This neighborhood was mine first. I walked each block twice:
drunk, then sober. I lived every day with legs and headphones.
It had snowed the night I ran down Lorimer and swore I’d stop
at nothing. My love, he had died. What was I supposed to do?
I regret nothing. Sometimes I feel washed up as paper. You’re
three years away. But then I dance down Graham and
the trees are the color of champagne and I remember—
There are things I like about heartbreak, too, how it needs
a good soundtrack. The way I catch a man’s gaze on the L
and don’t look away first. Losing something is just revising it.
After this love there will be more love. My body rising from a nest
of sheets to pick up a stranger’s MetroCard. I regret nothing.
Not the bar across the street from my apartment; I was still late.
Not the shared bathroom in Barcelona, not the red-eyes, not
the songs about black coats and Omaha. I lie about everything
but not this. You were every streetlamp that winter. You held
the crown of my head and for once I won’t show you what
I’ve made. I regret nothing. Your mother and your Maine.
Your wet hair in my lap after that first shower. The clinic
and how I cried for a week afterwards. How we never chose
the language we spoke. You wrote me a single poem and in it
you were the dog and I the fire. Remember the courthouse?
The anniversary song. Those goddamn Kmart towels. I loved them,
when did we throw them away? Tomorrow I’ll write down
everything we’ve done to each other and fill the bathtub
with water. I’ll burn each piece of paper down to silt.
And if it doesn’t work, I’ll do it again. And again and again and—

Copyright © 2021 by Hala Alyan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

I stumbled out of the bushes
to see a deer drink from a pool.
I climbed into the hills above
Berkeley, one step at a time.
I went to Prince Edward Island
where Anne of Green Gables’ face
is on the license plate. A hawk
or a condor flew over our house.

I bought a carton of smokes
at the duty free shop in Anchorage.
Took a seconal in Frankfurt
and woke up in New York.
I bothered my friends with my troubles;
I was never (not) alone. I postponed
pleasure until it was almost gone.

I stared out over the North Sea,
waiting for rain. I wandered
through the red light district in Amsterdam
in the middle of night. I rode on
the back of a motorcycle over a mountain
on Christmas Eve.

I floated on my back in the ocean
at Maui. Stared out the window of
my hotel room over the rooftops of
Florence. Took LSD in Paris and sat
on a bench in the Luxembourg Gardens.
Rented a hotel room in Liverpool
but couldn’t sleep.

I missed my flight from Madrid to Lisbon.
Found an apartment on the Panhandle
and drank tea in Golden Gate Park.
I was caught stealing at Safeway—I could never
return. A Chinese acupuncturist came to
my house when I threw out my back

and couldn’t move. I woke up in an apartment
on 5th Street and listened to the roosters
crow on someone’s roof. I visited her
in her house overlooking the ocean and she
let me in. I put out my hand to touch you,
but the bed was empty.

I wheeled a stroller down an icy New
England street. Waited under a canopy
in the rain, but she never came. I stood
in front of a classroom with paint stains
on my shoes. Called the suicide hotline,
but no one answered.

I dropped everything I was doing
and ran into the street. Drove
a car with faulty transmission until
a fire started under the hood. I ate
Indian food on a balcony in Capetown.
I sang karaoke in a bar in Tibet.

Something I meant to say comes back
to haunt me in my sleep. I turn
the key in the lock and call your
name. Her face appears, out of nowhere,
making a shadow on the page. There’s
only one stone and it weighs a ton.

from Alien Abduction (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015). Copyright © 2015 Lewis Warsh. Used with the permission of the publisher.