suicidal.it’s like she’s toeing the edge of a cliff and
she’s smiling and she’s deadly
and you’re standing too far back to save her
and it’s just too late because she’s about
if you want a list of reasons not to commit suicide,
here it is.
1. you have two dogs that will miss you.
they were wagging their tails and smiling
last night when they took you to the hospital
and i couldn’t find the words to tell them
that they should be quiet.
2. you have a car that you cried when you got
and you roll the windows down and blast music
whenever you pick me up from school
and i’m sorry i never sang along, but this is just to say
that you have things that still make you feel alive.
3. you have a sister that is nice about fifteen percent of the time
and loves you the rest of it. trust me, she does.
she does not remember the last time she hugged you
but she wrote about you when her teacher asked her
who her hero was.
4. mom should
8 Things I Learned Before I Turned Sixteen1. you are stronger than you think8 Things I Learned Before I Turned Sixteen2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and when you tell other people this,
do not be offended when they start talking about muscle mass.
they will not understand until they wake up
one day and are disappointed to find themselves
2. reading books about thin people
doesn’t make you thin
just like writing poems about happiness
doesn’t make you happy.
3. make new year’s resolutions. even if you know
they won’t last longer than the shower
you make them in, do it anyways because
you’ll love the idea of the person you were
washing off of you with the dirt.
4. you’re going to fall head over heels
over ankles over fingers in love with a boy.
this does not mean that you have any right
to keep him.
5. someone won’t always be there to tell you,
“hey, good job on getting out of bed today.
good job on going to school and doing your homework.
good job on surviving today.”
but good job anyways.
6. change your hair color. change your s
in the blink of an eyeshe was born on a day whenin the blink of an eye2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
tectonic plates were crashing against each other
and i think that’s a good metaphor for her:
she was always the kind of person who fought
battles, even ones she couldn’t win.
she was a mess of moments she should have
taken seriously and too many times she tried
to laugh off the pain.
i learned how to care about other people
too much by watching her.
diagnosed as a grenade, she told me one day,
sure to blow up in someone’s face.
you’re going to be fine, i told her.
just let me leave, she said and
i wish i had, but i couldn’t,
not until she kicked and screamed her way
out of the doors, resenting everything
that stayed, a friend by memory alone.
i still have the scars from her detonation.
i will probably carry then with me until
i, too, leave.
fast friends make fast ends make sad ends make
wondering when she stopped caring
enough to not even want to say goodbye.
to the new girl, don’t worry:
what i know about love, a list1. It hurts. Goddamn, it hurts like hell. It hurts like a dull, constant ache you can’t shake. It hurts when he’s sitting next to her and listening to what she has to say or tying her shoes or playing with her binder because you know that’ll never be you. It hurts when he’s sitting next to you and smiling and listening to what you say because you know it’ll never be more than that. It hurts when he’s sitting across the room with his friends and he’s laughing because look how smoothly his life flows without you in it.what i know about love, a list2 years ago in Philosophical More Like This
2. If you’re in a room with fifty other people who are talking to each other, you’ll still be able to pick out his laugh.
3. There are lots of different kinds of love, and lots of times people mistake something as love when it’s really not. That’s okay, because a lot of people think that you can’t really name love and it’s beyond any mere word or definition or something. I think it’s easy t
muteit’s two in the morning somewheremute2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
where it’s quiet except for breathing
that’s loud enough to hear from here.
convince yourself you’re alive;
you’re the only one that can.
here is a game we played as children:
we pretended language was something only
to be seen on paper,
we make-believed the worst injury
we could get was those made by
trees and rocks while our bones weakened
under the attacks we tried to endure
of words like, “fat” (before
we even knew how much we weighed)
or “stupid” (before
we even realized that it
doesn’t matter what 9 times 8 is
as long as no one figures out you don’t know.)
sticks and stones may break our bones
don’t tell me words don’t do any damage.
don’t tell me you don’t think of yourself as a weapon
every time you open your mouth,
don’t tell me what exactly you think of me,
don’t tell me anything, i think you’ve said enough.
let’s just be silent,
weighted down1. I am sixteen, suddenly.weighted down11 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
I have grown up without anyone
telling me. My car keys rest heavily in
my palm. Each new college I hear about
rests heavily on my shoulders. I am
not sure how much longer I can take this,
all this extra weight of responsibilities, of choices,
of the future I’m not sure I want to have.
