Field Notes on Desire

by Brandon Melendez

If scientists are to be believed, then touch has always been a lie.
Don’t look at me. Blame our molecules

for the ways we are caged to our electrical orbits.
Every rushed kiss & brushed cheek are a trick

of the imagination, our brains trying to understand the world
as closer than it is. The truth is a lonely electromagnetism.

The universe propelling away from itself into an unknown
absence. So when I lie in bed, alone or otherwise, I am not

in bed really, but levitating above the voltage
of my own body. I touch nothing. But I am expected to try

to find myself in the maw of another, so fine. Let’s say
I’m not alone. Let’s say I’ve invited someone

over because I love nothing if not the lie. The hope
that maybe this time my wantwill take a shape

other than wine poured down a bleach white sink.
Defiant spillage. Brief but unrelenting vacancy. Like anyone

I can mistake heat for intimacy. I can mistake intimacy
for not wanting to die alone. But if I’m being honest

it still feels like a lie.


Here is something for us
to hold onto. Something true
to carry to the end
of the story: I have a body
until someone decides they deserve it


Forgive me

            I don’t mean

to take up

                        so much space


all the ways

            I am



Maybe, I am wrong to hypothesize
about this machine. Maybe, the truth is as simple
as I feel broken. Rotten with rust & pink moss.
An emptied furnace in place of each organ
& everywhere in me coal & copper wire
& an engineer’s severed arm trapped inside
bent gears.

Look. What I am trying to say is this: often, I wonder
why I am incapable of performing the most basic function
of a body. Take hunger. Someone says, open & a dam breaks,
a gated neighborhood is set on fire. Someone asks,
what do you want? & I show them a perfectly set dinner table,
a lake with a single floating lantern among the lilies.

I say, don’t touch.
I say, like anyone I want nothing more than to feel

I want to desire like the rest, to crawl through the dark
or into bed & be happy with whatever hand finds me,
because hands are good enough.

But when it comes time. When I’m supposed to prove
this flesh is worth the price
of teeth, I unbutton my shirt & reveal nothing but thin wire
& a path through me.

Maybe I am not broken,
Maybe, I need someone who understands
when I say machine, I mean be patient with me.


Don’t be surprised
if you go to touch me
& I’ve already left
out the back window.
I have this theory
that someone snuck in one night
& replaced my eyes
with fire escapes.
That must be why
I understand the world best
as an exit.


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