my dearest love, i will perform for you
everything about you is pure magic
i am in love with the way your legs move
and i am in love with your teeth
your heart is beautiful and, my god, your smile makes me weak
i am in love with you and everything you are
if you had my baby, i would worship the altar that is your hips
i will sew you back together and i will kiss your wounds
i am in love with you
i have said it many times but i will say it again
i am in love with you
you fell in love with me when i first picked up my violin
you came apart in front of me when i drew that bow across the strings
the music was made by me but it was made for you
so now, your body laid across my bed, i will create music for you
i said i love your legs, and your heart
so i will cut the tendons and muscles out of each and create a violin
your teeth will hold the string in place
and your hip bones will be my bow
that way when our child asks where mommy is
i will say, right here!
and play your favorite song, so you too can make the music
everything around me is art
i wish i could look at it and see a sky
but i can’t
i see heaven
i spend real life trying to go there
the man on the bus
today when i was going to the bookstore, a man sat next to me on the bus. he looked kindly and old, like a grandpa who checks on you in the middle of the night, if anything just to watch you.
he smiled at me and i smiled back like my mother taught me.
have you ever been to the coffee shop on State Street? he asked.
i can’t say i have, have you? i said.
i went once when i was younger, years ago. you just looked the type to go there. he said.
what type is that? i asked.
the type who looks tired, and needs coffee. but good coffee, the kind that comes with clarity, not just caffeine. he said.
i wanted to scream in his face. i wanted to open his eyes with my fingers to see my hair and my neck. but i didn’t need to do that, not really. he saw me. he just meant i look young, i think. when you’re young everything you do is to seek clarity. you ask questions. you ask for directions. you ask what song is playing, and what’s your favorite book? you ask old men on buses what type is that, because for the love of God or whatever is pushing humans around like chess pieces, who am i? please tell me, old man, what type am i? am the type who will end up like you? or the type who will lay under a willow tree next to a person i’ve never known? i want you to know, old man, i tried the coffee on State Street. it tastes like children and sunlight on my face in March. it tastes like my friends smile and your wrinkles. i want you to know, old man. i drank the caffeine, but you gave me the clarity i needed to keep asking questions.
what should i order? i asked the old man.
it’s halloween again
halloween is my favorite night of the year
i spent this morning surrounded with people who i won’t love past high school
they stayed until the afternoon
i wanted to kill myself
i can’t explain it, but i shared something sacred with them
they got to see me on Samhain
the one day a year i feel myself
the creepy crawlies in my soul match the creepy crawlies who ask for candy at my door
they saw me
and wanted to get pizza
how could they defile my temple like that?
i have been desecrated like the most holy of churches
the most unholy of places is where i love to reside
surrounded by black lace and candelabras and ghosts and vampires and witches
i was instead surrounded by people who obliterated my sacred day
i love halloween still
but it’s 9:30 at night and i have school tomorrow and i want to go to sleep
but i want to sit and stare at the stars
feel the magic
i can’t feel anything.
so happy halloween, i love your costume
dead things appear in my line of vision
like the love for my father
and the drive for math class
dead things haunt everything I do
every tractor has bloody boots underneath it
every green thing sounds like a broken promise
dead things taunt me
the unfinished book on my desk laughs at me
the music notes are begging for more
maybe I am the dead thing
and everyone sees a walking corpse
a laughing corpse
a manic corpse
a hopeless corpse
I mourn the loss of my soul
I leave flowers by my door like a gravestone
I only see pitiful smiles and apologetic questions
every living thing seems unreachably dead
the chemo pills my dad swallows four of every day
the hands my sister rubs her eyes with
the tears my grandfather cries after hearing me sing
I am a ghost made up of ghosts
everything I have is haunted and
every move I make is demonic
lay me down to rest now
in a field of wheat and poetry
and allow me to be what I am
allow me to be a dead thing
my papa is a skeleton
when I was little, I didn't want my papa to hold my baby sister. I thought he was a skeleton. he was 6'2 and skinny as an orphan. I was surprised when his frail, lanky arms could hold her ten-pound body. "I was in the Navy, you know. A deep-sea diver." he told me stories about Vietnamese children and the fog in Bermuda. I couldn't believe him. "But how, Papa? How can a skeleton do that?" he never answered my question. I watched that skeleton for fourteen years, angry and loud and brave. the skeleton that I loved read every book, and drew pictures of castles that I will engrave into my skin. but the skeleton truly became skin and bones. I've never seen a man so lost in his own backyard. staring at the sky, staring at his wife, staring at me. he didn't recognize any of it. I have dreams of him now, in stained jeans and a big, rage-ridden head on delicate bones. I miss the skeleton who would tell me stories about the big pine tree in his backyard. I miss the skeleton who gave me hugs like he'd never see me again. maybe he knew that one day, sooner rather than later, he would never see me again. he would look with the same eyes that taught me how to pray and not see a granddaughter, but rather see a brown-haired girl. "You remind me of my granddaughter, Sophie." that was the day I decided a skeleton could never be more than dead, and the conviction that allowed his arms to hold my sister was gone. he will never see more than shapes in a book now, and his pictures are only color. but my papa is the supernatural being that taught me skeletons could love, and that is the skeleton I choose to remember. the living one, not the absent one.