My skin feels stretched across my body
in places that don’t really make sense.
I still feel too big in every bad way—I’m
afraid I always will.
2. My first boyfriend tells me he
thinks I must have bits of the
universe inside of me. I try not
to get offended: I know he means to say
that kissing me is like kissing stars,
and that I hold the secrets of creation
inside my soul, but all I can think about
is how huge the universe is.
3. He breaks up with me at night.
For hours, I lean against my truck in
the driveway and look at the sky.
Stars are cold and distant,
I realize. The universe is big
4. Someone in my philosophy class tries to tell me
what you bring to the tableyou know, today i read that humanswhat you bring to the table2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
are made out of stars
and i found that really interesting
because we all look up to celebrities so much,
like they’re sent from the heavens
when it turns out,
we are too.
your mom gave birth to you and
i think that’s beautiful—
the way one living thing can make
another living thing
and the second be completely different and unique
from any living thing that has ever lived before it.
but i also think it’s beautiful the way
you are made up of things older than
you can dream to be and it doesn’t define you
and it doesn’t break you and it doesn’t really change you—
you could have been a dwarf star or someone’s sun,
but now you can be anything you want and if you’re lucky
someone’s world can still
revolve around you.
worship yourself. love the bend in your spine
when you’re carrying a backpack full of your future,
the squint in your eyes from staying up too late,
your feet that without
knees and toeshere is a short list of things i know:knees and toes2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Cody says he hates David, but he really doesn’t,
i will never wear a coat until the first of November,
i hate myself in the spring,
the sun is 92, 960, 000 miles from earth and i’m pretty sure
that number is rounded to look pretty
or god must be ocd.
it’s a miracle, i’m learning to look you in the eye.
make a wish, make a wish, any wish
i’m plucking out my eyelashes, i’m learning
to give up beauty for a shot at happiness.
i say too much too quickly without getting out
all of the consonants and my speech is craggy
and rocky like an abandoned trail in the Appalachians,
overgrown and the road not taken.
my fingernails are ragged and bitten to the shortest
stub i could stand. i don’t want to hurt you,
i don’t want to hurt myself, my fingernails cannot
hurt you but i can still hurt myself. one day i’ll
be brave enough to leave scratch marks on your skin
in angry red lines, one day i’ll be some
she can't keep secrets, i can't keep friendsthe first time I see her in months,she can't keep secrets, i can't keep friends2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
she still hugs me like i’m the only thing
keeping her world up.
i remember a time when this was true.
we do not talk about anything we used to—
those things have become taboo,
almost while our heads were turned away.
subjects are now landmines, with us tiptoeing around them,
me in my beat up converse and her in her sky-high stilettos.
we do not talk about how she did not say goodbye.
we do not talk about her old-new-old-old-gone boyfriend.
we don’t mention any new holes in my heart
or any new episodes of a now cancelled television show.
we do not talk about the new kid who looks like her
and we don’t talk about the school of new kids she looks at every morning.
i do not tell her that i have written seventeen poems about her
because she does not understand my way of letting go.
i do not tell her that it is close to October
and i have stopped marking off days on my calendar
and today i haven’t eaten any food
but i doubt sh
violatedsaying no applies toviolated1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
drugs: never boys. do not
say no to boys, they will tear out
your heart and leave your rib cage
jagged and broken, a gaping mouth
screaming its violation. they
will take your tongue, too, take away
your voice until all they can read
is yes in your actions.
this is not
this is a simple fact: do not say no to boys.
it is not in your right to deny them.
let them see the ocean of your body, let
them widen the cracks in your sidewalks,
let them warm themselves over the fire in your eyes,
until they decide to suffocate it.
do not say no, even when you are so destroyed that
your hands shake at night, holding your car keys between
your fingers like a gun with an unclear target.
even when you cannot go outside of your room:
the grass between your toes feels too much like
hades’ hands reaching for persephone, the sun’s shadow
haunting you across the concrete feels too much
like apollo relentlessly chasing after daphne.
do not say no, even when y
getting too attachedto the one night stand, probably sittinggetting too attached2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
in a taxi on the way back to his overpriced apartment,
this is just to let you know
that i wish i could love like you do.
