SPOTLIGHT: ‘Heart Weeds’ by Sam Moe

Violin daze

You bring me into the music room to remind me I am loved but I don’t hear you, I’m distracted by golden surfaces, curves and crests of violins, it’s chilly in your apartment, you don’t mind, you’re asking me how quickly I can heal, eager to return to alternative spaces, warm-hand spaces, spaces where you can pretend your fingers don’t clutch your heart at night when you see her photo on your desk, wedged between books. Eager to drown myself, I head towards the fire, resurrected ghosts curl around your couch, you don’t care, kind of like the way your heartbreak shoves mine aside. Since i’s the eighth winter month, and dawn is purple, I win at the blue-lung game, my mind is a tease, hand-in-bandaged-hand kind of love, I’m talking rind-from-an-old-orange love, my veins knot, take me outside and push me into the snow, I’m tired, attracted to regret, maybe that’s why I’m here—meager my attempt to shrug off the past like a coat. Cigar stains and fridge magnets, I see my longing in the bin where you keep pizza bagels and broccoli, lead-hued starfish are a sadness snack, please hand me the right words before it’s too late.

My plea was for your adoration but you miss her, find it easiest to assign me an identity when it’s late fires of the month include maligning my heart for you eager crushes. I dismantled in another crab-infested thought, these days I go by many names and my soul is crowded. Sand- colored scotch, your friends like me, but don’t wins like this end in disaster, will we last until September, acted like I can turn my longing off like a literary light, I’m attracted to your muscle, I want to know this dream-space, find you’re kinder in the evening than the morning, want hand-holds and braids, I forget your eye color, your cedar-hued hair, do you have freckles, do you remember me in empty spaces or is all this love a performance, you see I look in the mirror and I am a phantom, I’m distracted by the past—but I could carry yours—we could detour out of this life, I could reveal to you my true mind, it could be beautiful—instead, I’m eating violin-shaped cookies, I forget what holiday this is, hand-in-mouth, hand holds sob, your hand does not hold me.


We can only make this work in the middle of the night. We both sneak out of our houses and meet at a mutual location, the house that has multiple kitchens, bowls of soft candy getting stuck between your teeth, the curve of your lips turning upwards ever so slightly when you catch me looking at you. Coffee? I nod, yes, because you can never have too much coffee, and even though I know that’s probably untrue because later I’ll be biting my heart between my teeth, in this moment I want you to make something for me.

You make me toast and I can taste the remnants of a last cigarette you had a few minutes ago, told me I didn’t have to go outside with you but I did anyway, because I want to be near the snow, I want to be near you. The backyard is frosted blue beneath the moon, the willows leaping out of their bark to brush the tops of our heads. I don’t know where you’ve been, but I know that we’re alone in this pocket of evening and I get to spend some time with you for once. You’ve been waking up early but tonight you’re up late and we get to tumble into bed, apologies and all, side-by-side.

Back inside, everything smells of apples and clove. You rest familiar, like home, and your sweatshirt is old, full of holes and burn marks when you got caught on a candle, I’d been teasing you across the table and you had lost your focus, burning deep green into fringes.

Told me my hands were soft and my attitude was terrible, told me I had too many requirements, ridiculous amounts of treasure in my pockets, told me I was a warm bath, a fight between two birds, a spark from the sun catching your eye.

I wonder why you’re not thinking about me in this moment when I realize you’re looking at me.

I ask What, and you smirk. Nothing, what could you possibly need right now? Besides my warm hands around your neck, my tongue down the sides of your collarbone, that tattoo that you keep trying to hide on your back left shoulder, the one with the purple coils that turn into purple birds, you know I saw it and you know I know you got it after the first night we slept together and I couldn’t stop eating all of the grapes hidden in the fridge, you told me they were going out of season and I laughed, I wanted to remember the taste of that evening, the way everything crackled, was moonshine, cigarette butts, blankets your sister knit with the holes from the moths, good coffee you made just for me, those glances I’ve come to anticipate. When you and I don’t catch eyes, I become a storm.

