Dead Bodies Don't Cryi.
You are born with twisted feet
and a pockmark on your chest.
Your poor mother is drenched in sweat,
straining to breathe,
thanking God that it's over.
She cradles you in her arms
and kisses your forehead with curved lips.
Your father reaches out to hold you
but has to pause because
your mother will not release you yet.
The family pays a visit,
hovering in awe, praising, laughing.
You look around for someone to blame.
When you learn to write
you use all the wrong letters
because you feel sorry for the ones
that get left out, like X and Z.
And you wear mismatched clothes
because you don't like the idea that
only certain colors "go together."
The first time you are punched
in the face it is by a girl with pigtails and braces.
You're sitting on a swing,
digging your toes into the dirt,
when she approaches
and says she thinks you're weird.
You tell her she's even weirder, and her fist
goes sailing into your jaw.
You're red and sore for two days.
You meet your first crush
Life Boats for Paper DollsI still throw salt over my shoulder becauseLife Boats for Paper Dolls4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it makes the devil thirsty.
He drinks from an oaken bucket.
We can live our lives without him.
I know a tree in Pennsylvania.
A girl nobody saw leaned against the moss
every day after class.
She wrote in a journal as ants
crawled between her silent fingers.
The summer I turned eighteen she tried to
hang herself from it
Not the journal.
I suppose our words may often feel like gallows.
You never forget the first time you
taste sour milk.
The feeling of time's betrayal.
Some things still have to be taken on faith,
not expiration dates.
Today, I saw her under a tree in Minnesota.
She still writes about damnation but only with a smile.
There is something beautiful about rotting wood.
Something Borrowedgirls in white dressesSomething Borrowed2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
don't always want weddings.
the priests would speak of leaps of faith
and my hands would clasp the wood in horror,
knuckles bleached like bone- and i found
something old: the knot tied in my throat.
my vocal cords did not let empty words escape.
and there was something blue: the heart
that hesitated. how can a seedling prophesy
its harvest? how can a caterpillar promise
the power of its wings?
so let others gather flowers.
we will skip the mass
but not the bed: and through
this something borrowed,
earn a little time-
and a place to rest our heads.
terabyte ruinswe've clicked the help buttonterabyte ruins2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
on the tool bar.
we're the first to admit we're confused.
this morning the council met with a proposal
to replace god.
there have been complaints.
"dear eternity, i'm disillusioned
your god is a single snapshot of deep space
and a soundtrack of silence.
i tried pressing reset.
my old model featured google images,
a personal blog, and a comment section.
yesterday's god had to be recharged.
it was a rough way to be hardwired,
but there was a five-year money-back guarantee
and excuse me, but i'm dissatisfied.
i'm not so sure about redemption,
and i saw it on the news yesterday:
they recalled the golden rule.
it had a bug called desire."
give us a refund,
and we'll continue shopping.
our browsing has offered up
some promising candidates:
and technological giants.
we're not sure yet, god,
but we're pretty sure you're out.
it doesn't come highly recommended,
but we're considering a newer model:
idolatry. instant gratification.
Empty GardensIt was a wine-petaled pansyEmpty Gardens3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
that my mother pruned from the garden box;
it reminded me
that I had blossomed late and wilted.
At fourteen I created pansy petals of my own,
waking up with hot-fisted cramps
and the proof I was a woman.
I was not a rose, perennial,
as I went from blooming monthly
to not at all.
I would rather spend a day
curled up like the fetus I may never carry
than flat on my back wondering
why God allowed worse women than me
to bear children.
on old sanzu - absolutely true fictionlast fall i stole my friend down by the tama river. we sang. we danced. we skipped dead fish like rocks and watched them get swallowed by the undertow. we got sick off of bad chinese food and went skinny-dipping and then a week later she drowned herself.on old sanzu - absolutely true fiction2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
her uncle was a yakuza, i think, but he really just wanted to be al pacino or something. anyway, she loved him a lot. maybe that’s why she went down the way she went down; cement shoes. not real cement, but it was the same idea. she had two cloth bags with yellow-painted cinderblocks inside, and they were tied to her ankles like the prisoners’ chains from o brother where art thou.
in my mind’s eye i can see her, limping dreadfully close to the edge of the current, her left hand gripping at her breasts through a loose t-shirt. kneeling by the wastelands, elbows in the gravel, crawling forward out into the water. angry like a dermis under wool, all teeth and salt and sand. sleepy, submissive, sublimated.
Whale Songs of the PacificListen, the girls swallowed by whales are the ones that grow up lucky.Whale Songs of the Pacific3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Listen, no one will warn you about the little boys with the magpie eyes and the fists swinging splinters of glass. No one will warn you that their smiles are sweeter than their words are sweeter than their souls are sweeter than their intentions. No one will warn you of the sheer weight of the world.
Listen, sometimes girls are fragile. Sometimes girls are frothy. Sometimes girls let boys nuzzle "I love you"s into their necks and sometimes girls drink the wine of believing them.
Listen, sometimes the boys really are sweet, and little girls' tart puckered mouths can't taste the difference.
