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Roxanne M Carter

thinking of the girl i was,
drawing blood, luring you along
on a string: a fickle thing taut
like twine: you stayed a little ways away
& i strayed too long, concentrating on
the spines of books: love is a dog
from hell, you get so alone
that it just makes sense, piling
them in my arms while you hung
around, contemplating your approach.
so i was young
er than you, i didn't really care
about the way your gaze fixed
on me in class, your eyes like glass
in church, stained blue. it
wasn't any trick to walk you to my car
and drive you home; it wasn't very far
& on the way we'd talk & say
i'd like to visit bukowski's grave
& i'd wave goodbye.

i should have known you were no good
when my cat pissed on you. he must have understood
what i hadn't realized yet. you always
wanted me to come inside yr dorm; i said
i had to go - i must have known, a little,
that you were prone to unrequited love -
that's why you liked to do portraits of girls, gashed
paint, every stroke & swirl
a groan, a sigh. why not? & my hands
would flutter like a heart caught in a grasp,
straining like it couldn't
quite get away - & so i'd say because
& fly.

i'd drive home on the 101, on my right
side the surf smashing against
the rocks, desperately, like a girl
leaping from a lonely tower window in her
long silver nightgown, knowing she'll
never be rescued.

like she's done it before

& again & again & never drowns, the tide
dragging her back, her long skirt
lace on the sand.

& so you left, carrying your canvasses
under yr arm, & i kept moving, carrying
the ocean at my side like a scar.

you're somewhere over-there, i'm here,
twining flowers through my hair, rolling
days around my tongue. i want to hope
there's some beauty left in you, something
borrowed, something blue - but you don't give a damn,
you tilt your head & drink your gin & wipe
my kisses from your skin like fingerprints
from a windowpane, like stains from sheets.
i think your words are a deceit - you say
you make me feel like italics & while
that's very sweet i don't know what it means -
it seems you like a make a scene & say your lines.

you painted me three times - & i regret
the size, & the surprise of seeing you with your father
carrying my enigmatic smile a mile long
between the two of you like a sign of my
mistake in telling you the number to call - i'd
never thought you'd move here at all, & here
we are, on the same day, our boxes getting in
each other's way. i hurry to my door,
pushing sweat from my hair, & you wander down the
hall, unaware of my relief that i live upstairs
& you live on the bottom floor.

to be fair, when i leapt across the room
& pulled you from the chair
i presumed some fantasy where you & i
were undiscovered literary lovers but
you were nothing like a poem: if
i removed the words
you keep curled in your fist,
if i kissed yr wrists to loose your grip,
i won't know what you are - yr bizarre,
absurd without the text that makes you strong,
that makes you sexed.


Roxanne M. Carter is a 23-year-old master's student in the library & information science program at UCLA. She recently graduated from the college of creative studies at UCSB where she majored in creative writing. She is not really very interested in library science, but she loves books. In 2001 she published her novella Drown as a zine; the full text is also available online, along with another novella (in progress) & hundreds of digital photographs plus fours years worth of journal entries.

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