there was a war in your childhood home, and you can still remember the fires, how the blood was
pretty and sick on the bathroom’s pristine tiles, your mother’s still warm body limp in the tub.
breathe in through the mouth: in, out, in. you are not guilty. her life is not on your hands.
it is okay to love things more than you love people; practical, even.
people have left you, people will leave you – things, though, ah! things will not abandon you.
buy yourself something nice. it is the least bad out of all your choices.
you die every night and are reborn at dawn; you are a walking graveyard,
an army of yesterdays’ ghosts, and you no longer remember who you were at the beginning.
do not weep for the stranger that once inhabited your bones.
you are in love with the idea of love more than you are in love with your lovers;
that is why all your relationships are fleeting, why you are always falling apart.
all the same, smile when he proposes. pretend you do not know how this is going to end.
oh, you poor, poor thing. all you have ever wanted was love’s sunlight, but all you ever got
were the thunderstorms, the clouds above your head heavy with sorrow, and so you chose
to drown out the rain between the thighs of a lover. do not regret it, for they were good nights.
you cradled your heart all your life with such care, and when the day came for you
to hand it to another, it shattered like glass in their grip. they did not mean to hurt you, you know.
they just wanted to hold on, afraid it will slip through their fingers like sand.
you are the king of bad choices, from lovers to the fights you pick when you are far from sober;
you lost your sanity along the line between what is right and what is not, and you started hungering.
i fear the day your hunger will be quenched – only justice will sate you, and that calls for everyone’s dying.
you are the one everyone fears: the monster in the closet, the witch at the stake – the devil, falling.
all of this is because they cannot understand you. they fear you like they fear death; instinctively.
do not mind them, for death is a kind god: the sweetest sleep, the darkness from which life is born.
some days, you think the sea is but a giant mirror, the vanity of coquettish stars and lazy clouds in passing.
some days, you think it is the fury of our earth mother, her tears and her sorrow saltwater in the breeze.
on all of them, you want to sail its’ lengths; you want to get lost out on the abyss, feel small beneath the sky.
you learned early on the art of silent war – the war carried by words, sharper than any other blade.
at the same time, you have learned how little you mattered to the world, and so you cast yourself in armor.
i just wish you would learn to love yourself, if only a little. your own words have been cutting you all along.
there is a sickness in you called longing: you’re wanton, thirsty, hungry, wanting – what, exactly,
well, that is part two, and none of us is really sure. you’re standing here, hands reaching for; come inside.
i will pour us both some wine, and we can pass the waiting time together. one day, you will know what you are lusting after.
all you have ever loved seems to be taken from you, until your house is left an empty, cold thing,
and your soul has been turned into a ruin. do not despair; get up from the floor, dust your clothes.
there are seeds on the upper shelves in the shed. it is a time as good as any to start keeping a garden.
— poetry for the signs: the “it is okay” edition, L. Schreiber