Don’t grow up to be me
I here you talk
“I want to be just like you when I’m older”
Take my clothes
Take my music
Take my poems
But please don’t
I hear you talk
“I want to be skinny”
don’t be like me
You shouldn’t worry about that
I hear you talk
“I cant eat this”
You can eat anything
And still be beautiful
I hear you talk
“My eyes are too big”
You’re eyes light up the room
Than the northern lights
Across the glorious mountain sky
I hear you talk
“I’m not pretty like her”
You’re prettier than anyone I’ve ever seen
Made of cotton candy
Soft as clouds
Are kisses from angels
You don't realize
How bright you shine
I hear you talk
Weird is good
Weird is cool
Weird is different
Different is beautiful
All boys love smart girls
Intelligence is beautiful
Never act dumb
Dumb isn’t cute
Don’t make my mistake
I hear you talk
“I cant think”
Is a jungle
Filled with thoughts
That only you can explain
If someone could crawl into your brain
They’d be amazed
By your understanding of life
And the world
I hear you talk
“I wanna be like you”
I want to be like you
I know you look up to me
But I look up to you
You view the world differently
Im not sure
Maybe its your glasses
Thick with wisdom
Its like the lenses
Give you power
It shows you things
The rest of us can’t see in people
You only see the good
If you want to be someone
Don’t be me
I hope one day
I can hear you say
“I’m me and I’m beautiful”
Because you are
What a beautiful human being,
with such a confused personality.
Just troubles in his eyes,
and a love affair with lies.
So now the knife
has finally drilled through your protections,
like a bird with a diamond beak pecking at wood
again and again, until
it extracts what it was striving towards
the whole time.
You have brought up your reserve shields,
your last line of defense, and who
could blame you?
Not I, though,
like a king protecting his life
by building a fortress and then
living in its safety,
you have seemingly constructed strong walls
shutting the world out, until
I cannot see you, only the fortress and
your warm voice is poorly mimicked
by cold echoes from the stone.
The world thinks
you have locked them out, and yet
such is the image you project,
like a desert mirage,
and I would have sworn it was real, until
you let me come closer
and I touched you.
You are not the coward king, hiding
from the world and all
that might harm you, no. You
are the lion-tamer whose lion
has turned rabid, who locks herself in
and builds walls and will fight
until you are bloody and tired
until it is safe for you to open the cage
and break down the walls
without your lion hurting those
you hold dear.
You build your concrete walls, you
close everything up and
you narrow them, until
only you and your lion remain
and they look like a coffin.
My wish for you is not
only that you will emerge alive, but that
you will not let this be a coffin
even a temporary one.
let this be your chrysalis.
I know you are strong enough to battle
and finally emerge, triumphant
resplendent in new colors, maybe
the green-hued rainbow of fading bruises,
but still beautiful.
The walls will come down and you
will slowly reappear,
even stronger and ready
Follow-up poem to November: hellopoetry.com/poem/november-55/
You will never know it
Cause I will never show it
I can never point my affection
In your direction
For my own, but mostly your protection
And it breaks my heart
As thoughts of you and I break apart
It was nice to think of
It was even better to dream of,
but now it just floats down a stream of,
your tears, your fears, the darkness under unlit chandeliers
So I will never show it
So you will never know it
How I truly feel...
I know beautiful places we could have gone
I would have written you the most beautiful songs,
but I'm no faker
I'm a heart breaker
and a mistake maker
I won't speak to extensively
I'll just leave it at this, your sensitivity
Could never handle my intensity
So I will never show how I truly feel
So you will never know how I truly feel
Cause your heart I could never break or steal
Time is something that is always changing; yet it always moves at a constant pace. My story includes such a small period of time. In one day, there are twenty-four hours, and somewhere in those few hours of January 15th, 2011, my life changed in the blink of an eye. Within seconds, someone I love stopped breathing. It changed everything. But, my story begins a few hours before that.
Wake up. I always have to tell myself to wake up. I wake up and it is a beautiful Saturday. I walk into the living room of my house, where the sun is shining bright through all the windows and I feel like it is going to be a good day. I usually wake up on the weekend home alone, but this time I walk around until I find my dad and my little brother, Phillip.
Dad: “Phillip and I are going to a Valdosta State basketball game later today, if you would like to come.”
