A letter to the Dead
You got my book wet and began apologizing profusely.
Although I couldn't really be angry because you were absolutely beautiful.
You were the kind of pretty that people have to take a second glance at, the best kind.
You asked if you could buy me a new copy but the book was just a paperback and it was my third time reading it, obviously not a big deal.
I said sure.
Sure led to “okay” which led to ’here’s my number”
Followed by “how bout a trip to Barnes and noble next weekend?”
Life was set.
Do you remember that trip?
It led to my greatest love
And my greatest loss.
I wish we could discuss it but you have moved on to another life.
By the way, my love, I never got rid of that book.
What you’ve become
You have turned into my writing.
The girl that was lost to herself.
The girl who thought the rest of her life wouldn't be enough to substitute one single moment.
You weave into my words and into my meanings until it's awkward and depressing.
You stain my prose in constant pained attention.
You became a story I brush off as untrue and a story others cringe at.
No more will you be my writing.
You have turned into music.
The words written for the unknown were now speaking to me directly.
The songs that left me unaffected now tainted.
The rhythm I hear boom in the back of my base has now become your heart beat.
It mocks me in a way that's addicting.
No more will I hear you in lyrics.
You've become my pain.
The sigh that escapes at two in the morning when I can no longer distract myself.
The cry that comes when I forget a feature of your face.
The ache I feel deep in my bones whenever a simple hug reminds me of your absence.
I wish I could live without you, but youre a part of me.
You've become pain, but when will it stop?
First Day Of My Life
( series of poems walking the reader through the grief process )
Denial, 1: They Got the Wrong Person
They got the wrong person. They mixed you two up, how funny that you look so similar to someone so long gone.
I feel terribly sad for that family of course but at least they’re not me.
Life, when are you heading home? Im growing cold here in this apartment alone.
There are people outside our door wanting to talk, yet something in me won’t answer their knocks.
They got the wrong person, right?
You did not leave me Life, please tell me it’s not true.
I feel so stupid,
I grew reliant on your heat,
and now I’m shivering in the dark as I hold out hope you’ll unlock our door first.
Please, they got the wrong person.
“You were the better part of every bit of beating heart that I had, whatever I had. I finally sat alone, pitch black flesh and bone, couldn't believe that you were gone” -You’re Somebody Else by flora cash
Denial, 2: The Loud Type of Silence
I am experiencing that loud type of silence.
The ringing in my ears dulls everything else out as I sit with my hands on my head.
“Think of something happy”
Remember that time we went camping? It was cold then as it’s cold now.
Your smile was bright, your smile was my heat. Your laughter warmed my soul.
Watching the video in my head replay, except each time the sound fades out more and more.
Are you also thinking of that happy memory? Or are they now stained with dried tears and guilt?
Life you cannot be gone, for as Death I will be alone.
“Cold sheets, oh, where's my love? I am searching high, I'm searching low in the night” - Where’s My Love-Acoustic by SYML
Anger, 1: Anger Towards Life
I hate you.
No that’s not true.
I’m angry with you.
You left me behind. You left me and the promise to “stay”, behind.
I only got seven years with you.
It was a good time but all I can focus on right now is how much I want more time. I’m angry at you for leaving.
I needed you Life. I needed your warmth, brightness, happiness, smile. But maybe you’d been faking it that whole time.
I can’t believe you lied, you made a promise that day we said “I do”, that there would never be secrets between us.
Yet, you broke a promise and kept it from me for God knows how long.
Your promise to stay.
You promised to wake up by my side, to hold me close and watch me sleep. You promised to sit with me as I cried and you promised to share your own insecurities. You promised to be with me on Christmas because it was only with you in which Christmas was cheerful.
You promised to love me and I trusted you.
I handed you my trust and then you broke it.
Yet, no matter how angry I am, I beg you please I just want to see your smile one more time.
“Only hold till your coffee warms, but don't hurry and speed” - Beach Baby by Bon Iver
Anger, 2: Anger Towards Death
I don’t understand why.
Did I do something wrong? Did I squash one too many beetles outside our apartment or accidentally ruin someone’s day?
Maybe it was that time I spilled coffee on that man’s tie, he had an upset look on his face. There was nothing I could do except be on my way.
Just one more word to stop your day, “Good Morning would you like some coffee?” or maybe if I knew I could have said, “I love you.”
Why didn’t I say I love you?
You said it, I remember, and I grumbled it back with the excuse of it being too early. Is that my fatal flaw? Is that what went wrong?
