4/4

strength in flesh
is not a flattened stomach with
a mountain range across it
nor is it a back with symmetrical indents
it is not how much you can lift
or how much you can carry
but rather how you carry it
//sometimes strength is only going to one class
but still going
sometimes it is only getting one thing on today’s list done
but still getting something done
sometimes strength is a bare face willing to leave the house
sometimes it is just getting yourself to leave the house
//strength looks like feeding yourself even though you’re not starving
it is teeth brushing, even if it’s quick
hair washing, even if it’s only once a week
laundry now and then
enough water to keep hydrated
it is two socks, probably unmatched
a shirt, pants, and maybe a bra
the breath it takes to put them on
to walk outside to be human
//sometimes strength is a bit of last night’s dinner stuck to the side of a plate
still holding on somehow
//the spider from underneath the couch
attempting to survive another day
uncertain in plans
but determined

4/3

I used to swear I’d never
sit on the same side of the restaurant booth as you
or anyone for that matter
I’ve always equated it
to shining a spotlight
on they who choose to sit like that
a bright bulb on the couple
who can’t be apart from each other
long enough to finish a meal
-but on a sunday night in a deli
where the only lovers
are over the age of sixty-seven
I decide I can make an exception
because it would be a mistake
to not want to sink next to you
as you eat matzoh ball soup for the first time
and this way I have a closer hand
to both yours and the food I know
you won’t finish
-with this view we make a drive-in
out of the dinner
the rest of the patrons, a scene
for us to watch in unison
smiling as
we enjoy the lack of
space between our beings
-this closeness
is a privilege I used to shake my head at
mock in disgust before I knew how it was
to be this content with someone
it’s an easy thing to dismiss a sort of happiness
before you understand it
but there is certainly a kind of
magic that comes with a lack of
distance

4/2

After a man bends down in front you pretending to drop something in order to violate you on his way up

we giggle like
young girls at the mall being
followed by boys
who don’t know
how to take
refusal with grace

young girls on a walk home
from school and a car
following behind
a little too close

young girls who breathe
relief at every story that
their mother says
could have easily been
them

young girls who
go to the bathroom in
groups for a reason

young girls who fake
phonecalls at the bus stop
with exceptional talent

we chuckle like
they who are
making a defense mechanism
out of discomfort for the first time.

it’s always in retrospect-
the fighting back
It’s always fist and rage and all the opposite
of what a lady is supposed to be
the politeness drained from flesh into blue fingertips ready
to carve the man out from his body

all nails and weighted hands-
this is what it is when looking back
but in the actual
moment the girl
in me tells the woman
I am to laugh it off
to toss back in humor and walk blindly forward
hold this head up high
with the years of threads
I’ve pinned to its base to
keep it from tilting
to trade anger for ignorance
to replace reaction with a lack of
to swallow pride because that method
has always been
safer than resistance

It’s the minutes after
when I imagine what I didn’t do
a stranger, crouches consciously
to invade space he knows damn well isn’t his
and the image of his smiling satisfaction
as he continues on
try and make an excuse to myself like
maybe it’s a mistake but any mistake
wouldn’t be given away
by the corners of his lips stretching outward
meticulous

I picture
my knee charging into his teeth,
the impact of muscle against face
wonder if he’d still be grinning with the blood staining his mouth
think about my tongue doing more than sitting still
say my body’s not the only weapon I have to show
scream so loud that the whole bar turns a head to pay attention
remember the pepper spray hanging from my purse
remember that it’s existence is only ever remembered after the fact

and my laugh,
never enough voice
to knock the guts it took to touch me
back into his stomach
my brave,
never enough courage to
take the fear out of risk

I am
a response without a throat
and my silence,
the regret that wins
most often

we giggle because
it’s what we know best
like we’re well aware of the fact
that we didn’t have all these years of
practice
for nothing

4/1

I have always been
a fool when it comes this
but in six months in I have realized
I don’t need to be anything else
because fool or not
I am still yours
and somehow
you still want me

It is april
and spring’s arrival has
never seemed more warranted

To be with you

-is to feel the glow of light

even in darkness

is to want now to last forever
while still anticipating
tomorrow

is to draw a future
between the cracks of your smile
is to fill myself
in the lifeline of your palm

is to color cheeks into blush
at the sight of your gaze
is to stretch a smile
into a mountain range

is to pour myself
in the indents of your ribcage

is to hear a reminder of you
every time a love song plays
is to finally understand
why they were made

is to not have fully understood
a good night of sleep
until it is spent by your side

to be with you-
is to find god in our silence
to see the holy in our touching
to say grace for this feeling
and pray that it stays.

#102934

I find comfort in the static of the record player humming,
the crackling of vinyl against its holding
your arms tucked tight around the curve of my spine
and waking up to the corners of your lips widening

this is a sunday morning
that I could relive
7 days a week

this is a feeling
I am near terrified of
but in a way that I need to be

see,
I have never been one for writing love poems
and when it comes to writing love
good endings aren’t my specialty

I’m not one for spilling vulnerability
to then have to clean up the mess
after it goes without catching

I’m not the best at predicting future
and letting go
is an art form I am still mastering

I have never been one for writing love poems
especially not for those
who don’t stick around
long enough to hear them
but for you
I am willing
to take the risk
to set aside hesitation
for the chance of lasting
to sacrifice my fear of heights
for the possibility of a smooth landing

I don’t know you well
but I know you enough
to know you’re exactly what I want

so I’ll talk about your smile
how your dimples have quickly become
my favorite half moon to stare at
or the way you look at me
like a single star
in the middle of a busy Los Angeles sky

being enfolded in your grasp
feels like sun peeking through grey
how lightness makes itself known
even in the midst of rain

