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22.3k · Apr 2013
On Innocence Already Lost
Em Glass Apr 2013
it wasn't snowing yet, but they'd told us it would.
probably I said something infantile, about how
I could smell it, the frostiness of snowflakes in the
air, because you smiled that knowing smile of yours,
like you were an adult and i was a child and you
didn't have the heart to take my innocence away.

that look always made my heart smile, sadly, and
it also drove me up a wall, partly because it made
me want to hug you close and pity you the
burden of assumed moral superiority, and whisper
that you, too were a child. but mostly because you
were right— I clung to my naiveté while you, you
had already had the good sense to push it away.
it followed you around with sad puppy eyes, but
you knew it and you kept it at arm's length.
you brave, brave soul.

when it did start to snow I wasn't surprised. you
were. you didn't say anything. we were in
a deserted school hallway, listening, removed
from the other kids' cries. we were
delighted too, but the others wanted to run home
early, and we knew the definition
of home better than they. and I can speak only for
myself but it seemed we both wanted only to stay
forever side by side, tucked away in our corner,
me reveling in the softness of love and friendship
and winter, you trying to be there with me but having
trouble leaving your mind, where that sad-eyed
puppy snapped at your heels. it whimpered
but you held your own.

and slowly, we built up moments like this one.
we wallowed in each other and in the coziness
of cloudy days. we read good poetry and
heard good music and took photographs as we
discussed life from our  softer world.
there were moments of such pure white happiness
that they came full circle to being sad,
simply because I knew I would never be that
happy again, and I was not wrong, and I didn't
want to be. and we had
sad moments, too, never ever think I am not
happy to be sad with you.

and slowly, too, your innocence knew its
defeat, and sat obediently at your feet,
and we shared things.
but I was a child, and a weak one at that, and
God knew I was not as strong as you so she
gave me no great suffering to speak of, to
share with you. no way to reciprocate the
vulnerability you gave, and that in
itself was suffering for me.

I regret that I was not good at saying things.
that while
you had to be your own adult and push childhood
away, I clung hopelessly to mine as
I discovered me and watched it slip
from my small hands.

among the plethora of reasons I can give for
bitterly hating sunny days is the
way the sun slanted through the window and lit
up your eyes and swilled particles around
your face like fairy dust on the day you reached
out and pulled my lanyard over your own neck.
look, you said, content. almost proud.
I'm wearing a bit of you around my
and you wove it through your
sunlit fingers, eyes bright. you tugged on it,
lightly. that's what love does, it strangles
you. and we all want it.

and I gasped at the way that word sounded,
so harsh in such beautiful sunlight on such
a soft face. but I don't want to strangle
. I said that. thoughtlessly,
instinctively. I regret it every day. in that regard,
you gave me a strength, but it's no german shepherd—
you are so **** strong.

when your ache tugged and tugged at you,
tore you from reality, or brought you closer to it,
it slipped its finger into that lanyard knot. loosened it.
I could have reached out right then, as you had when you
pulled the sun-soaked string over your head, and
tightened it. tightened us. been a friend.

I didn't tug the knot. if you run.
when you run,
I know that two grown dogs
will follow after you, blocked
from the sun by your receding shadow.
3.8k · Jul 2015
SR-71 blackbird
Em Glass Jul 2015
at three times the speed of sound the SR-71
was so fast it didn’t need to hide, but when
I met you we were slower, metal walls covered
in black reconnaissance paint, sonar silence.

blackbird, shy

sometimes you bit your lower lip, or my
eyes drowned, and we looked down and I cursed
my stubbornly earthbound feet, but blessed
be the stars that crossed for us to meet.

blackbird, cry

under the cozy cover of quietly building-up time
we moved on. when the back of your hand
brushes my face it slowly lifts another brick
of something sturdy into place.
the way your palms get clammy with excitement
when you point out planes coming out and in,
the way your eyes light with joy and nervousness
at my reaction is how I feel when I lean over your shoulder
and point out jupiter in the sky.

blackbird, dry your eyes

the hello was slow, but goodbyes move
faster than sound. we finally found saturn
and then time ran out.
standard procedure for the SR-71
in the event of a missile lock-on
was to continue being
the fastest thing in the sky.

blackbird, fly
I'm into space lately guys
3.7k · Oct 2014
skating hands
Em Glass Oct 2014
One hand on the small of your back

to keep your mind upright 

and your eyes light

as you spill through the door

One hand, on the small of your back,

just the fingertips

propelling you forward on ice

until the blades slice through 
your cowardice.

until the speed you did not acquire

yourself makes you unsure.

Your hand

scraping the floor
3.1k · Sep 2014
pulse enigma
Em Glass Sep 2014
I can’t sleep on my side
because the moment my ear
hits the pillow, my heartbeat
hits my head
and an image hits the backs
of my eyes,
of you talking about lies
and absently stroking your thumb
across your wrist,
feeling for your pulse
like a child searches the skies
for a wish,
reminding yourself that you
are alive.

your heartbeat is the shooting star
and mine is the emptiness it left

I can’t sleep on my side
because existing gives no breaks
and my heartbeat
and your far-off hand
make me so tired that I
stay awake.
3.0k · Apr 2015
Em Glass Apr 2015
I’ve learned that in the morning
light is liquid, flowing golden,
and I’ve learned that in the ocean
every motion turns to fluid,
and fish glide, learn how birds fly,
and their eyes are always open.

