The First Straw | Jeffrey McDaniel

I used to think love was two people sucking
on the same straw to see whose thirst was stronger,

but then I whiffed the crushed walnuts of your nape,
traced jackals in the snow-covered tombstones of your teeth.

I used to think love was a non-stop saxophone solo
in the lungs, till I hung with you like a pair of sneakers

from a phone line, and you promised to always smell
the rose in my kerosene. I used to think love was terminal

pelvic ballet, till you let me jog beside while you pedaled
all over hell on the menstrual bicycle, your tongue

ripping through my prairie like a tornado of paper cuts.
I used to think love was an old man smashing a mirror

over his knee, till you helped me carry the barbell
of my spirit back up the stairs after my car pirouetted

in the desert. You are my history book. I used to not believe
in fairy tales till I played the dunce in sheep’s clothing

and felt how perfectly your foot fit in the glass slipper
of my ass. But then duty wrapped its phone cord

around my ankle and yanked me across the continent.
And now there are three thousand miles between the u

and s in esophagus. And being without you is like standing
at a cement-filled wall with a roll of Yugoslavian nickels

and making a wish. Some days I miss you so much
I’d jump off the roof of your office building

just to catch a glimpse of you on the way down. I wish
we could trade left eyeballs, so we could always see

what the other sees. But you’re here, I’m there,
and we have only words, a nightly phone call – one chance

to mix feelings into syllables and pour into the receiver,
hope they don’t disassemble in that calculus of wire.

And lately – with this whole war thing – the language machine
supporting it – I feel betrayed by the alphabet, like they’re

injecting strychnine into my vowels, infecting my consonants,
naming attack helicopters after shattered Indian tribes:

Apache, Blackhawk; and West Bank colonizers are settlers,
so Sharon is Davey Crockett, and Arafat: Geronimo,

and it’s the Wild West all over again. And I imagine Picasso
looking in a mirror, decorating his face in war paint,

washing his brushes in venom. And I think of Jenin
in all that rubble, and I feel like a Cyclops with two eyes,

like an anorexic with three mouths, like a scuba diver
in quicksand, like a shark with plastic vampire teeth,

like I’m the executioner’s fingernail trying to reason
with the hand. And I don’t know how to speak love

when the heart is a busted cup filling with spit and paste,
and the only sexual fantasy I have is busting

into the Pentagon with a bazooka-sized pen and blowing
open the minds of generals. And I comfort myself

with the thought that we’ll name our first child Jenin,
and her middle name will be Terezin, and we’ll teach her

how to glow in the dark, and how to swallow firecrackers,
and to never neglect the first straw; because no one

ever talks about the first straw, it’s always the last straw
that gets all the attention, but by then it’s way too late.

handing your heart

“It doesn’t matter who you love or how you love. If you are not in love or loving somebody, you are only half alive. Why do I love him? Because he is a thief, the first day I met him he stole my heart. Why, then, do I hate myself? Because I left my heart vulnerable, when the past has told me time and time again not to. Forgive the tears, they are only bits of selfishness that could be contained no longer. I only wish to keep you a little longer. Within the boundaries of my immediate life. Thank you for touching my life. And letting me know you. And love you. Too many of us stay walled because we are afraid to care too much, for fear the other person does not care as much or not at all. We don’t love qualities, we love a person; sometimes by reason of their defects as well as their qualities.”

— Jacques Maritain

til i am in it again ♥

We often forget that if trying to find that certain someone is a tiring process, we have the right to stop. It’s often chasing what was once a vital part of our lives.

But by no means, are we allowed to deny ourselves the chance to be happy, in fear of being hurt again.

All trees grow leaves again after a cold winter, and each one of us has the chance to be happy again.


yet regardless if you love them, hate them, or know that you would die without them, it matters not, because once in your life, whatever they were to the world they become everything to you, when you look at them in the eyes, traveling to the depths of their souls and you say a million things without trace of sound, you know that your own life is inevitably consumed within the rhythymic beatings of their very heart, we love them for a million reasons, no words would do it justice, it is a thing not of the mind, but of the heart, a feeling, only felt, love…

At some point, we weren’t just together. We became something that everyone knew about, and was happy to see happening. We were so known for being in our relationship, that it made it hard for us to be in love and go through tough times without the world watching every moment.

I miss the days when the only people that knew we were in love were us.