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Love Her Wild: Poems

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“A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”

—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities





There is nothing quite

so pure in love

as a boy

and a girl

building castles

in the clouds.





As he took her hand

he gave her

all she had been

waiting for—

a shiver

down her spine.





When it comes to love

we are primates breaking sticks

while pointing to our hearts.





Love

is diving headfirst

into someone else’s confusion

and finding

that it all makes sense.





I’ll let you into my heart

but wipe your feet at the door.





I think it’s beautiful

the way you sparkle

when you talk about

the things you love.





We let our lives

mix with our dreams

like two colored paints

until we didn’t know

which was what

and we didn’t care.





I want to be with someone

who dreams of doing everything in life,

and nothing

on a rainy Sunday afternoon.





MY

ATOMS

LOVE

YOUR

ATOMS,

IT’S

CHEMISTRY.





The beautiful thing

about young love

is the truth

in our hearts that it will last forever.





“There’s too much risk in loving,”

the young boy said.

“No,”

said the old man,

“there’s too much risk in not.”





I promise

to live a life

so rich of love

that at the end

I will not be

so shy of death.





Love is

throwing yourself into a stormy sea

hoping there are arms to catch you

knowing that without the leap

there is only the safe

and lonely shore.





Put a girl in

moonlight

and tell only truths

and every ma; n

becomes a poet.





Love

could

be

labeled

poison

and we’d

drink

it

anyways.





Poetry

to me

is stumbling in the dark

searching for

the right words

to describe

the feeling

I get

when she smiles

while she sleeps.





I JUST NEED

YOU

AND

SOME

SUNSETS.





When I look at you

I find it hard to believe

that the whole universe had not conspired

to bring you to life.

I can’t think of a more beautiful reason

for it all to exist

than for you in this day.





Don’t worry—

you see,

to some you are

magic.





“If I had all the treasure in the world,

I would follow my dreams,

play with my children,

and spend time with my wife.”

“No,”

said the old man.

“If you followed your dreams,

played with your children,

and spent time with your wife,

you would have all the treasure in the world.”





My sweet darling,

all these tears,

this hurt,

the pain in your heart,

do not fight it anymore,

it is a gift, you see, to feel this much

and even though it’s hard

it means you’re alive

with each of these tearful breaths gasped

your soul awakens,

more alive in the pain

than you were in the numb,

you are coming back to me now, my love,

lucid in this darkness—

so cry aloud,

yell,

and fall,

and I will be here waiting

to catch you

when the waking up is done.





It took me a long time to realize

that I am happiest

not at the parties

or the dinners

or the shows

but at home with you

and just our books

our movies

and our tea.

And wherever we go

for now and forever

we will bring this happy with us

for home lives

inside us now

wherever

together

we go.





True love comes

when you lose

where you end

and they begin

and the atoms

in your souls

forget where they belong

and slowly you become

pieces of each other

too close now

to ever be apart.





Daughter of mine—

for your smiles,

for your tears,

for your skinned knees,

and your broken hearts,

for the love you give,

and the love you find.

For whatever you become,

or don’t,

it is far too late,

I love you already,

long before

we ever meet.





I looked at my mother

and smiled—

she does

so happily exist

in that moment

of one too many

glasses of wine.





Watch carefully

the magic that occurs

when you give a person

enough comfort

to just be themselves.





Does the sun promise to shine?

No, but it will—

even behind the darkest clouds,

and no promise

will make it shine longer or brighter

for that is its fate,

to burn until it can burn no more.

To love you is not my promise

but my fate—

to burn for you

until I can burn no more.





And as I sat and looked at her

and the rolling hills she sat upon

I thought, what amazing luck I have

that the world had created

such beautiful things

and given me the eyes to see them.





The words never meant much

that’s not how I loved,

it was when she stroked my hair

when she thought I was asleep

that I knew she really did.





I will follow you,

my love,

to the edge of all our days,

to our very last

tomorrows.





When I saw you first, it took

every ounce of me not to kiss you.

When I saw you laugh, it took

every ounce of me not to love you.

And when I saw your soul, it took every ounce of me.





We drowned out the voices in our hearts

that our love had run its course,

for this night at least

the old music played louder

than the truth that beat beneath our shirts,

and as the stars melted into morning

we smiled at the old stories

and left our love hanging in the air

as we embarked alone

on our tomorrows.