Outside, the ice has begun. The coffee tastes good, smells of hazelnut and January haze.

Autumn / Artemis

Maybe August really is for the truth. Since I no longer know how to create, only destroy, I should try to at least have a little patience with myself. What I really want to talk about is heartbreak. I’m thinking about you in afternoon light, looking over my shoulder at art, had no idea you would ever allow yourself to stand near paint. Do you have caramel in your fridge, do you cry in the night before you go to sleep, or after you wake up past three? I want to know what it feels like to tug your hair into a braid. I’m no good at surprises.

I see you and I desire to tell you the truth. I have daydreams you take the rings off my fingers and ask if I want a peach instead. We’re in your office, but we could also be on the couch. You’re not the type to kiss scars, which is fine, I’m preoccupied with the scabs and anyway, won’t you be near me in thunderstorms?

Well, the thing is, I’m starting to sink so deep I can’t look at you in the eyes anymore. I start chewing the insides of my mouth, biting my tongue, convinced I’ve started accidentally speaking my desires aloud. The other day I almost said I liked your tan. I watched you walk around the room barefoot, lounging on a counter while you were rattling off thoughts. You are so calm, but you tell me your heart has been racing. I want to share stories of unease, I want to be the one in charge of monitoring your heartbeat in the morning, let me place my hand right there, where the uncalm lives. As I think back on the day, I realize I don’t know what color your eyes are. Should I ask, or guess? I think I recall, vaguely, they are fields in autumn. Storming ponds, wind-swept lawn, a mix between storm fog and smog. I hope you never read this. I hope you know how much I care about you.


Baby, you say I am the funniest thing to ever happen to you, you tell me you’ve never been with someone broken but you’re up for a challenge, I suppose I would never use that word but what does it matter when you said you would stay, what am I to do but confess everything to you? we go out in a night of torrential rain and gasping humidity, I listen as you sing to me, songs you wrote about my decaying heart, you compare me to a peach, you prefer moonlight over fridge light, I know you won’t come back if I leave but would you tell stories about something other than your dead star, we could slip into something a little sharper, like a forest, or a harp, maybe a soft pink where young deer run with unsteady adoration and fast ears. I can hear you a few paces behind me, I’m hiding my shivering, I’m hiding my heart in my gut, you’ll never find it there, you don’t know how to care for an unsteady stomach. yet you take my hands in yours, pulling me beneath a lamplight, doesn’t it look like a high school crush out here, you say, hair sticking to your cheeks, eyes the kind of mystic hex that turn me into a coral reef, you’re wearing a couch blanket around your shoulders, you don’t offer it to me, you ask with your smooth voice how it feels to live with a show pony for lungs, what does it feel like to have confetti hearts and hands, to be coated in candy wrappers, what is it like to find that sweet spot of hurt, and I say I don’t know, and we kiss, a kiss that finds one of us happy to be back in the webbings of an infatuation and the other tired of the storm.

Costume Party

I came to the party smelling of hickory and cashew, ash on my eyebrows. I nap with fire ghosts, think of you, where you’ve
gone and it’s not love.

No clue where you eat, what couches sit on blue decks, what weeds
sit hot on porches. Shoddy shawls wet with clay stars, I’m hungry

no bleed-and-rake at my chest, no to the claws, no eyeshadow, no
pony mask. I came to pretend to be whole till true, dressed as a curse,

my ghost shrieks, haunts alleys and gods, embodies weakness, eats
only lavender gum. You smell of burning, forests, no ticks just clocks

take me into the costume closet, press face to face against fabric
until our cheeks meet, lips and streets, I lied before—

I want your eye candy, I want no distance, fold into me, collapse
my wings—then comes a chin brush—mouth corners—my back is a shake and a scratch from aching into you. I take my heart, wine

and whine words, accept I could lose you, I must tell the truth, no
more clues, just magic. Would you forgive me, for hiding?

Outside, October lanterns unfold. When your lips meet mine, I feel
my heart transformed, a red bird.


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