i found a
hanging on my corkboard
even after i thought i had
entirely removed you
from my bedroom.
your words have been hanging
and only now
i’m aching for you,
holding you in my hands,
and i ache for you.
sometimes I will remember
out of nowhere
the nights where I was so
exhausted so out of fu
el so bent out of shape
that I could not stand up in the
and I would just let the water
run itself over my body of flesh
(of flesh of blood of muscle of veins of bones)
and I would sob. and wail. and I would sob
in the shower
and I could not differentiate
tears from baptism
and I will remember the
soft cracking of my skull
against the porcelain
wall my spine curved against
as I tried to beat the bad
out of myself.
some nights I remember how bad it got
and I don’t remember how I got there
and I’m not sure what scares me more:
that I don’t remember how
I got there, what the patterns were,
what to watch out for,
or that I think I might go there again.
my grandmother whispered Aristotle’s poetics into my mother’s
ears, inhaling Peripeteia, exhaling Catharsis.
my grandmother braided tulips into her hair, each one soaked
in the light of remote incandescent bodies
that died before the Altar of Athena.
her murmurs dissipated into vessels, words of wisdom
lost on my mother’s native tongue but woven into
the language of her touch.
my mother hummed a hymn of salvation:
use the creases in your palm as a map
to guide you home: trace your way back through
all the places you’ve touched until you find me again.
her song of self-redemption
lulled me to sleep, to a place where
I understood space for a brief eternity
while I slept amongst the cosmos,
safe in the crook of her arms,
as she cradled me in the way
that Atlas balanced the world.
I. adults playing monopoly
an ambulance hits all the red lights
as you sit idle through the green light
blinking on your washing machine
finishing its last load in the garage.
you let the car run, keys in the ignition,
foot on the brake, as you wait
to pass go.
i fall asleep on my right side,
afraid to wake up forgetting how
to breathe with you standing
on my stomach, pleading for
your oxygen back.
i looked for how do
you kill yourself in a garage
and found who i won’t ever let myself be again.
IV. adults losing at monopoly
it’s bullshit how the foundation
of who you may or may not
end up being for the rest of your life
is determined by the events that happen
in the early stages of your childhood development.
your abandonment complex
was built from the ground up when
you were six and your mom
was away on the couch
in an opiate comatose.
you tried to reach her,
your hands trying to lock fingers with
her limp limbs,
but she was still too far away.
your obsession to keep things clean
to keep things organized to keep
yourself in balance, you must be
perfect, you must be perfect,
you must be better than you were yesterday
is fueled by the surpressed memory
of your divided childhood house
with Mommy on one side, Daddy on the other
the nights he actually came home.
the compulsion to unlock the door after
its been locked once, twice, four, six, eight
times hasn’t stopped because you fear
he might come back and you won’t hear
you insist that you look like your father
but you are your mother’s daughter, too:
just remember you are not their mistakes
anymore than you are your own.
V. actual intention: nobility
on the roof of your parents’ neighbor’s home
asking which is worse:
being brave enough to die
or having the willpower to live?
that was the last good night.
one. most nights I can feel
every pound of flesh
drenched on my bones,
a winter coat too thick
for the summer that refuses to
leave until I forget what
fresh oxygen feels like.
two. february 23rd
and I dreamt of flowers growing
in place of all your scars
and I watched without seeing
as you plucked every bud
one by one
and my deaf tongue rubbed
raw against the back of my
I woke up and didn’t know where to find you.
three. some nights I still hear the last
thing I remember you said to me.
time has paraphrased your goodbye into
something more sentimental than it was.
four. november 14th
and my blood pressure spikes
your name running blocks around
rendering the room immobile
your nails dragging on
across my skin
and there’s no
rhythm or breath or beat to the air
it just hangs like
me on a clothes line
and I’m singing
hang me out to dry
hang me out to dry
hang me out to dry:
just remember to take me back
five. most nights I am my own anchor
dragging myself through yesterday
well into tomorrow morning.
