January292014

darling, someday let’s become trees

one of the little things I love about you

is you’re always down for morbid conversation

we’ve only been Facebook official for five days

but we’ve already talked about what we want

done with our cold, dead corpses,

we don’t wanna be pulseless skeletons beneath the soil

so our loved ones can cling to our decaying bodies,

shrouded in epitaphs and pewter,

‘cause the flowers are thoughtful, but they always die—

rooted trees don’t.

darling, you said you wanna be cremated,

to be fire and ash and fertilizer

for the sweetest baby trees, and

I didn’t know that was a thing,

but I looked it up and you can purchase a kit for

 75 euros; they’re called Bio Urns,

and compared to the going rate of the average headstone,

I reckon you’d save about 2 grand,

you said you’d rather inhabit a forest than a graveyard,

and that makes sense.

 

I think you’d make a lovely tree

you’d have the gentlest eyes,

knobs carved out by lightning storms

and ornery wood-peckers

you’d have branches for your  arms,

always outstretched

and beckoning us all a little closer,

your barked brow would be crinkled in thought,

your roots would curl in a crooked smile,

though you’d have flawless teeth,

darling, you’d be perfect.

and I think I’d like to become a tree, too,

donate my organs to the lab,

like soup cans to the food bank,

generously, with no instant gratification,

‘cause the way I see it, when my heart stops,

there’s no more need for me to hoard it,

and I guess I’ve always been quick to give my heart away,

though I’m better at running than staying planted,

but I’d like to help something grow,

to help something bloom,

to know what it’s like to feel steadfast.

so darling, someday let’s become trees,

let’s become forests,

let’s become more than mounds

of soil and bones and nostalgia,

darling, let’s become life after death.

June202013

quitting

i will quit you like I quit smoking:

urge by urge

craving by craving

impulse by impulse

demon by demon.

i will feel hollow,

i will feel vacant,

i will watch my affection for you

waft away in phantom smoke rings;

they say day three is the hardest.

my hands will shake,

my temples will ache, and

i will yearn,

i will mourn,

i will come to terms with the sound that closing doors makes. 

i will no longer pretend that we will mend this,

i will no longer bum cancer sticks

and borrow kisses from strangers;

i will no longer be a slave to impulse, or to nostalgia, 

i will whisper these things until I mean them.

…and i inhale, deeply, for the first time in months.

June102013

peas

when I shell peas, 

I reconnect with my youth.

 

I reminisce of bare, fleshy toes

pressed into red, freshly tilled soil. 

I remember dirt underneath fingernails from uprooting pesky weeds,

and I taste watermelon dripping down my chin—

I yearn for picnics and hammocks and tree climbing. 

 

I remember when we’d shuck corn and snap green beans, and

if I imagine hard enough i can smell the alfalfa of the autumn hay rides

and feel it pricking my fair, freckled thighs,

I remember training wheels and gravel in knees, 

I remember getting back on the bicycle with

gritted teeth and salvaged pride.

 

I remember learning to swim and

leaping off diving boards into my daddy’s arms,

I remember how it felt to trust.

I remember tractors, porch swings, and bible school

I remember how it felt to believe in things.

when I shell peas,

I reconnect with my innocence.

7PM

you were not my perfect storm

I was born in the heat of August,

just after tornado alley closes for maintenance

Mama always told us that the thunder was so loud

only because the angels up in heaven were bowling

and the lightning, it meant an angel had gotten a strike.

I have always preferred storytelling to science;

maybe that’s why I held onto religion for so long,

and maybe… maybe that’s why I held onto you for so long.

‘cause science books will tell us that tornadic conditions

first begin with the thunderclouds, 

with warm, wet winds from the Gulf of Mexico moving northward

to meet cold, dry Canadian winds heading south;

this place where they collide is called the “dry line,”

and our dry line was not so different,

only in the sense that it emerged in late August—

we met just before my birthday, and we coalesced into a thrilling storm just after it, 

we bellowed loud as a train, echoed for miles, 

grew hot and humid as our bodies tangled in nervous energy.

