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Jan 2016 · 2.1k
Sunday Morning
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
For me, you are Sunday. Today is Sunday,
and tomorrow will be Sunday. Because I am stuck
in gingham yellow sheets, small white saucers
with matching ceramic cups, cigarette ashes
like a crop circle around them as I sip homemade
coffee. The ***** brown liquid sloshing
in the back of my throat, scorching my insides
as I swallow something not nearly as
painful as looking up for an answer to the crossword
and realizing you are not in fact actually there, and your hand
is not on my thigh, tracing the outline of my knee
with your thumb. I am stuck

like a kid on the monkey bars. Deciphering
between reaching my hand out to grab
the next rung or just allowing myself
to fall into the wood chips, welcome
that scraped skin and soil in the worry lines
of my palms. Because calling you,
reaching out to that line, could end with me
face up on my bed staring at the blades of my fan
trying to pinpoint just one to follow around and around
again. Or I could get your voicemail. Or you could
see my number and decide to hang up. How close
were we really anyway?

Or you could answer and we could talk through
how bad the weather is, how we've been doing,
and then get to the poignant silence, that hum
in the background that coils through the wires
into my ear, down the canal, and sinks into my heart
until the pressure becomes too much. Until
I tell you that its Sunday. That I need the 1994
Tony Award winning musical for 3 across, and hopefully,
you'll give me the right answer.
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
We used to sit in your parent's basement
with your two dogs on their little beds
in the corner by the old desktop computer,
wooden hand-me-down grandmother cabinetry,
lace doilies underneath all the candles
on the coffee table. I made you turn out the lights.
We would sit there and pretend
that we could find something better to do
than kiss between commercials
or talk about all the things we used
to dream about in high school, how I
got mine and how yours were like
the back bumper of a car that got left
out in the rain too long-- a little rusty.

Your kissing was a little rusty,
but I let it go because you didn't make fun
of me ordering a double grilled cheese
on our first date. You also didn't judge
when I got drips on my dress
from my ice cream cone. I can still
remember the way you'd yell at me
for stopping too far out at intersections,
laughing how I was gonna get us killed
one day, but I think
you just really loved to hear me sing
over you. I think you really loved

me, and here I was playing teeter
totter on curbs in little jean shorts
with a guy who gave me a slice
of leftover pizza. Here I was, burning
down your own ambitions because
they didn't seem as glittery as my own,
because you didn't quite match all the sketches,
all the plans I had on my map. Because
if we were to draw straws I always thought
you would come up a little short.
I think you really loved me and I left you
like a penny in between that couch
we used to sit on.
Jan 2016 · 1.3k
Wanting to Stay
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
You asked if I was going to stay, I nodded,
but I'm just waiting here until your coffee cools,
until your feet go numb from sitting on them
so you have to switch positions, until the letters
magnetized to your fridge stop twisting themselves
into "sorry." Until I feel better about not calling you later.

Last night you asked if I liked Bon Iver,
I nodded, but I only did that in hopes that I could see
what the rest of your bra looked like, because
the strap was barely falling off your shoulder,
and I know you tried to tuck it neatly
under the straps of your dress, but darling,
I want to love you like a disaster. I want to tear
into your skin like your bones are a present,
it's Christmas morning, and I'm that little kid
sitting on the stairs, peaking. I want to line up
my heart with yours like they are those fridge magnets
with the thinest of barriers between them, your chest
a tiny cage that I have the key to, hidden
underneath my tongue. I want to rock you to that song
your telling me is your favorite that I promise
I'm not going to remember the name of. I want your sheets
curled between your toes as you breathe into my neck,
into my mouth, into my brain. I want to use your ribs
like a guitar, stroke them in a rhythm only I know,
only the two of us can hear the sound.
I want to come this close to falling
for you before I have to break free.

You asked if I really had to go, I nodded,
but in my mind I'm leaving you clues:
footprints on your carpet, my belt on the dresser,
my smile as I watched you through
the crack of light between the bathroom door
try to put your hair up ten different times
before you came to bed, just so you can find
my heart between the pillow cases
as I pull my car out of the driveway.
Jan 2016 · 1.4k
Second Dates
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
We ate chicken sandwiches, mine
no bun, at a table with an 80's
geometric design on top of two silver
metal legs with our legs
intertwined. I tried
to draw a comic on the wrapper,
but you kept making me laugh
by reenacting the conversation
we had with the lady at the register
who gave us the wrong change,
but using a baby's voice instead.
The boy mopping the floors wished
desperately that we would leave, but
you looked so cute with ketchup
on your lip and I really, really
didn't want you to drop me off.
There was an Adele song
on the radio that we've heard for the second
time, but you sound more like
a forgotten track to a John Hughes film--
a little heavy, a little messed up, a whammy
bar progression with blonde hair
who wore jeans and had a really cool car.
I'd like to kiss you like Molly Ringwald
does Judd Nelson in that movie
we talked the whole way through as it played
on Netflix. I'd like to wear you
like a bad haircut; something no one else
understands but I pull off effortlessly.
You feel effortless to me. So refill
my take-out cup with five different sodas,
make a scene as we leave the restaurant,
my hand laced up in yours, and let me drink
you in as I pretend we aren't driving
back home just yet.
Jan 2016 · 1.4k
Out in the Garage
Sophie Herzing Jan 2016
I must have been at least eight years old
when I started playing doctor in my garage,
using long gardening tools as skeletons
and drawing scattered veins with colored
pencils on sketches of the human brain.
I used to set up little name tags on the floorboards.
My parents had a plastic bin full of sticks
to help the plants grow straight that I used
as pointers, attacking each ventricle
of this made up heart with detail. I'd examine
my imaginary person and tell the entire
classroom just how to fix them up right.

Now, I'm twenty one and I must have tried
to fix you up at least ten different times.
I molded you with my hands like soil,
nurturing you with soft kisses and coffee
in the mornings. I'd even try to pull your nightmares
out from the roots, tie up the frayed ends,
and throw them into the compost. I used
my own spine like those pointers to help you
grow up straight, grow up different than all
the memories you'd blurt out like bubbles
when trying to breathe underwater. Memories
like falling asleep accidentally on the bus
just to be awoken by the driver back at the station,
the way that pity candy bar must have tasted
as you waited in a nasty plastic seat
for your mom who wasn't even worrying.
I tried to dissect you from the outside in.
Read your body like it was directions, but
I'm still just a kid in a too big overalls
playing doctor out in my garage.

You are bigger than the pretend desks
with the broken pencils inside. You are more
fragile than the yarn that I would loop
around my neck like a fake teacher's badge.
You have way too many pieces for me to count
on a skeleton, but if you let me I will try
to memorize them all, label them
with sidewalk chalk, put them together
again with Elmer's glue. If you let me,
I will let you slip on my nostalgia
like a patient's gown, let you relive
a tiny moment of the childhood that was stolen
even if it's just for a little while, even
if it's just pretend.
Dec 2015 · 1.2k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
It was May, but we drove out to the shore
anyway in my big sweater and purple
cotton scarf wrapped around my neck,
holding it up to my chin as we waited
for the heat to start up in the car. My breath
looked like a cloud when I laughed, my lips
two inches from yours as I pulled
you by the strings of your black sweatshirt.
I grabbed two bags of sour patch kids, trying
to throw them sideways into your mouth
as you drove, a scattered trail of neon green
and yellow left on the foot mat under
the wheel, two our three
stuck between the crease in your seat.
I know it wasn't sunny, but I swear it tried
to peak through the overcast, or maybe the gray
sheen of it off the pavement is what made
your face shine. Your black hair looked so cool
on your pale skin, yelling at me to get
my ***** red sneakers off the dashboard. I tried
to write a little poem on your hand
with my fingers as it traced your bones
like a maze while you let it rest on the console.
We played that CD from that band I didn't know
you loved, and I promise I ******* up all the words,
but I just like to hear your try to sing over me.

