i) i never require company to take off their shoes. no surprise that i keep finding foot prints. no one ever wiped their feet.
a) open-door policies lead to unwanted guests, and i’ve had a hard time keeping track of who’s been renting and who is here for good.
b) open-book policies make it difficult to ascertain who read the facts and who just wrote in the margins.
1) some damage is evident. a coffee ring here, ripped edges there. i find more dog-eared pages these days than i’d like to, but i just keep unfolding corners. not that the wrinkles disappear. but they’re easier to look past.
ii) long-forgotten tenant leaves a microscope.
a) there are more fingerprints than i once realized.
1) i know who these fingerprints belong to.
2) i don’t know who all of these fingerprints belong to.
b) tear stains smudge ink.
1) salt crystals cluster.
c) tear stains are harder to look at than finger prints.
iii) it would have been smarter to use a time stamp. it would have been smarter to alphabetize. no. to place in chronological order. no. these pages are all tearing. these pages are all mixing. how many books do i have here?
iv) i hire a cleaning service.
a) the footprints have stuck in wet cement. i didn’t realize they were here when the foundation was poured.
1) i should have hired an exorcist.
2) i should have sold the property.
3) i should have burned this place down.
v) i should have burned this place down.
After what is the reason for your absence by Atifa Othman - @ao_poems
eternity by calvin klein
I hope a 1/2 empty bottle keeps.
Yes, the one you couldn’t find that morning.
(stored, loose, inside the shave kit)
favorite nike t-shirt
(the navy blue one
the one stamped with
footprints from the hospital)
I promise I’m only packing your belongings away to be sure that everything that holds so much of your essence is well-preserved for the days ahead as your “little man” grows up.
I wish you were here
to tell me
and what only
I wish we still had
• He left another note
• This time it only said, ‘Goin’ fishin’
• How long would he be gone?
• She asked, & thought to her self
• Why did she leave her life as an elf?
• Her time in the North Pole was fun
• Even with the little amount of sun
• She had lots of friends there
• Who were always ready to cheer her
• And share the fish they caught—
• Wishing that she was back up North
• With her fellow sweet elves
• Who did not like sitting on shelves!
• If she packed all her things
• And left a note on the fridge-
• She wondered~ would he be pleased?
20 Regrets (or You Can Call Me Bruce)
In kindergarten arts & crafts,
a classmate called my project ugly.
Honestly, it looked like vomit-
too much glue, not enough tissue paper.
But I should've torn up his artwork
instead of mine.
In first grade, not knowing how
to process emotions, I knocked a girl over
when she kissed me on the cheek.
I also called her ugly. She wasn't
and I didn't wash my face for a week.
Her arm, broken from the accident,
was in a cast for much longer.
In fourth grade, math stumped me.
I just couldn't master my times tables
like all the other kids. I broke
a pencil every time I felt stupid.
I seemed to have nothing but broken pencils.
In 1994, Jack Kirby died.
He created my favorite character, the Hulk.
I missed my opportunity to write him
a thank you letter for a hero I could relate to.
In sixth grade, the school play:
it was just a small role but damn!
I wanted to be flawless, rehearsed relentlessly.
I got so nervous I threw up on stage.
I earned the name Puke Face.
When I was 15, dad left us.
He explained that he found a new woman
to start a family that he could love.
He never apologized.
I punched a hole in my wall
wishing it was his face.
I should've tried to make more friends.
But I wanted more time for tv and comics.
Despite diligent studying,
I failed yet another math test.
I don't remember hitting my locker that hard
but school fined me for destruction of property.
There will always be bullies.
I thought I deserved the teasing
so I didn't stand up to them.
Except one... sort of.
I killed his dog.
My grandparents always wanted to see me.
I was just too busy or
they lived too far away.
Now I miss them and they're gone,
so much further away than they've ever been.
I don't think I saw my therapist long enough.
I should've started exercising sooner.
Every time hunger trumped foresight
and I ate off a taco truck.
Would superman ever eat Kryptonite
because it smelled good in a corn tortilla?
How long did members of the Manhattan Project
relish in their pride before the fallout of regret?
You are the most beautiful thing
I've ever been a part of.
Sometimes I just don't know how to cope.
Sometimes I just get angry.
I try meditation and yoga,
I try to find my Zen.
But like Bruce Banner something green
and ferocious rages inside of me.
Sometimes I need to smash.
Sometimes I need to feel your skull crack
beneath my knuckles.
Rip the plaster off the walls of a temple,
it's still a temple, still holy
I'm sorry for how these fists
try to redecorate your face, for the ugly
colors they try to paint over your beauty.
if you weren't so damn beautiful
I could feel like I deserved you,
wouldn't be reminded of things I am not
every time you smile at me; maybe
if you were just a little bit damaged, I
wouldn't feel so broken.
I'm sorry for how my hands say I Love You.
I should have never let you stay.
How did you love me?
I'm sorry that all I have are I'm-sorrys.
We both thought you could make me a better human.
I thought your tears could wash the monster off of me.
