I didn’t know what was happening at the time
but you smelled like things I wanted to remember

holding on to my thigh like an assault rifle
in the backseat of a taxi
I memorized every curve of your jawbone
wondering what it was that made me pull the trigger

what is it about these men
who keep all their tomorrows clenched tightly
between their molars?

have I learned to blink in shades of yes?
yes, you can rest your ugly here
yes, you can colonize the most fragile parts of me
yes, all is fair in love and war

you warned me that you had a habit
of grinding your teeth while you sleep
I told you not to worry
because my pillowcases already smell
like gunpowder 

A broken heart

Will make even the loveliest night sky 
Look like a bruise 

Rocks

She carries three rocks in her pocket
One is the pebble that led her to a mountain
One is the lump that formed in her throat
One is the boulder of silence that sat still in your mouth
These rocks are heavy
And she carries them in her pocket
So when she finally wades deep enough into the river
You won’t have the strength to pull her back
Again 

nonna, in progress.

serafina
you were born to parents
who carried the old country on their backs
who warmed cold Canadian streets
with their immigrant full-bodied belly laughs

your grandmother’s name was serafina
her grandmother’s name was serafina
you, my grandmother, were named serafina
they handed this name down to you
in dough-kneading palms
what made you abandon it, nonna?

did the kids at school smell your displacement?
did they sink their teeth into your layers of unbelonging?
your tanned skin in January
your strong pyramid nose
you with the tangled coal black curls
did your name burn the roof of their delicate mouths?

I will not pretend to know
what being different felt like for you, nonna
or what you thought the name “sara”
would turn you into
all I know is that they tell me
I am just as you were
a living memorial
to your charming ways
before you found complacency
in the cold embrace
of a wedding ring
they tell me back then
you were more mischief
than muted matriarch

did he teach you
how to mispronounce your own name?
were his words slurred too badly
too often?
is this why our family tree has broken branches, serafina?
too few letters
and two missing syllables

If it was dangerous

To sleep side by side
In sheets we spilled secrets on
I suggest we jump
Against caution
Off mountains
Until we land
Heart first
Head last
And wake up
With the worst of each other

She bites her lips.

Not with the uneasy force of insecurity, but with the calm aggression of someone hungry to know herself. Someone whose thoughts are always three steps ahead of her heart. She bites her lips to guard her words from spilling out down her chin before her brain can choose which ones scream “stay far away” the loudest.

Sharp Mediterranean nose. Dark gypsy eyes. She carries her weight around the middle like her mother. Wisdom on her hips and shame on her stomach. Complacency lives in the softness of her underarms. Her fingers are not slender enough to wear rings. She will always stand on the left side in a photo.

You told her once that she was beautiful. She keeps that hidden underneath her tongue.

Dear lover

I tasted you early this morning
Ripe like blood orange
I smelled your spine
Ate your sins
Bit into you
Hungry for your faults
Mouth full of your mysteries
Tonight
I am hungry for your voice
Consumed by your absence
Starving for the scent of your stories
Your bruised-knuckle knowledge
Dripping off the rubble of my walls
Heavy with the aftershocks of circumstance
You unruly exception
You defiant definition
You molotov cocktail of a man
Tonight
We are a revolution

My chest is a graveyard of questions

And as you pay your respects along my collarbone
Two hollow coffins inflate, resurrecting these morbid curiosities
Trying to claw their way out of my throat
Is her hair your favourite colour
Does she taste like a home cooked meal
After a long foreign vacation
Do you take our love home and have her try it on
Does it fit her like a costume
Hang off her body like an oversized jacket
Belonging to someone too stupid to realize
She’s a secondhand store of promises

I can’t afford to be loved at half price

the six stages of your separation

one.

The first day you wake up alone
The empty space beside you will ache like a phantom limb
Drape your arm selfishly across this vacant lot
It is prime real estate

two.


A week later, on a Thursday evening
You will forget how to cook for one
Wrap the leftovers in tinfoil
Everything will taste better tomorrow

three.


When the season of your love repeats itself
You will find him in your bed again
And marvel at how he still smells the same
He will not notice you wear a different perfume


four.


Half a year and six full moons later
His hands will still haunt your dreams
You will resent how his paintbrush pointer finger and rough canvas palms
Have stained everything around you

five.


It has been six hundred and forty two days
Since the hurricane of your introduction
And the memory of him is a broken clock
Struggling to repeat its patterns


six.


You will meet for lunch at two thirty
And pretend you have nowhere else to be
Again, when he bares his teeth
You will only admire his smile