I made you swear not to splash me
when we tried to let the ocean kiss
our toes, a salty welcome to the love affair
I had with the way you made me bite
my lip when I almost smiled too much
at the way your eyes moved when you talked
about one of your favorite things or about
how big the ocean was and how small
you were, even if you never said it just
like that. I could tell what you meant.
You did it anyway. The water was so cold
on my cheeks, my ribs clashing into one
another like a song my head hadn't had
the time to learn yet. You held them
in place while holding me. You kissed
the summer from my lips and asked
the sun to come out just for a moment
while I made tiny castles out of pink shells
and faded driftwood pieces leftover
from the winter. We ran out of iced tea
so we drank each other in, in layers,
on the sand with our jeans rolled
up to our ankles, letting the mask
of almost blue skies envelope us
in a Saturday afternoon spent
figuring out little things like old
memories or each other's favorite movies.
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
If you were to come to me in the form
of a paper person linked by the knuckles
of other paper people, I would decorate
you with thick markers and call you
my soldier. I'd crown you in yellow smudges,
give you a sword out yarn and some cheap

You came to me in the form of a leftover
sports player with knees that needed therapy
and a size too big gym shorts. I fell for the sound
of you hitting your head off the microwave
when we were trying to kiss in my kitchen,
the way your hair felt in the spaces between
my fingers, how you always took the left
sock off before the right. I made you
into the paper figure next to mine, the half
who's creases matched up perfectly,
who we wanted the same exact things
as I. If you were to come to me now
in the form of water I'd boil you to make tea.
I'd put three sugars into you when you beg
me for none. I'd make you into some tragedy
that I'd hide underneath my bed in the way
of nasty journal entries and tired poems.
I'd love you like a miracle, like a prayer,
when really you are just a guy
who loves funny movies and can't
wake up for breakfast on time.
Dec 2015 · 1.8k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
My peach yogurt tastes like your skin
in the morning when you used to stay
at my apartment, the leftover sweat
of a night spent loving each other,
and the sun slipping through my *****
blinds, while I'm eating my breakfast
at my desk checking emails, always peeking
over at you, bare-chested, snoring
through the sound of my fan and my music
turned down extra low.

It's five months later and my peach yogurt
tastes strangely like that iced tea
I had instead of liquor on the night my friends
threw a party in my living room, us
sneaking off to my bedroom just to kiss
ourselves through another evening
we'd rather spend in our underwear watching
a movie over smiling in group pictures
or dancing to cheap country music.

It's so much later and my yogurt
still tastes a little bitter, a little sour
on my tongue as I try to swallow
a breakup that's bigger than a jawbreaker.
It still kind of tastes like the bottom
of my sink as I put my dishes in it
just to wake you up, watch you
get dressed in a pair grey sweatpants,
sticky hair that I'd comb through.

It's far too late for me to think about
your hand in mine as we'd walk
as far as we could before we'd have to separate.
It's far too late and far too many people
have intercepted your memories and turned
them into something new to smile about,
but today I pulled the lid off the container
and licked the silver side clean
just to be reminded of how sweet
things like you used to taste.
Dec 2015 · 1.4k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
You dipped into me like a pool
you hadn't swam in all summer, a hole
in the back of your mind you almost forgot
was still there. It was as if you predicted
the big splash, the droplets like crystals
I could see through to your heart, reading
your feelings like a bestseller on a lounge chair,
basking in the sun on the side. You broke
through my surface with your hands, those hands
that strip me down to just my tan
and hold my ribs like a steering wheel, driving
our bodies together as I kiss the chlorine
from your lips. I'd wrap you up in a towel
just to trace the ***** of it from hip to hip,
use that momentum to tell you
how much I love the way your smile looks
when you think my eyes are closed
as we lay on top of the sheets with a fan
circulating in the limited space we leave between
my baby sundress and your khaki shorts,
our bare feet playing with each others toes.
I like the way your hands feel in my hair,
pulling it down the line drawn on my back
with your knuckles, landing in the dimples
of my back like a raft, floating
on the feeling suspended in this moment
where I bite your lip and you sigh into another kiss.
I like how it doesn't get dark until eight,
how you make little circles around my hipbones,
the sound of your laugh as it bounces off my own,
smiling into another push as you pull
my heart over yours into the shade to cool.
Dec 2015 · 1.3k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
We killed the lights and found
the way to each other’s lips like magnets
who had been denied their center of gravity
for awhile. You stripped me down,
measured my sweet spots out in sugar spoons,
and savored me like a treat you hadn’t had
since you were a kid, all the nostalgia
landing on your tongue as you molded me
with your hands. My ribs pushed back then pulled
again, like bread, underneath the covers.
You whispered my name like a song
you can’t let yourself forget the words to.
I followed the map of your neck with my kisses,
retracing my steps as we danced in my bed
to the familiar sound of a tiny fan
and the TV turned down low, the light
making shadows on your cheeks as the screen
changed, my eyes dodging them just to capture
a clearer image of the face I dreamed
and dreamed of again. You know my body

like a monologue, writing me all the way through,
smiling at your favorite parts, and every time
I fall into this routine I hope that maybe
this ending is different, maybe you’ve decided
to rewrite the last page. Maybe I won’t have to look back
at our sour memories, maybe this time
we will leave the bookmark in the same spot
and kiss each other through all those times we said
it had been too long.
Dec 2015 · 1.4k
Before the Bomb Goes Off
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
I’m not sure you know what it’s like to love
someone you know is only going to demolish you.
What it’s like to give your body to someone
who doesn’t care what it would look like
turned inside out, the beauty of it
dripping from your bones, the words that haunt
you when the lights go out, the dreams you swore
to catch but just nearly missed.
I’m not sure you know what it’s like to watch
for the expiration date, wait for
that last good day before the question
is asked, the “where is this going?”
the self-promises not to reach out to him
days after you’ve gotten the wrong answer.
I’m not sure you know what it’s like to prepare
bomb shelters out of empty Ben & Jerry’s,
your roommate’s wine, your favorite leggings
and a blank document. I don’t think you know
what it’s like to play tag with each other’s tongues
in your bed while you just wait
for it to be empty again.

I love all the things you do,
all the stupid little hair flips and the smiling
between kisses, how you cradle my face like you just know
you’re going to tear my smile apart one day,
but you don’t get it.

You don’t know what it’s like to be the girl
everyone breaks. To have to watch days
on your calendar pass by while crossing your fingers
that today isn’t the day he grows tired of your jokes,
the day he finds the sparkle has faded, the day
the disinterest starts. You don’t know
what it’s like to hold someone you know isn’t ever
going to be yours.
Dec 2015 · 1.1k
I Would Have Loved To
Sophie Herzing Dec 2015
I would have loved to have kissed you through
your polo shirt, to have felt your leather chest
on the palms of my hand, get my tongue caught
in the feeling of yours. I bet you would have held
my face, one of those guys, who cradles cheekbones
like pottery. I imagined us, feet tangling in sheets
as we wrestle each other in a small bed
pinning arms against the headboard, pulling ribs
closer to the other so they can connect
in their respective grooves. I would have loved
to have played catch with your smile, circle
your eyes with my own, nibble your shoulder
as we collide. I would have loved to,

but I'm still being haunted by ghosts in good underwear
who gave me more than just a body
for a month or two. By boys who swore
that the time wasn't right now, but it was coming
as fast as it could. I've been sliced open
by flea market promise rings with crooked diamonds,
and I would have loved to have used
you to stitch me back together. But you
are just a boy with your parents wallet,
sweetness baked into tight khaki's
and some really cool vans. You are not
the remedy I attempt to find in Bacardi bottles
or a blank document or even cups of tea.
You are too good for this part of me.
I'm sorry for teasing you with my jeans
and the bit of skin I let peak between
my belt and the rest of my blouse.
Imagine what that would have felt like
on your belly while the November breeze
crept through your open window?
I would have loved to.
Nov 2015 · 1.1k
Sophie Herzing Nov 2015
He was cute. His baby face cheeks
were highlighted in the soft yellow glow
of the stage lights before the performance began.
He had on a blue sweater, almost too blue,
with khaki’s I’m sure his mom bought him.
But he smiled at me, constantly, before the lights dropped
while I was pretending to read my program.

Across the theater, he blushed, biting his lips
when he realized I caught him. He was cute.
I think I’ve said that already.
But he was no you.

And can you imagine how guilty, no
how stupid I felt in that moment?
Can you imagine how my heart
must have looked sitting between my heels
on the linoleum floor? Imagine all the pieces
trying to force themselves back together enough
just to smile back at this boy across the aisles.