that is to say, in under thirty minutes and not at all.
this is just to say
congratulations on being my first
one night stand
and also, i just wanted to tell you
that i’m glad you never gave me your name
because if you had, i would have tracked
you down through the whole city,
holding my heart in my hands
until i found you so i could give you
the damn thing.
it’s going to be a long time before
i can get those eyes out of my head, boy.
i wish you had fallen in love with me,
like in those movies or in those books,
and then you would have stayed.
i wish i could have met you
at my workplace and you would
take me out to dinner or to an arcade
or to a midnight showing of a B rated horror film.
i wish you were nervous the first time you kissed me
and that you tasted like a breath mint
instead of cheap
a litany of things better left unknownI wonder if we had a time machine, how many peoplea litany of things better left unknown11 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
would go back in time and how many people would go forward,
and if that would say anything about us or not. I know
some people are afraid of the butterfly effect: when I was
eight, a girl named Alexis stopped me from a catching
a monarch, told me I wouldn’t like the way I looked
if I had its colors dusting my skin.
I wonder if God ever stands in front of a mirror
and realizes how amazing it is that He can see Himself
when millions of people would kill to be able to.
I wonder if vampires ever get lonely when
they’re sleeping and if they ever get
self-conscious because they can’t see themselves
in a mirror. I wonder if vampires ever ask people if they’re
pretty. I wonder if God thinks He’s pretty
or if pretty’s just a human-made concept and Moses has never
had to look God in the face and say, “People love You—
that’s all that matters.”
I wonder if you can lie in heaven. I wonder
Hallelujahthere is an angel sitting next to me.Hallelujah2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
her hands are tucked like wings against each other,
each blue life-vein peeking out through
too-white, too-thin skin.
a dog-earred copy of The Great Gatsby
waits in the pocket of the seat in front of her.
any other day, that might be a metaphor,
but today it is just a lonely book
whose owner is even lonelier.
there is an angel in the plane seat next to me.
while i am closing my eyes to say goodbye to the ground,
she is opening hers wider to say hello to the sky.
her spine is bending against the metal side,
like maybe if she pushed enough she could be free.
as the plane starts moving faster and faster,
the ground tells me, “see you later.”
and as the wheels draw back into the plane’s belly,
the sky tells her, “welcome back old friend.”
there is an angel sitting next to me on a plane,
and it sounds like the start of a bad joke.
she is beautiful with spindly fingers, fly-away hair,
green eyes and a feather soft smi
read this when you're so angry you shakelittle drops of oil make rainbows on wet concreteread this when you're so angry you shake8 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
and i don’t know how beautiful you find that,
but sometimes you gotta learn that
the littlest things are the prettiest,
like the shape of your fingernails and the crinkles
you get at the corner of your eyes when you laugh and
when you grow old and i know i said “grow old”
like it’s a temporary thing, but that’s because it is.
you can think it’s forever but it’s really
a split second because you don’t matter, not when
the universe is still growing and speeding through a nothingness
we can’t even fathom, not when color doesn’t exist in space
but nebulas still explode in shades of gold and green,
not when there are stars who die
before their light ever touches our faces. you don’t matter,
not to anyone but the people who have fallen in love
with the way you walk and the way you breathe
and the way you keep doing both.
i don’t care that the universe is spinning and grow
he/himsomeone came out to me recently, asked me to usehe/him6 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
his correct pronouns when we’re alone,
but says whenever i’m over at his home,
‘please could you switch back to the wrong ones? i don’t
want my parents to know who i am.’ so every time i sit at their table
for mashed potatoes and peas, i listen to a father asking
his son how her day was and i hear him start to think that he’s alone
and i watch every wrong word they say strike like an axe into
the trunk of a young sapling who’s just
starting to grow into his own.
i know they don’t know better, but it’s hard not
to hate them when i am censoring every word i say
before it comes out of my mouth, changing secrets into
dinner time conversations, because a boy does not feel
safe enough in his own skin to come clean about something
as pure as the foundation he has been built upon.
later he tells me that he wishes he were strong enough
to just tell them, but he knows his father still
has the c
Stop Romanticizing Poets 2K14This is how I write my poems:Stop Romanticizing Poets 2K149 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
You’re blonde and you have blue eyes.