Listen, writers are the ones that drip fishhooks down their throats to coax out their hearts. Writers are the ones who fling those heart-hooks into the sea even if they have a message but not a bottle. Listen, sometimes fish swallow them. Some of those fish sink to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of the world in those heart
time-spared drawers of dreamsi. someday the sight-starvedtime-spared drawers of dreams2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
will find more than just the moon -
that i promise you.
we've seen all of what happiness
will never be and
like liquid stars in the milky way,
smiles will seep down
into the oceans of your laughter.
never mind what they said
about shady equilibrium;
it's only man's insecurity.
truth is, there is no
no rule, no eyes
watching over you;
just the forgotten remains of the
god that falls on us
every time it rains.
ii. someday, my dear,
those cranes won't just be
an exhibition of folded paper -
and those tears you cry now?
[which you hate so much?]
will leak into my arterial walls
and tell me they only tell stories of ecstasy;
we just have yet to realize.
love, it won't be long
till autumn will not be as forgotten
and between these
multiple shades of grey, will rest
the emptiness within yo[us]
and the broken smiles
of a shattered yesterday.
iii. grieve not, sweet traveler -
our draining journey has just begun.
and though you have been without comfort for s
on unlearning how to diethe space between intention andon unlearning how to die2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
inaction has been redefined. they say
the first step to sadness is
to be happy. the second step
is learning loss. they tell us
depression is an abundance of emotions
but everyone here is a balloon
deflated with time, a sun
dimming as years eat away years
and everything changes but
nothing's really different at all.
we drowned before we even saw
the sea, dreaming of that cemetery
a million miles deep; and still,
I cry for the people worth forgetting:
the girl who couldn't take enough
sleeping pills to live her dreams,
the boy so doped out on an inability
to live that he told us about his trips
to Jupiter and back, and
expected us to believe him. the girl
with a ghost smile named after the prayer
she was born to forget, the boy
who slept like an angel and cried like
a fallen, and me, me
choking on gravity and the ever-growing
weight of my own fucking inadequacy
tied tightly around my neck like a noose
not quite designed properly, right,
because I survived.
a modern opheliashe found fennel beneath her pillow,a modern ophelia5 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
and felt the familiar flutter
of glassfish between her ribs.
to distract herself, she
scattered the reddest petals
in her bathwater.
she braided poppies in her hair
let regret invade her lungs.
You can't have it allbut you can have the glazed heat bursting from the blacktop like a brokenYou can't have it all2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
fire hydrant. You can have the jangle of keys
swinging from your hip with each stride.
You can have the tactility of leather and the graze of
bathroom mosaic tiles under a cold shower pelting
bullets and when the water cuts off
you can have dry book pages. You can have happiness,
though it will often be bitter, like finding a stranger’s
wallet full of pictures of smiling children until you
return it to find that the couple is barren.
You can have the scratches on the back of his knuckles,
faded, yet raw. You can have the translucency of sheets
in the sun, silhouettes but no details,
never revealing anything more than a fringe of hair
and frayed laces tripping over themselves.
You can drop obscenities like bombs until
they don’t mean anything anymore. You can pull out the Monopoly board
that broke your family. You can’t put it back together,
but you can pretend the thimble is your mother and the
6 . 7 4 6 117 miles from the6 . 7 4 6 14 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
town I grew up in,
there was a river, and a
a hundred heart-jumps above it:
with a walkway to the side that
didn't feel wide enough.
59 miles-an-hour, as
with each nervous step, your feet
prayed to the concrete,
and cold wind would beat
at you between
green, rusted rails,
just to remind you how high up
you really were.
Every once in a while,
there would be news that
someone had "jumped".
walked out to the middle
[or just where it looked high enough],
with the wind colder
than usual and the
feeling solid for once,
they'd put their hands on the
covered in lovers' etched
prayers to time,
they'd gripped tight onto it
as they lifted one leg,
then the other,
a hospital bird with soot in her lungsshe slept through a car crasha hospital bird with soot in her lungs3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
that almost killed her.
through whitewhite walls,
where her lover dies.
nobody thought she'd make it,
but she woke up a few months later
with flowers in her hair
and ash in her airway;
trying to remember how to start all over,
but forgetting to remember how to live.
fall slipped from her open eyes
and winter crawled in for a long hibernation
to her the clouds looked sick
and pale like they might
let everything inside them out,
but she opened up wide instead,
spilling blood where there was none to be spilled.
her heart slipped down the street
and with unsteady hands
she stitched in a bird and cut off its wings.
now it's just dirt under my fingernails.Novak carried an umbrella with her everywhere for nine years. And when he asked her why, she told him, "Ever since my dad died, sometimes it feels like the sky is falling."now it's just dirt under my fingernails.3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
That was six months ago, and he still catches himself checking for cracks between the clouds when it rains.
He likes to remember her eyes. The left was blue and the right was brown, like two people in one, and faded, like old photographs.
But then he remembers that old photographs are the only things she exists in now, and his office will get so small that he needs to go outside to breathe.
He wanted to be gentle, even if he couldn't think of a way how. But things were already ruined between them, and he knew that long before he ever sat her down in his parlor.