I’m so done feeling like I’m cheating on someone
who isn’t even answering my calls. I’m done
begging myself to stop cuddling with that bear
you gave me last Valentine’s Day. Can you imagine
the actor I’ve become? Fixing myself up in eyeliner
and turtleneck sweaters that hug me a little too tight
just to seem like I still have it together. I’m just like
those dancers in Cabaret. I’m putting on a show,
smiling at the boy across the aisles, hoping you’re
in the audience, watching me shine.
Oct 2015 · 699
A Couple Months In
Sophie Herzing Oct 2015
I’m mad at you for keeping the book open
and not telling me what chapter we’re on,
what pages you skipped, what summary
you tried to read but got bored with.
I’m mad at you for telling me you would stop in
and you didn’t. I’m mad at you for keeping me
in sheets all alone waiting for a phone call,
pretending that I wanted to just stay in and paint
pictures that I’ll tear up anyway, or that I really
really wanted to do laundry on a Saturday night.
I’m mad at you. I’m mad at you and why

is that so hard to tell you? The words reside
in my chest—they are rehearsed. I’ve whispered
them a thousand times to myself in the shower,
about how I’m frustrated and worn down
and confused as to what happened, how I could let
something I swore I memorized slip through my fingers.
Then you show up, clean shaven, perfect curves
from your hips down to your knees, and I lose it.
I swallow all my syllables and drown myself
in a kiss I’ve begged for. I can’t tell you

because I’m scared that one wrong phrase
and I’m out the door, just a girl you used to run away with.
I’m scared that I’m losing something, that I’ll wind up lost
if I disconnect myself from something I’ve envisioned
over and over again in my future. So I don’t say

anything. I just wait until the last possible second, minutes
before midnight, and I cry myself into a bear you gave me,
trying to figure out where I went wrong, what happened,
what page did I miss?
Sep 2015 · 1.6k
My Six-Year-Old Father
Sophie Herzing Sep 2015
My mom used to grind tomatoes every October
for canning with this metal monster that kept it's mouth
clenched on the edge of our kitchen table
for weeks at a time. I used to climb up the stools
just to barely crank the tail around and around,
watching the vegetable guts spill into a cauldron.

She would give me a mini Krackle bar
if I could count all of the jars to at least ten,
their gold rims like little crowns that she would carefully
twist over their heads, the reflection from the setting sun
bouncing off my Kindergarten cheeks. My dad,
pretending to be a cartoon character behind her back
as I covered my mouth in secret laughter. I can't prove it,
but I bet she smiled as she rolled her eyes, pretending
not to be totally in love with a forty year old man
who's heart was as young as his daughter. Now,

she can't even stir Campbell's soup without crying.
The sound of the crank is only like the sound of the car
as they tore apart it's skeleton just to find my dad's baseball cap
stuck in the glass of the windshield. So instead,
now ten years later, I tuck pictures in places
I know she won't look, say prayers when she's gone to sleep,

and pull the curtain over the jars
of the homemade spaghetti sauce in the cellar.
May 2015 · 1.4k
Sophie Herzing May 2015
She’s the type to eat a bowl of ice cream,
shoot a gun, and be fine. I’ve never seen so many pieces
under someone’s rug before, but she keeps
herself in cookie jars, in ink cartridges, in book binds,
anything she can find. I’m surprised she even looks
in the mirror anymore. It’s not possible that she’s herself whole.
But she braids her hair back when she rides her horse,
she channels old Miranda Lambert
and pumps that kerosene melody through her veins
like it wont’ catch fire. I’ve seen her
poke her head through old sweaters like she thinks
it’ll be something new this time. I’ve seen her paint
her skin in expensive body washes, the washcloth
like sandpaper as she tries and tries to smooth
all of the uneven edges she’s collected.

I bet you could watch her memories in a wishing pool,
like in a mini mall, with all the pennies heads down.
They would spin themselves around the surface,
suffocating one another so that only the good ones would shine,
but she dare not pour herself into something that reflective.
It would only reveal what she ties into the waistband
of her old American Eagle jeans every morning,
and that would just be too **** hard. It’s easier
to venture ******* with a crummy perspective
and a realistic approach than it would be to even consider
that maybe this time it wasn’t her fault
for expecting to much, and that maybe people just ***** up.
That maybe, for once she wouldn't blame it on it getting her hopes up
that made her fall, but that no one was there to catch her.
I’d rather watch her cry herself to sleep for months

than to pretend I admire the harsh falsetto she bites back
in all of her lullabies. But she’s the type
to burn old pictures for fun, to delete contact names,
to swallow all her sadness and paint her bedroom a new color
than watch herself come undone.
Apr 2015 · 1.3k
Sophie Herzing Apr 2015
She told my dad he was “kind of an *******”
the first time we had dinner with him,
at this place called The Pear Room
but she was disappointed that there were not only
no pear decorations, but that there was not a single dish
with a pear included. She ordered a dry martini
with three olives on a skewer,
but she never took one sip. She gulped.

She came at me like an avalanche in jean mini skirt.
I tried to run ahead of her, but she picked up speed
and tossed me right into her path with scratch marks
on my back to prove it. You’d never know it
by the way she twirls her hair into a bun at the top of her head
just to take her make-up off, how she laughs
instead of getting ******, or how she sometimes
orders her dessert before her meal, but she’s just a girl
who puts on her toughness in the morning like a slip.
She folds

her dollar bills into fourths before she puts them in her wallet,
and she strings herself like paper chains
against the sun every day as she drives to a job she hates.
She listens to Miles Davis on her record player,
asks me to dance at half past eleven on nights I need to sleep,
but I get up anyway. I pour us both a glass of Coke
and try to capture the reflection she doesn’t see of herself,
mirror it in my eyes, just so she knows that she
is not just another item on the menu.
Apr 2015 · 1.1k
Ten Years Later
Sophie Herzing Apr 2015
If I painted a picture of you
I think I’d call it Daniel and his Favorite Cigarette
and I’d delay passing the sugar
because you couldn’t wait four more seconds
for your daughter to finish her story.
I would buy all of the newspapers in town
with the crummy headline Fauster & Brown
Up in Sales for 3rd Week Straight
and burn them
all the way through to the sports section
just to watch your favorite team’s numbers
go up in flames. I would rewrite
all those Father’s Day cards, remove the empty seat
in the third row on the left from my poetry reading
that I had reserved, stop putting new batteries
in the remote when you complains. But of course

I won’t. I’ll just make a scene at Sunday brunch
after we finish saying prayers to my dead big brother
at his grave, that dash like a tattoo on my bones—
Yes, Dad, I could have worn a tie
but I like the fact that I still smell like yesterday
cause I know my brother will never know
the scent of tomorrow. I will only curse
between sips of coffee and I’ll stroke my sisters hair
so she knows at least someone has been listening
these past ten years.
Mar 2015 · 1.2k
Cigarettes on Saturdays
Sophie Herzing Mar 2015
My apartment still smells like cigarettes from Saturday
when a couple girls with crop-top ambitions
drank themselves through flip cups and through guys’ eyes
who purposely landed on their belly-buttons.
I might have stood on the couch to sing that song,
but I’ve fallen for you all wrong. After another remix,
everyone left and we played footsies while leaning
in the doorway of my bathroom, the wood trim chipping
but your smile brightening in the yellow overhead light.
And I promised I wouldn’t find myself
come Monday morning sitting here with my knees knocking,
and knocking, and knocking themselves back into my brain
that keeps reminding my heart that we expired last season,
and that it’s just too **** late.
I promised myself I wouldn’t wipe my tears on my sweatshirt sleeves,
or run my toes on the tile, or breathe in another toxic pack
of what I essentially believe is you. You are the *** I pour myself into.
You are the chance I keep giving myself seconds of.

I know I shouldn’t have separated myself that quickly, or without notice,
but honestly I didn’t know how to attach myself to someone
unless it was delicate and barb-wired together. I’m sorry I ******* it up,
back then, before the mess, wherever you’d like to pinpoint
the blame on our timeline
but you are the only chance I keep giving myself seconds of.
So I’ll distance myself between my body and this frame,
cut out text-message screen shots and paste them to my frown
so maybe I can remember what it was like to smile
without ******* cigarette smoke between my teeth.
Mar 2015 · 1.1k
Sophie Herzing Mar 2015
He holds the corners of my smile with his thumbs
like the way he balances his self-worth on top of how much I believe
he can hold on the surface of his heart without caving.
And I know that maybe the inside of his dreams
have been filled with wallpaper reminders of a dad gone missing
or fixing cars on Saturday’s, but his hands
are callused just enough to know they’re real, and they cover
me with their warmth at night as he loves on my body,
folding in my ribs until I’m weak.