You’re the perfect subject for my next great hit,
a long rambling epic or a two page sonnet
which would start by comparing your hair
to rays of the sun and your eyes to the ocean
at daybreak. Even if you’re more of a dishwater blonde
than sun-colored, and your eyes are less ocean and
more sky, I swear I write this poem and think
vaguely of you.
But here is a secret: I’m not writing a poem about you.
I’m writing a poem about the idea of you.
And I don’t know if it will be a love poem or
a break-up poem or a “please don’t go home and
commit suicide” poem or one of those
heartbreakingly honest poems that feels like
you put your pencil on paper and bled.
I don’t write poems like that often.
No poet does, not really,
we write poems about you and your blue eyes
because we don’t like how bleeding feels,
and it is much safer for us to pretend to fall in l
just another adolescent love poemlet’s get this straight right now:just another adolescent love poem11 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
there are people i can only talk to
at four o’clock in the morning, when
the line between decency and secrecy
becomes just as blurred as the one between
night and day.
you’re not one of them.
i’m not ashamed of you.
or scared. and don’t try to tell me that’s not
a miracle because i still check under the bed
for monsters and behind the shower curtain
for serial killers. i know it’s all in my head
but things like that make me terrified;
i mean, i still hold my breath crossing by a cemetery
and someone else is always going to have to kill the spiders.
i’m hoping that someone will be you.
which i’m also hoping i’ll never accidentally tell you
because it’s like i lose all cognitive reasoning
around you, even when we’re fighting.
you split me down the middle, half of me wanting
to tear out your femur and beat some sense into you
and the other half wanting to give anything,
even the foun
excuses for why I'm shakingwe live in a world of apologies.excuses for why I'm shaking2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I made a mistake a year back,
choosing my addiction to oxygen
over less demanding things.
I’m sick of trembling for problems
that aren’t mine and I’m sick of trying
to romanticize black holes and
the indiscriminate nature of lithium and
I’m sick of waking up every morning
feeling sick. and truly, I’m sorry
but I’m not ready to accept my role
in the making of myself. I’m not ready
to lament for those with a smaller
pain tolerance, and for my dislike
of anything that requires commitment.
I’m sorry I miss you and I’m sorry
I won’t admit that out loud.
how scary is it to be something
so unalterably heavy, to be diagnosed
as your own worst enemy, but god,
you’re so fucking beautiful,
and not in the stereotypical boy
meets girl meets fairytale way, but
the kind that makes my heart
bleed a million miles quicker.
I just wanted to cry on all
your scars and wash them clean.
when things are bad for
six feet under and over your headwhen the leftovers finally run out,six feet under and over your head1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
your thirteen year old sister comes to you
and says that she misses mom and dad.
you assure her that one will be coming back soon.
neither of you mentions the other.
you think that this is a perfect time for a drink,
before you remember you’re not even twenty-one.
from bagging groceries to the middle school
to waiting tables to making dinner
then to night classes to home by eleven
then to leaving angry voicemails at
three a.m. when you wake up
and realize that you are not old enough for this
and no one seems to care.
then then then—
then you’re standing too tall holding flowers in a cemetery,
promising to do better because
today your thirteen year old sister
came to you and said that she has never felt more alone
and you are not prepared for any of this:
you are trying your best.
no one can see that you’re trying your best.
but you are.
this is not a fairytale.
there is no bad king or mad witch
or love to conquer all.
exit stage leftif this were a movie, this would be the momentexit stage left4 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
i break down crying in your arms and i tell you
every little thing about myself that i’ve learned
to hate at four in the morning when i wake up
and ask myself why i’m still alone and you would piece my world
back together with your hands and a simple phrase and i would
no longer want to cry all the damn time and i would
want to leave the house and actually end up leaving the house
and if this were a movie that would be the climax and
that would be the ending scene, us
falling to the ground, me in your arms,
me with my make up running, me thanking god
that i met you, you holding me, you pressing your face to my
hair, you thanking god that you were able to get to me in time
and if this were a movie you would hold my hand
through turning off ovens and locking
the backdoor at night and you would cook dinner on the nights that
i can’t get out of the bedroom and you would eventually figure
out not to worry about me when i
i would do anything to get you to love yourselfi know your type, i’ve seen them around herei would do anything to get you to love yourself6 months ago in Free Verse More Like This
before, browsing through my poems like
you’re flipping through vinyl records, trying to find
that one disc you were listening to the first time
he leaned over and kissed you.
