Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Tattooed Poets Project: Erica Rivera

Today's poem comes to us from Minneapolis, from Erica Rivera:



His couch swallowed your stuff.

That’s how this all started.

The trinkets:

a sacral chakra rock

a grungy penny

once relied upon for luck are gone

They must have served their purpose

because they led you here

to the bear lair

where the furnace whispers

as your breath harmonizes

with his heart


Just before he fell asleep

he stroked his hairy chest

and teased

“You stole my chi.”

Now sounds

estrogen will not allow you to make

thrum through the room

and his scent is so intoxicating

you’d happily bury your face

in his armpits

(as unromantic though it may seem)

Your body is tender

and sticky and sour

concerns you should have discussed

as responsible adults hover



that delicious trickle

like a sexy serum you carry inside

is worth the risk of almost anything


You leave.


On the walk of shame you spy

a woman with a holy scarf

hurtling snowballs

at her boyfriend

Fog spreads across the cityscape

like a lace veil waiting to be lifted

and a pair of hoodlum teens

slogging by in saggy jeans

marvel at the balmy quality of the air tonight

It’s March, they say

The world wants to melt along with you

revealing spring, damp and pregnant with promise

You are the only thing that moves

on the road at this hour

the only one running away

from warmth on purpose


everything is bright and beautiful

and alive on the drive

despite the empty streets

you’re speeding all the same

writing at the red lights

fingers flipping through the stack of sticky notes

and when the lines won’t be contained

you know you’re a goner


You undress at home.


And notice you’re holding

his sock hostage

by mistake

A note to self is made:

Do not launder

as eventually you’ll shower

and the traces of him on your skin

will be erased

keep at least

this one piece

of evidence

just in case…

Silence descends and

the place his fist rested on your chest

as he surrendered to incessant sleep twitches

aches in his absence

And it’s then you realize what you missed

in all those agonizing months of waiting

was not sex per se

What you ached for was laughter

the kind of giggling that rattles your ribcage

and leaves you breathless and blushing

you can do everything solo

except incite that level of silliness

in yourself

What you hungered for

was his insistent grip on your neck

fingers in forbidden places

hands so hot they thawed the knots

your (overrated) independence earned


A man who didn’t want you

once declared,

“You are demanding fire.”

He swore a fearless suitor would arrive

in time and stay

despite the writing cyclone

What if this is him

and instead


are the one

afraid of flames?


There’s a song that goes,

Someday someone’s

gonna ask you

a question

you should say yes to”

You would have liked to author that

because this is not a poem

(you don’t know how to write those anymore)

but a tired attempt at making sense

of that which has no words.

Erica Rivera is the author of Insatiable: A Young Mother’s Struggle with Anorexia (Berkley, 2009). She is the former first-place winner of the Powderhorn Writer’s Festival and her poetry has appeared in Moon Journal, The Mirage, and Writer’s Journal. She blogs at http://www.maneaterbook.com/blog.htm.

Head on over to BillyBlog to see one of Erica's tattoos here.

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