I’ve learned that if you stand
in the belfry when the bells ring
you can hear them in your heart
like when she calls you and the phone sings.
And I’ve learned that when you’re hoping,
light is lighter, clearer, brighter
and I’ve heard that you can see it
with eyes open
a space-time continuum
2.6k · Dec 2015
Em Glass Dec 2015
People cross the street
on white ladders.
The squirrel knows
that there is solid road

It hops forward
ready to cut
corners and
on the move and
something light
and moving faster.

Squirrel will pause,
it will not.
People know
where to walk.

Cross over move forward
go on, go on go,
but in light
one should pause,
which squirrels,
of course, know.

In the face
of fast light,
let’s go slow.
2.5k · Jun 2014
puppet show
Em Glass Jun 2014
Let the molecules charge and crack
and rip the world right open
around me.

Let the closet under the stairs
smoke and fry and cook,
let the tangled wires melt
into each other like they'll
never let go,
their flashing shadows
welded arm in arm like a
Pompeii puppet show.

Let the air's discontent
rumble softly and
let the rattling house rock me to

To sleep, perchance to dream—
it is not fear I fear, but the lack of it.
2.4k · Apr 2013
chasing spring
Em Glass Apr 2013
I scare myself with bitterness:
Mersault found within him
an invincible summer in the midst of winter
but I do not want even to pretend
that that is what I am looking for.
I am numb beyond existentialism.
But not numb with cold.

In my youth, my favorite colour was green
because of spring and trees and turtles and frogs
and when the weather turned
and the leaves grew back
I would whittle the time away outside
barefoot, on the grass,
loving the warmth of sun-kissed skin
and the breeze on my dry cheeks.

Today the leaves grow back
and the green resurfaces
and the warmth has the world walking
with an optimistic spring it its step
but today I think that maybe I do not like green
that maybe my favorite colour is orange.
Dark but bright? Or yellow,
because it can be cheer to some
but the moment you place it beside white
suddenly yellow is impurity
and for all the pure innocence of spring,
everything is, is it not, washed over in a
translucent coat of yellow, stifling sunlight.

So I yearn for winter
and for cold
for numb fingers
just before they are thawed by yellow fires
for sweaters and scarves and hot cocoa
for bare trees outlined with snow
and for the world blanketed, from
green grass coated with frost
to yellow sun obliterated by clouds,
by the sparkling snow,
white in all its gloomy glory.
2.3k · Nov 2014
counting sheep
Em Glass Nov 2014
I leave my nails unpainted
and cover them with pulled-down sleeves
and put on my glasses
so I can count all the leaves

because all the nights I couldn’t sleep
your best advice
was either to count
or to pretend
2.2k · Apr 2015
Em Glass Apr 2015
In the beginning there was light
and so much fight to be drunk into
our very bones, not an eye sunk in,
nobody drunk except on finger paint
and what the stars might taste like
when we thought stars were small,
when there wasn’t far to fall,
before the white-tiled kitchen floors
grew too far away for us to notice
the texture of the black mortar
that held them in place like Elmer’s glue.
School is a bright maze of halls
that we walk through hand in hand
and mark our heights against the wall,
unsure whether to fly or to stall and stay close.
Our eyes are level as we hopscotch
round the ankles of women and men;
I think we’re going to be friends.
They weave a Charlotte’s web of pigtails
and bright red balloons, but isn’t it just
true that we feel safe close to ground,
tempted upward by gold and warmth
but torn, for the kitchen floor is close
and nice and cool, and doesn’t burn us
to the touch.
a space-time continuum
2.2k · Apr 2015
Em Glass Apr 2015
We have ventured from the start
and lost sight and broken apart, but
there is a way to live without
hearing heartbeats as ticking clocks
shouting of times past;
we sat side by side through every class
and we’re not done learning. Our
gravestones are jettisoned from the shuttle,
floating there goes gravity but
even shadowed from the sun by so much,
we clutch at moons to make our own light
on our own planet. We
could keep going now,
could stop each other from falling
and keep marking our heights
against the wall even though
they stopped changing long ago
because we didn’t
and instead of accumulating
the weight of years and days
we could find a way to keep getting lighter
the farther we get from the beginning
we are finite
but there went gravity
cause of death: life
a space-time continuum
2.0k · Apr 2015
Em Glass Apr 2015
We are done trying to piece
our hearts back together
with glass and glue each time
they shatter
because there is only so much
blood one can lose
and we are strong enough each
to reach for ourselves again and we
are strong enough to be friends
and to look at the sky and to know
that there is no race to fill up
all that space
a space-time continuum
1.7k · May 2014
man-made rain
Em Glass May 2014
If showers are man-made rain, then
you are a man-made hurricane,
obliterating everything in its path
while people take photographs
and storm-chasing is a sport
that people will die for
and storms are named after people.
1.6k · Mar 2019
Em Glass Mar 2019
In my dreams there are smoke
detectors and crashes and lies.
There is a kiss in an atrium right
before it catches fire. There is placate,
stay straight, evacuate.
Neodymium nitrate always smells
a certain way and always looks
a certain blue. Why does an alarm
go off after I dream I've kissed you,
but never if you kiss me?
What doesn't my brain want me to see?
As Orion slinks into view
I stand mixing solvents at the centrifuge.
There is always a healthy dose
of things I don't know. Always something
for Orion to pin with her next arrow.
If I am not here, asking questions of the world,
demanding answers from what I put
into test tubes,
the next thing could be you.
grad school, am i right
1.5k · Dec 2013
nutmeg hands
Em Glass Dec 2013
my hands are still
soft from rolling dough
in sugar,
still smell faintly
of cinnamon and nutmeg

cardamom and clove
spiral upward in
the smoke from black
tea, a warmth
inside to mingle
with the smoke of

