Sunday, December 20, 2015

wisdom teeth

it is not violent      pain as much as 
 it is an aching absence,  like wisdom teeth, like     something has
been stolen from you even though it's 
      all your fault.
blame the universe for making your mouth too fucking small. blame the teeth 
for existing, for being so goddamn
 sharp,
blame    yourself for being so 
susceptible to     infection.

roll over and pretend the spots can be filled, that you could give 
your    cavern    to anyone else, that their exploration wouldn't feel
like foreign flags; 

       new owners,     beware,
  this house is haunted, you are never safe 
         here.  there will be doors always locked, corridors always closed to you, you will never
     see the inside of the west wing,     it is for sacrifices, it is a museum now, a      
      dead     child's bedroom, frozen in time.
        you have free reign of the foyer, but this place
            is not yours, 
     we don't have permits, there will be no additions.

know that you can live
as your own      nation and survive 
the departure of your teeth,  just hope
this stitched up mouth, this frankenstein tongue, comes 
back to life. pray that love has not 
taken you to dinner and, although it was nice, 
they're just really         looking for something else. 
with luck, you will not always be this 
bleeding fox crouched among the trashcans, 
uncoordinated and 
    desperate 
in its lashing, 
the night-time voices pushing the hair from your forehead

       shush- we're trying 
   to save you, trust, trust in the net, just    please, 
       stop biting.

paint the ceiling so that no one knows         the boarded-up attic, the parts of 
yourself you banished
like traitors. 
pray that someday you will be a row 
of cornfields, that the fires of your warring country
will burn themselves into feudality, quiet citizens raking ash
from their crumbled houses-
a toothless hole,        after years of bombs,
the sky was quiet and empty, 
     no one knew what to do with their hands.

the ache of changing when you didn't want to, how you overturned 
everyone's life raft just trying to save yourself, the people you drowned 
for a deserted island, a haunted 
house, an empty mouth. 


shake like shutters,
other things usually 
quiet, cocked breath.
open your mouth in an empty room, let
the devil out, the curve 
and fill filth, 
say your prayers, other things usually
quiet. 



i learned how to bite the inside of my cheeks from my mother,
the telltale 
side smirk and chewing when she was anxious or craving or eating
the words she dared not say. 

she used to tell me, 
"a cat won't play with a dead mouse", 
give up and roll over. 
be responsible for the ending of
conversations, this is how to be
strong. she used to tell me that there was dignity 
in a tail between legs, that you could escape as long as you held your head high enough
to avoid the disappointed eyes. 
be the one to swallow the bitterness, fill your mouth with 
bloody words, walk away
first.
my mother taught me that the only way to win an argument 
is to walk away first, 

i have gotten very good
at running,
bite the inside of my cheeks until i am raw and penny-tasting, bite
to distract from the craving, make a mess 
of my unopened lips.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

wine glasses, sand freckles, chipping paint of fire escapes,
i exhale everything but like a 
pillow pressed to mouth, instinctively inhale them all back. 
it was never an abundance of badness but rather a 
magnitude
of memory, 1600 boxes stacked high, i walk among them, nod
at the labels, "April 2014", "September 2013", make an inventory, 
what we keep and what we leave
when we leave.

brace myself for the goodbyes but like a 
pillow pressed to mouth, this breathlessness 
is warm
and good.
i make room in the attic
instead. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

teeth

i tied a string around me, slammed the door
to the taste of penny-blood. you say, "stop
drinking all the coffee in the morning", i say
"i am taking everything from you, i am still
a nervous cat coaxed
half way from under the bed, you hurt me more than 100 days
can fix", dirty hands like pulling loose teeth, you say
"what a beautiful face" and mean it,
i send emojis because i am losing the ability to
love things, send me back like misplaced mail, losing
too many teeth to defend my tongue-
i'll be the whipping post, darling,
my heart was nudged into falling out
year by year like
baby teeth.

there is always clay under my finger nails, i pretend that
i know what mirrors are, i pulled the rug out like
razing your mouth, stole your teeth so you couldn't speak the words
i'd wanted for so long but
set to sea to kill the longing,
i apologize for these hands, i apologize for these hands.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

the beating of war drums, the pounding of hooves, 
the horses
running until there are no places left to run, their sweat soaked haunches and chests
frantic breathing smoke into the night.
  
