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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.
3.4k · Mar 2014
Cereal After Sex
Sophie Herzing Mar 2014
I fell out of the top bunk once
completely naked
right onto the linoleum floor
of your dorm room,
praying that your roommate
wouldn't roll over and see my ***
at 3a.m.

I quietly crawled back up to you.
You cradled my spine,
I'm never letting you go again, I promise.
I told you I was fine,
so we both started laughing.
I had to cover your mouth
or else you'd wake the whole floor up.

You blare Kanye West from your speakers
when you're signing checks
or finishing that last math problem,
and I'll just sit next to you and grab
a piece of scrap paper to doodle on
while asking you stupid questions
just because I want to get you talking again.
Sometimes you take it out on me, but

sometimes we have cereal after ***.
You spoon feed me while I sit on your lap
in just our underwear
gasping when the cold milk
drops on our skin--
fruit loop kisses
and detangling my hair with your fingers.

I wear your Polo pull-over backwards
to the boys bathroom sometimes
just because it's closer to your room
and because my name is no secret anymore.

And on Sunday's I fold your laundry
on a gray blanket I lay overtop my ***** carpet,
because I love the smell of clean boxers
and you don't know how to iron dress shirts right.

But you kiss me with your mouth open,
and you hold me when I fall asleep,
and you're all I want to wake up to.
3.0k · Aug 2013
My Panic Attack in Physics
Sophie Herzing Aug 2013
I had to walk out of physics today,
make my way to the back of the room
shoot for the door
with my hands on my hips.
Just started pacing.
I just stated pacing and pacing and pacing.

I followed the thin grey lines between the linoleum tiles
with my toes
counting every second I was out of class
and weighing that against how many more it would take
on a chance against hell
to get me back in there again.

I wasn't smart.
I never had been.
I just filled in bubbles correctly and I wrote
all the right things on a convincing, cliché
college paper.
I don't even know why I took physic,
but it sounded like a good idea when I was eighteen
and scared
and had some woman with a long braid screaming at me,
"advising" me that it was the "right direction."

I didn't even know who I was then so how could she.

I could mouth off a good response or two and I
probably embody every great literary character
in commercial fiction that is
the guy in the grey skinny jeans reading Shakespeare
in the corner of the dining hall.
Well, I'm not.
I'm not some stereotype for your next
creative writing assignment.
I just happen to think my *** looks good in skinny jeans,
I actually hate Shakespeare,
and the corner of the dining hall has the best air conditioning.
It's that simple.
There's your answer.

But my fingertips were shaking and my mind was racing
and there I was
just pacing and pacing and pacing
because this
is *******.
This class is *******.
This college is *******.
And the whole world
might as well be *******
right along with it.

I never went back into class that day.
Which ***** actually because I lost a good backpack and calculator,
but in the long run it worked out alright
because here I am
writing this
and getting paid for it,
not that I'm greedy or anything
(I get paid a whole lot if you care to know)
but I'm writing more than just about
that day I couldn't breathe in physics class.

I'm writing to tell you
that there's quite a great deal of superficial things in this world
and if you find yourself a part of it
I'm demanding you leave.
Leave your good notebook, your steady job, your filthy marriage.
Leave it because it's actually true no matter how stupid it sounds
that life is too short
and things that are real
need to be attacked and clutched onto
if you want them to last.

I guess I can thank that institution actually
for teaching me everything I never wanted to know,
and for getting me to where I am
with multiple publications, a book signing or to, a beautiful wife,
three kids, a screenplay, oh
and a big
to those that said I would never do it.

(Dr. Hefer, that means you).
3.0k · Nov 2013
Sophie Herzing Nov 2013
I hope you talk about me when you're slammed,
laying in the hall playing soccer at 2am.
I hope you see my reflection in the smashed mirror
from an aggressive kick you missed blocking.
I hope my shattered complexion reflects
in the broken glass
like a soft reminder that beckons you back
to your bed. A memory from a week ago rises,
when you were singing me a song
through your lips and cradling my expectations.

I played keeper and you were just trying to score.
Our roles reversed.
You dribbled me for a good while,
spinning on the ground you drug me on
just trying to catch hold.
I already had stains; I didn't need new ones.