I hate myself for not being more alert.
If only I had known you had to make a trip down the pier, I would have gone with you I swear.
I’m so sorry I didn’t see it coming, maybe both our eyes were blurry, yours from the water that drowned you and mine from the haze of disbelief.
Anger is not a flattering look on me right now, please Life look away until I get some space. I’ve wronged you dead, I will not let it happen again.
“Why won't you ever say what you want to say? Even my phone misses your call” - From The Dining Table by Harry Styles
Bargaining, 1: Reaching Out a Hand
Remember our old friend Faith? They were a member of the friend group we associated with in college.
Faith just learned what happened to you and suddenly decided to visit from twelve hours away. I know by now you would laugh and say “be nice,” and I will be, it’s just annoying.
I haven’t talked to them in so long and now that one tragic thing has happened I suddenly have to converse with them? They are probably only here for business anyway and I’m just a tourist event. The “Pity Express.”
I’ll try to do this but only for you. I need to get ready.
Life, it’s almost Thanksgiving. One of the worst holidays in my opinion but this year seems worse without you. Your Mom invited me over but I am not sure if I will go, I am no longer related to them after all.
After Thanksgiving is Christmas, the true holiday I dread.
What am I supposed to do? Do I set up a tree and poke a fire? Should I continue our tradition of drinking warm apple cider while watching terribly cringy Hallmark movies?
No, I cant it wouldn’t be the same. No one would be there to laugh with me, I won’t have anyone to hang ornaments with and you won’t get to watch me try and reach the top of the tree for the star and laugh.
No one will be there and that’s the problem.
Yet, no need for more mourning I’ve done that for too long, besides we have a friend coming over.
Faith doesn’t look a day over thirty, they also are as bubbly as the time I last talked to them.
“Why didn’t you call me sooner?” They asked feigning sternness.
That’s a stupid question and not one that you would scold me for frowning about. You would also agree.
“That’s a dumb question,” I said. Oops, I guess I said that out loud, now that would get a slap over the head from you.
“Sorry it’s just I’ve been busy, Lifes funeral is soon and with the holidays so soon I haven’t really thought to call people,” I explained and Faith nodded.
“I am so sorry,” they said making me cringe. I hate apologizes almost as much as I hate you not being here right now.
“I’ve missed you tons and thought about you and Life many times since our last meeting. I can’t believe the last time we had spoken before you know was last year.” they finished.
Right, I had forgotten it’s illegal to say Life is dead.
“It’s okay, I know Life thought of you tons. Kept up with you on Facebook.” I said with a smile. It feels as if Faith was the one to lose a spouse instead of me.
“I can’t stay long because I have a meeting soon but I want you to know you can call me at any time. In fact, I encourage it.” They said smiling brightly. I haven’t seen a smile that bright since you left.
“Okay, I will,” I said exhausted, and lead her out the door, closing it quickly and pressing my back against it.
I will definitely not be calling them and I think you would agree.
“Now I ain't the toughest hickory that your ax has ever felled, but I'm a hickory just as well. I'm a hickory all the same.” - Lady May by Tyler Childers
Bargaining, 2: Grief Counseling
“Hi, my name is Death and I am struggling with grief.”
“Hi Death.” rang out in a chorus of unhappy voices.
No no no I can’t do this. I don’t care how much you would have gotten a laugh out of this, this is torture. How did I end up here?
“Do you wanna share your story with the group?” the leader said with a smile so sweet it made my teeth hurt.
My what? Is this a joke? This has to be a joke, now I’m just waiting for John Quiñones to jump out saying “excuse me, I’m John Quiñones with the TV show What Would You Do?”
I know for sure I am making a face that resembles close to a dying cat but what do they expect me to say?
“Um, my spouse of seven years drowned,” I said with a laugh.
I laughed. I actually just laughed. The fact that I laughed is just making me laugh more and now I sound hysterical in a small dusty room surrounded by people who get stickers when they feel upset.
I need to leave.
I say “excuse me” and run out laughing harder at their concerned faces. I reach my car, unlocking it with the old janky keys, and rest my head on the steering wheel trying to calm down.
I hit the call button on my phone and listen to the soothing ringing sound on the car’s Bluetooth before your mom picks up.
“Hey sweetie, how did it go?” she asked and I snorted.
“Better than I expected, I couldn’t do it, and before you yell at me please know I tried. It was torture.” I sighed deeply. She exhaled loudly to showcase her disappointment before speaking tiredly.
