things i want you to know.0.
there is a picture in my living room
of my parents in their twenties, in sunhats,
there is a picture of my father holding me
when i was two years old.
there is a picture of my parents
on their wedding day.
there is a picture of me when i was
ten, eleven, twelve.
i’m seventeen now and
i won’t let my mother
take any of the pictures
i need to believe that, at one point,
this house was more than just
i was born on the second-to-last day
i weighed seven pounds, two ounces,
and it was ninety-nine degrees out.
four years before that, in 1992,
the officers who beat rodney king
within an inch of his life
five years before that, in 1991,
a cyclone in Bangladesh killed
138,000 people and made 10 million
ten years before that, in 1986,
a fire in a Los Angeles library
damaged more than 400,000
and on that day, april 29, 1996, i was born
and i’d like to pretend
that it was a go
if i could.1.if i could.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i’ll be honest with you;
there is a certain authority to being
somebody said once that writers struggle with reality
because we spend all of our time
constructing our own.
the truth is, life may be impermanent
but the details are not.
time has one direction
the past cannot be revisited
and history cannot be redone
with a red pen.
what happens, happens.
we are walking permanent records
that can never be expunged.
no matter how many orphans we pull from fires
no matter how many dying children we sing to
we still made our mother cry once
we still let our little brothers find us passed out
on the front porch when we were nineteen.
imagination is our primary retreat
because there, that boy does fall in love with us
and our first kiss is not spit on our chins
or misses landing on our nose
(maybe there are waves crashing in the background)
and we say everything right.
there, we have crafted a version of ourselves
that lives perfectly.
“if i could,” someon
a meaningful poem about nothing.this is a poem about how fixing peoplea meaningful poem about nothing.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
is not romantic.
we’re not meant to be somebody’s answer,
we’re not meant to make someone feel alive again.
this is a poem about why you shouldn’t kiss him
because he’s broken
because you want to save him.
save yourself first.
kiss him because he holds a place in your heart, not
because he's the only thing making it pump.
kiss him because he’s in your life, not because
he is your life.
hold him, but don’t hold onto him because you believe
(get to dry land first.)
this is a poem about how i find poetry in everything.
breakups. my dad telling me i mattered.
nightmares. my neighbor’s insomnia.
how it drove him crazy.
how he swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills to fix it.
my neighbor’s funeral.
this is a poem about the split-apart theory.
the idea was that when humanity became arrogant
toward the gods, we were split in two
and were doomed to spend our live
and i have tried to make it right.i.and i have tried to make it right.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
let me tell you a story
using six words.
their names become parts of statistics.
let me tell you a story
using six words.
“suicide is the easy way out.”
let me tell you a story
using six words
that will never be told.
pain is not a fucking
do you still pray,
knowing there will be no answer?
see, i cannot speak for those
who have no voice to give
but, sincerely, these are the six words
i respond with:
i wish i could save you.
we live our lives being told that
there is always a safety net -
that there are people designed to protect us.
i’m going to use six words because,
the saddest stories
take the fewest words to tell.
for them, there was never anyone.
blades can cut wrists but
here are six words:
blades can cut stories short, too.
i have approximately 250,000 words
to choose from
to try and describe to you what suicide is
but i don’t
history remembers.i.history remembers.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
history repeats itself.
i realize this the fourth time i find myself on a couch
with the head of a boy i don’t know
between my stiff, nonresponding legs.
i realize this on the third sip of alcohol. on the fourth.
the fifth. the eleventh. the first time i black out. the eighth.
history repeats itself
and i am napoleon marching across russia
and i only pretend the water is poisoned.
i only pretend the earth is burned to ground.
i pretend that destruction is inevitable
and that help is not an option.
we got close, him and i.
sometimes you get so close to a person
you can feel their lips stiffen
when you try to kiss them.
sometimes you get close to a person,
under them, between damp sheets.
they never stop believing
that you are beneath them.
