‘Maybe’ is worse than No.

Just tell me the truth - not some woven ‘Maybe’ that only shows your hesitance and lack of true caring.

They say Maybe almost always means No.

But it’s that ‘almost’ that crushes me.

You could be the exception to the Maybe rule… Or you couldn’t.

So make it clear.

Make it a No.

I. I love you, mom.

II. I don’t owe you anything.

III. You don’t get to decide that you didn’t hurt me.

IV. I deserve more.

V. I’m sorry. I really am.

VI. Doing what’s best for me is never something I have to apologize for.

VII. My vulnerability isn’t for you. It’s for me.

VIII. You don’t know how to love. Love isn’t selfish.

IX. It’s not okay. And, I won’t pretend it is.

X. I forgive you. That doesn’t mean I accept what happened. That doesn’t mean I owe you anything.

—  10 things I wish I had said more.
His whole life was based on apologies so that’s why he was so good at them.  
Wearing them on his sleeve he always had one ready to pick, ready to tell.
When he was a child, his mother always came up with excuses why she couldn’t go to his baseball games and on top of that, she had to explain why his father was absent.
Absent for reasons she never really explained, yet kept dancing around, like a tribe around a fire. Always so close, yet so cryptic, just like him.
The one person who was in charge of raising him only taught him how to get away with lying and I can’t blame him for doing that all the time. It’s the only thing he has left of her. It’s the only way he can make her proud. Especially now that she is gone without saying goodbye.
Telling stories so real, yet they are nothing but illusions and dreams, smoke and mirrors, making him seem like the person he thinks he want to be. Who she wanted him to be.

I tell you that I
am happy,
that I am busy,
which is true enough

but I secretly give thanks
that there is no way for you
to see the tears that stain my cheeks
under the drapery of each nighttime sky,
the tears that I dry with each sunrise.

—  // lonely moments // S.K.K. // January 16, 2017 //

I told you that
the sun comes up
but only once a week.

You told me that
I must be lying because
you saw the light in me.

You said every time
I walked right by
the air began to shine.

You said, ‘the
rest of the world can
be covered in dark
as long as you stay mine.’

—  shine // r.e.s

Seventeen and horny,
Few days before my birthday,
Wondered what my surprise would be,
Parents in AC for the day
So we had the house free,
Started foreplay
At noon and fucked till three,
And when she got off me…
Back up.

Barely seven on the sideline
Dad calling me a faggot for playing soft,
Practices like a college combine
And when I said I had fun he scoffed,
Big brother made varsity freshman year
So I got sent to camp too,
Eight hour days in full gear,
Barely 4'5, seventy pounds, but always played through,
Ball with impending college kids, full speed,
Concussions and bruises,
That’s the shit they said I’d need
To grow up hard, no excuses,
Came home bloody, lost weight -
My fault, time for work-outs,
Starting to hate
The routine, had to build muscle back up to make cut,
He said there’d be scouts -
I’m only eight, door shut
And locked, can’t I at least eat?

She said Philly fucked her up but she missed it,
Uncle raped her at twelve and she lost the baby,
Parents didn’t believe, or just couldn’t admit
That family can be disgusting and crazy,
Started dating at fifteen, watched her snort
Lines on the dryer with her dad and wondered if I had
It that bad, I guess at least she had support.

She stood up to a bloody mess on my lap,
Dark and thick, inches deep,
Silent until I started to ask what hap —
She started to weep,
“It can’t be happening again”
She ran down the stairs,
Took me a moment then
I realized there’s
The blood of my unborn all over me,
Heard her shriek she’s got to kill herself,
Panicked state of mind, there’s got to be
Something I can do, rubbing alcohol on the shelf,
She was a cutter and kept a straight razor near we
Always argued about, handful of towels, some to clean, some to staunch,
Minutes pass as the trash can fills with all I’ll know
Of the kid I’ll never have, I hunch
Over and cut, deep enough to show
It’s the source, stumble to the gauze and wrapping tape,
She’s on the floor, kitchen knife to her chest,
I know she’s thinking of her baby from the rape,
I lie next to her, head on her breast,
I lie, the best lie I’ve ever told,
Whether she really believed, I’ll never know.