“Okay, I understand. I just wanted you to have someone to talk to. Phone a friend please, and visit me soon?” She asked.
“Of course, I will see you soon,” I said and hung up to sit there and ponder. The stickers you placed all over the dashboard were peeling off and my eyes burned with the promise of tears.
Phone a friend? Who though?
“Thanks for going on this picnic with me Patience,” I said smiling into my tea as I inhaled the steam. It was a cat-nip tea, which sounded strange to me at first but has become my favorite of all time. Let it steep for a little while then add honey and simple syrup, I had poured it in a thermos to remain hot.
“Of course, we haven’t spoken in a minute but I knew we would want to get together soon,” they said placing the mini sandwiches I bought on a decorative plate they had found. I had been texting them a few times over the past few months but this is the first time hanging out in person since Life passed.
“You are psychic,” I said and we laughed, it feels good to laugh, I haven’t laughed enough since you left.
“I am, so talk to me, what’s been going on?” They asked with a genuine smile that reached their eyes.
“I don’t know it’s just been hard recently. The funeral keeps being put off because of family issues and at this point, I don’t even know if it’s worth keeping up with. I will feel so out of place, Life’s mom asked me to say a few words but I don’t know what to say. Life died too young? My life sucks now?” I ranted and Patience just hummed as they sipped the tea I prepared and brought for them, although they had a jasmine-lemon tea with only honey.
“Anyway, I’ve just been cruising along,” I said cutting my splurge short. I wonder what you would say right now, would you tell me to suck it up? Would you hold me? I guess there isn’t a point to think of “what-if’s” anymore.
“Death you know it’s okay to feel sad right? There is no expiration date on grief. It’’s forever, yet it’s up to you on whether you want to remember the happy memories or the sad ones.” They said and I gave a short laugh.
“When did you get so wise?” I said with a warm smile, this could be nice, having a friend who cares?
Patience and I continued our talk until dark. It’s the first time I truly felt happy without you, although I cried the entire way home. I wish I didn’t have to confide in a friend. I wish you weren’t gone at all. I wish you were here.
“I surrender who I've been for who you are. For nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart. If I had only felt how it feels to be yours, well I would have known what I've been living for all along.” -Turning Page by Sleeping At Last
Depression, 1: Sun Cycle
Warmth settles in my bones as I rearrange the covers to shield my face from the blazing enemy.
The only reason the curtains were opened was that it was muscle memory by now, you had loved to wake up in the sun, much to my annoyance.
The people I’ve met in my life going through grief made it look easy, they carried on and looked strong, it’s admirable now knowing what it feels like on the inside.
You had a hold on my heart for so long, your hand was a fist around the involuntary muscle and it squeezed tightly with love.
Yet now, my heart is gone. Ripped from my chest when you fell from that dock, never to be whole again and it hurts.
I wish for nothing more than to wake up from this unending nightmare. I want to open my eyes now and see your peaceful face, to grab ahold of your hand and never let go again.
Will I ever love again? I don’t believe I can love another as much as you.
I pull back the covers to find the enemy has retreated, it was night.
“Only love is all maroon. Lapping lakes like leary loons. Leaving rope burns reddish rouge” - Flume by Bon Iver
Depression, 2: Ghost
You haunt me.
Taunt me with the impossible.
I see you on the train, in the window of a coffee shop, in my friends, in the dogs playing outside the apartment, in the leaves as they turn orange, in the soft covers of my bed, in the neighborhood swimming pool, on the bikes traveling to mystery, in our favorite shows, in the food truck down the street, in the clouds above my head, In the lights of the dark city, as a soft rainfall overcomes me, in the pack of cigarettes unopened on your bedside table, in the fluffy gray cat I set food out for sometimes, in the butterflies I see marching to the park, in the cold ring on my left hand, in the old photos covered in dust, in the cheerfulness of your mother’s laugh, in the cold that overcomes me at night, in the clothes locked in the second closet, in the silence that seems to settle on our home, in the romance novels I read, you’re everywhere.
“Wings wouldn't help you down. Down towards the ground, gravity's proud.” - Roslyn by Bon Iver
Acceptance, 1: Funeral
It was cold the morning of your funeral, well it was more of a memorial seeing as you’ve been cremated for almost a year, but still emotional as expected.
I had a light wool cardigan pulled on but the cold didn’t bother me as much as the ache in my heart did.
