1 poem

by Jake Matkov

Jake Matkov is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Queer/Art/Mentorship. Recent publications include glitterMOB and Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight. He lives and works in Brooklyn where he co-curates the Broken Bells poetry reading series.

Battery Fright

After the 2010 Philadelphia marathon

on my walk home – I puke onto a flower

bed in Rittenhouse Square Park – Forget-

Me-Nots bend under the weight of my vomit –

I press their petals between the pages I have

written – Bhanu Kapil says The notebook lets

something die in order to arrive – When I fall

in love – I conjure the men who soured me –

Boil the pressed petals in a simmering pot

of water – Watch them curl into withering

shells of their former selves – They crumble

when placed in my poem –

                                               Today I am

in love with you – I twist a twig broken

and hold its second shape in my palms –

Watch birds flocking your limbs – A place

I struggle for space – At the periphery – I play

a game with men in the city – Either I hide

my body or make them take it – In 2013

the dom leather bear is sweet until I can’t

get hard for him – I bet this hurts he smirks

with his British accent – Each consonant

buttoned into a thick coat – Nestled way in

the back of his throat – And gone –

What is a notebook after thirty pages

torn – Or water boiling – Or tangled weeds

blurring the garden – I lose sound through

a leak – A slow puncture symptom – The pin

prick in an air mattress deflates its shape –

When flattened I think – Knowing is different

than a memory – My notebook offers them

bunched – Together into a bouquet – Nothing

distinguishable grows so easily but the weeds –

They spiral out of control –

                                               Today I am

in love with you – In 2008 I ripen

myself – A married businessman looking

for escape – I cannot offer much more than

this – His quick strokes turn into quick sobs –

Turns his body away from me – There sits

an exposed orange – All veins and ligaments –

I regard ugly things with detachment – Every post

card the dom bear mails me detailing his rape

fantasies – Door locked curtains drawn darkened

room – Where I plot my own genome map inside

a Dickinson poem – Because I need a direction –

My entire state of being is an invention I tell

Rittenhouse Square Park – Forget-Me-Nots

dying under the weight of December frost –

At the center of each memory I blur – Held in

a raindrop until it finishes its descent down off

some leaf – Or a soufflé tenderly sinking –

A structure built in such a way that when

it falls apart – It falls apart gracefully –

It’s like being in love – I keep weeding

fragments from the garden – I feel like

I’ll be in love – I deflate –

                                            Today I am

in love with you – In the hotel room I am bored –

In my mailbox I receive a new postcard – Moonglow

filters through bare branches like spilt milk rushing

the table’s many tidelines – Each time you unbutton

my shirt I hold my breath – Might you find the artifacts

I carry – Apple heart hurricane chest battery fright –

Tendrils I excavated from the earth – The blank notebook

page regards me – I let nothing die – If I could

perforate memory out my fingertips – The sour way

his mouth twists – A sneer a sob a simmering

under the surface – My chest heaving some rhythm

I cannot sing along with –

                                              Today I am in love

with you – While the businessman showers

I look at the pictures of his kids kept

in his wallet – They look dashing – They look

annoying – I look in the mirror at a blank page –

The dom bear fills a postcard about my body

part that makes his animal noise – Promises

about my smile covered in blood – Like

I am chewing inside my lips or – Tooth

brush my gums too hard – Under a heavy

red light you look so needy so unattainable –

My mistake is thinking about you next

week and the week after that – Your vicious

no – Viscous on my tongue – Salty like

the first time I taste another man’s come –

There comes a real possibility –

                                                        If I cannot be loved

the way I demand – I will enter the water

as Edna Pontellier – Boil myself into a withered

shell – Self-exile as acts of freedom – Throw

the last postcard into trash – Leave the business

man in his shower – Ride the hotel elevator

down – Think of all the people I don’t love –

Memory is deception – A still wet moment

folded against its blank side replicates

the contents into a falsehood – Like walking

the city – At midnight everything look smaller –

Everyone is a deception – Where concrete

never changes its color – A bus shuttles around

the boulevard bend – Leaving behind ether –

Exhaust – I am exhausted – When I’m dead I feel like

I’ll be dead – I appreciate that simplicity – Greens spiral

alive – In a way I wish I could be – Somewhere

on the breeze I keeping losing – An unfinished memory –

How I section the orange into crescents – Various –

Each makes me a person – Stringy cartilage

dangles from the pieces – I watch you eat

against the smokestack sky – A lone tree

silhouettes the shape of grief – 

                                                      Today

I return – To notebook pages written about 

what love – I found in your bed – You

slept in geometric patterns – I kissed each angle

with my body – A true creature of habit

I will never succeed – You see –