Go big or go home.

August 29, 2016 2 comments

 

 

I’ve always been a big fan of the small gesture: bringing someone a cup of coffee, the Thinking of You text, a silly photo (probably of an animal, because DUH), a handwritten letter, a smile, an unexpected compliment.

 

Small things matter. They don’t cost a lot of money. They’re just nice. They can be just the thing to make a bad day better, to fix a sour mood, to brighten a life.

 

But this weekend made me think about big gestures. My amazing friend, Liz, drove 9-ish hours to come hang out. One way, guys. That’s a roughly 13 billion-hour trip, and it floored me in the very best way (I had SUCH a wonderful time, because DUH).

 

It made me think about the things we do for the people in our lives who really matter. It made me think about how, when we care about someone, obstacles don’t really matter. Not time. Not geography. Not any kind of distance.

 

And I’m lucky. I have a friend who reminded me that grand gestures are possible. And they’re as amazing and they are important. Sometimes in life, we often find ourselves not really believing that there’s magic in the world.

 

But there is magic. And I think that we need more big gestures and more fireworks. Yes, small miracles are still miracles. But they’re not changing water to wine. It’s so easy to take the small miracles as evidence, an indication that only small things are possible. Again: it’s not.

 

You can move a mountain if you try. If you really want to. If your heart is in it. And think about it: when’s the last time you made a big gesture? Went balls out and heart in, said screw it and did something definitive and brilliant? When is the last time you showed up in a really big way? Without being asked or prompted to? Just…because.

 

I’m not saying this has to be a romantic gesture. Mine wasn’t. (But darlings, friendships are nothing to sneeze at. Mine save my life, on the regular. And I’m lucky as hell in my people.) It can be a romantic gesture if that’s what your wild heart wants.

 

But I think, beginning in September, let’s all do something big. Let’s all do something honest and crazy. Let’s go big or go home. Let’s put up or shut up. Let’s be over-the-top and insanely present. No more sidelines and skirting around the edges. Just straight out in the middle of it all, center stage and full sunlight.

 

You in?

Categories: Uncategorized

Because You Are a Ghost, So Am I

August 24, 2016 2 comments

 

Ghosts sometimes wear the bones
of the living, drive a truck,
widen their eyes
as if you are the surprising
creature, trespassing through life
with your warm skin, hands
full of stardust, lips swollen
with kisses, heart defiant
with the memory of them,
considering the universe
of hipbone and backseat,
a new, old world.

No man walks through a wall
unscathed, so it’s a good thing
hearts are not walls,
and the door’s unlocked,
and the lights are turned off,
and you are not scared
of the dark. Some are born
for fight and shadow,
a flash of red, a grazing of teeth,
a conjuration against
all common sense.

There are no strangers here,
only magic, the belief
in the unbelievable,
and despite
the prayers meant to guard against it,
you have fallen
to your knees, frantic
in this cathedral
of want, with its high ceilings
and impossible scaffolding,
this is your holy place,
four chambers
that echo a name
you won’t say aloud.

Sometimes, the dead man walks.
Sometimes, the dead man speaks.
Sometimes, the ghost
living in your heart
also lives somewhere else,
and yet, the door stays open,
and yet, the moon arrives
with hope in its teeth, a clever gleaming,
silent as the hunger
of bones, a reminder
of how patient the darkness
must sometimes be
with the horizon.

All clocks are set
to measure
one thing or another—
yours ticks
blue, a constant summoning
of secrets.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

your heart like wolves

August 10, 2016 1 comment

Once, I promised that it would
be okay, when I knew it wouldn’t.
That was my worst gift: hope
in a handgrenade, knowing
one of us would explode, hoping
it would be me, watching
helpless as it was you—
on repeat, I kept trying
to save you, but I only ended
up drowning myself.

You want too much quiet,
but the truth is,
I have no plans to be anything
but noisy
for the rest of my life,
which means you have to decide
between a parade
made of joy and hands
and
the way water
is always hungry
to go where it wants,
a smile
with much teeth,
and no mercy.

This good
and bad that fights
in your heart
like wolves—
I have seen them both
searching
for the same moon,
lost, forgetting
that found
doesn’t always mean safe,
and sometimes, you must
feed the beast
that makes the most honest mess.

Remember
those kisses
that changed the stars
in your soul, rearranging
new constellations,
as if love
were an unnamed muscle
in the tongue—
messy, in the best way.

