The Way We Used To Talk You'd Think We Believed In Something

by Shimmy Boyle

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I was once much enamored with the idea of commercial success. It seemed to me that to make my living and my loving in the same breath was quite the desirable dream. But I was dreaming the wrong dream. Because that dream misses the point entirely. Now I dream about having a front porch and a rocking chair and a guitar and a bloodhound. I make what I need how I can. And I write all the time.

I tell you what. You keep doing what you like to do, and I'll keep doing what I like to do. And we'll go ahead and call that success.

These are poems about love. And love disguised as sex. And sex disguised as love. And love disguised as love. They are about the human heart and the human crotch and the myriad connections between the two, and sometimes only the one and sometimes only the other. I hope you like them.

These poems are dedicated to fireflies, who know how terrifying it is to let their light shine, and who risk the cruel punishment of death in a mayonnaise jar by those who covet their beauty.

Thank you.


released May 27, 2011

HUGE thanks To Eric and Aleks Thiermann without whom this recording would not have happened, and to Danielle Brennan for the gorgeous cover photograph.



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Shimmy Boyle Oakland, California

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Track Name: Living The Sexy Librarian Dream
After we spend all the best books against the insatiable gasoline fire of our brains, you turn to me and say "Watching you read is like pornography."

Then you set free your bobby pins, and earthquake your hair from its moorings in a slow motion explosion of sexy, until it settles gorgeous around you like a halo of brunette sunlight. Your glasses flash across the room and shatter against the card catalogue. Your bare arms remind me of the constitution, because we have the bare arms! Your torn nylons are like a war, that everybody has won. The top three buttons of your white business blouse burst off. Your cleavage is like Alaska cradled in black lace: the endless doom of the crevasse.

I sweep the debris from the information desk, staplers and papers and pens soar across the room, and I scream "I WANNA PLACE MY BOOKMARK BETWEEN YOUR PAGES!"

And you put your finger to my lips and say "Shhhh...shut up, this is a fucking library."

I kiss the ink stains on your fingers and say
"Mylady! Allow me to author your orgasm!
You turn my paperback into a hardcover."

Bend free the bars of your chest cage
and expand outward until the sun the rooms your love lives in.
I stopped believing in you until the moment we met.
This is no desperate prayer.
The lanterns are waiting.
So put on your book jacket and come with me.
Let us set the book shelves on fire
so we can breathe the smoke
inhale the words
and let the stories live inside our bodies.
We will sit together in the booths of midnight diners and eat pie,
Write each other's names in 4th of July sparklers,
Stand on the roof and watch the nighttime sky publish the stars.

Your vagina is the greatest story ever told.

So dress me in dimestore romance novels,
and use me like an old cliché.
Cuz I would yell in a library for you.
I would turn my skin to paper, swallow an ink well, and bind myself in leather,
Just to be beneath your hands.
I would cut down every tree, and place a plastic bag over the lungs of the world, just to make a book for you.

Arrange my dewy decimals,
Stamp my library card,
Make me pay my fines,
I am delinquent.
You have done this to me.
Your lips like letters,
Kisses like ellipses,
Dot dot dot,
Turn the page.
I long for your soft rustle.
Keep them turning.
Read me slow.
I don't want this book to end yet.
Track Name: Eyes Like Skyscrapers On Fire
Eyes like Skyscrapers on Fire

For centuries we have slept in strange beds,
Gone digging for the stars in empty pockets
While unseen overhead
They came on like porch lights.
We have heard that voice from beyond the throat
Tearing out like a cello
At the frequency of cracking icebergs,
Shuddering for a response.

We have felt the edge of winter like a blade,
Held our bodies to the lions,
And through the darkness
That leaks from beneath the bones
To build the risen towers
Of our least credible dreams,
We have rampaged
And stalked shivering back,
With shells in our hair,
Sea-swallowed and hungry,
Blistered and broken,
Unceasing and unrelenting,
Toward the only thing that mattered:

Where your skin first touched mine,
Fire was born.
The city where we met still burns,
Look to the smoke and see.
For we are consumed with the flames
As in a lover’s eyes
And look you all the buildings do burn.
This is the blossoming of it all.

