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Hearts Like Houses

For Raffi Musiker

So you think I’m broken? 

Baby, what else is new?

Live long enough and you will need

To recover from living.


In a hard world, recognition is the color of

blood on your knuckles.

It sparkles like broken glass

tracked in on your boots. 

Are you tired of waking up on a moving train

not knowing who you fought or if you won?

Me too. 


Our bodies house nests of interleaved networks– 

Blood, breath, nerves,

arteries that carry our chemical thrills 

to every capillary, 

neurons that fire in the brain,

sparkle in the ridges of our fingertips.


We’re creatures of networks, 

from our body’s basest systems to our 

social existences and the weight

of other peoples’ needs,

all of it a web with our addictions woven in. 


And here I am: my body is a house

and I’m punching through the drywall 

stripping copper wire from behind it.

Tearing out the networks that no longer serve me. 


You think I’m broken? 

Shut up, baby, I know it.

It takes broken to know broken

and not judge it.

I know you built your house,

I recognize the blisters on your hands.


Staying broken is easy; we’re wired

for inertia, not change, plugged in

to networks that keep us where we are. 


And some days I miss the pleasure drip

Of numbness down my spine,

the tingle in my fingers.

But I’m not looking to trade one chemical thrill

for the next.

If the high of your skin on mine means only that, 

then I don’t want it.


I’m looking for a network of two, chosen out of recognition

for the pains that mark us – unique as fingerprints,

and just as hard to see from far away. 

You know broken because you’ve been broken.

And I don’t have much, but

I’ve got one good wire,

and my heart, this one raw, naked bulb,

ready to burn in a room that deserves my light. 

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