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  • Kali Van Dusen

i hate you much i miss you more i love you most

she wrote a poem(s) so i am too

except i cant write them and its one more thing she has i do not

like the way she has you driving her to palos verdes from westwood when i couldn’t get you to walk me to the front door

the way she has you driving her to palos verdes from westwood and you told me “are you about to whine because I won’t drop you off?”

the way she has you driving her to palos verdes from westwood on a sunday, a sunday i begged for, a sunday i dreamed of. A sunday i was told i would never get because “you like to take space, you’re weird like that.” what made her sunday different than mine? How long did she wait for that sunday, the sunday i lost hope on. Did she wait at all or did you rush home to her? I cant know, i break, but please tell me

She writes of the way she has you asking her if she likes basil before you put it in the dinner you make for her

my basil is the pasta maker you bought so we could make cacio e pepe from scratch

my basil is the bottle of red wine we finished in your room as you kissed me back when you still kissed me softly and slowly like you savored it like you liked the way i tasted like you liked the way my hands felt as i got to hold my favorite part of your sweet face

my basil is the ice cream argument we had at the ralphs on olympic by your house because you pick caramel every time and i want mint chip so we pick matcha but we never eat it and i still haven’t stopped thinking about it untouched in your freezer - did you see it when you moved out did you see it and know what it meant where it was from did you know it was the only time you ever made me dinner? did you know it was the first and last time i felt like you saw me?

she has you pouring “your favorite” riesling even though i know you only like one kind

I know you like one kind of riesling like i know you like red wine because its the real kind of wine and scotch straight up like your uncle taught you and fernet

fernet that you order because the bartenders wink at you

fernet that you order with a coors

fernet that you always have me sip out of tiny glasses at phil’s house and laugh when i can barely swallow it but always try

fernet because it comes with coins like your dad taught you and how i look for them at thrift stores for you even though you won’t take one you don’t earn

fernet because it had you kissing me at stoplights too, like she wrote about, it had you kissing me at stop lights on overland while my knees gave out and my head spun and i couldn’t breathe because i couldn’t believe i got to kiss you at a stoplight on overland and pico i couldn’t believe i got to be so lucky i wasn’t used to feeling like someone, you you you you, couldn’t wait to kiss me

She is writing that she is reading the books stacked on your desk

I know which ones are your favorites i know you have read moneyball four times and how much master and margarita means to you it's your favorite one i read it because you did i know how you can’t even talk about who is directing the movie - is anything still just between us?

She is writing like she knows you. You looked at me and said “you know me so well sometimes it scares me.” she is writing like you talk to her as much as you talked to me like she knows you love I owe you from the thing with the guy in the place and I'll never forget it and hans bubby i’m your white knight. Does she know how you hold your hands when you tell a story, how you say they are good people, how you always have a positive thing to say about terrible people, how you blow your smoke out of the side of your mouth before you say “here’s the thing” and we all listen and you are always right - hands out, confident words, we are listening. I soak it up. She writes of you like she has searched your brain endlessly like I have and i wonder if you let her, if you let her know more than me, if you know hers too

She knows the books on your desk that i’ve already memorized as you sleep next to me, holding me the whole night because i am so warm, always, like you say and you are so safe, always, like I say

She knows the books on your desk but i know the framed photo of the entourage cast in your closet that you have shown me twice, three times, and we laugh every time - like a baby, as she writes

She knows the books on your desk but I know the photos on your wall, the one that looks like mars you took in death valley, who is hiding in the photo of a USC football game you took, the Rolex clock that will one day hang in your West Side house (or South Bay like you dream)

She knows the books on your desk, and you know hers. She has you in a place i never did - her own space. She has you looking at her shelves, her books, her sheets, her walls, herself. You turned away from me, you turned away from my world. I asked you to see the books on my shelf, you said i want to, you said i can’t wait, you said i am never coming over, you said that would mean too much, you are nothing to me. I cant control you in your space, you say to me. I cant know you, you might start to think i want something more. No, my love, all i thought was that i wasn’t worth knowing - that part you made abundantly clear. That part I will spend more time unlearning than i spent knowing you. She doesn’t write words like that, does she?

