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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ROXTFfkcfo&list;=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
come.

you must do nothing.
that way, you can stay
alive

for something.
Em Glass Aug 2013
I was scared
you'd forget me
but now I'm
scared I'll
forget you
first.
Em Glass Jun 2013
the dash between years.
its only function is to separate
the beginning from the end.
the middle is just the
waiting room of meaningless
magazines and children's tables.

there is no name, is there, for
waiting-room toys:
wooden beads on a twisting
and never-over path.
it's a short span of wire;
how does it never end.

while the child is waiting
he learns that the game is to
get all the beads from point a
to point b. they follow the wire
path and inevitably one or
two get left behind.
where gravity stops them,
that is their new end.

the first few times, he'll go back
for them.
     smooth wood gliding.
then the doctor will call him back;
his own story, getting in the way
of things again.

his first check-up, her first
loose tooth.
his last loose tooth.
                                                    wisdom­ teeth, snatched from him.
firsts and lasts,
those are the only things
he'll remember of the middle.
and in the end,
only the first first
and the last last

the rest


first breath, last breath.

RIP
3x5
Em Glass Feb 2016
3x5
A student of mine wrote me a note
on the blank side of a 3x5
index card
and she hugged me goodbye.
Another went home and built a telescope,
and he sent me pictures
of the pieces along the way,
apart and together like an array
of Martian images coming in
from the Opportunity in a
pixelated panoramic display.
I told him about lenses
and the human eye,
about why stars will always look
pointed unless we get close enough
to really see them and he said-
I’ll try.
Em Glass Mar 2016
the sun is setting in slant
through the window, outlining
everyone in gold thread

there’s loud music and
laughter and RESERVED
tables full of people eating and
laughing like they’re at any tables
at all

at the end the music is still
playing
and the sun is still slanting its way
down but the rainbow flag is draped
over the dusty piano to free up her hands
so she can clean other things. everything
is tidied up, things gathered, minimizing
space taken

the stickers, the flags
of all combinations of colored stripes,
pink and blue and purple sunsets,
prism rainbows, the black table cloth
stretched out below the window
as two people fold the sunlight into it,
packing it away. name tags
are peeled off shirts. In the end,

they leave with a whole
foods canvas bag full of things
that could be anything,
ready to blend back
into everything else.

the sun ducks behind a mountain
on the horizon and the sky purples,
bruised by indifference. the sun ducks
behind a mountain on the horizon and
no one is outlined anymore.
Em Glass Apr 2017
a mantra: I can do
things that hurt, I can
do things that hurt,
three miles in, feet
in the dirt, trying
breathe in, cold numb
swim, trying goodbye,
hello, subvert,
feet in the river,
feet in the dirt,
I can do things
that hurt,
I can do things that hurt.
Em Glass Mar 2016
Dead flowers are brittle, break
easy.
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
easy.
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–
Em Glass Apr 2013
The most painful
thing in
the world
is the affliction
of the heart
that comes
with at once
wanting someone
to be happy
and wanting
them to
be yours.
*him/her. forgot grammar, in my pain.
Em Glass Jan 2016
You say again that you would rather
move from the tabletop over to the couch
but I think this is right:
us sitting on the edge,
your feet planted on the chair while mine
dangle in the air like a child’s,
which is the way it is.
You think of fingers interlocked like locking
us in a cell, or an embrace,
I think of children holding hands and
running through a fairytale.
So I think this is right,
us sitting on the edge here
with comfort over there
and I won’t say it’s me not you
because I am not confused,
not an amoeba or just easily bruised,
I am not broken or scared.
I just want to sit here
instead of there.
#stop treating people on the ace spectrum like children 2k16
Em Glass May 2016
holding everybody in arms
of a bowl to catch
what we cry.
Turning the saltwater into oceans,
mirrors still enough that we
can see, watch ourselves try.
And for those who like waves she
pulls at the tides,
rough hands smoothing the sand,
and when she thinks she can't
get it right she consults the moon,
watching and learning till she's
ready to teach.
And for those of us who don't
like the beach,
she holds her hands out to us
with palms up, lifting the salt
away and the water up,
sending our tears
purified
to the sky to rain down on us,
fresh and quiet
every one.
she's saving us all, one by one
Em Glass Jul 2014
If I’d told you anything I would have told you
how I smiled through my tears
when the nurse thought it was the needle
I was afraid of,