Sometimes I watch him while he sleeps, tucking
my whispers behind his ear and taking off the blanket
from his legs cause I know he’s too hot, but he always
makes sure the goosebumps on my body come from his touch
and not the way the winter breathes.

I like to think we met let letters do,
in a 2 a.m. sentence or a delusional poem
that seeps from the cracks in worried souls and fingers.  
Our outlines, the ***** of his side and the bumps of my hips
fit together like cursive and I could write him for a lifetime.
Feb 2015 · 1.6k
Ocean City, Maryland and You
Sophie Herzing Feb 2015
We were sitting in metal lawn chairs, off balance,
rocking between one chair leg and the next
on the cracked sidewalk just in front
of some ice cream shop I don’t remember the name of.
But I do remember how the drips of melted chocolate
looked like two teardrops sitting on your orange shirt collar,
and I do remember how the breeze would fit
through the triangle-shape of sky in the crook of your elbow
as you leaned in on the table just to steal a lick from my cone.
I hate salmon and sea foam colors, but somehow the reflection
of the bold letters in the metal shine of the counter looked good
on your cheekbones, highlighting you in the softest ocean neon.
And I thought we’d take a walk on the shore like a Jason Mraz song,
but we just made love in the hotel room, my sand-stained bikini bottoms
drying on the balcony ledge, seagulls landing on your socks
with the toes still soaked cause we just couldn’t wait
to jump in, like I do to your skin, when we’re alone and dancing
on top of one another to the muffled sound of the waves
hitting the screens of the sliding door.

I could pack myself
for months inside of you, just travel through your smile like a boarding pass.
And you’d think I’d be out of words by now, but I savor you
like sour patch kids on the car ride, stuffing my face with your sweetness
until my tongue is sore and I have to remedy myself
with another night of tangling myself
in your arms like umbrella stands, shading me
from the curve of the sun as it dies,
fading into the night like we do
when we toss ourselves into our cheap, road trip evenings,
all the money we shouldn’t have spent, and the way our bodies line up
end to end.
Feb 2015 · 1.3k
Sophie Herzing Feb 2015
I should have looked both ways.
Instead I followed the way your ribs
concave when you breathe like an optical illusion,
your lips the remedy, hypnotizing me
until I dangled like a puppet
in your amazing little show.
I danced for you on table tops just to grab your attention,
hid my coat in the corner of the kitchen, and stole
another beer from the back of the fridge
like you stole my heart when you walked in.
I created myself, like a piece of art
with lines you could tangle yourself into,
caves where my passion hung like a stalagmite,
glittering in your oppression and hardening with your lust
just when the light hit me right. You followed
my brush strokes on the page until you got distracted,
and I should have looked both ways
before I crossed myself into you. I should have noticed
the girl behind me in the black leggings and belly
that was flatter than your ambition, or the one
with the dark hair and cherry lips,
but I shouldn’t judge. I’m a carbon copy
with a sensible heart and dreams that could fill
perfume bottles if only you would take them off the self.
Feb 2015 · 1.6k
Looking Back on Bad Habits
Sophie Herzing Feb 2015
In high school, I used to crawl
past my dad’s side of the bed so I could whisper,
at midnight, to my mom that I was leaving
and going to your place, and that I’d be back
by five in the morning, because I was that good girl
in the knee-high socks with the headband
that matched my uniform. So, I told my mom
that I was going over, watched her sleepy eyes
drift back to her pillow corner. I’d start my car,
put on that sappy John Mayer song you hate,
but know I love, and head through the center of town
on the ghost roads, driving like a memory
with four wheels and only three more miles to go.
You’d let me in the back door, careful not to shut the door
to the kitchen too tight, and we’d kiss
under the aquarium light.

I’d watch the shatters
of light split with the blades of your ceiling fan
as you’d remind me over and over again
with your words that I couldn’t stay long
while your hands pulled me in closer to your chest.

You were the first bad thing I let myself have.

I’d have to leave before your dad would get up for work,
so I’d pull on my sweatpants, wipe the makeup
from beneath the crease of my eyes, kiss you goodbye
for who knew how long it would be that time, and I’d cry
in the car the whole way home
because I knew that we were like grains of sand
in an hourglass
just waiting for our turn to fall.
Sophie Herzing Feb 2015
I have to make him a turkey sandwich,
crusts cut off, mayo on the left piece of bread,
in two triangle halves every single night
before he goes to sleep on the right side of the bed
with two pillows, fluffed twice each, slippers
tucked neatly underneath the bed skirt.
And every night I wonder
what would happen if I forgot the pickle on the side,
like the one time
we ran out of cheese and my car had a flat tire
and the supermarket was so far, but boy
did he give it to me. I’ve never seen someone count
to one-hundred so fast with their finger taps
before the table flipped. Never have I seen
someone clean up glass so slowly, each piece
thrown in the trash individually
just like my pieces
that have been carved away year after year,
loaf after loaf, as my eyes droop backwards
and rest on his haircut that I give
every six weeks on a Wednesday. Sometimes,
I try to kiss his neck when I let the scissors slip,
but he always reminds me that this slot
is “haircut time” and there’s no necessity in kissing
anyway. And I’ve tried to respect
his attic closet compartments with the key
that had gone missing when he was fifteen,
and I’ve tried to wish on misshapen pieces of cereal
in my bowl because I’m that desperate for a miracle.
Do you know?
Do you know how hard it is to lie next to someone
who you know doesn’t dream of you, not because he doesn’t
want to, but because he can’t. He can’t
do so many things and sometimes I’ll lay out a green tie
on a workday instead of blue just to watch him blow up
because at least that’s a feeling. At least that’s not white walls
and another **** turkey sandwich. And I know that’s sinful,
and I also know that I fold my hands wrong when I pray,
but I’ve tried to shape him for years and all I’ve gotten
is a cast with nothing to fill the mold. And I know my suitcase
has been packed for weeks, but. . . Dear God, you know I’ll never leave.
I save my laundry for Saturdays, don’t tell him why I’m crying
myself back to sleep, and check the fridge one last time
for the right deli meat.
Sophie Herzing Feb 2015
You are my personal taste of sorbet, sun-tan lotion, botched
slices of the sun that sit on my tongue like pills
before I swallow. I hate necessity, and crave your entity
in ice cream scoop sizes. I want to pull the batteries out of your back,
**** the juice onto my palette and spit it back into your eyes
so maybe you can feel the sting you left me with when you pushed
my heart off the side of the bed while pulling your pelvis closer to my head.
I hate when we’re cooking and you slide ice cubes down my shirt,
but did you know that’s the only time I ever felt anything
from you that wasn’t warm and bitter and bruised? I think
that sometimes your nightmares even scare me.
I can feel them when you sleep,
your arm flinching beneath my neck, how you curl
your toes against my calves and grind your teeth like you’re trying to fit
your square memories into the oval-shaped hole of my spine.
I get that that’s why you’re a little crooked, but you used me
to straighten yourself like the post a tomato plant wraps its stem around.
You took all the nutrients from my center and fed yourself.
You are the palm tree in my snow globe, but no matter
many times I shake you
the snow still falls on my shoulders.
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
I stopped mid-sidewalk at 11p.m. tonight
with my hat on backwards just to match my heart
and my sweatpants tucked into my boots
with green acrylic-splatter on the left toe
from when I was ****** and painting you as hard as I could
into the paper. I stopped
and attempted to fit myself into the splits
the clouds would make in the skies. I tried to make
a tiny infinity out of the two-pack Oreo wrapper
in my jacket pocket, but all I got was a crumble
that sort of looked like your face sitting in my palm
when I pull your cheek to the side and drag one last
goodnight kiss out of you. So, I threw it on the ground,
and I know that’s littering, but come on you treat me
like trash anyway. I pictured myself making one of those
sled-ride snow angels right in the middle of the grass,
and in my haphazard mind I figured it would be cinematic
and lively, but it was just ******* freezing and I was soaked
the rest of the way home. But I did it. At least I did something,
while you lie in your bed with tomorrow’s practice clothes laid out
just dissolving social media pixels in your head. And you could be calling
some other girl, how would I know?
She could be lying next to you with her yoga pants
tossed neatly on the bedpost, you ******* her while your roommate is asleep.
How would I know? The most you ever tell me
is how much beer is in the fridge or how you just won’t
have enough time to **** me quick before you gotta be somewhere
so I should just come back next week
like I’m a shopper waiting for the ripe strawberries to come in.
So I stopped in the snow and I cried a little
because I’ve let myself get so stupid over your sometimes.
And I hoped, hugely, that you would for once see me
slide into your dreams and make it into your mornings
like a gentle reminder that screams please, don’t forget about me
and hugs you like the sun,
but how would I know, anyway.
Jan 2015 · 861
Over Here
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
My heart’s over here
you said, lying on your back,
with my head on the hard part of your shoulder,
making circles around your chest plate
like I was trying to drill into your bones
just to find the rose nectar that swam
in your blood so I could finally taste something
that wasn’t late and sour and mustered out of pity.
You misheard me. I was just making sure
my heavy head with all these thoughts
magnetizing themselves to others weren’t causing
your arm to manifest a maze of pins and needles.
I just wanted to make sure you were okay. *My heart’s over here