I hope you talk about me when you're sipping
on something that will numb you seven different ways to Sunday.
I hope people have to stop you from calling me,
"It's all ****** up," you whine
with your eyes closed
about how you messed with me--
what happened there?
Take another shot.

I hope you talk about me.
2.7k · Nov 2011
Sweet Seventeen
Sophie Herzing Nov 2011
I remember you.
Sweet, seventeen you
brand new scruffy beard
and black gym shorts
kissing me on the couch
when my parents weren't home.
Sweet, seventeen you
with those same bright eyes
and citric smile that stung the taste buds
on my tongue.
Sweet, seventeen you
drowned in sheer dumb luck and cheap Captain Morgan
(or whatever ***** it is you like to drink.)
Sweet, seventeen you
with callused hands, dirt stuck in the worry lines
and nails bit down to the bone.
Sweet, seventeen you
pushing my hair out of my face with those same ***** hands,
same reliant arms,
same crooked-tooth smile.
Sweet, seventeen you
with scared knuckles and a bare chest
just begging someone with the same youth
and vibrancy
to kiss it until the leather wore out
until the venom was ******
so you could stay sweet,
seventeen you
2.5k · Dec 2011
Young, Wild, and Free
Sophie Herzing Dec 2011
Taking it slow
was never really your specialty.
First date, you showed up late
hurried up and grabbed my hand,
had me kissing you within a second.
You always wanted to do
what was next, what was coming
you didn't like waiting, stalling, playing it safe
you were reckless, restless
had me loving you within a week.

People called us *****,
and I mean
I guess we were a little *****,
but I just like to turn out the lights
and explore with you.
People called us stupid,
and I mean
I guess we were a little stupid,
but I just like to make things interesting
keep things young like we're supposed to be.

People didn't really get it,
they were criticizing somethin'
they didn't understand.
We were just crazy about each other,
and didn't want to waste any time.
We were seventeen,
just trying to stay "young, wild, and free."
2.3k · Aug 2013
Happy 19th Birthday
Sophie Herzing Aug 2013
I delivered
chocolate-chocolate chip cookies
to your house the other day after midnight
because it was you nineteenth birthday and you hate that day
above all other's
so I decided to celebrate
by making you junk food even though you're on a diet
and just came from a late night workout
and you'll ask me why
I care about something so much that's not even that special
and I'll tell you it's simply because
"It's your birthday!"
"Why wouldn't I?"
but really
truth is

You're going away and I haven't decided how I'm going to deal with that yet.
You're going away and I haven't been able to write.
You're going away and this may be the last
I'll see you on your birthday.

So take the **** cookies and say thank you,
because I baked them while I was crying over missing you
and tried my hardest not to let the tears fall in the batter.
No one should have to taste sadness like that.

Don't be mad at me because you're bitter about your birthday
and you can't stand it when people show that they care about you,
because you don't know how hard this is for me.

I bet you never even thought how hard
it will be for me
and that's why I baked the cookies.
That's why I'm so upset and that's why I'm begging you
to come outside and just kiss me on your birthday
because I've been counting how many kisses I have left
before you're too far away to feel me.
Just give me all you've got while we still have the chance.

This is going to be hard enough when you're gone
so don't make it so hard now.
Just kiss me and eat the cookies.

and happy birthday.
2.1k · Dec 2012
Sophie Herzing Dec 2012
is beautiful
when it's strung together with metal links
and hung like chains in the candlelight
so the world can see it glisten on the sour part
at just the right time.
My body,
liked to **** up that ignorance
late at night when the moonlight uncovered my hidden despair,
my secret wish that you could be mine,
so that I could pretend like it still didn't hurt that much,
like it still wasn't painful to open my eyes
when the sun came up.

When my future became blurry,
I found clarity in the comfort of the past
because truth is,
I knew it well.
So I opened the lock on the wrecking ball cabinet,
let it explode all over my life
burnt out all the flame remnants
with my fingers,
I let myself love this stencil someone
of everything I told myself I'd never give excuses to
no more,
because that was easier,
pure ignorance was more painless
than admitting
I still needed you,
after all these days.