I want my skin
to find a home in your palms
and my laugh
an echo in the crook of your neck

for routine
to settle on the map of your body
from collarbone to knuckle to wrist
making a transparent dent in each earlobe
to be missed by my lips
to crave the caress of my hands
when they have other obligations

and I’ll hope
that I can waste
as much time with you
as I intend to
although I’m sure
that any time we spent together
would be anything but wasted
I hope
that we can stretch these two nights into two hundred
weaving a weekend into something we can wrap ourselves in

this is me saying a prayer
the only way I know how to

I have never been one for writing love poems
but for you
it is all I want to do
to listen to the silence
and from it
form a symphony
to take this coincidence
and call it fate
to give out all of my honesty
and hope that you stay

When I’ll Know

I’ll know it’s love when I am wedged between a line of cars on a busy street in the middle of a commute
listening to the radio and thinking about what food I have leftover in my fridge
or what the weather’s going to be like tomorrow
this is when I’ll know.
it’ll happen suddenly
randomly,
an earthquake in the center of my Tuesday
somewhat of a surprise
like walking through a haunted house knowingly
the shock is inevitable but expected
or it might hit me
like a lightning bolt on a day with a vacant sky
like a bus when I cross the intersection without looking
okay
maybe not that violently
maybe it will be subtle
like the moon’s descent into crescent form over time
like the evolution of freckles on skin from sun
quiet in its arrival but still apparent
it could occur to me loudly
almost like a revelation
but more like an understanding that has been building for months
growing inside this body of mine
I often bury feelings in my stomach
feeding them subconsciously until they become too full to cover with ease
love will come to me like a secret I have been hiding for weeks
pouring out like a confession I never wanted to give
I like to say that falling hard is a habit I’ve overcome by now
but I would be lying if I did

To say
that love makes itself known visibly
from the exact minute we meet someone
is not exact true
but you’ll know when it does
creeping out strategically into your routine,
love will settle in your bone marrow until it has formed into a disease

see I’ll know it’s love
when I go to search my wallet for parking meter change and I only find your name
when the empty in my bed grows too big for just my body
when every ring a cellphone hums reminds me of your laugh
when the onset of cold makes me miss the comfort of your holding
when I start to wonder what a life never knowing you would be like
when I can’t remember how I ever survived on this earth without you
I’ll know it then
and I’m not sure when that will be
It could be the last thing I think of as I fall sleep
or at 3:47 in the morning
I can’t promise I’ll be ready
or that I’ll be waiting patient
Love will come to me like a fear I’ve been afraid to say admit I have
But I will tackle it head on
Welcoming with open arms
Say hey what sup hello
I’ve got this
it might not be obvious
But I have been practicing my entire life
For this exact moment

Acquiescence

this isn’t heartbreak,
no,
this is swollen
and there’s a difference between the two

heartbreak is what you feel when
you get your heart broken
swollen is what happens when
you give too much of yourself away

and I do
too often
without thinking

I love
like everyone is dying
and my passion is the only thing that can save us

like the end of the world is coming
and all we have to save the human race
is my weakness

I care
like it is an alternative to breathing
and every available ounce of oxygen has suddenly gone missing

I give
like a one time supply
that thinks itself endless

like my limbs can regenerate without trying
like my lips are incapable of cracking
like my bones were made for splitting

I give
like if I were to empty out completely
I could still call myself whole

like I can auction off this body
and still refer to it as home

like I can hand out my vulnerability in pieces
and still have something for myself

this isn’t heartbreak,
no,
nor is it swollen

this is a resignation
from my conscience
to my desperation

this is a reminder
for my own
to give all I have sparingly

and this is an apology
to my sanity
for when I don’t listen

Pondering

To wonder where you are now
is to think of you often
is to find you in memory
and look for you in public

To wonder who you are now
is to recall who you were then
how you used to be when with me
and how different you are without

To wonder what you sound like today is
to wonder if you’re laugh is still wild
if your smile still comes like a full moon in December
if your voice still rings gentle

To wonder if you ever wonder
is to twist a thought into a whirlpool
is to get pulled in without trying
is to be lost again in what has already passed

I can’t help but wonder
if I ever slip into this life you have now
if my hands ever crawl to your loneliness
or if you ever wish they would

To wonder about you
is to say a prayer without an answer
to repeat it every night
and still hope for a call back

Indifference

Hesitant hands and
a lover who doesn’t want
to love.
Momentary bliss with
someone who is terrified of
future.
Another saturday together,
back scratching,
arms holding,
reciprocated wanting,
and a kiss on the cheek in the morning.
I know he’ll miss me
but
only in retrospect.
I say,
this feeling,
is the closest thing to god I know.
I think,
I will never let myself
admit it.
He thinks but says
nothing of
importance.
I, with a need for conversation,
am always the first
to initiate it.
Speaking of the weekends and
our time together and when
it will be the next already.
Professing my care and
how much I do and
how I don’t know exactly why.
I tighten the knot around
my tongue and swallow
the proclamations as they come.
I decide to save them for
another who I know
I’ll have to find eventually,
when the comfort has
settled and the strive
has grown tired,
when there is
not much left of
what barely ever was.
This is,
at most,
one of those routines that just sort of happened.
This is
hardly something
you could call romance.
I wonder,
how do you invest yourself
in a broken bank?
How do you share passion with
a person who doesn’t have any?
How do you stop giving away too much
before you empty out again?
Why talk about tomorrow when
it is only today
and why is that still not enough
to be satisfied?