you whispered as we cradled ourselves in the shadows
my comforter made when caught against
the lamppost light creeping in from my window.
But I wondered, even if I screamed it, would you be able to hear
where the knocking was coming from? You look at me
but sometimes, I swear, you think it’s just a combination
of alphabet letters that I’m not expecting you to remember.
You look at me, but here I am
cramming myself into your framework and painting myself red
so maybe I’ll stand out against all the other kaleidoscope bits
that fall around you. You look at me, but my heart’s over here.
My heart’s over here! I let it drip from my mouth when you’re asleep
so I know you won’t hear it, because even though I know
you don’t really care, I’d never ask you to leave.
Jan 2015 · 995
Fitting Me In
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
It’s like you’re a pair of headphones—
coming in two different ears, and I’m bouncing
between one beat and the words that fall from my mouth
like ransom. I swear to god, if you’d just let me fall into you
the wreckage would be small, you’d just have to cradle me
like you do all the other bits that land in your lap
during the so called “suffocation” of your busy schedule.
I get that I’m too big to fit onto a calendar.
I get that sometimes I wear green just because it’s your favorite color.
But picture us together, and not with my clothes in a puddle
on the tile floor while the shower runs. Not with your hand
playing itsy-bitsy spider on my legs as you let your tongue
linger on the dips in my neck. Picture us on the sidewalk
with a lucky penny between our shoes, and how beautiful
our reflections would look even in that tiny surface area. Then,
imagine me in the stands with your over-sized t-shirt
and you could pick me out among the crowd. How about
our hands? Just picture them tangling together, your thick knuckles
knocking against my mother’s old ring. Or even take those circles you draw
on my hipbones and practice them on my palms.
I promise you it’s a lot prettier.
I promise you I know the route, I’ve been around that elliptical
that is your I’m sorry laced with every interpretation that is
YOU JUST DON’T FIT. I know I don’t fit,
and that you think we’re just too misshapen, but do you ever remember,
in that tipsy mind of yours, how slender my body fits into yours
like we’re two half-moons just making a sliver? I just wish you thought of me,
if at all, a little bigger.
Jan 2015 · 834
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
I just wanted to say
that I forgot what I wanted to say
because you look so cute bending over
to scoop the cereal out of the bottom container,
and your smile slants just like a three-day crescent moon
when you spill some Fruity Pebbles on the ground,
or how you cradle your cup of milk
like sometimes you cradle me when we’re half asleep
and our dreams start to play tag with one another,
dressing themselves in the fog we’ve created
from the steam our kisses drag out. And I guess I get
how ******* you get when you’re sneakers are unlaced
but your mind is tripping between hours spent here
smoking this and banging yourself up with that. I guess I get
how you can loose focus, but I’ve caught you at your lowest
and I’ve straightened you out just by kissing the pressure points
until you’ve been strained like elastic and your heart has thickened.
I just wanted to say
that I forgot what I wanted to say
because you pull at my thighs like I’m made of clay
when we’re messing around in the shower,
letting the water fall around us like our own little storm—
you’re the perfect sound of thunder. But you’ve left me
in puddles on my carpet, pulsing to the beat of my fluid heart
as I try to remember exactly what it is about your face that I love so much.
I bet you’re getting tired of hearing me ask if you’re up,
of if your’re busy, or if you could just knock on my door two times
instead of once so maybe I could feel it through the thick skin
I’ve grown over the years of stopping and locking and shutting down.  
And I guess I get that. But I also, just. . . you—
I forgot what I wanted to say.
Jan 2015 · 925
In the Kiln, We Fire
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
Apparently, they met at some gas station
and she had a little oil on her cheek
so he had to tell her, whether out of humbleness
or kindness or the Tender, Love, I’ll always keep
wrapped around my promise ring. Apparently,
she’s ****** and told some half-bent story of her aura
being changed and how she convinced a homeless man
to take her extra two slices of pizza. I guess she possess
some sort of sleepy attitude that compliments the simple beauty
in the mole on her upper lip or the way her hair
tangles itself in pretty little coils with her blooming wild.
Apparently, it’s not that hard to find time to ****
cause I always believe
the “business meeting” pitch and she knows where
we keep the key. And I guess my sensible heart
never thought twice about how the bed never matched up
quite the way I made it the morning, or how we were always
just one coffee mug short at the end of the week. Apparently,
I’ve been wearing her clothes and I’ve been sleeping
in her skin, or at least the shadow of it, left on his arms
when he pulls me in like a dance at the end of the evening.
Not even a shower could rinse her off.
Apparently, he still loves me.
But I swear the way I swung that curtain shut
should have hit him hard enough to spit up
some sort of confession that wasn’t soaked in a good front,
or bruised with prudence. I watched his apology drip
like paint from a handmade brush. Apparently,
time is just destructive and even when you’ve smoothed
out all the bubbles before you fire it
things eventually still blow up.
Jan 2015 · 1.0k
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
I fall in love with every backwards hat, the way a boy holds
a Natural Light, his scarred knuckles stretching over the aluminum,
an *** in a great pair of khaki’s, how he bobs his head to the perfect
pre-game song. I fall in love with every you’re so gorgeous, or body scan,
or even when the drunken façade has faded and we are left
hanging onto window curtains and thin sheets, talking
about our dads or how he broke his arm in the 6th grade.
The way he balances his eyes on my shoulder blades, stares
at my lips like he just can’t wait until I stop talking so we can kiss.
I fall for every nightly temptation, every Tuesday morning regret,
every hug around my waist. I fall for every circle drawn with a thumb
around my hip bones, over and over again, until my skin is numb
and my expectation collides with this temporary high. And if you could collect
all the lover’s I left on slips of paper, I bet their sparks would glow purple,
neon confetti in the night air, just like stars. Because they fell,
whether momentarily or not, in love with me somewhere between
the ******* and the kissing and the tongue gracing the corner of my mouth
when he’s trying to pick me up at the party, or how I let my hand sit
in the loop of my jeans, how I take no ******* moonslide line
for bald truth. I just use it to get to people like you, because the fraction
of time in which I live begs for the short-term. It thrives on the idea
that one night and one small shatter is better than a committed sever
of someone you just got too ******* close to. Because I can’t want
to fall for your pride, your integrity, the way you picture your kids
using your old baseball glove. My generation needs fire just to feel a burn.
I can’t want to love you honestly, with dinner date plates, with a door
held open just a little longer, without the liquor. I’m just doll
living in the freelance design of a good time. My bedroom is your heart,
and I wear the lace high up on my thighs, just waiting for someone to play with me.
Jan 2015 · 1.1k
A Little Late Love
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
Sometimes when you’re sleeping, you smash
your nightmares into my pillow with your head,
which is why I think your hair sticks up sideways
when you roll over to me in our mornings
and kiss the back of my neck until the sound
of my own laughter wakes me up. I know you’re colorblind,
but you color me like a book, ignoring all the lines. I glow
in the contour your eyes make of me when you’re listening
to me frame the story I’m spitting at you before 2a.m.
You admire the shape it takes above my head, suspsendig
over the two of us like a mobile that rocks us, safely,
back to sleep. I love thinking about how you take your coffee,
how you put your sweatpants on in the morning, or the feel
of your lips nibbling at my palm as I trace your cheekbones
with my fingers like you’re a charcoal drawing
I never finish because I just don’t want
us to end. And I know that sometimes I like to skip some pages,
but come on, I just like to get to the good part. And I know
I’ve bottled up your sweetness for whatever reason
I had back at the time, and I know that I drive slow,
that I kiss you too long at the door, that I never
let you fall asleep before midnight, but I’ve always been your biggest fan.
I’ve always sort of loved you, even if it was in pieces.
I just got stuck. I just couldn’t find my way there again.
But I drew the curtain a tiny bit this morning so the sun
could highlight your sleepy face before I woke you,
and I covered your belly with the blanket so you wouldn’t be cold,
and I know our chemistry is a little old, but
you’re my favorite thing to hold,
or so I’ve been told.
Jan 2015 · 1.0k
When You Are Finished
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
I stopped pulling you towards me two pieces ago,
when you sliced my vision and ****** out the nectar,
tied the rope around my neck and dropped your anchor.
I tangled the nightmare of you in the wire of my mattress,
and punished your memory with a solid glass of wine
in my closet at two in the afternoon after I had to see you
push in the lock with her laughter on the other side of the door.
I’ve ignored you from the crowd, designed your ****** in my salad bowl,
had to kiss you through chocolate box comforts and a movie.
So, forgive me, if I don’t wrap myself around your infatuation (again)
all because you’ve taken an insomnia interest in me— excuse me,
my body. I don’t want to sound whiny in the form of a line,
but working you through my words and glazing
the misshapen mold I have of you with a poem or two
is the only solace I’ve found in these months of looking down when you pass
and cursing myself in the shower when I think my roommates are asleep.
This felt like falling in love until you had to blacken me
with your own corrupt expectations, until you took me
like a vile little shot and burned me all the way down.