I’ll eat your heart
quoting shakespeare makes me feel smart. i do it because my soul likes to hear him in my own voice. when i first met you, all i heard were his love sonnets. i got why Romeo would kill himself because of grief. if you were Juliet, never could i survive in a world without you. if you were Macbeth, then i would be your dutiful wife cleaning blood on my hands and knees. when i got to know you, other poetry came to me. shall i compare thee to a summers day? yes, i shall. you burned me just like a July afternoon, pink and in pain. have you ever regretted getting a sunburn? i find i'm fine with it when i turn tan in a week or so. that's how you were. you fried my skin and made me die then you told me i was beautiful and tanned my skin to perfection. but then you changed. or maybe i did. either way, i felt like a vengeful character. i felt like the warring households. and still, so many months after i swore not to talk to you, i have one thing left to say. it sums up how i feel, after the double suicide and the stained hands. i have one more piece of poetry for you. I would eat his heart in the marketplace.
tonight i drove in the rain. Phoebe Bridgers was playing and the lights i've grown to know as my town were distorted and had an ethereal glow. my sister was sitting next to me. i've been told it's the little things. i never believed it until tonight. it might be the feeling of his head on my chest or my guitar that i decorated. it's my black eyeshadow and the way my angst eats me alive. my crystals might be fake, but i trust them like my grandma trusts a cross with a sheet across it. his lips were on mine and i felt nothing. i looked at myself in the mirror and felt everything. it's the little things. it's my friends laughing with me. it's pen on paper. i have to believe it's the little things. the little things bleed magic, however small. the little magic isn't witchcraft, it's human. the little magic makes me believe. maybe magic isn't real. i still hear you either way. you and i are the storm, darling.
the younger me
the younger me would love my room. she'd stand in my doorway in complete awe. "this is all ours?" she'd ask. the plants sitting on my book drawers would make her squeal. her little fingers would skim the leaves and feel the branches. the lamp would remind her of our grandma, for that's who gave me the light. our dresser would tower over her. her little eyes would bug out seeing how many books and journals we own. my puppy's kennel holds treasures i know she would explore. then her eyes would see it. the guitar! "can you play?" she would ask, plucking the strings. "no, i can't find the motivation." "oh." she would see my books piled on the floor, marveling at how many i've read. her little body would jump on my bed, staring at the letter from a sick kid on my wall. then she's crawl on her bony knees to my desk, feeling the things and murders and love that is cultivated there. she would look through those books, too. she would look at all the post-it notes of reminders, and the one that says, "what is religion to books?" she would end her tour with a look of joy, and i would end my guide with a look of sympathy.
I Really Hurt Myself
I have a tendency to romanticize people.
I take what little I know about them, the barest of strokes.
And add color until I've painted a landscape.
This time, I didn't.
I took what I knew and decided a sketch is fine.
It doesn't always have to be a Monet.
He was brilliant in color himself.
All red hair and blue eyes.
He stood 6'3, standing tall and standing proud.
He fed me lies, fed me beautiful stories and myths.
Made himself to be a God.
But gods don't lie.
Gods don't cheat.
He hurt me in ways I might never heal from.
But more than that, I hurt myself.
I believed in a truth someone else created.
He painted his own mural and told me it was a picture.
Cameras don't lie, but boys do.