I immediately think of my best friend James. James is a part of my family. He got along with my dad and brother better than I did. The basketball game with them would be a lot easier to endure if James went along. He is the older brother I never had.
I pick up my phone and call James, to invite him to join us. He doesn’t answer. James always answers. His phone goes straight to voicemail. I remember a time in the past that I called James with a stupid boy dilemma. James was in the middle of football camp, but he called a timeout. He picked up the phone for me then. I am always James’ first priority, so something seems wrong. I call Drew, James’ best friend, and his phone goes straight to voicemail as well. Something definitely seems wrong. I try to convince myself that I’m overthinking. I always overthink and I always worry too much, so this could be nothing. James is just busy. He’ll call me back later.
An hour or two pass by without response from either James or Drew. As I am cleaning up my room trying to keep my mind busy, I receive a text message from my friend Emily.
Emily: “What’s wrong with James?”
Emmaline (me): “What are you talking about?”
Emily: “I see on Facebook that many people are writing on James’ wall, saying that they are praying for him. Why are people praying for him? What happened?”
Little did she know that I was asking myself the same questions. What in the world is going on!?
Emmaline (me): “Umm, I’m not sure. He hasn’t been answering my calls. I’ll try to find out.”
James was a huge part of the church community. He was the first person that brought me to the church I’ve been attending for the past three years. He was a mentor to me; if it weren’t for James I would not have found the faith that has saved me. After those texts messages, I decided to call someone from the church to see if they knew what was going on with him. Mackenzie answered my call.
Mackenzie: “James and Drew went out duck hunting this morning at a place called Ocean Pond, and James is missing. Drew is fine, but he doesn’t know where James is.”
My heart immediately dropped to my chest. The gut feeling I had been experiencing all day that something was wrong was rapidly increasing, and I suddenly couldn’t keep still.
My thought processes jumped to visualize duck hunting. I thought, when you go duck hunting, it is a little different from hunting ground animals like deer. When you hunt ducks, you spend the entire time on a boat. You don’t go missing on a small boat. James wasn’t playing hide-and-seek. James being missing meant that he was lost somewhere in the water. The odds weren’t looking very good. Maybe I’m worrying too much, but I’m being rational. Right? I put my phone down and slowly slid out of my chair onto the floor. I lay on the floor for hours, crying. My brother came in from outside and just stared at me. My chest was on fire; I have never felt so much pain in my life. The amount of emotional pain transformed to a physical pain that I felt in the pit of my stomach. The sun that made me happy when I first woke up now began to burn my eyes. I felt like I was sinking, but in reality the only person sinking was my best friend, drowning in icy water.
When I could finally stop crying enough to talk, I call my mom. My mom was not home this weekend; she was at the beach with some of her good friends from college. She did not take the news as heavily as I did.
Mom: “He’s just sitting somewhere in the marsh where the water is really shallow. Someone will find him. He’ll be fine, I know he will.”
I begin to feel somewhat better. I tell myself that this does not have to be a death sentence. James could be fine. I decide to call Mackenzie from church again and invite her and her mom to my house to keep me company while we wait for news.
Hours and hours pass by, yet still no news comes. The church and community decides to hold a prayer session at a local park for all the people worried about James. Mackenzie, her mom and I drive out to the park. Hundreds of people were at the park. All of them were there for James. All of us stood in a circle, teary-eyed, and prayed. I have never seen my community come together like that. Rival schools and teammates, people old, young, and teenage. Teachers, preachers, friends, athletes, fathers, mothers, so many people were at the park for James.
We went around in the circle and each person told their story of how much James meant to them. James was a brother to many. He was a mentor, a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a pal to laugh with. James was the one person that convinced a girl to graduate from high school. James was the friendly face that ate lunch with a boy that was alone and contemplating suicide. I had no idea that James meant so much to people other than me.
All it took was seconds, maybe minutes for James to drown. The water was below freezing. The gear that he was wearing was built to weigh him down in order to be able to wade in shallow waters. In deeper waters, he would surely and quickly sink. He drowned quickly, and within seconds he stopped breathing. However, it took search and rescue a month to recover his body. Days of worry and prayer turned into weeks. I had to return to school and try to go on with my life, as if I didn’t feel like it was all falling apart.
Finally, one crisp February morning, a search dog found my James’ body.
