the shape of things

February 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Let your bones
become a safehouse,
remember
that your sternum
is like armor for your heart,
but let it keep time
anyway, the tick
of truth against your ribs,
spine like a scaffold,
steady steel—
sometimes the shape of things
changes, sometimes
you soul breathes
like blown glass:
make art out of it,
every shatter,
every shadow,
every monster howling
in your stomach.

Because this is how you make a new world:
footprints in unfamiliar rooms,
uneven stitches, the rough kiss
of fog through old streets,
a constellation of stained glass,
one color for everything
you cannot bear to leave behind,
a garden full of winding grief,
a sky full of songs
that were once stars.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Love That Feels Like Art

February 2, 2017 2 comments

Darlings, I am going to give you some advice. Now, I know you didn’t ask for this, but after a conversation I had yesterday—I think it’s needed. And with Valentine’s Day coming up, I figure it can’t hurt.

 

If you’re single, it’s okay. Bad failed first dates—dates that lead nowhere? That’s okay. That’s not a reflection of you. If someone doesn’t appreciate you for who you are (not funnier, not taller, not prettier), then that person is not right for you. Period. You are not unworthy or less, if someone cannot see all the wonderful things about you. If you have to change yourself (physically or personality-wise) to fit into someone’s life/heart? Well, that’s not real love.

 

And let me tell you something about real love: it will blow you away, once you find it. It will lift you up, not keep you down and never keep you small. Crazy Muppet hair will be appreciated. All your humor will be endearing. Because finding someone who cares for you just the way you are? Man, it’s magic. And it will do your soul more good than a thousand empty, shallow relationships.

 

Because you are not a vague ideal of a person. You are not a silhouette. You are blood and flesh. You are years of gathered wisdom and experience. You are a person, not a human-shaped checklists of requirements. Life is too short to be with someone just to be with them. It’s too short to settle. It’s too short to be anything less than 100% bloody you. Because you are excellent, just as you are—rambling and nonsense included.

 

Find someone who loves your weird. Find someone who loves your flaws (spoiler alert: that person won’t see all the bad crap you see about yourself). Find someone who sets your soul on fire. Find someone who thinks your taste in books (or comics or movies) is fantastic. Who can match you Princess Bride quote for Princess Bride quote. Someone who encourages and supports you without hesitation or question. Because that’s what you deserve.

 

And me? I’m single. I may be single for the rest of my life, and that’s fine. I know what I deserve, and I won’t take any less. Sure, I’ve been on my share of bad first dates. And it’s rare than anyone gets a second. Does that make me a snob? No. I just know what I want. And I know what it’s like to be understood and appreciated. Anything less is…well, bullshit.

 

If someone wants you to be thinner or younger, blonder or more poised, or somehow more easy/manageable? That person is not right for you. That person is not worthy of you. Because real love can find you in the most unexpected place and the most unexpected time. And the secret is, even if it seems insane, it’s worth it. It’s worth all the crazy. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in time and effort. It doesn’t mean love isn’t work. But it’s the good kind, like pursuing a passion you love. Like doing something you can’t live without. For me, real love is like writing. I can’t breathe without putting words down on paper. If I don’t write for a while, I feel so off-kilter. So…un-me. Love is like that too. Not a need or a want—but somehow both. Easy, like second nature, an instinct.

 

Find the person who feels like art. Who thinks of you when they’re falling asleep. Who meets you for coffee and remembers how you take yours. Find the person who lets you in and asks you to redecorate, not the one who expects you to slide into what’s already that. Because love changes you, on both sides. And it should. But always, always for the better. It’s not that you aren’t whole to begin with. You are. It’s finding someone who matches you, step for step, without ever thinking twice.

 

Believe me, darlings, you deserve that kind of love. Nothing less will do.

all riot red

January 27, 2017 Leave a comment

If you believe
love is a bone
you can set right,
I will not argue.
This is not science,
and we are not atoms
splitting, hands
are not gravity,
but a kiss
will spin the universe
like a kaleidoscope,
fractured glass
wondering if it’s still beautiful—
does everything
that’s broken
still sing the song
of its old self?

If you believe
an apology is enough,
that it does not sit
like a grenade
in every weak moment,
I will not argue.
This is not a war,
nobody wins,
and every heart
goes hungry
as a consequence—
did you know
that souls have ribs,
and during lean times,
you can count them
like excuses?

If you believe
I was a door marked exit,
a holy heart
curved into a mistake,
I will not argue.
This is not a prayer,
and I will not perform
forgiveness like a sinner—
all riot red,
all wine,
all trust,
I know what it is
to be an unexpected martyr.

To believe is to make
a choice between desire
and expectation,
to patch a wall
in a house with no roof,
to mend the moment
with quicksand,
to forget the sky
and worship only the root—
but you cannot unmake
the way two souls touch,
in this, we are magic,
unforgotten,
lost in a thousand things
unsaid.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

Gods and Monsters

January 16, 2017 Leave a comment

(I had submitted this to Rattle for their Poet’s Respond section, but they selected something else. I still feel as if this is important, so I’m sharing it here. This was the statement I wrote to go with it: At about 1:30 am, steps were taken to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). This has been initiated without a suitable replacement, which will lead to millions of people to die. Among other things, the ACA ensures that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied insurance (pre-existing conditions include common things such as diabetes and pregnancy). You can read more about it here: http://www.npr.org/2017/01/12/509441874/senate-takes-first-step-towards-repeal-of-obamacare.

