after Britney Spears

hello tastes so pretty when you believe
there’s another waiting. hello haunts me.
the dance card’s empty. my hands are empty. my heart
plays innocent but she did this to me. oops, I’m another man’s fool.
oops, I’m my own problem again. I’m some star no one sees falling
& every time I fall out of my clothes the heat won’t last.
all the people in the crowd grab a partner. I’m left
standing on the wall. hush, baby. let’s make believe
for whatever reason, paradise cares what little girls want.
I pull my own hair, pretend pain is a stranger. work hard
on the logic of sometimes. don’t tell me to shut my eyes.
don’t tell me to shop around. I know what I want
& the world keeps setting it free.

Request: Any poems on forbidden love for reasons of religion, culture, or ethnicity? Alternatively, any poems on interfaith marriage or otherwise mixed relationships?

"Empty Space"
Amrita Pritam

There were two kingdoms only:
the first of them threw out both him and me.
The second we abandoned.

Under a bare sky
I for a long time soaked in the rain of my body,
he for a long time rotted in the rain of his.

Then like a poison he drank the fondness of the years.
He held my hand with a trembling hand.
“Come, let’s have a roof over our heads awhile.
Look, further on ahead, there
between truth and falsehood, a little empty space.”


December // Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

When my body had forgotten its purpose,
when it just hung off my brainstem like a whipped mule.
When my hands only wrote. When my teeth only ate.
When my ass sat, my eyes read, when my reflexes
were answers to questions we all already knew.
Remember how it was then that you slid your hand
into me, a fork in the electric toaster of my body. Jesus,
where did all these sparks come from? Where was all
this heat? Remember what this mouth did last night?
And still, this morning I answer the phone like normal,
still I drink an hour's worth of strong coffee. And now
I file. And now I send an email. And remember how
my lungs filled with all that everything? Remember
how my heart was an animal you released from its cage?
Remember how we unhinged? Remember all the names
our bodies called each other? Remember how afterwards,
the steam rose from us like a pair of smiling ghosts?

In the Beginning // Chad deNiord

We lived in bed, no matter where we went
or what we did; we were always there, pulling
the sheets up over our heads like souls
for whom bodies are gowns that weigh too much,
pressing ourselves so close to each other we felt
our skin cross over to bone. How many days
did we dream like this in our high stone room
to which we'd flown on the wings of little deaths?
We slept awake and woke asleep in a fire
we couldn’t put out; in a fire that burned
from the inside out. What did we know without
saying? That we would suffer the weight we lost
without even trying when we returned, then walk
like turtles on the beach? How fast do you think we said
"Yes! Yes!" to the poor first god
when he asked us twice in separate rooms,
"Are you sure about this?" So fast, I can tell you,
that the birds outside our broken window thought
we were singing a song only they remembered.

(note: this poem was found via a link from another site, but he has quite an impressive body of work and I strongly suggest checking it out!)
Saw Melancholia's gaunt face
and gown—saw her strap down
her ecstasy in an alleyway.
Evening came brine-packed
from the bog while I slept
all night in my rusty car.
Knew the tang of scat in the bog,
fields yielding their corn sugars
to beasts of burden. We shall
have plain Words upon our Tomb.
This sisterhood is misshapen.
Tomorrow I'll ride toward
the relics of a dearly beloved.
She said she would be right back.


Memories of barbed wire,
motorcycles, Monday nights.
Like a monk in Grand Central Station,
I close my eyes, homesick
for the subtle pigments of April,
the green velvet no-man's-land
where fat snails move like split
tongues in the wood mushrooms.
I know I'm not your friend.
I know you're not my lover.
After some late-afternoon
industrial-strength drinking,
you phone in a sticky-sweet
lo-fi serenade: I know, I know,
I know
. . . I cannot say
life is better without you.
He's supposed to call his doctor, but for now he's the May King with his own Maypole.
He's hallelujah. He's glory hole. The world has more women than he can shake a stick
at. The world is his brickbat, no conscience to prick at, all of us Germans he can ich
lieber dich at. He's Dick and Jane. He's Citizen Kane. He's Bob Dole.
He's Peter the Great. He's a czar. He's a clown car with an extra car.
Funiculi, Funicula. He's an organ donor. He works pro boner. He's folderol.
He's fiddlesticks. He's the light left on at Motel 6. He's free-for-alls.
He's Viagra Falls. He's bangers and mash. He's balderdash. He's a wanker.
He's got his own anchor. He's whack-a-doodle. King Canoodle. He's a pirate, Long John
Silver, walking his own plank. He has science to thank. He's in like Flynn. He's Gunga Din,
holding his breath, cock of the walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He's Icarus,
hickory dickorous, the mouse run up the clock. He's shock and awe. He's Arkansas.
He's the package, the deal, the Good Housekeeping Seal. He's Johnson and Johnson.
He's a god now, the talk of the town. He's got no place to go but down.

