Requiem

The night you died
I held my breath in your honor
or in anger
I can’t exactly remember, only
a dropping of the gut, the swollen amalgamation of numb and comprehension and
more confusion than I have ever swallowed whole before

I hope you cursed yourself when you realized what you did
your hand closing is a picture I played a million times in my head
your eyes rolling back is one I tried not to but
every time my eyelids met
I saw yours gasping for air

Your mother, a glass vase splitting on hardwood floor
I can promise you she is still stepping on your pieces
the truth is I know you never meant to cause damage
the breaking is just what happens when so much is left behind

When the rabbi said your name
I thought about laughing, how
you certainly would be at the seriousness of it all
the level of despondence floating
in the room
the oxygen, thick in its lack of,
a density unlike any other

I remembered the time we got high on one of the holiest days of the year
I thought maybe this
is god playing a joke on us
I thought maybe this is
just his sick revenge, an attempt at humor but
there was nothing funny about your leaving

For the first few months
losing you was drowning every night in my sleep
and waking up alive the next morning
friends asked what it’s like
to have this gap of almost stretching inside of me
I asked if they had ever accidentally touched something hot
and to recall how it felt when the burn started setting on their skin

Most days I miss you without trying
some days I don’t think about you at all
there is a life that is full without your being in it but
it isn’t mine to call my own
I am forgetting your laugh like a song whose words I can’t remember

Today is your 22nd birthday,
facebook had to tell me
there are no shots being taken and nobody is making a cake
Today you would have been another year older
I wish you could have stayed to be it

I didn’t cry at your funeral
I didn’t cry while writing this
I didn’t cry for you
I still don’t know how
I still don’t know how to.

-from the one who loved you

Loving the addict

Loving the addict is
an addiction in itself
Learning to digest
all of the sharp pieces that
come with it
Apologies and how
they lose meaning
after the second
Loving the addict is
as much of an art as
the hiding is, as
the covering up, as
the forgive me
After some time
I love you and I’m sorry
start to sound the same
letting go and withdrawal
become an equal amount of
swollen
and coming back is
more relapse than any
tangible substance
Loving the addict is
a guilty habit growing
inside a dark closet
feeding the plant until
it becomes animal,
ravenous
love and dependence
are both diseases that
share the same root

But being the addict
is always an attempted break up
It is avoidance at
its finest
It is ripping apart
strings of a rope
with chipped fingernails
in attempts to
cut loose ends
It is sawing pieces of
wood with bare skin and
trying not to get a splinter
It is leave me
It is don’t go
It is I am trying to not destroy
everything in my path
It is painting with
heavy winds and rain
hoping there wont be
a mess to clean up
But mess is as inevitable
as the art is creating
And love and addiction
mix like oil and water
nobody is perfectly
capable of cleaning
up correctly
So we leave in a pile
to return to later
Coming back is
more relapse than any
tangible substance
that has ever
existed
and mercy is more perilous than
we’d hope it to be

Moving (on)

All of my belongings are strewn across the floor
lone socks, piled clothing, a book of poetry
the carpet is covered in empty bags and pens and pieces of notebook paper filled with lines I couldn’t finish
I never found the right words to

I know I should be putting my life together
folding and storing and cleaning
I should be fixing the chip in the wall or doing something of importance
there are too many boxes I still haven’t packed, but
all I’m thinking about is how to get you back

I should be moving out of this house into the next but
I’m wrapping myself in these same red sheets wishing you were sinking into the mattress with me
phantom feeling skin that isn’t touching mine
longing like the hungry heart I always claim to not have
but here I am, starving again
insatiable

and when I leave I wont miss the salt in the air or
the sand building hills in every crack of the room
I wont miss the ink stained sunsets much
or the welcoming breeze that morning wakes me up with
I wont miss it at all

not the sound of waves or the way the moon looks when
everyone is too busy to notice
the stars and how they peek out during the vacant of night
not the crawl of sunlight through windows and
the dance the curtains do when the door is left open

not even the sounds coming from the alley outside in the middle of sleep
or the scratch of cars along the one way street
I wont miss it, I promise
there’s no point in missing what I can always come back to

but I will miss you
I will the way I have for however long I haven’t had you here
for whatever city you’re in today
for whatever heart you’re casing inside yours
for whatever one that isn’t mine
how ironic it was that you used to be just a few blocks down the beach
now we’re more than miles apart in distance
I wonder if your thoughts ever find their way to me

I buried too many feelings in the sand
leaving seems an easier feat than digging up memories
and I don’t think there’s enough time in the world to get to where I need to be to be okay again

all of my belongings are strewn across the floor
lone socks, piled clothing and a book of poetry
the carpet is covered in empty bags and pens and pieces of notebook paper filled with lines I couldn’t finish
I never found the right words to
I’m starting to think I never will