the front yard is a mess of paw prints, i don't remember which shampoo 
to buy. 
i break off pieces of my head like breadcrumbs, leave a trail 
too confusing to find, 
everything is still bruised, 
crawl under the porch as a dying cat.
safety has snapping jaws.

i am angry red-rubbed stitches on hands 
washed too many times in a gas station bathroom, crying
"they still don't feel right, who do they belong to?"
i tell the story of the horses so many times that i begin to think 
i know horses.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

remember your body, its welds, its caverns, its armor. 
remember your body as it is with another's. remember its shakes, pick up a snow-globe and
recreate the way your legs would tremble 
like the last sip of a stiff drink or the rumble of a passing train. 

memorize the feeling of a precipice, the feeling of the doorknob leading to 
the edge. how the coldness of it shocked you halfway to reality, how the craving
burned deeper than the freeze. you are too young to be playing knife games in a bar, the blade speeding up like two fingers when she's close, remember your body 
when it's close.

let me tell you the story of the birds on her fire escape, how they witnessed our love and 
somewhere on the East Side probably still believe in it. 
it is the legend of the ghosts we left all over, don't worry, 
you are coming back from the dead, don't worry we can still hear you, don't breathe-
you'll scare the birds away.

some things will teach you how to be a weapon, remember them.
they will open their mouths and carve you sharp. remember how it is to grow, the shooting pains in your calves, 
the expanding in your chest, remember 
the way your forehead feels before 
it sleeps, 
your heart is learning 
like a good dog. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

she has our nose.

my brother cried the first time he saw her.
dropped to his knees, pressed his face to warm stomach, said
"i'm yours, 
i'm yours.

he straightens his tie in the morning, slides his arms into "Dad" like a winter coat, kisses the boy he 
found in the woods, says
"you are mine, 
you are mine."

my brother is becoming our father,
she has his nose.


Saturday, November 14, 2015


the mouth is awkward with the words like a 
first date shifting weight from foot to foot and suddenly aware of hands and
where to put them when they are not digging.
the mouth remembers as if it were wallpapered
in it's childhood bedroom, the mouth practices how to be a survivor 
in the mirror, over and over 
until it starts to feel strong, practices until the tongue grows numb.


talk about the rust-stained stained towels, how they were stiff, how gentle your mother
loaded them into the washing machine, 
how she was reverent
and silent, 
a priest holding a bible, like they were still attached to me.

talk about
the mechanics of destruction, how to snap the plastic back like cracking open a walnut. talk
about the things you have never said, the ones that make it true. 
a hospital room and disrobing arms like unveiling a painting, how the fabric
of sleeves haphazardly pressed had started to heal into you, how the mask had become the face.
tell the story until it feels like a stranger,
tell the story until it feels strong again. 
sometimes, 
the mouth forgets it's lines.

the body shakes, 
i lived,
i lived.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

build a sandcastle, build
an armored bunker, 
build,
build, 
build. 
peel the shell, dig moats, 
leave enough space to still be classified, statistically, 
as empty
on snow days or federal holidays.

an abandoned coat, someone else's
newspaper on the city bus, 
things you do not touch.
try to reach through my heart,
they will find nothing.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

i write you three poems and then
flagellate myself with them, tattoo them on my eyelids and sit myself
down in the interrogation room

"now, where were you on the night of the 25th?"

"certainly not falling back into the love, officer, 
but i can tell you one thing, you might as well
lock me up,
i have no restraint
when it comes to her arms, 
i'd do it again
and again."

Monday, November 2, 2015

response to email from college security using their words, re: recent shootings in East Harlem

remain aware of your surroundings 
Silberman School of
safe havens.
remain aware of our East Harlem campus,
remain aware of
our presence like ticks on a dog, like breaking into another's house and rearranging all the furniture, 
call it Public Safety, call it Public Health, call it Manifest Destiny

remain aware of our presence like 
we are King of Dogs.
hide inside our East Harlem campus,
our East,
our.

