There is a way to lie.

For Asexual Awareness Week

First published in Toho Journal, 2019

There is a way to lie on a bed

and not draw notice—

become a seashell capable

of sharing an ocean of quilts

and squeaks.

Regardless, the salt pocks you

until your dry, rusted spine

is a chain of breaking links;

until you can’t breathe.


There is a way to lie

where your tongue

only sticks in your throat

enough to stop you

from saying no,

so you say yes

in order to exhale.

Swallowing saltwater is part of swimming,

part of sinking, surviving,

part of falling in love.


You can see colors in the dark

depths, and you think that maybe

the more things blur:

you’ll finally change.

There is nothing wrong with

how red coral turns white;

there is nothing wrong with

the word yes.


There is a way to lie,

trussed up by wrists (willingly)

as your pulse beats into your head.

You say yes yes yes because it’s easy—

repetition shows the heart still works.


You think that words can be mathematical,

can be self-evident facts

undebatable in their meaning,

that you will be convinced.


But there is also blissful silence,

there is also a way to shoot a smile

silted with sobriety and air

when the party is too hot and

someone eyes you with  

a crow’s desire for iridescent shells.


And you will not be a shell;

you will not say yes.