I can’t promise
that things won’t break,
that corners will stay tucked,
that I will ever be easy—
I am not your metaphor
for a happy life,
but these bones of mine
are longing for yours,
impatient as the sea
reaching for the shoreline:
and there’s nothing
more beautiful
that what comes back.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

on broken dishes

July 24, 2016 1 comment

Snapshot of this morning: coffee in a Wonder Woman mug, messy braid (because I was too lazy to wash my hair last night), grey Belmont Park t-shirt that was given to me by my grandpa.

 

I haven’t been sleeping lately. I say ‘lately’ like it’s just been a week, but it’s been longer than that. It’s not the worst thing in the world—but I’m getting pretty tired (literally, I guess) of waking up at 4:30 in the morning for no reason. Only crazy people wake up that early, an hour in which chickens are likely to exclaim, “You’re crazy. Go back to sleep, fool.”

 

But here we are, right where we are standing. It’s funny, sometimes, to look back on the progression of things—to clearly see all the steps, missteps, or whatever—that led to a moment, a situation. It’s stranger still to look at all that and still wonder how.

 

Like breaking a dish, for instance. You can see all the pieces. You know how they used to fit, what it looked like. No one can tell you it wasn’t a dish. But it certainly isn’t functional anymore. You can, maybe, glue it back together—but it won’t serve the same purpose. It can’t. It’s changed.

 

People are like that, too. Something happens, and you end up on one side of a dividing line between Old You and New You. There’s what was and what is. No in between. No going back. Just a new, bizarre—often times, unwelcome—reality.

 

The difference, though, is that when a dish shatters, you know it. There’s an unmistakable sound, a discernable wreckage. With people, it isn’t always that obvious. And if it becomes that obvious—outward negative behavior, observable unhappiness—that’s often a sign of desperate progression. Especially if someone isn’t prone to outward shows of actual feelings.

 

Let’s face it: we all know that one person whose walls we constantly run headlong into. They may even seem outgoing, but there’s always that part of them that’s cut off, closed down, walled off. Inaccessible. The thing about people with walls isn’t that they don’t feel things. It’s not that they’re cold. It’s that a) they’re desperately trying to protect themselves and b) they feel too much. The dial is almost permanently cranked up to 11.

 

They’re a cracked plate trying to resemble a whole one. (I’m deliberately using they as singular and gender neutral, so this applies to everyone. Savvy?)

 

The truth is that we all have our baggage, but it’s really more than that. It’s not just things we’re carting around. It’s scar tissue—a place that was hurt, then healed over. And sure, sometimes, things don’t work quite the same. But it’s important, too, to remember that scar tissue is strong. What breaks us doesn’t own us. It doesn’t define us. It’s just a step on a journey. A thing we lived through.

 

Life is full of setbacks. It’s packed with obstacles we think we can’t get through, surprises we could never have accounted for. And the truth is, there are times where everything has to break down and break apart at the root, the foundation. When something isn’t working to the point where it’s harming us or keeping us still. When something isn’t just unpleasant, it’s downright toxic.

 

At that point, what’s called for is bravery. And maybe stubbornness. But sometimes, you’ve got to walk out of a house that’s on fire—even if you set that fire yourself.

Categories: Uncategorized

Attention Must Be Paid

 

I can’t remember the last time
I woke up
and the world wasn’t terrible—
and this is my privilege,
me, a white girl
who’s never had to run
from bullets, who won’t
take the late train
home,
who always parks
under a street light,
and carries keys
as a weapon (just in case).

Me, a white girl
who doesn’t
have to be afraid
to wear a black hoodie,
to have a broken taillight,
to sell CDs,
to hold a toy gun,
to buy cigarettes,
to exist.

I can’t remember the last time
I woke up
and didn’t want to look away
from everything. Instead,
I make myself look,
watch, take note,
speak up
even though it hurts—
this, too, is my privilege.

I am not under fire.
I am not someone
anyone is afraid of
for arbitrary reasons.

Too many men
eat fear like candy.
Instead of teeth,
it rots souls,
seducing them
into action, greedy
as any addiction—
don’t let it win.

Do you hear me?
Don’t let it win.