As you may know, two shootings took place this week within a few blocks of
our East Harlem campus and
one long robbery,
Silberman School of safe havens.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

and everything was yellow, three seasons
of it,
miraculous.

and inside- a dream from which you do not wake, let's just say
that i am a sandcastle and you are lapping, 
crumbled and
warm, let's just say
that i am an hourglass and
shifting, you flip my base and start
the count all over again, 
1
2
3

let's just say
that i hold myself over you like a shark tank, 
never let you get used
to the taste, keep you hungry, keep you
melting like sugar
scrape me off the insides of your thighs, 
i think i'm stuck.




Saturday, October 17, 2015

this is how hope works,
paint everything a color that they have not named yet, 
call it, "clocks", pretend it 
doesn't give you nightmares, keep your body 
until someone makes you a decent trade.
it's getting too cold to pretend 
you are not cold.

this is how hope works, 
it tells you not to wait but
you wait.
apologize for stealing whatever you stole
when your hands forgot
what they were doing, 
roll a stone in front of your heart's coffin and say
"you can come back out
when you learn how to behave".

Thursday, October 15, 2015

math

roll hips like
a pair of dice.
take the number and subtract how many times i 
came first (or came first),
we are left with -34, add
combined number of tattoos and/or 
bite marks. 
divide
the order of nachos on the hardwood
by 2.5 (me, you, and my ego)
 
left with $1.87, always a little
short of $2, you
pay 
when i'm not looking, you slip yourself
into my pocket
when i'm not looking


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Followers, 

Please consider helping sponsor my walk for suicide prevention this October if you can. I am so close to my goal of $150 (thanks to some generous anonymous donors) and it would be amazing if I could reach the rest of the way before October 25th. 

As many of you know, mental illness is a recurring character in all of my poetry. How could it not? I have, over the years, learned to thrive with my mental illness. I have learned to introduce her to parents, how to comfort her to sleep, and how to make sure she never controls my life again. This November will mark six years since the last time I would ever hurt myself. Six years of hard work, six years of learning to drive with a (frequently carsick) passenger. Since 2009, I have:
a.) moved to NYC
b.) earned 2.5 college degrees (and became a social worker)
c.) greeted "happiness" at the door like a distant relative I hardly had remembered the face of.


I want to take this moment to let you know a little more about me- I currently work with adults with major mental illnesses in a recovery-oriented setting. This means that my organization doesn't try to cure anyone, instead, we teach people to live with their mental illness. There are no quick fixes, no immediate "cures", but it is the most beautiful journey anyone could ever take. I've had the opportunity to work in suicide prevention as well. Here is the issue we are currently facing, suicide and suicidal ideation are two different things. Suicide is action, planning, gathering means. Suicidal ideation is the horrible waiting room, a purgatory of "I don't want to kill myself, I just want to stop feeling this way but I don't know how". Suicide has outlined treatment plans, hospitals, and therapists as trauma surgeons. Suicidal ideation is much harder to treat because it's continual, recurrent, and unique for each person. 

Once licensed, I will be dedicating my life to researching suicidal ideation and self injury in adolescents. My theory is that when adolescents experience suicidal ideation or self injury early in the onset of their mental illness, they form an attachment to it. "I want to die" becomes comforting. Recovery involves years of untangling that mess of half-broken christmas lights and relearning coping mechanisms. Recovery is real and obtainable, I have felt it, I have learned to soothe the scared little girl inside of me and to forgive her for the things she did when she was caught in a snare. I also had a stellar support system and the financial means for medication and 11+ years of therapy, most people don't have those things.

A year ago, my mother and I drank whiskey and spoke about my childhood for the first time since my attempt. She told me that she had seen the warning signs in me, in my brother, in my uncle. She knew our genealogy, she just didn't want to know. She told me that she was proud of me for how far I've come. She told me that I should write a book for parents of adolescents with self injury. She told me that she wished she knew before I did the things I did, that she would lay awake at night and pray that I was in some accident that would have broken my hands so I couldn't hurt myself, even if for an hour. She told me that the only thing I could have done in the world to make her stop loving me would have been to kill myself. I am so glad that I never gave her that chance.

"Suicidal" was a place we visited when our ladders ran short. It was the canary in the coal mine, somewhere dark and screaming, "go back, there is poison here". Many of us have seen suicide as an exit sign in a burning theater, an already written end chapter to grow into. Sometimes, it is our genes- a rusted link of DNA. Sometimes it's framed in the family pictures, sometimes it grows in the closet while everyone is sleeping. 