I mean,
how is it we continue to want those that break us apart?
And why is it we can erasing the memories, tearing and tugging the stitches
but people still remain in our hearts?
I mean,
how is it after this complicated translation
I still want back to you,
I still want

It didn't make sense to me,
and I cruelly didn't want it to make sense to you.
So I fragmentaly kept it covered in my safety guard,
my ignorance
because that's easier than sinking into innocence,
calling out help, tracing out apologies on your skin,
begging you to believe that trust is more than just
some cacophony I've prepared in the back of my soul.
It's easier than trying to get you to believe in me again.

I didn't want to admit that I needed you,
but I do.

is beautiful

when it's strung together with metal links
and hung like chains in the candlelight
so the world can see it glisten on the sour part
at just the right time.
Sophie Herzing Sep 2014
I knew all day that you didn’t want me.
The sirens rang, red flag tear ducts, and I
was just waiting for the bomb to drop.
I felt it, in my gut as they say,
like a paperweight, and choked
on all the tears before I even knew
they were coming. Here’s the thing—
you asked me. The rest spoke for itself.

The dress, the earrings, the phone call, the couch,
your gym shorts, glasses, and answering machine.

But we went to dinner, and you called me beautiful.
You threw croutons over the table, made me laugh,
let me hold your hand while they brought my iced tea.
I even found myself picturing you next to me.
I spread my palms, open, but I didn’t ask for a thing.
Yet, you kept defending yourself, explaining everything,
and I just wanted you to pay for the two of us to eat.

Your face is all that I see. Then why, why do I find myself
time after time again in these situations
where I keep plugging myself into equations
that obviously aren’t meant to be? You’re so sweet.
But if you searched through the crowd,
I’m not sure you’d want to find me.

I should have left you on the couch. Honestly,
I knew all day that you didn’t want me.
But I kissed you a million little times,
let your tongue explore my silent confessions,
willed you to find yourself
through the spaces of my mouth.
I should have just left you on the couch.
2.1k · Jan 2016
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.
1.9k · Mar 2014
Sophie Herzing Mar 2014
Remember how I'd smoke after school
outside your classroom window
watching you pack up your briefcase,
pulling your arms through your blazer sleeves?
Four cigarettes in a ring
between my thumb and fingertips,

an "okay" sign.
You preferred jean dresses with the hips cut out,
knee-high fishnet socks,
my hair wrapped curiously in bandana red
with my eyes outlined in black.

I stole condoms and Twinkies,
brought them to your apartment
after you'd call to unwrap me

like penny candy
on the mattress in the middle of your floor,
each tear in synch with the teeth
of your zipper releasing.

A green wrapper
and an empty trash can
next to my book bag.
You licked your fingers
after the last bite.
To my 11th grade math teacher
and all who came after me.
1.9k · Oct 2014
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
1.9k · Jan 2014
So Did She
Sophie Herzing Jan 2014
"I wish we could have came into each other's lives
at a better time for me."
Because that's how things work.
It's all about timing,
and you ran the clock.

*** alarm,
wake up call.
I didn't even take my shoes off.

You talk so loud but you never say a thing.
Just push me against car doors
in the parking lot outside your apartment
with the lamppost's reflection blurring
on the rain covered pavement,
a ***** mirror
smearing our shadows together.

I yell but you only answer
with the breath from your open mouth
as you kiss the frustration out of me—
Your tongue speaks a language
only I thought I knew.

