May 03

The Graveyard & the Gardener (Part 1)

    Each spring, the tombstones of Ettenmoor Manor crown themselves in colors older than kings. Stern stone figures trail trains of creeping phlox, ancient etchings are smothered in thick vines. Blood red poppies reach through cobbled stone and soft petals bloom outwards in downy ripples, circling and circling as the air is filled with a sickly sweet perfume.
    If you walk amongst these tombstones in springtime, you will forget the damp grey that fills graveyards in autumn, or the aching chill that sweeps through them in the dead of winter. You will linger, heady with perfume. You will wonder when it was that you came here last, and why it was that you thought to leave.
    Eventually, you will decide to stay.
Mar 27

Anxiety

Anxiety twists bedsheets in its sleep,
coughs up coffin nails,
drowns out sounds with cotton swabs
as it clutches a locked metal box to its chest.
It hides daisies behind a silicone mask
as it dresses for war, leaves the house 
without saying hello to the postman, 
feet shuffling in shoes tied too tight. Or anxiety
is water tempted from an empty mouth,
anglerfish swishing in a red tide, dried seaweed 
swinging on a line as beachgoers sip lemonade from plastic cups.
Anxiety sunning itself on a warm rock.
Anxiety digging up the roots of a dead tree.
Anxiety scraping faces into the dirt,
remembering names from old postcards 
and playbill casts from a highschool theater.
Anxiety is a musician twisting piano notes into guttural objections, 
scattering sheet music across the pews like a firefighter
on the Fourth of July. It scrapes mud from its boots with violin strings,
Mar 01

Woman

Woman is fuchsia falling apart in October, softly
humming lullabies through an angel’s teeth.
Woman is pomegranate seeds sliced into revolving stars,
dissolving into marzipan, sweet
honey dew hymn,
silky skin pierced into a garden for plastic garnets.
Woman is wind watching a sinking ship,
mountainslide counting bones,
child eating crushed sweet peas in a thunderstorm, pushed
into rolling door, running stairway, laughing streetlamp.
Woman is bleeding gums, tongue.
Woman sheds feathers like raindrops,
drips tattoos from her skin in inky rivulets,
woman dances,
woman cries,
woman lies down with the lion,
golden and asleep in a sunbeam,
dreams.
Feb 23

Therapy notes

1. There are sixteen paper cranes hanging from the ceiling, dancing with the vertigo of sunrise panic. Wait for your organs to stop falling while you count them. One, two. Sixteen is smaller than you think.

2. Leave your phone on read. Leave it face down next to the Christmas cactus and let it die next to the drying dirt. Consider water. Cacti are better alive.

3. Wash your hair with argan oil or tea tree or coconut. Wash your face blank. Cover your body with your softest sweatpants, then a blanket, then your own arms. Add a layer of soft pattering rain.

4. The curling iron will remind you of depression, so pull the old radio out of the blueberry box and listen to waves instead of wearing them. Skip the breakup songs and opt for ski resort ads. Skip car sales entirely. Dance, if you can.
Feb 08

A grey symphony in a minor

    The Piper cleans spittle from her pipe. Saliva, it seems, should have been grey all along, akin to dishwater and drain water and whatever the chimney heaves out. 
    The pipe is packed in a velvet case, neat.
    The case is packed in a slender hand, ready.


    The first time I was kissed was yellow. 
    Not National Geographic yellow, or house-paint yellow, not even buttercup yellow really. The yellow of flames devouring themselves in a wood stove, only softer. Rising moon yellow, only wide and warm and not so far away.
    I remember the streetlamp and the way lamplit snow looks like dust from heaven, but the color I remember was more inside my body than out of it. Funny, how color can make dark December feel like the sun.
Feb 01

in Hamelin

Sometimes, when I miss you, the wind blows through my skeleton.
I think these bones must be hollow - 
what other explanation can I give that haunting hum?
Stumbling, a child fumbling the ridges of a flute with unpracticed fingers.

