Back to Issue Twenty-Nine.

I Barely Know You, I Miss You, And My Addiction Is Doing Pushups in This Coffee Shop



I’m not yet ready for a poem
not about a man. I used you. I’m in love
with the light of my bruises. I’m also
addicted to your best friend, and I should
mention D.C. so that I ground this poem
in the hotel room where I first met you,
tore my dress off, and didn’t mention
my prior night spent with him. Those walls
were narcotic, milky as pills, but tonight
I’m thinking of your sassafras tree imminent
and friendless on a hill I’ve never seen,
the tree’s leaves a jade that suffocates
even toxic parts of me that, for a moment,
believe I could reach into my throat
and pull out a whale bone so you finally get
that you’re a staple in a wound I peeled
open at age two. So stupid. Nothing to do
with chickens in Oviedo or a ditch no one
followed me into. Even the pine needles
are sick of my bullshit, my palms pricked
but still pressed into mud like I know
anything of love or could beat gravity,
which in this case is a stand-in for a head
like a stone. My bare chest not my own.
I think God derailed the train. Just because
he wanted to. And that room tendrils in
to my thoughts again, because these days
I’ve given up sleep. I know it’s not you
in the dream, that we never careened
off the butte into any river, that I’m not
lantern but nail, always desperate
to get hammered so far into the stump
that I forget my own name. To be cratered
to death. Is that a thing? Would you say
Penny if I ask? Does begging do it for you?
I let your best friend spit in my face, and
with you, I’d take joiners. I’d abdicate all
condoms. And I’ll go back to that room
tomorrow because, no, I am not yet honest.
Like a salmon, I’m exhausted. My addiction
carves a heart in the bark. The organ slick
underneath. I want to taste iron on teeth
and, God, for you to pummel bloody into me
until I feel anything, anything but that.

Brandi Nicole Martin’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Missouri Review, the Cincinnati Review, Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Bennington Review, Redivider, and At Length, among others. She is pursuing her PhD in poetry at Florida State University, where she was the recipient of the 2016 Emerging Writer’s Spotlight award, selected by D.A. Powell.


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