But here I am, freshly rinsed and freshly pried open
from the loneliness, ready to accept your sins like a rotten Eucharist.
No matter the distance or the self-promising or the wasted
advice written on this paper every single night—

I’ll let you skip to the ending. I promise to wear my boots
back to my room and carry my jacket like the heart
you always give back when you’re finished.
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
I’ve got Nike shoe-boxes filled
with newspaper confetti basketball highlights,
a Lucky Charms cereal prize, a hair clip
from the Homecoming dance, picture after picture
of little month-long memories. I’ve got a dozen
temporary candy box boyfriends
who faded just as quickly as they sparked. I’ll reopen
them occasionally, remind myself why my middle school mind
found it so important to save stale Valentine’s Day lollipops
and balance that with the tender, childish idea
that baby love is the realest love and maybe one day
all those text message breakups would come back to me.
I sort
through each dent my heart has suffered that I stowed away
in compartments, but you,
who’ve seen me through the longest,
have no place under my bed. I’ve got nothing
visible to hold of you because truth be told
you’re only my friend if the lights are out and the door is shut.
I have no pop song sweatshirt that still smells like you,
no cliché letters I’ve soaked with tears, no movie tickets,
no dinner matches or menus or pictures that I could cut
if I hated you enough.
I’d have to collect your sweat in a vile and brew it
into a perfume just so the smell could give me something
disgusting enough to feel when I remember you.
If only I could capture my nightmares, remake the images,
mold your body out of actual clay and light you up
without having to kiss your pelvis. We’ve made a mess of this.
You’re just a flame I forgot to blow out.
You're just a name I left hanging on my mouth.
Jan 2015 · 1.0k
My Stolen Parts
Sophie Herzing Jan 2015
The amount of people that I’ve scoped
through my own lenses, mirrored with optimism
weighed against the reality of who people are
beneath their cotton t-shirts is immeasurable.
I want everyone in my picture frame,
and I’ll twist the moral ladder to get there,
because I’ve been taught, ever since I was a little girl
in ballet shoes with my hair coiled neatly at my neck,
that there is far more beneath the glitter. That the light
can be blinding and it takes more than a promising silhouette
to bring people back into the good. I’ve slept with molted men
who’ve slithered into my bed on a nice compliment
and an “original” idea, and I’ve kissed their sore parts
hoping that the sweetness would pour from the cracks
in my lips and be absorbed by their scales. I’ve taken
triple chances on people who said I’ll do better,
and that they’d be better if only I could blush their cheeks
with my own electricity. I’ve harvested the sliver of memories
from each relationship I’ve kindled and melted them
into a ***, letting people sip the potion for themselves
and find a special, solemn rebirth in the wake of my aftermath.
I don’t know how
to have a conversation without saying thank you, or really,
you’re being too kind,
when really I’m the one who’s flicked kindness
from my fingers like leftover water. I’m the one
who’s branded her own version of band-aids, who's healed
those who I could fit in a tiny shoebox back to their own
self-proclaimed hugeness. I’ve beaten myself down to ***** clay,
and that’s why you

have found it so easy to mold me. It’s why I lay your socks out in the morning,
why I drive my mind back and forth in my sleep, why I’ve always been able to rock
your pretty little heart back to me. You captured the remaining ember
left drowning in the wax and made a model of who I used to be
before I let everyone else wear me down.
Dec 2014 · 1.7k
That Was Supposed to Be Me
Sophie Herzing Dec 2014
You think I rub my arms over and over again
because it’s a little chilly and I should have worn a sweater,
but really I need to distract myself from the reflection
of you playing cat’s cradle with her fingers and nuzzling
your kiss into her wild hair. It’s not me who’s there even though
when the moon’s face wears the night to it’s annual masquerade
you’re the one who’s reaching out to me. Maybe we don’t kiss
but we don’t have to, because our souls have been suspended
above our heads like mistletoe and you chose
a long, long time ago to hold her instead of me. And you think
I’ve found recovery in the time, found separation
between the summers, but I tuck my hair behind my ears
and crush my lips back into my teeth not out of habit
but so that I don’t scream, That was supposed to be me!
That was supposed to be me. You know, too, or else you wouldn’t
recall some stupid puddle memory just so I’ll cling
to that last ember in the bottom of my heart and light it on fire.
So I’ll be the one to remind you of the frame you cut from my soft cedar
to put her in. You can turn my light down. I’ve got nothing for you now.
Dec 2014 · 1.4k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2014
You look best in my lamp light. Your belly scar
rough underneath my fingertips as I jump the scratch
and attach myself to your hips, kiss your pelvic bone
until even my teeth can taste your sweetness. I can feel
black kettles and the burn from the ironing board crash of 1999.
When we’re wrestling in my duvet covers, the shadows
cast your memories up like a sanctuary projection. I see red race cars,
your brother jumping on the couch, fishing bait kept
in your back pocket. Your lips taste like liquor but I hear nursery rhymes
from when you were little, wobbly, an over-all dream
in the yard seen through the kitchen window. I know,
that you’ve dressed yourself in bad dreams
and broke yourself over footballs and houses of green paper,
but you look best in my lamp light when my hands
cram your face into my palms, your blush dripping
from you cheeks. Because I see the way
you burrow yourself into my chest when you think
I’ve gone to sleep, and I’ve seen the way your foot catches
on the edge of the woodwork right before you fall.
oh this is a rough one.
Dec 2014 · 1.5k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2014
Be the barcode on my bra strap so maybe
I can finally be sellable skinny. Be my relationship goal,
the text to check outside my door, the 5k, 140 character post
about a teenage dream ****** through low brightness screens.
Be the slam poet screaming whiny, new written love songs
on the shareable Facebook post. And maybe I’m just as bad,
but at least I recognize when my eyes fall numb from staring
at self-expression turned self-obsession. Maybe it’s Jack talking back
through my shot glass or maybe it’s the blacklight absorbed
into my skin. Or maybe it’s a girl in a “vintage” dress just sizing out
bigger than the edges already cut out for her. Maybe it’s me
bending backwards over chivalry and **** coming back from the 90’s.
Don’t blame me for biting into the media sandwich that is magazines
and the indecision of being too clingy if I just freakin’ called you.
Cause picking up the phone is a lot more risky than the kissy-face emoji
at the end of a message. Don’t blame me for consuming
tissue paper lies designed to target my own vulnerability, or my lack
of understanding the truth because all everyone
has ever told me is just a step in the manipulation blueprint
to get what they want, or just get me to bed. I only trust old photographs,
things I wrote down when I couldn’t sleep, my mom, and the dirt
I used to bury my own reflection. Be the 50% off on my receipt
just so I know I got something off. Be the nicotine in my cigarette,
the Blink 182 voice inside my head, the joints that hold me up
where I stand, and maybe I’ll finally know who I am.
Dec 2014 · 1.5k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2014
Back in 2003 I found a piece of me
buried, like a shard of pottery, in the sandbox.
A Hot Wheel’s car, little rusted with one tire missing
that I used to shove in the little zippered flap
of my Powerpuff Girls backpack. Older, fifteen,
I carved another piece of me out and pasted it
to a vanilla letter, sliding the envelope through the slits
in his locker door, and I lost it. I’m not even sure he read it.
Nineteen, faded and little stolen, I threw another piece of me
into my mother’s grave. Plush petals, rosary beads, crystal
liquid drops infused with microscopic memories. I cut
myself in slivers and jammed uneven edges together
just to gusto the void, compact the space, walk solid.
And now, twenty-three, I press my face against a mirror
and slide my arms into a flannel, grandpa, hammy-down.
You took the last piece. You crawled into my guard, tore the lining
and spit your black blood on the blank memoirs I had hanging
next to the split.

