Welcome to the world, baby girl.
I can tell by how you’re wiggling your tiny fingers
that you won’t be able to keep them still in the future
no matter how hard you try.
A painter, a writer, perhaps?
I can tell by your big blue eyes
that you will be breaking hearts left and right
because those eyes are so deep
that all the boys will be so lost in them
that they won’t realize there is no way out until it’s too late.
You are giggling and smiling already.
You’re a happy one, aren’t you?
Mommy’s comforting arms around you will only go so far, my darling.
You’re going to have to find your own, and find ‘em quick
because your pretty little smile tells me
that you aren’t prepared to find out how ugly the world is.
Your pretty little hands
do not know the harm they will be capable of doing.
Your pretty little heart
doesn’t know how many times it will be broken.
Your pretty little mind
doesn’t know how far it will be from the breaking point.
And your pretty little lungs
don’t know that they will stop breathing by your 18th birthday.
At some point in there life
Whether it be debts or divorce or the loss of a loved one
I mean its normal
For people to struggle with life choices
And everything it throws at you in between.
But some people
Are plagued with struggles
A struggle to get up in the morning
To get dressed
To not harm oneself
To go out and do everyday things
To get on public transport
Its a struggle to carry on
But the people you call crazy
Or attention seeking
Are normal people
I myself am one
And we are the strongest
Together we can conquer anything
Make us stronger
And give us hope
For a better future.
If you managed to wake up in the morning, I'm proud of you.
If you managed to survive another day without crying,
or even self inflicting harm,
I'm still proud of you.
But remember, even if you just existed today,
I'm proud of you.
Because existing is all we can do, so be proud.
do you remember how we met, when the air tasted like the sea and you were heading where you swore to never return for the love you could not have, but made you choose the choices you made, then with the leakage which tasted of the ocean only wishing you were seventy not seventeen or fourteen or -teen— that at the second we never touched, the greeting we never exchanged, the lives we could not save flowed all behind the day we did not happen— but hey i know your story as if inked under my skin where your sun does not fade and your sky does no harm and the sea no more than the sea— us on different frequencies of never ending rain- behind our eyelids i saw you in all the times you existed without me— you are not alone you who did not want to be remembered but wanted only to live; we never crossed- never crossed but i found your heart in the way it tried to beat- to beat through the chaos and the voices and the shadows that were not yours, i also know of the sorry you repeatedly whispered inside and whispered out loud- then you were gone— your story your heart i found them inside my veins in all my air and bones- oh i know of the bones and even the shadows, those with no masters— i discovered you who i did not meet- and for having remembered those memories that are not mine, for having recalled you your story your pain: i am sorry
The three of us,
Driving in your car
Passing yellow lines
Underneath yellow stars
I’m your passenger
Dancing with my seatbelt on
Sailing down the streets of fire
We’re dangerous, but do no harm
The three of us,
Passing green back and forth
On the verge of losing innocence
With the compass reading north
A Self Portrait
I Stayed Honest
“I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings.”
-George R.R. Martin
I’m the explosion and throwing things when I fight with my mom about money or what is or is not appropriate to bring up in front of her parents.
“You’re not the only who misses him!” Screaming was the only way to get through to my mother when my dad was deployed. It was like she entered this other world that was nearly impossible to pierce, even by the people who needed her most—her three children. She was a strong woman when she left the house, but being in her living room without her best friend, sleeping every night without her husband, it took a toll on her as a human. When my dad was gone there was no music allowed in the house, because it made her cry; same with movies and TV, even board games. Joy of that nature had to be hidden away in our bedrooms. Having friends over was almost always out of the question. That held true even when my dad was home, because he finally was, it was ridiculous to want to interrupt the little time we had with him. I remember distinctly a night toward the end of my freshman year of high school. My mother, two sisters and I were sitting in the living room talking. As it often did, the conversation turned to my dad. Mom’s eyes started getting watery; she talked about how difficult things were with him being gone, and with money being tight because of the move and the new house and school uniforms and supplies and Amber starting college. I’m still not sure why I was so upset by it, her concerns were legitimate. Maybe I was angry that she was telling us this in the first place. I was fifteen, I wanted to worry about military ball and boys and school, not having to eat stir fry and beans and rice for the next seven months because it was the only thing we could afford. I didn’t want to consider the hours Amber worked at Johnny’s or the pizzas she purposely messed up so she could take them home to feed us. I threw down the pillow I’d been clutching and yelled viciously through my sobs the only thing that made sense at the time, “Would you just shut up?! You’re not the only one that misses him you know!” I didn’t take the time to look at their faces, I just went to my room, locked the door, and laid face down in my bed to cry. She came by later, knocked, but let herself in with a barbecue skewer. I think she apologized the way a parent always does when a child lashes out wrongly, but with understandable or even pitiable emotion.