Summer succumbed to Autumn, 

the angels found other ways to amuse themselves, 

and we, too, ceased resisting. 

there were good months, there was laughter, there was love,

and I still collect the memories of

moments when I’d press my cheek into your shoulder blade,

I remember your skin being as soft as a baby’s,

your shoulders, strong as wall clouds—

these moments were the calm between storms,

the placid amidst the violent,

but these moments are the most dangerous;

they are the lingering afterthoughts that we cling to,

they compel us to call out to one another in the middle of our nights

like sirens, like lighthouses,

but we will always remain ill-equipped for each other’s rescuing. 

a tornado, it is many things;

it is magnificent, majestic, a force mere mortals cannot reckon with, 

it is Mother Nature’s humbling picture show, 

but it is destructive, it is unkind, 

and it is so easy to find ourselves blinded by all the dust and debris, 

naive and adventurous, 

but we are all just one blow to the temples away from

becoming rubble, rubbish, from returning to dust, 

in the wake of natural disaster. 

ours was an uncalculated clash, 

a clanging of a gong not cued by the conductor, 

I first heard the sound in December. 

you took me to the mountains to meet your mama

you taught me how to ski

maybe it was because I drank too much on Christmas Eve

or fell too many times on the slopes;

perhaps it was then that you began to lose patience,

but I’ve wasted too many nights wondering.

all I know is that our dry line quickly became a fault line,

and it seemed like you began to see nothing but

my flaws,

my faults,

my failures. 

we weathered this for months, we hung on by a thread,

we clung, slowly hung each other with thread,

you strung me along, strung me up at the gallows

you stopped telling me I was pretty.

we stopped locking mahogany eyes.

we stopped oscillating on a pendulum

between love and indifference;

it froze on the latter

you stopped caring when I needed you most. 

the funny thing about the nature of heartache

is that it leaves us stagnant, it freezes time, but

everything else in the world keeps on moving—

Mother Earth keeps axeling on her axis like a figure skater,

Summer envelops Spring, 

Spring folds to Fall, 

and Winter seizes Autumn, 

God will open the alley up for other storms to have their waltzes, 

and the angels will all begin bowling again…

but the heartbroken, we stay stagnant for awhile.

we grow drunk on self-pity and honey-hued whiskey, 

we mingle with other flighty winds in the hopes that they could stir us

and make us feel alive again, 

we kindle fires that should have never been lit, 

but each dance only flings us further into our agony,

we all know in our souls that

healing is never found in the bottom of bottles

or in sweaty, loveless bed sheets—

only loneliness lingers there, 

but these are not things science can explain. 

all I know is that

I am not defeated, 

I will begin rebuilding soon, 

I will sift through the soil for my soul, 

I will glue it back together

and set flame to the rest.

I will let go of you like I let go of religion,  

like Summer surrenders to Fall, 

like winds succumb to each other at their dry lines, 

like angels retire their bowling shoes.

I will keep moving northward;

you were not my perfect storm. 

7PM

grandfather clock

he tells me, 

"to me, you resemble a grandfather clock. 

so full of grace, so full of beauty, 

I’d like to pry you open, to unhinge you,

to finger the complexity of your inner workings,

to learn what makes you tick;

I’d like to know you.” 

and time halts,

I blush like clockwork 

his words clutch

my hour

and minute

and second

hands

in a way they’ve yet to be held;

he terrifies me, 

he petrifies me, 

he electrifies me,

all at once.  

I yearn for him to pry me open,

to stroke my antique springs

to run his ruddy hands across rusty levers

to teach me how to tick again

to perhaps mend what has been broken

by all the others’ careless clanging, 

but I am frightened by what he might see. 

2PM

settling business

tonight we will meet in that awkward way that exes do,
for settling business,
I will return your clothes,
(I wish you’d return my heart)                                                                          I will never tell you this. 

I will not tell you that they still smell like you,                                                   I will not mention that I still drink to escape your memory,
I will not mention the melancholy music that cycles on repeat,
I will not mention that I still pretend that others are you,
I will not mention the nightmares shrouded in cold sweats,
I will not mention how hollow it feels to sleep alone again…

no, I will swallow these words whole,
I will hope to not choke,
these screams will ricochet off my esophagus like ammunition,
they will echo through the pipes of my organs like haunting hymns,              always in minor keys, 

I will become a little more deaf,
I will grow a little more numb,
I will paint on my mime smile
put on a hell of a show,
and I will walk away from you,

utterly empty,
void of everything but my pride.

March232013

physics

we’ve grown distant and

it tastes like stale day old coffee

it smells like cigarettes lingering on clothes

it feels like neglect

it resonates loud as a piano dropping from a skyscraper

no one notices all the space until something falls

no one notices all the growing apart 

until they feel the momentum of a collision

no one notices the chasm until it is

too wide to bridge

the gaping tears in the jeans until they are

too wide to mend

no one understands physics until they fall

I fell a month ago

I plummeted the way heavy things do

lead, boulders, pianos

with a sense of urgency

9.8 meters a second

the wind was unkind

it was unnerving

I expected you to catch me

arms outstretched,

 braced to receive my barreling frame

was this too much to ask?

was

it

too 

much

to 

ask?