I have nutmeg hands
and chai-campfire lungs

I am warm-scented
steam in an empty
orange sweater

I am the poem
1.4k · Apr 2015
Em Glass Apr 2015
If we stop learning moon names at Callisto
and Ganymede, where are the other sixty-three
whoop, there goes gravity
If Themisto stubbed his toe, how could we
teach everyone else to cringe?
We are growing,
Elara, we are learning how to reach
higher with the hands we’ve got,
how to be tiny dots full of not-quite fire
in a world so much bigger than desire.
The best advice you gave me,
Elara, was when you silently tied back
your hair and rolled up your sleeves,
cleared your throat and decided
It’s not the fire after all, it’s the light.
And I might have burned out by now
if you hadn’t just rolled up your sleeves
like that, not flaming or fuming or
running or burning but steady,
ready for the rest of forever.
You are fire and water at once,
Elara. You take my hand and we walk
calmly upward, one step
for me and one for you makes two
for womankind.
Stepping over the black hole
of expectations and into the revelations
of well-lit night. You and me,
Elara, now we’re ready.
a space-time continuum
1.3k · Sep 2014
carbonless copy
Em Glass Sep 2014
Carbon is carbon is carbon-

the skeleton key, vitally

important and wholly ununique.

And I am she is me,

diamond so tough that only it

can scar itself,

graphite that is written and 

crumbled and erased.

In the air you breathe out,

pleasant for trees but otherwise

deadly, and

trees are trees are trees,

rooted to the spot without me,

taking in the byproduct of our

existence and using it to outlive

us all, to change and fall

and grow again. 

Count to ten and then

reach for the sky to the place

where trees climb people,

and remind themselves not 
to die

while the people’s hands 
stretch and
close around carbon,

tethered by
ineraseable existence,

trying to breathe.
1.3k · Apr 2015
Em Glass Apr 2015
The ring around the rosy has
stopped spinning.
The dizzy blurs sharpen each blade
of grass into a wit-sharp weapon,
each grain of sand into a
contented sigh, hands
in pockets free from posy.
The pigtails have stopped bopping
up and down, the red balloon
not popped but slowly
floating round. In a corner
of a tree with clearly defined
edges, Charlotte’s daughter’s web
glimmers with dew and some
small lies but mostly caught flies
that can be eaten or cut free
with that weapon, wit-sharp,
not as shiny as it used to be but
rather dull like ashes, as
we all fall down.
You could ask, at this point,
about the purpose of slowly carrying on,
but you’d find yourself swathed
in sticky silk— this spider takes
that from no one.
She hopes your far-flung hopes
and dreams your improbable dreams,
and sometimes it seems that
being quiet is easier than being honest,
but we do our best.
a space-time continuum
1.2k · May 2013
Em Glass May 2013
once we were close.
once our heads would rest on
each other's as we laughed
and you would absentmindedly
reach out and push my hair out
of my eyes.

we would sit on the floor and I
would hug my legs to my chest and
you would absentmindedly drape
your arm over my knees and I
would cross my ankles over yours
and our fingers would lock
like children's, in a fairy tale.

we had a fairytale friendship.

you used to believe in fairies.

every once in a while you would
look me in the eye and I could tell
by the sparkle of depth, the richness of
brown, that you were going to say
something serious
'I'm glad we met
me too, friend. I'm glad I met you, too.
mm. what if I had never said that.
you'd regret it.
that's why I'm glad you're you
because I wouldn't have.
but I wanted to.
repeating after you
might not have been enough.

but every once in a while even you
would surprise me and you would
glance me over and hug me close
I'm glad you exist
I'm glad you exist too,
I'm glad for you.
like a child in a fairytale
stuttering over words, fumbling,
blind kitten

echoing you

with the hope
that you will hear the echo
in everything you say
so that when I am
forgotten you can catch
my voice on the breeze,
the echo, and you can remember
to pull down our dusty
fairytale storybook
from the shelf.

forgetting is the worst part
"Well I've been afraid of changing, cause I've built my life around you." —Fleetwood Mac
1.2k · Dec 2013
little screws
Em Glass Dec 2013
Absentminded speech.
You had taken the scissors from the basket
in the darkroom, they were just
still in your hands, the ones
not covered in rust.

It was absentminded, that part
is important. Just absentminded,
like the way you'd play
with her hair or pretend not
to care,
like the way you'd talk with
your hands even when the
darkness spoke louder. The way
you'd nudge me, a "don't move"
elbow, to let me know you'd
dropped your film and I shouldn't
step for fear of stepping on it
like the shadows did.

I absentmindedly twirled a pen,
and you absentmindedly looked
down again and again,
scissors open, scissors closed,
running your fingers over
the little ***** between the blades
as I ran my fingers
over a little ink drawing I'd made.

You absentmindedly followed
my eyes with your own, and then
threw absentminded to the smoke,
up and out the window and gone,
and the smooth blade up and down
your arm.
It wasn't sharp. It couldn't even
cut the film. That's how you'd
dropped it in the first place.

Still watching my eyes, my dawning worry.
Oh, you. Ignorance reduced me
to child and pity before your
knowing eyes, but what do.
You know me, I know you.

A deliberate story now (absentminded
can't be filtered out of the smoke anymore),
of a girl you used to know.
Something to do with little screws
in every pocket of every
long-sleeved shirt she owned.
They had to be from something cheaper,
you mused. Mindedly.
Scissors don't come in bulk.
Little screws. Not razors, not knives.
Little screws.
You thought out loud, but it wasn't
thought. It was speech. It was
words you already knew.
Where'd they all come from?
You asked questions to give me
the answers.

