Dear Teen MeDear Teen Me,
Too often, we lean toward writing to the general audience. I've rewritten this very letter at least three times, and had to scrap it each time because it did not accomplish what it needs to accomplish. It needs to be a letter to you, not to every teenage girl in America. It needs to speak to your heart, your dreams, and your faults. It needs to be about you.
Since we were able to comprehend compassion, we've used it as a shield to avoid ourselves. We've sympathized with the plights of the starving in Asia, the trafficked in India, the raped and tortured in Sudan and Burma. We've given to the Red Cross on behalf of hurricane and earthquake victims. We've spent hours coaxing the mentally ill out of suicide, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. We've given everything we have trying to help others. And it is noble and just and right and selfless to the point of being unhealthy.
You are a person, too. You need time and attention and care and space just as much as the
Accidentat the corner of boone trails and owenAccident3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
she learned the brevity of flight:
glinting bumper for launch pad
trajectory approximately 5 feet
across the median.
as proud, as swift
as any prima ballerina
but the landing
this I keep for her -
the listless weight of limbs
defying gravity, the beastly beauty
of a body bouyant before
Birth of PoetryI tangled my fingers in the curls of the universe,Birth of Poetry4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
pulled. The earth fell out: round, warm, spinning.
Awkward and shy, she wondered how she got here; how
a rock that got wet and grew moss could be significant.
So I scooped her up in my fingers, breathed her scent:
(lilies and oceans and ozone and forests and fish and birds
and whales and rain and the empty elegance in wolf howls)
death and life. I found chaos
and knew beauty.
Hand and foot, Hip and breastHear the ever-wonderful betwixtthepages read this aloud here!Hand and foot, Hip and breast3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
And now I understand the depths
to which a woman must sink, must
dig herself into, must push past with hand
and foot, hip and breast. It is not light I seek
but solidness. Not spring air soft against
my cheek, but the scalding touch of lava
forced for so long to be silent and still
now worming through a cracked
and weeping crust. It seeks explosions
because affection must be dramatic.
But the sky will not love it
as thoroughly as I do.
And now I understand the impossible
permanence of night-lit words.
They linger in the valley between my wrist
and fingers; stow themselves in my freckles.
I cannot erase their presence, ignore
their weight -- only hope for a lover
who will burn away your shape.
But I understand hope to be a fickle
and most unfortuna
cyclic motioni. every sad story starts with love.cyclic motion4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
ii. there is you sprawled across the bed
with your ankles tangled in cotton covers
and the golden waves of sunlight
breaking themselves through fissured glass
to drip into your hair like bright honey,
your hands reaching upward
as if they were young birds waiting on wings.
you wept for those flightless, wet-beaked children
anchored helplessly to your wrists
but their hearts were not as weak
as the foreign fist beating in your chest. they collapsed
and only left behind
the impressions of dying constellations
they had scratched beneath your eyelids.
iii. at dusk i watched the night take you in waves, glowing,
and said you were the most beautiful thing
i had ever known.
it was a lie. the want of a thing
is always more beautiful than the thing itself.
these are the quiet things we do not tell--
the secrets touched only in the dark
when hearts are laid open
and everything else forgets to exist.
iv. i whispered that to myself when the last shadow
novemberthe sun is a dim pearlnovember3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
beneath a blanket of gray
hung low from the heavens;
i'm your yellow tremor
paled by the cold, aching
for a proper sunrise.
Before You HowledI had forgotten for so long why I sang,Before You Howled3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
so many, my song turned into tumbled
bedsheets, bodies strewn,
nectar of a kiss overdone.
The lonely hoot low and languished,
I loved, My Love, I loved strong
and solid, the hollow notes,
the lonesome bones.
Crow, she came and whispered in my ear,
said your song is lovely dear,
take a feather from my wing, we beat
somewhat the same.
But the song, it was the same,
beneath the shadow of the bat, as
the love of a man
I nearly slew.
When she would call, month's later
the chiming at my ear, o' my heart
my little heart,
I heard her and she was me,
and I, without us, her little
black wings, my greedy perch, months
I'd call back, filter through the poems
I hear your notes in me.
Some nights she whispered love stories
of a girl, small-handed
across the mountains, a candid song
of love and loss
and loving loss, that which learns
to rumble after. She wrote of you,
far across, the distance
a somber color.