I’ll never forget the way I felt

when you moved,

at the last minute

stepped aside,

Shifted your weight just slightly enough

to dodge mine

the safety was an illusion

the steadiness, a mirage

 my teeth tasted concrete

they chipped like antique piano keys

they chipped like paint on the walls of an abandoned house

I felt just that:

abandoned.

toothless.

bleeding

melting into the sidewalk

baking in the unforgiving sun

I saw one lone tear travel down your cheek

a lost tourist who doesn’t speak the language

you turned and walked away.

there is no map for maneuvering shame

no coordinates of its longitude and latitude 

it is a maze and we are rats

 

there is so much space between

whoyouare and whoithoughtyouwere and

whoiam and whoiwas and whoivebecome and

whoiwishtobe and whoweare and whoithoughtwewere and

whoithoughtwewouldgrowtobe

so much distance.

it tastes like stale day old coffee

reeks of cigarette resin

clamors loud as a plummeting piano.

 

September32012

fractions [new song]

my brother’s eyes were window panes, today

the glass was cracked, the drapes were grey

his peace, it lie in pieces, pieces

oh Sun, please rise to meet us, meet us 

now

'cause he's a fraction of a man

he’s a pie chart in the sand

oh, Lord, please take him by the hand

'cause he's a fraction of a man

just achin’ to be whole

my brother, he has seen too much

the war buried his peace in dust

he’s choking on this dust,

doesn’t know who he can trust

he’s seen so much,

he’s grown so numb

and he’s a fraction of a man

he’s a pie chart in the sand

oh, Lord, please take him by the hand

'cause he's a fraction of a man

just achin’ to be whole

brother, your yoke has grown heavy

brother, your gait is unsteady

brother, I’d give anything to be

little children in the trees again

but brother, we are older, 

and the weather, it’s grown colder

but i’m here, a sister and a friend

because you’re a fraction of a man

you’re a pie chart in the sand

oh, brother, I am stretching out my hand

because you’re a fraction of a man, 

but i know you can be whole

believe you can be whole

just know you can be whole

know you can be whole again

August282012

there’s something to be said for the ambulances

so shrill is the cry of the ambulance,

most sorrowful, more sad than all the train songs.

in brooding ballads, the trains sing of loneliness—

but the sirens, of suffering;

with the meter of a sonnet,

they muse of tragedy.

as i sit, toes on the concrete, 

bare back against bricks,

i listen.

 

i remember riding

to music lessons in mama’s

sputtering old suburban,

the windows were cracked and 

air conditioner, had died a slow death—

we grieved its passing

in petty complaints,

with toddlerish tunnel vision.

 

sometimes it takes a symphony

of siren to birth sympathy,

and as an ambulance passed, 

i sat humbled atop the hot leather.

a silent reverence leapt about inside of me,

and i wept with fervor—

mama always told us to pray

when we saw ambulances.

 

…in college, i stopped praying,

began hopping trains—

i tumbled out of God’s graces

like a deviant apple.

i abandoned the orchard

a locust shedding its shell

a snake in newest skin— 

i shouldered a satchel of sins.

 

and despite such baggage, 

i still caught myself praying

for the ambulances,

with the sincerity of a surgeon,

and i meant these utterances—

i felt them in the depths of my.

digestive system.

i prayed… to some Thing beyond ceiling

 

so, there’s something to be said for the ambulances,

for foxholes,

for trauma—

they plant mustard seeds.

August262012

baby, there’s meadow inside of you

you used to be a woman of your word

words that swore you’d left

the weeping woods for good,

for placid meadows,

for peace,

for a most pastoral tableaux 

you swore you’d wait for me there,

but baby, i came calling 

yesterday.

you were gone,

nowhere to be found

amongst the wind-swept clovers

in your place, Disappointment—

he loomed,

casting shadows on the grass,

circling as the hawks do,

preying ominously,

i whispered a prayer for you,

lips parted,

heart sunken.

baby, we could have woven wreaths,

danced like fairies,

we could have been free,

free as gypsies,

swimming in truth,

humbled in its marvelous light,

lighter than feathers, transparent,

weightless whilst watching hummingbirds.

we’d have been squealing, laughter spilling,

running from the wicked honeybees.

