Sonnet to Consider Living
We listen to Harmony Hall in the car
& I sing louder with I don’t wanna live like this,
but I don’t wanna die. There are no good words
for suicide. Sun pearls my arm, loose
on the car window. It’s spring & I won’t
romanticize dying, though I do want a way to say
I want to die without making anyone cry.
As I unroll the window I hold my fingers through the running
air & let March mother me, brush my body
tenderly. I didn’t mean to write a love poem
but the love keeps happening, despite
all my attempts to leave. No one notices
when I sing louder; the moment passes anonymously.
It’s okay. I look for language to name me.
but if jesus is still
awake i wonder if he'd tell me
at what age
he disconnected his
gmail from his dad's
and if it came out of a place of
anger or if he just turned eighteen
one day and decided to
change his password.
but if he stays up late like i do, i'm
already feeling this sense
probably not the latter.
when i was nine years old i
crashed my grandmother's laptop.
do you think she remembers this
she searches for youtube?
probably not, but i do.
i've written the same ghost
story book over and over again, it's
i'd steal from the scholastic
book fair and hide; it's
the childhood bible
that i never picked up.
have my parents ever thought that maybe
their child is mad at them?
is everyone's heavenly daddy
immune to this, am i
the system error? is my father's
hallowed name restored?
i have been thinking this
in every different brain in this body
for months, i cannot
close my eyes to sleep
without seeing a hand coming to pluck me from this
hell and drop me into another one.
when i was nine years old i
let my friend run me over
on my new bike.
does she think of this when she
wins races now at college?
i still care.
it still lives in my mind,
a feeling of fire and tangling of
and if god didn't
leave his son i wonder if things
would have turned out different for every other
kid in the brown green earth,
because if you can't even get the attention of your
dad as some sub-human
then what the
living hell am i supposed to do
when all mine cares about is my
geometry grade and
and the search history i've
deleted hours ago?
i hope i can still find it
sometime after this, if it can't
seem to dig itself into a grave.
they say once you do something it will
always be out there so i've
grown up hoping
everything is forever.
that my best friend never dies. that
my grandmother never dies.
that my childhood bike can
decompose into the earth
and see me again someday. someday, maybe...
when i was nine i found a dead cat on the walkway near my house.
does god plan this when he makes the animals?
i'm sure he probably does.
dear editors, i have swallowed a thesaurus for you but
sorry, i never learned to spell. i never learned to trace
out these foreign sounds in my mouth and marvel at
the tastes they draw from my tongue. i have got only
simplicity to offer, and so i submit it to your altar.
dear editors, funny thing- i'm supposedly a poet (and
the weight that comes with that title) so i thought
i'd say it in words- anxiety's a strange state of matter
to live in. it crawls in the space between my index
finger and the mouse, hovering over the 'submit's of
google forms and 'send's of stiff emails. and get this:
i close the tab and delete the email, waiting for the feeling
to retreat. i ask myself, weakly: 'what is art without
perception?'; myself says back: 'i see no art within
these words.' it wins again; i delete the pdf off my
laptop without a second thought, and the list of altars
i've shown my heart to remains unchanged.
dear editors- inevitably, i've come to the altar again,
with so many others, of course. they bear ink
on their tongues and graceful words underneath
their nails. these artists go forth and present
their lovely offerings; they are brave, something i
wish to be. the fear of something stirs in my eyes.
i stay back; my finger hovers over the submit
button, the send button. i feel the fear twist
down through vertebrae into my stomach.
and so i leave the altar.
maya’s gone off to wisconsin
i ask maya if she has to leave and she says that i should know by now: no matter where she goes she’ll be gone
and the whole thing flings me like a car careening off the key bridge.
today i miss her different than when she’s gone-home in ohio, i miss her more because of all the extra hours.
i calculated from my house to wisconsin and it’s a whole new distance than before.
i ask maya what does it feel like to miss me and she says that missing isn’t a feeling she can explain. i ask maya if maybe it just feels like lost but i don’t think she gets what i’m trying to say.
maya’s much smarter than i am though so i guess i should trust her, plus
i think i’m becoming a burden so if nothing i’m shushed now,
and i’m scared that my best friend’s sitting in wisconsin but i’m home thinking there might be something wrong in me
but i’ll never admit that because it might make her feel like leaving. i think more than anything
i want maya to see the world.