"If you have to hate me, I want you to," he said. Her face was deadened by the weight of her pain. "As long as you feel anything for me, I want you to."
She shook her head. And she kept shaking it when he followed her, his bare feet
Oaki knew a girl once,Oak2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
with an oak heart and guarded hands
(gloved from touch)
uncrossed her ankles,
let naked fingertips
touch well-read lips, and
her heart kind of turned
i miss that girl,
with the oak heart -
she was tougher.
JackMy grandmother fell in love with my grandfather when his skin was still yellow with malaria.Jack2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
At twenty-four, he had just returned from war, his pockets heavy as his heart, weighed down with souvenir scars and unspent bullets. Gaping trenches hung beneath each of his dark eyes like open, sore wounds, or sorer memories. At nineteen, she had not known the taste of oranges. The first time she held one, she bit straight into the pasty skin, expecting sweetness and coming up with shell-fragments.
In the pictures, my grandmother, radiant in her gray wedding dress, stands before my grandfather. Those trenches are still there, still yawning beneath each eye like caskets, but they are beginning to fold under, to fill themselves in. Standing together, they are joined by out-stretched hands, his free fingers reaching up to hold her cheek in his palm, the pale skin there blushing the softest pink: a single petal, unfolding, held erect in his hewn hands. In the pictures, it is there in the space lef
State of MindThey buried her today.State of Mind3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I stood in the crowd, all of us dressed in blacks. I straightened my tie nervously as ladies I didn't know in big, veiled hats exchanged soft, sad words about what a shame it was. How she'd been so brilliant, how she'd had such a full life ahead of her. Ladies that didn't even know her.
There was a coffin, but there wasn't much in it. They didn't open the casket either, like they did sometimes. The man at the funeral home had said there was a limit to how much they could make fit for viewing, and I didn't really blame him for not even trying.
"This sucks," Cindy told me. We were sat at one of the cheap metal tables they roll out for occasions like this, both of us with a glass of alcohol in our hands. I hadn't asked if it was wine or something else. Didn't care.
"Yeah," I agreed, tone muted. We exchanged a look, Cindy's eyes heavy and ringed, her face lined in stress like a mirror of my own. Together, we drank. It was white wine, dry, about a 4. She would have li
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Trust IssuesI. (Set the stage)Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Trust Issues3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"The color of my bra is called Flirt," the girl says, popping a bubble in Amelia's face and winking. The sickly sweet scent of chemicals and sugar mixes with the chemicals and the sugar of the bar, hags low and heavy about their faces. The girl slides closer, beaming, her eyelids low. She's wearing too much mascara. Amelia grips her drink tighter and pulls her elbows in collapsing, she fills less space than she did before. Volume stays the same, the number of atoms composing her stays constant, but she appears to be smaller. Could this be expressed mathematically, or with a computer simulation, she wonders, and sips at her drink. She says nothing.
"See here." The girl tugs down her shirt sleeve and shows Amelia the thin bra strap pressing into the moon pale skin of her shoulder. The orange lighting makes her seem healthier than she is. "Flirt." She wiggles her eyebrows in a way that would be suggestive, if her makeup wasn't so dark that it made her look
autopsyher spine was cracked down the middle,autopsy2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
her skin unraveled at the seams.
bloated lungs and an emaciated heart filled her no longer moving chest.
her eyes were still open
and her hands stretching for the last thing she ever saw,
though she'd never reached it.
no one knew the exact cause of death,
except the shadow of a boy who avoided her funeral
like it was a plague.
like she was the plague.
ocean lungsyou weigh something like gravityocean lungs2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
in my tired expanse. you are
(my once splendid mountain)
my love is the ocean
that has worn you down.
with my monstrous tongue,
i pulled you in.
as you fall,
sweeping peacefully into the depths
and filling each crevice,
i am learning to inhale shores.
some would say i'm suffocating
and bring me buckets of air (only to have it
escape my slippery grip).
no, the tides need something heavy
to make of her
oh my archimedesthere is a mediterranean maelstromoh my archimedes2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
inside of me, and frankly these demented bones,
are inventing a thousand ways to drown
my soul inward,
the curves of my cartilage are overripe vineyards
for myriads of apprehensions blossoming
age, insipid sand charting the honeysuckling
progression of snapping parabolas
the tempests swat opposing ranks
& I am afraid that I have begun to lose myself
between the roaring of my ears,
torrent in a can,
a soulless man -
and what is a man without a soul
[ I'm lighter than that]
these mythical caverns of what once was my days
are condensing into dripping pages,
I want the books to etch my ru
wednesday's childit is the third of octoberwednesday's child1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
and i am building a castle for us
out of feathers, bird bones,
ocean waves and library book pages.
anything to keep our feet from
touching the ground.
you are sin, he whispers
and his fingers trail cold fire
down my side, scorching flesh
and freezing bone;
brittle pieces of me shatter
as they hit the stained linoleum floor.
don't wake me from this nightmare.
i whisper a nursery rhyme
as i walk down our
kamikaze leaves fall, trailing
fire as they throw themselves from
the branches, down, down,
to cold pavement below.
your words echo in my mind
a constant reminder
that i am sin