O, I listened to her song an
sleep, as an elephant1.sleep, as an elephant3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it is strange to see you
older and out of love with me
it is similarly strange to see me
younger and out of love with you.
i want to
throw my arms around your neck
thank you for
leading me to believe in love,
thank you for
showing me what the cock does
when it crows and summons the morning.
thank you for laying in my bed,
breathing my breath.
thank you for laying in my bed,
with your head on my breast
listening to the fluttering
bird in its nest.
thank you for staining my bed-
with your salt, it was blessed.
thank you for leaving my bed,
giving my dreams to its next.
thank you for, out of all the rest,
choosing me as the first, remembering
me with the best.
thank you for june,
and then june again.
thank you for december, and
thank you for the time
that helped me break my body in-
thank you for two ticks
on the wall of not-forever.
thank you for june to june to december.
in a few years,
when you are older still and i am
getting even younger, i want to take
astronomerswhen we're togetherastronomers3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
dusk is containable; the moon in my palms
and the stars on your ceiling.
we lull the city to sleep
with our theories of life; my tongue curling
do you remember,
when Jupiter was a silver wick, lighting its countless moons?
you balanced a cigarette off your lips,
and I watched the vermillion flame burn life
as a newborn sun;
planets moulding and constellations snaked
above our eyes.
what it would be like to be curled
inside the embers creator and destroyer
so close to your lips.
terminali.terminal3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
we landed in oklahoma
and drank cheap martinis in the terminal;
you carried my guitar and fell in love
with my voice but not my tongue,
not my hands.
there's a man with a garage
that looks like a plane because nothing
meant more to him. will you make a model
of that bar? will you make a model
of my red cheeks? or will you live in a townhome
with her and three children?
the problem was you're not gay.
the problem was there was feeling
but it wasn't for us. i had you but
it wasn't for us.
i'm not sure if i resent you,
but i remember that bar and every pockmark
on the stool you sat on while i played
the song that parted your lips;
you remember every pockmark in oklahoma
like they were ours.
carameli feel you in my pores.caramel3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i am blind in time to uncork
your ghost from
so many shores
where hours trickled
into tears and fears
stretched into years
of silence. i still
forget you, still you
beget a whiff of regret
that i remember how
i love you. you bleed
for another and i
am here, cupping
your dreams to quench
an endless question,
rocking to sleep
a hapless destination
the only child
of our stranded conviction
halcyon daysto me, you became a matterhalcyon days3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
of timing and space: how long
until you left and how far
would you go? in the learning,
i left behind
the howling of coyotes
and summer hail for the lonely
ocean; i was not there when
you left, too.
there is still farther to go.
for you, i became a field.
i grew the sadness in me like
a monster, nursed it like a secret,
cradled it like a lover, let
it out only while you were in
the other room. i held you pressed
into the creases of my elbows
and lined your home
with heart cells.
still, i do not miss you like i should.
you said: this is far enough
and this will be my home now. you
brought out your grave and showed it
to me, spoke of the life you did
not regret, something i know nothing
about. i found you too late and
left too often, but you always knew
me when i came back. i wanted you
to be with me always, even
as i let you go.
i hope the pacific soul is yours forever.
i hope that you are happy still.
There Is Love Tucked Behind My WingsI notice with a hesitant touch thatThere Is Love Tucked Behind My Wings2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the contours of his heart are
made of pollen and petals.
His words are folded inside.
A shudder of spring and antennae
I try to whisper hope into his leaves:
it will coax him from sleep.
Winter had swarmed him and all at once
the buzz in my heart ceased its
desire and became fixated
on the space between
being rooted and setting him free.
Eurydiceyou keep secrets like souvenirs.Eurydice3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
your heart is a postage stamp,
your lungs, a pair of dusty
snow globes; I trace
a model Eiffel Tower
in the lines of your neck, an Arc
de Triomphe in the arch
of your back, a collection of
to rival the Louvre
assembled behind your eyes.
I gather each glimpse,
each fragment, every hint
of the things you've tried to hide
and hoard them
in the galleries of my mind,
curating my love for you
like a dense, Orphic art.
Of Random Thoughts and ThingsLast night, I thought of my first catOf Random Thoughts and Things3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
when I was a child,
a jet black kitten with six toes on each paw,
and the lemon tree that grew
in the rear of my parents' backyard-
I couldn't climb that tree,
full of wicked thorns that tore my flesh.
So why did I think of the cat and the tree
on this particular night?
They came to me in a fog which
should have made me sad. After all-
five years later, I found my cat by the side
of the house in a pile of dried leaves.
I carried her to the back and sat vigil
under the lemon tree until she died.
It made me wonder, is it always this way
with all things, to romanticize years later?
I started to plan in my head, a new place,
a retreat where my love and I could live:
I scoured through catalogs of furnishings
hand-picked by the hour,
in a virtual tour, setting up and
arranging, mulling over and re-doing,
from page to mind's eye,
the goblets and plates, the linens and drapes
'round tables and chairs,
a bed with down pillows, lamps on their stands-