the only way you’ll ever be able to love yourself
is if he leans over and kisses you again, is if someone
tells you about the seven wonders of your soul, if
someone sits down and writes a list of all your beautiful
fault lines that you’ve never been able to forgive.
you want to love yourself and you want to be loved,
but i know it’s hard to believe that you’re holy,
when your hands still shake when they touch food and
your breath always quickens when you drive
over bridges and no one can look you in the eye
when you ask them if you’re beautiful.
look, you’re stardust, you’re snowflakes, you’re
the sky’s gift to us, you’re comets on a cloudy night
when no one looks up to appreciate how beautifully
the 'd' wordwhen i was seven years old, my mother, tear-streaksthe 'd' word2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
drying on her cheeks, fingered her wedding band
and told me, “love hurts, sweetie,
that’s how you know it’s a good love.”
two days later, my father came back home.
he was missing his wedding ring
and when he left again,
he left a handprint on my mother’s cheek
that she carried with her even after the bruise was gone.
i grew up without a father influence in my mother’s world
and without a mother influence in my dad’s.
neither of them got remarried.
they had found each other and that was enough.
they had found each other and that was too much.
i grew up a thin string attaching one man and one woman
together in a way arguments and resentment could never snap.
they met in restaurant parking lots and in the bleachers
of my soccer games the way soldiers meet on battle fields,
trading me across the asphalt and steel like a
deadly weapon, a bullet hurdled back and forth.
he took me out to ball games b
the natural progression of thingstomorrow i will try to write you a postcard.the natural progression of things1 year ago in Free Verse More Like This
it will be hard, and i will spend hours trying
to think of a way to compress these last
three years into a single box.
‘Did you see the last Dodgers game, I bet you cried’,
maybe, or ‘Sorry I punched you in the face, I hope
You’re still bruised enough to remember me’.
yesterday, the neighbor asked for sugar
and i filled your old coffee mug to the brim
to give to him and when he tried to give it back
i said, “honey, keep it, no one likes Nickelback anyway.”
i wake up in the middle of the night because
of things like that, you know, wake up with a hand reaching
toward the other side of a too big bed, bridging the distance
like the Colossus. we are both struggling to make ends meet.
after all, most nights i still think i can feel the ghost of your
breath whispering over my wrists: a secret, a promise, a manacle.
i’m listening to your favorite band
at three o’clock in the morni
count to infinity before you sleep.cause i knowcount to infinity before you sleep.2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
there are days when
it's painful to even breathe,
your throat closing up on the knowledge
that you don't know
how much longer you'll be waiting on this
band-aided, superglued planet.
every cell in your body vying to be the next to die,
and all you have to tell them is
maybe. maybe next time.
those are the days you spend
cutting rose thorns into your palms
and clenching your fists tight around
jagged reflections and prismed rainbows.
the days you realize
we're losing so much faster than we're learning.
we're maturing faster than we're growing.
adults stuck in the bodies of kids,
moving around, making the mistakes
no one ever wants to look back on.
those are the days you realize
it's not worth living here anymore.
you're using too many burnt-like sugar words
to get what you want, a mistaken human in wolf's clothing.
your lies are becoming louder than your screams,
but if the knife fits wear it on your skin.
this is the age where you feel caught between
fifty-one miles on an old country roadmy sister used to tell me, “Life isfifty-one miles on an old country road2 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
a journey without a finish line. Some may fall
by the wayside, but get up and keep on trying.”
on the good days, i can be twelve again
and crouched outside her door
and hear her asking God to give her a sign
that he was listening, goddammit, anything.
on the bad days, i can look back and i still won’t
be able to tell you when she lost her faith in
the thing about suicide is that
people can tell you they love you
and they can tell you that they’d miss you,
but suicide is selfish. no one can talk down
a bomb. they just have to let it explode
and deal with the aftermath.
here is how i end and it’s in bangs and it’s in whimpers
and it’s in two o’clock unanswered phone
calls and all the scissors we’re not allowed
to keep in our house anymore.
it’s in being stretched out like a trampoline over too
many people and snapping because i care too goddamn
much about people who don’t car