Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
daniela Nov 2017
latin poet catullus was often called too personal by contemporaries,
he didn’t write about gods and monsters or heroes or epics,
he wrote about himself and that was terrifying.

catullus wore his heart on his sleeve
and his heart was ugly sometimes, this beating, ****** thing
that would never shut up,
chattering between the line breaks and skirting around the meter.

the opening line to his poem carminae XVI was
“pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo”
which translates pretty literally to
“i will ******* you and face-*******”  
my latin teacher called him “incredibly ******”
i call him “the realest ******* to ever live”  
catullus was the first person to ever write
an open letter to his senatores,
julius caesar burned at the stake of carminae LIV and LVII.
catullus wrote about his boyfriends and his married girlfriend lesbia,
who incidentally was not his beard
or one of sappho’s lovers.
catullus buried his brother in the shrine of carminae CI,
left offerings of wine and bread and coins over his closed eyes.
catullus always made the ugly sound beautiful, eloquent.
you could taste the blood in his mouth,
the pearls and gravel between his teeth.
when i translate his work, he’s the only classic poet
who feels like he’s still alive, laughing at me from his grave
and writing invective epigrams about my grammatical errors.  

catullus was a little bit of an *******, but maybe so i am sometimes,
and catullus was a honest *******.
that’s more than i can say, some days.
he never shied away from himself, not even
from all the ****** parts that are hard to make quiet.
he always wrote about himself because
he understood what ovid and vergil and horace were still learning:
you can’t write about anything if you can’t write about yourself,
if you can’t look at yourself in the mirror
and call your demons by their names.
catullus XVI is the world's ultimate diss track, if you don't know now you know
daniela Nov 2017
1.  i get nervous sometimes,
i get a little too nervous sometimes,
and i don’t know how to explain that sometimes
my anxiety is like the third person in bed with me,
tugging on my sleeves, stepping on my heels;
i can’t outrun it.
i wish you didn’t know me while i was anxious,
it makes the way you look at me, the way i feel next to you,
different. i don’t like that.

2. i didn't think we were going to be friends.
it was like 0 to 100, you know?
i used to never talk to you
because i hated the way your eyes would wander off
and next thing i knew
you were leaning in next to me, whispering
your thoughts over the movie
and talking until 4 AM.
everything else is sorted into before and after.

3. after,
i knew we were still going to be okay
because you talked in that voice you only use
when you're uncomfortable with talking
about serious things -- you know
the one where your voice goes high and reedy
like it's trying to climb right out your throat --
and made me promise to text you
if i needed something.

4. i like when we argue our other friends
about what is and isn't white people *******.
i've always been a little ethnic dot in a sea of white faces
and it could be so ******* lonely
and i like having an ally around.
i like having you around.

5. you’re the first person i’ve ever kissed completely sober.
daniela Oct 2017
as i tried not to yell at you
because i get paid about $8.25 an hour not to,
i thought about what i might say to you if i was off the clock.

first, i’d like to assume that if i met you in person,
you’d be the kind of racist who has a confederate flag
on the back his pick-up truck
and reposts ******* of facebook
with stars and stripes and “build the wall” in comic ******* sans.
but, then again, you might be the kind of racist who will smile
with your shark teeth and shake my father’s hand.
tell us we’re not like those latinos
like it’s supposed to be a compliment,
like being the model minority gives us some sort of ******* priority,
some of protection in a country that’s turning on people just like us.
i will assume you’ve never been homeless,
never been unsure where the **** home is.
i will assume that you wouldn’t bat an eyelash if we uprooted you
and sent you back to whatever european country
your ancestors hailed from.
after all, this country isn’t for immigrants, is it?
i’ll assume never worried about feeding your children
or keeping them safe everytime they stepped outside,
never been in a country trying to burn itself alive,
never been somewhere the only options were drowning
or jumping ship.
if you had, i don’t think you’d hit me with this *******.
and i’m so ******* tired of trying to find a better metaphor
to make someone understand
that people do not leave home without a reason
and i don’t know what to say to make some ******* donor
understand that people don’t leave their home behind,
houses unboarded and rotting into ****** shores,
unless home is crumbling under their heels.
people don’t leave home unless they’re afraid
that someday soon there will be nothing to come back to.
people don’t leave home unless they’re running
from something much, much more hateful
than you.
love my job!!! also love that i'm angry enough at least every month to write a poem about this topic!!!!!
daniela Oct 2017
“pero no amo tus pies
sino porque anduvieron
sobre la tierra y sobre
el viento yo sobre el agua,
hasta que me encontraron”
-- pablo neruda, your feet

baby, you have the most perfect body i have ever seen.
and when i say that you always roll your eyes at me,
embarrassed. and i get it,
women are only taught to feel beautiful in certain ways,
in ways to that fit women like you and me badly,
like hand-me-downs or things shrunken in the laundry.