I reached out for those ****
bright green plastic scissors
that wouldn't cut a piece
of film in a darkroom, because
fear gives light great powers.
You smiled at the anxiety in my
eyes. You chose then to stumble
upon the answer. (It wasn't scissors.)
To relieve me, you meant.You
meant to share without telling,
to lighten my head and dissipate
the ignorance like your
absentminded smoke.
You knew a girl...

But when you put knowledge
in this mind it gets picked up
and circled around and around,
centripetal acceleration, exponentially
flying, so fast, so high, what do I
do with it there. I build it up.
It tears me down.

I scanned your wrists for months.
I watched you pull your wallet out
of your pocket, checking the floor for
little screws.

You knew, ******. You knew
your wrists would stay smooth
as a scissor blade, smooth as
darkness. You gave me the story
deliberately, but you gave me the
answer absentmindedly.

You didn't mean to.
You gave me the worry,
you gave me the thought.

You didn't tell me where to find
a ******* screwdriver.
1.2k · Jan 2014
Drawing Lines
Em Glass Jan 2014
There is a fine line
between wanting to
be healthy & happy
and wanting to take
up less space.
Wanting to be less.
Matter is neither
created nor destroyed
in the universe—
wanting to take
as little as possible
from the world,
wanting not to leave
a mark.

A fine line between the
BMI of activity & health
and being told that the
gaps in me are the
best parts.
The spaces I don’t fill.
The matter I don’t use.

I draw this line in the
sand, thin—with just the
very tip of a nail—
but the world screams
in protest at me until
my head aches, and it is
more relaxing just to
let the sea
reclaim the small
mark and wash it
back into
the universe.

So as a reminder to
myself I keep
drawing fine lines
on my mind and
on my skin, where
the world and time
can wash away
at it but I’ll still
have the mark
all to myself.

Maybe not the
world, but this
being is mine
and I am
in it.
1.1k · Apr 2015
Em Glass Apr 2015
People are full of fire,
you told me.
You said that people glow red,
their eyes full of stars that are
bigger than them, chain reactions
refracting and exploding light,
because when people are infinitely
small in the universe they fight back.
They sharpen their words with their teeth,
until swords are glistening, ready
to keep out ghosts blistering
in the heat, get out stay out,
this soul will collect and over-
flow with fire, will burn
like the sun that started it all,
will fight back,
white hot, on track,
for the right to stand tall.

I lit a candle to show you
how the hottest part of flame
is actually blue, but
you blew it out and flicked your wrist
and sent it flying high as your far-flung
hopes and you sat with me through
the darkness, ghosts gone, we are
glowing red, we are fiery and content
to sit among what we can’t see.
a space-time continuum
1.1k · Nov 2015
london street
Em Glass Nov 2015
And you think
no one will know
to put change in this cup
because it is empty.

The rain hitting
the paper of it
doesn’t sound the same
as the clinking coins of yesterday.

A child skips across
the bridge, outrunning
her raincoat, ahead of mother,
does one and then another

double take because she
does not want her raincoat
anyway, wants to feel
water bead on skin,

she falls back and takes it
from mother’s outstretched hands
and tosses it to the folded ones
of the man.

She has one pound
to spend today, mother may


Mother, why?

You watch her little hands
ball into fists,
her eyes cloud with mist
that melts into the rain.

You watch mother open a door,
watch a wind tunnel batter
the chandelier ornaments,
they clink like wind chimes or coins.

The child safely inside,
mother’s eyes glare back,
fear without reason,
they shout
*I want that raincoat back.
1.0k · Aug 2013
displacement, ∆x
Em Glass Aug 2013
displace yourself from yourself
leave your body
without the pressure of your
spirit your heart and soul

you can pour them easier
that way

pour your heart and soul
into everything you do
                                                              ­            (from afar)                                                            ­    

pour your heart and soul
into the words
that when they get
ripped to shreds and scattered
all around,
you still have your spirit with you

and the molten heart&sou;;
are fluid, and they flow back
together, hydrophilic

your scars are now the scars
of the ocean
made by boats slicing the surface
a fleeting white foam that
fizzes and splashes back
into serenity

the words flow together
and the paper scars mend
your heart and soul

they're going to keep on
like that now.
a world of motor boats
etching out scars
words ripped to shreds and
put together and
ripped to shreds again

you're not much use to yourself
this way.

it's not pain if you don't feel it.
this started as a poem about
the college application process.
i didn't take my own advice
and look where it got me.
Em Glass Apr 2013
Admittedly, the beginning of this is not a poem. It is a link to a video that everyone in the world needs to see. The poem follows.;=PL9ABB2F7C182BA1D8

this way people can see
because when the roles
are reversed, everything feels
wrong. you are suddenly
trapped in a world that is not
right. everywhere you turn, the
wrongness is blatant to you.
but not to them. to them it
is normal, a vague term,
an existential-crisis-invoking
term. but what do.

that is how it is. in a normal
world, the normalness surrounds
and suddenly it is like being trapped
underneath a bell jar of a dream
and everyone is acting like nothing
is wrong, but maybe they are just messing
with your fragile mind. because shouldn't
it be the other way around?

wait, what?

it's like everyone got the memo
except you and not a single
soul will share it with you,
because you should have gotten
the **** thing yourself,
and nothing makes sense, how
can they all think feeling this way
is so normal, it's reversed, it must be,
nothing makes sense and no one
will explain and some people feel
like that all the time

what can you do
when no one is there

nothing. you can do
nothing. you must
be strong and you must
wait and you must
know that someone
is coming, someone must

you must do nothing.
that way, you can stay

for something.
979 · Oct 2013
Surface tension
Em Glass Oct 2013
When I was seventeen
I'd come home from school every day
and hope the house would be empty
so I'd have somewhere to pour into.
To pour all the things people
inadvertently filled me with

And all day long I defied the laws
of surface tension at the rim of my cup.
With nothing to hold them in, things
somehow just kept piling up.