Turns out she did, too.
1.8k · Dec 2015
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.
1.7k · Dec 2014
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.
1.7k · Feb 2013
On Graduation Day
Sophie Herzing Feb 2013
On my graduation day,
I ripped down all the flimsy paper signs
hanging from the ceiling,
like Judd Nelson does on The Breakfast Club.
I just wanted to be that cool.
I also poured glitter into the water fountains
so it could reflect off the drinkers eyes,
as a reminder that even when you leave here
you can still shine.
I put my lock on backwards
so it would be a ***** for faculty to take off
my locker when I was gone.
I turned in my cap and gown inside out,
and wrote
"see you then"
on the tag right next to the size,
hoping someone might laugh when they read it
or think it was written by someone real wise
when really it was some moon-eyed girl who heard it
from a friend she knew long ago.
I did a donut in the parking lot
with my beat up Cherokee
who had been down all the back roads
too many nights in a row,
just because I wanted to.
I didn't wear underwear to the ceremony,
because it made me feel free
like I was finally going to be.
I also sketched every dream I had
on pieces of loose leaf
and threw them in random places throughout the school,
praying someone would find them
and maybe have them too.
I almost punched you,
for all the times I should have back in middle school
but I didn't want the principal to ask
why there was blood on my hands
when they handed me that fake diploma
that wouldn't really come in the mail
for weeks.
It was just a day to congratulate
all the **** you got away with as a kid,
and to remind you those days are over
it gets real
from this point on-
how comforting.
I left the stage with my tongue out,
hands raised saying goodbye
here I go
thanks for teaching me all the stuff,
I never really wanted to know.
And by the way,
I put 20 goldfish in the girl's lavatory toilets
so even when I left
there'd be something hard to get rid of
something you'd never forget-
like me
when I was gone.
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.
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 Feb 2013
I knocked my knee on the rod under the table.
I put a runner in my tights.
I licked my finger to wash the wound clean.
It stung for only a second.
Then it was as if it never happened.
The ditsy waitress with the blonde bun and bubblegum
was annoying me with the way she wouldn't pick up her feet.
She had a stupid Chinese tattoo on her wrist,
and like most of the world
she thought she could use a band aid as a cover up,
but nothing that obvious stays hidden that long
without being noticed.
And to top it all off, they burnt my tuna melt.

I got weird looks from people who passed,
catching the 50 Shades of Grey title on my book,
disgusted and pondering why
I would ever hold it up in a family restaurant.
The black man was eyeing me up in the corner.
The lady with the pink lipstick in her teeth thought I was erratic and disturbed.
The businessman thought it was merely for attention,
jokes on them,
I did it just to **** them off.

That's when I looked over at you,
You were eating breakfast and a ****** cup of coffee.
It was 4 in the afternoon.
I could see your Captain America underpants
creeping out of your jeans without a belt.
I could see your eyes judging the newspaper headlines.
You seemed almost as unhappy as me.

So I went over and asked if you dropped the pen
I found in my pocket,
and when you didn't even look up at me to respond
I told you it was just a poor excuse to talk to you.
"I respect that,"
you said between bites of your omelet.
You glanced up at me for only a moment,
blue eyes, **** chin
probably expecting me to leave after the prolonged silence,
but I sat there unchanged,
I don't really pick up on social cues.