She seems to know everything i also knew

Kissing in front of your friends

Does she feels as honored as I did to be the one to kiss you, to be the one who gets to touch you

Does she know what it feels like when you taste like cocaine and the hateful words you just tossed at me with such ease

Smiling at you with teeth as she lays on the left side of the warm bed and you smile back at her

Does she know what it feels like to have you tell her “i have you i’ve got you” as you sleep with her for the first time on new years eve after you swept her up in in your arms all night, kissing her at the end of 10 in way that makes her head spin, slipping away to kiss in private - softly and slowly still, before it wasn’t anymore

Does she know what it feels like to have you reach out and pull her so close to you it feels like you couldn’t possibly be 2 separate bodies. To have you reach out and melt your whole self into her, warm and safe. It rains outside and you kiss her and it feels like the world could crash down and this 1 melded body would be okay. Does she tell you that like i did?

Does she know what it feels like to have your head resting on hers and you wrap her up into you

Do you kiss her forehead so gently sometimes she might not notice

Do you look at her with the softest eyes and does it make her stomach ache like it might never stop like it reaches up through her chest

Does she know the freckles on your back, the one on your spine, and do you know hers, the dots on her chest, the constellation on her cheek

Does she know your chin, the one I love so much i imagine i can still reach out and rest my thumb on it

Does she know the way your hair swirls on your chest like a hurricane, does she tell you that like i did?

Does she know the birthmark on the back of your neck

Does she laugh at your ears, does her thumb fit perfectly on the lobe, does she know how we used to laugh at how you could use them to fly away

Do you watch jeopardy in the morning, does she know how unbelievably good you are

Does she know you only guess ladybird johnson

Does she call you stupid when you guess wrong because its apart of the game, our game, and if she doesn’t how would there be any competition

Does she watch you check the waves does she leave so you can surf with jack

Does she watch you finish the wordle on sunday mornings

Does she know you smell like old spice, the kind I wear too, peppermint toothpaste, chamomile tea, and sweat, but the kind that makes you want to inhale it all up and never release - does she wish to have it linger on her all day

How easy loving you is, how she doesn’t think of heartbreak when she’s around you

Does she say i miss you and do you say it back, or does she start to say, like I did, “I miss your bed” because the one time you told me you missed me i was so surprised i thought this must be a joke

Does she know what it feels like to have her hair yanked out of her head

Does she know what it feels like to have your hands spank her, does she know its ok not to like it

Does she know what it’s like to check for bruises the next day, does she know its ok not to like it

Does she wonder if its her, does she wonder if you like it, does she wonder if you wish you could hit her harder

Does she wonder if you hated every moment of it?

Does she talk to you after? Do you reveal to her and hold her close?

Has she left your house crying? Has she turned away from you in your bed so you cant see her tears as you say to her “what do you want me to say? Thank you for being the bigger person? Is that what you want?” - is she not afraid to be anxious in front of you?

Do you “obviously” her? Do you “are you serious” her? Or is she smarter than me?

Do you ask her to think of you fucking someone else as you fuck her like its your right to do so? Do you ask her to think of a brunette like me, the way she is blonde like you asked me to imagine? Is she the person you had us both think of when you were with me for the last time?

Telling me over and over again she was better than me - she felt tasted looked smelled better

Yanking smacking yelling at me as I tried - im sorry you had to think of her when you were in me

I’m sorry i couldnt compare to how she felt or feels I’m sorry i wasnt her and im sorry i simply dont know how to be anything other than me - i tried every day a million different ways

If you do ask her, i ask you to check to see if she is weeping. If she’s anything like me, she is

The way she writes of you, she doesn’t know. She knows you in every way i wish i had

The way she writes of you, she knows you in a way you never let me

The way she writes of you, she is speaking and you are listening, you are asking, you are wanting, you are knowing

