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,
May 10

it's not a cage, it's a resting place

the box on the shelf
velvet, deep purple, the color of heavy drapes/ of crushed blackberries, the thorns
are the seeds, semicircle, kneeling stones at a ritual 

hidden behind dusty frames, behind the cracked orange of the terracotta pot,
thoughts too much like taffy for chewing
so I spit them out. Cleansed my mouth of the memory, of

fingerprints stained with blackberry,
salt shuddering on the tongue,
of letting something ugly bloom, half-fermented, instead

I watch crystals cut sunlight into freckles on the banister,
dancing,
and daisies open like Pandora’s questions on rosy tissue paper

I would rather think of the ladybug painting her wings in the sunbeam
I would rather taste straight sugar, no tang, patch the pottery, plant different seeds in the garden and
let the berries wait
 
Mar 06

Counting up again

     One.
     A daughter arranges sympathy cards on the mantle, changing places, angles, trying to make them fit. We’re sorry for your loss. With sympathy. Our thoughts are with you.
     Thoughts, words, too many of them printed in store bought colors on grocery aisle cardstock, too many superficial, no matter how heartfelt they were intended to be. 
     All of them wrong.
     There should have been something. Should have been closure. 
     There should have been a funeral.
     Her father had wanted a funeral. He’d given her song requests, told her which relatives to force onto the dance floor, made her promise there would be strawberry pie. It should have been out in the sunshine, should have been healing, should have been together. Instead, his heart had stopped in a stark and lonely hospital, and they had all stayed in their homes, made tearful phone calls, emptied wine bottles by themselves in the dark.
Jan 25

why you'll stay there with her

You wrote a poem about a tree.
You wrote a poem and wrapped yourself in a shelter of leaves,
crafted sunbeams from nothing but syllables arranged 
in patterns like the mosaic of faces you can’t place into proper pictures.

You’ve always found such comfort in colorful lies
that lie like art across your lonely eyes, aching,
imagining ivy
and stories stretching to the edges of your hands,
of your lungs, drowning in the silver
and words you think you can breathe, 
because stories cannot leave you.

But there never was a tree.

Instead you stand
in the silhouette of a ghost, 
at most, a cut corpse,
a place in the snow where no one needs your answers.

You can see the footprints,
(her footprints),
footprints of years.
They are silhouettes, too.

She came here at twelve,
her body too small 
for the sadness that clawed at her chest,
Dec 14

Cloud medicine

[From Anthology 12, page 26]

When the clouds drift across you,
heavy with rain and pain and somehow still empty,
drink maple and warm milk
while wrapped in the soft brown of your grandmother’s blanket.
She made it while you screamed your way into the world,
made it to comfort your newborn body
in this blinding harshness.

Let your hair be smoothed back from your face with gentle fingers.
Let yourself cry.
Listen to the sad songs
while you dig out the last pieces of chocolate 
from the gold foil wrappers on the top shelf of the cupboard.
Leave responsibility in an envelope addressed for tomorrow,
and let yourself wallow in every ounce of love you can find.

Like the sun, clouds come and go. 
Sometimes, you must bear the burden as best you can.
Sometimes, you must wear the raincoat and let it pass you by.
For a time, you can turn inwards, and give it all to yourself.
Dec 13

today feels like yesterday

Wake your body, still aching, mid drowning vision.
Discard blankets for trembling air, cold tracing each exposure as if it doesn’t know it hurts.
These clothes are stiff, but stiff keeps all of your pieces
together.

Splash water. The mirror is wrong. You can take close enough, but the window is better,
because cold suns and cold clouds are not like cold skin, and you have a halo to greet you.

Breathe.

All you can remember is this time yesterday
and the day before, 
because similar memories stick together in your mind,
but you’ll find new ones when a different moment slips in.

Step outside. Discarded cans, more halos, these strung on street lamps. Noise.

The lights change as they always have,
predictably,
and this song played last week,
but oh, you don’t care,
you don’t care, you know them all anyway.

Your feet are trapped in tempo.
Nov 14

they tell you not to stare into the sun

There’s sunlight bleeding through my eyelids.
I closed them back in May
and became occupied with the lines on their insides,
drawn like a child pretending cardboard makes a castle.
Zentangles to help me breathe,
(clean air, not cloth)
weaving, curving, 
confined, weblike, to the whims of my fingers.

Love-sick poets write sagas to the sun,
her radiant beauty,
her soft and golden warmth.
But the only words I have are barbed,
broken,
tattered and torn,
sharpened shards slipped through sliced hands,
through red zentangles,
stories of her barren deserts and mouths flayed dry.

I hide from her harshness, 
eyes pale and strange and unaccustomed,
like deep sea creatures, lost in the comfort of darkness,
unprepared
for blinding light.
Pretending.

After all, the ocean claimed Icarus, too.

But the lines begin to look like tally marks,
Nov 08

for those waiting to exist:

There’s a persistent itch
stitched to the edge of my skin.
They say it’s a symptom
of being several summers too small
and living too close to my skull, 
tucked in, 
no care for the outside.
But I wonder how far the cycle spins.

Because that girl, eighteen,
-tucked into hoodie, not skull, but you can’t see the difference-
didn’t ask for the thread weaving
up, down, up, down,
disrespectful, careless, self absorbed,
artistic vital monitor through her veins.
Ignore the pain of the marks it makes,
dress up anxiety as teenage mood swings,
because someday she’ll be thirty five and married,
and that’s when her real life begins.

Young boy, just started high school,
new backpack and shoes.
You know he has nothing to say before he walks in the room,
because there’s this little word called hormones, and it lets you disregard him.

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