tumbling to the ground, breathless,

tasting that decadent rush

that only fear can bring—

melt-in-your mouth adrenaline

dripping down our chins,

unaffected by our messes,

but you fled.

you left your shoes,

subtly as a symbol,

like an author in her allegory,

and

your shoes foreshadowed

the approaching recklessness—

i didn’t follow you. 

i’ve long stopped summoning such search parties.

i saw it coming with bookish eyes—

you reeked of cigarette smoke and despair

when we last spoke, 

but I didn’t stop you.

you were hacking

with heavy, labored lungs—

if only you’d see that

breathing could be easier.

you’ve always colored outside the lines

run barefoot, you used to love pink

and spending hours in maple trees

they’d cradle you—

you, harmless as a baby bird

caught in the gentlest nest—

the trees, the trees now carry

stark, dark new connotations,

and pink has lost its innocence for you.

you, you are less than innocent in this shift of diction—

your hands boast a bloody red.

…for you planted a wilderness,

swallowing the seeds

without water,

and you’ve gone there again.

that refuge—

it is refuse,

it is rubbish,

it is wretched.

it is a menacing forest,

with pretty little pink trees

they are dying, lying

atop one another in heaps—

round, mauve corpses

in brownish yellow bottles, nearly opaque.

slowly dissolving

chemical crutches

sold as bottled balance,

caked in fine print deception

i saw you lick the lies off your fingers like frosting once—

you laughed, said it tasted like lotuses;

it chilled me to the bone,

my marrow grew cold and frozen.

you have now joined the Lotus Eaters,

pupils, wide as saucers,

no wishes to return.

oh, with such remarkable ease

did you barter wisdom for folly,

birthright for the blandest stew,

and i hope it was worth it.

taste the contrast—

it is a chasm far too large for scaling.

stir the steaming cauldron,

season your betrayal, swallow it whole

like a wayward glutton.

your lips are dry, cracked desert,

peeling like the yellow wallpaper—

you claw at it 

with rabid animal savagery

you unravel,

a most unreliable narrator—

i’ve stopped believing your stories.

you deem your deeds

necessary for your balance, 

and the irony is astounding—

when will you understand

the magnitude of your teeterings?

your speech is whiskey-kissed, and your gait is wobbly.

you wobble like a tired old polka dancer with two left feet.

darling, you are more than see-saw ideology,

more than broken playground pleasures

and merry-go-round wishy washy existence,

awaken, O Sleeper!

this circus, your forest,

they are in flames,

a grass fire gone viral,

and you are ill-equipped for its quenching.

you are volunteer fire department,

faces ashen, bodies tired—

it is roaring conflagration.

you are no match—

it’ll certainly burn to the ground, 

and you, you make a most hopeless underdog.

it burns in the hues of 

the youth you lost

when you freed your balloons—

when

the strings snagged,

when

they were caught in the

naked, angry tree fingers—

you cried like mad.

oh, to feel such righteous passion

again

oh, to free yourself,

oh, to teach yourself,

the craft of climbing branches.

have faith in your limbs,

begin to climb,

limb to limb—

your muscles do remember.

maybe you could climb

until you felt capable,

cradled in your familiar familial maple,

maybe you could climb 

until your dilated eyes

could kiss the gentle sunshine 

once more with the new proximity.

though you’ve grown

pale, seasick green,

lungs, blackened, blue,

conscience, dull and bruised,

baby, there’s still

breathtaking

meadow inside of you.

baby, there’s meadow 

just beyond the dead wintry trees,

a place, safe, smelling sweet like spring, 

where you’d smile with ripened nectarine cheeks,

where you’d feel new as baby knees,

a place where you could practice balance, 

where you could stumble like Bambi 

and it’d be perfect in all its clumsy rediscovery…

you could move like a polka dancer

with two agile feet—

we could be lighter than feathers.

so let your forest die,

let your wilderness wither,

let your woods

breathe their

last

raspy

gasps—

bid them farewell.

condemn the house,

nail the boards, i’ll help you,

i’ve a hammer and two willing hands.

i’ll be waiting for you

like an expectant mother

like a prodigal’s father 

like the dawn, waiting to unveil its sun,

and the dusk exercising a similar patience

like seventy times seven

like Hosea

return,

return,

return,

as a woman

adorned in floral wreaths,

as a woman

clothed in words she keeps,

as a woman

draped in a most exquisite pink

eyes wild, curls unkempt

solid, sagacious, steadfast, strong—

return, and sleep amongst the wind-swept clovers.

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