Suicidal is not the end of the road. It is not a life sentence. I know that now and all I want to do with my life is show others that happiness exists even if it has been painted over a thousand times. The house is still there, they've just been sleeping in the garage so long that they forgot where the doorknob was.


I am doing this walk for me, I want to surround myself with other survivors, other families who have seen suicide as a dinner guest, other professionals who realize that suicide steals nearly 6,000 teenagers from us each year. Professionals who realize that someone with a mental illness has a life expectancy of 15-25 years less than someone who is neuro-typical. I want to celebrate six years of happiness by showing just how alive I am. No one ever taught me that you could be Bipolar and okay, I thought I would always be caught in a whirlwind of mania and depression, I didn't know I was allowed to live. I am. You are. Recovery is a process that is never finished, it takes a lifetime of work, but it is the only option and no one has to do it alone. I'm going to make sure of that last part. 

"It has been a long trip," said Milo, climbing onto the couch where the princesses sat; "but we would have been here much sooner if I hadn't made so many mistakes. I'm afraid that it's all my fault."
"You must never feel badly about making mistakes," explained Reason quietly, "as long as you take the trouble to learn from them."
The Phantom Tollbooth- Norman Juster

It has been six years. It has been a long, long trip. I'm home now, I'm not going anywhere.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

i gathered your hair in my hand like
taming medusa's snakes, 
pulled
your neck out for teeth.

the twitching strings of a marionette or
trembling fishing line when there's 
something really good on the other end.

disappointed as the storm
veers back out to sea, we unpacked our rain boots
for dry streets. 
i bruise every time anything touches me, 
i cannot decide if it is anemia
or poetry.

you should see the sheets when we're finished, 
stained and hanging from the window,
like a white flag.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

a slow pull, like
chocolate on the sheets or
the pounding behind eyes,
exactly 1/4th of a gasp
and sinking.

chest flushed pink 
like newborn storm clouds,
something loud and building.

caught
in high tide.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

excerpt from "iphone notes 2014" [unpublished]


throwing a stress ball into a ceiling fan, let's pretend 

that shredded research papers are 
christmas eve snow, i still
don't sleep very well
in this graveyard bed.

when the sky crumbles away and we see
through this pin-pricked dome,
i hope they check
my GPA.

missing
like disconnected cable cords, running your hands
over a light switch in the night and half praying that
you don't feel some other creature's fingers
already there.

missing, however, makes you wish for those fingers
in the faint hope
they might belong to a creature
you know.

Monday, September 21, 2015

i shut the door on a
friend and girlfriend of a friend.
there is a woman who still haunts my lips and she makes the shutters shake 
and house groan too loud 
to hear any other voices. 
i have had blood on my hands, 
but it is not inside of my mouth anymore.
the words do not stain the table but rather
chapped lips like desert floors, trying
to find water,
trying to find the Northern Star,
trying to find water, a place that feels
like home, i am utterly and completely 
lost, still, turning sentences into mile markers, trying to find
water, i don't remember what my legs look like without bruises,
wandering towards the shadow of the Northern Star, hoping
it leads to the ocean. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

to the life growing inside of my sister

little one,

i have often wished you into existence. dreamt of your sad blue eyes; i have known for a very long time that i will never have a you. the risk too great, it's like playing back alley dice with bipolar disorder. unfortunately, this time, they've got two aces up their sleeves and the odds are never in our favor.

i know that you are not a you, yet. a bundle of tissue paper, a bubbling break in the lava. growing, you are a seed. he is an egg, still covered in feather shoots but they're starting to come in a little darker. we call him "chirp" for his laugh but i think he will be a blackbird one day, you will be a blackbird. i've seen your nest, i don't think you'll be disappointed.

i am afraid that i could never save you in any of my dreams, i could never keep you. you were always a curling leaf or a spotted acorn (jake says thats how you know they've gone bad). you were always 13 and hurting, hiding, you were always too me and not enough her. the chance of the sickness, the idea of seeing you in pain was always too much to bear.