A few years ago I realized my sexuality was not what my parents considered normal. I never really told them, figured I’d just leave it be until I started a serious relationship with a girl. Then, a few weeks ago, I was telling my mom a story about how my (female) best friend and I pretend to be dating to ward off annoyingly persistent boys.
My mother warned me, “You should be careful Emily; people are going to think wrongly of you.”
I was taken aback, “Mom, you know I don’t care what people think about me right? And… what’s wrong with dating a girl?”
She sighed. She knows I’m a huge advocate for equal rights, “Not everyone is as liberal as you are Emily. People aren’t always kind and accepting. I’d hate for them to think you were something you’re not and do something.”
I wanted to lose my mind. “Mom… you know I’m not straight right?” The silence on the other end was deafening.
She said something about her phone beeping and not hearing what I had said. I repeated myself. “You know I’m not straight right?”
“What are you then?” She asked, confused. I’d been with guys all through high school.
“Well, I identify mostly with pansexuality. It means I’m gender blind, I experience attraction based on looks, intelligence, whether a person makes me laugh or not as opposed to being limited to one gender.”
“So you’re bi?” She asked.
I recited my well rehearsed explanation. “No. I’m pan. Bi means two, pan means all. There are more than two genders.”
My dad said something in the background and my mother responded, “Oh just the fact that your daughter likes boys and girls.”
I remember putting my head in my hands at this point, just silently waiting for her to say something to me so I could end the conversation.
“Emily, could you just not bring this up ever again, especially in front of my parents?”
I’m the falling for someone who seems to want me too, when I’m already committed to another.
The distance between the Francis townhouses and the rest of campus may not seem like much, but combined with the distance between a second year undergrad and a graduate student, a long distance relationship of sorts is created. Said grad student may be absolutely perfect in every way you’ve thought of, but if he cannot grant you the attention during the week that a new relationship requires, you start to feel like a booty call. Before you clarify your exclusivity, you flirt like mad with the people who can grant you the attention you seek, because what’s the harm? But, even after you clarify if, you flirt like mad with those around you because, how will he ever find out and it’s not like you’re actually doing anything? You’re just trying to get the attention you require as a needy human being, that’s not a sin. But… another person comes along and they’re wonderful. They’re just as fantastic and understanding as the grad student, except they’re a senior and their townhouse is open to you during the week and the attention they give you is innocent but overflowing. What more could you want? When you start falling for the senior… what can you say to the grad student? Then, when the attention from the senior grows less innocent and you think less and less of the grad student when the senior is looking at you from across the table or helping you with your poetry, you realize you and the grad student were doomed from the start. Are you a terrible person? You tell your roommate you are every single week night you come home from “harmless” cuddling with the senior and every single weekend morning you come home from snogging the grad student. She tells you you’re just human.
I’m the two ales, three shots and half a bottle of wine later, declaring my love and sobbing about my past into a shoulder.
This past midterm break was the most story-book-like episode I’ve ever lived. I had met someone almost exactly a month before. Everything about him was perfect. We got along so freakishly well and were compatible in every way we had had time to discover. He was fiercely passionate and book smart, he cared about what I had to say. He was everything I’d been looking for in a companion. All his housemates were leaving for break, but he and I were staying. We spent the weekend in a hundred cliché romantic ways. We walked the river trail holding hands and talking about our lives, sat on benches cuddling and listening to the wind and the ducks. We stayed up all night watching movies and kissing. We also did a lot of not so cliché, but romantic things like eating pizza and watching cartoons naked. We ordered AJ’s and ate while drinking ales then finished the last few shots of someone’s liquor and then, because I had mentioned never having it before, he let me drink nearly an entire bottle of wine. We ended up on his couch, cuddling, but then I started talking. The alcohol had stolen my ability to shut up. I kept going on about my freshman year here at Bonas, about how terrible it was, how depressed I was, how many times I tried to off myself, and how I have a history of self harm. I started sobbing, he cried too, shared his secrets. Then I told him not to worry because he was loved, he said, “I love you too.” I had only meant it in a way like, God loves you, your parents, your friends, but I went with it. Why not?