I was in my Advanced Placement Environmental Science class, and my phone rang from a number of different people. I went to the bathroom to return a call and found out that someone found my best friend’s dead body. I knew it wasn’t smart to hold on to any kind of hope that he was alive, but knowing he was actually dead made the situation suddenly very real. I tried to return to class, but I ended up sitting right beside the door, crying harder than ever. I had to go out to Ocean Pond, where I spent most of my time for the past month watching divers search for him. I had to go out there and see it.
By the time I arrived at the site, there was nothing left to see. James’ body had been recovered and I would never see him again. All that was left was a teary funeral, and abrupt good-byes that I wasn’t ready to give. To this day I don’t know how to say good-bye to James. I visit his grave, and I don’t know how to leave the picture of his face.
Losing someone you deeply love so quickly is probably one of the most difficult things to experience. I am so thankful that James left behind such a beautiful story, and such a wonderful legacy. The first day I met James, he told me, “Hey girl. You know, I love you. I really do. I would take a bullet for you.” When someone says those kinds of things to you without even knowing you for twenty-four hours, it feels strange. But, James knew time meant everything. He knew that all it takes is minutes, seconds, to change someone’s life forever.
The thing that is so astonishing about James’ story, is that he understood how quickly everything can change. When James was alive, a fellow student of his died in a motorcycle crash. James was devastated that he had not reached out to this boy before it was too late. That night, in a note on Facebook entitled “The Clock is Ticking,” James wrote a short paragraph that showed the depth of his understanding of life. He wrote, “Take time to love someone. Today, Tomorrow, For the rest of your life. Because when that unexpected day comes that they pass on, you'll be left wondering what you could've done better. How you could have made them feel more welcome, and show that you do care for them. Don't wait until it's too late like I did. Show the love that Jesus has for you to everyone you see. Let your heart break for what breaks His. Christ is enough. Let Him show you life. You never know who He may touch through you. It is so sad that it takes a tragedy like this to comprehend how our days are numbered. Only He knows. Keep your faith in Him. He will bless you beyond belief. Our job is right now. This very second. So often, God gives me a little nudge towards someone.. and I put it off until the next day.. and then the next and then the next. Stop stalling. God put us on this earth for HIS glory. Not ours.. and so many times, the things I do always point back to me and my stupid self righteousness. So do something with me. Everyone. If this just touches one person, I will have done my job. Don't stall. Judgement is a heart beat away.”
My addiction is spelled out in iron:
Words have been stomped into my fate by elegantly gargantuan feet of Greek goddesses and
in the metal lies every pretentious metaphor and ink-soul-splatter that will define the rest of my existence.
There is no going back
The poetry is here to stay.
the changes the letters have wrought are now normal.
I have become used to looking in the mirror and seeing none of my features for the quotes clumped across my forehead
knotted around the contours of my cheekbones.
My morning coffee will never again just be caffeine and warmth,
but a complex metaphor for love-("being burnt by what you also cannot live without").
Now, I only know what my soul looks like
after it has been typed into pretentious metaphors
and ever since that shivering Thursday afternoon I first picked up a pen-
I look at the whiteboard and cannot absorb the continuing inadequacies of various white men because the stanzas are scattered too thickly across my vision.
But I have adjusted.
I accept that every chemical reaction my brain sets off will have words, a story, line breaks, and lonely Friday nights spent editing my soul into prettier pieces
Working on poems and homework will forever struggle against each other on my priority list
And there is simply no denying the fact that behind everything is words and in front and after there are letters and when glancing sideways and upside down you will find quotes and little sayings and poems,
but it is all perfectly fine.
I will breath in each linguistically-caused tragedy with grace and gentleness
because words are the only way I feel at home in this madly spinning world.
I have never felt cozier snuggled with any human or bed than when I am nestled in the dips and dots and curves of language.
"So," you ask, "what seems to be the downside?"
well, dear reader;
if we are being honest poems aren't real therapists.
and they lend themselves well to madness and isolation
But I cannot bring myself to care...
If words were alcohol I would be that horrible mother they whisper about at the PTA meetings who comes home after work and chugs biccardi on the couch, ignoring her children as she runs around the house screaming and throwing things descending into a state of such lovely and intoxicating madness that she cannot resist another page, another pen, another shot.