I suppose anxiety is a bit like the Pied Piper, promising to cleanse my life
while stealing something else.
I remind myself that panic is the verb used by children with monsters under their beds
and thrill-seekers plummeting on bungee cords, strapped in,
but I get distracted by all the words
and forget that I’m
strapped in.

I’ve started collecting the color yellow.
Not in a jar, just with my eyes,
as if photocopied dandelions and soft butter could keep me warm.

Maybe it’s because yellow is the color of the house I learned to walk in,
the only house 
where I’ve drawn on the walls,
but I never finished that painting anyway.
Jan 03

Serotonin

If I could
I would feed you serotonin on a spoon.

If I could
I would pin daisies to the windows of your bedroom,
soft as you fall asleep,
but chest-deep is too far for placebo sweetness,
and I love you too much to lie.

You will not say goodbye
to your red-speckled eyes,
and it hurts
my love,
but I cannot promise 
an end to the empty nights.

Your heart cannot stop its rabbit-quick convulsions
any more than your lungs can give up air,
and the only spoon-fed serotonin 
will leave you more hollow than before,
I know.

I know you need a final day,
to count on, to count to,
to scratch onto the floorboards with your fingernails
but the best I can do
is tell you
that you will get better 
long enough
to breathe.

You will get better
long enough to wake up with a light chest,
rested
in clean sheets.
Aug 29

You smiled when you wore the sky

you deserve
sequins
to frame your smiling dimples
and silk skirts the color of the sky.

you deserve
buttercups braided into the curls of your hair,
like a crown
and nails dipped in every shade of sunset.

you deserve to name yourself after the wind,
after the way the rhythm in your chest skips a beat and
after the song
in the back of your mind.

you deserve
the butterfly brush of fingers across skin,
absentminded,
with plenty of time.

you deserve
to be imperfect
without being an example,
to be caught
when you fall apart.

you deserve
to be unseen
without hiding
and known
without having to speak.

you deserve
to be young,
instead of carrying the weight
that is hatred
in the place where your innocence 
promised to be.

you deserve
so much
my god,
it aches
to see you;
Jul 22
poem challenge: Freedom

The Place Didn't Change - I Did

I forgot about the milkweed.
I forgot the divet in the creek,
forgot that I can’t describe the sound the water makes.
I forgot that wind tastes like freedom.

Dead flowers look stark,
look more beautiful than I’d anticipated.
Raindrops cling.
The leaves let go.

I spent two weeks,
twelve weeks,
half a year between walls.
More than six feet apart, but still not an expanse,
not like here,
edge to edge vision,
farther than I can imagine reaching.

And I forgot there was this much sky,
grey, white, orange and blue.
It didn’t fit in my bedroom,
so I was left staring at the stagnant ceiling,
on cut carpet that doesn’t grow.

This place feels naive,
as if someone forgot to tell it
to become paved parking lots,
square boxes of (masked) people,
identical
to the ones on the advertisements
saying,
“Give up the flowers.
Jul 22

They lied about Sleeping Beauty

She’s 2 years old in spaghetti straps,
still 
a fairy princess
who hasn’t learned
what they did to Sleeping Beauty.

Smiles sticky with strawberry,
muddy drip castles,
crayons and paper crowns,
sing the alphabet while you wash your hands - 
No.
Go home, girl, the boys can see your shoulders.

She’s 2 years old, 
but that’s 2 going on 12,
going on
first-day-of-middle-school and that skirt’s a knuckle higher than regulation,
going on
16 and grown men won’t take their eyes off you,
18, afraid at the college campus,
afraid
to be the one-in-five,
one-in-four
13, 19, 27%

2 years old, going on
Tumblr posts with S.O.S. hotlines,
first-time-being-followed-back-from-the-subway,
swallowed by the wolf,
hold your keys in your fist, don’t leave your drink, remember, long hair is easier to grab onto,

Pages