Tag Archives: Art

A tout a l’heure: Nuit à Paris

C’est le dernier jour de mon grand voyage depuis que j’ai tout laissé derrière moi. Je suis tellement heureux que cela ait été possible et je suis toujours excité pour mon retour à Rennes dans la nouvelle année.

Ces derniers mois, j’étais en Allemagne, en Autriche et évidemment en France. J’ai appris le français au lycée, mais vraiment je n’aurais jamais pensé que je serais ici. C’est un rêve incroyable à réaliser. Malgré les montagnes difficiles des barrières linguistiques et la communication avec la famille et les amis, je suis ici et je poursuivrai mes études de français au-delà de l’école. J’aimerais être parfaite dans la langue mais je sais que j’ai un long chemin à parcourir.

Aujourd’hui, j’ai dit <<au revoir>> à ma famille française, et elle va me manquer. Ça va parce que je vais voir ma vraie famille et ensuite je vais rentrer en France. Il me reste trois mois dans la nouvelle année.

Je ne sais pas ce que je vais faire à la fin de l’année prochaine mais je sais avec confiance que je serai bon.

L’Allemagne me manque, c’est vrai, mais je pense que je préfère la France maintenant. C’est peut-être parce que la langue est plus facile pour moi. Quoi qu’il en soit, je suis en France et j’ai tous mes rêves.

A Paris, c’est trop cher comme toutes les autres grandes villes. J’ai trouvé un bar qui s’appelle <<La Robe et La Mousse>> et je viens de m’asseoir. Les murs sont turquoises sur des morceaux de vieilles pierres. Les lampes sont circulaires et montrent leur éclat dans de petits mondes de lumière.

Je suis content de la vie que j’ai dessinée ici. Tout dépend de moi, et calme quand je le veux. Mais d’un autre côté, c’est excitant quand je le veux.

C’est parfait pour moi, mais quand même, je n’ai jamais de contentement longtemps. Je ne l’ai jamais fait.

Je suis allé à Paris plus de cinq fois cette année mais je n’ai jamais eu le temps de voir la ville sereinement depuis 2019 où j’y suis allé avec mes parents. C’est très différent maintenant et plus libre, mais je suis hanté par les ombres des souvenirs de notre temps ici. Je vois encore et encore le même restaurant.

 A ce bar maintenant, je peux voir que le serveur n’est pas francais. C’est très bizarre quand je sais les différences de parler tandis que je ne suis pas française non plus et que ma française n’est pas bien. Mais je remarque et je pense que c’est un bon signe pour mes études. 

Ce restaurant est bon, il n’y a pas beaucoup de gens et le serveur est gentil. La seule chose que je n’aime pas est mon chapeau rose. Je ne suis pas confortable comme ça mais il n’y en a pas beaucoup pour moi a fait. 

Bientôt, je vais aller à San Diego et le froid sera derrière moi. 

j’ai peur de perdre mes progrès en français mais j’ai décidé de continuer à lire, écrire, et étudier pendant que je suis là. Une des choses qui m’excitent pour les Etats Unis est le changement de mes vêtements. Le style est important pour moi, la mode est tout. 

Pendant que je suis en Europe, j’ai choisi mes tenues dans mes deux valises. C’était terrible, mais ce n’est pas la fin du monde. Quoi qu’il en soit, j’ai hâte de choisir parmi un placard agrandi. Ce sera une sensation incroyable après tout ce temps.

De même, j’ai hâte de manger de la nourriture mexicaine. Cette cuisine se sent toujours comme à la maison. C’est vrai que j’adore la cuisine française, mais vraiment mexicaine c’est mieux.

Ma famille et mes amis m’attendent à l’autre bout du monde, mais je serai là tout de suite.

Après tous mes voyages, je ne suis pas prêt de dire <<au revoir>> aux autres pays. Je vais dire <<à plus tard>> mais je reviendrai. C’est une promesse.

A plus tard France, tu vas me manquer ainsi que toutes les personnes que j’ai rencontrées. (Et désolé pour les mots que j’ai mal compris, je vais réessayer.)

Tout mon amour,

Caroline

Marche De Noel

The crowds swallow the street in tufted beanies and wound scarves, hands plunging deep in puffer pockets while chins tuck into the wrap of their necks. It is cold, but there are presents to purchase.