i am pretty sure that you are a girl but i do not know why, growing up is learning that things can true even if you can't explain them. that is one lesson i've learned, don't worry, you'll get them all.
little one, you will never be a spotted acorn, you will never be 13 and hiding. when you are old enough to understand, if your eyes are my deep blue, i will show you this. i will make you know how loved you are before and after. you will never face this alone. i've been crafting my deck of cards and now i know why, it's for you. i've been practicing all these years so that, when the time comes, i can teach you. 

i will never have a you but i will have a you, that is more than enough.

i am so glad you're here,
see you soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

the story

this is how the story goes, 
i see three lines from a poem spray-painted on the street, 
go home and realize that you had bought me the book
two years before. 
there is an inscription, it is more relevant now. 

this is how the story goes, 

two people enter a city but never 
exit, they twist together like wet sweaters in the wash, 
they become two different pieces of one thing and you
stop wearing one without the other.

this is how the story goes, 

i cut snowflakes into the ship's sail, i make paper dolls out of the only map. 
we get lost, i don't put any of my messages into a bottle this time,
i don't know if i should be found.

this is how the story goes, 

lowered myself into a well because the darkness
felt familiar, had to crawl back out. 
there is so much dirt under my fingernails, 
i am not sure that you would recognize my hands anymore. 
i learn to fear love like snapping jaws, this wasn't supposed to bleed so much,
i develop neuroses over your absence like keloid scars.

this is how the story goes, 

i can't stop putting my ear to your front door, hoping for 
the silence.

this is how the story goes,

i don't know how to catch up, i am scared to read the books 
on my shelf, the inscriptions you left are land mines, 
scared they won't come true,
scared they will.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

my body is too acidic.
it seems to be a pattern;
i fill myself with things that burn,
coffee, carbonation, vinegar.

type out each message, let it sting.
wait for midnight, hope they turn into pumpkins or wooden limbs,
things too heavy for me to lift.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

chirp,

i think i loved you before we even met, before you even existed, before i even existed. there has been a dust covered box in the corner of me and when you held my hand, i unpacked the whole thing. immediately. set out the army men in lines of ten. the love for a child is not like any other love, they accept every single ounce of adoration you give and splash in the ripples. there is no such thing as caring too much. 

this is a love i have never written before, this is a love that is brushing-hair-from-forehead and scooping-into-arms. a sandy whirlwind who prefers making cookies to actually eating them, a twister that kisses three times before goodbyes. this is to the boy who is too sweet for his own good, a boy who is learning how to smile like my brother. a smirk, a lopsided grin, a shrill sounding of laughter as you cling to his bicep and swing. you worship him in a way that has made him believe it. a way that i have been trying to for my whole life. you made it look easy, you are one good egg.

there is a selfishness inside all of us that only dies once we feel tiny arms grasping in sleep. miniature finger nails, dirty knees. i do not know what your face will look like in 15 years but i know it will not look like mine. that's okay, i prefer yours anyway. we play the best battleships, you saved me from the sprinkler. my family is large and loud and very bitter, hardened by waves of anguish that we can never seem to dodge; we all have learned to laugh off our tears. you don't know how yet, that's okay, i think we're better off your way. 

this is to the boy who began outside of my brother but has ended with him, has stolen his hands for a father's. this is to the boy who changed my brother, who made him believe that he is good, he is worth every second chance he's ever received. my life is changing too fast but if any of the changes result in you, then i think i can get on board. 

chirp, you might have saved us all. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

"Rebecca" means snare.

i have a name straight from the bible, i have communion wafers
still hidden behind my ears. seven
years old and huddled in a group, making its way through the Stations of the Cross.
i learned that torture was the way of Godliness, that we are all inherently bad
unless we can prove we are worth saving. 
at night i dreamt of bleeding ribs and cries of anguish, dreamt of whips and 
pierced palms. 
The Catholic Church is not concerned with the nightmares of children. 

Rebekah gave birth to brain and muscle, lies and anger, Cain and Abel.
she created things that destroyed each other.

i am a snare, a tightly wrapped blanket, i console myself with long talks 
that rarely end in words. 
my ribs are soft, everything is a twisting spear. 
stealing breath, stealing Sundays, choking, trapping.
caught between loosening the noose or finding an animal who will not chew their own foot off
just to get away from me.
as soon as it hurts enough, i take all the bad out of my chest and leave it 
on the alter and when i remember touching her,
my palms start to bleed, an old wound reopened 
time and time again, searching for the splinter.

a snare,
a biblical name, 
and it fits.