You and I

will be

lost and found

a thousand times

along this

cobbled

road of us.





And the boy told the girl

that he would love her forever—

and she smiled and said,

“but one day we both will die”—

“maybe”

said the boy—

“but I want to

still try.”





IT’S A

LONELY

THING,

PROTECTING

A BREAKABLE

HEART.





It’s not the fear of losing them

that scares us,

it’s that we have given them

so many of our pieces

that we fear losing

ourselves

when they are gone.





We were strange in love

her and I

too wild to last,

too rare to die.





Do not fall in love with me

for I will break your heart

long before you realize

you were going to break mine.





I let her go

because I knew she could do better

and now she’s gone

I wonder

if I should’ve

just been better.





Love

is a strange magic,

where death

can only make it stronger

while the softest kiss

in the wrong direction,

can steal it away forever.





We so often want

love to work

but we are

fighting currents

of our hearts

that flow

a different way.





WORDS

WILL

SCRATCH

MORE

HEARTS

THAN

SWORDS.





Obsession is not love,

infatuation is not love,

when someone ignores you

or treats you poorly, carelessly,

or with indifference

that’s not love—

that’s a lack of love,

for yourself, for trying to fill

your missing pieces with theirs

but when someone is whole

and you are whole

and you act in kindness and benevolence, vulnerability

through strength,

love becomes an exchange

with another person—

and that is

its truest form.





Even those we love the most

can be a poison to our souls.





Break my heart

and you will find yourself inside.





Tell me,

she said,

about our house

our children

our garden

about the lives we will have—

but he never could

and it wasn’t until she was gone

that he understood

that she never needed the house

she only needed the dream.





What an impossible thing,

breaking up,

whispering promises

to ourselves

that other shores exist

and then blindly

wading out to sea.





WE LEFT

OUR LOVE

IN ASH

WHERE A

MIGHTY FIRE

ONCE

HAD

ROARED.





New love is the best cure

for old love gone bad.





I aspire to be

an old man

with an old wife

laughing at old jokes

from a wild youth.





I have seen your

darkest nights

and brightest days

and I want you to know

that I will be here

forever

loving you

in dusk.





Come, my darling,

it is never too late

to begin

our love again.





“I don’t believe in magic,”

the young boy said,

and the old man smiled,

“You will, when you see her.”





SHE LIVED IN ME

LIKE THE FIRST FEW DAYS

OF SUMMER:

WARM

AND NEW

AND

INFINITELY

POSSIBLE.





From

the moment

I saw her

I knew

this one

was worth

the

broken

heart.





I took her hand,

and my heart beat fast

as her warmth swallowed me up.

A thousand times I’d run this trail

but not with her.

Her eyes were all that young love should be,

and they lit me up

in every look.

We lay in shooting skies

and freckled stars, and

promised our love would last forever—

and so in our forever

it would

there in a castle atop of Blueberry Hill,

with silver moon rivers

and sailing ships.





Every girl,

if you leave her alone

long enough,

will

eventually

sing

and dance.





She was incandescently beautiful

and beauty was the least of her.





She wore nothing

but the moonlight,

I wore nothing

but a smile.





And the stars blinked

as they watched her carefully

jealous of the way she shone.





She was love at first sight to the

blind man in the dark cave.





A few drinks and the world was hers—

she wore her whiskey like a loaded gun.





She wanted to be rich

and she looked good on a yacht

but I wanted a girl

that looked good by a campfire

with freckles like sparks

to stain

the ashy sky.





I SIPPED

THE MOONLIGHT

FROM HER LIPS

AND STUMBLED

HOME DRUNK

OFF

THE

TASTE OF

HER.





A storm was coming

but that’s not what she felt.

It was adventure on the wind

and it shivered down her spine.





She walked

through her life

tired

from the

mighty wings

upon her back.





She flirted with life

and life flirted right back with her,

as if all the universe

came more alive

just for her

and everything felt her glow.

It was

in the dew

in the stars

and the colors of the sky—

they all shone

bright as they could

in the hopes

to catch her eye.





There was a whole magnificent soul

burning brightly behind her “shy.”





It was never the way she looked

always the way she was

I would have fallen in love with her

with my eyes closed.