if it makes any difference, rather, i think i am getting sadder because i haven’t really left bed since that virgin margarita
and on the car ride home i told blake that was the first time i’d eaten all day and i asked if she’d sing at my burial.
she said if the need’s there she’ll try and show but singing at a birthday seems far more preferable.
blake has a beautiful singing voice, i think i’d love to hear it.
i’m holding out for that.
i ask maya when she’s getting back to ohio not that it matters but i happen to know that
her blue room makes me feel good because it’s lighter than mine and
i remember when i met her i googled everything about her because she was my first friend i’d ever made
from a different state and something about that made me feel scared that there is this great beyond,
that everything’s so so much bigger than my one tiny county. to ohio i look like a drop of water in the ocean off the key bridge.
to her family i am just one of her camp friends.
to her classmates back home, i do not exist. sometimes i wish i did, but right now it’s comforting to know that no matter what happens
there’s a group in ohio who simply won’t see everything i get wrong.
i ask maya when’s she’s getting back. i want to come see her. i want to take an amtrak and go far away from my home.
she sends me pictures of wisconsin so i think it might be a long time from now.
i ask maya what it feels like to be invisible and she says i’d probably know better than she would but
if she ever finds out she’ll be sure to clue me in.
i think that maya is not the type of girl to be invisible like i am.
and you can’t tell me i’m not because the car horns don’t count and the beach men don’t count
when they yell about my body and even that is an intense thing about me,
how my shape is, it rolls up and down like a seawave in a sandstorm,
like i’m enveloping a car that careened off the key bridge. (there’s someone screaming inside it if you care to hear them)
i am so loud that it makes it hard to look at but maya is the type of girl that is nice and calm and easy to notice.
maya is going to change the world and i can’t wait to see it.
my best friend is going to do so much and that is something i’m holding out to see, if only to prove for a moment i knew her.
i ask maya if she’s still awake in wisconsin and don’t get anything back.
now comes the quiet.
when your best friend goes to bed it feels like the world’s stopped just for you.
maya is the type of girl who goes to bed real early and then she wakes up real early
so she can wake up her friends who are sad.
maya sets alarms and i think about that a lot, how she’s got enough motivation for both of us.
i think about what her alarms might sound like, if they’re nice ones or if they’re that awful blaring iphone default.
i am trying to go to bed, i am trying, but i feel so bad that i might just wait until morning. in this moment
i can’t think of any one person who would be proud of that.
maya’s gone off to wisconsin and suddenly i feel a little like i’m trying to stay afloat after dropping from the key bridge.
but if i hold out till morning maybe i’ll get to see the sun before anyone in ohio or wisconsin,
maybe if i hold out i’ll hear the bells on the key bridge miles and miles from here.
maybe if i hold out just a little longer i can be the one to wake up maya. i wonder if that’d make her smile.
i wonder if she wouldn’t be worried because i’m so good at hiding.
i wonder if it’d help her see that the world is so big but there’s always me and ohio.
and when maya gets back i think i’ll try and drive out to see her,
i think it’s time i see the world too.
i think i’ll go through the night and make it by the time she’d wake me.
in ages when she gets back (cause maya’s gone to wisconsin),
that’s what i’m holding out for.
i’m holding out for that.
Fuck, God damn.
I'm just a country
wife trying to flow
here this rhyme.
Hickory dickory dock
I ain't got no mice,
no clock to tell
me the blinded time.
Just mace to spray out
these dumb, dummies,
No one should catch
a case if you love
the game, you'll win.
Don't test me, I'm jestly.
Still my ego debates,
tossin red Chevys in
yo face, you know!
I'm wrapped up
in twisted ways.
Down dirt roads
muddin most days.
Cain and Able
what a fable.
Fuck, God Damn.
I got ya eating out
of my hungry money
Exercising in all the
right areas, my rights,
freedom of speech, amen!
Stick it to the man!
I don't live in cubicle
worlds, just dance around them instead.
