Selections from The College Notebook 2
I know the things I’ve done. I ran in the hen house
and played with the hens. I kissed smeared lipstick.
I don’t know where I’m going and the silence
of this campus is clawing at my thoughts. You said
you had already seen Europe. My heart burned for India.
To meditate with masters and to get closer to your heart.
The mind of all gods and the heart of mankind was in you.
You had a crystal in your forehead that burned with divinity.
You were the grapes in the vineyard. You were the chandelier
Metaphors dress in suits of armor and die on the battlefield
for you. I know the things I did after I met you. But you
pulled my last thread and I unraveled like the plot of one
of your stories. Knowing you was storybook romance.
Loving you was the narrative of a dreamlike paradigm, one
in which I recognized you the first time I met you. Before you
had said your first word, I remembered the day we were together.
I flashed forward to traveling in the mountains, to snow-capped
kisses; to Rome, and blood-red smiles. I recognized the cultures
of the world in your arms, and the way you wanted to wrap your
heart around Ethiopia and Haiti. You wanted to live among the
They don’t know our power. The way we burst with color into
this world. Somewhere, I still write essays and count pennies.
Somewhere, you wear scrubs and work late hours. That vibration
emanating from the clouds summons us from our bodies. Calls us
toward the future:
The two of us wandering the world with minds unleashed. We breathe
life into the sick and speak prophecies. Life shimmers from our faces
as we walk among the Earth, now separate, and I remember you as we both go to the end of our lives, happy in every waking moment.
We wore masks on more days
than just today. Always putting
on the costume of romance,
the thing we feared most was
intimacy. When the holiday
came around, we found ourselves
surrounded by skeletons and
spiders, as false as your friends
were, who dressed as their favorite
characters and pretended
to like me. They did it for you, yet
you remained oblivious, and
I thanked you for it, for
your blindness driven by lust.
We had more than enough
to drink that night, I, suffering
mundane conversation with strangers.
I was more than ready to whisper
in your ear, pull you by the arm
and take you outside. Those costumes
weren’t just for show. We were role playing
in the back of that car that night.
You thought you knew me, but
I could act better than you could and
for you, believing the lie was more
arousing. Who knew the holiday
could be so scary. Something broke,
and you spent the rest of the night
sitting in the shower, washing
How ominous those skeletons
looked then, as I sat on the couch
trying to keep my head from spinning.
No emotion in that fleshless corpse
hanging from the wall, as the two of us
shared the room in silence, accompanied
only by the sound of your cries
haunting us from the other room.
The unforgiving night brings with it a mutant
pestilence that sinks into innocent flesh. I’m already
impure—my mouth is full of the day’s dirt. My hair
is full of a week’s worth of grime. My head is full of
a year’s worth of frustration. My heart is full of a lifetime’s
worth of dreaming.
Wake me up, tender goddess. I’m writing off my health
and wellbeing to a midnight devil. I sacrifice the morning
on an altar for you.
Did you know they made Socrates drink hemlock?
In the same way, this world pushes the cup further
into my mouth. In the same way they endlessly assign work.
In the same way when graduation ends, I’ll just be moving on
to my next assignment. They said after twenty two years of school, you’ll spend the rest of your life working. The ones who didn’t respect
the rules will strike it rich. Who knows what will be left of you
when we finish with you. You try to claw your way out as the world
tries to swallow you whole.
I swallow caffeine by the gallons to serve a life
that keeps commanding me to obey. They keep telling us to
move faster. Advertisements—the silent whips that tempt our
every need. The house, the car, the kids: you need to glow like
gods do. You’re chasing that dream on a treadmill.
We keep guzzling from that cup as if we’ve never drank
a day in our life. Our own blood’s in the cup. We bought our
happiness with it. We keep drinking from it as if that familiar
taste of iron doesn’t taste like it’s our own. We drink until
we forget what water tastes like. The liquids that used
to give us life taste bitter in our mouths. That caffeine
pours down our cheeks as our eyes grow bloodshot. We just
pray for grace during the crash.
Even the dishes had mold in them. Toys lay scattered
like a minefield all over the house I grew up in. My parents
were sewn into their positions on torn couches, the television
hypnotizing them into their lethargy. I stayed in my room
mostly, even ate dinners to the sound of old cartoons making
their illustrated jokes. That’s what growing up was those days:
a kind of childish insanity that never seemed to deliver
a punch line. When I moved out for college, I kissed the floor
of my new dorm room. Those tight quarters sang a hallelujah chorus
that sounded like freedom and independence. In those years,
I wondered what living meant. I thought, being an adult is just a façade that grown children wear in order to get what they want
from people that rely on them for support. I even lived in my car
for a little while, trying to fight my own battles. There wasn’t anything
telling me what to do then. Just my lungs were doing work, I didn’t
need a reason to deserve being alive. The winds had a voice that
were calling me to the afterlife. Pain made me want to live harder,
to know more about living until I was filled with it. Now sleeping
in a small apartment feels lavish. I don’t own wooden beams
or cement foundations; I lay in bed and the quiet stars remind me
of their size. I know these lungs so well after all these years, but
even this breathing that I’ve come to love so much I’ll have to give back when the winds come calling again, forever in the air around me,
unwilling to let me get too far away.