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i never believed in a soft God.
the one that kisses birthmarks onto babies
and sends angels to watch sleeping children
He is blond and white, like honey and milk
and the baptist hospital gift shop sells statues of Him
enthroned in pastel puffy clouds with roses on His cheeks.
He calls me "lamb" with a voice like a grandmother's,
He puts casseroles on potluck tables, and
i never believed in Him.

i do not know what hard God would look like
but if i did, that knowledge would be my undoing.
in the old bible, He is called "my sword" and
"my shield"
and that is how God is used today
the shelter over the head
the weapon on the hip
to whom you raise your arms in self-defense
only if you want them marked in blood forever.

hard God knows that birthmarks are made by splitting skin cells.
hard God knows that infants die for no reason in their cribs.
He puts price stickers on pink statues of soft God,
reminds me that lambs go to the slaughter,
and doesn't let just anyone into the church function.
He killed the man who taught me
that even if i could not believe in a soft God, i could love like Him.
hard God said "no other Gods before me"
and He killed, slowly and painfully and publicly,
the kind man who had believed so earnestly in a soft God.
I am like all other fools;
Nothing broke my heart.
I am told I was a happy child,
And I remember it so:
Happy alone in the dark,
Happy apart from the rest.
The little princess, the secret garden,
Ariel in her grotto with the hearts of untold music boxes...
I cannot shake the feeling that nothing happened,
Nothing!
A childhood of blithe gray happiness and
Nothing!
I am so upset and why?
So I have to go back and look for the reasons,
Stir the *** for carrots to float to the top,
And trot out what I find like fluffy show dogs on Thanksgiving:
"See this one,
This one is pure.
Its grandfather is its uncle
And it is pure.
It does not heel, and its bite is fierce.
It explains everything."
I'm not sure if I believe it, or if anyone else does either;
It was wrong, and it happened,
But if it didn't bother me then, why should it now?
How did I live happily with such rotten filling?
With a missing father, or a cramped existence,
Or a present so empty of true love it engenders a future of death by seafoam?
What wakes me at night with the terror
That I am the last person left alive on Earth?
Is this the horror of not recognizing?
The audience sees the shadow of the monster creep behind the girl,
But in that moment, her mind is still peaceful.
She won't scream until it's too late, anyway.
I am a Passover meal without honey
A salad of parsley and salt
I am the face babies make when they taste
Lemons for the first time
And when the riptide yanked you under as a child
The brackish fetid smell of your lungs afterward
The breath of the drowned-dead corpse that lingered
Even after listerine and the end of summer vacation...
What the **** is wrong with a person who hates happiness?
Why does my skin dry and shrivel at heartwarming moments?
Why do hallmark cards make me wanna yartz?
What the **** is wrong, here?
Rupi Kaur split her poetry in sections:
Hurting, loving, breaking, healing.
I want to like her but I can only stomach the first fourth of the book,
The rest feels like a betrayal written by someone I thought I knew.
My coworkers express their sadness at current events and all I can think is
Finally!
Finally, you feel it too!
Hurt people hurt people.
I'm in the crab bucket and you're ******* coming with me, pal.
I've heard it said that I'll get better,
In body or mind or soul, the something that's got to give
Will give
And I will get better.
No one ever says exactly how, or when.
Until then I will sit among bitter herbs
Licking tears, uselessly, off my cheeks.
There are things we do not talk about,
Nor speak their names, nor bring them in the light;
The picture that gives injury through the eyes,
The song that kills, while sleeping, through the ears.
What watercolor of yellow poison blooms
When from the void steps something new to fear?