I’m the stillness of not knowing what to do next.
This past weekend was the strangest I’ve ever lived. A boy at school, in my year, went missing Saturday morning after midnight. Found dead Sunday evening. The explosions death drops in our world have never landed so close to me before. I feel shell shocked. I wrote about it. I want to keep writing about it, but I feel like I’m not allowed to, like it isn’t my place. I don’t know. I’m sick with what I can only guess is grief, but it feels more like a poisonous concoction of many painful things locked in my intestines. I’m heavy with the news of him. I feel like I’m going to sink away at any minute. Everything feels like needles in the wound. The snow and the cold (loved parts of this time of year) make me wonder why he didn’t wear more than a sweatshirt, but how do I know if it would have mattered? I was out that night, well morning, Saturday, before two a.m. I was on the exact opposite side of campus though. We were walking to Walmart; I was beyond drunk and so elated. We rolled down the hill with the ST. BONAVENTURE bushes, got ourselves covered in mud. We sat at the bottom and laughed and laughed. We walked and discussed sex and books and plans for when we got back to campus within the hour. …He never made it back. And I wonder if he had plans. I wonder if his girlfriend had stayed in that night, if she was waiting for his return so they could screw, or cuddle, I didn’t know him, at least not well enough to know that. I wonder if he liked the cold and that’s why he was in a place where people couldn’t see him. The snow didn’t start until much later so others returning from parties would have seen if he was closer. Or maybe they did, maybe they thought nothing of a passed out drunk guy, isn’t that a normal thing in college? Maybe their veins were tricked warm from their strong drinks and they couldn’t imagine he was cold, they didn’t feel it, and there wasn’t even snow on the ground. Not yet. Maybe they thought it would be funny if he woke up outside. Or maybe the rumors are true. Maybe there was a fight earlier that night. Maybe he wasn’t even that drunk. Maybe some boy-men, foolishly angry, were trying to prove their false superiority. Maybe they didn’t know they’d hurt him so bad and that someone else would come along to help him. How can we ever know? I see nothing when I close my eyes except his. Looking, but not alive, his lids frozen open, his lips slightly parted, the cold paling his skin, fashioning him to look more ghost than human. I suffer in the fear that he died knowing he was going to, knowing he was alone. How afraid he must have been. How could he have known what was coming next? How can we go on living knowing his life was meaninglessly extinguished? He was undeserving of an end so lonely. I’m haunted by the image of him being trapped in that loneliness forever. I’m haunted by his face, he always seemed so happy, but don’t the dead always seem more shiny in our memories? Will he be remembered fairly or only as a good who died young? And the guilt of feeling that hurts me, eats at me, but the doubts are trying to kill me. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to feel about this? I hardly knew him, am I allowed to feel so blindsided? Is this allowed to send me into the tailspin I feel I’m already lost in? If I fall back into the bad habits because of the weight of what’s in my head will anyone understand or will they shame me for “wanting attention?” If I cry often, because I will think of this often, will anyone be there to comfort me? Is it selfish to ask for these things? Is it wrong to have partied Friday and Saturday because I didn’t know Sunday would pack such a punch? Is it valid to be distraught by the death of someone less than even an acquaintance? It’s just that… he was nineteen.
Assignment: Six page self portrait.
The night grandma passed away
She closed her eyes of blue
I couldn't find any other eyes
That matched that beautiful hue
They were her favorite color
Like the color of the sky
Everything in her life was that blue
I always wondered why
I hadn't seen it since she passed
In anyone but her
I figured as soon as I found that shade
I wouldn't deter
I thought I found it in an angel
I met the night she passed
But she didn't send him, I know because
Him and I didn't last
My grandma only wanted
The best for her granddaughter
Even though her memories
Had been eaten by Alzheimer
Today I think I found that shade
Again in someone here
He has the same color eyes she had
He never gave me fear
I wonder if she sent me another angel
Who will take care of me
Better than the last one did
But I didn't know what he could be
Is he here to teach me a lesson
From below and not above
Or is he here to take care of me
Through those blue eyes, I'm his love
Grandma, who is this?