I’m muttering what I meant to say
and sowing seeds of spring
in between the notches of my spine.
most nights I am just
trying to remember
which way is up.
reminiscent of the time god kissed the
apple in your eye.
you turned sour during your fourteenth summer
and when you counted your bruises under
starlight dimmer than your mother’s
you told yourself that
this is how it had to be. this is how it was supposed to be.
this is how it needed to be.
but you knew it wasn’t true
and the shadows on the wall receded back into
themselves, scared of what looked back at
you in the mirror.
you spent two-thirds of your brief life
carving a smile from the
purple apples of your cheeks.
when he asked you if you meant it
out in the field of twilight, you laughed
and told him nothing meant nothing:
an all encompassing truth that
lit up the opaque summer sky.
you stood above a meadow of
apple seeds and counted the stars
one by one by one
until your thirst was quenched.
thank you so much! this means a whole lot xxxxxx
one. sometimes I imagine
the streets of houses around me
drugged into a deep sleep.
the clock breathes, I tick.
inhale. exhale. inhale. inhale. exhale.
is anybody out there? can anybody hear me?
rub the dust and debris and comatose
from your eyes.
two. I used to ask him to only
touch me in the dark.
sometimes the lights were off,
sometimes the lights were on.
our eyes were always closed from
beginning until the next morning.
three. you can read the entire history
of someone through touch:
follow their fibrous tissue like
thumbtacks on a map.
you’re a stranger in their city,
tracing their landmarks with your index
and middle finger.
'x' does not mark the spot:
it only suggests that what happened next
is coming soon.
four. if you can hear me,
if you can see me,
open your eyes.
five. the stars bury themselves in the yard,
exhausted, burnt out gas cooling beneath dying grass.
the streetlights flicker,
you’re here, you’re here, you’re here
and someone, somewhere,
has made it back.
I. you believe if you had been more
quiet growing up, you could’ve heard
your parents falling out of love so it wouldn’t
have caught you off guard. you started biting your
upper lip, then your lower lip, then you moved to your
nails, until finally you graduated to gnawing on
your tongue. just to keep your teeth occupied
when they wouldn’t stop chattering.
II. when he leaves you, he does not
shut the front door, and you can’t remember
whether it was open before he left.
III. concealed airplanes:
the concept of someone going somewhere,
disguised behind dark skies.
a single red light blinks back,
letting someone else, somewhere,
know its coming. it does not see you —
you are hidden from the masked.
IV. her lips stain your two front teeth,
and when they hover above your neck,
the weight of absence cripples you.
V. the kitchen lights buzz above,
too loud, not bright enough. you stir fry
yourself dinner, enough for two, plate only
enough for half of one. you eat alone
on the counter again, listening to
the buzz fight the neighbor’s dog fight
the sound of 85 miles an hour in a 55 area
for your ears’ applause.
somehow, you are empty
yet still too full.
I have wanted to be beautiful since I picked up my first gossip magazine. It was an issue covering Britney’s first pregnancy. I look at stranger’s ID cards and glance down at exposed driver’s licenses and fall asleep to fables of evolution, reading yearbooks and memorizing the pattern of growth everyone else seems to have undergone.
I’ve looked the same since I was about nine. I still get mistaken for being twelve at the nail salon. The only difference is that I’ve gotten paler, and sometimes my hair is worse, and sometimes it is better.
I’ve wanted to be beautiful since I was nine.
a man with a ring on his finger
when he walks into a bar,
a man with a ring in his pocket
as he walks out.
a woman with a bloated fist
and black eye: she took the first
and last hit.
when the young girl at the bus stop
hums under her breath, you can hear
her breath laced with nicotine and Xanax.
when he closes your eyes,
he kisses you softly but you can still
feel the dirt under his fingernails.
some nights the only thing that reminds me
you’re gone is the hollow ringing
your footsteps left.
I have wanted to be beautiful since I looked at a mirror and it looked back.
Since I was nine, I have wanted to be beautiful. I wrote a letter describing myself to my friend, and I wrote about my okay eyes, my crooked nose. I told her about my narrow lips and described to her my swollen cheeks as though she had never seen me before, as though I was seeing myself for the first time, as though I wanted to never see myself again.