Hallelujah, holy shit, fuck, god damn
Good night y'all
l hope you
© Chantelle Cherie Lily
my eyes burn in the pitch black of my room, only illuminated by a 13" screen that screams in the darkness. it attacks my eyes with the talons of some ancient beast, but my head is too full. it's spinning and whirling and overflowing and desperate. hilariously underworked and heartbreakingly neglected. it's 3 a.m and a firefly lands on my arm. it tickles, advancing slowly to my hand, then to my desk. it illuminates the path it takes as it goes, the memory of its journey imprinted into my nerves. it settles onto my desk and, like a puppy, lies down and is still. i hope it's sleeping. i feel an unceasing tug to my laptop, to my dreams, the bubblegum streetlights streaming through the hastily dropped blinds.
i click the big teal button that says "write". i return to my dreams, my hope, my home.
i click "publish."
a recipe for oppression
and there is something cold about the way
dry fingers burn on rusty stoves.
there is something sweet about how
the woman bleeds
within these four walls-
no, the woman will bleed here,
it was a cold cold morning
when it had been passed on to me,
there was something cruel about how
the note was crippled and-
but she had smiled at me;
i had liked how her lips felt against my cheek-
it had reeked of finality.
that was the last time i saw
it was a hot hot morning
when the note was opened.
aunt z had been beaten to
death and the note
reeked of warm blood
easy cake recipe (for beginners)
i could see how her pale frail
fingers had scribbled it.
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk (or 3/4 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/2 cup water)
-whisk 3 cups flour, the baking powder and salt in a bowl. whisk until they no longer cry. whisk until every last breath is crushed from their ribs. beat 2 sticks butter and the sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed. beat until the bleed to death, like-
no, until they are light and fluffy, yes. about three minutes. three minutes are enough to kill a woman. three minutes are enough to scream out in terror. three minutes are enough to be not heard (or are they?). beat for three minutes. now reduce the mixer speed to medium, (the neighbours must not hear). leave the mix alone, dead things don't talk; now beat in the eggs, one at a time, slowly, deliberately, scraping down the bowl as needed. beat in the vanilla. It must not reek of dead flesh under the sofa. beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, Head Torso Legs alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with flour, until just smooth.
and there is something rotten-
no, why must there always be something,
there is nothing left.
When you go, I stay gone
I didn’t have the schematics for your leaving.
There was no plan. I searched for diagrams
in every circuit of sky, all the crumbs of stars.
As if your Earth would ever aid me. I slip through
space, with no one to consider my reality.
I want to know how I exist for you. I never understood
people selling their souls on TVs until now.
I don’t want to recover. I’m sorry
for penning you over again. All I know is to write
myself out of eclipsing: a servant to your sound, my oily sirens.
Most nights I cry for your second absence,
all the moments I’ll have to unstring myself from.
I practice speaking in future tense, rehearse
all the days I will be remaking.
the romans began the tradition of breaking things: bones, countries.
a rooster crows at the break of dawn,
announcing the sun, calling the spirits of the dead.
the hens only crow with the arrival of the egg: birth, creation.
the grain on the icy ground spells out the future
but they pay no mind to the hens' scratchings.
in the beginning, my bones were revered;
they held energy, released energy,
they were molded in the shape of all life.
they laid in the sun, drying, for seven days.
they revealed the seven ways we experience the world
seven senses, seven days, seven ways.
with my link to the world without fire broken, i am unable to fly.
cats and other absurd notions (escapril day 9)
rotten rotten air
down on my neck.
sour metal glints like stars and
blood under floodlights
(or does it? and if it does or if it doesn't then why
does it and why doesn't it?)
and there is something
pale light enters
around the edges-
and gets sucked into the
(can the dark suck in the light?
and if it can or if it can't then why
can it and why can't it?)
& there is something cruel
about the way nails
scratch grey metal
and how it screams back
the fragility of the air is breathtaking
& there is is something odd
about the way yellowgreen lights
press against my nostrils
and how this dying night smells
(can something so alive reek so
outrageously of death?
and if it-
no. when does it end?)
& what happens if
the walls crumble down
before the life in me
seeps out through my eyes.
and i feel it
erode out of me-
cold cold blood
runs in my veins
and i feel my insides
dry up to a crisp;
but surely, this is death.
or is it? and if it is.