Just eighteen, lonely watching Clerks at 3 am,
Spaghetti in my lap as I see
Flashing lights in the window condemn
The living room’s darkness before me,
Peek out to see two state troopers parked
Next door, figure the addicts are in for
A surprise, dog barked
And I remembered, I swore
I’d protect my brother, phone out, quick text,
“Cops out front, hop fence and I’ll let you in back”
Ten minutes on the porch perplexed
Watching stars flicker against the black,
House phone rings loud and I pick up fast,
Officer so-and-so needs to speak with my mom or dad,
I stuttered a second before he asked
Again, I whispered: “Is it bad?”
Only said it concerned my brother,
Hallway light comes up, I stand and stare
As I hear my mother
Shriek at his door, “Are you there?”
He was clever like that, door locked and lights on,
Tv on comedy central re-runs, always sounded like he was here,
Dad takes the phone as the reality dawns
On me, I’ll never hear
An answer to that text, fist on the front door,
Officer-so-and-so looks at me,
Behind him in the ambulance they try to restore
Life, mom’s stuck on the steps in tears mumbling a plea
To god to give back her baby boy, twenty-one too young,
So much left to do and be, I watch them walk quietly
As the cop describes the scene to me, DOA, lips, nails and tongue
Blue, suffocated, OD,
Check my phone again,
Heroin in his nose, kids cleaned up before calling,
First thoughts were when
The cops get here none of us are falling
As we come down, I sit on my front steps
Watching mom sob by the stretcher
Asking myself whose next,
Seems like clever
Was only worth so much,
Mom’s hand slides out to touch
Him one last time, I hear Clerks end in the background,
Check my phone again as the paramedics surround
My parents, brother gasps, mask falls off,
Spits up blood and starts to cough,
Three minutes dead, I never heard death counted
Before, mounted
On the stretcher as they hold his hand,
Twenty-one, too young, none of us understand.

Twenty-one, back in school, college class
Just an environment to pass,
Hoodie on, pen in hand,
Poetry in the margins cause I can’t stand
Another interrupted lecture, five English classes per semester,
Ten books per professor,
The Sun Also Rises on Matilda in the Pet Semetary
According to my memory,
Lost generation  terrified of death and talent,
The nice teacher after class keeps telling me I’m different,
Maybe I don’t want to be,
I’m sorry that I see
Dinah Knead-
Ing Dough is the most romantic thing I’d read,
That the worst thing racism stole
From Dunbar was his soul,
His chance to be known as a lover
Not a fighter,
8 am Mondays means another all-nighter,
Dozens of books in fewer weeks,
Each one contributing to my techniques,
But still my old style won’t die,
I check my phone again, why?
I’m starting to forget.

Twenty-three, dropped out, unemployed,
Writing shitty poetry to get out
All the feelings I didn’t want to avoid
Anymore, spent years  late night driving just to shout
Without anyone hearing, fucked up circumstance
Led me to a new Her, the broken hearted black sheep
Who took a chance
On me, ran away to keep
That dream alive, damn were we happy,
She’d paint or sing while I’d write,
We battled her anxiety,
First few weeks every night
She’d have night terrors of an abusive ex,
The mean shit he’d say reminded me of my dad,
And the rough, too violent sex
Reminded me of the death…

A year in and she’s unexpectedly expecting,
Unemployed, uninsured, disowned,
Denied by insurance and my hope is fading,
Begged her parents when she phoned,
A quick fuck off, block her texts, apply to all the local jobs,
No answers, twenty pounds lost in fewer days,
Diet of pasta salad once a day, I whisper between my sobs,
I can’t watch you waste away like this, the haze
In the needle sets in…

I carry her inside, she sleeps almost a day,
Wakes up every few hours to cry,
Fugue state and all she can say
Is “I can’t feel her anymore”, I
Rock her back to sleep as she sobs against me.