I fought

my eyes to stay awake

no dream was prettier

than the way she slept.





She was afraid of heights

but she was

much more afraid

of never flying.





I promised

to kiss her

a million times

before I died,

fifty a day

for the rest of my life—

so when I was gone

she could smile

knowing

there wasn’t a place

on her I missed.





All of the light

all of the trees

all of time

all spinning throughout the darkened sky

as if

the whole world

was created

just to hold her—

asleep on the couch

in the morning sun.





She was that wild thing I loved.

My dark between the stars.





SHE TORE POEMS

FROM MY FLESH,

IN FIGHTS,

IN LOVE,

AND SEX.





She didn’t want love,

she wanted to be loved—

and that

was entirely different.





She was the most beautiful

complicated

thing

I’d ever seen—

a tangled mess

of silky string—

and all I wanted of life

was to sit

down

cross-legged

and untie

her

knots.





In this world of bits and pieces

she was whole

so entirely in front of me

the one honest gift

of my life

dripping there

in the rain.





Brushing a girl’s hair

behind her ear

once a day

will solve more problems

than all those

therapists

and drugs.





The world is made up of

too many girls

wondering

if they are pretty

and too many boys

too shy to tell them.





I loved her most,

for all the things she hated

about herself,

for that is what

made her different,

and it was the different

that I loved.





She was just another broken doll

dreaming of a boy with glue.





She sat in her perfect house,

with her perfect husband,

wishing that her perfect life

would end.





They saw in her

a bright star burning,

and basked in the heat of her flame,

but behind the bright

she was smoldering

for breath

in the black of a life

she never asked for.





She beat on against his sky

with forbearing wings,

and with

him gone

she soared

into who she always was.





SHE FOUND HERSELF

OVER A LONG

AND TREACHEROUS ROAD

AND THE MORE

TREACHEROUS

THE ROAD BECAME,

THE MORE OF

HERSELF

SHE FOUND.





Her soul dwelled

in the wild parts

of her heart

vibrating

to the music

it found there.





She sometimes talked aloud

when she thought I couldn’t hear

about how she felt

or what she thought

and I would just listen

and fall in love

again and again

from the inside out.





Don’t ask her to be a rock

for you to lean upon

instead, build her wings

and point her to the sky

and she will teach you both to fly.





Angels must be warm to fly—

that’s why she always

slept in socks.





To me

she is

those final steps

the turn around the last bend

and a little house

with a light on

and a fire lit

with a faint laugh

floating on the warm wind—

she is

my always,

coming home.





I’d always watch

as the world

fell in love with her

I’d smile at the inevitability of it all.

And it wasn’t just the boys

the girls loved her more

they’d grab her hand

and run her away

to drink beneath the stars—

they needed to discover

what I already knew—

if she kissed

better than

the champagne.





She was cool—

the whole world

seemed

to spin around her

in smooth jazz.





There is nothing

prettier in the

whole wide world

than a girl

in love

with every breath she takes.





She was too busy wishing

on shooting stars

to see the dreams

come true around her.





She had been through hell

and though no one could see her demons

they could see the face

that conquered them.





She wasn’t waiting for a knight—

she was waiting for a sword.





That was her magic—

she could still see

the sunset

even on those

darkest days.





I LIVE

MY LIFE

SO

HAPPILY

IN

CRAZY

WITH

HER.





I feel

like girls

who drink

whiskey

tell

good

stories.





A sky full of stars

and he was staring at her.





It

was

her

chaos

that

made

her

beautiful.





Chase your stars fool, life is short.





I would rather

have a body full of scars

and a head full of memories

than a life

of regrets

and perfect skin.





Youth came over me like a mad storm.

I was helpless to the chemicals

roaring in my brain.





Our poems

were notes

left behind

to a

confused

younger

self.





Keep your bustling cities,

give me only the moon,

some wine, and old friends

laughing in the desert,

and I will show you

what the

pagans

called god.





Sometimes

I want a quiet life

other times

I want to go

a little bit

fucking Gatsby.





AN ASHTRAY

WITH A GOOD STORY

MAKES THE SMOKE TASTE BETTER.





So many of us

are starving for life

and have no idea

until the end

when we look back

and see the

uneaten banquet.





The world’s perception of you

exists only in memories.

Give them new ones.





