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Andie Carpenter / Poems


All the poems I've destroyed trying to put you down on paper
Which is impossible, of course.
To cut through time,
Make maps of your body
Insert scenery of muted colors.
The accumulation of life's travels.
If I could make you into a science,
Not something based on trust and faith
It would be simple
Or complex and without end,
Or both.


Seven Reasons To Smoke Cigarettes

Sitting here, glaring at the dark, I light another cigarette.
Somewhere across the room another ember brightens and fades,
letting me know you are still breathing, existing; still there.
I wonder if you are ashing on the floor.
I feel you glowering, searching for words, looking for excuses,
trying to remember what you said when you left some other girl
or what she said when leaving you.
I hope your cigarette will burn your fingers.
You begin to talk, about your talents, troubles, truths,
something about needing your space.
I am suddenly desperate, disgusted,
swallowed by the thickening air.
I have heard all these words before, same sentences, even.
Romantic, you are about to call me. I prefer the term addicted.
"I am not a sentimental woman," I will say,
hot rings of dreams hanging overhead.
I will not believe in the kind of love you crave -
In drama and drinking and hate.
I find no satisfaction in that.
I crush my cigarette into an overcrowded ashtray and smile.
I wonder if you know I'm staring,
if that flip of your cigarette into the trash was for my benefit.
I linger on the irony of seeing you clearest in obscurity.
Obscurity suits you.
Yes, I must somehow enjoy loneliness. No, I don't like to fight.
I can listen to you and light cigarettes at the same time.
Strange how in silence the air can be so dead and cold.
(I control the warmth of smoke between my lips.)



I hear the scratchy sound of a Rachmaninov record
Coming through the obscurity of my open window.
I think it may be the piano concerto number 2, in C minor.
As the weather changes the wind blows the curtain,
But I am afraid to lose the strained sounds of the piano.
I pile on sweaters like blankets of doubt
Stare into the night demanding fortitude.
I wonder if the music played while you were here, devouring
My sleep with hands and lips and thighs -
Or if it began with your departure
While I appealed to the darkness for answers.
If I were to wish
For things to posses in the night, I would hold you
In silence,
Mesmerized by music.


Hearing Neruda

"Ómy clear Chilean volcano, slash your laughter through the shadows"
-Pablo Neruda, 1959
Your laugh, bigger than any God
Surrounds me like a crash of lightning
Eating everything that came before it
Creating laden, lingering tomorrows.
Your laugh, fat as roots of an ancient Oak
Sprouting one way, then another, until the world
Must tiptoe around
Each sound -
Your laugh is my volcano
Spewing passions into my air
Leaving barely enough room to breathe
Enveloped, crushed by laughter -
A laugh like yours is born of livid sunlight
And splintering snow
Primaries and secondaries and tertiaries
Blending into one -
Birds, perched high on tightropes
Will be shamed of their song when your laugh
Exotic, exorbitant light
Splinters the world in two.


Read This To The Reporters When They Ask Why I Went Mad

A pizza delivery boy gives me his number before I slam the door
I think about calling
A junkie passes out in my doorway blocking the entrance
I think she looks serene
A man in a suit on the street says he can save me
I'm doubting that more and more
My dog can not be housebroken
I no longer care
I start obsessing about my hands, bite my nails, and let them get dry
It's been three hours since I touched another person
Two women dance together in a drunken stupor on the stairs
I am transfixed
A man shouts HEY SWEET BABY on the street
I am somehow flattered
There is a violent stabbing at a local pool hall
I stop to watch
My butt sticks to the subway seat forming a sweaty wet spot
I am afraid to get up so I miss my stop
I start obsessing about my hands and paint my nails but no one notices
It's been three days since I touched another person
A friend that's a hooker offers advice about men in her apartment
I thank her and trust her but won't drink from the same bottle
I think of an old boyfriend that I desperately wanted to be in love with
I can never remember his name
My mother calls every Sunday worried about me
I tell her I just work a lot
Every morning I stare at the people on the subway
I can't stop wondering who they have sex with
I start obsessing about my hands, pick at my cuticles and wear gloves all the
It's been three weeks since I touched another person
Every night I eat the same thing in the same booth in the same diner
I can't believe the waiter never called me
I sit and type until my fingers are stiff and raw
Then I wonder where all my cigarettes went
I meet a famous writer on the street he ignores me but
I tell people I met him anyway
I read a book about a serial killer and come away afraid
I found it really interesting
I start obsessing about my hands and spend twenty-seven dollars on
It's been three months since I touched another person
A friend I have known for years says he is in love with me
I feel like I have accomplished something
I meet a popular poet in a diner and he smells like egg salad
I wonder if I could seduce him
I quit sleeping and stop eating and smoke all the time
My skin looks better than ever
I listen to my friends talk about rehab and AA and impotence
I kind of wish I had a cool problem
I start obsessing about my hands because I can't remember touching
It was only three hours
It was only three days
It was only three weeks
It was only three months
It's been too long since I touched another person