Monday, August 24, 2015

have you ever looked at your hands through someone else's eyes? as if the familiar tattoo of blue veins were mountain streams or uncharted maps, crystal clear. the eyes of someone who cannot see the blood on them, as you always will. 

walk around like a loaded gun, like an oil drum full of secrets, like a puzzle with half the pieces flipped down and no picture on the box. now, flip them upside, become softer like well-kneaded dough, be accessible and comforting and immeasurably kind. turn your trigger finger into a ring finger, become docile, become boring and, in essence, become a liar. a traitor to the self you first portrayed. a traitor to the one who loved you when you were a wildfire. become ashamed of the grass that grew in the ditch under the old log you tore from the yard when she said she was cold. the log you burned, willingly, and danced in front of the flames. become a traitor to the walls you put up, climb them. open the door. dance in front of the flames, hope your shadow is still beautiful and hands still crystal clear.

crabs do not have spines, they have shells. combine calcium and confidence, raise it like a farmhouse inside of myself. know, deep inside, that i will always be a little raw, a little more sensitive and it will not always be a good thing. make plans for a bay window and eat-in kitchen, occasionally take a lighter to the whole thing and know, deep inside, that it's growing fire-proof. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

kale ribs

i learned how to remove the kale ribs, throw them aside and keep the
bitter leaves. ruffled like the lace dress that might
or might not have existed, all the fantasies seem to
blur with the realities now. that time she was a 
waterslide for me, that time i crawled 
like a whore for the love.

the kale ribs are no good, throw them aside and 
freeze the leaves- blend it with fruit that might or not might
exist, crawling like a 
whore through a body. pack all the words 
into the freezer, just because something is healthy does not mean 
it has to taste good. 

i've mined myself for the hip bones, still
mining for the backbone. just because something is healthy does not mean
it will not keep you sleepless, baby
can a person crawl and still be 
an ocean? 
the freezer is nearly full and i will have to start
eating the kale ribs raw, turn myself into something insoluble, something no one else
can fully digest, still,
each sleepless night i sneak to the kitchen and i freeze
the leaves for her.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Ctrl+F, find, enter: "forever", "pasta", "dog"
1 Result.

i find myself with extra room
on my hands, the parts that go unused seem to 
twitch, parts i have not been able to use, parts
i treat as the bedroom down the hall
that we do not enter anymore
because of the ghost.
like my voice after a 6 hour bus-ride
when i forget the sound or
if it ever existed in the first place
Clear search.

Ctrl+F, enter: "poem", "bed", "broken wrist"
1 Result.

i find myself with extra time, 
paint doors, fall out of trees, learn how to speak French
but only the curse words. parts i have not been able to
fill yet, holes in the sand that must be 
widened. scientifically, if i spread the emptiness far enough, 
it begins to contain the entire 
world, 
if you split an orange open
the peel no longer contains fruit but rather
everything in the world other 
than fruit. 
Clear search.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

it's the heat that does it to me, makes the dry side of the bed 
feel hotter than the 98.6 it's grown 
accustomed to.

they do not tell you that grieving happens with every part
of your body. it is a physical thing, some days
my hips miss her or my
left elbow pangs or my whole inside
feels like a mausoleum. 
they do not tell you what to do with all the things you have collected, 
do not teach you
how to know less of someone.
do not teach you that you will miss her 
in the way that you miss your inhaler, not to say
that you cannot breathe but that 
it is just harder 
without.

see, the thing about me is 
i've usually got
a bruise or two

Thursday, August 6, 2015

they say that you stay in New York until she becomes so full of ghosts that you can't turn the corner without flipping back a few chapters. 
they say that you stay in New York until she drives you away like a starving dog from a trash can. 

you walk down a street a thousand times but find it just different enough to get lost. 
the memories of a thousand strangers after you, piled on top of yours, 
you search like a departing party guest for your coat under a thousand other
coats on a bed
in a cramped apartment that you did not realize you were memorizing
until you did. 
you find yourself pining for an exact city that no longer exists.

