in my dream there was a sex convention, but it was really just a book fair and they were out of wine.
i was nervous.
you were drunk and looking at me like you wanted introductions.
i waved over some guy i’d never seen but apparently knew from somewhere – a dream-friend, i guess, baked into the lore.
you two exchanged the wrong names, so i made you try again, with the right names this time, setting you upright again in front of me like two little toys.
now you say, “hi, my name is,” and then say your name.
and now you say it back.
i pulled a book off the shelf, convinced it would help me write poetry.
a way to loosen things, that’s what we needed. we were all so wooden.
like that night with the bright red thong and the playing cards. hearts and diamonds, i took something off; clubs and spades, the two of you. i felt like god each time i peeled one off the deck. the way we’d look at each other, huddled on that little twin bed.
i held the book in my hand and an old man walked up to me and said i’d made a good choice and i thought, nevermind, and put the book down.
the game was stupid, it was a conceit. we wanted to do it but didn’t know how.
they stored the booze up on a stage. it was a mad dash, post-apocalyptic, stragglers scrapping over empty-bottle backwash. people passed-out with their faces smushed against the thick, red curtains streaked with vomit.
tonight we weren’t alone in needing lubrication, some kind of excuse.
i dove for something i thought was whiskey but was just syrup in a fancy bottle.
when we’d all drawn enough cards, you made a diagram. an attempt to split the territory. the places we were each allowed to look, to touch. like a team huddled in the locker room, trying to preordain the chaos on the field.
how much of that do you think they really follow, with a packed house, under all of those lights?
i felt hot that night, leaning over your laps in the dark. strung up through the ass in red lace so thin you couldn’t breathe on it, not even the pretense of functionality. maybe that was my version of the roaring in the stands, whatever it is that makes you do things you thought you couldn’t, like an ill-advised hail-Mary throw.
i walked off the stage and came back to our table with nothing.
the book said something about intimacy, i think, but in a slant way that felt truer than the things i would typically read. when i saw it i felt excited, and now i regret putting it down.
when i saw your faces, i felt embarrassed. i was projecting my own disappointment. after all, i was the only one still sober here, the only one who still needed a boost, or a reason. you looked up at me, expectant. it was so unlike that time before.
i was never supposed to be alone with either of you. that’s how it was laid out in your diagram: one of you behind me, the other in my mouth. you put me underneath a blanket as a failsafe, no way to tell where one of you ended and where i began, no chance to compete or for your eyes to wander and get hot over the wrong thing, god forbid.
for a sex convention, there was very little fucking. i’d expected a whirlwind, to be swept up into some wet, rapturous mob. this was a glorified scholastic fair, and we were all just leering at each other.
we wanted it but needed direction.
now you lean forward, and you too.
bend over that convention center table.
it was a packed house and nobody came. if you know, you know. you can put in so much effort it’s basically impossible. his breath and my breath and yours, every note played straight with no jazz. no one gets off on that kind of control, not even us, not ‘til he finished up in the bathroom and left the two of us alone. we made up for lost time, then, our white-hot frustration, the cards fanned out and sliding off the bed.
in the dream you tried to kiss me, and i pulled back. the desire was there – this just wasn’t the venue. this was academic, and we were animals. designed for something smaller and worse-lit than this, with no fluorescent lights or lanyards. somewhere to sleep.
you remember that, right? how the bed seemed so small by the end of it, not meant for three, and you walked out the door, back to your separate room, and we had to pretend it made sense? for his ego, maybe, or some lost cause of feeling like less shitty people.
he was asleep and we were texting each other from behind the two thickest doors in the world, neither of us talking about what had happened, neither of us talking about when my hand grazed your lap and you were wearing those silk, indigo boxers i once saw sitting folded up on your bed and teased you for being a bougie ass.
your mom bought you those. it was weird that i knew that and weirder now that i remember.
I AM NOT A CROOK
I’m scared I’m the only one here
who knows what anything means
not like an arcane text but the only cat
in a roomful of humans meowing
my tears look so stupid
when they don’t hear the high-pitched whine
their words make scraped
against their actions.
I’m the baby they want to toss
off the wing of the plane
with my nonsensical wailing
and I can’t explain my head
is too small
crying on a tarmac
as a clown-car plane of Nixons
struts out, throwing up V’s
the most recent photo I have of your penis
is from April. 2:47 AM. overhead
light of your ceiling fan. your nails
chewed to stubs. your comforter
all but kicked off the bed.
with you being so far, my stash
so out of date, I’ve spent a lot of time
looking at this penis. your April Penis,
if you will. your April Penis
and your short nails and your light-
house print sheets. I wake up in
the morning, grab my phone, scroll
to your April Penis and think about
how you used to make me beg for it,
flushed and almost nauseous
from weeks of pent-up want, how
that used to seem like forever.
I get home from work and pull out
your April Penis like a rescue inhaler,
a pacifier, a cork that swaps one pressure
for another. I think about you using it
that way, smirk emoji for a face, knuckles
nearly burst with blood on either side of me.
I picture your warm tongue trailing
down my body and try not to wonder
how long it’s been since the last time
you trailed your tongue down my body.