All the past has been just prologue to this:
On the night of the day that I first kissed you
I wore my lips like pearl handled pistols,
Walked with Mercutio’s swagger,
Held my head up as though it were the sky itself,
And proclaimed thus to the pigeons:

‘Buckle my knees and spin the world.
Give me the breath, the words, a thought.
Give me a mountain, a flame, a kiss.
A moment or eternity.
Turn the sky black in mid-afternoon.
Empty out my heart like an old purse
So I may fill it with you.
For I will know no more days like this one.’

One day our bodies will lie beneath this ground.
But dear heart, hear me.
As the redness drips every second closer to black
With the deep pounding,
Discovering you in the chaos,
Like a blaze in a blizzard,
Has warmed me.
When my eyes lose the power to see,
I will be glad they had the chance to fall into yours
And should I grow lost,
I will find my way
Through the kisses like light
That you toss for me to catch
As a hopeful bride does flowers.

We are made from pieces of all things
And one day our parts,
As scattered dust,
Will mingle above some far ocean.
And on that day,
Though we no longer have lips,
You will once again
Know my kiss.
Track Name: Melody Of A Rose
The Melody of a Rose

We will send a barrage of sleeping dump trucks
against the entrance to twilight,
barge in,
bleed it dry of color,
refuse to leave,
and then ask its forgiveness.

We will wear dining room tables on our backs,
spend all day in the kitchen,
cook a feast,
and feed ten thousand hobos.

We will ask an oak tree to touch its toes,
wash the tired feet of an ambulance driver,
perfume the neck of imagination,
become best friends with smiling,
make love in the streets,
push misery to the floor,
sit on its chest
and teach it tenderness.

We will wrist watch the time man
until his pace-maker becomes a heart.

you have a smile that breaks sunsets in half,
causes my heart to origami itself every time.

You surprised me,
reminded me that i have a body,
awoke me from a great slumber,
and now i can’t possibly sleep anymore
and it feels so good to come awake.

So kiss me,
while polar bears drown,
and politicians circus themselves,
and bullets carry names unwarranted to death.
While youth still beats in these bodies,
kiss my lips,
that love may decorate every word i speak from them.
Spell for me the words that this world is forgetting
As daily we hear history’s thunder
in the false skies that have been built.
I will set my glasses to my eye
so that I may make out the many barrels
of the many guns that are being pointed.
The smoke is rising like ghosts

And none can say how much time is left.

In the unwinding black of dawn
the horses are screaming.
We hunch low,
lean forward,
backs straight,
knees grasping,
and the horizon advances so close
we can see the hilt of its knife.
The swan dive moment kisses the bottom,
caresses our collar bones,
and leaves us reeling,
hallucinating music,
thinking about the color blue
as though falling a great distance,
from a great height
where up is not a direction,
but an emotion,
and the sky is nothing
but a color you recognize
inside the moments before you fall to sleep.

And you,
you are snow,
a claw-foot bathtub,
bullet shells.

The storm above glows a soft violet
we are breaking off our footsteps behind us.
As I reach for your hand,
I ask where we are going,
and you smile
and say to me
that we have always walked in these woods
we just haven’t remembered yet
and as the clouds part you point to the moon
and my body gets that gentle, slow feeling
like all my blood has just turned to honey inside my veins.

And the rain,
the rain,
when it finally falls,
it never makes a sound.
Track Name: Trenches Our Hearts Have Dug
Trenches Our Hearts Have Dug

Before this
I was just hands kissing pockets in the night,
Just a restless junkyard piano dog,
Fuming like a declaration of war.
I was just
Dead life,
Killing time,

And then it was the horrible shame
Of losing eating contests,
Punk Rock and Frank Sinatra,
And the moon,
Being itself again. 

It was flames across the room
The size of the Brooklyn Bridge,
A bit like drowning.
It was the prettiest war yet.
A plane, an open hatch,
A falling bomb,
And a cloud shaped like a mushroom.

It was
First kiss

Time was you'd find me in a moonlit bedroom,
Swirling drunk with your scent,
Keeping warm at your body,
Furnace that you are,
And every inch of skin, a bullhorn,
Screaming for touch.

So be my strings
And dance me.
Dance me steady like waves.
Dance me hard like street.
Dance me slow like honey-suckle.
Dance me crazy like straitjacket.

Move me in clock steps
With star-pasted eyes.

