My heart is pulled in many different directions right now—alarmed at the horrors happening in our world, overwhelmed by how much work there’s still left to do, yet so unendingly grateful to be alive anyway, so full of lost-eyed joy, like stained glass held up to the light. My new book Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing comes out exactly a week from today, & I feel cradled by that sweetness, the lead-up to launch day a ritual I treasure more than maybe any other—but at the same time I’ve been feeling a little burnt out by all the promotional work. I love this book, & I believe in this book, & I want this book to reach as many hands as possible. Still I find myself exhausted by the day-to-day of it, & I must remind myself always to keep spinning a poem about rebirth.
I wanted to share with you both some older pieces from Portrait which you might not have read before, & also a new piece—one not published in the book, but that evokes wholly & holy so many of the collection’s silken shoulder-risen offerings that it felt fitting.
In case you’re in a poetic mood today, you might enjoy pieces like “Trigger” (I love the girl. Can I not have this soft / thing, too?), “For H” (your mother taught you to be a good girl / which is another way of saying she taught you not to take up space with your wanting), “Lightning / Hunger” (Ready or not, here I come. When you / say this, it should mean children’s game, / not war story), “Infernal / Inferno” (I can never find her hands / but still I know her fingertips are matchsticks), “When My First Boyfriend Learned I Was on Anti-Psychotics, He Laughed & Told Me He Always Suspected I Was Crazier Than I Let On” (I wanted to murder him, / but his body kept getting / in the way), “Quell” (Let me talk to you about all the ways she pronounces mercy), “Mealtime” (What is it they say about / love? That it’s only possession reimagined), “Serenade to Surrender” (Every shade of blue lies face-up. This is how we know / how much they’ve suffered), & “Pandora” (goddamn. Who knew people could be sunlight). They're all featured in Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing, my latest collection of poetry.
& if you have not preordered Portrait yet, you can do that at this link—it ships worldwide. The book comes out on May 27th, & the launch party is on May 28th, at 8PM at the Merry Lion in Singapore. You can RSVP to that right here—it’s free & open to the public.
Here’s a little poem that very nearly made it into the book but paused steps away; it’s called ”Points of Faith” & found such a lovely place to rest as the grand prize winner of Vocal’s Poets in Motion contest, chosen by Erica Wagner. Thank you for singing it home. xx
Points of Faith
When you are as lonely as this, every month smells
of her skin. Choose one, any one—February, August,
like a vending machine, cards in a deck, you can never
come all the way back. The whole damn calendar is
soaked in her. When you are as lonely as this, noon
& midnight both hold the false assumption of innocence.
There was always an object, there was always light, they
were always here the whole time you were threatening
to forgive yourself, singing very quietly, slightly off-key:
surprise, surprise, she never loved you anyway. When you
are as lonely as this, there comes a point at which your
only wish is to grow a little lonelier. At this point, if you
walk down the road, all you will find is the moment you
didn’t look back. The moment when she would have killed
or lived for you & you kept walking anyway. Such a
pointless & brutal landscape as love deserves a song like
that. Make up a new month, decorate it with more angels
or less mouths. Go away for a long time & try hard as you
can to forget the smell of her skin, wreathed into ball-
point pens, the screen door never fully closed. Something
in the dark owes you for the time you’ve made up, a debt
you will never collect, a consolation prize. Without her,
it’s a miracle how things never seem to collide into other
things. It’s a miracle how quiet this place remains.