I drove to school and when the faint
smell of gasoline met my eyes I
opened the windows until all the lies
were sliced away by the cold air.
What terrified me was that as it's coming
you can't see gasoline.

I breathed the freezing air in
and the gasoline out through the open window
and the passing cars said I dare
you to survive being this scared of
what you can't see.
Because people fill you up
past your brim without seeing
the way that your limbs are holding
things in place light years above that
little lip of water that can sit above the rim.

The headlights of the cars join in now
and they say you are not a cup.
How do I know if they're lying?
Headlights only show you what's right
before your eyes, and they expect you
to make the whole trip that way, farsightedly blind.
They say, you have so much tension that
you don't know what's yours and
what you pulled away from others
so you hold on to all of it and it
ever extends that little lip of water
that can sit above the rim.

And now the colored traffic lights chime in.
They say the irony of surfaces is that you
can't see what's inside because of them,
so if everyone is drowning beneath her own
surface tension you'll never know.
People are too hard to read.

I dare you to survive being this afraid
of what you can't see.
I wrote this poem when I was seventeen.
I intended it to be spoken word.
But spoken word cannot be seen.
957 · Sep 2018
I walk the wall
Em Glass Sep 2018
The skin on my fingertips is cracking.
I washed all the dishes by hand.
I dried them and stacked them
and put them away.
I walk on the wall between honest and kind.
I wait for the film to unwind,
or become exposed.
The darkroom is where I first
taught my heart to close.
To add the sulfate and turn on the bulb
so the picture wouldn't change,
the way turning on the light
doesn't knock over the first domino.
How your arms rise from your sides
when you skip, a bird taking flight.
How you lie on your stomach
to photograph a seagull.
How do you love two people?
When I close one part,
the cracks form somewhere else.
I walk on the wall between honest and kind.
It is seven feet tall.
I throw an arm out to either side for balance
but it reminds me of you,
so I fall to the right.
943 · Feb 2016
Em Glass Feb 2016
even in sleep you are aggressively alive,
recklessly optimistic.
you twitch and twist against me
and I don't know how your arm
hasn't fallen asleep beneath the back
of my neck like that.
your short-winded lungs slow down,
your breathing gets rough,
even in sleep you are fighting
for air

and you are getting it.
you snore though
926 · Apr 2013
not on cliches.
Em Glass Apr 2013
why is it that everything about heartbreak
sounds like a cliche

heartbreak is not cliche
it is different for everybody
it is the most personal thing
and the most painful

it demands  time
and space
and respect

it effects each person
so differently, so
and while only those
who have experienced
it can claim to understand,
even they cannot claim
to understand fully

or maybe people are just
so self centered, inherently,
that each assumes her
heartbreak to be the
and how lonely it is
to be experiencing more
pain than all those surrounding

just the sort of heart-wrenching
loneliness one wants
to wallow in
in times of heartbreak
that last line sounds like a cliche. no one understands me. or that's what we all say.
926 · Aug 2016
daughter of Apollo
Em Glass Aug 2016
the daughter of Apollo
whistles back at birds
reminding them to stay close,
she knows that Icarus
was a dense
bloke so it goes, they circle
in the overexposed
sky and come back just
shy of the shine, and the cicadas
always know when it's time.
then she says, "come along,"
and they all know to go,
following the whistle
of the daughter of Apollo.
conducts the song of the universe
Em Glass Oct 2014
the only place left to go is up
so I lick the syrup
from my fingers and drive north,
but every time I leave this place
behind it doesn’t stay;
it relays back and forth
between my head and the
thick rope that ties it to the back
of the car where it scrapes
against the road
and bounces between
the back tires and
the north star,
which you pointed out to me
once on a night
when it wasn’t the brightest
in the sky.

you stood behind me and pointed up
and I heard your hand move
and saw your voice rise
and questions knocked this place
out of my mind until
a child
tugged on my sleeve
and I came tumbling down,
pulled along
by the sheer weight
of here.
'I am done with my graceless heart'
878 · Sep 2013
Em Glass Sep 2013
no one in the water yet.
the smell of chlorine cuts
the noise, which is so loud
you can hardly remember why
everyone is here.
shadows step on you,
the pressure growing as
the sun sinks. you want
to sink with it.
instead, you outrun the noise
and you dive.

You slice the water, slash it, push it
behind you, but it never fights back.
You slide through the water and it
caresses you softly, as though
it has been clinging to the sunlight
all day, just for you.
You cup your little fingers, hands
slapping the surface. The sounds
of the people and their shadows
alternate with the fast-moving silence

of underwater.
At the deep end of each lap the ground
falls away, but you feel safe.
Air would have let you fall.
With each breath you are more eager
to plunge back into the warm
support of water. Breathing
is a hassle.
When your limbs ache with a pleasant
soreness you cannot ignore, you drag

yourself out of the water.
Gently, it tries to pull you back.
The rippling splashes fade into
Where they come from. Whatever
you throw at it, water can heal
its own scars.
His scars would not
heal. Water is the universal solvent,
and he needed to dissolve.
You don’t know him.