Twenty-five, anxiety and PTSD,
Broken hearted and broken hearts,
Let her go last year cause she needed to be free
Of all the parts
She lost by me,
And all I have to show
For all the love and life I know,
Are a buncha scars from hands and blades,
An ultrasound photo in shades
Of black and grey, a tattoo
Of the girl I could’ve had with you,
A buncha shitty poems from bad ideas,
A pregnancy test in a box that’s Ria’s,
Night terrors and anxious mornings,
Family and friends missing the warning
Signs, but I won’t fuck up this time,
The next life to go will be mine.

—  J.S.

- portrait of the poet -

Don’t just kiss somebody with an open mouth – kiss them with an open heart. A kiss should not be something that you do with your lips, but with the whole of your being.
Do not kiss somebody absentmindedly or incidentally, kiss them like you are present; like there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. Kiss them with a lingering that seems to last forever because in your heart of hearts you want it to… Kiss like you want this moment to last for eternity.
Kiss them with everything that you have and everything that you are; be open, be vulnerable, be receptive but do not under any circumstances hold back. Kiss like you’re dying of thirst and they are the purest water that has ever touched your lips… Kiss in a way they will never forget… with a fire and an intensity that will burn into their memory for the rest of their life. 
Because that is the difference between a touch of the lips and a kiss… one ends the moment you part… and the other stays with you forever…
—  Ranata Suzuki | It’s not ‘just a kiss’

Why are you
Always hiding
Behind that shy
And telling smile
Which misses
Each day
Like sunshine
Above distant
And dreary clouds -
In obscured vision
From the gray
That trails your
Where you walk
In overcast
And downpours
Of stifling rain
As your face
Bears silent
To mundanity
At once
From a lifetime
Of routine
That’s scattered
With breaches
Of light
And attempts
To venerate
In a solemn
Of swearing
That feeling
For the moment
Is a glimmer
Of beauty

- J. Pigno

How ridiculous of you
to assume that you have me
in the palm of your hand,
and how petty of me
to play along with this little game,
to pull away and pretend
that I had quite forgotten your name.

How foolish of us to disregard
one another in this way
and dare call it affection.

You and I will meet again
when we have better intentions.

—  // we must grow apart or not grow at all // S.K.K. // January 16, 2017 //
In the Neighborhood

There’s something about me I can’t understand–
More than one thing, but the list is out of hand,
So for now, I’ll concentrate on speaking of
My inexperience at being in love.
I might’ve been falling, but never all in…
In the neighborhood is the closest I’ve been.
It’s felt forthcoming, naturally nascent
But the walls come up–it’s in-love adjacent.

How can someone with so much love in their heart
Be so utterly unable to impart
It to anyone in a romantic way?
Is it that I’m afraid I’ll only get played?
Am I persnickety, expecting too much–
Wanting a heart of gold and a Midas touch?
Somewhere in the neighborhood, but mostly
Honesty and compassion matter to me:
Both of these together, I haven’t found yet…
Such men surely exist, but we haven’t met.
I’m sure when the right one comes along, I’ll see
How effortless falling in love can be.

It makes me uncomfortable when people say
you can’t write poetry about this
because I mean
what is there to not write poetry about?
What is there
that is so damn important
or sacred
or terrifying
that I am not allowed to word it?
Why are there these
on my art?
Who gave you a say
in what I craft with these fingertips,
what I toil away with my tongue
to create?
What are you so afraid of?
An honest depiction
of the world as I know it,
the world as I see it,
each human
as consistently
as the last?
Why can I not immortalise
these imperfections?
After all,
they are so perfectly
to be described.
Sometimes I’m convinced
that I carry my burdens on my skin.
That everyone can see everywhere
what is wrong with me.
I wish to cope in a way of purity
instead of pouring toxins into me.
I wish my heart didn’t feel so weary.
I wish not to wake,
to feel this pain.
Evil lives inside me.
I am not who I want to be,
it’s someone that I cannot reach.