New York and i had a summer camp romance, it did not end well.
i have always said that she was made for leaving, no one stays too long. all my friends
are forest kids, itching for corn fields, they are horses 
in Central Park twitching with traffic, they are smoking in front of a bar to try to wash the taste
of pond water from their mouths. we fantasize that we own this place but we 
are tumbling in her spin cycle. we are damp
and drying within her. New York is easy
to get lost inside. 
you ask for directions
"can you tell me how to get back to who i was?"
she replies 
with a 
"fuck you" 
or a 
"take the C train, it's a long ride but the A is down and sometimes
you have no choice but to go local."

my therapist tells me that i am addicted to impulses, addicted to people and
places. addicted to whirlpools but now i am learning
to read the Hudson river inside of me. New York
was the first person to make me realize that you can stay in a place meant for leaving, just 
don't be surprised when she doesn't kiss your hand on the way out, 
she makes you leave your key, 
she asks you to take your toothbrush. take your cat, 
get the fuck out of here. 

i think New York is breaking up with me. i think i made her, 
appreciated the stillness in her soft nights, loved her rivers until i had to get out and found 
that the water freezes on my skin. i fight
with New York but always open the door again, wander her streets
again, catch a glimpse of my sleeve at the bottom of the coats.

i always said that New York was made for leaving, i didn't realize that she might make me 
too, i think New York is breaking up with me but i just
re-signed the lease, maybe i can
take the C train, maybe we'll both
change our minds by the time
the key reaches the lock.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

and now, a dazzling declaration of
love.

love, I've written leagues about it. My poems could fill at least 104 leather-bound books and result in the absolute waste of 104 leather-bound books. I have been writing about love since before I knew what it was. Perhaps that has stunted me, perhaps it has turned love into a limbo stick where each contender has had to bend their spine to the expectations I set. Perhaps I am very good at loving people but not very good at love because I feel as though the more I see of it, the less I understand. The more I zoom in, the less sense the pixels seem to make. This is the essence of love. Being lost. I am no expert, surely, but I am a survivor. I am a POW of it and a perpetrator. I am the prisoner and jailer. I have played both parts (some better than others), but I am no expert. I do, however, wish all of my readers the best of luck in their love journeys and would like to offer what wisdom I have gleaned (like picking pieces of gold chain out of ash, whatever is of worth in this smoking heap)


Here are the evidence tested, steel and tear forged facts I have learned about love:

1.) When real, it can make nearly any situation better. It can also make it worse. Love is a swinging pendulum. The harder you feel it, the more powerful it becomes. This is both comforting and terrifying.


2.) Love's strength can only be judged on the worst day. The four hours of traffic day. The everything-goes-wrong day. The day that you hold a match under their finger tip and let it singe- that is the day we must judge the validity of our love. Wait until your person is hoarse and congested with dry skin under their nose and sleepy eyes. Wait until the stomach flu makes a mess of your love. Pick the moments that they are bleeding from their hand with anxious eyes, looking to you to save them. Wait for their weakness, wait for your weakness, wait for love's weakness. If you are not sure how you feel about someone, think about them at 2 A.M, too drunk to properly ask for a piece of bread, covered in sweat. Think about them at their worst, at their cruelest, would you still want to hold them? Then it is strong.  


3.) Falling in love happens over several moments like pebbles in the palm. There is not one moment where suddenly, fantastically, you are over the moon. There is, however, a single moment in which you realize it. Like remembering the word that had been on the tip of your tongue two days ago. In the booth of a dark bar with Christmas lights draped above like pretend stars. In a bed that is too small and too soft, staring at a bookcase. You fall in love when they round that New York City corner with a too-wide smile. You fall in love, staring at the 6 train. You fall in love in a park, eating a bagel, across a table, in a Duane Reade, in front of an ocean, driving in the car late at night, in front of a corn field.