how I took enough anesthetic to keep still
a two hundred pound man
but be still my heart, they don’t go by weight,
they feed it right through
to your heartbeat

and how much I wanted consciousness,
to lose the teeth but not the wisdom,
how much I wanted control over my person
that I don’t have over my people.

If I’d told you anything I’d have told you
how your people and mine are at war
like ****** ale and jello,
like the syringe in the drawer and
I bought you a small leather-bound
copy of our favorite play,
the skull will pass between our hands
without a sound,

how I woke up faster than they expected,
everything was worth awake,
they added motrin to my vicodin
and when I finally let myself be swallowed
it was by a too-large army t-shirt.

I’d have said,
my eyes have darkened to the defensive green
they’re wearing over there,
and Arabic is such a pretty language
but mine is bolded blocks,
a defense force defending a country
and a country’s defense of itself,
which is more than I give me.

And you’d have said, I’m sure,
what a waste it is that such a high drug tolerance
is wasted
on the cowardly
I lost my wisdom teeth, put on an old t-shirt, and watched the news. Would not recommend.
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
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
Em Glass Jun 2014
i.
unable to see over the big box of memories in your arms,
you walk down the stairs into the dark slowly,
waiting until you feel your toes curl around the edge
of a step before moving the rest of your foot.

ii.
you hold the book carefully,
propped open against the carton of milk on the table,
trying to balance the pages in each hand
so that the two sides of the book match up
where the binding is split.
it’s been read many times.

iii.
you hold up a little doll with brown pigtails,
look under
 the yarn-knit dress

for the little felt red heart on the left of her chest,

stuck there with glue,

messy but impossible now

to remove.
its eyes are black and incidentally,
her eyes were the color that forms the
backdrop of your dreams.

iv.
when the box collects dust
and the binding breaks clean in half like earth’s crust
and your mind quakes and a wave
of new comes washing over,
your dreams will be set in the eyes
of a different ‘her,’ one who’s still kicking,
with quiet hands that know the spot on your wrist
where your pulse is its strongest,
so I hope you've been writing all this down.
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.
Bent.
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.
No.
It was not ripped. Not
physically.
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.
Em Glass Nov 2015
They say opposites attract.
Negative and positive
atomic bits,
the south pole of the magnet
and the north pole of the earth.
They say the church knows best
when it swarms the local high
school,
ravens of hate,
they say the children need G-d,
blind baby chicklings that can’t see,
they say protest is free speech
and death is free will,
free as a bird,
say the ravens.

Birds are not free.

There are songs
and there are alarm calls,
they say help me,
I look like flying
but I feel like barely surviving,
they say you can only hold back
the river for so long,
crying dying pulled-dead
into the ground
of the magnetic meadow.

They say don't you know,
your creator doesn’t love you

and the students,
they say
*I create myself.
the cold magnets
of the poles of the earth
Em Glass Aug 2017
Hubble saw stars between stars and
there is more space all the time. Sometimes
things go in fine and come out far.
But what about us is getting more apart?
What about Einstein seeing the same
signature of space expansion as you?
What about couples who smell different
though they use the same shampoo?  
What about black boxes—does
the butterfly remember its cocoon?
Does a firefly see its own light? What about
dressing babies in clumsy shoes?
Do bare feet mean nothing to you?
Em Glass Sep 2013
So I tied the string
you gave me
around my ankle, and
I left it there
forever

which was foolish of me
because nothing is forever.