"You're pretty hot."
I guess neither do you.
I smiled something creepy, because I don't do it that often,
You didn't seem to mind.
Within two minutes you had me laughing,
saying stuff too loud,
and it was the first time
that I think I actually saw myself,
and I don't really even know you
but somehow, insanely
it feels like I already do.
I was dared to write a poem about Captain America, 50 Shades of Grey, a tuna melt, and **** chins. This is what happened.
1.6k · Feb 2015
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.
1.6k · Sep 2015
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.
1.6k · Feb 2015
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.
1.6k · Jan 2013
You Almost Kissed Me
Sophie Herzing Jan 2013
You almost kissed me,
and you shouldn't have.
On the gingham tablecloth in the yellow light,
you lifted me from the counter top onto my feet
putting your hat on my head and tickling my ribs.
You know it's my sweet spot,
leads straight to my heart if you're gentle enough.
I told you to stop and you walked away,
eyes lingering on my bare skin between where my top ended on my waist
and where my dark denim jeans began to hug my hips.
I flipped my hair back around, joining in some conversation too late
between a girl drunk on grape juice and a wedding crasher straggler
in a forest green flannel with camel cigarettes in the pocket.
That's when you came back over and started yelling
some story that happened to you the night before.
You told it well,
the circle captivated, me mesmerized
by how blue your eyes stayed all this time without me noticing.
You  had the whole room laughing with your wit and stupid vernacular,
but I was smiling because you looked so beautiful in those drunken
honest moments
where I recognized the person beneath the banter
where I saw you.
I was saying my goodbyes to the carhartt boys and their one night girls
when you grabbed me by the hand and spun me around
like we were dancing,
pulled me in by your hand pressed on my shoulder blades
the other around my waist
I gasped as your lips almost touched mine,
but then you looked down at me
with those same blue eyes
and took a deep breath,
slowly letting your hands glide down my back then to your sides.
I just stared back at you,
wishing you'd forget the logic and put your hands back where they were,
tracing your lips with that almost kiss,
and I could feel how much you wanted to be in this moment
desperately searching for a way to my lips
but something stopped us.
And I think it was because we knew it would only lead to something messier
than where we were at
it would be a backwards romance, reversing our ***** footsteps
in something we've tried and tried to understand
that it never works out the way either of us plans.
We were both doing so well, moving on
but in that moment we almost gave all that strength up
gave into something too tempting and too wrong.
Because we can't really stay away from each other all that long.
I mean,
you almost kissed me
and you shouldn't have,
but I swear
I wish you would have.
1.6k · Sep 2014
Sophie Herzing Sep 2014
I’ve found religion in your smile.
Trusted the way it curves, practicing
the lines in my mind with delicacy,
ripening your image until it’s sore.
Your throat baptizes me,
replaces the devil of my intentions
with sweet, rosy breath,
curling my inhibitions until they dive
back into me and I express my very desires
openly on a blanket--
and it’s no sin
because I love the way your spine stands
like a perfect cross, carrying me
to the vision you have of a better me
than what I used to be.
I’ve prayed for your thighs in naughty ways,
but you’ve taken my hands,
folded them into shapes I can’t comprehend
and kissed my fingertips until I was crying
out of confusion and catharsis,
finally understanding what it feels like to count
people, you, as a blessing.
I see God when you make instruments
out of blades of grass, or how that strap
slides off your shoulders when the wind
graces the moment with a whisper.
He gave me an angel disguised as a woman
with too many pillows on her bed and coffee breath,
but you pull me from point to point like taffy,
slowly, lagging, molding me into the gift
you never wished for. I, bestowed at His feet,
unwilling found a soul and a heartbeat
louder than any of my unforgiving words.
1.5k · Oct 2013
Sophie Herzing Oct 2013
Shivering fingers, cradling a cold clay bowl
with dull roses surrounding the rim.
A Klondike bar cut like a grid on a paper towel.
My grandma used to let me eat one in the living room
"careful of the carpet"
on her yellow couches covered with sticky plastic.
She would play the Elvis Presley Christmas album,
To Ginny written in black sharpie on the sleeve
with a Love always, Mom underneath,
over and over again
while she hung bulbs of wood on the bottom branches
so her Welsh Corgi wouldn't break them with his paws.

Slate slabs with handprints
in purple paint every year for the holiday.
She'd set death aside in a coffin ashtray
to kiss my cheek.
Presley played in the background.

She'd rock
on the front porch in white wicker
coughing into the lid of a Pepsi can
until she'd catch me pressing my nose against the door glass,
tell me to turn around and sit on the couch.
It was too cold for me.
She'd only be a minute.

When we played, I'd hide between the two baskets
in the closet that held her hair products.
I could count all the bottles three times each
before she'd say she was too tired,
put on her coat, grab a white box, and hit play.
I always hated that album.
1.5k · Sep 2014
Sophie Herzing Sep 2014
You better kiss me,
your mouth parted and lips
wrecking into the vagabond breath
that escapes from the center of what
I've been talking, and talking, and talking about
all the while you're trying to just shut me up.
So you better kiss me, kiss me
with your hands below my hips
pushing the skin from my bones
and pulling the sins from my mouth
just to spread them on our bodies.
We collide, half-inspired and arching
my back with your hands cupping the dimples
above my tailbone, jumping over my vertebrates,
reaching for my neck to press yourself, harder,
into me. Lights out, sheets to the end of the bed,
I sigh into your ears, XO. Again, and again, and again
gently until I'm bruised and ripened, soft,
pulsing on the verge, releasing our glow
crashing into you, kiss me, kiss me
you better kiss me.
1.5k · Dec 2014
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.
1.5k · May 2013
Your Red Truck
Sophie Herzing May 2013
I watched you drive your red truck around for years,
and years, and years with mulch in the back on a dead road
to a new job where you'd lay some grass and trim
trim back all the rustle that got in the way,
just like you cut me out because I was an obstacle
in your plan to ruin yourself.
I watched you drive your red truck around for years,
and years, and years when you didn't think I was still watching.
I did because you trained me how to fix you
when we were just fifteen and being twenty five means nothing
when you've been an adult since you were a kid,
had to grow up real quick if you wanted to control yourself
through every pretty little detail,
through every
pretty little feeling.