Take me, now, if that’s how it’s gunna be. You wanna live
with the dust bunnies in my baggage? Feed off my insecurities,
my staggered breath, or my mercury dreams? I don’t want to be saved.
I’ve made my own maze with only one way out, so you’re trapped
in the Miss Havisham model I’ve made, rotten cake. Build yourself
a new girl from my discards, suckle the marrow from my bones,
and blow, like a glass ornament, a pretty replica of who I am.
Isn’t that what you wanted? Wasn’t that part of the chase?
The sweet idea that you could pull some perfect women out of the rubble?
I bet that’d be nice to show off, you *******. But here’s the catch,

I know I’m broken. You don’t need to remind me. So take
the smiles I’ve learned to draw on my lips for two cents,
and give up the **** fight I know you won’t win.
Dec 2014 · 1.4k
Sophie Herzing Dec 2014
After the last bombing,
boys crowded me like vultures, trying to ****
the last good bit of me out and use it
to revive their own secret pride, make it a little sweeter.
They absorbed the sun-rays from my skin,
drank my kisses in like the final drop from the canteen.
But you showed up, a mirage in khakis and a clean shirt
with hair melted gold and a pressed button-down,
and I pulled you like an afterthought
through the membranes of protection
I made for myself. I caved.
I let myself fall through the reassurances, the promises
of never allowing myself to feel
that sentimental over a night spent sleeping,
your touch like little electric shocks tickling
my skin as you breathed relaxation into my ears
and memorized the ***** of my stomach into my hip.
I climbed through the covers and opened my mouth
as my heart bloomed over you. I guess,

I'm a little dried out. I guess,
since there hasn't been a single call,
that you've noticed how badly shaped I am and how
unsound my actions may be. But, baby,
I meant every thank you, every smile, every little
spotted kiss on your collarbone. And if I have to

I guess I can forget you. Tie myself to my footsteps
as I trace the cracks back to the sand you found me lying in
when you rode my hope like the sun
and proved that maybe the pain has only just begun.
Nov 2014 · 975
Sophie Herzing Nov 2014
Disconnected by the root, wasting
our time between sheets instead
of between conversations You kept
yourself in backwards hats and vague
excuses to the questions I was asking.
I lit myself on fire, extinguished the flame
in the shower after we finished, cursing
at the droplets sliding down the curtain.
***** this! and ***** that after you ******* me
into the enjambment that was your free space—
your convenience. I fit only if you push, I matter
only if it’s after midnight and the world
outside your door and bed frame
doesn’t have to know. In the daylight,
I’m a ghost that you always see. I’m the ruby
spotted from the corner of your eyes, the shine
that hurts to look at, but no one can know.
Of course. No one can know the way your mouth
rests between sighs or how your eyes lock
into mine when your bruising the inside of my thighs.

I’m the extra beer in your back pocket.
I’m the ***** in the towel who’s promising
her better self that she won’t go again,
that she won’t allow herself to try to patch
the promise from too long ago. The relationship,
shattered early, that mended itself crooked,
that became a book thrown at the wall
and a sweet, dissipated call. I’m the secret solemnly kept
at night when you’re drunk and ugly and begging
for some beauty to curl up next to. I’m the last line
in the best country song, the whisper
you scream for when I’m gone.
Nov 2014 · 1.4k
Save Me
Sophie Herzing Nov 2014
To his Best Friend

You can tell him how incredibly annoying
it is that he makes love with his socks on,
and you can tell him that no matter
how many country songs he plays
the jeep will still be broken and the sun
will still go down at five o’clock
despite the garage lights and the cans of Miller.

Tell him I really didn’t notice him when he walked in,
and tell him that maybe I’ll be over to the party Saturday,
or that he walks pigeon-toed and that’s why
he ***** at walking on the curbs.

You can tell him anything you want to, just
don’t tell him that I love the way he holds a spoon
like a shovel or how his hair sticks up in the front
outside his hood in the mornings, or that his pants
don’t fit his waist that dips in from his belly,
soft, skin warm from my body lying on top of his,
and don’t tell him

that the more backwards we bend the more forwards
I fall. Don’t tell him that sometimes I make the bed
just so I can stay longer, please,
don’t tell him that the way he looks in a towel
with water dripping from his bottom lip
makes me want to crawl back into bed, rattle
his bones, and **** the kisses with my teeth
as I dig myself deeper into this infrastructure,
this balance, between hating what I’ve done,
and loving someone
who’s never going to think you’re enough.

Don’t tell him that I’ve strung together our moments
like a necklace and that I wear that burden
on my chest, hoping, between prayers
that I find a way to breathe. Don’t tell him
that I’ve broken over him. Don’t tell him

that sometimes my double-takes are triple
and sometimes I cry in the bathroom
and sometimes—
just please (
save me*) please don’t tell him.
Nov 2014 · 1.2k
Letting Go
Sophie Herzing Nov 2014
I’ve been wrestling this since last fall,
peeling my socks off around 2a.m.
and crawling into my nightmares
like a child on her hands and knees.
I’ve tossed my hair in the towel,
examined the scratches on my back
or the bite mark on my shoulder,
juxtaposing them to my flaws,
prying myself open and watching
the little memories flood
from my arteries like insects.
I’ve ******

the energy from my cheeks and given it
to my bones so they may carry
the weight of last year into this year,
the heavy balance between leaving your room
and sitting myself against the frame,
legs to my chest, listening to the unheard voices
telling me to stop loving you.
I’ve cut

you out like bruises on a strawberry,
throwing the bad parts into the black hole
to be grinded and deposited as to be rightfully
grown into something new. But this time,

after we made love on your floor
and counted the stars that left my mouth
every time you touched me like that,

I let myself cling to the light.
I stuffed the empty parts with your remnants,
and latched onto the goodbye kiss.
I’ve been wrestling with you

our bodies so close

since the summer ended and we rejoined
the feelings we spared just to pretend
that we didn’t hear the kettle roar
when we were finished.
Sophie Herzing Nov 2014
Please don’t call me beautiful
when your hands are between my legs,
and god forbid you say it as a seg-way
between you’re so hot
and my caution, your response
you’re sure you don’t want to?
I’m pretty sure the way my body looks,
nineteen and stress-infused with an Oreo belly
isn’t really what you pictured beneath my blouse,
and I’m positive you didn’t listen
to the story about my dad and the bad prom dress
because you cared. It was just sentiment. You said it was beautiful,
but really you wanted me to believe the act
like a description in the Playbill
and ride that trust all the way until the curtain dropped.
Please don’t call me beautiful
when the word ******* is before it
or if we are ******* because making love
is for married couples and you don’t even want me
sticking around for the ****** sunrise that peers
underneath your shade every morning.

Tell me I’m beautiful when I’m crying—
crack me open and watch the colors bleed
like a painting that hasn’t dried. Admire
the light that peaks through the clear parts
like a windowpane, no blinds.
Tell me I’m beautiful when I’m laughing,
when I’m reading my favorite part of a book,
when I’m stuffing my face with peanut-butter
pretzel bites and I haven’t washed my sheets in weeks,
and I’ll know you can’t be lying
because I’ve listened to the waves your heart makes
when you’re sleeping and I’ve called your smile
to the surface many times when you’ve tried
to deflect it back inside. You’ll know that
and you’ll know I’m beautiful.  
Call me beautiful
when you’re not even trying.
Call me beautiful when you’re by yourself
and the smell of my hair is still on your pillow,
or the memory of how dumb I sounded
singing my favorite song breaks your heart back
to the best little pieces.
Try to understand.
Sophie Herzing Oct 2014
I took Billy Collins to lunch with me today.
He kept me company, Horoscopes of the Dead
and new versions of Dante’s hellish sandwich.
My pasta was dry, but I ate it
between stanzas and between pages.
You walked in, backpack and all, at the top
of the stairs. I choked on some graded cheese,
because of the way you looked in your khakis.
I hate the taste of cucumbers but I would have

kissed you anyway. Even though,
I sometimes laugh a little too loud in the mornings
you still make sanctuaries out of my sheets,
covering us in a layer of polka dots,
craving each other’s skin, listening
the lullaby the ruffles of the duvet make.