the world does not teach us how to think
of ourselves as anything other than commodities,
things to be bought and eaten alive.
i spent so long reading stories riddled with
mocha, butterscotch, toffee, cinnamon, olives
that sometimes i look at myself in the mirror like i am something
to devoured and spit back out.

but, baby, i love you even when you don’t feel right in your skin,
like i know the way i don’t feel at home in my own.
and i love the way your heart keeps time to mine,
erratic and anxious,
and the way your eyelashes like to tangle in the corner of your eyes.
and i love those hands, ****, i love those hands
and the covinhas, the craters, the dimples in your cheeks.
i love you down your molecules.

see, i had a friend once tell me that she believed in reincarnation
simply because this universe isn’t as infinite as it seems
and eventually we’re bound to run out of matter
and the universe will be forced to start recycling --
a conservation of souls.
and i don’t know if i believe that, but if it’s true i have this feeling
that in the very beginning, we were two atoms
tangled up in each other, holding on too tightly to ever really let go
and ever since i just keep finding my way back to you.
and that’s *******, probably, i’m not a scientist,
but if you hate yourself right now, it’s okay.
i think we all do sometimes.
i still love every inch of you, even the centimeters
that don’t get that much attention
like the soft spot under your ear or the backs your knees  
and a body is just a body,
just remember that all we are is molecules, follicles,
and every fews weeks we’re brand new again,
we’ve got new skin and maybe it won’t fit right this time either
but, ****, i love the wrinkles and the scars and the words emblazoned
on the fragile skin stretched over your ribcage
and you can’t see it,
but there’s something misshapen etched in ink
with a stick’n’poke there, too.
i can only find it when i’m looking.
i run my hand down your side
feeling all the echoes of other people on your skin.
i worry that my hands are much louder than i want them to be.
i worry someday your feet your carry you somewhere far, far away from me
and i’ll be left memorizing nothing
but the shape of you.
i read a pablo neruda poem today and cried and then i wrote this
daniela Sep 2017
i’m back home for the weekend
and you’re in my basement like always
because, you and me, we’re creatures of habit
before anything else and my feet are thrown over the armrest,
spilling into your lap, and the episode that’s on
is one we’ve already seen
and i keep thinking about how it’s such ******* that we lived
fifteen collective years without knowing each other,
all this wasted time,
and i want to turn to you
and say, “man, i don’t know who’s ever going to love me
like you do,”
but i don’t because that would be too much,
that would be too much, and i don’t want things for us
to be too much.
god, it’d be so easy, though.
so ******* easy.
we have a scary big threshold for what’s “too much” for us
which makes me want things that i know i shouldn’t sometimes.
instead, i run my fingers through your hair
and start asking questions.
stupid **** about your day and your life when i’m not there.
i just like hearing you talk, i like hearing you talk.
i like the way you laugh at my jokes, even the ****** ones.
you always laughed more with me than you ever did with her,
i never understood why you only saw that in retrospect.
man, i imagine us dancing, reeling, singing like,
look at me, oh look at me,
is this the way i’ll always be? oh no, oh no!
and you’d say something like, “well, i like the way you are,”
because of course you would
and i’d do something dumb like tell you that
you’re the only person i ever really end up missing
and how it’s ******* hard to not love someone
when you know someone like i know you.
i’m not sure you’d want to hear that.
we always joke we know each other too well.
the shape of your hands,
the press of your mouth, sloppy and drunk and 3 AM,
the way you laugh and tell me i’m your favorite person.
i like the way you never make me feel lonely.
i like the way you make the unlovable **** about me feel quiet.
is that love?
you make my insides feel like the fourth of july, is that love?
****. you make me feel something, is that love?
but what do i know about love, anyways?
i've never even kissed anyone
shouts out to the reeling by passion pit. what a song.
daniela Sep 2017
my poetry professor always preaches that brevity,
that specificity, is the hallmark of good writing.
this always feels like a slight to the inside of my head,
chaotic and chattering.
i wonder if he’s ever been to a poetry slam
and seen a sixteen year old try to fit their whole heart into three minutes.
i wonder if he’s ever written five straight pages free verse
and wondered at which branch of trauma to cut out
to fit the word count.
i wonder if he’s even been a thousand people at once,
crawling into stanzas from russian nesting dolls.