If words were meth instead of meth sores I have little holes all over my organs where I have drilled down as deeply as possible, hunting for even the smallest hint of feeling just so I can lovingly string letters together like pearls and polish them until they shine with the brilliant lights of tragedy and love and hate and sadness and nostalgia and anger and lust and frustration-
all of these chemicals we fuel our pens with
because numbness is not an option.
I engage in this substance abuse because I am bloated with so much longing, filled with a desperate ache for all the beautiful things I have not yet experienced,
for those brightly lit 2ams and screaming laughter and being drunk and high and kissing and yelling and the because in this moment we are young and alive and breathing and crossing lines and who gives a shit about anything else?
I write in half-crazed scribbles, wondering,
"Maybe writing about friends and laughter at 1 in the morning as I am surrounded by only netflix and tumblr will make me feel better?"
I am always wrong.
It only makes it worse.
My words are glorious escape and icy blades of stark reality.
Clarity and obfuscation.
Pancreas-cracking pain and model-tall joy.
So if words cause me to ache, beat the world into pieces, sob, and ignore my responsibilities,
why am I so goddamn in love with them?
Because my words are mad
but people are too-
so one cannot look down their poorly-described noses at poems and smugly snort that it "doesn't make any sense"
as if they have brilliantly solved and debunked an art form.
They would be quite wrong.
The words are just a reaction and reflection of the world their letters were conceived in-
and so this fevered world and the expression of its insanity are inextricably linked.
(at least for poets).
the difference between poems and people is that humans are
in addition to the insanity,
horribly unreliable and capricious creatures.
They never stay.
They never stay
But metaphors will always be there to cuddle me in their warm arms on lonely weekend nights
Why writing? you ask?
Because when everyone is gone, annoyed, asleep, or dead and the whole earth has been blown apart;
every city destroyed and great moment reduced to nothingness,
I can still trace poems in the ashes.
Why are you crying? You demand, hatred spurting from your eyeballs
stop being so ridiculous
You know what?
Im crying because every damn drop of saltwater is every word I cannot say
I sob when I finally get to my room,
curled up on the bathroom floor because leaking out of my eyeballs is every goddamn sentence I held inside while we were fighting-
All I keep iron lipped locked up lest I destroy everything with the pure gas fire explosions of all these secrets bouncing around the inside of my concrete skin.
And just for a moment,
I don't want to apologize to anyone about
what chemical reactions are firing off in my twisted brain.
I don't want to "work things out" or "talk it through"
or yell or scream or vent to people because no one knows what to say or do except hugging
but I'm all alone in this dark room, dehydrating myself and curling into a ball small enough to fit in your black Chanel purse,
And I don't want you to wrap your stiff arms around me.
That's when I don't want anything more than just to collapse,
to slide into pieces and fold them all on top of each other until I can absorb into something simpler,
something that doesn't have heavy feet sentencing her to a lifetime of traveling these warped roads-
or maybe someone who can deal with the world without turning all of it into a poem?
Some beautiful, skinny girl who doesn't have to fake forgiveness for rides to practice and isn't forced to worry about crossing lines and homework or turn signals or disappointing adults and landing standing tucks and being sharp at football games or homecoming dates and not pissing off my stupid "friends"-
Along with all the other everyday irrelevance that won't mean anything in 25 years.
What do I even care, anyway?
Does anyone actually care?
Isn't it all just bullshit?
But as my phone rings and rings unanswered and my doorbell stays silent
I must come to the conclusion that I am just another human being having the same damn emotions as everyone else and that, in fact,
My friends don't want to hear once again about that fight my mom and I have been waging on and off for about 3 years and how it literally drains my will to live and worms holes in my mental health.
I must not be that girl who pities herself-
the one who lets her watery-gray sadness spill over the sides and splash into other people's laps, bringing down lighthearted conversations on the quad about homecoming dresses
For God's sake, Gabrielle
keep your shit to yourself.
Splash your face with water, spray a little febreze, fetch your plastic bags and fake smiles.
No one likes a bad smell.
Society made me.
Society made me who I am.
They made me do it.
I did as they told me to do.
Was I busty enough?
Was I sexy enough?
I had to show them how it's done.
I had to be worthless
to be worth someone's time.
I had to do all of those things
so they would like me.
But they didn't,
they never did.
They are ripping my clothes off,
trying to take what is left of me.
There's so little left.
I barely see it anymore.
No rays of light,
It's worse when they aren't here.
When I look in the mirror,
I'm not there.
I don't think I'm here either.