The Beginning // Erin Dorsey

To me you are smoky hair and train tracks,

Red-lined lips and beer bottle ashtrays.

A sparrow, a crow – something, anything free.

You exist on fence posts, sitting cross-legged with a shy smile.

Other times you are destructive, waking up with tangled hair and eyeliner smudges trailing your face like tears, bruises and hickeys lining your breasts and thighs. You expose yourself in bars and let girls fuck you on your bedroom floor.

I bet you didn't know I think of you like this, or at all.

I do my best thinking in the early morning, usually with the sun-drenched mountains as the backdrop, flying down 1-90 with the sun at my back, the jagged green all around and the promise of the city before me.

I do my best loving after a night of slippery bliss, gazing into the morning hours, those nights where we get three hours sleep because we just can't close our eyes yet. Those moments when I imagine you above me, within me, throughout me. . .the delicacy of your shoulders and the softness of your neck the beginning of my constant rapture with you.

I do my best writing when I fear it will make no sense, when bits and pieces invade and force me to pull over, to jot it all down, writing furiously while trying to hold the wheel, seeing every mom-and-pop restaurant from here to the mountains as a challenge, a place to conquer myself. When I allow my thoughts to linger on one tiny aspect - the grey flecks of a stranger's eyes; the images I create based on your words - they unfold like golden butterflies dipped in stardust, an excursion of fantasy, the threat and promise of completion.

I do my best impressions of you when I am bleeding, when my heart overextends itself and light spills forth from my fingertips. Only then can I evoke an ounce of the beauty you maintain within that perfect frame.

I am falling.

[34] - Hilda Doolittle

We have seen how the most amiable,
under physical stress,

become wolves, jackals,
mongrel curs;

we know further that hunger
may make hyenas of the best of us;

let us, therefore (though we do not forget
Love, the Creator,

her chariot and white doves),
entreat Hest,

Aset, Isis, the great enchantress,
in her attribute of Serqet,

the original great-mother,
who drove

harnessed scorpions
before her.

Things I Wish I'd Said // Ronnie K. Stephens

I would pull Diana’s lips from the sky
to kiss you, to teach you what it means.

Yours is a thread I'd gladly trust
to lead me from my Minotaur,
if only I could free you from your beast,
that bone-laced gremlin riding shotgun.

I cannot bear to ask of the transgressions
you have purged on bathroom tiles.

I am muted in your presence.

Your fingertips shock flat-lines
into Pop Rocks.

Walk with me where we can paint trees
with leaves of smoldering jam
and spread tomorrow with our favorite marmalades,
toasting one another with a split-top kiss.

We have walked our puppet lines for far too long.
Tonight is ours.

Clip your strings and dive with me
headfirst into a Willy Wonka pond
so we can breaststroke one another's hours
candy-dipped water-winged and floating
on lemon-berry lily pads.

I can't cuddle with regret,
but I will try
to finger paint your eye-
lids back open.
There's a lot of life left
worthy of your image
at three in the morning.

These words are all to say what I only
have the heart to tell you
in Chaplin's voice.

I'm no miracle.
Just a guy most days learning
what it means to be a man.

I'll listen if you want to talk,
sit with you when silence between strangers
is silence between two strangers.


My tunnel's burning on both ends
and I can see my closet monsters
preying beneath your skin.

I will tell you where I've been

from here to where you’re headed
but I can’t stitch a destination.
This life is all the quilt I've got,
every patch an accident.

I will get lost with you.
Together we can stumble, stark blind,
hands outstretched, grasping for a beacon
only faith knows how to find.

Do you realize that if you had started

building the Parthenon on the day you were born

you would be all done in only two more years?

Of course, you would have needed lots of help,

so never mind, you’re fine just as you are.

You are loved for simply being yourself.

But did you know at your age Judy Garland

was pulling down $150,000 a picture,

Joan of Arc was leading the French army to victory,

and Blaise Pascal had cleaned up his room?

No, wait, I mean he had invented the calculator.

Of course, there will be time for all that later in your life

after you come out of your room

and begin to blossom, at least pick up all your socks.

For some reason, I keep remembering that Lady Jane Grey

was Queen of England when she was only fifteen

but then she was beheaded, so never mind her as a role model.

A few centuries later, when he was your age,

Franz Schubert was doing the dishes for his family,

but that did not keep him from composing two symphonies,

four operas, and two complete Masses, as a youngster.

But of course that was in Austria at the height

of romantic lyricism, not here in the suburbs of Cleveland.

Frankly, who cares if Annie Oakley was a crack shot at 15

or if Maria Callas debuted as Tosca at 17?

We think you are special by just being you,

playing with your food and staring into space.

By the way, I lied about Schubert doing the dishes,

but that doesn’t mean he never helped out around the house.

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