Can I trust the boy you sent?
Am I gonna be safe or put in harm?
Grandma, is he a gent?
Send me a sign that he is good
And this angel is nice too
You've seen my sadness and scoured heaven
Is he a gift from you?
Just hanging around stuck in the background where Echo and the Bunnymen sing sad songs,they're not funny men and I'm not one too.
Going to take my Queen and fulfill a dream,dine in style at Mile End,wend my way down to Nandos,pay for chicken,sticking less to the plan because I'm only a man I travel to Hackney where the wild men of Shoreditch come out to attack me with rolled up newspapers,their capers amuse me until I blink twice, and I see, that my Queens seen it all and goes off in a huff,
Puffs of smoke are no joke when you're born as a bloke because the magic don't last,blast it nearly passed it,the turn off for middle age,junction twenty six on the revolving glass mirrored stage,but I made it and now I'm back in the sun waiting for my Queen to come,my apology accepted along with the promise of a day trip to Poundland,stand and deliver while we shiver our timbers and limber up for the party on interstate four,
sore from the laughter we take a bath shortly after because we like to stay clean,my Queen thinks I'm dirty and men go that way after thirty but I'm not so sure.
I have pure intentions and clean underwear,does she care? I think so but it's so hard to know what she's thinking,she tastes of melons when I'm drinking her in.
In this flotilla where the will of the one doesn't win,we all stick together, whether it's a good thing or not,
but I've got a plan and because I'm only a man it's a good one and so I carry on and she carries me,I meet her mum and she marries me..sounding obscene,I mean I married my Queen,not her mum.
It's all in the spaghetti which I'm sure that SHY YETI'S BEST OF BRITISH - PART 1 doesn't cover,so it won't keep me warm but no harm in me looking through this facebook and cooking a dish,should I wish, for some it's back to interstate four,where the cops will be waiting with a ticket to the potteries and a fine for the finder of the stopped timex watch winder.
where was I
in Mile end?
going to spend but stay lean as I talk with my Queen,
and so it goes on.
We live near the boulevard,
Open a window and it is not hard
Do you believe?
Each year for the last four or five,
Some men and women in trucks drive,
By our house,
Do you believe?
They now have forty or fifty or a hundred all lit in color,
Police escort, HONK their horns and drive my dog bonkers,
If you wave they do too,
Do you believe?
Each truck has strings of lights to delight the roadside few,
Maybe out past curfew or stamping their frozen feet too,
Reindeer and inflatable penguins on a skidoo,
but do you believe?
That human kindess and good cheer should only show up once the decorations are complete?
That what is generous now, will last till summer,
somehow, that thought should warm some feet?
Or like festivals, celebrations or such things seasonal are best kept to one time per year, call it Christmas fiscal responsibility...
Maybe you don't believe in anything at all?
Do you believe in love thy neighbor as thy self?
Or do you believe in a story about an ageless elf?
Do you believe?
in each, one
of you, can do
more good than harm,
it is true, if it is one mite
only, as that is all you have,
may it be multiplied by those
who see what you do and they
want to give, contribute and share too.
This is half a tree, my poem is sadly
incomplete, for that night
we all wait for and
the end of
there once was a pyromaniac
he lit himself on fire
he should have panicked
but everything was just brighter
he lived from day to day
yearning to add to the pyre
he knew it to be easy
with a touch it would spread wildfire
but he was no devil
he could control his desire
so he lived in agony
even when his need grew dire
he'd never intrude unwelcome
almost like a vampire
but he was far too kind and reticent
to trap a victim whom he would squire
he scared them all away
with apathy and satire
he was too familiar with the anguish
his fire would inspire
he wanted to protect the beautiful souls
from the harm of its ire
he let his fire burn him to the ground
leaving nothing to quench the inquire
he watched as his fire ashed
his wings and invisibly divine attire
he let it consume him
there once was a pyromaniac
he lit himself on fire
he was resolutely resilient
he drove himself to the pyre
but in his final breath
he heard no lyre
he was a fool
that no one could admire
there once was a pyromaniac
he lit himself on fire
i would have held his hand
together nothing could conquer us, not the world, not a fire