I hope the pieces did
not end up in the shower
drain. I hope they're still
in Town Square being
blown in the wind
and driven over and
kicked by shoes.

I hope a bird picks
up the tattered remains
and adds them to his nest
so that they give the
faded familiarity you gave me
to another life form.

That would be nice.

Now there is only
the sensation of nothing
where there was, for so long,
something

and when I wake up the next
morning the sensation
is gone and bare ankles
are the norm again.

Relief I did not notice
from pain I did not feel
and now the pain is gone

it's not pain if you don't feel it.
There are a couple things that literally terrify me and forgetting things is one of them.
Em Glass Apr 2013
you don't love me

but the sun's arms will
envelop me
and the sky will come
close and lie with me
and the wind will whisper
in my ear that everything
will be okay.
no one can replace you to me.
but these are things you might have done,
getting done anyway.
because everyone needs these things.
Em Glass Jan 2014
That which we call a rose
by any other name
and so on
and so on

I don't know my name
What I know is what people
call me sometimes
A discord, the wrong
chords,
the blaring lights of a
fire alarm if the fire were
me pulling on a long-sleeved
sweater and putting
up my hair and
molding myself into
their day

What I knew was the euphony
when you said a particular
order of sounds,
vowels and notes
that you picked out special
like the warmest combination
of colors
all threaded into yarn
all woven into patches
all sewn into a quilt
that you draped over our heads
Your eyes glinting in the dim
glow of soft sound

That which we call a rose
in any other way
is something else,
but that which you say
with the same cadence
over and over again
and so on
is what will stay
Em Glass May 2013
Every song I sing
I'll sing for you
but really I'll be
imagining the way
you sang it first,
the soft and subtle
cadence
of your voice that
always gave you
away.
Em Glass Apr 28
Listen—sometimes I forget
where to put the x's on checks.
I still pat my empty pocket
with the hand not holding
the keys.
I am still relieved
to see the butter knife
                             cantilevered
on the edge of the sink
when I get home.
Somehow I thought
in the depths of my day
that the crows
would have gotten
to it by now.

I am still practicing personhood.
I am still finding my own way
to pack a suitcase:
roll the t-shirts,
stacked close-packed
like lumber, then folded
flat the sweaters
alternating like bricks
in the most efficient
way to maximize permutations.
Why aren't clothes ever
just clothes? The problem
is the answer: people grow.

I can count to thirty to nudge
my breath back onto the tracks
but I still can't yet know that
falling in love is not falling asleep—
you don't get there by pretending.

Think of the moment
you realize you'll miss
someone when she leaves.
Imagine stacking packages
onto the conveyor belt
at the store when you tap
your pocket and feel
the memory of your
wallet waiting on the counter.
Do you refill your cart
and shuffle retrograde
through the aisles,
watching your feet,
putting everything back?
Do you look up at
the cashier and just ask?
I am still learning
what to do with you.
I am still laying down the track.
I am gripping
the edge with my toes
                     while leaning over—
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.
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
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.
Em Glass Dec 2015
We used to play.
Climb rocks of dirt
and red clay and you would tolerate
my singing
and help me with my math.

And shout when I said "minus"
while you said "no, negative"
and I, your double
negative reckless
optimist, couldn't possibly wire up
that light switch
that you installed wrong,
couldn't read a diagram of circuits,
couldn't take a tour
of the machine shop
because just looking at the gadgets
in wonder might get my
fragile fingers
cut off.

You said trust no one,
not even someone who smiles,
not even the janitor who whistled
when he mopped the school halls.
Never get in a van, sure,
but what if that man at the airport
was just trying to get home, dad?
What if he had a daughter to see?

What if you could see me?

I bet you're glad I never learned
how to fix your cars.
Glad I left my bike at the house
so the grease doesn't get on my calves.

'I'm just trying to keep you safe.'
'Why.'

No one is ever safe,
no birds are ever free.
I have learned so much about circuitry

but even back then,
I could have gotten that switch working
if you'd just let me play.

