Vulnerability Is Pleasure Is Pleasure Is Pain

Image by Emma Lehman


what do you want them to feel
you ask as i rip out clumped thoughts from my hairbrush
it doesn’t matter i say
this is not for them

this is for uncomfortably full stomachs
with over-ambitious mouths to blame for their pain
for disoriented eyes staring at the night sky at 4:38 pm
for CTRL+X and CTRL+V and let’s not forget

my heart is an amateur heavyweight boxing champion
it lurches and doubles over with exhilaration
as it slams into the adrenaline rush
it pumps heat and apathy
and calls it a night once its bones blush purple

loose emotions scattered on my bathroom floor
clogging the shower drain
tickling my back
i tell them you are not welcome
later that day a boy pauses mid-sentence
and struggles to unstick my embarrassment from the backside of his tongue


autumn leaves slapping against the trunks of palm trees
strings of salt water weaving through my ankles
my hairs reach out
searching for the hollow of your neck
they wrap around my cheekbones
and settle in my mouth
what a poor consolation prize
no one likes a half-hearted embrace


i like empty parking lots
but only when you’re in the passenger seat
rummaging through my glove box for a pair of sunglasses you might’ve left behind
three months back

why do you only speak in lowercase you ask
i tell you i’m trying to dismantle the capitalist market economy
and you exhale a laugh
but it is all lips
no teeth in sight

there’s a new billboard on the side of my mind
it says read at 2:14 am
in 2400 pt. font


you go into an ice cream store
and i follow
i’m lactose intolerant
i say
but i’ll get something just this once

you laugh and i grin
the laminated menu gleams with a future
filled with warm stomach-aches and familiar lies

maybe you’re right
maybe i’m a masochist


everything reminds me
of that day when your eyes flashed gold
as you kissed me

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