There are maps to places I should never go
I colored them with blue and green crayons
Made indentations in my grade school desk
And a tight-lipped teacher whispered phantom breaths:


“There are sights you never will unsee;
Flowers cannot regress into seeds,
Steps can’t be folded back into the legs.”
So I closed away what I should not have known
And my face flushed as I stilled my twitching legs


“There are things you never should have known,
And never dwelled upon; can you be smoothed?”
I try to reassure, by bolting down
Pandora’s empty chest, whence specters sprung
The raging lungs billowing in the night
The murderer’s knife a curvy white rib bone
One ***** left, weak-beating heart of hope


There are things, and things, and things, and things, and things!
Oh honesty, couldn’t you have struck a balance with me?
Couldn’t you have shut my eyes and ears,
Rubbed sunblock on my skin, and drunk my tears?
And left me in the dark where I belonged?
Cool in the dark, forgotten there for years


There are things grown people know and talk about.
There are people far too weak to find them out.
Too late. I should have known. I know it now.
Some people say it is the easiest thing in the world
The first thing that spills from a baby’s eyes:
Not tears, but love, easy love like cheese oozing out of a sandwich!
I like that, I want that;
That ease of use, reaching behind me to pluck love
Out of my toolbox without even turning to look!
There it is, at hand, at hand, fistfuls of it like plenty, like bounty!
But other people say the other thing,
That feels so true because it hurts,
Because hurt is what we’re used to when truth comes into it.
They say it’s hard work every day, that it’s conscious;
It’s the tension in your muscles when you do a new dance step,
And the only ease you ever find is the autopilot, the muscle memory.
Years down the line after hard, hard work you just might feel it,
The way a gymnast’s old breaks thrum in reminder.
“Remember how it used to be so hard,”
“How it hurt you and you had to work to become this,”
That inner contradiction to her graceful posture when she lands.
I think I want it easy,
But I don’t really know how I want it.
When you’ve never had it at all, how can you
Pick and choose the way you finally get it?
I think about women in pastel dresses brushing lint off their husbands’ clothes,
And I think about how blood rises to a cheek when it’s been slapped,
And I think what if I was never meant to have it at all.
Maybe I can’t even do it the hard way, can’t fake it till I make it
‘Cause I’ll never make it anyway.
The easy way or the hard way,
The easy way or the hard.
We never talk about option number 3,
When someone looks up at you, eyebrow slightly raised,
And says with a quiet finality,
“No.”
I am always missing signs
and the standard question here is
Can’t you read
And the only answer here is
Yes, I can read, but I can’t see
Long ago, when I was upset I could shut off the camera feed
Do away with my eyes like removing a pair of goggles
And one day I misplaced them and have not been able
To set them back down atop my nose
And the question of course is
Why would you do a thing like that
And the answer is
It isn’t really so injurious
These days it feels like I never see the stuff
Inside of other people that other people are always talking about
The greed and selfishness and the cruelty and the lack of care
And it has been so long since I’ve glimpsed and
Properly identified these shards of glass
I’ve almost convinced myself they aren’t even there
The only problem is I know about them really
I did see them before, the persons unshelled
The coals and flames and pieces of
God and Angels and Demons
The burning cargo inside the wineskin
That when you ****** a foolish glance you can only say
Oh sorry
Before blinding yourself in humility
As if there were enough apologies for seeing
As if you could shut a door and forget what’s on the other side
Chasing after wonder days
Of eggs and toast, no tums required
Walks to the grocery store past
Rows of cactuses and pansies
Bouquets of daffodils strung like hangmen
In the window
Singing to Tie Guan Yin at sunrise and weaving
Life of strings over and under like a basket
To sleep in.
Chasing after it all,
Struggling feebly now,
A dog under a heavy blanket, against
This thing that lives inside you
This thing that hates your happiness so much
It would bleed to see it killed
Signs of life appear at mealtimes,
When rambling,
Under laden branches,
In flower patches,
In the filtered light of the sun,
Especially at dawn.
So, you want to thirst for the past?
Ears ***** up at pieces of it
Flung like pebbles against the siding
And, chasing after wonder days,
You were always what you are.
You have always loved an equinox.
Every spring and autumn bringing
The gradient smear of change.
Chasing after wonder days
You will not get them back.
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