You’ve taught me to be more
fragile than I’d like but
I could have done it because
despite what you say about trust and luck
and when a girl should give up
I will always try,
always go to the ends of the earth
to find light.

And I will show you
that you don't need to be made
of stone
to love a girl.
Em Glass May 2017
you're taking your
glasses off and living
in the blur.
you're punching the ice
of them, breaking
the rearview
while you miss your connecting
flight. why was seven afraid
of nine?
Em Glass Feb 2018
there are raindrops that cling and raindrops that fall.
there are comets that call out their dying around
and around--there is halley who's dizzy and knows
which kind of raindrop she'd be if she could reach
the earth--
Em Glass May 2016
A duck flutters onto the path
and we are at an impasse;
we wait in the dark until the
sun comes back,
but the thing doesn't move.
I can see in your
stubborn shoes, laces never loose,
the unwillingness to let
this creature be afraid of you.

On the way back there are
other ducks that don't notice us,
and that is enough.
Em Glass Sep 2015
Gossamers of drywall
speckle the lips
of the trout lily leaves
beneath the boarded windows
like sprinkles of dew
rainbow on a boy’s ice cream.

At the edge of the lily
patch crouches the crane,
the treads of its tires
wilting in the heat, out of air,
having awakened on the wrong
side of the flowerbed.

The planks of wood
are just planks of wood.
The boy lays them across
the ground, building a bridge
through the leaves
to get to the other side
of the leaves.

His arms are out at his sides
like a bird about to take flight
cone in hand but he falls.
Well at least
trout lilies are not lava.
In fact, and he remembers
this with edges that *****
the backs of his eyes
and stick to the sides of his mind,
he can tell they aren’t toxic
because she showed him how
to notice the speckled pattern
on their leaves.
Totally edible. See?
But today alone they taste dry.

The sun melts
the boy’s ice cream
into the soil
and, on fingers that boil,
offers him molten gold
as compensation
for the world.
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

fall.

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
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
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 Jan 29
None of this over, no, not
start, not twiddle your thumbs
lined up for take off.
We only want the beginning
of the middle. To wake up
on a Saturday morning
instead of Sunday or whatever
the other options--maybe

she sees you back, wouldn't that
be nicer than standing
dripping de-icing fluid
on the tarmac,
Em Glass Aug 2013
displace yourself from yourself
leave your body
without the pressure of your
spirit your heart and soul
liquefy

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
safe

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 Feb 2014
After every word I say
I think about how I'll cringe
as I walk away
from you,
just from thinking.

I can't deal with this sunshine,
this vastness of sky
like this whole **** planet
is a collective spy
on the universe,
and some of us are afraid
and some of us are too brave.
Some of us choose science
as a faith
and are let down when we
can't get far, bound to
be lost within this vast collection
of stars that no longer
exist.

Some can't resist
the pull of gravity and so remain
here, a pin on a pin cushion
in suspended animation; the
pins come and go but the
cushion's still got the holes.
And some can't resist the
pull of nothingness,
to drop out of gravity,
from a needle in a haystack
to a needle in the sea
to a needle in infinity,
that is to say, basically,
D.N.E.

I am unbearably light,
with no one knows how far
to fall.

When the clouds cover
everything a lid hovers
over the glass jar of the universe,
and a needle could break through
but at least there is some
resistance, at least there is
some effort put into keeping us
within this section of
stratosphere.
Maybe we belong here.