“help me,” he says. i say okay.
he tells me to sleep with him later
so i say the wrong name in bed,
but so does he;
he means it,
i say it because it’s the only way i can
painkiller.you show me a bottle of advil. you say to me, “if i swallow all these pain pills at once, do you think i’ll finally stop hurting?”painkiller.2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
“you shouldn’t joke about that,” i say.
in retrospect, i should have been grateful.
it was the only joke you’d ever told where i wasn’t the punchline.
i’d like to write your name in a bathroom stall. i’d like to come back every day, checking for tears in sharpie’d letters. for a “he’s such a scumbag.” for a “you’re not alone.”
i guess i want to think that you’re a criminal mastermind. i want to think that you’re a serial heartbreaker. i want to think out there, somewhere, is somebody else like me, who you’ve hurt.
(i know you’re none of those things. i know that you’re just a boy – and, really.
that's the saddest part of all.)
i taught you how to stargaze, and how to uncross your arms and let people in
normal is a six letter word.something went wrong around the eighth grade, when those mean boys followed you home, when they cornered you in an alley and pulled your hair out of its braid and told you to get on your knees because one boy had never gotten a blowjob before.normal is a six letter word.2 years ago in Emotional More Like This
nothing happened. you got away; horrified and shaking, but you did. it was after.
when everything happened.
used to be, you’d cry when you scraped your knees, and you'd let people finish their sentences before thoughtfully adding your own – but that was before, before those boys knocked something loose in you, because now it's a cycle of not stopping. you can't stop talking or thinking, thinking all these big, bold thoughts that can take you away, that can surround you like a deep, dark tunnel, you can't stop eating because girls are supposed to smile and sometimes eating fills that emptiness inside of you, just for a minute, but then you can't stop starving because there's no time to eat, because you can't stop,
colors.red is a power color.colors.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
red is stoplights, anger. rage.
red is my nose when i cry about my parents.
“women are more attractive to men
when they wear red,” he says once
so you cut yourself
because red is blood
and when he ignores the bandages, you say,
“no. look what i did.
look what i did for you.”
but he doesn’t fall in love with you
red is the scream that
comes out of your mouth.
blue is the veins under your skin and
blue is depression that tells you to slice them
blue is the weeks you spend after him
and blue is the great, wide sky above you,
trying to remind you that the rest of the world
is still waiting.
your brother says he’s looking for the light
at the end of the tunnel
but the world is full of light.
(you would know. we can hardly see the stars
because of it.)
the world is not full of you
so you try.
black is what surrounds him
and black is burns
and you’ve been burned, scalded
so you blend in.
bodies like star systems.“the neighbor’s house smelledbodies like star systems.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
like the ocean when i walked past,” you say.
“it’s a sign that i’m drowning.”
“i stepped in two patches of fresh dirt.
it’s a sign that they’ll be digging my grave.”
“i saw the boy i’d lost my virginity to today.
it’s a sign that i’m going to cheat on you.”
“you wake me up with this shit,” he says in annoyance.
“is that a sign i should break up with you?”
“no,” you say, not looking at him, fighting
to keep smiling. “it means -”
he goes back to bed.
he thinks you don’t get it,
but you do.
he teaches you about chemistry,
about physics and the stars.
he teaches you that the universe is finite,
but constantly expanding;
he takes you hand to his chest, and says
“like my feelings for you.”
used to be, you thought he was your gravity
because you were so drawn to him
infinite/opposite.being an adult means knowinginfinite/opposite.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
that there are things much scarier
than spiders, or snakes, or clowns.
the ocean, for one.
losing your parents.
empty tequila bottles.
waking up, still reaching
for someone who left you
a long time ago.
i live like there’s an end for me
because there is.
plants will wilt.
forests will burn down.
eventually, even the stars will burn out.
people will come to us.
they will touch us. they will hurt us.
they may keep us. they may not.
but i never hold on too tight
because when it’s time, my time,
i’ll only be letting go.
the heart has valves
that constantly open and close
giving love, taking love.
and my best advice
is to be selfish.
know when you’ve had enough.
know when you deserve better.
close the valves and
keep some love for yourself.
know that you are perfect
even if you eat that second cheeseburger
because there’s magic in this world.
we’re proof of it.
is fear o
not all the way through.i read once,not all the way through.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
“Adults often forget
what it’s like being young
because they block it out.”
