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bunkmate // alyssa rorke


this is about being the first one awake for breakfast and the first one to remind you of the rules i’m the first one in a new friendship to tell a secret so thank you in advance for listening.


i am nervous that i like you too much and that i like poetry too much i am afraid of you finding out how sad i get sometimes and how much i really do think about sex for some reason i want you to see me as a neat girl who keeps her hair tucked behind her ears i don't want you to know anything about me i want to be a minor character on a kids tv show i want you to wonder if i even have parents i want you to wonder if there are any other clothes in my closet

3


this started out as a suicide note much like other things i’ve written this year i can still count on one hand how many times i’ve cried yes i am very fixed on prodigies and first place winners and blue ribbon wearers and best-in-shows and i still cannot write something without accidentally revealing a secret this started out as a birthday card before i began questioning whether i meant every warm word, whether i should suck it up instead in hopes that both of us could live to see next winter this started out as a job application and i still feel anxious walking through malls, shopping for make up and asking where the plus size section is, taking off my coat in the dressing room and asking a stranger to zip me up this started out as a text message to three different people who have no idea how often their actions and words follow me to work and on a slow day i resist the temptation to look at my phone, making taunting vibrations under layers of denim this started out as a list of new years resolutions. i can no longer bookend my years between january 1 and december 31 because i still feel very much in the middle of something

4


getting emotional about christmas episodes i was thinking about the time when i used to get nervous about heaven and hell and where i might end up, for some reason as a grown adult this came back to me when i decided to sit on the couch instead of help with the dishes i hate remembering that sometimes people move away. what does it take to grow out old roots pull them out and replant them? my heart is beating about things that haven’t happened my chest is hurting over things that aren’t forever there are other things i think about that make the bones in my forearms vibrate my hands are always cold but i never notice until someone tells me some people still make me burn. the burn in my stomach creeps to my throat. i lay down and it sits there, branding a memory into another part of my body i thought was still healthy

5


i used to think that if i smoked enough cigarettes it would get me drunk but it just made me want to brush my teeth my sister smoked cigarettes until her teeth turned brown. she also got bronchitis. then she smoked some more. pretty soon the things that are good for you start to hurt you and i can hear the pangs of my sisters cough with each bristle that pierces my gums and makes me bleed my sisters cough hasn’t changed in years and she hasn’t taken her bracelet off either, her dog collar, her bell, how I know when she’s coming up the stairs and when not to look her in the eyes it’s a great way to lose a perfectly good set of cells or to gain them i knew my mom was losing it when she put shaving cream on her tooth brush in the morning and when the rhythm of her footfalls on the stairs changed i never saw so much blood in a bathroom so consistently and I’m not even talking about the kind that can get plugged with a cotton ball on a string because this blood doesn’t discriminate everyone is lying to you about smoking cigarettes and brushing your teeth

6


there are restaurants in brooklyn that i've been to once and never have been able to find again that is why i hate Brooklyn and that is why i hate the food service industry since i was sixteen i've made my money by giving people things and taking them while they try hard not to make eye contact with me. sometimes couples go to restaurants and sit next to each other on the same side of the booth this is a phenomenon in casual dining that i witness quite regularly and i hate it but when i am in a mexican restaurant and it is the summer i am wearing shorts and we are sitting at the counter and i cannot imagine eating a meal without our knees knocking together and the back of a hand on my thigh and making faces close between meal and check, breathing through our noses because we haven't brushed our teeth yet and we're both self conscious. i hand two plates to two people who are facing the wall away from me and they are kissing two coworkers close to my age say they wish they grew up in the sixties i'd live anytime it was cheaper to fill my gas tank it is winter and i am driving and trying to follow the subway stops and trying to find the places i've been to once and never have been able to find again.

7


and just when i think i’m no longer attracted to or interested in men i notice their arms, the veins in them becoming pronounced when they so much as reach down to tie a shoelace. they take off a sweater to reveal a t-shirt underneath not before it gets caught on the sweater and some skin appears. and on the subject of being into men i’m still confused because i leave his house knowing it was a good idea not to kiss him but i still want to keep talking to him even past the point where he tells me the same stories he told me two weeks before and i don’t stop him because i like the way he tells it and i don’t stop him when he talks for twelve minutes about grammar and words because i’m still listening and i have no reason to tell him to stop. there’s no reason to tell him to stop stop walking away -c-

8


i want us both to be in his room with the volume turned up i only picture him with his eyes closed and i’ve never been in a room with him with the lights off i only tell him to stop when he gets up to flip the switch to the "on" position.

9


seatbeltsville, md sometimes I severely question my self worth and I find a piece of it when someone leans their head on my shoulder to sleep and I forget to breathe for a minute i wonder when you’re that close to someone if they can feel it when a chill runs through your body

10


driving home late at night, i notice the sky and three stars in a line it made me think of kissing three times in the kitchen. so i guess that's it: the sky was the last place i was able to look without thinking of you. the only constellation i know is made of the spots and marks i found and left on your neck and face. and the sky and the dashboard and the speedometer are the things i can only look at for seconds at a time if i want to be safe.

11


she kissed me in a way that can only be described as “planting one on me� then dug up her roots and pulled me out by the mouth.

12


normal things like coffee and beer and human contact my stomach hurts about the people i know and the lives they had before i was in them and the facial hair they had before i knew them and the houses they lived in before i had the chance to visit i wince at old photos because i can never really know anyone the way i’d like to know them now. and i can never see them the way the person behind the camera did.

13


blood on my hands i still have not quite figured out how to properly use my Diva Cup.

14


your bunkmate talks too much. your bunkmate is your friend. your bunkmate is alyssa. alyssa is a poet.

contact~ alyssarorke@gmail.com bunkmatepoetry.tumblr.com amrpoetics.bandcamp.com

15


made in NJ feb 2014


bunkmate