Feb 13
poem 2 comments challenge: Tone

on empathy

swallow your pride
(but don't let it scorch your tongue)
the best cook knows how to be tiny
curl up and trade secrets with a peppercorn

sometimes the key is
shrinking your judgement while
growing your heart

become a liquid
take the shape of someone else's container
learn to love the nooks and crannies
of their soul

as for icebreakers:
rapping small talk against the surface
makes a nice-sounding crackle
but sometimes you have to
dive deep into freezing water
and shiver through another's worries

polar bears have feelings too

and pass notes
(when no one's looking)
(and also when the whole world stares)
be proud about it
fold love into
paper cranes and
love into fortune tellers

open your mind so you can
open every flap:

you will make
a friend.
Dec 15

invisible

Click the mute button
and your voice is no longer heard.

Click stop video and you are no longer seen.

You are invisible.
Yes, really.
Wasn't that easy?

Two clicks, and you've created a wall that no one can see through.
Two clicks, and anything could happen to you and no one would know.
Two clicks, and you're nothing more than a name in sans-serif font.

You are far too far away.

I can't reach you, can't find you

and you're somewhere, in your own little world
a world I've never heard of
a world I'm not welcome in.

I want to x-ray my way through your little square
and discover what happens behind it
but you're gone now

like, really gone

like, I-have-no-idea-if-you're-listening-or-getting-a-glass-of-water-or-rocketing-off-into-space gone

and I wish I knew, but I don't:

where are you?
Dec 05

Leggings

Black leggings are never really black.
I watch you roll off the lint and pick off the dog fur,
trying to swipe away their past like you're
plucking the stars from your own galaxy.

You are meticulous in everything,
trying to gain something out of reach,
promising yourself that if you can just achieve
an imposing solid black,
something will click in your world,
something you didn't have before.

To you, the dust is a disgrace,
a barrier to a world of perfection
that maybe, one day, you can break down.

Because for you, your world isn't enough.
You tell yourself that with lint on your leggings
you're failing yourself, keeping yourself down,
you tell yourself you will never be beautiful,
that you'll never be able to fly.

But you're beautiful when you stand with those you love
and you laugh and you don't worry about whether or not
your smile looks crooked.
Nov 09

Elections, over the years

In kindergarten, I was oblivious. I think I knew what a president was, and, well, that was it. I asked my parents who they'd voted for, and they told me Barack Obama – a name that signaled nothing in my five-year-old mind as I announced, "Then I vote for him, too!" I imagine my parents laughed at me, or maybe just smiled – perhaps with amusement at my declaration, but perhaps with knowing that for another four years, America would be okay.

In fourth grade, I knew more. I listened when my parents told me about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and I stuck nine-year-old labels of "good" and "bad" on them just like the I voted sticker my mom let me wear after I went with her to fill out bubbles on a piece of paper. That Wednesday morning, she entered my room and, when I eagerly asked from my bed, she told me, It looks like Donald Trump won. Why I remember the exact words she used to tell me the news, I don't know, but ... I think I do.
Nov 02

farewells and selfishness

I want to be alone.

I want the few birds left on the bare trees to sing just for me.
But the reason there are so few is because I didn't do anything to stop that.

I want the trickling streams, in their nearly inaudible gurgling, to whisper to me that I'm different, special.
But I'm only another consumer, another person snatching every resource for myself, unknowing.

I want the trees to promise that they'll miss me.
But I never knew them as anything other than the trim on my windows.

I want to walk in circles around my planet, tracing my name in the sands of what were once oceans, slipping bits of brittle grass in my pocket, stroking the petals of the wilting flowers, lying on dirt and what's left of the fallen leaves, staring up at the wounded sky.

I want to cry.

But how can I?
How can I have enough water left in me to cry when
Oct 09

Cilantro flowers

I know they were only
a waste of space in the garden
kept the cilantro from
growing longer,
better sitting on our
kitchen table anyways
but somehow these little white flowers in a mason jar
fill up an empty space inside me
with warmth and happiness and
something that feels
like a smile.

I know it only
took moments to
snip scissors across the stems
slip the severed pieces into
a jar of water
but weeks and weeks after those
flowers lived on our table,
I can still recall them –
the clusters of tiny white blossoms
thin green stems, blurry behind
the words engraved across the jar
as though they’re still there, bright as ever.

and I know they were tiny
were easy to find a spot for
among the plates, the silverware, the clutter of the hundred things I need to put away –
but these flowers sparked something bigger and they took me back
Sep 23

me and words

Some days, the words don't fit.
Some days you can
try on any combination, make every adjustment possible,
but they'll only slip off into a
pile of fragments and bits of attempted sentences, abandoned descriptions.
Some days, there just is
no way to tie them together into
something that sounds right.
Some days, words fail you.

But I think for me, some days, it's
the other way around.
Not the words' fault, but my own.
I try to fit them together, but
my fingers are too big, too rough, to fumble them into meaning.
I pluck words from my brain, but not the right ones.
I pull out the wrong weeds, don't slow down and
take the time to
just look for a minute
realize this
wasn't what I wanted.

The words were there.
It was me who failed them.
Sep 23
poem 2 comments challenge: RBG

what if

i don’t have a flag to fly half-mast
i don’t have the words to say i miss you
i don’t have the mind to fully grasp
the fact that you won’t be with us from
here on out.

i never took the time to
research you
i knew you were amazing, but i
never quite learned why
i couldn’t quote you past I dissent (if I even
knew what a dissent was)
couldn’t explain to you why you were so important,
why we’ll miss you
so, so much.

i know i don’t get it.
i knew who you were, but not why you mattered.
i haven’t wept over the fact that you’re gone
i try to write a poem, but what if it’s only because
i think i should, because
i didn’t start writing it until there
was already a challenge asking for it?
and what if these words can’t reach you
reach anyone
what if they don’t say anything better
than the tiniest half-hearted thanks?
Sep 17

backwards hi's

Every time I shower
I take my finger to the sliding doors
pull away water from the surface,
spelling out "HI"
in messy streaks on the wet glass.

Really, though, I write "IH":
backwards for me so it's the right way for
the someone reading from
the other side.

Really, though,
as far as I know,
there is
never has been
a someone.
And I know it's childish,
know it's silly
but I can't stop writing "IH,"
keep spelling out backwards words on the shower doors

and the someone that there never has been keeps not-answering.

Every time I start my shower,
on the sliding doors are
the remnants of
last shower's backwards greeting
more faint than last time
unanswered
unseen
but still there.
Sep 11

Back again

It's all the same.

The decorated paper leaves from last year are still full of
photos of our maskless faces.

You still pull the orange lever for
the emergency eyewash fountain in science.

The we the future posters still adorn the walls, though,
then we didn't know –
had no clue at all –
what our future would be.

The board in Spanish class is still dated to
Lunes, el 16 de marzo
(but the 17th was really
too surreal to be dated.)

The weekly calendar in ELA still says,
NO SCHOOL on
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in
neat dry erase marker
(but if there'd been space, you really
could dry out that marker writing out
all the days we
weren't there.)

Somewhere, somehow, time realized we
couldn't keep up, so it stopped,
froze,
waited patiently, continuing with only the hope that
we'd be back someday.

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