4.) Love is the most important thing a human can do. I'm not limiting this to romantic love-no, but rather the overwhelming and encompassing adoration of something with every ligament of your being. That is most important. Money is not love, property is not love. You can make love a verb or a noun, a smoky haze or a rock-solid commitment. You can make it all of these put together. That being said, love is always worth it despite the outcome. It will teach you more about yourself and humanity than any book. Humans do not exist to make money, they exist to survive. To procreate, to love, to bond... that is the key to the continued survival of humans. To care, to dedicate. Money and self growth are keys to this empathy for the universe but not the only ones. Humans were made to exist, being quite fond of something or someone makes that existence infinitely more fulfilling.


5.) Love is strong arms on a weak day, love is soft arms and crumbling corners on a weekday. Sometimes you lose love, sometimes you do everything in your power to destroy it because it's too powerful or dangerous or scary. Sometimes you succeed. Sometimes, you will not have the chance to repair the damage you've done, this does not make love any less worth it. Some love will stay forever, this I know for sure. I have seen such love in my Father's eyes when he looks at my mother. Sometimes love only goes away when you ignore it, when you shoo it from the table like a begging dog, when you throw rocks trying to scare it away for months and months and months. Sometimes this is necessary, sometimes this is the worst mistake you will ever make, sometimes this is very stupid, the three are not mutually exclusive. Something can be necessary and stupid and not necessary. The fact remains, it is always worth it.


6.) The most comforting message you can give to someone falling in love is also the most comforting message you can give to someone with a broken heart: "hold on, it'll be over soon".

Saturday, July 18, 2015

the wolf never comes on the full moon, as we expect him, but waits for the nights that i forget to lock the door. waits for the nights that i [claim] to forget to lock the door (girl who lies, girl who exaggerates). the wolf sees, the wolf lingers because i feed him. i feed the wolf. i sneak out after dinner, for years now, and throw him scraps. i pretend he is my dog, i pretend that he is loyal, i fashion myself a new name- (girl who lives with wolf, girl who defeated wolf, girl who fights wolf). sometimes, when i think about blood, i pretend that his hunger is my own, 
pretend that i have no choice but to swing that door open- (girl with no choices, girl with good intentions
but,
truthfully, 
i was always scared of losing the wolf because what would i do with all these scraps? what would i be if i weren't the girl who hides a wolf in the village? (girl who tames wolf. girl-victim of wolf). when they find me, on the edge of the woods with pieces of roast beef, they say- "why are you feeding him? he will never go away, the wolf is no dog and will devour you the second you offer your hand". i say, "i'm not! i hate the wolf, here i am walking along and he shows up, sniffs my heels, stares at me with those puppy eyes". i have held onto his torn collar as a crutch because i am afraid of being whole. being bitten is easier. i am afraid of things that are not easy. this is a weakness, (girl who hates wolf, girl who hates self, girl who hates wolf-self, girl who invited the wolf inside her home knowing full well what he was) 

the wolf goes hungry now, we hear him howl, still. i write letters that i am too weak to send while his cries still linger in the air. sometimes, that is the only way we know that he has come and gone- by how quiet and empty the morning sky is, how no roosters can be heard. (girl who blames wolf, girl who is wolf, girl who no longer wishes to feed wolf, girl who burned down the chicken coop with blood on her muzzle, girl who wants to build, girl who wants to heal, girl who loves girl, wolf who loves girl, girl who loves girl, girl who wants to apologize, 
girl who fights wolf, girl who fights wolf, girl who fights wolf again.)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde.

one, two, three-
there is a waterslide in Memphis, TN consisting of a single straight line and it 
receives 1 star on yelp, "pretty 
boring tbh", no one falls asleep with dreams of transforming into a 
lazy river. 

Dr. Jekyll drinks the potion each morning with a 
cup of coffee, Dr. Jekyll pretends that Mr. Hyde isn't
waiting in the bedroom with whiskey fists. At night they play,
drive their headlights straight for each other to see which will
swerve. Dr. Jekyll goes to therapy and cries because
he always does first. 
Hyde drains his bank account, Jekyll 
apologizes for the depleted funds.  

Mr. Hyde prays that
he did not exist, flushes the pills to assure
that he will. 
Dr. Jekyll kisses him with no tongue-
Hyde reaches in his chest and pulls out a candy-apple heart,
makes him finish the whole thing. At night they play, Dr. Jekyll says
"I love you and I want you to die", 
Hyde says
"Then do it, I never wanted to be a villain, I never asked to exist" 
and bares his neck.