The House by the Sea
- an empty olive jar, paintbrushes drooping at its side
- a large ginger cat, friendly but precocious
- an acrylic portrait of fishermen watching the tide
- the woman this all belong to, motionless
- her lover, Jane, watching the scene
- steam rising from the tea she cradles
- in the sink, dishes she forgot to clean
- their lidless teapot still full, covered with two silver ladles
- the woman shifts beneath the sheets, the day breaks
- morning kisses and the sound of seagulls, she wakes.
I-IV. Questions of Divinity
Do your eyes glow when you close them
or do you dream in colors and that’s what
Are fireflies fallen stars that learn to adapt
to the Earth or are they ones that never got
a chance to shoot toward the night sky?
Is every thought that’s crossed your mind only
yours purely or are they collections of words
picked up during life’s journey?
Who are the mirrors reflecting back at us
the person other people see or the being
we see ourselves and believe there’s no changing?
1. Brush my teeth
2. Get in bed
3. Whisper "Pick up, please!"
4. In my phone screen, appears your head.
5. Discuss the tea
a. "And then she said..."
6. On the floor, sunlight gleams
7. 5AM, now sleep like the dead.
endless, we count on
0 is the time and space between sleeping and waking. it is lying half-conscious on an air mattress in a place far away; it is foreign, to be sure, but not necessarily across the ocean from home; it is staring at red numbers blinking 3:46 until the image burns into your retinas and you dream of red stars and planets accreting and crumbling again faster than you can perceive.
1 is the singularity of life; that it must end. some argue that taxes are also a constant thread in the weft of humanity, but our ancestors scoff. we cannot remember a time before capitalism was our prevalent master. we walk the road towards our destination, ever so often faltering, but the path was meant for us to falter. did we really ever have a choice? the gods sigh, no.
2 is the choice between a duality. up or down. left or right. north or south. east or west. black or white. him or her. we ignore the grey areas of morality and decision making as we stride towards an answer with a contrast that justice can permit. we grasp it fully with two fists and proclaim that this is the way we should live. heaven and hell, why can't we just stay here?
3 is the wine of storytellers. three wishes, three beautiful girls, three bold tasks for the hero, three golden apples, three unforgettable nights, three incandescent gowns, three brothers, three companions as the hero completes his quest. how it curves, the tale they spin; a silver tongue cannot buy bread. now we sell our stories by the roadside of the ether; too many lost to time.
4 is a nuclear powerhouse. they smile in family photos, suits iron-pressed and dresses only worn once. but is it not worth it for the sake of the illusion? this abridgement of their lives shows nothing but joy; it does not show the bruises beneath the indigo sash around her waist; it does not show the dog buried in the backyard. it will never show their youngest son's collection of pressed flowers.
5 is the bitten and torn remnants of a sane vanity. you stare into the mirror with shadowed eyes and a mouth that parts as if it needs to tell you something you don't know. yet. you used to love your fingers. now, you lick the blood off your digits. they will grow back. just give it time. it was satisfying in the moment, but now all you feel is the pain and regret of breaking the seal of your self-applied embargo.
6 is poverty. plain and simple. it does not need big words to explain how little their children are, how little food they have, how little they have at all. more children, more, more, just for the hope that one survives in this world that does not want us. you always feed the children first, they need it more than you do, but when they die because it still was not enough, what will you do then?
7 is another mythkeeper's spell. seven swan brothers, seven dwarves to protect the princess, seven deadly sins, seven heavenly virtues, seven, oh holy seven, over and over again til the word loses meaning. you find a bible in your bedside drawer - you didn't put it there - but you don't read it. holy words seem to have lost their effect on you after a lifetime of depravity.
8 is what we call forever. it doesn't exist, of course, but we foolishly promise the word to ourselves. i'll hate you forever. i'll love you forever. forever and always. everything will end; scientists have proven it. yet we still cling to this idea of forever and selfishly claw to keep its mystical powers for ourselves. no one has forever. not even the sun. and when we all die - because of ourselves, not divine intervention - it seems the sun won't take so long to swallow us whole.
9 is the uncertainty of the future. what comes now that we've left that which we know. the crags of our expectations look far too high to climb. but we must, lest we be impaled when gravity shifts against us. look up, they tell us. aim high. there's something beautiful waiting up there, just for you. they tell it to the next person, and the next. we were all too busy climbing to find that which was truly beautiful. you look up to the sky as you fall.
Alive: the wind, uncaught, untamed
Living: wings and muscles strained
Life: your first flight, unexplained
if to-do lists were realistic:
1. get up
2. no, really get up
3. come on, you don’t have time to go back to bed
4. brush your teeth-
5. get dressed-
6. go downstairs, i guess...
8. look for something to eat
9. ...keep looking for something to eat
10. settle for something kinda gross
11. eat it, slowly
12. “i’m leaving in ten minutes, with or without you.”
13. worry about that^^ for about two seconds before going back to eating
14. get dressed-
15. look for something to wear
16. end up wearing the same sweatpants as the last two days
17. brush your teeth-
18. stare off into space??? sure, you totally have time for that
19. contemplate going back to bed
20. brush your teeth, very slowly
21. gather your stuff
22. ignore whatever it is your mom is yelling at you from inside the warmth of her blanket
23. “come on, we’re late.”
24. tie your shoes slowly, just to spite them
25. walk outside
26. wait for them to get something they forgot
27. doze off on the drive
28. go to school, finally