I waited for the sun to hit your eyes so I could make sure I knew what color they were so i wouldn’t forget, so i knew every inch of you

I know your fingers, the calluses, the way your thumb bends, how much bigger your pinky is than mine, how it feels when i hold it, when i tangle our fingers as we sleep, when i reach out to make sure you’re there, your mouth on my ear, you arm around my body, your hand in mine, our breath synched

I read and watched what you did so I could understand your complex mind, the endless turning gears that I sprinted to keep up with, never so happily winded

I listened to everything you screamed, laughed, whispered, I know the way your body twitches when you are asleep (does she know how fast you fall asleep?), the way you snore and how it is my favorite part of you

She uses the word “boyfriend” and you were too ashamed to see me in public, without the cover of night and booze; as a human. No, that would have been too hard for you. Boyfriend is easy - with her, it is. Everything is harder with me, you made that clear. I am hard to see, to love, to respect.

You don’t know my middle name

You said no to knowing me

You know her favorite characters, you know her fig tree

You said no to me outside of you

The way she writes of you, you see the sun with her and you fucked me in the dark

You soak her up, you see all versions of her, you chase after her the way I begged you to chase me, you buy her flowers, you sit in camping chairs in your new living room, you didn't even let me drink tea with you, you told me hell would freeze over before you bought me flowers

The way she writes of you, you toast glasses with her and nourish her

You let me starve, you knocked over my glass of water as I died of thirst, you laughed when i cried

I cry that I loved, love, you

I love you in a way that is so overwhelming it makes every inch of my body ache - i wanted you softly, i wanted you with love, and you came in a way that felt like revenge

And i didnt know it was ok not to like that i couldnt ask for more

If i ask, you say no, if i ask, you run away from me

I stopped asking you of anything long long ago when every time it felt like i had asked you to move the moon for me

I would move it for you

You are so safe, you are a lighthouse, but why am i shaking

I want to lay in the sun with you, basking like cats, like we talked about

I want to nap in the sun with you, like you way you said you wanted to

I want your friends, I want you with them, i want you after them both of us cozy in bed

I want the dinners you love to cook - the chicken you perfected that year we all lost ourselves, I want the wine you love to pour, the fernet, my greyhound your scotch - neat, the cocktail from costa rica you promised me, the recipe you framed (does she know about that?)

I want you across from the me at the bar, she writes about that too

I want you next to meet in the booth, she mentioned that, I think, but at this point I am reading through watery eyes and a blurry mind

I want to hold your face, like i have - like I do, and you are smiling, but at me and not her

Please don’t smile at her

Please don’t forget how you smiled at me

Please don’t let me see you smile at her, i might never smile again

You consume me and you forget me

You asked me to love you and baby, I did i do i will

I reach out to hold you to give you every inch of me and wrap you up in how i feel about you, how I see every inch of you, how you are sunshine

You scream that please don’t make it serious, you scream you are too much, again, don’t cross this line

You read her poems with joy, with warmth, with i love you right back

You read this and suddenly, yet again, I am overwhelming, I am taking up space you wish I wouldn’t, I made my own feelings up

You let her hold you, you let her surround you, you soak it up

You gave her a chance i never got, a chance i broke myself trying to get

Does she know how warm you are does know how much much much i tried, how long i waited to be able to tell you you are everything already

I took you for granted, you say

Do you know what that means tell me please i’m begging

You love when i beg, so explain one last thing to me.

i am giving you your favorite thing - the


The space to fill with your words as i listen - i ask you, do you know what that means

I will always have your back, you say

My back is still bruised from the way your hands felt, and behind it you looked at her across the bar, like she wrote, and you chose to love her, she was everything i couldn’t be but does she even know you the way i do does she see you the way i always have

