I told you I wasn’t a poet anymore
stop texting me prompts and images of the sunset or twilight or stars
when I taught you about the gods,
your takeaway was that they were all romantics and lovers
everything was poetry for them
what I wanted you to get was
they don’t survive the way they need to
who else survives on unrequited love and rage?
you can’t tell me that I’m a pessimist
when all you do is disappoint me
that’s the truth
I told you not to call me anymore
your ringtone made me Pavlovian
my response is to shrivel and squirm
out of your spider-silk grip
stop calling me and telling me
about the flowers
I know what I said about them
I don’t want to be reminded of it
you torment me with your gentle touch
it is more than ache
I would have told you everything you wanted
flower language was never hard for you,
you just liked when I made up the meanings
I substitute their names for secrets
I whisper to you:
“the flowers will not tell you their names
they sleep on lichen beds and moss blankets.
they house dragons and eternally hibernating beasts; why would you know their names?”
every time, I repeat
“why would you know their names?”
“I know them by the way they rest upon the lattice fence of your tongue,
they curl around diamond edges with such softness, such safety.
you know their names, I do not need to.
that is enough for me.”
it was always enough for you.
you don’t live here anymore
so I stopped calling myself a poet.
Ash Marie Tandoc is a non-binary, bisexual, Filipino-American (current community college student) whose works are influenced by the intersectionality of their identity and the world around them. Ash Marie Tandoc is a new writer, hoping to expand their writing capabilities and learn how to improve their writing skills in poetry.
DECEMBER 10, 2019 / MUSEPAPER POEM PRIZE #42 / YOU DON'T KNOW ME, BUT...