Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
When it says it’s going to rain
I imagine myself accompanied by lemon ginger tea and Bukowski,
The rain sounding of the contradictory company of solitude,
a rhythmic and calm tapping,
I imagine I am lapping it up off the windowpane like Bukowski might his whiskey.
The mist, gray like a cat’s fur, rubs me just as I would the same fur
I imagine I am the cat for a moment
stretching out my back
making a lower case “n” with my body before falling
through the carpet
to sleep

I have to apologize for hating the sun sometimes
Too many days of sunlight is too many days of being exposed
I think it’s my pores inhaling,
letting the small sorrows of the world in
the types of things people don’t want to carry around in the sun-
change, rattling in a homeless man’s cup
unpaid bills, envelopes like mouths
an abandoned red jacket in the armpit of a city,
blocking the gutter from letting the brown water
through to the other side

Too many days of sunlight makes me want to unzip my skin
and wear it inside out.
My ankles sweat
I want to hack off my feet.
Too many days of sunlight is like the adjective “nice.”

when it says its going to rain, but it doesn’t
it’s hard for me to walk
and I try to lick water
off the windowpane
but my tongue can’t reach
like a dust particle, it gets stuck in a sun ray
rams itself against the glass
like a snake’s head against a cage.
My childhood bedroom walls are painted bright blue, green, and pink.
I regretted the decision less than a year after it was made.
They remind me of stale candy,
of consumerism in the form of clothing stores for tween girls
who forget they’re still children.

I am in the eighth grade, it is 2007
and it must be three, four in the morning when you walk in
stand in the doorway and stare at me
light blue eyes wide open
like you saw a dead cat on the doorstep
I think about how I’m the only child without blue eyes
You are still standing in the doorway
as if the doorway didn’t exist until you were under it.

The air is metallic, and as I ask you I taste it
want to wash my mouth out, spit as far as I can into the hallway
“Are you okay?
What’s wrong?
Jenae. What’s wrong??
You give me the bad news
through silence
and your blue eyes that seem to be held open
by someone else’s ***** fingers.

When people asked how you were doing the following years
I wanted to spit metallic at them, too, sometimes
the same stuff that clung to the walls that night
when you walked from the doorway into my bed
blue eyes as wide as a scared mouth at the dentist

They forgot that I was still a child
and that it took a long time for the word “Rehabilitation Center”
to be released from my parents mouths
like a stray dog from a cage
but the words didn’t crawl around on all fours and
bite at our heels like we thought they might
you just can’t let them
Until then, I wondered where you went for days at a time
how you slept for days at a time when you came back
why you stared through me and not at me
where my camera went, and the neighbor’s cell phone
How you became an event rather than a person.

The night of my eighth grade graduation,
a ceremony that felt exceptionally monumental for little reason,
they found you in the car
screaming to yourself
gripping the steering wheel like a lover’s shoulders during a fight
releasing what was never actually yours,
but was given to you by the drug
the skeleton in its closet that won’t stop shaking
its bones made too much noise against the wood panelling

Those were the years before I stopped praying
I would talk to God like an authority I questioned but obeyed
promised I would not make Drew cry again
or lie again
in exchange for you coming home
“Dear God
please take all the lies I would make in the future,
and build them up into a pyramid or ladder that my sister can walk on
that leads to our front door
and make sure I can hear the old springs whining
as she comes home
only this time it won’t be whining,
but applause.”

Each night you did come home
I would lay my face deep into my pillow and thank him
give him another lie,
because I knew you were alive another night
I could breathe and not have to count down the seconds until
I would come bursting into the garage and make sure the car
wasn’t running and the windows weren’t open and you weren’t
sitting in it
And you weren’t
And I’ve never felt more pride push up through my chest and throat
on my mouth
when I knew that ladder had been built
but you built it yourself

I will always feel like a savior for no reason.
My photo and essay and drawings are on the wall next to your bed
I can’t help but feel like my smile is burning a hole through the back of the wall
All I ever did was tell you I loved you
All I ever did for you was feel scared shitless that I might wake up without a sister
and that I wouldn’t be able to carry that emptiness inside of me
All I ever did was pretend I knew what I was doing

You called two weeks ago
to ask if I had ever heard of some song you heard on the radio
I have,
I said
And you are worried about our little brother
He will be fine
I said
These conversations groan on like a train coming to a stop
I check the time, pull the phone away from my ear every so slightly
wonder who will take care of your bills when our parents are dead
breathe in deeply
try to be the person whose face is on your bedroom wall
still love you
still am so proud it hurts
still am so scared it hurts
still am pretending
still love you
still love you.
It’s so easy to feel so small

I’m on a bus, the last one that runs on a Wednesday night,
Sketching a tired face
Bags under the eyes, made of black ink

I’m eavesdropping on a conversation,
(Does it count as eavesdropping when
There are only two people speaking in an otherwise
Silent bus?)

My heart’s been having an existential crisis,
And my stomach and chest
Yet heavy
Someone’s hands are holding my insides
And squeezing them in a fist
It is exhausting
It is lonely

In my right ear is this beautiful song
Violin and cello and
A raw passion that reminds me
That it’s okay
To be human, and to be scared shitless

I’m still listening, partly
But not really
It’s late
I want to sleep
Busses are full of zombies-
Phone, earphone, unsmiling zombies
And despite the
Tired sketch on my lap
I’m one, too

The conversation slows
I smile
I turn and I recognize the face in front of me
I’m told that this person, vaguely familiar face, whose conversation
I’ve been eavesdropping on remembers one of my poems
About stars
And the line is on his wall
A line from a poem that I wrote
About stars
Is on someone’s wall
Even better than when Chad Oliver told me I was
Quite attractive junior year of high school,
And I remember writing that poem
And I feel a little less useless

I want to cry

My body hasn’t known what to do with itself lately
You see I exhausted myself in love
And now that it’s gone
I feel useless
My heart pulls towards mediocre sketches
First sips of coffee in the morning,
Listening to the violin
It doesn’t know what else to feel for
It’s been left in this dark room
Grasping for a table,
****, even a stepstool,

Heartbreak is exhausting
Because it’s not just the heart
And it doesn’t really break
It just has to re-learn how to feel

But I get off the bus
And the night is warm,
The moon is
This white-hot luminescence
Burning through the silhouettes of trees,
So bright the sky is still blue 6 hours after sundown.