right after that:
“Similar to trauma victims.”
last summer, when i told that man
old enough to be my father
that i had a boyfriend,
he said “so?”
when I told him i was a minor,
he said “and?”
there are no boundaries anymore,
and don’t tell me
“boys will be boys”
because that doesn’t make it
don’t tell me
I was asking for it
because what I’m really asking for
is for it
i wish i was a person
and not numbers on a scale.
i wish i was a human being
and not the cleavage in my tank top.
i wish we would stop hating ourselves.
i wish girls were allowed to say no
and eat every day
and forget to shave their legs.
i wish boys were allowed to cry
and be ballerinas
and speak up
when something hurts.
i wish we thought
we deserved more.
(and don’t tell me
none of this is sup
dichotomy.i.dichotomy.2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
there’s a monster inside of my head.
it moved in four years ago, but they say it’s always been there. my daddy has one. so does his mom.
they say that’s where i got it. dad says grammy’s monster made her beat him until he was seven. dad says his monster made him drink until he blacked out, for twenty years.
they all say, “don’t let it in.” they all say, “it’ll control you, because you are weak.”
(actually, they say “vulnerable.”)
they tell me its name, so i can paint it on my wrists, on my forehead, along the curves of my ears. keep out. no BIPOLAR DISORDER allowed. they say it notices loud things. capital letters, for one. or crying children. or hatred. or fear.
they do not tell me what it’s like to see it. they do not tell me what’s it like, to feel it burrowing under your skin.
when it came to me, i pleaded with it. i said, “please go away,” and it didn’t listen.
two-fifty an hour.let me save you the trouble:two-fifty an hour.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
because what i'm trying to say is
i'm not a good person.
i don’t tell valerie about how i planned to rekindle
my friendship with charlie’s best friend last year
just so i could get to him and hurt him.
(i don’t tell her how, in the end, i ended up liking
his friend instead, and charlie dated another
fifteen year old
because shit happens and what was i doing,
expecting things to go my way?)
there are certain things she doesn’t need to know,
certain things i can’t say because
putting it into words what it was like waking up,
that sort of shame that came with it –
it was like – it was like looking into a window
and swearing there’s a monster behind it
before, slowly, i realized
it was a mirror.
what therapy promises me: love yourself, forgive but
never forget, tell us your past
then let it go.
what i learn in therapy: nobody has all the answers.
we certainly don’t.
suicide can come in bottles.dad was an alcoholicsuicide can come in bottles.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
by the time he was twenty-two.
he was thirty-three
when i was born.
i am eight years old.
dad is drunk on the couch.
he wakes up and tells me to buy him food
and i tell him i’m his daughter.
he gets up to yell at me
then, as if realizing, starts laughing.
i am scared.
i am nine years old.
there’s a picture i don’t understand
printed out on the table.
i look at the web address and type it in
and there’s a site full of them.
the men look like they’re hurting the women.
they call them mean names
and tie them up.
in the one my dad printed
there are no faces. just genitals
and i am nine
and i understand.
i don’t tell my mother.
i am nine years old.
every night i get up when dad leaves
to close the browsers open on his computer.
there are seventeen open
and i close them
one at a time.
some of the pictures are scary.
one woman is screaming.
another is one who looks young,
like a high school girl.
boys that want you, boys that love you.1.boys that want you, boys that love you.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
there are four kinds of love.
the first is honest.
the first is messy.
it’s smeared makeup.
it’s tears over a martini.
it’s people dancing alone.
it’s off-key singing, at the top
of your lungs.
it’s unmade beds.
it’s the hickey on your neck.
it’s the gasp he gave
when he first saw you,
how he missed your lips
when he tried to kiss you.
after he made you cry.
the second kind is what you feel
for the boy lying next to you.
there’s cigarettes in the ashtray,
panties on the floor,
a lump in your throat,
and he does not love you back.
the third kind is when you'll meet
and that little moment will stretch
into something huge and permanent,
into a month/six months/a year
of a million glances that you'd thought
it’s when you'll say nothing
and neither will he
because there will be no need
because he'll very nearly smile
and you'll know.
tocophobia.the world of pregnancy and childbirthtocophobia.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
has been boiled down to the white,
neurologically healthy babies
in pink and blue knit caps.