Does she like the red sox

Does she like the red sox

Tell me, did you ask her i have to know

Does she like the red sox

She’s not shulman’s new girl, is she

She knows your world I was fresh

I was waiting for you, watching you wait for her

I kept you warm as you fell in love with her

I am special in the way you treated me. I am special in the way you ignored me, in the way you dismissed me, in the way you never gave me a chance. I am special in the way you tell me you are removing stress and anxiety from your life, and I give you both. I am special in the way you yell out to me in front of our friends, “why do you hate me?” as if I have not been asking you this question for months, for a year. I am special in the way you laugh and tell me you’re relieved this is over. Ah, what a relief it is to no longer be near me. Head above water, how I have drowned you with my heaviness, my intensity, my love and support, my endless listening, my constant apologies. How sorry I am, to have taken up your time. How sickening it is that I am happy that you are relieved simply because I want you happy, simply because i care about you without thought, without trying. I am special in the way you can love her in weeks and tolerate me for a year. How special am I, to have had you longer. I am special in the way I hold on to soft, warm, kind moments with you because I am not sure I will get them again. I am special in the way you make me feel as though I am taking up selfish space, and I have ugly bursting from the inside out. I am special in the way you make me quiet when I am explosive, and I am special in the way you made me exist in your world so much i forgot the importance of my own.

Except that

I love you

i hate you so much i am too tired i start to love you again

I miss you with every ounce of me, i start to forget how to speak

My best friend, my confidant, my eyes across a crowded room, my familiar hand to hold to take, hold it tight i miss it i miss it with more than i have words for, i miss it more than i can understand

I miss you calling me bud, kid, kal

i miss you waving at me i miss you smiling as you walk up to me

I miss you showing me texts, articles, news, the silliest mundane stories, god god god i miss you

Please please whatever you do don’t call her bud



Do you like the red sox

You are at my desk again and again - i wait for you

I am penny lane, you are lester bangs and I want to kiss you right then and there

You are looking at me in a black dress and I want to kiss you right then and there

You are asking me to make corn beef and bitters

You ask “if I can’t seem to shake you and you want me to keep teasing you, where does that leave us?”

You hold me, you kiss me at stoplights

You ask me to love you, you make it impossible not to

You hold me once more, you cancel on me 3 times, you disappear, you say -

“This will never go past what it is now. You are remarkable person, for caring about me, but please, please can we just fuck? I promise not to care about you.”

It’s safe, it’s comforting, it’s amazing, it’s you. It’s still you.

You aren’t looking at me anymore. You fuck me from behind, i have red hand marks on my body, you tell me when I text you, you toss your phone aside.

You hold me once more, you cancel on me 3 times, you disappear, you say -

You tell me it’s you, not me. You hate yourself, you have to focus on your path.

Of course, I say, you are worthy of being selfish - see yourself how I do

I tell you you have endless worth to me, you say being with me is an insurmountable wall

I ask myself, why did you let me get this far? I already know the answer.

You love her quickly and easily. I can’t compete. I spent a year trying to get you to look at me and let me love you, I spent a year waiting for you to want to hold at me 12pm on a wednesday

She is everything I am not, which must mean she is perfect for you.

I didn’t know i was so easily replaceable to you, a small slot to fill, she slides right in

What did I do? i want to know. I can’t exist in darkness anymore.

Tell me where I was wrong in the way i held you with everything i had, and the way i will, always forever, for you anytime, for you anywhere, always, forever i want to hold you - you are home

She writes poems about you and i don’t know how

She kisses you at stoplights and i wish i didn’t know that wasn’t reserved for me

She lays on your chest, but does she breathe you in and do you let her, does it feel better - i can’t know

She will know you deeper and I will become a stranger to you, someone who you forget in an instant

How can you remember me when you have her and you love her and she is warm and whole in a way i wasn’t, in a way you refused to believe I was

It’s so easy to love you, she writes. Does she know how effortless it truly is? How i did right away and all at once how you are so much more to me than the work you do, but I could never tell you - you did not let me. Does she know how it feels to love you so much you want to scream from the sky how sweet, brave, confident, kind, funny, smart, exciting, dorky, nerdy, amazing you are? How I have done it for a year without thinking about it without questioning it without trying

I hate you much i love you more i miss you most

And you don’t even know my middle name

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