you find yourself in a forest

April 11, 2017 Leave a comment

Life can be so unexpected, sometimes. We often try so hard to keep it neat, clean, within the lines. Only walk in a straight line, stick to the plan. And I get this. I’ve been there. The unexpected can be scary, because it’s almost always a hell of a question mark. Even when presented with a choice, you then have to be brave enough to choose. Left or right. Leap or stay. You either hold your heart within your chest or offer it in the palm of your hand. You walk down a new street, into an unknown alleyway and see what happens—or you take the same route you’ve always taken.

These seem like clear cut decisions: you either do or you don’t. But that’s hardly the whole story, as much as we may want it to be. Because when making a choice, you find yourself in a forest. The forest is kissed by fog and soft light. There’s one path before you, and you know where it leads. It is a path you’ve walked before. It is safe, steady. Destination certain. There’s no guesswork. You can easily just keep walking, put one foot in front of the other.

But off to your left, you hear a noise. The snap of a twig, perhaps. The crunch of leaves. You turn and look. You lock eyes with a white stag. And for a moment, you hold your breath. For a moment, you don’t even remember where you are. All you can see is the gleaming white fur and kind eyes. You can feel your heartbeat thrumming in your chest, breathe leaning against your ribs. And you wonder at the beauty there, a thing you’ve not seen before.

The deer turns and walks the other way. You then have a choice: step off the path and see if you can catch the deer—or keep going the way you were. Resituate yourself in the familiar and keep to the path. There’s no guarantee you’ll even catch the stag. You might wander after it and never grasp it. You can try and still not succeed. That’s the catch. There are no certainties here, but there is always merit in the journey. It might not go the way you think. It might even be better than you had hoped. But you have to suss out, often in too short a time span, what you want. If you’re brave enough to do the unexpected thing—to say, “to hell with it,” and walk in a direction, knowing that you probably won’t ever see that path again. Knowing that to step off of it means an entirely new world. And it is, of course, terrifying and thrilling, the spark that lights the flame inside your heart.

You have to be willing to fail. You have to be willing to fall. You have to be willing to explore a part of the unknown. You could lose sight of that stag and never catch it. But what if—what if you did? There’s a crazy amount of joy in that. There is courage in stopping to think you might get what you want. A lot of things in life come down to how brave you are, how brave you’re willing to pretend to be. There’s no absence of fear, only telling it to shut up. Fear doesn’t get to run the show.

I have been that girl in the forest. I have looked at the easy path. I have seen the white hot flash of possibility. When given the choice, when my heart starts to race a certain way, the path stops existing for me. There’s just the curving beauty of a question mark, the stark pull of maybe, what-if clamoring for acknowledgement.

Today, what would you do, if you found yourself on that path? Are you brave enough to follow that deer?

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March 31, 2017 2 comments

(after Marty McConnell’s “treatise on the nature of non-abandonment“)

 

Anything can happen. A fire,
drinks, a kiss in a bar
neither of us can remember
the name of—one more secret,
rain-soaked in an old city,
or a new one,
I would go there with you,
which is to say: anywhere.

You are real, but your body
was once a stranger,
your laugh unfamiliar,
your kiss undiscovered.
Now, you are backroads
and crisp air in October,
your face
a book I can’t stop reading,
a favorite place.

I’ve kissed men
who couldn’t remember
my birthday, but you
know how I take my coffee,
how I always pull at my sleeves,
how I take forever to unpack—
but what do you want?

This is me: carefully reckless,
a hurricane of words,
a collection of left-behind sorrows
that seemed so big, once,
but now, they’re an old chapter,
a too-cluttered page, the wrong metaphor
and too many goddamn
parentheses—
and we are not that,
no punctuation, no pause,
no end stop.

And the truth is,
I didn’t know how many languages
a heart could hold, a mouth,
a tongue, a miracle.
The truth is,
I want to kiss you
while I’m making dinner,
decide your place
or mine, or ours,
or somewhere
in between.

Somewhere, someone whispers
caution, but I don’t know how,
and maybe you wouldn’t
love me if I did,
but it’s hard to imagine
a universe
without you in it,
and I’ve spent three decades
losing people
like misplaced keys,
turned backs, unsaid goodbyes,
a listing of loved ones
in a newspaper—
and my name’s not there.

There’s always chaos
in the left-behind,
like how I used to love escalators,
but now I’m afraid of heights,
an unstitched seam in a heart,
the way ink stains
everything you make
and unmake—
always messy.

Anything can happen,
so bring me all your imperfections,
every bad break,
the monsters that live
in the dark of your heart—
maybe it’s time to share bread
with all the possibilities,
make new keys
to old doors, reimagine
life from this moment,
seeing you on a street corner,
deconstructing the unsaid,
the way bodies
crash together like worlds—
ruin yielding as a placeholder
for what
comes next.

Categories: poem, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

a mouth full of amen

March 11, 2017 3 comments

This is what it is
to wake up with bones
full of want: a snake
of desire for a spine,
each rib a bottomless need,
hip bones full
of yes, skin flushed
full apocalypse.

This is hands
like a rosary, each finger
a prayer, kneeling
with a mouth full
of amen, body lit up
like light
through stained glass.

This is the unraveling
of polite, all wine
drunk, all gasp,
the graze of salt
on a tongue,
the way even the riverbeds
surrender to fire,
how the sharp breath of a name
can burn it all down—
and leave you grateful,
coiled, and curious
for more.

Categories: Uncategorized

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point*

March 1, 2017 2 comments

Because I have swallowed silence
as perfect as a thousand empty forests,
all bark and no bird.

Because sometimes
I try too hard,
but I don’t know how
to stop—I don’t know
the curve of the word
less.

Because I am lost
and leave you breadcrumbs
in a place
no fool would ever follow,
not out of habit,
but out of hope.

Because I don’t know how
to ask the right questions,
so I say nothing.

Because I can say
I miss you
in three different languages,
and I love you
in five—one of which
uses no words.

Because I want
and that is the beginning
and end of everything.

 

 

*Title from Blaise Pascal.

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

the shape of things

February 23, 2017 1 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