You know only the cold hand that
reached into your heart
and twisted it,
painfully, on its axis as you watched
Grandmother’s eyes when she
mentioned him, in passing,
by accident.

But the noise,
then the silence—
you can understand
why he wanted this.

It was the faint smell of chlorine
on your skin; that’s
what reminded her.
Not five minutes after your
wet hair had begun to dry,
her tears spilled over and
ran down her cheek.

(Fight or flight,
air or water.)

You told her
they were there
to stroke her face.
865 · Jun 2013
I ache
Em Glass Jun 2013
I ache

smiles glow like mobile little campfires
warming the room
comfy, cozy. home.
you are home in this place, because they're here.

arms wrap around shoulders and hug
them tight
comforting, together.
you belong here, because they're here.

eyes closed in laughter one minute
sparkling with care the next
depth, affection.
you are loved here more than anywhere, because they're here.

you breathe the air and taste the
sweetness of familiar voices,
snuggle into the cadences and timbres
instantly recognizable as

this is a special place,
this place where you belong.
this place where you're together.

like an old favorite blanket
you have given the memory to me
of belonging with you
to wrap around my shoulders and
hug close when I am touched
by the chilling fingers
of sadness.

I ache
because I miss it, yes
but mainly because
it is such a beautiful thing
it hurts.
This is not a metaphor. This is a visceral thing.

*It would be insensitive of me not to include the other POV, which is that the person who is the inspiration for this poem is lost and a little broken like the rest of us and feels a deep and complete non-belonging, which is tragic because of how readily available belonging is here and because of how easily that feeling can be mistaken from the outside.
861 · Apr 2013
On Saturated Colors
Em Glass Apr 2013
I wish you were here.

I write on sun-soaked pages
(with a pen of inky sky)
of colors so vibrant it seems a Photographer
has captured the world in software to
saturate them— unreal,
yet only to be found in the realest
of untouched places.
Of deep blue and bright green and rich brown
and water that reflects every color
and no color at all. Clear.
Pale yellow washes over everything,
lightly— the sun is the Saturater, too.
And of the air that grazes skin,
weightless as sunlight.
TOMs in the grass, white earphones
weaving over blank paper and
through the blades.
It is perfection, you will not believe it until
you see it, feel it, be it.
The only thing I would not give up
to be sharing it with you
is the moment itself.

I wish you were here.

Such beauty. Too breathtaking, too
overwhelming, for just
one person to take in
have I mentioned that I wish you were here.
Em Glass Apr 2013
"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." — Gilbert K. Chesterton

Weren't meant to be,
you said.
Lame excuse.
Like chocolate and cheese*,
you said.
But we get to choose.
We are people,
and we cannot change
who we are.
But we can change how we are.
Opposites attract and likes repel
but there is covalence,
like things that share.
So you are the chocolate,
for you are sweeter than I,
and I will be the cheese-
of the cream variety,
rich like you,
and spreadable, flexible,
and that way we
can make it work.

There is no need
for this awful silence
between you and me.
Silence is beautiful
but it is neither here nor there.
We do what we like.
We'll break it.
Just like we'll break
the rule
of chocolate and cheese.
and it will be easy. [dare I give up the opportunity for a "piece of cake" joke. a piece of chocolate cheesecake.]
832 · May 2013
bend don't break
Em Glass May 2013
We're not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again. — P!nk, "Just Give Me a Reason"*

If you are flexible
you will bend
instead of breaking.
Not broken.

But have you ever tried
to make origami?
A paper crane— so
beautiful, so white, so
pure. Innocence. A bird.
A dove.
A crisp clean sheet,
and you fold it over and
you feel like you are taking
the first booted step
into a field of
untouched snow.
You're folding, you're folding,
it's not working out.
It's bent.

You unfold.
You start again.
You find yourself absentmindedly
doing the same folds as before—
creases in the paper, so
deep, so hard to avoid. Little
traps waiting to be
fallen back into.

Even if you manage it
properly, the final product
(the cranes, the swans, the doves)
will have creases
folds where there should be
smooth whiteness.

But it was just bent.
Not broken.
It was not ripped. Not
The heart never is.

It's still broken.
There is no reason. Hope feeds on hope and I have been hungry for days. There is no hope.
830 · May 2013
That is how much
Em Glass May 2013
I dive right in even though
I know that by the time I get
to the bottom the pool will
be shallow

and when I stand up and shake
the water from my hair and
open my eyes I know for certain
that the water will have drained

away entirely. Just me, soaking,
sopping, sobbing in an empty
pit of gray concrete. I will still
dive because that
through the                      air

will be the most precious thing,
I suspect. I am sure it will be for
nothing in the end but before then,
it will be for you.

I will do it for you and for my
own selfish reasons, because it's
you, I know, and I will never find
another like you nor will I try.

When you leave I want to remember
you properly, with your eyes shining
but not from tears. Smiling eyes,
laughing pools of brown, open.

Always I will remember you and
I want the memories to be perfect
because I love you and I am not
as selfless as you and I want to

remember love this way so that
when I fall into the shallow water
and the shock flows up my spine
and stings my soul I can remember

your face and remember
that I did it for you, that love is strong
enough to push acrophobia off the
edge and send it     
                                 s       o    a    r       i    n    g  

with arms spread wide and eyes wide
open. Maybe if I can remember that, the
soaring before the fall, I will try again
to find it even though I know it won't

be your fall. I will continue in search
of it anyway, a hopeless search for
something halfhearted, but I will
continue it whole-heartedly, that I

might always be reminded of you.
And now, I will embrace the concrete
floor, the stinging of the spirit and
the soaring of the soul, as I fall, that

you might see my smile and enjoy
the fall with me,
before it crashes.

