love, if only technically – BY: ROXY HARRISON

your dad, amazed,
opened up my email
in which i listed the qualities
that made you
my favorite human on earth

somewhere in the keyboard
i wondered if i had overstepped
my boundaries in the precarious
space between the letters
“e” and “r”

the white wash of those lit
up alphabets did little to
quell my hand from composing
a letter that never would have been
sent if…
only i had been born 20 years ago
before the anonymity of an
infinite internet had been constructed

and in an era where people
could simply talk to each other
without the safe and sterile buffer
of a glowing computer screen

i thank god for technological achievements.

The end of the end–Roxy Harrison

the end of the end

what is worse?
realizing that you are at the end
of something you weren’t quite sure
even started,

or staring at the phone in the middle
of the night wishing texts read out
like howling, bleeding, screeching
voices popping ear drums and
tripping car alarms down the street.

“I FUCKING HATE YOU”

those are words you never want to
hash out or give back yet here
you are, one lonely finger pressing
send.

severing ties you shouldn’t have
made in the first place.

just how insulting could one
piece of pixelated blocks
arranged in the function of human
language be…anyway?

its enough to declare the end of the end.

The First, Second, or Last

The First, Second, or Last

In two statically charged moments
of salt water and electrons
he lays his head in my lap,
curled up like a child awaiting
my touch on his shoulder to
center the world that’s turning
steadily faster beneath his feet
as he clings on to something concrete.

i become the nucleus of his atom.

his flushed cheeks betray him,
two slices of heat almost illuminated
by the blue light of the alarm clock,
blinking out the hour that holds still—
a time piece that lets him stay suspended
in the moment like a frozen glass of
water that shatters with the force of
an atomic bomb
and i am the hidden isotope he has never
found before.

he says, “you are beautiful”
in a way that offers no contradiction,
a hypothesis he believes to be theory
and leaves no room for interpretation
so i goad him in the best way i can.

i say, “you can’t see, it’s dark”
and i feel him exhale, like he’s been
prepared to answer this one question
all of his life, as if he’s documented samples
of my speech and logic for his
case study, breaking apart my particles
and speaking in a way with words that
i thought he had lost in the transition from
dreamer to scientist
(though i am learning they are one and the same)

he says, “i can see you through my skin”

continually, his hands mold
my shape into neutrons, little fibers of
molecules that are more than just my flesh,
but rather a specific set of cells and combinations
that accept him
as a catalyst,
as a response to the
quickening of my pulse, dilated eyes,
and staggering breaths.
as the random action of one human
being coming forth from a universe
of strangers
colliding
and
fissioning.

we heat hotter than the force of
10,000 suns on the face of the planet
for one moment, brighter than the
north star melting into polar ice caps
and spreading faster than tradewinds,
unfurling our sails like phantom kites

this is too intimate for outside forces,
too delicate for words spun in the dark
and in the night with whispered promises
of things that science cannot prove
or ordain
with things not created by religion
or sanity
by instinct that sets a soul on fire
or flight

“mine”, he beckons,
with a palm in the light.
“just, mine.”

The Red of an Open and Waiting Mouth

There’s nothing so violent as the way we claim
our bodies for our own—
one barked scream thrust from forming lungs
into the unclear certainty of hospitalized ritual
and treated just as uniformly,
the rest of our well-chosen lives
tv dinners and a healthy dependence
on idling search engines

except.
except.

The moment, we moment, where live wires are anacondas
and two pieces of bread are your fingers’ chosen mattress.
when peeling the scab where you shaved your skin too close
reveals the palpitations of a tomato smelling as musky
as forgotten copper, collecting under a misplaced sink.

These are moments sharpened by the appearance of shiny
new teeth in the fogged vanity mirror,
biting down on the plump pepper of your bottom lip,
splitting open to the pulp within;
and your mouth upturned and howling

As uncontrolled as the first time you tasted air

Hardwire

In his starched uniform, with his
shoulders holding the weight of 30
other men in a platoon…
he is not a grandfather.

 

He is a cog, with edges clinking
smoothly into the Great Machine.
Every spit of tobacco on rice-paddy
floors leaves a bloodstain.
A heart is a rifle, firing
haphazardly into the darkness of
these jungles which nurture a
humid hunger. His heart is napalm.
burning and hurting and consuming
his chest; all’s that’s left to feel is
the fear of this faceless enemy.
What shadows he sees, beckons
him forward.

 
With the smell of singeing men,
covered in oil and agony—
the screams lead him closer to an
ocean. He wants to go home, but
every cog propels the Great Machine
and his son might be born without
a father.
It’s almost as much of a tragedy
as the man who falls into his
life-taking hands (their faces he fights
to forget) His body is a phoenix,
half ash and man and beats, slow-
slowing.
he shudders through a nightmare,
but never wakes up.

Eyes as ghosts
carry the memory of bodies,
empty of personality save for a
small whisper that they were once
more than cogs, more than human.

Lips more pricked than roses
forgetting his name but remembering
Johnny’s—whose sister fortified into
a shell when her only brother saw
himself lifted into the air and
spread out over a country he
couldn’t even pronounce.
They say Johnny
didn’t even feel the heat of the
explosion,
gone too soon, baby eyes lifted
skyward and repented

At 76, my grandfather is a great
warrior, fighting a battle he doesn’t
know exists. He doesn’t remember how
to tie his shoes, the touch of his lover’s
soft fingers on his back, or that he had
a son at all before the war.
He sits in his chair, examining a
wall, playing pictures only cogs
will never stop spinning into view.

At 76, my grandfather is a survivor
who has finally forgotten
all of our names.