And even though I sometimes know
that wanting you has its clumsy consequences,
I still lose my breath when you walk up
to the lunch line, or when you grab my face
with both hands, or when you say my name
backwards between sighs. Maybe Billy understands,

and maybe I can just stay a poet. Maybe,
you would look good on me. I’d love
to try you on. But I lost my breath
when you walked in this afternoon.
Oct 2014 · 1.9k
Sophie Herzing Oct 2014
For the third time, I’ve found myself *******
in the reality of how I was perceived
by the people who passed me on the sidewalk,
or who met me at the party, or who
took my heart and collided it with their hips.

And by now even I know that I should know
how the rest of the conversation will go.
My cheekbones will grace the slander
of a compliment skewed, a lust
for my body ruined by misplaced intentions.
My agreement
to go back to his room was never welcomed
by my head, but instead
the sad bed with its sheets already turned down
waits for me and I hate it. I hate it
like an insomniac hates sleep, like the sun
loves ice cream.

For the third time, I’ve found myself smashed
into a wall of circumstances, appearances
cushioning the blow. My pretty face,
my pretty face, my pretty face!
God, how I’d love to put on a show
so you could see how my mind tumbles
across all the roads I know I shouldn’t be crossing.
How my eyes dance on every temptation just waiting
for the hand to be dealt, for the bet to be placed.

For the third time, I’ve let myself be bound
by the vibration of reassurance, by the ring
of a telephone. I’ve lost
a part of myself in you. How haphazardly ineloquent
it all seems in my nightmares, how blessed
the rest of the world must be to know this pain
and be able to stop themselves from feeling it.
How dark
it is under your seat
Oct 2014 · 867
In the Library
Sophie Herzing Oct 2014
Over there, I sat in my jeans and white blouse
with the long bell sleeves and the olive stitching
just to watch you do your math at the table next to me.
Reading, for the fourth time, the second chapter
of Outliers because it was the only part
of my life I wasn’t making up.
There were no eyes that glanced, fliratiously,
from seat to seat, just your broad shoulders
to my face. My face,

as I stared at pages of statistics
being the only one who knew that numbers
were **** compared to the way you could scuff me
like heels on the linoleum back to what wild
nights of believing that your hands
on my hip bones were really your hands
holding onto my heart.

Over there, with my hair tucked strangely
behind my ears, I cried. Not out loud,
but like I had been for weeks, through my smiles,
through my forgiveness, through your *******—
I kept going. I kept hanging onto the thread
you pulled loose from the end and caught blaze
to yours. I drank my tea

and everybody stared at me, because they knew.
They knew! And you’d think that would make me
finally get up, leaving my heart in the trash can
beside your knee, but please
try to understand that I didn’t.
Instead I

drew palm tree reflections on the back of my notebook pages,
and I swallowed
every breath that I couldn’t find
hoping that you’d notice the lipstick on my cup
or how I only ever wanted you to be mine.
Oct 2014 · 855
After the Second Year
Sophie Herzing Oct 2014
I still wear your t-shirt that I stole
from the backseat of your truck,
underneath some brown paper bags,
few spare cables, and and a crushed beer box.
There was dirt on both sleeves, but we just made love
for the second time, in your best friends bed.
I left without waking you. Just like you left,

farther and faster than I did, with a ****** parting line:
you’ll be fine.
And yeah, I guess I was fine if fine counts as holding
myself together with two pieces of tissue paper
and prayers that started with “Dear God,”
always ending in “why bother.” But I wear

your t-shirt. Have you ever had to weigh
the idea that you haven’t heard my voice
in over a year with all the faces you meet
in the bar, under cheap white Christmas lights,
or any of the girls you send home before breakfast?
Because I have. They’re heavy. Your world

has become so separated

and I’ve found a way to wear my heels to work
even though I walk thirty blocks, and I’ve learned
to sip my coffee before taking a gulp, to reach for things
instead of just expecting them to arrive, but I still wear

your t-shirt. *You’re the strongest person I know.
Oct 2014 · 1.4k
Bingo Nights
Sophie Herzing Oct 2014
On a cafeteria table,
in the middle of February,
the kind where it gets dark at 5pm,
sat eight minature figurines made of shells—
brown, speckled, like a calico cat
with googly eyes on the middle of their heads,
one business man with a black derby,
one with a pretty pink bow,
or even one with blue suspenders,
and all their chubby bellies
rounding out over their pants. The woman

with her iridescent nails, bony fingers,
the skin pressed thin against her knuckles,
lines them up in a perfect row, tilting
their heads into one another as if
they are having a tiny conversation
admist the numbers being called—
B14! She stamps in red. B14!
A man pushes a cart around the tables,
like one mows grass around graves,
with fifty cent candy bars and potato chips
on flimsy paper plates. He asks the woman
if she wants ice in her Pepsi, but she just blows
a long sigh of smoke and flicks the sparks
behind her back. He doesn’t ask her to pay.

G56! She touches the head of the figurine
with the mustache. G56! I’ve lost count
of how many numbers I’ve missed,
but then there’s you, your hand on my thigh,
creeping, your fingers pushing
my cotton skirt up, up, and up—
We play with acrylic chips instead of stampers.
We’d like to win the lottery tickets,
maybe cash them in at the gas station
after we drink a couple iced teas and snack
on Mentos cause we ran out of money
two bottles ago.

The figurine with the fishing pole has one pupil
that lies at the bottom of the eye,
lop-sided, and staring at me while I pretend
that I have G47! or pretend that this isn’t
the first time you’ve brought me here, G47!
instead of a real date. Or pretend
that I can’t hear the woman cough, and cough,
and cough as she switches stampers between every ten calls
or touch this figurine or move that one, just slightly,
this way or that or

N44! She doesn’t have it. N44!
I don’t have it.
Don’t worry, child, you’ll have it all someday,
she whispers, sideways from her mouth,
with your thumb making circles around my hipbones,
and the man pushing the cart, the squeak of the wheels
B7! But I don’t have it. B7! I don’t have it.
I don’t have it.
Sophie Herzing Oct 2014
I’m ******* freezing.
I’ve been sitting here across from a parking lot
in a little patch of green, and the sprinklers
keep going on and off, but I sit here—
watch the droplets slide down my black leather boots,
shifting my legs in my soaked denim shorts,
picking at the soggy bread of my dollar menu sandwich.
I didn’t win the peel off sticker contest on the wrapping,
and I also missed the trashcan when I threw it out,
like you threw me out

and it’s not like I saw it coming. Considering our cat
is still at the vet and we just found a new couch,
but I guess my bag of clothes and one pair of clean underwear
are my only companions now as I wait
for some sort of direction or weird, metaphor
to slink down from the Maybelline billboard,
crawl up my skin and into my mind so I’m not just
sitting here, freezing.

But I guess it’s not as cold as that one time
you slid half a Klondike bar down my back
as I sat circling help-wanted ads in the paper.
I screamed, but you covered my mouth and kissed
the space behind my ears a million little time.
I licked your hand and you wiped it on my shoulder,

back to the stove to stir the Campbell’s soup we found
behind the expired olives in the cupboard. Yet, I always thought
that I was your sliver of a masterpiece.

It’s not everyday that someone calls a girl beautiful
when she’s got bags the size of small countries
under her eyes or a flannel with five missing buttons.
But the way you held my collarbone in your hands,
or carried my sculptures to the shows, or bent
your life a little differently just to fit my mold.

I guess our love just grew old
to you, but I never thought that a parking lot,
after hours of drizzle and haze
rising from the blacktop, would look better
than the canopy we made from old t-shirts
that hung above our bed with a mobile
of everything I ever made up in my head
that you could be.
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