I thought I saw you at the bus stop I didn’t though
but I did see you at the grocery store and I almost didn't believe it I see your gait so many times in my dreams on the street each time I almost break into a run into the wrong man's arms every time but this time you had that smile that is always so certainly comforting and understanding and I had to forcibly restrain myself because the next step wasn't to press my head against your chest and cry and cry and cry until your green shirt (you always had the softest shirts) would dry my tears and I would blubber out an apology and you wouldn't even have to say it's ok I already knew it was.
At least there’s still beautiful things
Hints of pink in the clouds sometimes I
Forget I’m not living in a portrait
Hanging on your mantle, I hope
Over your fireplace, I get so
Cold. Sometimes at dinner parties I
Can almost smell the tea and crumpets as
Someone remarks: well isn’t that
Lovely? Isn’t that simply
Beautiful? And I almost
Think I’m real, crafted
From velveteen and not
Painted on an August morning by
Numb fingers disheveled hair and
Opened skin, cracked open like
A vault, but this time it’s
Empty. You swallowed the key I
Think. I’m never sure. A different
Me applauded your magic.
Antoinette Cosway / Bertha Mason
I'm certain I have the kind of hysteria they used to lock women up for hair uncombed uncouth the moons under my eyes purpling like the shade of gowns I wasn't permitted to wear am I pretty yet am I pretty yet am I pretty yet let me perish in arms that won't call me beautiful at least there's still arms to catch me you don't need to know my suffering you don't get to know my suffering I'm trapped up here but my hair is long and unkempt i hold my strength in its strands while yours lies in pieces on the ground I'll sweep it up you'll never see the painstaking ways that I'll gather each piece and try to reattach it I'm always sorry to the brink of insanity only I would keep running back to you see my veins protruding my yellow eyes bulging see you send me away out of sight while I wonder where those cries are coming from and why my voice is so hoarse
Another Poem I Won’t Show You
It’s kitchen table dining
Her sweater slipping off her shoulder,
I say to her: you look skinny
And her face spreads open like runny eggs in a pan
We both pretend her reaction is appropriate.
I grip my juice a little tighter,
I tell her
Of summer sun and bare chests,
Caught naked in his arms, I say:
My heart beat so loudly,
I’m speaking in cliches,
I thought it would leap right out of my chest,
Excitement, and fear, and
Dry toast, dab your pizza,
Count your calories, count your blessings,
I don’t know why I let him do it,
Mom, I don’t know,
It was something to do,
Swim and dance, feel pretty, and regret.
This table must be getting wider,
My shaky arms shorter,
My throat dryer.
Drink some water.
Litter the floor with Diet Coke cans:
I’ve been bad today,
This week, this month, this year
Treat yourself, eat a cookie, and regret,
Let a boy touch you until you wish he hadn’t.
I’m dizzy, spinning round and round,
Eating discarded crumbs off her plate.
Eating discarded praises off her tongue,
Her eyes dim when they meet mine,
We both pretend they don’t,
I don’t say:
I wrote a poem about you,
Because I know it’s one
I’ll never show her.
The stain on your jacket sleeve (and by that I mean I’m sorry)
I’m the stain on your jacket sleeve
And I’m sorry I’m just telling you about that now see the thing is I was painting my nails and I had an itch and next thing you know dark green polish on that pristine white sleeve but I’m sorry and I tried to clean it off took bleach and remover and the dry cleaners and my mom and couldn’t get it off and I love that jacket more so that you gave it to me to wear and I love that feeling of now I kind of belong to someone and I’ve never loved that feeling before and I should’ve been more careful because then I had that evil creepy crawling thought that now you can’t give your jacket to a new girl and I think that’s just a secret way of saying please don’t leave me and
I think you love me because I was pretty confident you’d forgive me kiss my head while I reach high up on my tippy toes just to play with your hair and keep your arm around my shoulders so I won’t fall behind or get lost in the crowd or feel a chill or have a thought that I don’t get to share with you
Because I think my thoughts are prettier when I know I’ll tell them to you. Not in like a toxic compulsively honest I have to tell you my every thought but that when you ask me about my day it means my day was important and I never looked at them that way before
And now I get to wake up in the morning and hear your voice and sometimes you laugh at my jokes but not too often, you know? Like it doesn’t feel forced which I appreciate and sometimes I’m shocked that you like me because not to be shallow but boy you are really hot like objectively movie star beauty you’re hot but also you’re smart and it shocks me that you don’t think you are because you are and actually it’s a secret worry that you’ll leave because I’m not very smart and I’m sorry I won’t ever show you this poem it’s just my exes embarrassed me when I got too emotionally vulnerable and you’ve seen me cry and I don’t want to make the same mistake again but the thing that shocks me the most is that you keep staying
Like that stain. On your jacket sleeve.
We’ll Feel Immortal
We define ourselves by our hopelessness,
Our homeliness, our you’ll never leave your hometown-iness
Dance with me in the churchyard -
The one you were born in, the one you’ll die in.
You already have your plot picked out -
Name carved out on stone.
