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The bathroom is white
And bright like heaven.
I fill the tub with Epsom salts, bubbles,
Some essential oils
(emotional vaccination),
And bless the water like a priest.
Then I disrobe,
Fold my arms and dip myself in,
hair weighing me down.
The water is womb-temperature.
I float a little. I think about why I’m here.
I ask God
But the tiled walls
And the shower curtain
Don’t answer.
Then I rise,
put my robe back on, moisturize
So that I’m like a baby again,
And go about my night,
Helpless, teary-eyed,
Begging to be held.
Am I doing it right?
I took a bath with eight capfuls of eucalyptus bubble soap
Instead of the recommended four.
I ran the water fever hot.
I wonder how long that feeling will last on my skin.
It doesn’t last long.
The next day,
I read a poem about this bath
To my creative writing class.
Call that vulnerability.
Gold star for me and my vulnerability.
I make tea with my vulnerability,
And sometimes I let other people sniff the fumes—
Raspberry-pomegranate-flavored-matcha-green—
But I never make a full ***
Because I guess I don’t want anyone else
to burn their tongues on my scalding vulnerability.


They like my poem, I think.
I don’t really listen to their response,
Am glad when it’s over.
I answer their questions about it without
Really answering their questions.
I don’t think they notice.
As for me,
I absorb their comments like vitamins
And, as such, the excess is filtered out
In the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep.
When I do sleep, I try badly to stay awake,
When I must sleep, I am kept awake by various physical sensations,
Which I may complain about on Twitter
(Gold star for my vulnerability)
But maybe not, because I’m trying to detox,
And by that I mean I’ll stare
At Duolingo, the Atlantic, YouTube and Netflix,
Instead of Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok and Snapchat,
And when I talk about it to my friends,
I feel the need to compare myself to an addict
in rehab
to get over heroine.
Because, in my mind, they are the same thing.
Call that empathy. Gold star for me and my empathy.

Am I doing it right yet?
This poem makes me feel good,
When I write something that makes me feel good,
I feel as though I could be talented.
But do I like myself for it?
If I get too cocky I might have to cut my own **** off,
Cut myself down to size.
But it’s no use, my ego haunts me
Like a bad childhood memory.
I didn’t feel guilt for the first time until I was fifteen.
It took that long
To feel sorry for pruning the leaves on my relationships,
until the plants disappeared
And I forgot what species they were.
Even now that I have friends I can admire,
Can I be trusted not to rate myself more highly?
Call that self-confidence.
Goldstar for me and my self-confidence.


When I get home from work,
I take another bath, hotter than before, with wine.
The wine and the heat make me dizzy, which is good
Because I can’t fall asleep unless I’m dizzy.
But later I will not be able to sleep
because this is my third hot bath in a row,
it’s winter, and my skin is so dry that it will itch and burn
As if every fabric I touch were made of fire ants.
But for now
I am comforted.
Call that self-care. Gold star for my self-care.
More of a participation trophy, really.
She is organized in a way that’s unfathomable,
An alluring contradiction,
Both still as untouched water
And expanding outward, reaching new spaces
With her fingertips.
You can’t see this because you’re too small.
You claim to be down-to-earth;
Just admit that you’re short for a man.
There’s no shame in that.

She has the eyes of a madwoman
And the body of someone more laid-back.
You can try to ****** her but she is everywhere
Above you and too far in-between.
You meet a different part of her every night.
You call her a different name,
Yet every woman is the “same.”

Except for that one.
She’s not like other girls.
You discovered a new celestial body
And now you have the right to name her
After one of your favorite gods.
Pick it out from a list,
And tape it over her mouth.

You try to calculate her patterns,
But since you met her it seems
She has worn nine different faces,
And in your sphere she dresses
As too many species to name,
So you think she should be tamed.

It’s true that she does less damage
Than she is capable of,
So test her limits, but remember
That a galaxy doesn’t truly have an edge.
She’s not a body you can lasso
And pull towards you,
Uncomfortably close.
Like you, she is made of dust and ash
And she breezes past you
And goes her own merry way.
call it a ****** first draft
Sarah Michelle Apr 2019
She is organized in a way that is unfathomable,
An alluring contradiction with the eyes of a madwoman
On the body of a laid-back cat.
You try to ****** her but she is everywhere above you
And every night when you meet her
She already has you trapped inside with everyone else
who is propelled by her many solar systems.