“that one,” says the tearful father.
“she’s beautiful,” says the nurse
while the mother rests.
but why is it
that the default image of motherhood
is a white middle-class couple with a picket fence
and a golden retriever?
let’s postpone that cruise to the caribbean
and make a baby.”
what about the prostitutes
who get pregnant?
what about the girls in africa
who carry their rapist’s babies?
what about the babies left on the firehouse steps?
what about the welfare mothers
because they can’t pay the hospital fees?
who have heroin tracks on their arms
(like stitches that can’t hold them together)
where the patient bracelet is snapped on?
what about the 500,000 american children
waiting to get adopted?
what about miscarriages and women
who can never have kids?
we preach for the
pipe dream.dreams:pipe dream.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I’ve always wanted a boyfriend
I could watch porn with
and drink straight vodka with
until we’re too drunk to know
who took who
I’ve always wanted a boyfriend
I could ride
without feeling embarrassed
that there’s a freckle on my breast;
a boyfriend who could make me fall in love
with his eyelashes
when they’re wet with tears,
with his breakdowns and daydreams
and every honest, vulnerable little thing.
I’ve always wanted a boyfriend
who could make me believe in God
because miracles were real
and I didn’t need evolution anymore
I didn’t need to believe
that things were destined
to change –
that I didn't want them to change.
(I just wanted it to be perfect.)
You called me heroin
because you were addicted.
“You ruined my life,” you’d say,
drinking straight out the bottle.
You never drank with me,
so I always knew it was you
who was too drunk
to get my je
listen:1.listen:2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
People will let you down.
You’ll love them, anyways.
Don’t let anyone romanticize
It won’t be beautiful
when somebody breaks your heart
the first time
or the second
or the eighteenth.
Pain is not beautiful.
Maybe on paper
but not inside of you
not in numbers.
A million people
but you’re still here,
and that's important.
You're doing something
My father told me
“Be selfish –
if you don’t take care of you
I liked to think
that this is the reason
he ignored me
I don’t have good advice
on this one.
Because the people who let you down,
are the ones promised to save you.
Are the ones promised to love you
and protect you
and I’ll tell you,
nothing quite hurts
like waking up in the morning
to the police in your doorway.
Nothing quite hurts
like being eleven
and hearing a cop say
“Poor girl had to live wi
you loved someone.i.you loved someone.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Chloe is nineteen when she dies.
She ends it with a shotgun
the night her brother gets out
They say he molested her
he raped nine women
ten eleven twelve women
they say no
it was nine little girls
ten eleven twelve
little girls, kids, the bastard.
he was a bad man
“No wonder she did it.
If he was my blood
I’d’ve done it, too.”
You go to the funeral
because that’s what good people
because your mother asks you
“You want to go to Heaven,
without looking up from her knitting
and you would laugh in her face,
but she’s your mother
and you love her
so you go.
A man you know stops you –
a friend of John’s –
John, who is not yours anymore
(even now, even in death,
you know he’ll keep her
longer than he kept you)
on your way to the bathroom.
“John really loved her, y’know,” the man says
as if you wouldn
why i never wrote you a poem.last summer i triedwhy i never wrote you a poem.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
to use the words that you fell asleep to
to write you a love song but
every time i tried
my fingers froze up.
i failed the test of describing you
in a paragraph
in a sentence
in a word
there is nothing in my head adequate enough
to describe how you look
on the train station platform
when you smile at me.
i can tell you that
my heart climbs into my throat and
my body prickles with heat and
everything disappears, for just a moment, but
the thing i cannot describe
your mouth caresses my name
like it’s the most beautiful sound
it’ll ever know,
like it understands me perfectly,
you are not made of verses.
you have no meter.
you are not written in stanzas
that i understand
and i find myself captivated
at how beautifully complex
your language is.
you say i’m the mesmerizing one, but, baby,
you've stumped me.
you have left a girl,
a person who wants to build their life
eight things about growing up.eighteight things about growing up.3 years ago in Emotional More Like This
I told my brother I was going to be a fairy when I grew up. Or a bird, or sprite something with wings so I could touch the clouds.