Wooden stands make two wide isles in front of the white-painted Ferris Wheel and mingle pottery and jewelry with sugar-stuffed churros and vin chaud. I look over the artisan spreads next to everyone else with an open mind and a closed wallet. I have neither the space nor spare change to pick up stray beauty, but it’s fun to hold rings and ceramics to the sky and play into pretend consideration, isn’t it?

(I won’t lie to you; I did give into a bright pink beanie. Though, in my defense, it was cold, cheap, and cute; a kryptonic trio.)

My crew shuffles through the wide eyes flitting between passing fancies on our way to the imposing wheel. Five euros each buys us a place in a small box car rotating three times slowly before the inevitable dismount. 

From this angle, the city expands, but away from Rennes’ central buildings, there is not much to see beyond the bustling market immediately below us. The nearest intersection sighs with the crude exchange of cars and exhaust, hot tufts in the air. Clashing against the cold, a shade or two denser than the warm breath that escapes us. 

Feet on the ground once more, we take ourselves to L’Arts de Fou Marche in front of the Rennes’ Opera Theater. Here, artisans of tactile art line a long loop of sculptures, jewelry, bowls and cups, and installation pieces. All these leading softly into a tented pavilion for the quiet consumption of wine and beer. The art relies heavily on animal shapes and nature’s form broken from the canvas of raw rock. 

Impressive in every sense of the word, but expensive and regrettably reserved for the high class. The only place I can picture these pieces is in the grand and cold entryway of a mansion inhabited by whisps of white. To be looked upon and appreciated by everyone but its owners. 

Just another three minutes away takes us to the most Christmas-heavy marche in front of Rennes’ parliament building. 

A larger-than-life Christmas tree stands, somehow, dressed decadently in red bows and reflective globes. This pop-up center sticks to the food side, selling crepes, churros, and pastries alongside metal pots of vin chaud and hot cider. 

With my hot cider in hand, we crowd around the handmade tables of stumps and logs that surround the larger sapin. It tastes of cinnamon and closed-eye inhales on Christmas. Gloves are replaced by the heat of our paper cups, and we look at each other through the steady wisps of steam that rise from the rim. 

The cider settles over the lunch we shared before exploring these marches. This morning we met at a restaurant called Avec, a fairly unassuming name though it still subtly begs the question, with what? 

As I entered the surprisingly American warehouse structure, I realized they worked with every auxiliary business they could fit into their overwhelming hipster aesthetic. Don’t get me wrong, the turquoise and burnt-yellow shaped furniture and displayed motorcycles cradled an atmosphere that was anything but tacky. 

Yet, including a tattoo parlor, barbershop, merchandise shop, and auto-moto workshop in their bare metal restaurant undeniably draws the image of a 2014 man sketching graphite over his black notebooks, sipping teaspoons from small cortados. I could almost see him among the crowd with his nondescript face, which did nothing but bring an amused smile to mine. 

Avec’s food and beverage side mixes cocktails and burgers for brunch before offering an ice cream bar for dessert. I inhaled my homemade fries and burger without guilt; it is the holiday season after all. Besides, I might as well take that first step back into American culture. 

I’ll Be Back Tomorrow.

There are the smart ones.

The ones who know themselves enough 

to choose the longterm

the inevitable. But 

there are also the ones like me

who’ve woven enough lies inside,

who’ve wound their lines so small,

who say- just that.

I only do it like this. Just a little bit.

You see, I don’t know how to enjoy it.

So I’ll be back tomorrow.

Walking the Line

Not unlike Johnny Cash, as he sings, “ I keep the ends out for the tie that binds… I walk the line,” I walk this tightrope without slack. I’ve already cranked the dial, bit by bit, consuming everything untaught in the years of weeknight poetry groups and the tight art circles of strangers. 

Hung low in these rooms was the kind of cigarette smoke embedded in the fabric of suburban kids’ trench coats as they all sing their hymns of too much and too little in the wrong categories. 

Here, in the anonymity of a crowded room of the like-minded, I shed the last scales of self-loathing and read it into the past tense. 

There are so many ways we are ourselves with the people we love. They are all true and carried and backed by watchful eyes that back your own out of authority. How many times can you break bones and find something different in front of the same people? 

In the 2019 first freedom of dorm room homes and month-long family, I broke into new poses of myself countless times. My roommates heard “you know what I just realized?” more times than they heard the word “sick” tumble from my mouth. It was just as automatic. 

This constant phrase changed its ending every time, contradicting its predecessors and followers with the kind of truth borne from this second’s reality. Each break in my brittle bones offered a new way to look at what makes marrow. 

