tell me when it hurtsremember the year we skipped your birthday?
you watched the hands and legs on the face of the clock and tried to make sense of the clown's noses, prong teeth and drooling drips of time, layered on the rims of your auburn hair and spilling down onto the contours of your whipped and beaten eyes like chocolate milk. we dyed your hair that day, purple, spilled wine and mauve egg yolk, and we told you that you didn't have to age if you didn't want to, we told you that the ten-second rule applied to things like beauty and innocence, and we told you that you could be a child until peter pan came for you and you didn't have to watch the clock anymore, just the sleeve of night sky, riddled with stars.
but when we told you these things we were constructing mental memorials, maybe somewhere on the mantle where strangers could come in and leave gentle commentary about how beautiful you were when your hair was long and how big your grassy eyes were, like they were leaving presents under a tree that
memento mori I.memento mori6 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
Death has been standing outside my house all night.
Last night I wiped my eyes against the cool glass and I watched him out the leaves of my window; watched while he circled the perimeter, his hands dancing near my rosebushes, giving light touches to the leaves and breaking them off along the neon vein lines. I touch the patches on my face and I try to make out the lines on his body: hooknose frame, dark lidded eyes, nailed mouth. The ceiling of nighttime rushed over him like a blanket and a smile, and I fell asleep with the crook of my head against the sill, images of his dead-star hands floating on my eyelashes, dripping off onto my cheeks.
And when I opened my eyes and saw morning stretch its back in a curved imitation of blue and white clouds like drippy wings, I knew who he was.
Now it's midmorning, and I take the knife and shiver until it cracks against the board. I bring the end dangerously close to my fingers,
anorexia nervosa. _part one a.anorexia nervosa. _part one6 years ago in Biography & Memoir More Like This
There is something you should know about me, before we begin:
I have anorexia nervosa.
The denial was thick.
Anorexics, I believed, were skinny girls with even skinnier bones, combing their falling-out hair against mirrors where they appear as a sliver of a profiled coin, dying as the air beats them and hating their folded-paper bodies. Anorexics, I thought, had to be girls who achieve your standard perfect grades and are incredibly athletically-gifted, all the while going on zero calories for days at a time. Anorexics were built of disgusted strength, sickened determination, and a muddied line between self-preservation and -sacrifice. Anorexics were withered girls on billboards, stealing the sun from the beads of the sky laid before them, pressing it into their arms, and yet somehow taking no pigment with them.
I was notand am, I am not, I am not I am not I am notone of theseone of t
pencils and knivesOur getting together was a roll of the tongue, a curve in my nerves.pencils and knives7 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
We played clever and intelligent and poetry-slam line break, smiled at our own pretentious predigested words, coffee and donuts and hardly a table between us. Your eyes flashed white and my smile flashed red and I pretended to be without makeup, and you, without frowns.
We discussed Small Things, work and play, and we discussed Big Things, God and philosophy. We faked thoughts and I made petty arguing comments just to sound like a brain was in my head.
It was perfect.
You said you believed God was a woman, for people are so wonderfully flawed and couldnt only a girl create such emotions and make things so delicate? Our trivial emotions like jealousy and rage, curiosity and adrenaline, they all had such a feminine edge, you said.
You threw in a compliment about me somewhere in there and I nodded and bit my bottom lip because God suddenly seemed very, very real.
You asked me something vaguely romantic and it hit m
a moment of your time I am a writer because my mother says so.a moment of your time6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I am a writer because I am teaching myself to look for my pothole blue eyes, fat stomach smile, and popped-bubblegum cheeks in mirrors, television screens, and reflective surfaces. I am a writer because one time I had an innocuous crush on my second cousin and I still cherish all of his two-line emails. I am a writer because I am the stereotypical, spoiled, overloved only child.
I am a writer because my grandfather, whose name is utter gibberish and the colors blue and red and green and radio talk shows and old black-and-white television sitcoms and whose beard is a medusa's pond of browned acid hair, tried to teach me to draw, croissants for eyes and big butterflies for chins. I am a writer because the entire time all I wanted to do was write poetry, turn a phrase,
i'll let you in on a secret: You suffer.i'll let you in on a secret:6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I know you do; you know you do. I've always been here for you. I've seen you cry and I've seen you yell and mostly, I've seen you dream. I am the one pinching your lids closed, I am the one wrenching your lips open, and I am the one squeezing the tears from your drainpipe eyes.