see, at concerts, i always have trouble deciding if i want take a video
or just let the night crystalize in my memory;
see, the problem is i'm liable to forget my heartbeat
if i don’t write it down in detail.
that’s my nature,
i am too much or too little
i am bad at letting things go.
i am bad at leaving things behind.
this is my biggest failing as a storyteller.
in revision, you always have to leave something out.
but when you cut the story in half, you muddle the meaning.
so i don’t tell stories,
i read eulogies. histories. anthologies.
i am not a storyteller, i’m a record keeper
and this is not dead poets society,
this a society of poets who wanted to die but didn’t.
i am always trying to explain
the inside of my head to other people who don’t think
in colors and disjointed poetry
and i am always falling short.
hey kids, long time, no poetry! i've been writing a fair bit but here's just a little something for now
daniela Apr 2017
dear five year old daniela,
with matilda bangs and a crooked smile,
you are caught somewhere between precious and precocious.
you chatter endlessly or you’re silent like a closed mouth
and you always feel like too much.
and i’m sorry, baby, but you don’t quite grow out of this.
see, even now, my mother calls me intimidating,
tells me all the boys are afraid of me.
you will spend far too long thinking that people don’t love you
because you don’t make it easy enough to,
don’t sand yourself down to fit into them.
there is not always a correlation between input and output,
you can give someone everything
and they can take it all and give nothing back.
you can give something your all and still come up short, with nothing.
you are complicated, and you are difficult,
and you don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault anymore.
someday, the things about you that never seem to fit
will be the parts of yourself that you’re proudest of.
and i know it doesn’t feel like it now,
but you will grow up to stop crying,
to live your life as a clogged faucet, and you will grow to scoff
at the things that once made you so afraid
like the monsters under your bed were always just dust bunnies.
you will learn that crying is not weakness
and i’m sorry is not it’s okay
and letting go is not always giving up.
you will learn crying only means that you’re breathing, gasping for air
but now you are still young enough to think that your father never cries,
that he is the sole proprietor of storytime
and the architect of space ships, infallible.
you’ll be forced to learn better that, live to see the people in your life
who have always seemed rock solid begin to crack and quake.
baby, you will, too.  
and when your mother tells you that sometimes,
in times like these, it’s better to pretend to not be latino if you can,
to disappear and hide like you’re ashamed of something.
do not get angry at her. you love her.
but there are some things that she will never understand about you,
like how taking who you are off is never a real option.
accept that. it is what it is.
do not pack away your heritage into your closest
at the first sign of the thunderstorm,
your father raised you proud, even when it hurts,
even when it’s pouring.
you don’t know this now,
but from stonewall to seneca falls to the streets of rio de janeiro,
you hail from warriors.
you are made of steel and cyanide, of diamonds and satin.
there is nothing in the world that’s stronger than your own two hands.
and you will learn that some people will only love you
when you are half of yourself.
don’t cut yourself into pieces for them even when it feels like
that is only way you’ll ever fit into anyone else.
so if sometimes you wanna be the princess in the tower
and sometimes you wanna be the hero saving her,
that’s okay. that doesn’t change.
when you’re my age, you’ll find people whose hearts beat like yours.
know what you believe in, but keep an open mind.
learn how to argue and learn how to listen.
remember it’s important to fight the good fight, even when you lose.
especially when you lose.
and you’re gonna lose, a lot. i should tell you that now.
you’re not always gonna right the first time. or the second time.
or the third time.
never forget that the world you live in now is better
than the one you left behind yesterday,
the moment you stop believing that
is the day you stop believing in progress.
your heart will always feel too exposed on your sleeve,
but never be ashamed of that.
empathy will always be a strength, not a weakness.
baby, you’re gonna be fine.
you’re gonna be just fine.
Next page