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

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.

For a time.
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.
Oct 28

...but the growing hurts.

skidmarks
                                   and tar
         cold bits            of residue

                                               Empty.

                       clutched
                            dropped
                  in a glass puddle-

                       I had a dream.
                       but there are still        pieces
                       I can’t fill.

dreams are like memories through fogged glasses and melted wax and questions.
Old albums.
    Blurred.
         
          I need to wonder,
          on that day,
          was there a song in your head?
          - humming lips, not Credits, something more 
          mid-second-act- 

or did it end in silence?
          an intake
          a release

the sky is grey today.
I think it forgot to put on its colors,
Oct 28

Frost

     It was cold.
     No one could remember how long winter had stayed. Days and days slipped into the cracks that come with unending darkness, and sometimes it seemed that the nights lasted longer than they should, the sun forgetting to rise from time to time. The people had locked themselves inside their homes, away from the world and away from each other. Everything had slowed to a lull, like water tempted into becoming ice. The flow had stopped.
     It was cold.
     And so Yameh stole fire from the sun.
     Holding that blinding light in their hands, ignoring the burn, they let the new warmth spread throughout the land, pushing at the darkness, pulling the ice back into water. Grass broke the surface of snow, flowers spread bright and wide and full. Yameh walked and walked, and the fire in their hands never wavered, never lessened. Yameh knew it would not, as long as it was not let go.
Oct 18

flame

Two figures, lost in wind
in snow
knee-deep, frozen, piling
around their faces,
nose rose-pink,
eyes scratched.

One holds the kindling.
One holds the match.

And the grey comes, cold, creeping
trembling
into fingertips,
lips.
It sticks.

Breath feels sharp.
The fire. All you need is a bit of wood.


But they won’t give the wood, and they want your matches.
Count them:
two, four, six seven eight.
Beautiful, perfect, slender and straight.

Burn them.

Clutch them.
If they won’t give up, neither will we.
Clutch tight.
If they leave us to the frost
-I’m scared-
the ice
-it’s getting dark-
we’ll leave them in the darkness too.

We’ll make them see.

The fire.
You both need fire.


Make them pay.

Let go.
But -
Oct 03

enough

I know the place
just above my eyes
where the pressure builds.
It fills to not-quite overflowing,
tears refusing to 
touch my skin.

And if the clouds clutched their raindrops,
refusing to release,
refusing
to let the parched and cracking earth
taste the sky-
what would it take?
What would it take for them to let go?

Because if they fell freely,
I would write poetry in the spaces between my words.
I would read myself into tragedies,
into words like melancholy,
and feel understood.

I would use that rain
to paint emptiness on canvases,
splatter sadness across the walls,
spill my insides into colors
and clouds
and earth
and everything between.

And if they fell freely,
I would block out the world
with music,
headphones turned up,
body full,
losing myself in the silences.

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