by Zachary Caballero

At a party where no one is listening,
a woman I’ve never wanted
whispers in my ear, leans over to say,
I know how you are,
And she is a liar as soon
as she says it, as soon as she says
know and you,
the air in the room sours.
She, a fruit fly, a gnat, a small
bothersome thing, hovering
beneath her false certainty,
and I cannot kill what I cannot see:
truth dimmed in half-light
a lie dug in the dark,
invisible, dangerous sparks,
catching fires
more troublesome than the storm
forming inside my throat.

On the phone, a woman I do not want
to want me back anymore says,
I think, I think
You have trust issues,
And as soon as she says it,
am I supposed to be less true?
Is my skin the soil she needs
her words to take root in?
People misconstrue
bloom and blame as the same,
but who gave both my name?

I read a text message from a woman
who does not want me to want her back,
who wanted me, then stopped wanting me,
who kissed me, then stopped kissing me,
who, at once, remains both
blameless and blooming.

She, typing,
me waiting,

three dots bounce like a wave
the blue crash a new rash
now sending
slowly bending towards me,
the words move up, delivered
like the river leaving the ocean,
the words touch the earth of my skin,
leap off the touch screen, unleashed,
touching me without sound,
I think, I think
you felt more for me than I felt for you,
And as soon as she writes it,
I read it, each single syllable of
her words jump into my body,
barrage of silent cadavers
pierce the paper on my skin&
all I can do is weep in my garage,
inaudibly alone, sitting,
neither beside or outside,
but as my disgusted self,
listening to Azalea
croon out the wicked moon
of Louis Armstrong’s cratered
throat, a songbirds words
blooming off my tongue,
the garden of my blues
recoiling, repeating
the melody
of m’lady melancholy.
I confuse so many
sounds for hope.
Is my heart wrong?
In the dark field of my longing,
all the flowers are dead.
I know who you are,
the pain says
the pain says,
now and always,
your hurt
belongs to me,

the pain of your name
your long history of blame
now and always,
belongs to you,

and all I can do is murmur
alongside the sideways summer storm,
yearning to unlearn,
still not knowing what to do
other than follow
the soft curve of my palms
form around the jawline,
like a poorly written sentence
I don’t want to write.
I know who you are, and
I know who I want you to be
the pain says, but you’ll
never know the difference.
I say,
How do you
think about yourself
when no one is there to witness?
when your grief stays, unanswerable,
never beginning, yet always