It takes effort to fall off the
planet, but none at all
to fall
down.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Endless Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are a lethal combination that I highly recommend.
Em Glass Dec 2014
in the silence where the storm should be,
in a room with slanted, loft-low ceilings,
you sit by the window where the cold gets in,
wrapped in a blanket you wouldn't need
if you'd unlocked the door.
the rest of the building bundles up
and walks across the grass
they shouldn't be able to see.
the storm watch buzzes
through the air where the snow should be,
and no one should bother searching empty shelves
but everyone does.
milk, and extra batteries.
all that unused energy,
crackling through the sky just like the lies
you've been told and those you've tried to hide.
I can't act, you say, I can barely tell a lie
without cracking a smile, without losing face.
in the silence where the storm should be,
you wait.
the lights go on.
in the calm after, you piece together
your shattered ruins, rebuild the floor,
unlock the door,
and carry on,
with a smile,
as before.
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
welcome
in it.
Em Glass Apr 2015
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 stratosphere
just because they’re accustomed to it, and your gasping
for breath doesn’t make any sound yet every day
you choose life,

man and wife
man and wife


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

I will love you
come hell or high water


but the first time you landed you didn’t write a thing,
you just 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 this new house’s door
it fit so perfectly that you didn’t feel at home anymore.
The *** boiled even though you watched, and you drank
out of a paper cup and no one looked up, it was
biodegradable and then it was
gone.

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 space-time continuum
Em Glass May 2013
i can't tell if you are
pulling away slowly
because you know you
are leaving soon
or if i am pulling
myself away quickly,
so rapidly you haven't
even noticed
that i am selfishly
trying to lessen the pain
before you go instead
of relishing our
last moments together.

either way, you are
unaware of any change

that hurts.
Em Glass Oct 2013
I wrote about her
in an essay
and never once
used her name
and she was she
and I was me
and no one knew
including us two

And then I asked
the world to
read it and the
page came back to me
sanitary
full of cross-outs
well-read and heavy
and looking tired.

And not a
single person
asked who
she was
Em Glass Sep 2015
A schoolgirl, if you will,
in a fluid dress with fluent hair,
long, she’s probably blond
if we’re being honest,
and the dress is yellow too.
She hopes it is bright enough
to distort her vision.

She leaps in the rain,
but the water beads right
off her skin
long as she keeps her eyes down.

Moths swarm and settle
in her hair, mistaking it
for some sort of sunsilk.

It is the silk of her cocoon.

When she comes out
later, she sheds it all
with scissors.

Soon as the silk breaks
the water spills into her
but her lungs barely even whimper;
she has suffocated before,
and it hasn’t killed her yet.
People are waterproof;
water beads on skin.
It’s the dress they want her in
that makes the rain so public
and clingy.

But all the moths have drowned.
She kneels down,
bare knees on the concrete,
and picks up a wing
and lets it drifts to the ground.
Limp, listless flight,
more gentle than ever
the moths were in life.

The girl now
stomps on the wing,
scolding herself under her breath
just quiet enough to forget
that she is alive.
Like a knife she twists her heel
and rips the waterlogged wing
into fractals of nothing.
She knows there are some things
she should never find beautiful,
like death,
or girls.

The sun catches her fallen hair.
With fingers that boil
it offers her molten gold
as compensation for the world.
alternatively titled "Yellow" so you can think about that if you want to
Em Glass Jan 2016
On the back of a receipt written
in a language I don’t understand,
detailing a currency I don’t use,
I sketch hands holding each other.
I can’t get the fingers to intertwine
properly so I don’t know
what the point is.

The texture of your skin
that’s so impossible to catch
is just a mess of atoms like the rest of us
and it makes the cabin pressure hit my heart
a little too hard, besides.
Flying doesn’t feel very free.

Below me, streetlights flicker in alleys,
sketch out silhouettes of strangers
that could be a little frightening
but from here they resemble ursa major
twinkling,
and the continent is a pond
reflecting the sky.
Even the city gets prettier
the farther from it I get.

With all that air between us
I am the color of Orion,
neither white nor blue and not quite light,
the color of a dandelion that knows
it is a **** but hasn’t the heart
to turn away from the little girl collecting it
in a fistful of wildflowers.

And with all that air between us
and all that way to fall without you
I find that for someone who must try so hard
to want the rest of my life,
I am awfully scared of missing it.
OS 087 austrian air
Em Glass Mar 2016
There are two ways to fall
in love with the stars.
Each begins with a child on her back,
asphalt and grass,
looking up.