Categories: poem, poems, Uncategorized, Writing

A Thing That Happened: On Creepers, Creeping

June 22, 2016 3 comments

 

 

A few years ago, I switched gas stations. This particular one was convenient. It was a better price. But the guy who owned it/worked at it? He was a creeper. He repeatedly told me I’m beautiful (fine, okay, whatever). Then, he started to ask if he could paint me. He’s a famous artist of some sort, and he’s been featured in a book. And I should totally look him up. He told me there was nothing untoward about it. I could bring my boyfriend, if I wanted.

 

Every time I stopped there, he would ask me this. Try and convince me to sit for him. And sure, it was flattered. I’ve had good friends draw me before (shoutout to Dani!), but the last straw was when he asked me, insistently, that I shake my hair for him. Because it was beautiful. I’m not going to lie: I did. Because I wanted him to stop. I wanted him to shut up.

 

I also never went back there again, and I’d rather run out of gas than go there.

 

Since then, I’ve been going to a particular place. It has good prices. Everyone is nice. Until a few months ago, when they hired a New Guy. The first time I met New Guy, he asked where I lived (“Down the road.”). He peppered me with weirdly invasive questions and raised my hackles. New Guy isn’t there every time I go, so I put up with it. Because it’s either go to that gas station or pay more. And since gas is freaking expensive as hell, no.

 

This morning, I stopped for gas. New Guy hooked me up to the pump, then came back and leaned in my passenger’s side window. I was polite. I’m always polite. I’m not overly friendly. I do not flirt. He asked if I was going home. I said no. Work. He then asked where I worked. I broke eye contact and began staring at the steering wheel. I gave him a vague answer. He kept staring, and I kept not speaking.

 

He then told me that I looked good. I said thank you, and I kept looking at the steering wheel. I just wanted him to go away. And yes, it was in broad daylight. And no, I wasn’t in any physical danger. There were other people there. There weren’t any overt threats.

 

But I also couldn’t leave, until I was unhooked from the pump. And believe me when I say, I felt tremendously uncomfortable. Leaning into my car window is invasive. Asking personal questions is invasive. I had to sit there, with a random dude hanging in my window, asking me personal questions.

 

I couldn’t leave. I didn’t feel SAFE. And there was nothing I could do. It was alarming. So, now, I have a choice: go back and be rude (because I’m not going to smile anymore) or pay more for gas. And, look, gas is expensive. It sucks that I have to decide whether or not I’m harassed or pay more money. All I wanted was to get gas and NOT be seriously creeped out.

 

Instead, I went from one dipshit to another. You might ask WHY women feel unsafe. You might ask why we get freaked out. You might ask why we all go to the bathroom in a pack. Guys, THAT is why. Because I can’t even buy gas without bullshit.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Hold the Floor

June 19, 2016 1 comment

 

The place changes:
school,
movie theater,
church,
club,
but a man with a gun
and hate
is always merciless.

Safe spaces,
except the stage directions
now read: run, hide,
fight.

We tell our children to
shelter in place,
while others
are counting the bullets.

We tell our children
I’m sorry this happened
to you—the world
shouldn’t be like this.

And yet.
And yet.
And yet.

We are stuck
finding new names
for grief, because
we’ve used the others
so often
they’ve gone numb,
limp,
paler than the promise
that tomorrow
will be better.

If a woman
on the train is wearing a hijab,
leave her alone.
Remember that American
means a thousand
different things,
and one of them is Muslim.

We are
a nation of immigrants,
standing on land
that was someone else’s first,
so unless you are Native
American, sit down.
We are a nation
of Protestants and Quakers,
we are a Nation
of every god and no god,
we are a nation
of mistakes,
but the only un-repairable one
is when we stop trying
to do better.

Forget our children
for a moment,
and remember that
we, too, deserve better.
Further still,
we are the ones
capable of change.

A man from Connecticut
stood on the Senate floor,
asking for change, demanding it,
tallying the hours
against the lives lost
to bullets. Hold the floor,
and he did. But more than that,
he held the heart of a nation
and offered
hope
for a basic, common good.

Senator,
thank you. To all those
who joined him, thank you.
To the rest of you:
be on the right side
of history. Do not join
the Trail of Tears,
the Japanese Internment Camps,
the No Blacks Allowed.

Don’t apologize.
Don’t try to tourniquet
the wound
with words.
Don’t cover the dead
with dirt and walk
away—look at their faces.
Say their names.
Read their stories.

Keep your thoughts and prayers.
Instead,
do the right thing.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized
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