You don't need to tell me, because I know. I have you all figured out. You're sick, you know that, and you're nearly dead, always nearly deadbut you persevere, and you hold out, and you're so beautiful, and I'm just here to hold your hands, because you suffer, so much.
Yes, I know all about you.
I know why you are still alive.
I know about your love troubles. I know about all the people who have fucked you and I remember finding you coating the
anorexia nervosa. _part two o.anorexia nervosa. _part two6 years ago in Biography & Memoir More Like This
I lean back against the rim of my bed and dig my feet as far into the floor as the carpet will allow. The panic leaves me like an ocean wave, scraping up against the sand of my head and leaving me breathless. I want to hurt something. My arms settle neatly around the other, touching on my wrists, rubbing down my forearms, clenching my hands together.
Someone should have shot me as soon as I made it out of the womb, I think, and my hands settle around my neck.
Sometimes, I broke.
There were two months where, every Saturday and Sunday, I had Poptarts for breakfast, which is about two hundred calories per individual Poptart. There was an entire month where I ate ice cream every night. The second month after I had started, late September-ish, I found that I couldn't take the hunger for very long, and I would eat a snack before dinner. This ended in mid-October, thankfully, and some of the shame subsided. I
the other sondear james,the other son5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
your name means "hold the heel,"
among so many other things,
and i think i could list them:
your eyes are funny. during saw v i saw your pupils
and i thought, hazel. his eyes are definitely hazel.
and they aren't: they are green-gray, they are gray,
they are tinted with blue, they are stung with brown,
but mostly, they are a soft, indecisive green, and your
lids are permanently half-closed, lazy, and you continuously
look like you may be waking up from a dream, and i am
continuously wondering if i was in it
i can recite things about you.
all kinds of things. your middle name is
david. your cat is a gray tabby with bright, vibrant green eyes,
and she has been de-clawed, and her name
is samantha. your bed is on the floor. when we are on the
phone and you get a text, and you sigh and tell me
to hold, i close my eyes and listen to the sound of your telephonic
keyboard, tap-tap-tapping, and think maybe i could
fall asleep to the sound, but there'd
take my hand. I.take my hand.6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
It all boils down to fear.
You just watch. Your depression, your anger, your terror: fear (manifestations of, lovers to, expectations within). I know you have these things and I know what you make of them, because no one knows you quite like I do.
You sit and you are afraid of dying and you are afraid of madness and you are afraid of losing and clutching and grasping too deep, and you are afraid of other people and their unpredictable interactions and words they expect you to reply to, and you are afraid of what the world can do to you and how little you really can do for the world, because trees grow and they die and you bury more seeds but there is nothing there, because you are afraid of n
existentialism in heaven1. First, we have a lesson in breathing.existentialism in heaven5 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
(I stutter, and in the back of my head there is a slide and small children are slipping down and losing their lungs, tucking under inside of them, and I came around afterwards and picked up all their organs and buried them inside the tanbark, hid them away in a little box that only I will have, every thought they expelled with their breath and would've liked to keep, and I press my fingers down and they are gathered around me and they say st-st-stutter with their necks like paper cranes for hope and peace and a hopeful mouth. They do not love me.)