Each begins with a reaching.

There are two ways to fall
in love with the stars. Each begins
with a feeling of light that is cold,
of the glow of afar, of nothing
but the magnetic math
of the vacuum between here

and there.

Each begins with finding
light in dark.

She can at this point grab the tail
of her hope in a telescope,
wonder at the whole mirrored mess,
open her aperture as wide as her heart
and stretch the shutter speed as long
as her patience, let in all the light

she can.

She can mesh her fingers through Orion's,
standing ready to help him catch
the Pleiades that hover above his hand,
she can hold his sword for him
for a while.
She can brush her fingertips along
Andromeda's straining arms, soothe
the chained flesh of her wrists. She
can trace faces in the sky
with her kind touch,
ladle warm soup for every one,
scratch the bears behind their ears
to keep herself coming undone.
She can blush, timid to reach
the extra lightyear that will bring
her hands to Cassiopeia's hair.

Or then she can
calculate the cold,
Orion's sword a pen, fight
through the mechanics
for the dynamics
and get there.
Em Glass Jun 2016
In a row, three generations
of prayer; when foreheads
meet the floor, Nanu
gets a chair.

Imagine how scared
the stars must have been
the first night they
couldn't see you.
Imagine the gasp, the
wind's fist unable to grasp
the cosmic impermanence
of what it made
while you and two mothers
sway, there is mango
and honeydew on three plates
and dates to break the fast
the shadow crossing
the moon so slow,
the tides forecast.
Em Glass Jul 2013
sometimes we
cannot choose.
but we always
have choices.

if you could go anywhere
where would you go?
why won't you go?
why won't I come?
you can't.

birds are not free
but they could be
even eagles
Em Glass Apr 2014
I ache with how much I want to do nothing.
I want to listen to someone else sing,
and live in someone else's life with my legs
crossed until they go numb, the dregs
at the bottom of my mug unnoticed and the
feeling gone, focusing on living unfocused.

I want to hear someone else speak silently, I
don't want to say a word, and when one defiantly
speaks out loud I want the sound to be blurred like
my vision because I've left my glasses on a stack
of books somewhere and I don't want to see
anything farther away than what's in front of me,
don't want to hear anything that makes noise,
nothing that destroys,
only things that build the life of another,
I want to cover my mind with yours and live under
it for a while, stumbling through my life blindly
because yours is right against my eyes, so close
I can hardly see,
and I want us to live like that, blind, tucked away,
you and me.
Em Glass Apr 2016
but the inflection of the human voice
saying God only knows,
she doesn't say it like God
is the only one
who knows;
not: God, only, knows,
but God only
knows.
She knows and says nothing.
God is not one to kiss
and tell.
She keeps some things
to Herself, doesn't share everything
with me. Think
how sad a couple of souls
would be if truly
one, grown
so together that they are
once again alone.
God only knows
what I'd do without you;
nothing more.
no one can tell me, so I'll wait
Em Glass May 2013
"And though you want this to last forever you know it never will. And the goodbye makes the journey harder still." —Cat Stevens, "Oh Very Young"*

goodbyes are before goodbye is said.
they are looming over everything, they
are ******* the joy out of the time
that is left.

it is so hard to remember to forget
the goodbye until it happens,
so hard to remember not to forget
the goodbye once it's over, when
forgetting seems so easy.

in a situation where goodbye is
imminent, we cannot win.
we can't be wallowing in self-pity
or we will waste away the time we've
got left, and all our times will be sad
and what will we have to remember
these days by? the sadness? that
will not do, these days are
marked by something far more
bittersweet than bitter.
but if we push away the sadness,
we will be able to enjoy our time,
and the end will hit harder,
and happy memories are hardest
to remember.

i am scared of remembering.
i am scared of forgetting.

such is the nature of goodbyes.
goodbye

[i miss you]


[i love you]
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
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