I thought I gave you feeling.
But I watched you for years, and years, and years
in your apartment on a black night carrying two cases of beer inside.
And that might sound creepy but I think twelve years of kissing you
constitutes it being okay that I watch you just to make sure you're okay.
I watched you.
You didn't know it
but I cared.
I never really wanted you to know that because it made me feel inferior.
Made me feel like you had power over me,
and since you had to have power over everything else
I didn't want you to have that satisfaction over me.

So I'll watch you drive your red truck around for years,
and years, and years without feeling.
Until you spin out at the dead end and wind face up in the windshield,
staring at stars that remind you of my eyes,
finding yourself right where you've always been
only this time I won't be at your side.
1.5k · Dec 2014
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.
1.5k · Dec 2013
Sophie Herzing Dec 2013
My mom used to blast
the Any Given Thursday live album
out of a 1996 silver stereo system
that sat crooked in our clear library cases
at the back of the living room
with cracked CD cases stacked
on top of each other like a forty story tower.
She would accompany John Mayer,
making every song a unique duet
as she dusted the shelves and used lemon Pledge
so the cabinets and coffee tables would shine like new.

I used to sit at the top of the stairs
in my pajama bottoms and one of my dad's
old undershirts
watching her dance like a ballerina in a theater
across the floor with a vacuum for a partner.
She was so lame.

I'm fifty two now and my mother doesn't sing any more.
Instead, I just play
"Your Body is a Wonderland"
over and over again when I'm cleaning
around my son's high chair or the seven
peppermint candles I have lit on the counter.
My daughter asks me to turn it off.
"Mom, no one listens to him anymore."
But I know she will one day.
Sophie Herzing Feb 2014
My boyfriend used to take me to Pizza ****
(as we always called it)
after every home basketball game.
We'd fill up on bread sticks,
box the leftover slices,
just so they could sit in the back seat
of his green Chevy jeep
while we made out in the parking lot
with Eric Church's new CD on the stereo.

I told everyone the bruises on my thighs
were just an accident,
when really he pushed me
into the tires
after he had a few or dozen beers
at the party down Bear Run.
He never did like being told
what he shouldn't do.

We'd lay down the seats
and sleep on sweatshirts
with a cooler lid for a pillow
until 10a.m. on a Sunday,
an hour late for mass.
Silently we'd ride
until we'd reach the power plant.
He'd cough and I'd sigh,
quietly singing until we'd reach my driveway.
He never did kiss me
whenever he'd drop me off.

I came back spring break
the following year.
The jeep in his yard with a for sale sign
propped against the hood
and his cell number
written in blue window chalk
just above the windshield wipers.
I saw his little sister
peek behind the curtain
when I knocked on the door,
but no one came to answer.
So I lit a cigarette and drove home
listening to "Springsteen."
1.4k · Jan 2016
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.
1.4k · Dec 2014
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.
1.4k · Dec 2015
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.
1.4k · May 2015
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.
1.4k · Jan 2016
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.
1.4k · Dec 2015
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.
1.4k · Nov 2014
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.
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.
1.4k · Oct 2014
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.
1.4k · Dec 2014
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.
1.3k · Feb 2015
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.
1.3k · Sep 2014
In Retrospect
Sophie Herzing Sep 2014
Funny, how sometimes butterflies
skip over your skin without ever landing,
how basketballs spin
around the rim without swishing,
or how things never seem to work out.
I’ve been wishing

for moments of high tide, gravitational
moons that would draw me to you,
in the middle of May on Coney Island.
I want you to pull my pigtails like it’s preschool.
I want to bleed neon, shout pop tunes
to accompany my words that sound like
a poem we all had to learn
to recite from memory.

Funny, how we store meat behind our popsicles
in the freezer, how we tear up things
before we throw them away,
or how defeated we feel when we wake up
to zero new messages.
I’ve been reaching

for the plug in the drain,
sipping champagne,
hearing your name,

when all I really want is lunchboxes,
the kind your mom leaves notes in.
I want to beat you in four square,
color on my Converse, catch crayfish
in the creek behind your house.