That is how much I love you.
"It's you, I always, always knew." —The Vaccines
810 · Mar 2016
a temporary matter
Em Glass Mar 2016
Dead flowers are brittle, break
Dust covers the things you gave me,
mutes them, claims them, overtakes
them, squeezing the pages of books
together until they choke,
clouding the glass jar that you use
as a vase for the dead flowers.

Dead flowers do not need water, live
You made
the bed this morning
so if memory failed me
I would have no way of seeing today
that you were here last night.
And when I blink my eyes,
for that moment they're closed
I cringe with the sudden goodbye,
every instant turned away from your face
filled with the graceless empty
of having just finished a book.
No longer able to live in its eyes,
burrow into its spine, nestle
into the crook
of its neck.

dead flowers are brittle, break easy,
please, please be careful
with this–
789 · Nov 2013
Muscle Memory
Em Glass Nov 2013
acquaintances pass
and eyes meet
instinct happens
because maybe all
they need is a
you didn't know
you remembered
how to do that
no one will help you if you look this happy
782 · Jan 2016
catching the pleiades
Em Glass Jan 2016
I am a dandelion in the hand of a child.
I haven’t the heart to tell her
that I’m a **** and not a wildflower.
So I don’t.

The stars are always aligned but I can’t always see
them properly. When the light is low and the moon is new
I can show you what Orion’s arm is pointing to,
a little cluster like us that hardly exists.

My mother used to tell me that my hands would be
too clammy to be held by anyone else
but she wasn’t counting on you.

Our fingers are woven tight enough that I feel safe
looking up-
we can take the constellations in turns, you first,
so that if the toe of your boot catches
a crack in the asphalt where moss is growing through
I can steady you.

And you would do the same for me.

The earth is so young. There will be
time enough for me to take you to the observatory,
to see properly how Orion stands ready
to catch the Pleiades.
We can watch it till sunrise, fingers intertwined,
blinking sleep from our eyes as the sun blinks the stars
from its skies, thinking:
that is you and I
I'm starting to notice my own theme
771 · Apr 2013
Paradoxical Ache
Em Glass Apr 2013
life is contradictions, and love is contradictions.
both are complicated enough to give you a
headache but really they’re the simplest
things in the world. they are like the warm
weather; it sneaks up on you slowly and
it’s pleasant and soft and bright, optimistic
it caresses your skin so you might as well
go outside and you run along and you feel
the pain as you gasp for breath and you
push harder because you want your muscles
to be sore, to ache for days after this one,
you want to be reminded of this moment
and it is a painful moment, you want the
pain but you’re too cowardly to inflict it
yourself. so maybe if you appear to be
chasing a goal you can elude yourself,
or someone. maybe. so you’re running,
and you’re combatting inner pain by causing
outer, and it makes no sense and it hurts
like hell and you can’t stand it but you don’t
want to, you never did, and your balled-up fists
grow sweaty and uncomfortable and you
run and run and
the warmth becomes heat and the softness
stabs you and surrounds you and the optimistic
sun blinds you with its light and you squint
your eyes against it
but there is no moving the sun.
it will go down on its own.
769 · Sep 2016
the sundancer
Em Glass Sep 2016
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.
She is daughter of the sun, reason the moon shines.
The view is breathtaking, and so is the vacuum.

Below spin smells of seaweed, wildflower perfume,
but here satellites crush to dust, just alkaline.
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.

There's no air to breathe up here, only fumes;
she sees moons fall into their planets all the time.
The view is breathtaking, and so is the vacuum.

Sundancer somnambulist hears ghosts in her bedroom.
She pulls the tides to her chin, tucked in, and hides.
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.

She dances in dark but keeps a toothbrush in my bathroom.
She is trying to survive.
The view is breathtaking, and so if the vacuum.

She whistles at birds, content in her own volume.
Constellation clustered face, her freckled stars align.
The sundancer is dodging space junk on the moon.
The view is breathtaking, and so are you.
753 · Aug 2013
Em Glass Aug 2013
water is the kindest, quietest
friend. it clings to the sunlight
that is might caresses you
softly and you slice through it,
cup your fingers and scoop
it out of the way, kick it out
behind you and chopping it
up with your hands. and its
only response is always to
hold you smoothly first,
and to heal itself after. bubbles
rising to the surface, rippling
splashes fading into where
they came from, waves of its
hydrophilic self washing
over it. it can always
heal itself.

it is not worried about scars.

water is the universal solvent
when you need to dissolve
744 · Oct 2014
grape insides
Em Glass Oct 2014
I had my phase of finding things
and picking them up,
of wanting to turn them in
but not having the courage,
a little butterfly charm at the bottom
of the pool and I was always
scared to put that much pressure
on my ears but someone
was missing their wings
so I dove,
and I was missing wings too
so I came up sputtering and coughing
and afraid to talk to anyone
with the authority of Lost and Found
so I left my conscience drowned
and the wings closed in a fist.

And I found another thing, a
butterfly charm again,
mocking me,
and I stayed up and hoped
the guilt would fly away
but 'social  butterfly' is a misnomer.