Drugs

to me

have always been

a pretty girl

with a sly smile

beckoning me

with a finger

down the dark path

of a fork in the road.





I was drunk

on her

laugh,

and the

moonlight,

and the

rum.





A good muse

gives you calm seas

in the morning

and storms

at night

to make you kiss the shore.





There are beautiful words

on that blank paper

you hold in your hand,

use the magic

swirling in your mind

to paint the pictures that you see.





FIND SOMETHING

THAT MAKES

YOU

FORGET TO EAT

AND SLEEP

AND DRINK

AND THEN DO IT

UNTIL YOU DIE

OF THIRST.





Go forth and conquer

for the world is small

and you are a giant

and every step

you take

will make the ground shake

as it rises

to meet you.





To him

the horizon was just a slight curve

fading out behind the last tree line,

begging to be straightened

by a quickly embarked adventure.





We

are

never

alone

we are

wolves

howling

to the

same moon.





SHE WASN’T

BORED,

JUST RESTLESS

BETWEEN

ADVENTURES.





The trees seemed to breathe more at night.

There was a freshness in the air

like the world was being born again.

Steam billowed from the machine

and danced up

mixing with my breath.

I rode on into the black,

leaves scurrying from the tires,

startled by this strange one-eyed beast.

I always wanted to remember these moments,

alone on the road

the smell of wood burning somewhere,

and wet cut grass covered with tomorrow’s dew.

Fast I’d ride,

deep into the ghostly night,

wind in my face,

eyes screaming tears,

blurring the sky into diamonds,

and my engine,

in its symphony,

became my silence,

a knife’s edge to the numb world

my blissful blurry road.





The hardest step

we all must take

is to blindly trust

in who we are.





We humans

are so tortured

by not properly guessing

what will make us happy.





I’ve always liked boxing,

there’s nothing like

a punch in the face

to remind you

you don’t want to die.





Every word he wrote stood in proud protest to this

most organized world.





Poetry’s magic

is that it is found when it’s needed.





Art takes time—

Monet grew his gardens

before he painted them.





She made gentle the wild oceans of my soul.





New York

is the quietest city

I know,

only among

a million beating hearts

could you still hear

the cigarette burn

on a balcony

in Brooklyn.





Hidden away above two thin staircases

a bed, a desk, and bookshelf,

a writer’s paradise

the rain would fall and set

its cadence to my thoughts

the old radiator pumped hot breath

forcing my window to be cracked a pinch

and there each night I would fall asleep

in a melody of cold and hot—

wrapped up safe in all my ghosts.





I think sometimes

of the great stories lost

to old basements,

floods,

and fires,

it makes me sad

until

I think also

of all the stories

not yet made,

in young minds,

in full pens,

and on paper

not yet printed.





Poetry is a lifelong war waged

against ineffable beauty.





BOYS

LEARN TOO LATE

THAT BEING

“THE MAN,”

IS NOT THE SAME THING

AS BEING

A MAN.





We are all born free

and spend a lifetime

becoming slaves

to our own

false truths.





I worry there is something broken in our generation,

there are too many sad eyes on happy faces.





There

is always

a glimmer

in those

who have been

through the dark.





Loneliness

is a fire

I hold close to my skin,

to see how much pain

I can stand

before running

to the water.





Depression is being color blind and constantly told how

colorful the world is.





Don’t give up now,

chances are

your best kiss

your hardest laugh

and your greatest day

are still yet to come.





Even the bravest wolf hunts with his head down.





We are made of all those who have built and broken us.





POETS

AND

MOTORCYCLES

DON’T MIX;

IT NEVER PAYS

TO DRIVE FAST

WHEN

YOU HAVE HAD

TOO MUCH

TO FEEL.





True art

comes

from flying

with the madness

so close

you burn

your eyelashes.





Some write for fun

others write

because if they didn’t

the words

would grow

and fester

and burst from the seams

of their souls.

Some words

are safer down

on paper.





We all wear masks,

some with makeup

some with smiles

some with wives or husbands

cars or clothes

we hide from the world

and from ourselves

we hide from our truths

behind our eyes

running always from our real

but somewhere there

where truth meets courage

we are waiting to be found





waiting to stand to the world

masks down

and say loudly and boldly

this is us

this is our truth

this is everything real about me

and when that day comes

if it is true

we will begin our lives again

the way they were intended

when the world first

saw our face.