I crawl into bed at night intending
to blow off steam studying your April Penis
but end up scrolling past it into March,
into February, getting wet, doing math,
freaking out, missing you, feeling sad,
thinking of the dust-film forming on
the leash under your bed, hating
your depression, wishing
I could see you, crying. I feel guilty
jerking off to fossils. I want you here
and in-date and jaw-clenched and wanting
it. I want you 3D and high-res and unconcerned
about the lighting. I want to touch
something other than myself. this
is the least important thing, but I have to
keep this about your body. if I don’t, I’ll
break down gazing at your fingers,
the short nails a shorthand for the hot
burning coal in your skull. lighthouse
sheets that I know most days, you can’t
lift yourself out of. maybe it’s easier
to lie in bed, imagining that I am
your weakness, highest on the list of things
poised to kill you. I wish it were me
sitting on your chest, slapping your face
‘til you gave in, said you were dying.
I don’t want to picture the other in your bed,
the one that’s held you there for months,
silent, dark, and faceless, no use
for your July Penis, that winds itself
around your neck despite all your protests,
hissing, be quiet. you’re my toy. do you
want it? i’ll never leave you.
The asymptote I’m trying to approach as a poet is this complete one-ness with the reader where they basically just embody my entire consciousness and experience my thoughts, feelings, and memories without any guidance or sensory anchoring whatsoever / when I’m talking to people about that I say I want to “communicate something” but I don’t think it’s so much that I want to communicate as it is that I don’t want to have to communicate
I feel what I can only describe as reverence for the individual nature of my own consciousness and the fact that it contains the only copy of a fucking unfathomably large set of data, and I feel like as a person carrying this consciousness I am completely unequipped to properly pilot it through the world and feed the right things to it / I don’t understand how other people seem to take that knowledge so lightly, the knowledge that only they can be themselves and that they’ve been tasked with doing so for at least the length of an entire human life / how can you feel like you’re somehow worthy of that responsibility, of carrying the last/first/only member of a species through a really dangerous landscape and protecting it and properly advocating for it to the people around you / how do you know that someone else wouldn’t do a better job / how can you know that you’re piloting it as efficiently as possible if nobody else can even fucking see the controls / when I was 19 and 20 I took a lot of acid to try and help myself address these questions but all it did was expose my consciousness to even more experiences specific only to me, further individuating this half-shattered-already, fragile thing that I still have no choice but to carry around / I thought I would have some kind of experience that united me with the universe at large but really it just gave me more reasons to feel alone and paralyzed by the inherent uniqueness of my conscious experience
When I masturbate to a sex fantasy I can’t tell if I’m masturbating to the idea of sex with another person or the idea of another person being turned on by me
I vacillate wildly between feeling overwhelmed by how much I seem to feel for/about others and extremely paranoid that I have never actually experienced empathy and the true experience of relating to another human being is pathologically unattainable for me, and what I think is an overwhelming degree of feeling for/about others is really just the absolute baseline level of emotional availability experienced by nearly everyone else
My worst fear is some sort of crushing, all-consuming Judgement that I have always been a bad person and that I am rotten to the core and can never change and don’t deserve happiness / I feel fated to experience some expert evaluation by some omniscient character that permanently condemns me as worthless and unlovable and that any evidence to the contrary has been either a result of unconscious manipulation on my part or an utter lie / how fucking Catholic is that
Sometimes I feel uncomfortable around animals because I believe they can see through me, into me, past the entire construction of myself and into some truer, soul-level manifestation of me that I have repressed / I believe that if such a core, soul-type entity exists inside me then it is completely malevolent, in which case everyone’s dogs/cats/goldfish view what I call my Identity as a pathetic and superficial performance of goodness or empathy and view me as someone so good at manipulation that she doesn’t even remember these things aren’t her true nature / because of this I feel guilty when people like me / because of this I feel deeply ashamed when people don’t like me, even if it’s on a superficial level or for a more tangible reason / if you’re a dog reading this then I want you to know whatever you’re seeing when you look through me is completely inaccessible to me and I hope it doesn’t disturb you
I can’t tell if I should feel comfortable or alienated when someone tells me I think too much / I’m glad not everyone thinks this much and at this resolution but that just places more bullshit on my shoulders doesn’t it
Ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to have someone just sit me down and outline my entire psyche for me and tell me exactly why I think/do/wish for the things I do / I was very disappointed the first time I went to therapy and realized they weren’t going to do it there, either / poems seem like the closest I can get to that
I used to think if I met someone older or more experienced than me, they would be able to explain me to myself / all that happened was that I got my heart broken a lot and a lot of older men tried to derail my life
I probably don’t have to say it at this point, but death scares the fucking shit out of me
It never feels like the appropriate time to ask this: when we grieve are we sad because the person isn’t with us anymore or are we sad because we don’t know where they went / I know it’s a mix of both, obviously, but I guess what I’m asking is do other people feel the second thing or just the first thing / I like to think it’d be easier to accept one’s own death and the death of others if it wasn’t such fraught, unexplored terrain / it’s hard to process someone’s absence but also think to yourself “they could be experiencing virtually any number of unfathomable things at this very moment, or perhaps their consciousness just doesn’t exist anymore and therefore they aren’t experiencing anything at all” / and it’s weird how you can spend long periods of time just sort of regarding death in this casual, surface-level way, and then all of a sudden it’s in capital letters again and you have to re-learn how to shake it off / if you want to shake it off I don’t recommend acid
I want to try something if you don’t mind / I’m going to be quiet and you can let me know if you hear me
Kat Giordano (she/they) is a writer living in the Lehigh Valley. She is the author of one novel ('The Fountain,' Thirty West Publishing House, 2020) and one poetry collection ('The Poet Confronts Bukowski's Ghost,' Philosophical Idiot, 2018). Her writing can be found all over the internet and on her website, katgiordano.com. She tweets at @giordkat. She doesn't know how to drive. You love her.