Funny, how we tone down our souls
to fit the mold, or interview each other
based on pieces of paper when we are
alive, and breathing, and it’s funny
how we save money for next time,
plan for tomorrow before we’re done with today,
count our accomplishments before our scars.

Funny, how all we ever wanted
was to finally be exactly where we are.
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.
1.3k · May 2014
Sophie Herzing May 2014
It's not my fault he liked me even though I wore overalls.
Kind of sad, isn't it?
That someone could be so desperate
as to hit on a sorry excuse for a woman
who strode confidently in a white tee and jean
overalls with gym sneakers.
But maybe he found the way my collarbone
stuck out of the top of my shirt enchanting
or even fell dizzy imagining
what I would look like underneath.
Perhaps, he hoped I had something ****
on beneath the big **** pockets.
(I didn't, in case you were wondering).
Yet, he asked my name after I noticed him
watching me examine an avocado
for the bad spots, checking to see if the pit
was still green. He laughed, slightly,
when I told him it was
None of your **** business why I have
ten cans of Spaghetti O's in my cart!

I was polite enough not to question
why he had a Cosmo magazine in his,
or if he was making tacos for dinner
based on his pound of ground round
or the wrong brand of bagged lettuce
resting next to corn shells and salsa.

It's not my fault that I'm a two drink drunk.
He's the one that bought the expensive wine,
and asked me to join him for, you guessed it, tacos.
I hated the way he kept his socks on in bed,
but he didn't stop holding me when it was over
and he never asked me to leave when I woke up
in the morning. He brought me coffee, black, and sat
reading the paper like a gentleman while I
asked to turn on cartoons. He had the jaw line
of an actor and hair that could be in a shampoo commercial,
and I hadn't shaved my legs in three days, but
he still drew circles on my knees as he read.

I ran myself through the shower to dilute the blame.
My phone rang all the next day, no pick up.
Just burning noodles in the *** and picking
at my nails as I sat alone in the kitchen.
I threw that morning's paper away.
It's not my fault that I love the rain.
1.3k · Sep 2013
You Look Better That Way
Sophie Herzing Sep 2013
I smoked a pack while we unraveled white and black.
Wrapped in your bare sheets I slept best.
Dewey skin in the morning light,
candy tongue
tulip two lips.
Alarm goes off you ignore it.
I loved messing your hair up.
You look better that way.

I danced around naked on the pedestal you plopped me on
as I let you sketch me.
You scolded to stand still and slapped my *** when I didn't listen,
but you looked so cool holding your paintbrush in your teeth,
studying my figure,
peeking around the easel with your big eyes and crooked smile.

I always left with stains on my hands and your jacket
on my shoulders with a new Camel in the pocket.
Your hand slid down my jeans and I bit your lip.
I could have finished you.

You were so mean to me constantly,
and I curiously indulged in your temptations.
Your ecstasy whispers in my ear.
But there's something special about being loved
by someone who hates everyone.

You thought I was interesting.
Thought I was pure in my mini skirt, but tough
because I never cried when you were yelling.
I just yelled back.
Thought I was brave and wildly adventurous,
standing on edges and throwing things your way.
Even I thought it would be different this time.

But I should've probably listened
to you when you used to tell me not to get my hopes up.
That way I wouldn't be here,
praying, which I never do
that you didn't mean it and you didn't want me to ever have
to know
why you didn't come home.

You would rather
it be expected than me be disappointed
when it's the morning after and you're lying there restless
while you're passed out in the back of a van,
shoes off,
shirt hanging off your back,
with cuts from cans on your hands.

*** doesn't make a sound.
It's the loudest way to shut someone up.
It's the silence that cures.
It's the cork stop in a bottle,
but it will glimmer when you spin it upside down.
I'd love to smash it.

I came in that afternoon and burned the edges of your drawings with my lighter,
smeared the charcoal on all your new pages,
and stamped my boot until all your brushes were in half.
I picked up your jacket that I sewn a special patch in
with my initials,
and I hit snooze when your alarm went off.
You didn't move.

I watched the dewy skin of your back rise
and fall as you were breathing,
sheets ruffled,
pillows on the floor,
empty side next to yours,
all alone.

I decided you look better that way.
1.3k · Jan 2016
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.
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.
1.3k · Dec 2015
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.
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