Every observation is true, even existing in opposition. That is the value of poetry. 

These moments of clarity, spurred thought from another person’s words, or the sight of water dripping that begs a reality from inside you, can be immortalized as any emotion in art. 

So as my friends tired of my repeated self-realizations, I spun them into ballads of wavering woe. 

These first months of poetry classes, and the new opportunity for spoken word Wednesdays in the 7 pm writing center room, allowed me to pull a new authenticity from myself. 

I didn’t have to be the blonde, suburban kid with too much privilege to divert her attention from issues of self-image and intimacy. With these same materials, I could be a voice that walks directly over human metaphors and recognizes the quiet thoughts that whisper in each person’s ear. 

I fell in love with metaphors, allusions, hyperboles, conceits, just lyric. Words that can be read in an infinite amount of ways, each time plucking a chord of truth. Like humans, poems can mean a million different things to a million different people. 

I became a voice, a speaker, separated from myself, my name, and anything about me except the immovable fact that my mind made these words. 

It’s true, what some people say, that most of the time, strangers are the only people you can be completely honest with. I took this expression to heart and wrote from each crevice of my ever-changing understanding of my world. 

We try on many different selves, don’t we, when we realize that first permission to make ourselves what we want. When we remember that people only know what we tell them, people only see what we show them.

So I dyed my hair purple. I pierced third holes in my ears with only half the materials required. I stabbed my wrist with stick n poke mistakes that are all mine. I ate the dining hall’s macaroni n cheese pizza for breakfast and drank their black coffee for dinner. I kissed boys and girls and left the party. I apologized and said “I wish” to people who asked me for cigarettes even though I never smoked them myself. I painted blue around my eyes, debuted them at the campus underage bar, and gave them an encore in COM 103 the next morning. 

I followed through on every thought that hung around my head for longer than a class period, and then I read the email, and everything changed because I felt I couldn’t anymore. 

Covid stole my dorm room home and new-friend-family. It stole my unencumbered realizations and my poetry evenings and everything new I had begun to call myself. 

But, in the shelter of my old room, I continued to write with the self that now dominated me, and I hurt people. 

Instead of calling strangers closer in rooms that called words home, I tugged on the heartstrings of my original home with words that family felt rejected every good thing they ever gave me. Still, I selfishly refused to give up the part of myself that reveled in the honesty that poetry allowed me without focusing on the facts that surrounded me. 

Emotional truth is real, without needing physical fact to bolster the feeling. 

Time here passed, somehow, and we can still debate whether or not it’s over. Both are true. 

I wrote myself through another two years of English classes, poured my soul into poetry workshops, and earned practical credit in marketing courses. I presented a thesis collection based on an ancient religious poet and my conflicted feelings for my ex-boyfriend. I heard enough praise that I held no hesitation in creating this blog space for my self-indulgent travels and self-promoted poems. 

I love it. Having a place to post thoughts I can no longer subject to whatever unfortunate group is trying to relax in my living room. But with this kind of platform, I have lost the complete anonymity I am used to. 

I write for no audience, then send my words into the ether that is truly, if we want to talk about objective facts, made of friends, family, and followers who know my real name. 

I want to be completely honest, but I am not used to hurting anyone but myself with my words. 

So I guess what I am trying to say is this.

“I find it very, very easy to be true. 

I find myself alone when each day is through.

You give me cause to love that I can’t hide. 

Because you’re mine, I walk the line.” 

Dear Charly Cox,

a response to a newfound poet and her book, She Must be Mad.

Thank you.

I am on your first page

only.

I am at your precipice &

already

you have told me of myself.

Your words a warning

in the midst of our 20-something fog.

I want to see myself in you

so I do. 

You call me out

with everyone too old & too young

to love me

to love you

to love anyone.

But I love you, 

I just don’t know the caliber,

because you know age means nothing 

& everything.

No matter how many times we circle the sun,

we will never be young enough or old enough

to have abscesses of time.

You know this & remember

it all means nothing.

Your words are nothing but a string of letters

spun at random

to the wrong eye. But to mine,

you are perfect. You place these perfections

with intention made easy by years hardened; 

you are whimsical. I like your whims,

the metaphors you follow to their end. 

You are real.

I don’t know your face,

but I know your voice.

And I think I have for a while. 

You Said It.

When I press publish 

I let myself dream 

that his eyes will drift

over the words I’ve written to him.

The ones I can’t publish in private. 

