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Toby Leah Bochan Toby Leah Bochan


Failing Bitterly

I never understood this phrase,
though of course, after we failed
I wanted you to be crushed under a couch
of misery. And endure: the slow healing wound
of pulled teeth. Maybe an infection, (the soul's
kind) something like an aura of pus.
That's what the end of us
inspired, after the months-long sludge,
the Sisyphean crawl and fallóthose talks
that made everything harder to say.
We let the stones stay.
We unwound the keys
from chains.

But it was the failure that embittered,
that cold press of custom cut metalócoins
for the passage through personal hell
(at least the coins for the dead are pressed
on the lips).
All those months, frozen
in the raw bar
of my body
my heart crazed and cracked—

But the day after we split, I was over the moon—
it was glorious out: I didn't need a jacket,
strait or otherwise. I felt I had landed in a new city:
the city of me without you.
Inconceivable because I had never conceived it—
how could you be part of the one-after-anothers
if you were the one?

The thought train stopped there, had a party with a white dress.

Not even your wife, I didn't want to look back—
but I how could I resist
when I wanted to see the lunatic city burning
as I burned?


March, 1999

Night and all the bugs spring out
little burrs frantic against the strands of lights
burnt out and flickering like an old marquee
a sad string tossed like a lei around the bones of the porchposts

The air is wrecked with insects
riveting the moist night
and even the lights
arenít constant
Still I am out here smoking
and thinking of you

And all the records are warped
and all the needles bent
and the lens is scratched
or the gears uncogged
only the radio works
and most stations play such unbearable music
between more unbearable commercials
But there is hope for a storm
and the metronomic rain dropping down
the only song that doesnít sound like you

There are days these days
every person looks like you from behind
even though
no one does

Iím getting eaten alive out here—
maybe the bugs do have a discerning palate,
or itís this perfume of oranges and green tea
I could be all the color
in the dark wet world tonight
For these moths and mosquitoes
maybe blood tastes better in the foreshadow of rain
maybe longing gets in the veins
maybe thereís a taste to it
It would be addictive


Mood Indigo

This is indigo,
my mother tells me, pinching
the fabric of my jeans
away from my skin, this color
from flowers they press
and squeeze for this indigo blood, look
at the seams, here. The dark line
hidden from the fade of the sun:

this is the blues.
My father points to the slick black vinyl
oiling its way around the Victrola
Sound trumpeting from the metal flower,
thick silver needle heavy in the grooves,
he turns the silver crank—

Indigo. Color like the feeling
of the blues, inky and wet,
an underground river running—
like the blood
blue in our veins, traveling back
to the heart, the heart. I want

to find a way to shoot
this flat note deep under my skin
so my arteries too can blossom indigo—

Overhead, the bloated moon,
the white birch reaching
the endless blue black sky shot with stars.