Your mother stood, sniffed then proceeded to start the service. I didn’t pay attention much until my name was called. My hands shook and my ears grew hot. Most of the seats were taken up by family I didn’t know. I spotted Faith and then my eyes quickly settled on Patience who gave me a kind smile and a slight nod. I fumbled with the piece of paper I used to scramble some thought down on but eventually, I balled it up and stuffed it in my pocket.
“Life told me once that I was taking pessimism for granted. That sometimes others needed to be optimistic so people could be pessimistic. That was one year into our relationship and the night I first saw Life cry. I promised myself I would never let anything hurt them again.
As I stand here a year after their death I don’t feel angry or upset, I feel proud of who they were. Their brightness added just enough to others to stand out in this world, Life changed so many, including me. So for Life, leave regrets behind closed doors and don’t allow blame to reach up and snatch you. Life wants us happy.
My love for them is unending but it’s time to rest, go in peace, my love.”
I cut the speech short in fear of crying in front of the crowd. I walked out the side door and sat on one of the brightly colored chairs breathing heavy. A moment later Patience knelt in front of me with a tissue. When did they get there?
“I’m proud of you.” They said and I could not holland my tears in any longer. Patience eventually brought me into a hug so my sobs were muffled and not disturbing the mourning family a few feet away.
Patience rubbed my back awkwardly until I calmed down enough to pull away for a conversation. My face felt sticky and the air tasted stale.
“Lifes gone,” I said softly followed by a soft “I know.” from Patience.
“You took my soul and wiped it clean. Our love was made for movie screens” - All I Want by Kodaline
the death of a lover
we met a while ago
not knowing how much our love would grow
never did I regret our part
for it is written in this work of art
I hope you are well among the stars
because I am crying in the car
I will never forget your face
even when mine is covered by lace
you will always be my greatest love
together one day above
yet I can't help but have hoped
we could have eloped
that I wouldn't cry every night,
it will take some time to see the light
Im sorry angel
but its too painful
Friends With Benefits
I knew this would be a bad idea.
My brain doesn’t work the same way, I'm wired to fall in love.
What hurts is you never tried? You said you would and you lied to the rest of our family that you would but that claim never came true.
I don’t understand the big joke. What's so funny? Look around, you are the only one laughing.
Did you plan my life this way? Did you plan to be there but not fully there until I was so sure you truly were going to come back, and then you vanished? Hilarious!
What about leaving my mom to fend for herself against the world why you were dragging your ass through jail and drugs?
Then at once, since she no longer feels bad for you and you have “acquired” money; you refuse to pay a little bit of that so maybe I could get some clothes for junior year.
Then you have the audacity to tell me who I should be and what I should wear? Moreover, I would be a “bad person” to be anything slightly different than what you think I should be. Some “Christian” you are.
I’ll never forget one of your shining moments when you told me in the car that one time, “you can never date another girl or a black man.”
Well, dad, I've dated both, is your joke as funny now?
Pinky Promises by the Koi Pond
College isn’t as simple as people make it sound, you don’t just pack up your stuff, say “Later” and walk out of your parent’s house. It’s much, much more difficult, especially if it means going to college, separates you from the one you love by thousands of miles.
I started to notice you distanced yourself from me about a week ago, you quit texting and talking to me. It all happened so fast and painfully so you can imagine the anger I felt when I showed up at your window for answers.
I wanted to yell and cuss but the unfamiliar look of sadness on your face caused me to shut my mouth quickly as I gently helped you down the tree leading to your bedroom window.
“What’s going on?” I asked, voice soft. Your eyes were bloodshot as if you had been crying and the dark circles under your eyes could hold one of those gross hairless chihuahuas the ladies carried around.
“It’s not going to work and you know it, we won’t work far away,” you said quickly as you wrapped your arms around yourself for comfort. I knew just as well as you that we would both be going to college on the opposite end of the world, but I didn’t understand why we couldn’t work? We could call, and text, and when holidays come around we can visit each other. It doesn’t seem so bad to me...
Knowing you, I was aware of this not being the only reason, something bigger was at play. It could be your parents, with us being both guys, they aren't the most supportive people in the world. So with that being said I took your hand in mine and said, “Why don’t we go somewhere only we know?”
Smiling slightly you nodded and grasped my hand tighter and allowed me to pull you along to my car for a quick drive to the park we used to hang out in. The night was cold and the bugs were loud, the only light source was the full moon that seemed to watch us like a breathtaking movie. We climbed over the mini-wall that kept the little kids from straying and we passed the swing set I got stuck in that one time.