She opens up my mouth, peeling back the ridges of my lips with her claws, and she looks inside and peers into some sort of mess and she says I can't sort through this with my hands alone, I can't, and she closes it up and says no, no, that will not do. And she holds her palms against my stomach like twin suns framing my belly-button with her rabbit-colored thumbs and she peers into the hole and wrinkle
for my motherYour daughter is afraid to go downstairs in her pajamas because she feels like a balloon animal inside of them. (Do not take this as an excuse to go out and buy her new ones.) Your daughter would extremely enjoy the sight of two men kissing. (In fact, your daughter is somewhat of a homophiliac.) Your daughter has only seen porn twice, but she has read porn more times than one should count. (The second time was in the corner of the screen during American Psycho; the other, on a stumbled-onto-out-of-curiosity Web site.)for my mother6 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
Your daughter is nervous about a lot of things. (Including, but not limited to: drugs, tornadoes, fire, insects, heights, pain, humiliation, strangers, large dogs, public speaking, real blood, childbirth, open wounds, flying, and people.) Your daughter is endlessly, inexorably, and inexplicably fascinated with both pedophilia and incest. (Don't give her that look.) Your daughter does not know why this is, but she blames The End of Alice, Lolita, the I
and, well,when i look at you i think of diamonds and stuttering and hands, but please don't ask me to explain that one.and, well,5 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
you know sometimes i just want to learn about you, want to learn through the way you let your fingers covet your face and the way you speak when your mouth is very wide open, want to learn favorite colors and lucky numbers and inside jokes and secrets plodding around in your skull, twiddling their thumbs, and not because i think it would explain something great about you, like opening up your palm and reading the scratchy notes left there, lines of deceit and perky thumbs, not because i think i could read the naked future and its sea-creature body from the pentapod craft of your hand, no, not because i think i could read you like your spine was a collection of bony, itchy, hard-to-scratch words, but because i think it would explain something little, just a tiny bit, and
you know i want more words, more words, i want to hold them in my hand until they begin to twitch and shake a
senses poemsSenses Poemssenses poems5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
1) meet it halfway
when hope finds you it is yellow,
and it is underfoot, leaves crackling
like a spine,
and the earth cries it out,
spilling it from the green-smelling
tree branches, and it is
pacing around your room, hands
quivering with prickly words and sweltering language,
exploding stars inside its mouth,
and you expect to see white and gold glitter
fall through its lips, but
there is nothing; and
when you open the door, metal in your mouth,
it turns around and reaches
2) that other organ
the bluejay hits your window with
his wings spread out, eyes open,
and you listen for the sickening
slap and the smell of your window
slipping up with feathers and blood,
trying to hold onto the small blue
and the bird is the red-stomach curls
on the tip of his head, and the bird is
every endearing little girl asking you to
be the other sack of tissues and nerves
on her see(sea)saw, and the bird is every
old man who tugs at your ears with a sick
you have such a pretty smilei.you have such a pretty smile5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it has been scrawled and every letter looks like a hooked crow's talon, and i am sitting with my jeans all rolled up and my feet are made of seeds and wrinkles like protrusions of stems and dreamy roots, and i am exploding stars in my mind and they shatter like yellow confetti, slivered gold glitter, and i read so slowly like the words might escape me before i can finish, the tail-ends of ns turning into legs and the es unfurling and falling delicately away and the m scattering away like leaves coated in sulfur and membrane and silk, and on the wall is scrawled a picture, a color, that looks like this:
my stomach opened up wide
and out came
a forest, topped in limp rashes of stringy red and slices of white, splattered lightly with a crimson you could dip your finger in and taste, playing your tongue like a careful harp, and the gilded stains of green came out to meet the sun with extended pointing arms
o balmy breath "Everything became quiet. Everything was the same as always.o balmy breath5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
'No, not everythingtomorrow you will come,' Cincinnatus said aloud, still trembling from his recent swoon. 'What shall I say to you,' he continued thinking, murmuring, shuddering. 'What will you say to me? In spite of everything I loved you, and will go on loving youon my knees, with shoulders drawn back, showing my heels to the headsman and straining my goose neckeven then. And afterwardsperhaps most of all afterwardsI shall love you, and one day we shall have a real, all-embracing explanation, and then perhaps we shall somehow fit together, you and I, and turn ourselves in such a way that we form one pattern, and solve the puzzle: draw a line from point A to point B... without looking, or, without lifting the pencil... or in some other way... we shall connect the points, draw the line, and you and I sh
fear of butterfliesI have discovered that I am invisible.fear of butterflies6 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
I think about this in the middle of a crowd. It comes into my head, a gray and blue thought, and I hesitate and stretch my forefinger out before me. I wrinkle the skin on the side of my hand and I brace my knuckles, white and red. My bones leap out of their skin and I close my eyes, so the sun is a big silver-white flattened circle on my eyelids, and inside of it, I can see spots of black and orange.