I seek temporary comfort,
cold and lifeless.
Oh you don't want to know.
I should get help,
but there's no reason to anymore.
I don't need help.
I am awake in this nightmare,
and nothing will get me out.
It is my burden to carry with me.
I'll be loved,
just not now.
I want to feel beautiful.
I don't want to be another object.
I want to break my walls that I am trapped in.
I just can't.
I'm not strong enough.
I let it all come down upon me.
I have no anchor.
Society made me.
Society made me who I am.
Shouldn't we all be studying?
dedicated to M M Jones from Montana,
where I guess big skies make people think
about big questions and young poets thrive.
the butterflies of child-awakening
to the certainty
that school and
shame and embarrassment
were only minutes away,
is as fresh as
the flowers my love
buys every Friday,
fifty plus year later.
I would awake,
climb into bed with my mother,
telling her I did not feel well,
stomach felt gray.
I could not tell her that
the mocking I received by
my richer classmates at the
multiple lines in the fabric
of my corduroy pants
where she let my pants down
made me cannon fodder
for what we call now
I could not tell her
of the heartbreak
when somehow the parents
of my supposed suburban friends
pick me up for the weekly swim,
leaving me to watch
the sunset fall as I sat
on the stoop of our old house,
tucked away in an out of the way,
the shame still wet.
I could not tell her
of how two bothers tortured me
as I sat in the back seat
of their station wagon,
on me like curses.
Their older brother died of cancer
when that was still unusual,
and the mother wrote
a beautiful book
about his life.
I still hate them, those two,
fifty years later and it gives me
unusually great pleasure to
announce it to the world.
So I studied.
Not my schoolbooks,
but lovely and junky literature.
Friday afternoons, three children,
me the baby brother,
(anonymous, for they nicknamed me
brother as if I was nothing but
checked off category)
to the library went.
Five, five was the max
they the austere librarians
and their coda of holy silence,
would let me withdraw.
(god I can see my library card still).
By Friday night,
I had finished one or two,
ruining my eyes in
the lousy lamp light
in the living room,
falling asleep on the couch.
this, reading addiction,
which afflicted the entire family,
I did well into my teens.
I have stopped reading
which amazes the very few
who know and care.
do let us re-pose,
let us repose,
Shouldn't we all be studying?
the answer of course is
yes and no.
my studying blue period
is long since ended.
now, my biographer,
will call this my red period.
for red are the memories that my remembrances
come back to me.
crystal is the clarity
of the indignities
I recall, though red,
is the anger
at the shame and
abuse I took.
now I can write what I have always held in my heart.
those two awful brothers,
who loved to torture me,
I was glad their
wonderful brother died.
so this is my red writing period,
when the studying of a kind,
has long since ended
but the smell,
the memory of
fresh textbooks still can
make me nauseous.
Yet, I still study life around me,
as I clean countertops,
walk deserted beach isles
in early September...
is the product of years
of studying the inside out
of me, and turning that study
fruitful into poetry.
why am I writing this at 2:00 am on a Sunday morning?
I did not pose the question.
but it posed me,
and the dialogue in my mind came
sugarcane fresh and tumbling out
and will be both
recorded and recoded
("in the truth will out eventually" file)
after a fashion.
these days I sometimes study
my older poems,
whose titles I recognize,
but whose content
I cannot recall.
so double digit delight
meet again old words,
wondrous and trite,
that make believe
that all my studying
somehow paid off after all.
i don't love what i can see only what
is good out of the corner of my eye because
what is loved is usually imperfect so i hide
myself behind my eyes and the dreams
that come are beautiful i don't know
when it happened that beauty was so blinding
that i had to turn away read in to that
you'll find a sexual avoidant personality
and that's what the twelve step group calls
it but what do those people know anyway?
they on the other hand, i can look at them
all day without blinking and i try but the
meetings only last an hour. their afflictions
are the same as mine i can read them and all
the grief horror of their pasts i can collec
t the lines in their bodies i can absorb the superficial
horror stories, nobody reveals true horror voluntarily
except anonymously sometimes
but still reading in to it you want know why
it hasn't killed them yet they say there's no room
for love without forgiveness without a mighty
god i want to know if this is true all of these years
of surfing what's in front of me is all i can see
i guess these lines of imposed judgment connections
of guilty tied in knots
they pull me along and hope to find a sturdy branch on main street