Let my death be a long and magnificent life.





Don’t fear,

her father said,

sometimes

the scary things

are beautiful as well

and the more beauty

you find in them

the less scary

they’ll become.





All life is a revolt against death

and all revolts are eventually quelled.

The question is:

in those moments

with a rock in your hand

and tear gas in your eyes

can you smile to the fates

stand tall

and

make your voice heard?





There is an island I know

I shouldn’t even mention—

it’s a fairy tale, you see

where no one wears shoes

and no one needs to—

the houses are hobbit-like

with grass on the roofs

and the food is fresh from a nearby farm

every morning the tea sits steeping

on long wooden counters

with toast and jams from local berries—

the crickets always crick here

and the birds call, the kind

that make you stop and say,

“Now that is a beautiful song”—

the sun is hot

without a cloud in the sky

and the beach runs out for a mile

in silky white sand

so that when the tide flows back in the afternoon

it heats up, warm as a bath,

when it rains

you build puzzles, and paint, and read

and light fires that crackle

and smell like cedar saunas

and each night, rain or shine,

you drink wine

and listen to records

while you play games—

and sometimes

you’ll lay in long grass

and chase the stars around the sky

heads close together with the ones you love—

each day is the same

you do what brings you peace—

and the wildest part of it all

is the island is real

my toes are in its sand.





I woke up

from the daydream

of my twenties

in a cold sweat,

anxious for

all the lives

I hadn’t lived.





We leave behind our unicorns—

the ones that get away—

but they’re never fully gone,

they will always be there,

roaming

in the grassy fields of our soul.





In life

I plan to keep going,

till everyone’s left,

the band has gone home,

the cleaners have cleaned,

and it’s just me and an old friend

daring each other to steal things.





OUR

SONGS

LIVE

LONGER

THAN

OUR

KINGDOMS.





I hope to arrive at my death

late,

in love,

and a little drunk.





What of the firefly,

the one I love to chase?

The old man smiled

Love her

he said

but leave her wild,

and the old oak tree I love to climb?

Love her, he said, but leave her wild

the bird that sings that song I love?

Love her, he said, but leave her wild

and the wolf that cries to the old joke moon?

Love her, he said, but leave her wild

and the horse that loves to run with storms?

Love her, he said, but leave her wild.

And what of her,

the one I love most?

And the old man smiled.

Yes, he said,

you must love her too

but love her wild

and she’ll love you.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Thanks to:

Penni Thow

Sarah Cantin

Andrea Barzvi

Dave Lingwood

Karlie Kloss

Shay Mitchel

Kaitlyn Bristowe

Spencer Roehre

Joey Parris

Andrew Lutfala

Monarch Publishing

Lindsay O’Connell

Callum Gunn

Ben Nemtin

Jonathan Penn

Jessica Severn

Marissa Daues

Bryan Adam Castillo

The city of Paris

The city of Oxford

Mom, dad, brothers, and sisters.


Everyone at Atria Books and Simon & Schuster:

Emma Van Deun

Albert Tang

Amy Trombat

Lisa Sciambra

Jackie Jou

Suzanne Donahue

Lisa Keim

Judith Curr


I owe a large debt to many writers who have come before me. In particular, the poem on page 53 was inspired by a favorite Hunter S. Thompson quote: “One of God’s own prototypes. . . . Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” I’ve always loved the idea of being “too rare to die”—it’s a theme that reappears often in my work—and in this poem, I tried to reimagine Thompson’s original meaning.





csterpuayotti.mco/rctssee





ABOUT THE AUTHOR


ATTICUS is a storyteller and observer. Born on the West Coast, he’s spent much of his life exploring the world but now calls California his home. He loves the ocean, the desert, and playing with words. Visit him on Instagram @atticuspoetry.



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Copyright © 2017 by Atticus Publishing, LLC

Photographs by Bryan Adam Castillo Photography, Callum Gunn, Poppet Penn, or released under Creative Commons Zero license.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Atria Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Atria Books hardcover edition July 2017

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Interior design by Amy Trombat

Cover photograph by Bryan Castillo

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.

ISBN 978-1-5011-7668-5

ISBN 978-1-5011-7125-3 (ebook)