I think about once, in the fifth grade, when I heard my first curse word: shit, uttered from a mouth with fork prongs for teeth. I think about the girls in middle school who called each other whore and then made best-friend necklaces. I think about PE and my best friend, who poked herself in the eye until tears came, and she would sit in the locker room and cry and wouldn't let anyone touch her. I think about boys on the playground chasing girls on the blacktop and I think about the two boys who ran behind the trees in the field and woul
cat-burning one and a half.cat-burning6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
i cannot teach babies to speak, cannot take their lips into my fingers and impress the words upon them, cannot summon the voice with my nails and form it between my fingers like loose ripped cloth, syllables dying their tongues pink and brown as they speak until they turn white and die, legs snapping like frictionless fingers. once i close my eyes with a little palm curled around mine and i heard him, talking to me, and he said:
i want you to take my skin and peel it back, as though i am just bloody silk and you need to find my real flesh, underneath, white and hard; and i want you to bite me, to chew me, and i want you to crawl your teeth inside my tissues and attempt to swallow me with the misplaced and torn organ-skin of your lips, your can
the rest of god's name"She misses you, you know, Jimmy."the rest of god's name6 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Yeah. I know."
There's a pause. He cradles the side of his face with square fingers, adult pound hands.
"It's in her sleep, too. She murmurs in the night. Sometimes it it rises to screams"
The hesitation rests on his lips. He licks it off, his tongue like a suspicious fish.
"Do you ever think"
"Go away, David."
"that maybe if you had stopped, she would still be oh - okay, and you wouldn't have to"
"I said go away."
"I mean this can't be living, not cowering, not like this"
tonight's gift(There is glass in his arm, maybe shattered.)tonight's gift5 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
I've seen him, and he doesn't look like you. Someone is playing the guitar like they are weeping and all they know how to do anymore is fiddle with strings, bring music forth from their fingers. She is turning around in the car, looking past the window, and your name is suddenly on top of her lips, dominant. You are sitting next to me and pulling pink hair from the slivers of your neck and laying them before me: here, a gift you have made, a gift you have been given.
(There is glass in his arm, maybe shattered. You reach out, your hands a sinewed layer of white glare, and you reach for the latticework of bloody glass. He recoils.)
Someone is yelling your name in the background, coming up to desperately hug your back, cracking open. Her feet are curled up in my chair and she is peering next to you, as if she is afraid of what she will find in your eyes, something sitting in your pupils and waiting down the street. I've seen him, and h
manic depressive the sky has shed its coat, blooming gray before me. someone is releasing the rain from their palms, sliding down their knuckles, melting off of their fingers. the water is clingy, and it hits the ground with a full-body slap, quivering the life out of it, sending it up to the stars. the lightning extends, three thousand arms reaching, afraid of all that it will touch. the thunder growls, a cat with its toy, a stomach that has not been fed in weeks.manic depressive6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it cries, bleeds, a thrashing wave of terror, a living creature storming. my hands begin to shake. outside the rain whips through the screening and throws itself onto the porch, frightened.
i look upwards, try to throw my hands there, toss my palms and let go of my flesh. it doesn't work. my skin stays still, quiet, hushed, stuck solidly to my unforgiving bones. something in my elbow snaps and i close my eyes to feel it out. the temple
the problem of evilHe fills his fingers with my skin.the problem of evil6 years ago in Socio-political More Like This
You're quiet today, he says.
I do not tell him. I don't lift my eyes like the breasts of angels in churches. I do not tell himI am learning to accept the end of the world.
He pricks the back of my hand, and I bend forward, my forehead against my knees. I think about names and I wonder if I were to whisper the name of a long-dead mother, a hospitalized father, a brother in denial, a sister without her hair, a dog leaning on two stubby arms and a cat with her tail wrapped inside her mouth, a baby choking on the roots of life and a girl battling her Adams' appleI wonder if I could save them, my mouth choked against my jeans, his face tucked away in the crevices of my palm, a desert inside.