This poem is directed toward every Congressman/Congresswoman and Senator who looks at this potential repeal favorably.)


 

You have rearranged the bones
of your service,
made a false god
out of every
undignified inch,
not content
to eat your own heart,
you have savaged
everyone else’s,
instructing the future-dead
to thank you
for the gift of pain,
this sacrament of fear.

Holy are the thorns
of the self-righteous,
grateful is the stoned wife,
sinful is the leper—
this is your legacy,
turning wine
into water,
then offering it
to parched lungs.

The hour is late
or early, dark
and noisy,
it should be full of silence,
but yours
is an angry grace,
but
your god
is not my god,
for you have lit
candles
with other people’s lives,
aghast
at their screams
as they are burning,
you tell the poor
to be honored
by the lesson
of hunger
and wanting,
but try as you might,
you cannot make a man
out of nothing,
and when everything is ash
and ruin,
no one will say a prayer
for you, no one
will even speak your name.

the dark of my heart

January 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Some days, I am all scar
and not enough skin,
kiss like the crash
of waves
on rocks
in front of a dark lighthouse—
heart singing a song
that no man should follow,
all hip and promise,
all jealous grace.

I do not tell you of the drowning,
the way water slips
from mouth to lung,
how salt brines bones,
or the current
inside the dark of my heart.

Yes, I am sea glass.
Yes, I am the fog
on a window,
the want of steam,
a temporary picture
of maybe,
a clash of moon
against the tide. Read more…

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

Wishes for the New Year

December 30, 2016 1 comment

Every New Year’s Eve in recent memory, Neil Gaiman writes his advice/wishes for the new year. Spoiler alert: I am not, in fact, Neil Gaiman. I’m not even British. We both do have unruly hair, though. But if I ever start drinking tea regularly instead of coffee, well…assume I’ve been kidnapped and am trying to signal you for help. Same goes for drinking decaf.

Where was I? Right. Neil’s advice. It’s sage stuff. Like all his writing leans toward, it’s perfectly phrased, deceptively simple, and sure to resonate somewhere deep within your heart. That fantastic bastard is pretty damn talented. (I don’t know him well enough to call him a fantastic bastard, but just go with it.)

In the same tradition of the Crazy Hair’d Gaiman, here are my wishes for you, for this coming new year.

  • Be yourself as brilliantly as wildly as you can.
  • Write the thing that scares you to the depths of your self-conscious heart. Make the art that you’re not quite sure you can, because the truth is – you won’t know until you try.
  • Find someone and encourage them in their pursuits, because we are meant to lift others up, not keep them down.
  • Let go of what doesn’t (sometimes, who doesn’t) light you up. Life is too short for tepid, okay, and painfully familiar.
  • Go on adventures, even if it simply means taking a different route home from work.
  • Don’t try and get something right the first go around. No one does that. Even da Vinci had first drafts. You can always fix what you’ve created, but not what’s still stuck in your head.
  • Stop explaining your choices to anyone who does not support you.
  • Read books outside of your comfort zone/genre. Read diversely.
  • Don’t accept less than what you deserve. Compromise, but do not compromise yourself.
  • Love as deeply and as honestly as you can. Whenever you can.
  • Kiss, hug, and cuddle whenever you get the opportunity, because touch is a language that needs no translation. Kiss someone who thinks you’re magic and real, all in the same breath.
  • Speak out and speak up – for yourself and in defense of others. We weren’t put on this earth to be cowards or to bow to anyone or anything that is unworthy of respect.
  • Figure out what Carrie Fisher would do, ready your middle finger, and sharpen your tongue. Same goes for Bowie and Prince. Sparkle. Wear funky clothes. Don’t conform.
  • At the end of the day, tomorrow is not promised. The next choice you make could turn your life into magic. So, open your heart and go shine your light into this world. It needs your light. And that’s the only way to chase out the dark, darlings: share the light.

 

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline

a girl falls in love with the ocean

December 27, 2016 2 comments

(After Sarah Kay’s “Postcards”)

 

I had already fallen in love with too much water, when you showed up out of nowhere, heart full of flood, mouth full of ocean. You kissed me, and that was it. I stopped looking for the shoreline, and I can’t tell you the last time I did that. I can float here for days or find my way to the bottom—both equally safe. Is there a word for arrival that feels like the word home? If there is, it is made of a bird’s wings, the smell of dirt in spring, the crisp smell of a fire burning on a cold night. If there is, I’ve seen it in your smile.

 

I keep waiting to take one breath too many, to let in what should be kept out, to be overwhelmed by it. But it doesn’t happen. I’ve started to forget what pain tastes like, the metallic aftertaste, the way grief always finds the bathroom floor, how nothing’s ever as clean as it should be. I stopped counting the awkward tick of my own heart. I used to think it was proof of life, but it’s only living if you are brave enough to share it. Here, look: I’ve got something in my hand. Sorry about the mess. I’m not one to be afraid of it. I know other people are. Still, look: red’s always been my color.

 

Is there a word for yes that feels like warm blankets, a deep kiss, the lingering of fingers on hipbones? There are a thousand rivers underneath my skin, and each of them are looking for you. There is purpose in the current, but I know it holds too many secrets. There’s always something living underneath the surface. Would you wade in anyway, not knowing what it is?

 

I don’t know what to call this. There’s no way to dam it. All I know is I love the undercurrent of your laugh, the way I can picture you in a room, even when you’re not here. Come, paint the ocean on my back. Say it’s a map. Say it’s a lighthouse. Say you can find me, even in the dark.