I let my mind pause on his,

my thoughts think on his,

because this is enough. It has to be.

He doesn’t need to read my heart anymore,

he shouldn’t

just as I shouldn’t 

pour the contents of my heart at his feet anymore

so I don’t.

I toss mixed feelings with mixed metaphors in a blender.

Convoluted conceits for him,

blood-red end stops for us,

and Charly said it.

“[I] never got to tell him how [my] heart held out,

how it still occasionally chooses to hold out” (7)

but that’s just it, 

a choice. 

Intrusive thoughts.

The smoke leaking from the wrong end of that cigarette

would taste better blackening your lungs;

but even better, drawn from the faucet of his lips.

Not him, who wants you,

but him, the one who used to want you. 

He will crawl back to you

one day

holding his alcohol and snuff in one hand,

his addictions he warned you about at 20.

He wasn’t too young to know himself,

just too young to change himself.

He will grow back into you

or grow tumors into the spaces you used to fill.

You will say it’s too late, then wait.

Peak your eyes through the crack in your slow-swung door,

and he will come back again,

knowing you are too proud to take him back the first time.

How would you look at yourself in the mirror again,

if you didn’t feign strength?

You will, knowing he loves you,

and you will draw smoke from his lips.

You will clean his lungs

because imagined cancer is cured by love that doesn’t really exist.

You will cleanse him and tell this ghost of him the truth

That the worst intruders are ourselves. 

Plenty. 

“I’ve kissed plenty of boys… 

They all sort of sound similar

which is why it is important to say

not everything I write is about you” (8&9).

You know who you are,

but you don’t know which you belongs to us.

There are so many before and after

and because and 

I don’t realize how many,

until there is still a waving ocean of poems,

after I take you out of the equation. 

Paper Paint. 

White out for the white man I gave everything.

Everything was a chance,

he knows, 

ask him,

because I can’t. 

He is scared to text me,

and we both know he cries every time

my name lights his screen, 

like it used to.

Yet a flood of self-reports 

gushes in blue apple

when he works us the courage.

He won’t text first, but he always texts last.

And I wish I could white out what is real,

because he would be so beautiful

if I could take back half of him,

without taking everything. 

“Knowledgable Near-Misses” (14). 

We all quench our thirst

with people we wish were another.

But this just licks our splitting lips,

pretending a tongue into chapstick.

“Stop teasing feeling” (11); anxiety isn’t passion. 

But it can be, if you let it.

Unstuck your eyes from your own,

just for a moment

and watch the millions of moments smile

for your peripheral vision.

Try learning from lessons,

just try it, and make a different mistake.

France.

I use my own foreign tongue

to bring this world to life.

Yet it is the voices of home

I chuckle for speaking.

If my mother could hear

the “r’s” that come as air

from my throat & my father

could ecute the “l’s” I pronounce as “ie”

they would stick awe on their faces.

Wondering how I hear the conversations around me, 

knowing words not as lagging English 

but as delayed meaning. 

An exercise in class,

come to life. 

Love Letter to Charly,

I hardly go a poem without writing.

This is my love language, 

maddening metaphors

littered beauty.

Even if I didn’t like women, I would be in love.

Because your voice understands me

by understanding yourself. And I don’t know you,

but it doesn’t matter.

Can we kiss & tell

about the boys who have wronged us?

Can we make love

and drive each other to the airport?

Can I read and write all over you, and

can you act like it is all original?

The Life We Know.

I am so used to misunderstanding 

to overlapping sounds and unmatched pitches.

Hearing earing-stabbed crescendos of sound.

Even he pauses before he speaks frankly.

Mais c’est difficile pour moi

parce que il est un homme gentile,

parce que il n’est pas difficile,

he leaves that to me. 

Invited.

Unpick beauty from sense & smarts from lust,

like the calling card pattern

of bad decisions & bows.

I don’t know yet if her lips

will chew me to ruin.

I’ve never broken her skin before,

not with words,

not sober in the sun.

I lust after someone else’s lust for me.

If she wants me enough,

I will crave her, 

and all the men will look on

like touching each other is an invitation.

What if it started this way,

friends at parties

licking the bubble gum sexy from each other’s lips,

like we just want something to chew on?

Am I half & half, or just everything?

If you have one half covered, 

it’s hard to single out the other. 

Alternate Dreams.

Play out what he didn’t say as though he did

because that will help

of course it will. 

To imagine what other world you could take.

You could be happy. 

You are always happy,

like sadness is a past emotion.