You watch her when she appears dormant.
You can try to calculate her patterns,
But since you met her she has worn nine different faces,
And she dresses as too many species to name
Yet you may think she is tame.
This is true, she does less damage than she is capable of,
So test her limits but remember that
The universe has no edge.

She is curved and always expanding.
You can’t decide if she is too fat or just the right size
Because she is shapeless and swimming before your eyes.
Her stars are many but her constellations are uneventful.
She bursts her stars like whiteheads
And swallows herself up in the muddy, black potholes left behind.

Her galaxies overlap too much to be teased apart.
Each sun has its own ideas about gravity
And claims each others’ planets as their own.
This is not a harem though for she is not polyamorous.
Worse, they are tessellating love triangles.

Love for her is like politics only there is only one wing, one branch
And all parts are just a sum of her.
She couldn’t love you even if she wanted to.
There is already too much for her to maintain,
Too much to spread evenly across your small body
And too much for even God to see.

You’re not an astronomer, a telescope is a peep show to you
You lie in your hammock seeking instant gratification, all of her all at once.
Even if she were simply one of those stars
She wouldn’t travel light-years for you.

You think you know her, the brightest star above you,
The one you stare at thinking she is staring at you,
The one who flips her hair like the other girls you like,
Who all share the burden of giving you
The satisfaction of having something to flirt at,
Something glorious to form into feeble prey
With your small, shallow eyes, and which you use to glorify
Your own simple machine of a body.
Rewrite of "an earlier poem called "Somebody Else."
Sarah Michelle Apr 2019
You deserve that new leopard print dress
you bought to straighten your figure.
You’re tired of A-line dresses that hide your broad hips.
Your new dress has no form, but it clings to you
Like an ex-boyfriend whom you deserve better than.
Your new life is doesn’t replace the old one; they are co-dominant traits.
The fact that it feels new has nothing to do with
The new threads hanging on your shoulders, weightless but slightly burdensome.
Your face is older but it looks better to you.
You sweat less in these drafty spaghetti straps, and when you do
The beads don’t reach the edge of the armholes;
They just keep sliding down to your hips.
This is natural for you and if you would just let your hips dance
You would find the sweat cools their pink-hot heat.
You may be sore afterward, but your mind is usually sore anyway
From recalculating and budgeting your love.
unrevised
Sarah Michelle Apr 2019
You are steam, a romantic thing--
Silent, hot, always moving,
Ever-present where there is heat,
Life-giving substance and abundance,
Where there is tension and congestion.

But you are the kind of steam
That comes out of a humidifier
Your healing powers come from
A store-bought jug,
Worth less than a dollar.

Distilled--lacking in others’
Emotional impurities,
The little minerals that give the rest
Of us compassion and soul

Children try to play with you--
They engulf your furls in their mouths
Then open them and let you go, like dragons.
You linger in the air for winter.

I don’t know about her,
But I’m not sick anymore
Thank you for clearing this mucus
From my lungs.
unrevised
Sarah Michelle Apr 2019
The wind tries to control our ribbons.
They blow across the dirt,
Not quite light enough to be lifted,
And they crawl at our feet,
Whispering of our potential
Trying to break our defenses
With their mouthless words.
The ribbons want to tie us together
In a pretty bow, on top of a big,
Materialistic present,
But we are only as vulnerable
As the expensive electronic inside.

Sometimes they don’t make a bow,
But weave around our ankles
And up our thighs,
Pressing our hips together,
A group hug of sorts.
We no longer know how to fight,
But we do the closer we get,
And we can’t decide whose
Fault this is.

We can blame metaphors or love,
But either way, we are just too
Knotted together,

Our only weapons blunt scissors.
We try to tear ourselves away
Whilst making out.
How many of us are there?
It’s hard for me to tell--
I push one away and begin kissing another,
But they are all just friends--
Or friendly acquaintances?

Maybe it’s just me the ribbons have *******
And everyone else just happened to be there
When they did.
unrevised
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