Separation is devoted to us
the third body at the altar
what stands in the corner when we make love,
watches as I choke her through the mattress.
After she comes, I don’t let go, beg her
stay stay stay
she hugs me back with airplane wings
and the acceptance letter on the bedside table sounds like the ocean
the new job grew legs and she won’t stop chasing it.
When she leaves, I’m small as a whisper,
at war with the unfilled side of the bed
a gullible companion of shadows
Miming I miss you’s
the Lover in me arthritic
our relationship corrosive as the endless waters between us
my igneous heart barely beats.
In a dying effort to feel her,
I put my headphones in
scroll to our already chosen wedding song,
but it doesn’t play.
What’s she like? They ask.
I think of a winter night in Philadelphia,
the first time she drove my car.
A deer galloped on an awkward angle near the left rear wheel
its eye’s unnervingly wide.
It ran parallel to the car for a moment
then threw its muzzle into the left passenger door.
I tasted the iron in my mouth.
The back tire crunched its right legs.
It laid, crumpled and bleating,
hacking its two working hooves deliriously against the asphalt.
a deer in the 2 a.m. city
sprinting possessed at the car like metal to a magnet
Don’t you get it?
It was impossible.
What I’m saying is,
she’s an alchemy of chaos
an archive of inexplicable deaths.
Don’t you see?
She’s the place where things go unknowingly to die.
The deer had no choice
bewitched into suicide.
What’s she like? They beg.
I answer, she’s great, brilliant
and my nose starts bleeding.
They are staring, when one asks
Are you okay? Your eyes.
You look like a deer in headlights
Some Nights I Dream of Utopia
A room and all the dead have risen
my mother smiles wide as a prayer
every person i’ve wronged is a juror that chants not-guilty.
the poet writes me as the sunrise
my tongue is never in the wrong woman’s mouth
all the doors in the house are missing locks
the bathroom is not a slaughterhouse
the singer’s tears run upwards
while her boyfriend unbludgeons her mouth
here the locket fixed, here no thicket of nails, here I’m soft like a hug
my ex-lover’s eyes say forgiveness
my first roommate leaves the girl untouched
I have not run over the dog
I did not start the brawl
I have nothing to write about
here the unbent ring, here I kiss my father’s cheek
and every hurtful thing I said comes out as I love you
A True Love Story
And isn’t this how it always starts:
the rain comes and so do we,
both disciples of the sky or what lives above it,
a room filled with hands and hair and stale coffee,
love still splattered on the bed,
isn’t this the truth we’re seeking, isn’t this the life we all want to breathe in,
the toast still toasting, the eggs scrambled
And isn’t this how it always ends:
Love as an empty fridge
Love dried into salt
We pour some on the table and spell:
D I V O R C E
let that be a new constitution, let’s write our signatures in blood or tears
the signatures written in ink, as they always are,
mine an indecipherable mess, yours a slender stalk,
a flamingo in summer, and hasn’t this relationship been on one leg,
trying to balance all this weight, the whole time?
Upon Hearing My Estranged Uncle Committed Suicide
and he did it at his mother’s house
dangling from the ceiling like a Christmas ornament
and isn’t that the loudest you’ve ever heard someone beg to be unborn?
Her house, the closest thing he could find to crawling back inside her womb
his life evaporating like a summer puddle
and can’t you hear her groceries hitting the ground when she got home,
the horror sprawling across her gentle face
that her son declared that day the apocalypse,
took his life & her home
with one small step.
The bible study teacher’s son is dead
19 and claimed by the highway.
I remember my first dead body
a bloodless boy blanketed in flowers and yankee caps.
I realized I offered my condolences to the wrong family
when they pulled his thrashing mother wrist-first through the cemetery gates,
Manic, she threw herself into the grave
to keep them from lowering the casket.
Carcrash boys terrify me,
remind me of Route 80’s torrent rain and hydroplane
and the pavement was no less hungry,
the ditch and semi played tug-o-war for the rites to my name.
After his funeral,
I slept with the bathroom light on for a month.
When I couldn’t stop seeing him on my futon
I drove to the crash site, an abandoned barn
and stood in front of the gaping hole
where the splintered wood heap lay dusted in glass.
A week later, his father burned that barn
drunk plump on grief and rage and Bourbon.
There’s no plan
just chance and physics.
Maybe that’s why the panic comes
abrupt and serrated, a bear-trap
because my car straightened.
I’m fat with dumb luck
and still, my foot is no less heavy.
The curves still come fast and murderous.
Part of me believes my casket’s already made somewhere.
There’s someone already sleeping
with their bathroom light on,
trying to rid their room of my death.
The glasses were the first to go,
dark rimmed, bold, and defiant.
I scratched out your eyes
and in their place, put two scarab beetles.
They remind me least of you.
I threw out the clothing,
the sweatpants from a lover not me
yet you always wore them.
The jacket that fit you too loose
you don’t like too tight, you don’t like trapped– I get it now.
I kept the stuffed dog
though it shall remain headless in the closet
and I kept the sheets,
though they have turned to sandpaper on my skin.
See, see how I nestle into them still?
See how I bleed for you?
I swallowed your hair
choked on each curl
gagged on the taste of flowers.
It sits now, in the furnace of me,
awaiting the fire.
Somewhere in Philadelphia,
a brunch table sits abandoned.
Window light shines on the cover of a little black book
beside it glares a plane ticket from El Paso.
Somewhere in Wales, your palace burns.
The flames, as royal as you were.
The smoke, as dark as me.
Nick Stanovick is a graduate of Temple University, an alumni of Babel Poetry Collective, and a member of Temple University’s slam team that won the 2016 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. His poems have been featured on Button Poetry and SlamFind. He is a lover of freezer pizza, Law & Order SVU, and laughing.