Colors

you are too familiar with yourself
with your face
your body
your beauty

your reflection is an image skewed from being seen by
your same eyes too often
your confidence is a locked box you keep in the back of
your closet
your smile is more uncomfortable than it is curling and
you’ve grown to hate the large of your laugh

you are blind to almost all that you are

but just imagine,
for a second
what you look like
to someone who is a stranger

you could be their textbook definition of ideal
their exact description of beautiful and
you wouldn’t even know it

imagine for a moment
how your greatness might resonate
with someone who has never been close to that much at once

there have been people in your life who
have attempted to break you into smaller pieces
crush you from whole so you would be easier to swallow

there will always be some who will be unable to see your worth
others who wont be able to handle you
maybe they’ll see too much and try to shrink you into less
with the hopes of becoming more themselves

you build yourself quieter each time that you do
you know how to shy away from the prescence of light and
you’ve settled comfortably in the shadow of day

but there is someone out there waiting to hear your loud
a blank canvas ready to be filled with all of your paint
you will be the exact shade they have spent their entire life trying to find

and when they do
you’ll remember that there was a time
before you were taught to see dark
when you could see all of your colors clear
without trying

Survival poem

I lose count of how many times I am catcalled on my way to the gym
I think that maybe turning around, eating an entire pizza and
never coming back would stop this from happening
I realize it wouldn’t
I would still be a woman

“Smile baby,”
I hear as I leave my car
Just 3 hours of sleep to get me to where I am and
I am tired enough to silence a response from my middle finger but
not enough to quit

A guy standing at the bus stop sees my hands wrapped and
tells me that boxing is sexy
I wonder how clenched fists
self-protection and
the desire to make it home alive
each night is sexy but
I don’t ask

When I don’t hit the bag hard enough
I remember the force of
his body and
I let my knuckles do the speaking
there is no stopping after the rage is
reborn

A man tells me how lucky I am
to have this body
ignorant to the fact that hard work is nothing
remotely similar to luck
a string I have been stretching and pulling
that is what my body is
luck,
I think about how he will never have enough of it to touch me

I like the way it feels to
be sore from something willingly
to get up from the ground without a hand helping
these bruises are proof of my attempts

I have been practicing my run
to make up for all of the times
I havent had the guts to
my limbs are reaching forward for
every time they’ve been held back

I like to say that survival
is a choice made in the aftermath of destruction
the conscious decision to chew through broken glass rather
than swallow it whole
survival is not as simple as I didn’t die
it is deciding not to

Hand squeezing wrist,
he told me I’d never be enough for anyone anyway
well today I am enough for
me

I’m working on myself
for myself
building ash into bone into muscle
this is strength learning how to show
this is me learning how to pull through
this is me doing exactly
that

recollections

there are just some things
you don’t forget

the time you get stitches on your chin when
you are four and the amount is double that
a result of your careless brother sitting your back and
your face meeting the ground with too much force
you aren’t afraid though
you lay quiet as a doctor sews you back to one piece
this is bravery at its finest

the boy with the angry voice and heavy hands who teaches
you how to cower

the first panic attack with the salted swelling of your breath, the invisible hands wringing your neck into a knot you cannot untie,
the drenched palms and the pinching of your skin to bring you back down to earth
you think you are dying,
you aren’t
you wonder if this will happen again,
it will

the dark of your uncle’s funeral
your family’s tears compiling next to the plate of poppyseed bagels that nobody eats
there is a silence that everybody seems to avoid and the sound of your unexplainable innapropriate laughter accompanying grief

your first kiss in someone’s back bedroom and your body turning on vibrate mode
ringing with excitement, a smile numb from it’s inability to go away

making out on the top of the movie theatre stairs at the mall on Fridays

the time you sneak out to meet up with older boys, the thrill coming from the risk
you trade tongues at 1 am and make it back in bed before mom and dad notice

the quiet in the school hallways the week after the drive-by

the blacked out memory of your first time, in between his cartoon printed childhood sheets
you are fifteen and the weed and alcohol in your system make it harder to remember clearly
it is less of an event and more just a blurry moment

the nights with cough medicine and a handful of crushed pills up your nose and how it easily could have been too much
the one that was too much and your parent’s disappointment forming into concern

running through sunflower fields from the police

the halloween party with the dimmed lights and the red cups
the hammock in the back and the black basement couch and
her wrists the week after everyone found out what had happened on it
the word slut tied on to the back of her jeans for the rest of high school along with her self-destruction

the kid who threw himself in front of the train we all took to get to the city

swallowing the word cancer and feeling every wall of your stomach turn ash

watching your father lose his hair like little pieces of the future

cursing out your chemistry teacher 6th period and being sent to the principals office
then loudly cracking your knuckles during saturday detention

eating ice cream in Haley’s bed after finding out he cheated on her
telling her it will be okay and believing it

laying in bed for three days straight and ignoring any words of reassurance
depression settling comfortably inside your bone marrow

the comfort in his eyes and a sense of understanding nobody else had

your purple bedroom walls and
your purple bedding and
your purple curtains and
the pile of innocence disguised as stuffed animals sitting in
the corner of your room

every book you’ve ever loved

every song that’s made your heart lunge

every human you ever thought of as you were falling asleep

every night you spent awake counting

every day you wasted spent waiting

every time you thought you wouldn’t make it

every time you did.