I had my phase of refusing to eat
anything inside of which I couldn’t see

even grapes had to be peeled
and I would marvel at the spiky lines
tearing through each one,
angry veins
in something so soft and sweet

my raisins and my juice
my Friday-night wine substitute
seemed so childish to me
until I knew about the spikes
and watched as they grew
inside myself

I had my phase of being me,
and it is isolating and spiky
and you don't like it
736 · Nov 2015
contiguous regions
Em Glass Nov 2015
A theorem:

any map of the world
contained on a plane
of contiguous regions

needs only four colors
to prevent the bleeding
of borders.

No matter the shape,
nor how many times
a nation state

splits itself up
with all the fight
of man splitting the atom,

nor how many splinter
groups stick themselves
into the skin

of the innocent. Any four
colors, take blue for the oceans
or black for the bruise,

it’s not the borders bleeding
but the insides,
you seeking refuge

in worlds that blame you
for the men that hold the atoms
that split you.

Odds are you’ve never
seen an atlas of only four colors
because Atlas picks more,

how else to contain it all,
to keep from shouting fine
and letting the whole globe


Oh, poor atlas.

Salaam, shalom,
what we want
is all the same,
but paix,
it sounds so different.
pray for paris, but also everywhere. what is happening to us. what have we done
728 · May 2013
Should that be comforting
Em Glass May 2013
should it be comforting
that I know that everything
always works out in the end
and that time heals all wounds
and that anything can be
forgotten and time
is the ocean that erodes
the rocks and leaves behind
only smooth surface
clean and painless
(it has to change the shape
of the land to do so,
has to take some of it

should that be comforting
because everything can be
forgotten and forgetting
is painless
made easy
you're eased into it
slowly, a soft wave
an oncoming fog

should that be comforting

it's not

remembering hurts
forgetting is smooth surface
but sheer
where the land breaks off
something is missing
and smoothness drops away

vast cliff
dizzying height
missing something
land gone, drifting

don't want to forget
725 · May 2013
I have seen
Em Glass May 2013
The New York City skyline
from across the water;
sunsets at sea;
the shadows of clouds
shifting over treetops;
my sisters wishing on
a shooting star;
the sunrise over the desert
from a hot air balloon;
the warmth and light of a
campfire as the voices rise
into the sky with the embers.

And I have tallied up these
beautiful things and kept
tabs on them, memories like
index cards in my mind, labeled,
categorized, logical, the way
I like my things to be:
landscape, cityscape, skyline,
harmony, melody, warmth,

and then somewhere in the back
of the drawer is a folder, a
category that is not a category
and it is spilling into the
other categories and it
is disorder and the absence
of order, the incapacity to
categorize beautiful things

overflowing, not logically

and then, there's *you
713 · Sep 2015
raised to the power of
Em Glass Sep 2015
The moon is content
to believe without
understanding why
she was placed where she
flies, orbiting space
and looking at time.

But the earth wants to know.

It wants to accuse
whoever carved out
its calderas,
and at every aphelion
the moon finds it harder
to move, like she can’t drag
herself back through the blues
of skies one more time.
The tether that holds
them together tears
her apart.

The moon doesn’t get
dizzy, but earth thinks
it’s spinning too fast,
sketches up the sky,
an engineered map of whys,
of stars connected
by thin pencil lines,
she thinks in miracles while it
thinks in margins of error,
equations, exponents.

On nights when she glows
green, the moon envies those pairs
who favor the power of two

because she squints and sees
the blueshift in earth’s eyes
as it crashes closer,
time spills out behind her,
space suffocates
between them, closer,
perihelion come,
and she blinks and sees
earth’s caldera eyes
raised to nothing.
692 · Jun 2013
Em Glass Jun 2013
beef. good beef.     (i am good, i am good)
things that get better with age.

antique cars
old coins
things that increase in value with time.

i am rare.
even antique cars
have their duplicates
out there
but i am rare.
(i am the only me.)
i have to tell myself
this list.
there are things that get better
i'm worthless
only to me
only for now

leather gets softer, suppler.
fruit gets juicier, better, with the age of the tree.
a pile of compost, nothing but trash (worthless, worthless)
biodegrades (slowly, slowly)
—soil richer, plants grow stronger.

repeat after me:
*i am rare...
Em Glass May 2014
The first time you flew
you told the birds how unfair
it is that the air is so much
thinner up here,
that below they have to breathe
the crushing weight of the
just because they’re accustomed
to it, and your gasping
for breath doesn’t make
any noise yet
every day you choose life,

man and wife
man and wife

placed in a gunfight with a pocket knife
and a guidebook of expectation.
You don’t remember filling out an
application for this life, for
now-flightless wings and for being
their daughter,

I will love you
come hell or high water

and the first time you flew
you heard birds laugh at you
and the air was so thin
you fell right through,
and the silence so thick
you landed hard,
lungs aching,
but you were never afraid of the dark,

in the high water
watch out for sharks

because you aren’t one for stark
contrasts and it’s nice to feel
like nothing at all,
keep falling.

The first time you didn’t
write a poem you drank tea
out of a paper cup, no mug
in the sink, no need for anyone
to look up when she came home.
The first time you used the key
in your new house’s door
it fit so perfectly that you didn’t feel
at home anymore,
and the first time you were afraid of the dark
you weren’t,
because it can’t get you
if it can’t see you’ve left any mark.

The first time you didn’t
write a poem the *** boiled
even though you watched,
and you drank tea out of a paper cup
and no one looked up, it was
biodegradable and then it was

The first time you flew.
The first time you really saw you.
The first time you heard that
song called poison oak,
the first time you said what you
meant to say,
the last time you spoke.
a third draft
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