I open my palms up to her
I see the stars
I open my palms up to them
They guide me home
It is the driest winter we’ve had in years
Drier than bones
Bones hold things up
Like you held me up
Until you didn’t

It is so dry that my skin aches as it stretches
I am starting to hate the sun
I curse it every morning and then I feel guilty
I need to stop feeling guilty
About what I can’t control
I need to stop feeling guilty about my heart
All we can ever do is try
Sometimes it’s enough
Sometimes it’s not

I’m praying for rain but worried about
What’d I’d do if it came
Lie in the street and let it soak me
But here,
It’s illegal to lay on the street naked
Either way
When it comes
I’m going to stay in it for so long there’s no way
I’m not getting sick
I’ll lie there until they come peel my body up off the pavement
Like a wet rag

Let me be the wet rag for the world
No no, it’s alright, I volunteer myself
Let me soak up all of their sorrows because mine aren’t so big
Only as big as my body

Just now,
One man in a café went up to another
Said he’d seen his son
Sixteen years old,
And he looks great.
The other said that, “yea, it’s been a whole year
He has a check up in six months”
But he can’t imagine he’ll come out positive again


It seems like these moments of beauty are placed there
Right when we need them
No one is separate here
We are all alone and together at the same time and sometimes it is so
****** awful
And so ****** beautiful

It is possible that I can ache
For you to come back and fill whatever chasm it was that you left
Me with
And at the same time
(Where is an empty space facing north,
or towards the sky or both
the space will be more apparent later when the ache fills my chest less
When it doesn’t sit inside my stomach like an animal that needs to be fed)
You gave me something, too
But it doesn’t make it less hard right now
The animal is still hungry,
It will be for a while.

Is it possible to hand someone hopefulness and
At the same time?
To demand them to cradle it in their arms until their
Chest absorbs it-
Well, you don’t have a choice.

The earth is so      d         r          y
California, she needs some water

Don’t we all
bitter poetry
is not worth it

let me tell you
I could write piles of it
but none of it would sound too good
my mind is
hidden wherever you last
touched it

I used to think that I wrote the best
when I was sad
I think now
that I don't understand sadness
sadness is an animal that doesn't come out in
or nighttime
sadness is a creature dressed in black
an empty chair
a half-drank cup of tea
a stoplight that never turns green

when you’ve been emptied out
like an animal that’s been bled for meat
and you’re hanging upside down
on a rack
ready to be devoured
you realize-
poetry won’t save you

my hands are close to touching the floor
but they can’t
so instead
my carcass hangs
I leave my body
I watch it being adjusted like a coat in a closet
swings back and forth,
like a child on bars in a playground.
I wonder when it will start rotting,
how long I have before I’m cured and cooked and
sliced into individual cuts
wonder whose mouth I’ll be entering
whose stomach
whose hands will serve me
if the blood will run off the plate.
if they were happy, would I feel their happiness?
if they were sad, would I feel that too?
I wonder
how it feels to be digested

or maybe
I won’t make it that far
and just be hanging
until pieces of me decay, fall to the floor
like dropped pennies from pockets
until I’m eaten away by
time and an
empty room

i’m not a bloodless animal
hanging on a rack
dead animals hanging on racks can’t write poetry
of course
if they could

it wouldn’t be worth it, either
it wouldn’t do them much good
My scars show some type of
Calculated insanity,
An organized sadness
That has the potential to eat
At the flesh of my thoughts.

My scars show some type of
Undefined insecurity,
Repetition proves this
Like science- is that all we are?

My scars do not own me
though, they speak of adolescence,
and the unbearable
hollowness that aches, a dull knife:
“The human condition”

Are we not so hopeless?
My bones cry out in objection
I should think not, they say
No, my scars do not own me, they

exist as a part of
a whole, made of bones and tissue
and something else- striving
to be heard among the clamor
of waking each morning

Something that rumbles deep
and is heard and listens when the
rain kisses my forearm-
each glorious drop is a bell
ringing deliverance
I have not often felt so
Acutely alone
As when sitting behind you on a bus
Knowing you have seen me,
And I have seen you
And neither says a thing.

The bus grows crowded and the opportunity,
If there was one to begin with,
Is lost amidst conversations and body heat.
I am left staring at the thick curly hair on the back of your head
Like a math equation.

Part of me wants to reach out and hit you, hard.
I know I won’t get an answer unless I ask,
But I sit quietly and stare
Wondering if you can feel it, too

Loneliness is a form of selfishness
I know this yet am unsure of how to combat it

It is in places like this
Crowded busses
Packed with chattering,
Congested sidewalks that are an obstacle course of
Averted eye contact, whether you recognize anyone or not
Because Heaven forbid we start a conversation with a stranger-
We have places to be.

is a contradiction
“Alone” is someone sitting in the same room
pointing out their
blatant disregard of you

To be “Lonely” is to have a long,
Drawn out conversation
With yourself
Next page