lurks a ghost or demon,
snickering to themselves,
ready with daggers to slit the rubble upon glance.

Every time Shakira’s voice sounds out like a siren’s,
it easily undoes the sutures until I’m a leaky roof.
O cada vez oigo la lengua, pierdo la mia
y las palabras solia hablar, amargo en mi boca.

Walking in hallways becomes an inkblot test:

How many faces look like his?
Why must you turn and walk to a corner, gasping for oxygen at the sight of a stranger?

When I see a red sweater in the crowd,
or an imposter with the same wig,
the effect is the same:

following the earthquake, it’s all aftershocks–
from the epicentre of my chest, trembling me,
knocking me down time and time again when I’ve barely risen to my flesh-ripped knees.

I can never see the aquarium the same way without drowning a little.
Looking at a husky rewards me with enduring another paper-cut.

Can you blame me for always drinking from the half-empty cup?

You would rather be with someone halfway around the world,
giving you filtered, sour placebos by the teaspoons,
than I, fully here,
I, pouring out the purest of me in gallons,
I, whose tears dot the page like bullet holes,
I, who has pored over the pages of our histories,
devising stratagems and formulae from words,
mixing compounds and chemicals, needs and wants.
I, who have been a scientist,
not just searching for the cure to my half-life heart,
but to earn yours back.
I, losing the bold experiment to cold fact,
that you no longer desire dusty, expired goods,
while my heart continues to tick away.

I wish I could take back half the times I said, “I love you”,
so the other half shone brighter in your eyes and ears.

When they say a heart breaks,
they speak as if it breaks once.

Remember when I joked that you had no heart?

Well, the joke’s on me.