I can already see the vine growing over it,
Your name so gray almost obscured entirely,
Until you’re nothing, no one knows what you were to me.
You’ll say marry me in that churchyard,
And in that one moment we’ll feel immortal, like daffodils in August.
So yellow it’s nauseating. They’ll want to step on us, but there’s no need. We already forgot about December.
midnight in December
And when I say I love you I mean I’m scared you’ll leave me
I’m so used to the warmth of your arm around me without you I’ll be forever cold,
In the terrifying realization i never should have grown used to your warmth.
And today I spent all day writing because I remembered all of those things I promised I’d remember forever and I forgot
Like the login information for the poetry account I made that I don’t know if anyone ever saw
Or the night we had our first kiss in the hours right before sunrise
That glowing kind of faith that sunrise would still happen it was so dark out but we still closed our eyes and trusted it would be light when we opened them
I wrote it all down
Because what if you aren’t there to remind me.
And when I say I love you I mean I know you’ll leave me
You’ll find my voice too shrill or get tired of the times I fall asleep right before your lips touch mine, the promise of one day not real enough, and my silly jokes and foolish dreams too tiring to hold on to
So I’ll slip through like sand in your hands
And I’ll hold on to you because I wrote us all down
Turned us into midnight poetry
Timeless like my middle school dreams of a tall boy with green eyes to hold my hand
And in the wake of rejection I’ll want to throw my words into flames,
Let the fire consume us like feelings always do
I’ll be laughing through my tears as you disappear
But your phantom arm on mine quenches the inferno
I’ll save you the memory I owe us that much.
And when I say I love you, I mean, I’m asking you to stay
At least for today
And if I’m lucky
And tonight maybe I’ll call you
Just to say I wrote a poem about you,
But it isn’t your time to read it.
The first time we kissed I knew you were trouble played from my cheap headphones our lips, my hands in your hair moving to the refrain trouble trouble trouble and what a fucking real life poetic irony that you can’t make this shit up that i didn’t dump your ass right there so terrified of being haunted by the associations.
And it’s star gazing heart breaking your sorry excuse for a compliment your ex wants you back so go back don’t stay around for me sam push your body on to mine sam, I really just wanted to stargaze tonight sam, just hold my hand sam, the shooting star only I saw, I don’t remember if I wished for you to stay or if I wished for you to leave.
Because it was fun and it was cute and I think I liked you but sometimes it was blurry you touching my skin touching my skin where no one’s ever touched me before and it was fun and it was cute and my heart pounded so loudly in my chest I knew I could never outrun you outfight you your hands on my neck. I used to joke if this was an episode of criminal minds you’d kill me. And it made more sense than you loving me. And it was fun and it was cute. And I told my mom what you did what we did, she won’t look me in the eyes anymore.
And you call me drunk one night too often talk about the new girl you’re hurting I mean loving and no one’s ever stayed longer than a month and I think I’m hard to love and you’d hate my scribbling my sorry excuse for poetry my favorite song you claimed you listened to but never did the nights you stood me up left me waiting commenting on the calories I was eating and I didn’t tell my friends because I knew what they’d say. I knew what they’d say.
What do you say - We replay that last kiss your hands on my waist until it looks like a movie scene a guarantee the epitome that this is not what love looks like. And I’ll call you this morning after sunrise and this time we’ll both be sober and I won’t say I’m sorry but this time I won’t need your compliments your lazy drawl your hand holding mine I’ll just feel sorry and I’ll remember that
You’re the boy who chose that song I handed you the aux right before you kissed me,
Trouble trouble trouble
Today I tell you that I fear I am a puzzle piece that cannot fit into your life
My corner too worn from poor friction trying so hard to contort, fit into arms that never wanted to hold me
Your eyes hold mirth and guile and laughter
Pointing to the fitted sheet falling off my bed
One corner making a break for it
And we fix it nightly, patiently
We leave the fitted sheets unfolded, the puzzles unfinished,
And sometimes when we kiss, our noses bump into each other
And we laugh.
Homewrecker (after Kaveh Akbar)
Aren’t we all the birds living in my neighbor’s dryer vent every morning I deliver worms to hungry gaping mouths opening like spring flowers sputtering chirping as birds do aren’t we all hungrier when we wake up after sunrise with nothing left but the ground beneath us a promise an open door the illusion of flight and a half-forgotten melody no one is listening no one is listening i traded my ears for freedom even now i don’t know what for Aren’t we all someone’s late night phone call and every word said the last and never really ours to begin with you i had less questions Aren’t we all just people masquerading as answers and keys to locked doors or are we the doors i know this used to mean something but why do we hang on to sinking ships cut our hands on broken glass blood isn’t a symbol Aren’t we all a little kid in ratty sneakers or braids or baseball caps worried about the birds watching them from the window living in a dryer vent telling our parents telling someone above us telling the trees and the stars and some of them may even listen to the wind to bird calls and promises and lies vents are no place for baby birds i’m lost without you and something that smells like laughter looks like home Aren’t we all the mama bird trying to find her way home Aren’t we all the reason she can’t come home