Jan 10
emily.hess's picture

Empathy: A Cautionary Tale

My best friend needed a place to live,
so as if they were a lost puppy,
i asked my parents if we could keep them.
and my parents signed the papers.

then they used my outstretched arms like rubber bands--
twisted, tied, and shot them back at my face.

I watched my household go from a four to seven person home,
we turned four bedrooms into six,
and for my entire high school career i almost never had my own,
it always seemed like my parents had a revolving door,
but somehow it got slammed far too many times to count.

My mother taught me how to take care of everybody.
I learned random acts of kindness, and empathy,
I remembered to keep extra of anything in my bag: tissues, granola bars, ibuprofen, hugs, forgiveness.

Forgiveness and some more forgiveness.

For as far as my memory reaches back i had been led to believe that my purpose on this damned planet was to serve others,
Nov 28
emily.hess's picture

Uncle Dearest

You didn't even look me in the eye. 

Why had I become lesser than?

I do not need nor want your eye contact. 

you made a fool out of me and that was unacceptable. 

It is so shameful, 
no love between you and your wife. 
no confidence inside of you. 

I don't see a man, 
only a boy built up on his mother's favoritism. 
well look her in the damn eyes and make sure to thank her for your false narrative. 
because you are already past your mid life crisis and have only begun to rival my mother's accomplishments. 

What do you even carry such pride about?
What have you done with your time on this planet?
What have you contributed?
Who's life have you saved?
Who's life are you living for?

I could tell you my answers to all of those. 

Now could you look me in the eye and do the same? 
Nov 27
emily.hess's picture

The Nature of Family Dynamics

Blood flows into water disrupting how they were supposed to feel
Forcibly drawn together
Under one ocean
Submerged in dread and self doubt.

Twined together in a tree
Thoughts corralled in the veins likes roots
Freedom of the mind blocked
By the expectations that these leaves must coexist.

Hatred suppressed like a bird’s calls to the wind
Swept up into the breeze and never
Brought back into reality
Never brought to fruition.

These emotions
These truths
Forever left to squander in the stream of consciousness.

Sep 06
emily.hess's picture

The Planet and Her Colors

blue, and murky gray.

When I think about my planet
I think about her many colors,
I think about,
browns and yellows,
and reds and the rarity of purple.

And when I think about my planet I am afraid.

As I grow up
my colors become less vivid,
more industrial and smog
and polluted and black.

And when I think about my planet I am afraid.
I want to hold her in my hands and
show my future children the colors of the world,
I want to show them green and blue
and rainbows.

I want to show them that all their favorite colors were given to them from the Earth herself,
and I want to show them that they too can hold the planet in their hands.

When I think about my planet I am afraid,
because it is mine,
as well as yours, and hers, and unfortunately it is also his.
and we are far too often taking her
Jun 30
emily.hess's picture

2:47 AM

i cannot make my bed, 
i don't make my bed and i do not put away laundry
and i don't wash my hair and i don't check my email, 
i have a list of things i should be doing, 
i have a messy room, a disorganized closet and crowded desktop
and i am afraid. 

i am afraid to complete things i am completely capable of doing, 
like dusting and vacuuming,
or eating and drinking. 

if i finish the list i am afraid of the other one.

i cannot feel accompanied surrounded by people who care, 
i don't feel content and i do not let go of the idea of how perfect a person could be. 
i don't think rationally, or logically and i don't respond to texts, 
i have a list of things i should be doing, but am not completely capable of
like feeling full but not naseuous and being comfortable with silence. 

so i procrastinate. 

i avoid the simple in order to never acknowledge the impossible, 
Jun 23
emily.hess's picture


May 30
emily.hess's picture

When, Then

When you look at her in that hospital bed
When you listen to the heart monitor like it is your favorite song
When you quit your job to stay overnights
When the doctor tells you it may be weeks
When you discuss costs of medications and psych wards
You are going to be angry.

You are going to want to scream and yell and shout
To refuse the help and attention
To blame yourself
You will ask yourself, how could you ever have let it get this bad?

You are going to be angry with her.
You are gonna want.

To rip the I.V. out of her arms,
To arouse her out of that bed,
To erase the deep vertical lines marking both her arms,
You are going to wish you never met her.

You’re gonna think about how you never signed up to be caretaker,
A therapist, or anything else but a lover,
You’re gonna wanna run
Apr 30
emily.hess's picture

It Does Get Better

i'm glad i didn't die before i met you. 

sometimes i still think about it 

sometimes it still makes sense

but i remember that 

when it always made sense 

i then met you

and i realize how silly it is now. 

i'm glad i didn't die before i met you. 

because i think you needed to meet me 

as much as i needed to meet you

and there are more you's to meet 

more time to be had.

i'm glad i didn't die before i met you. 

i'm glad i'm gonna be here for a while. 

Apr 24
emily.hess's picture

Zoloft 100mg

i wish i could remind you that you are beautiful
because you are so beautiful 
so god damn beautiful 
but you don't hear me 
i'm not sure you can right now. 

i know you're going through a lot 
and that's okay 
i just wish you had left space for me-- 
to help. 

i try to leave reminders of me around the house 
i draw happy faces on sticky notes 
i paint wings on your eyes for you 
because you like the way it makes them look 

i make you food 
i make breakfast burritos and ramen noodles
sometimes i peel clemetimes for you
you usually leave them out

you do eat really funny
you always leave a bit of something on your plate 
as if to complete a meal
as if to feel full
would be wrong 

i wish i could force feed you. 

you're a strong person 
you're doing okay on your own and i'm admiring from a far 
Apr 24
poem 0 comments challenge: Nothing
emily.hess's picture

Visiting Hours

the cold clear window sits 
almost hanging in the air
heavy hearts
heavy heads
heavy eyes 
they try to stay awake
it's silent
it's dead silent 
there is no exchange
no exchange necessary 

a human, and the shell of one, 
stare blankly 
at a lost
for something
words? possibly
but possibly not 
it's silent 
it's deadly silence 
it will stay this way
they had nothing left to say to each other.