Because if seeing is believing
Then touching is the altar where believers worship
And when I touch you I feel religious.

Some days inscribe themselves to your parts.
It's as if they autograph your bones,
And there’s that workshop clamor inside your chest,
The buzz saws beneath your skin start to spinning
Behind my eyes it will always be:
Scarf Grab Chapstick Kiss.
On the bottom of my mouth:
Tongue Swirl Cinnamon Taste.
On the inside of my wrist:
Run Scream Laughing with Belly Ache From Funny
All Umbrellaless and Wet With Sky Water.
In my gut:
Humble Beach Knees
Praying to Sea Swallowed Ancients.
Chest like a chalkboard
Scrawled with my conquered heart,
Your Holy name.

But I've run out of legs to carry me now,
So I will sail on, until I sink.
And when the shadows fall
I'll grow me a sailor's beard,
Leave these rotten cliffs
For the companionship of the sea.
Bring your fanciful tridents and let me sink!
I'll find my death with watery eyes,
Blink back the whole of the ocean's salt tears,
Sucker punch the moon
With a brass knuckle gaze,
Dream of you dancing on Churchbell Sundays,
All mud and silk,
Swimming through cornfields
Like a last kiss that desperately wants to happen,
But never will.

Because you and I, we are running from always
And we will spend the rest of our lives
Trying to catch our breath from the rooftops,
Hearing unexpected music,
Noticing the flowers that remind us of each other,
With that feeling in the guts like running full speed downhill,
And the sky tilting slightly to the left,
All the while wondering
If we were ever truly
Track Name: These Rocks Can Read This Water The Way I Can Read A Book
These Rocks Can Read This Water the Way I Can Read a Book

Don’t fall asleep, he says, not yet, not now. Wait for the time when the ocean's skeleton will grow soft enough to hold you. Only then will the rhythm become something true enough for us to believe in.  

Pay attention, he says. The beggars are not the ones who are poor. The green of money is only an imitation, and it is hollow. Do not be fed by those hands, for they will leave you wanting.  

Your heart is a canyon, he says. And his fingers are thin like lightning, and he points at the sky, and my eyes see enormous blue, mixed with the thimbles we used to read about, but never saw and it feels like everything: orange trees, freeways, and winter, all of it, is rushing in toward me at the speed of books, and really all he is saying is that love is the biggest.

Listen, he says. And then he says nothing, and I hear nothing, and I say ‘what?’ and he says ‘shhh, listen,’ and I do. And then I hear the insects buzzing in the heat, and I hear my shin bones itching, and I hear the grass playing songs like the wind is a harmonica, and I hear the way I used to hear when it was all a game we played on sunny days in boxes like laughing was what we wanted to be when we grew up and dancing was a way of talking and my hand on your shoulder in the frame frozen grace of our innocence meant Yes, Okay, Yes.  

Feel your strength, he says. Feel it now for the times when you won't because sometimes the buildings might turn into trees throwing apples, and sometimes breathing might feel like drowning, and sometimes people will want to see you fail.  

Let no one tell you ‘you can't,’ he says. When your heart beats it is saying 'it is time' and when it stops it is saying 'time is up' and if it is time now it may never be time again which leaves you with nothing to say to someone else's doubt in you. The ribbons you trail behind you are cut from the mirrors our ghosts will look into to see if they did good, and the answer upon looking back can only be ‘you were there, and you did what was needed, and thinking on it too much now won't make it less true.’

Always dream, he says. There is not enough glue to hold onto all this Sadness and Love. Being alive is an earthquake trembling on the surface of a tear.  We are only people, he says, and this is only a planet, sliding through emptiness and hoping a little bit that there might be more. There are quilts to be sewn, and there are people who have not been touched by gentle hands, and there are only four seasons but there is plenty to do in them. There is soil and growth and 

Don’t forget about best friends.

I know you hurt, he says. Somebody dropped you before you were ready, and now your bruises have bloomed like strange flowers and you wear them like a shield, but

Snow is a miracle he says,
And there is no such thing as can't,
And music is the greatest thing we have ever done.

And then he says nothing 

And I am dumbfounded. And I say thank you. And we stand there and let the silence say what cannot be said, and then we turn and we walk home slow because our eyes have finished watching how miraculous the sun can make a moment just by leaving it behind.