No, I say, I'm not.
There is an amputee in the dark playing war games. He presses shift and his gun comes out, and he hits ctrl twice to shoot. Two enemies fall with their arms streaming behind them, graphics tearing at pixels, his screen a mi
when jesus ate my house1. do you hate me?, she asks.when jesus ate my house6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
my legs are in my face, pressed in the
crevice, earth-break, ripping of my nose, hanging
between my eyes like an extra arm, curling
in on itself. i feel sick, dizzy; the world is
a dribbled basketball, a honeyed ham,
an empty soda bottle, a gutter and
a staircase. i could grab her face,
stretch the skin, vomit.
no, i want to say. no, no, no. please,
don't think that. why would you think
that? no. no, no, no. please, no.
i sob and shake. she wracks her
brain for reasons to hate
herself. i can't respond. my mouth
slows and my head fevers, paces.
i shiver. her eyes melt.
i am silent, fitfully,
2. my head is the new
he starts up his car; the engine rears.
my stomach roars with fitful delight. my gut
cooks up a tornado against fasting, against
eating, against being awake.
she laughs at my stupid jokes, my
silly words, my bad metaphors. she laughs and
she smirks and she smiles and she grins, a
our descent into heaven1.our descent into heaven6 years ago in Socio-political More Like This
He leans in and shakes his drink, and the ice cubes rattle into each other like old brittle bones, dancing and bumping haphazardly into the other.
You have to watch the quiet ones, he tells me, taking a swig. Everyone thinks it's the noisy ones you gotta be careful of, but that's wrong. The quiet ones'll get you if you don't make sure.
I wonder if he is a loud drunk, a mean one. If he likes to hit his wife, fuck his children. If he trips up crying to himself. If he likes to dredge up and whine about every bad, black-stain memory. If he's a giggly, excitable drunk. If he'll want to dance and sing and kiss.
If I'll have to quiet him.
You keep resurfacing. You are tender dirt that is hidden beneath all of my thoughtsyou are the tree that contains every last branch of my sanity, and maybe you're in some of the leaves, too, pulled apart by gentle wind and ripped up by an angry storm. I can't let you go, can't make you disappear, can't clap my hands and trap you inside
don't tell me if the sun diesi.don't tell me if the sun dies6 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
there is a drumbeat of silence
mirrored between your hands. you
massage the pit of suffering and
grace and sinew and dust and cells
and tears with echoed fingers. there is
too much for you to squeeze
between shaven palms.
(i only ask that
when my hair has fallen loose and my
skin has worn itself into jewelry,
you take me home.)
you listen to the
crickets. they sing a eulogy for the number
they have lost today.
the day i die, i will come
tapping at your window, my fingernails
drumming to find the skin
chirrp; chirrp; chirrp.
don't wait up.
for every criminal: a flower.
(pluck it in the morning,
when the dew is still on
the backs of dragons and
butterflies and monsters
and ocean salt carried inside
the wings of pigeons built to be
doves inside a cradle of space
and time and air; and don't forget
your skin likes the noiseHold a mirror up to your skin.your skin likes the noise6 years ago in Philosophy & Perspectives More Like This
You will be amazed.
I hold my hand before my face.
"The swept up, skinny bones of birds. The corpses of pieced-together, pink ants. Shelled and filled-up cocoon bodies. Tree-branches with God's stolen skin and slabs of white, dust-bone dough. Pasted, solidified pale mucus. The wrapped and tethered, life-given joints of dolls. Limbless and pudgy sticks, fleshed-out and caved in. Matchsticks coated, rolled and thickened with skin, virgin from the tongue of fire. Shrunken and weathered poles, scarred tissue of dragon, shriveled bone, poverty-stricken and skinned-straight gemstones, broken and bended fleshy heartstrings, pulled-out and wrenched"
"They're just your fuckin' fingers, dude," he says.
He grabs my index, my forefinger and my pinkie, and he brings them down, softly. They rest by tree-trunk hips, garbled and shoveled thighs, stacks of paper feet.
"What the fuck? Calm down, dude. Shut up."
My hand dissolves. He smiles. They're just y