We walked by the balancing beams and jungle gym until we reached the pond where the koi fish could be found. It was lite blue with LED lights and the moon, and the fish seemed to move slower as if they were waiting for morning boredly.
Sitting down on the bench I turned and smiled before asking you, “Are you afraid?”
I knew I was blunt when your eyes widened and you stared for what seemed like hours until I said something. Lifting my hand up to meet your face I said again slowly, “Are you afraid? Cause I am, I am terrified because I don’t want to lose you... I don’t want to lose the most important person in my life.”
Saying the words made your face scrunch up and your eyes well with tears until they fell, being swept away with my thumb. I pulled you closer and settled to have your head on my shoulder and my arm over the bench and your back.
“Im so afraid.” You said after a minute and I hummed to let you know it was safe to continue.
“What if my parents make us part? What if you find someone better while you're gone? What if we forget each other or end up not knowing who the other is anymore?”
“You focus on the “what-ifs” too much. We are both eighteen, love, your parents are not going to split us up and if they try, well then I'll give them a piece of my mind later. And I'm not gonna “find someone better”, did you not hear what I said earlier? You truly are the most important person to me so don’t forget it. And we aren’t gonna forget each other because I will be calling you every. Single. Night. Plus we aren’t gonna be separated forever, I will visit you and I hope you’ll visit me,”
“So don’t worry okay? We will be okay as long as we trust each other and communicate.” I finished and turned back to watch the koi fish swim around and avoid each other. I particular bright white fish caught my eye and I wondered if it knew it was so beautiful. I turned back to you when you held your shaky hand in front of me.
“Promise?” you asked.
“I pinky promise,” I said back and hooked my pinky to yours, the koi fish seemed happier now.
Dancing on the train tracks
The love between us was reckless. A memory my mind wanders to in the middle of the night was dancing on the train tracks. I thought you were crazy when you asked me “what is a form of affection that you find the most romantic?”
My first answer was holding hands but I was quickly shot down for it being “too predictable.” So I blurted out dancing. Never in my whole short three years of knowing you had I seen you smile that big, at that moment I knew you were up to something.
That very evening I was stolen in the night and dragged to the active railroad track behind our neighborhood. I vividly remember being poked gently between my eyes as you told not to worry so much, that I would get wrinkles, but I couldn't help to think we would be run over by a train we could not hear. I now know my fears were childish.
After you had finally got me to stop being weird and afraid, we danced for what felt like hours until we heard a train heading our way, with my hand in yours we fled back to your house laughing about the awkward dance we had just shared.
It's in these memories why I wonder you left and now that you are gone I find myself drifting in a daze to that very same spot on the tracks, I apologize it took me so long to cherish the unique friendship we had. So as one last request, may I have one more dance? That’s all I could ask for.
Even though Im told its not my fault. Even though I was no where near you. I still think about if I could have said something to save you.
The thoughts creep up the back of my neck and invade my mind with guilt. Its there before I close my eyes in bed. Its painful.
Was there something I could have said? I guess ill never know but for now I can say I love you and miss you and hope you are well.
It was always the stars that brought us together.
As kids, we would sit in my backyard and watch them glimmer for as long as possible until my mom would call us in for bed.
Growing older we would sneak out of our houses and meet up at the park in the middle of our places. At that point, we were just starting to realize what love was. I will never forget the first time you sneakily grabbed my hand to hold as we both blushed and looked away.
Going into high school we grew apart, made new friends, and you fell in love. I always waited, I knew we were soulmates... for the stars told me. When he broke your heart you called a meeting at the old park, my heart broke with yours as you cried. I pointed out constellations to calm your soul. I remained calm though because I knew in the end, we would be together, you know how I know? The stars told me...
Then it happened... laying in the itchy grass as I pointed out constellations you leaned over and kissed me. I had never experienced such bliss until that night. The stars shined brighter than any night before im sure of it.
I was given two years before you were taken away from me. Just when I had you in my arms.
Funny to think the thing that brought us together was the one thing that didn't help you when you needed it the most.
Looking at the stars now I feel nothing but hate. I should be here with you but now its only me, the dying grass, and the stars that once promised me a soulmate. My eyes blur with tears and I can no longer make out the constellations.
I can't do anything but tell myself you are now the brightest star out there, watching me as I lay in the disgusting grass and cry myself to sleep for the fifth night until my mom or your dad would come to get me.
You were my constellation, will it ever be the same?
-sorry, I've been gone for a minute, someone important to me passed away. This piece is dedicated to her. Stay safe everyone!