in media res

I used to go around, newly godless, heart racing, gentle about my bad luck. I had broken many mirrors but I knew the spell was over when you kissed me. “come here,” you said. it was as ginger as it was when I was seventeen, young and virginal. when you moved my hair out of my face and touched your lips to mine—the bristles of rough hair on your face scratch against my chin, and I breathing it all in, like I can’t ever get enough. sometimes I keep my jealousy alive imagining the other girls you kissed when I wasn’t around. but then I remember that your presence alone conjures words inside me, making my mouth bend in different shapes. you were Orpheus with your music, I was Eurydice with my quiet steps. you are every handsome face in the mythology of us; sometimes I am the gorgon, the harpy. but you call me the princess and wrap my legs around you like we are a constellation in the making, on fire until our stories are buried with us.

 

© Alexandra Jema

the whole

it just rips apart my chest—to want to both share the words and keep them forever—if everyone knew maybe they would call me a fake, make me twist my neck. it just pours out of me and I don’t know how to stop. I’m famous for not being able to keep my mouth shut. the Narcissus in me wants to see my words everywhere, even in the soft echoes of the people I left behind (what a long exhausting list). so I drag my hands across the page, cursed cursive. my fingers weave the poems into place; I drink sparkling wine to make my world starry and the words tumble onto the page, loud laughing drunk things, with a smeared bloodstain-lipstick kiss to sign it off. and when I rip the pages apart and throw them into the wind, they turn into crows that peck my head until I vomit the words out again.

 

© Alexandra Jema

that one song

last night I went to that concert and they played that one song I listened to when I was falling in love with him. all of the memories with him are burned into the notes of that song, you know? but it ended all messy, fiery, like Rome burning to the ground.

sometimes I think the poet’s job is to separate each and every feeling splice by splice, like I should enjoy the happy moments for what they were, right? other times I bury the thought and think I’m happy to be falling asleep next to you.

© Alexandra Jema

i tell you i will write a poem

later I ask (as I always do),
Do you love me?

Unfortunately, you reply, your voice still morning-heavy.

Why unfortunately?

I think it’s unfortunate for anyone to love anyone, you say.
You’re going to die someday.

For some reason this is the funniest thing in the entire world.
Oh my poor, cynical love! I used to worry the same things.
I used to think we were mortal.

© Alexandra Jema

hindsight is a bitch when you are always right

“Each time I say or do something feels like a sacrifice inside itself. It feels like I am tearing away at my chest my little chest, tearing away little holes of flesh. What do I get but not someone else’s flesh, but little tiny encouragements saying that that’s what I was to do all along. There was never a world where I wouldn’t bleed. And bleed first I may. How will I know that he is also ready to bleed? The first time around it felt like a sure fire thing. A whole fiery exhibition, a burning sacrifice. And now it feels as though I must wait, in some sort of agony, until he deems me open enough to open himself up. I think this chain is sick and twisted, yet I don’t know how to vocalize that. Last time was so cold and so hard to deal with. And the last time I slept next to him I felt so far away and humiliated and sad. I don’t know whether to attribute this to situational circumstance (we are all so stressed because of finals) or something else of the matter. Maybe he’s made a decision in his mind. I am always right, you know. I am usually always right in my assumptions.”

 

— last year’s voice.
(I don’t have to tell you
that I was right)

© Alexandra Jema

 

lunch notes

Debating what to do with my sandwich—I ate half but I wish you were here to eat the other half. Listening to the birds chirping outside, their tiny voices echoing in the crevices of the building. I am waiting and counting the minutes until I can see you again. I count them almost all the time if I know I’ll be in your arms later.

© Alexandra Jema

absence

I feel my absence in the pause of your sentence. When I was dead for a year, I had the chance to think
… think?
I had the chance to
be without you…

I feel my absence in the jokes I don’t get. (I laugh anyway.)

Your sly answers, the smoothness of your lips

I can’t forget either—I tried

But I couldn’t
Because somehow my soul came back
And I think yours did too
Yours a bit red and mine kind of blue
and now everything is.

© Alexandra Jema