Shower

“you didn’t dry yourself off very well,”
you tell me while running a towel over my back
I am bare and vulnerable but
I do not care at all

we are post-shower standing on bathroom floor
bodies making puddles between cracks in white tile
laughing as we watch our reflections
dance in routine

my hair is curling and yesterday’s mascara is crawling its way down my cheeks
I look more wet dog coming home drenched after thunderstorm than I do human but
I do not care at all

you wrap the fabric around the parts I didn’t get on purpose
I keep my raw, the usually covered skin out in the open
I’m thinking about all the ways I can make you stay and
this is just one of them

Google Search

today I did not think about him
It is the first time in an entire year that I haven’t
I don’t realize this until tomorrow
but it is an accomplishment nonetheless

today I went to lunch, did laundry, drove to the gym
I didn’t see his shadow in my rear view mirror
It is the first time during a commute where I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to pull over
often the speed of the traffic mixed with the acceleration of my thoughts guides me to the side of the road
anxiety blowing loudly through the vents into my open mouth until I am too tired to focus-
today is the first time that didn’t happen

last week I googled “therapists near me”
I settled on a woman with a nice smile and a specialty for trauma
This is the first time I find myself familiar with that word
almost comfortable like a distant family member I am just now recognizing
trauma is something with one definition but too many faces
for the past eight months I have been wearing his

on monday I spend an hour in the office of a stranger
she asks me why I’m here and I respond with I don’t know but
my answer is as dishonest as my avoidance is expanding
she asks me how I am and I almost forget that I didn’t come all this way to say fine
for a moment I almost forget that I am not.

I tell her about him without trying
I don’t say his name
or the details I remember with more clarity each day that goes by
she says memories are really only what we remember each time we remember them
I think it’s funny how I remember more every time I do
how sometimes laying in bed becomes catalyst to chest pain
I can still feel him kneeling on top of mine
pressing body into cracked ribs into spit on my neck
I can hear his humming of a song they play too often on the radio
there is no trigger warning for the reminders life has to offer
I find them everywhere without trying

she understands as much as I want her to
she says it’s really about power
I say I know
she asks if I feel like I lost some kind of control
I say yes
I don’t tell her that I have spent countless hours trying to find it
in bodies that aren’t my own
digging nails into muscle and mattress trying to pull out some semblance of who I used to be
For too long I have covered up with a bandage
I am just now ripping it off for the first time
this pain is a sort of cleansing
I took three showers after he left but it is only today that I feel his remnants washed off my skin
I can’t help but wonder if this is what Pinocchio felt the first time he was honest with his demons

today I did not think about him
yesterday I did not think about him
the day before I only thought about myself and pizza and myself again
there is very real possibility that my mind could figure out a way to bring back the unwanted
that tomorrow could be another way to remember
but today I didn’t
I went to lunch, did laundry, drove to the gym
I made it home without incident
not perfect,
but it is an accomplishment
nonetheless

It’s Going To Hurt

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall
Or how many times you get let down
It doesn’t matter if it’s done gently, swiftly, all at once
The force of gravity and the role it plays in the situation is irrelevant
And it doesn’t matter how hard you hit when it finally drags you down

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall
And it doesn’t matter how many times you get let down
It will hurt every single time
Maybe not the same, maybe even worse
It can range from scraped knee to broken wrist to bleeding mouth
It can be mild, it can be severe
It can last for a moment, a month, a year
But it will always hurt when it happens

It isn’t about preparing for the crash
You could be parachute-ready, eyes open, waiting
You could be practicing your jump, grace, descent
You could prevent yourself from building up too high and planning
But the impact of the landing will still be there

It’s going to hurt
The first time, the fifth, the tenth
Nobody tells you that it will, but it will
You will say to yourself,
“I’m never going to let this happen again”
“I’m going to be more careful next time”
“I’m setting my expectations low from now on”
You can tell yourself that you’re not hoping for anything, that you never were
That it is your fault for not bracing for the disappointment
You could say that you’re simply floating out the ride
But when it comes to a halt,
You will still jerk back

It doesn’t matter the circumstance
Or how many people have dropped you before
Whether or not you were holding on tightly enough isn’t a factor
It’s still going to hurt when you hit your head,
Your hands will still crack from the friction
And it’s not going to be pretty

You’re going to feel it in all of your being
You will pull the splinters out of your eager heart one by one,
Leaving behind holes as you do
You will push the bones back into their sockets like routine
And you will bandage the wounds of led on

Maybe hurts
Almost hurts
Heartbreak hurts
Memory hurts
It’s going to fucking hurt

But you’re going to be okay
You will fill the gaps with cement stirred confidence
You will pile back the bricks high with pride
You will learn to hold your heavy head up even when it feels like too much to carry
You will paint a smile on in permanent ink
You will barely make it through some days, but you will make it
You’re going to be all right.