Poetry | Lines half as lovely as you

By Thomas Riley, Staff Columnist

Your fingers tickle, but it’s nice to be

touched. You run them along my ribs

bouncing like a skier over moguls. The

heat in your cheeks means


it’s only so long before you crash

into my body.


And you do. You kiss and you tell

me I’m pretty. You’re a little lower

than my ear, and I wish I could keep

your breath for the walk home.


My own never seems to warm me

like yours.


I’ll write some lines about you —

about us later, and I’ll be a stray,

and you an abandoned home or


I’ll make the whole thing more

complicated than it really is. You

can be a bear trap that clamps

and severs my gangrened leg.


Sometimes I write a poem for you

and the only real progress I make is

deleting it all.


So you can etch one for me on

my back. You’ve covered it in red

lines already, but I promise it never hurts.

Mark me like an essay, baby, but


be gentle. I’ve always been insecure

about my prose.


Now your heart is racing and mine

is radical. I’m too shy to say

I want it all, so I’ll bite and

I’ll claw you like a dog,

all because I want to bleed.


Your hands on my throat

grow rose petals in my eyes.

It’s hard enough to breathe

through my own two lips


but I find it quite easy when

I’m gasping through yours.


I wrote you as a thorny flower

in some sonnet I tossed in the trash.

Lovely to look at, but painful to 

touch. But that felt overdone.


I called you a lot of things before

I accepted that you don’t hurt me.

I thought good love would make

boring poetry.


I know I’ll never write your name,

so I whisper it in your ear and you

tell me mine in return. It sounds deeper

than usual, raspier, like you have

sand in your lungs.


You grab me by the chin and grip

your thumb behind my teeth to pull me in. 

And you ask if it feels good, but

you’re holding my tongue, so I just


nod, and you smile, and I’ve never

wanted you more.


We slow down, and you keep your arms

around me. It’s dark but I can see you

with my fingertips. I’ve so much to say

but nothing I want to. I’m sorry


for keeping so quiet, hoping

you’d hear me anyway.


In the night I have a dream where

I write the perfect poem, a long metaphor

with tasteful imagery. It’s everything you are

and everything you are to me.


I write it in ink and I show it to you

and you say, “I don’t get it,”

and I say “Yeah, me neither,”

and then I wake up.


The snow looks so nice from your window

until I’m walking through it.


Thomas Riley primarily writes social satire and stories about politics and philosophy. Write to them at [email protected]