I learned that fairies weren't real when I was six, after I tried to jump off a parking structure to see if I could fly.
That day I also broke my leg in three places and saw an angel's face in the clouds. (And don't tell anybody, but sometimes I spend all day looking for him.)
My neighbors back in Denver had a son who was a schizophrenic. After he went off his meds for the third time, he painted the windows red and told his wife she had to abort their baby because it wasn't human.
A year later, I heard that he was arrested after pointing a hunting rifle on his family. It was loaded, but he didn't pull the trigger because his mother said she trusted him.
I guess love is kind of like that, too.
Seattle didn't come until I was fifteen, in October.
My family and I took a boat ride on Friday. We listened to the captain
breaking a writer's heart.never break a writer’s heartbreaking a writer's heart.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
because your name
will forever belong to us.
you will sign it
into every broken bit
and one day, you’ll open a book
next to the words
"let me tell you about the time
i was hurt."
never break a poet’s heart
because between the beat
of the stanzas,
you’ll hear that heartbeat,
proving you wrong
with every line.
never break a writer’s heart
because we will take the pain
and make it into something
you could never live down.
you could live with heart monitors,
that measured the damaged pulse,
doctors who told you,
but you can’t live with the bold strokes,
smooth as a flatline,
that accuse you of being
the best thing
that’s ever happened to them.
you can’t live with it;
our soulmate, now writing.
You, now replaced
by a pen.
never break anybody’s heart
because you’ll cut yourself
on the pieces of it.
and see, hearts heal.
quirks.when i was a child:quirks.9 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
i loved to steal.
i would go around my neighborhood
and steal lawn ornaments.
at daycare, i would steal money
once, i stole my next door neighbor’s
when my parents confronted me,
the lie was smooth and solid:
i saw so-and-so take it.
when i was a child:
i loved to lie.
i would make up stories
to get reactions out of people.
to see if they’d believe me.
once, i convinced my friend charlotte
that i had twenty-four hours to live.
when she burst into tears,
i had to bite my tongue
to keep from laughing.
when i was a child:
i loved animals.
i would lock my dog in the closet
and in the bathroom.
a lot of my neighbors left birdcages out
during the day
so i set all of the birds free.
once, i imagined what it would be like
to kill an animal.
then, i imagined what it would be like
to run over it repeatedly
with a car
so i did it with my scooter
to a rose i found
because it was red
when i was a
titans.they don’t tell you thattitans.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
sisyphus just let the rock roll down
and collect his body
they don’t tell you that you can still walk
with holes in your legs
and you can still love
when your heart has already been ripped open.
they don’t tell you that
you are 75% of an ocean
that is six miles deep
and eats ships alive,
75% of the water that shapes canyons,
75% of the rain that drowned the earth
for forty days and nights.
they don’t tell you that
your body is made of the same carbon
they don’t tell you that
there is a fire burning inside of you
or that your bones are stronger than steel
or that the things that fuel you
fuel tigers, too.
the greeks and romans wrote stories about
how strong you were
and you are icarus,
and you died laughing
because they didn’t tell you
how beautiful the world really was
even as it was swallowed
by the waves.
adults.i.adults.2 years ago in Philosophical More Like This
The media doesn’t support a positive body image
because it’s not good for business.
They want us anxious and afraid
of seeing the numbers on a scale go up.
We’re not worth our weight in gold.
It’s what we don’t weigh
My first boyfriend, who panicked when I touched him
would say “I’m fat”
the way somebody says “I should have never been born.”
They want us spending our money
on designer jeans, instead of groceries,
on concealer and diet plans, instead of an education.
Please don’t starve yourself.
Believe me, I’ve tried
and your body will start to eat itself from the inside out and
if you let it
it’ll get to some valuable stuff.
they’ll only appreciate your body when it’s a corpse.
They won’t notice you
until there’s nothing to be noticed
they’ll mourn and wish for something
that is no longer
In the second grade, I learned that