one cubic centimeter of brain tissue
is home to more neural connections
than there are stars in the milky way;
that war should sometimes erupt between them
is not possible so much as it is inevitable
and it’s important to remember this
the next time your mind decides
to bring the battle home.
some days will be harder than others
and none made easier by the glass barriers
your mind has so meticulously constructed.
still, despite the isolating nature of illness,
your fight is not one to be undertaken alone;
in case of emergency,
we’ll provide you with a hammer
but you need to be the one
to break the glass.
I like how your left hand slides down my face and how your fingers trace the cliff of my chin, slipping the stones from my spine-
I lose the bitter in my bones to taste the saccharine that sleeps on your lips.
I like how even when my eyes are closed under the 1AM glow of residential streetlights and I pause to gather all of your secrets under my tongue, I know you’re smiling because the sound of your breath skips across my face like apple blossoms in June;
and I know those only bloom in May but there’s an honesty in the way the freckles on your cheeks speak to the fallen stars on my skin.
I like how hours seem like minutes and that when I’m driving, the faintness of your hand in mine leaves whispers in their creases that I’ll listen to when I get home.
I like how these last lines took me 2 hours to write because looking for metaphors to describe how I get lost in your hair, is like trying to differentiate between the constellations for me (I’ve never taken astronomy).
I like how I can recall all of that based on the albums we’ve shuffled through and that the stereo still playing in my head falls silent when I try to find notions that rhyme with sublime.
Some people are going to treat you like a snow globe
and keep you on a shelf
and take you down only to shake you up
and watch what falls.
So break your glass
and let yourself pour out
and choose not to be so fragile.
Tip over the aquarium they keep you in
and seep into the ground
and grow flowers.
Evaporate into the clouds—
you’ll see more than a plastic house
where the snow is just paint
and the white-coated trees don’t grow or breathe—
let yourself fall in drops
and know you’ll be lifted up again.
i would run too if i knew whether you still loved me.
i am scared of falling off this world, he told you once, and you said that gravity was gravity and that he would never fall. he’d never have a chance of falling like this - mucking around in a city with light pollution so horrible that you couldn’t even see one star. and then he took your hand, his fingers curling beautifully around yours and whispered, i don’t believe you.
you haven’t seen him in ten years. you tried to call him on his cellphone with the last number he gave you. and you got an answer, yes, but it was a rough voice that didn’t sound like his. it was a voice that demanded your name and a voice that shouted goodbye when you said that you were looking for the boy you loved. (but maybe he’d never truly left and he was just wasting away into a hardened heart, and maybe the man who answered was actually him. and you know that goodbyes are bittersweet but maybe it was the right number, and you finally got to say goodbye.)
today, you went to the little house two streets away from yours that he used to call home. and you used to go there every week because he held you like you were more beautiful than you really were. but there was no one there and the front yard was overgrown and the mailbox was overflowing with junk mail and your own desperate letters. you even went to las vegas once, thinking that he might’ve secretly gotten on a plane and flown there, since he used to always talk about going there someday. but all your clues and leads disappeared into nothing and your heart dissolved into air.
you’re married now. you’re married to a lovely person who’s so beautifully predictable, but you still find time to wonder about his smile and who’s seeing it now, if anyone is at all. you wonder whether he’s happy, or even alive. and when that thought comes, you imagine a lonely gravestone and a lonelier funeral. and sometimes, you wish that he’d just barge in through the door and put his hand in yours again and run away with you, pumping life into your mediocre heart.
other times, you get so angry, thinking, why didn’t you take me with you? i loved you, so why didn’t you take me too? and you rip up pictures of him and one day you’ll run out of pictures to rip up, and you don’t know whether you’ll be happier when that day comes along. and your husband asks you why you’re crying even though he’ll never get it.
but on some days, you just stare out the window and hope he’s still alive and running. he was the only one who escaped, so you press your hand against the glass and whisper, run away from here. i love you, but keep running.
run, run, run away from me.
A letter to past, present, future selves
There will be days when your best friends are all in love
and you have been alone for three years.
These days will be hard, they will hurt,
they will sting with a blighting injustice not felt since
Nathaniel Whatshisname broke all the crayons
in your 64 pack way back in Kindergarten.
You will survive this.
You are worth so much, I promise.
I firmly believe you will be okay,
you have so much love to give.
Don’t spend it immediately on the first stranger
who walks in and smiles at you.
The ensuing self-loathing
is not a form of medication.
Being sad will happen often,
having the opportunity to be involved in
the beautiful miracle of living happens only once.
Do not give this up for anything.
Do not set yourself on fire.
Do not crash your car into the telephone pole.
Do not drink your body weight in Tequila.
It’s okay to drink yourself to sleep with Nyquil
every once in a while.
I know it’s easier than lying for hours alone
in your massively empty bed
thinking of every thing you’ll never have.
Do not make this false sleep a habit.
This summer may not be yours, but your life is.
You are not obligated to tell anyone anything.
I cannot stress how important you are enough.
You must find something that makes
all the voiceless screaming in your head
a little more bearable
and you must clutch it in your bones
with every ounce of strength you have.
I think there are bed bugs in your mattress.
Last night after you fucked me
My blood felt a little bit thinner,
And I had the strongest urge to rip apart the skin at the nape of my neck.
You used to write me love letters in pencil.
After I read them my fingertips were left stained with gray soot that whispered the ghosts of your words.
She wrote you a love letter
Of her name and seven numbers in blue ink.
It was folded 3 times and pushed into the corner of your blue jeans pocket.
Now, when you tell me im beautiful,
I smile with my lips closed.
There are parasites under my tongue that are eating away at the few words I have left for you.
Now, when you touch me,
I only want to pull away from your leeching fingers.
You take the warmth from her body in filthy motel rooms at deadly hours and transfer it to mine,
Then back to hers every thursday night.
I think there are bed bugs in your mattress.
Every night I want to pull you off of me like a tick.
I hear her six-legged words in my ears
And I feel her seductive fingers in the sheets
And I just want to rip off all of my fucking skin.
I want you to wake up to my rotting bones.
Sometimes in my room at night
I shake to the sounds of thunder overhead.
But if I step into the dim porch light
and feel the raindrops
and see the sways of leaves shining momentarily
and everything illuminates in a silver sheen
for nothing more than a second—
and I think it’s the most beautiful thing.
a love song for mia
I think I am leaking-
A woman pours her heart into a bowl
and feeds it to her cat. The heart
becomes a liquid thing- like heat,
but not so shocking red,
like my mother’s lipstick, like the first drop
of blood, like the tone of a poem
written all wrong.
Sometimes I look at people I don’t know
and think “I could love you”. My ribs tremble
with survivor’s guilt, and the branches of my
wrists spell out my future.
I think I am leaking-
and this is the sound of fragility.
We are capable of kissing
bruises and watching mothers cry
over lost children, who are not actually lost,
under the kitchen sink,
or in the upstairs closet, or in the concave
that is the human heart,
plucking ribcage songs.
I want to write the kind of book that gives your brain papercuts. The kind you can’t stop scratching at cause how could something so small hurt so bad?
And I want to see who keeps scratching and scratching until they uncover something hidden deep in there that explains exactly how and exactly why. Exactly who they are in bare, raw syllables. I want to see who understands pain is part of the process of becoming.
And I want to see who just slaps a band-aid on it and pretends it isn’t there. See if they even finish it.
(I bet they won’t.)