Pricks in the Tapestry

This book is a record of my thinking and feeling during my mid-to-late-twenties. Like any record, it is incomplete and imperfect—I do not always identify with the speakers of these poems, even as I recognize their speech (and sometimes, their desires) as my own. I think of this collection as a bildungsroman of sorts: the story of a young poet coming to know, belatedly and with difficulty, the insufficiencies of the self as a subject and the lyric as a mode. —Jameson Fitzpatrick

Frantic Efforts to Avoid Abandonment, Real or Imagined

Once I wove flowers into his bicycle spokes.

I wrote PLEASE on the wall in large letters.

I wrote letters.

Many times I made a scene.

Once I cast a spell.

I told him I could keep him beautiful.

I chased after him in the street, calling his name.

I was always It.

I showed up at the party knowing he would be there and went home with him.

I showed up at the party not knowing he would be there and went home with him.

I texted twice more after it was clear he didn’t want to sleep with me again.

I learned about sympathetic magic in class, then got his signature tattooed on my ass.

I followed him onto the subway platform.

I followed him on every platform.

I told him I would die without him.

I died.

That was the worst thing.

No, coming back was the worst thing.

Haunting him.

I wore a disguise.

Sang the Stevie Nicks song right in his face.

You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you.

I paid for it.

Slept with his friend.

Several of them.

Claimed squatter’s rights.

I waited by the door.

I wrapped my arms around him.

I turned him into a tree.

I climbed.

Carved our initials into the bark.

I jumped.

Where I landed I didn’t know the language.

I repeated his name in a mirror until he appeared.

I broke the mirror trying to get to him.

I broke two.

I turned him into a flower.

I turned him into a pig.

I cooked him breakfast.

I did the dishes.

I learned the language.

I devised a plot.

I devised a plot of such sophistication he’d never suspect.

I stole his passport.

I made everyone he loved love me.

Once I told the truth about everything.

I lied.

I was extravagant.

I was simple.

I was a good piece of furniture.

I was his favorite shirt.

Sometimes I See a Man Who Hurts Me

Just the fact of the size of him.
Any him.
How much he doesn’t struggle to fill.
The broadness of shoulders that in no sense belong to me.
Shoulders I can neither have nor climb.
If that isn’t cruelty.
How they cut through the air and what else.
The way the fabric pulls across.
The way the sleeve hangs open when he reaches up.
The way the armpit calls me to memorize it.
The way he must lower the arm.
The way the bicep twitches.
The way the back ripples.
The way the ankle peeks.
The way the band of underwear inches upward
so he must reach in to push himself down again.
The scratch while he’s there.
The way there is no anguish in the face.
The way he looks in any direction, away from me.

Short Essay on the Lyric-Conceptual Divide

All opinions are the speaker’s of the poem. Appropriations ≠ endorsements.


Everything that happens in the poem happens to me but the me is not me or rather it is not I though I may have been me in the past.


This poem will contain an image, the value of which I will assert either by virtue of itself or of its context.


A long-armed teenager bites his lip, on a loop, so that he is never not biting his lip or about to bite his lip or having just bitten his lip.


This image is either interesting or it is not.


If it is interesting, it is because it interests the artist and/or the audience.


If I am the artist and it interests me, the boy is a stranger or is known to me.


If he is a stranger, I took this image either with or without consent, or the only extent to which I have taken this image is from someone else who took it first, that is, from the internet.


If he is known to me he is either known intimately or barely.


If he is known barely, he may be a stranger, the image of whom I took with his consent, thereby he became less strange to me, or he may look familiar because his face is a famous face featured in a proliferation of images.


If he is known intimately, I may or may not have once slept with him. If I have not slept with him, he may or may not be a virgin.


He may be a poet. If he is not, he may or may not have aspirations of being a poet.


He may not be a poet.


If he is my first real lover from high school, now dead, this has become a confessional poem. If the gif does not exist, this is a fiction.


After seven months of sobriety, his longest ever, the drug took hold of him again. Through everything, his family never stopped believing in him and loving him and only wish that he could have believed in himself. To all of you who are facing this horrible scourge as the family or friend of an addict, please reach out every day and be there for him or her. Let them know how much you love them and that there is nothing they could do to lose that love. To all of you who are addicted, never give up. A slip-up isn’t a failure, and you don’t ever have to be ashamed.


The boy bites his lip. Again.

Oh,

What did you look like
when they pulled you from the river?
Were you shirtless again?

Remember the afternoon we kept
like a private joke, what we tried and failed?
Does this poem fail you?

Does it keep you alive
in the sunny spot on the floor
where you went to lie

like a dog when you left the bed?
Come here, you said. I’m sorry.
Come here anyway and let me hold you.