Erase fear while you are at it. Not yours- his.

You can handle your own. 

The future has no cracks because you painted it.

You cocked the seams, 

but you can’t really believe your lies 

with his eyes cocked closed. 

You dreamt last night

of your teeth in his neck, just 

like a million times before, but 

this was now. You sunk your teeth 

in closed-eyed flesh & felt a pang where your new lover lies.

Open eyes flashed through the colors you tried to choose,

as though you had a choice, 

and instead of stopping, you took them both in your mouth 

and screamed yourself awake.

You rolled over in your duveted cocoon

and read the message only one of them sent. 

“There is Something Inside of You that Begs to Feel Sad” (32).

even when all around you is joy and half-sung voices,

laughing and running with more energy than you can stomach.

yet you join knuckled hands because you are supposed to, and

you can’t think of a reason to say no.

you have no excuse but the synapses that snap too tight,

too static

but not vibrant enough to resonate outside 

that tiny place in your mind that keeps your legs moving,

keeps your limbs cradling a smile,

and calms your fingers across another’s cheek, because

its okay for someone else to cry. deep breaths, baby,

tell them it will be okay. they can be happy. you are happy,

you just don’t know how to stop sadness. 

Firsts.

“Tonight you’ll have your first kiss.

you know it, you can see it… you feel

so terrifyingly far behind that if it’s not,

womanhood will never greet you” (34)

Is that why you will drink enough to like him,

next time, because you know what to expect now,

even if you still feel behind.

Dancing and saying no, no, no.

Until you ask so it can be your idea.

You are drunk & high & 4am awake,

so you like the way he kisses you.

You hope he is playing you,

so you don’t have to play him. 

It’s 50/50 you’ll find.

You are only truly in trouble

if you both take the wrong 50.

So kiss him, and see. 

Do you like it? Or do you need another drink? 

“Its a morishness sans lust,

it feels innate” (35)

and when you kiss one morning 

waking and sober

you’ll be startled that your body works,

outside of a dream. 

Easier. 

You spend too much money,

too much to stuff change back into your pocket. 

Give it to the people who ask for it. 

If you can spend it on yourself, 

you should give it to them.

You haven’t made money in months.

“Its much easier this way,

[being] the go-to girl for a good time” (43)

you think they can’t tell.

Yet even he, your new friend,

the one who wraps you in his arms

and asks you what it means,

says he sees. 

He says you can’t be sunny all the time,

but you’ve only shown him the sun.

“Which part of you is acting?”

He says he can see, but you can’t.

“Even though the weight still feels tangible,

it can’t be real” (44), but still,

we can be real without weight.

Selective Feeling.

If I wasn’t screaming

cursing my mind

cursing my mouth

cursing

how would I pass the time?

If I wasn’t sinking,

who would watch the world rise around me?

What feelings would stand tallest?

If I didn’t cry,

what would salt my cheeks and wash me pink?

What water would I drink

in the space that forbids all departures

from duvet clouds and feather-stuffed prisons?

What voices would tell me stories,

keep me laughing,

if they weren’t mine?

What would I dream

if my head went quiet,

and my lips sucked sanity from a clear glass,

not smoke from a marbled cup?

What reality could cradle me

better than my near-insanity?

What is left around me

if I smoke out my imagination?

What landscape keeps me without color?

2012. 

The LA cameras didn’t think I was too young

but my mom called me too sexy.

Not with words but with more fabric,

thick, woven colors over 11-year-old skin.

They called me out of 5th-grade class. 

I was photographed and posed

praised and prodded.

My eyes stung with interior wind,

one-two-three 

and you better open your eyes 

while your hair is still floating.

It’s this golden mop- it must be.

The color. I am all the colors 

that name you pretty, so 

that must be all there is to it.

My face has pretty shapes 

because they burn red in the sun.

But don’t let that happen. You aren’t supposed to be real.

But I suppose if this skin insists, 

we can edit reality out later.

Slim child thighs and keep my 5’10” frame-please

take my torso and leave the loose skin,

I need it. 

They choose me from a thousand paper heads,

they choose my numbers,

the lies I refuse to correct with a scale. 

They choose me,

so why don’t I feel beautiful?

It’s not a question.

Gum for Dinner (86).

Dinner is spelled with two “n’s” 

because you want more of it, don’t you?

You always want more, but you are getting better at saying no.

Diner is too small to feed you,

though it tries. With pancakes & poured coffee,

bitter sugar to make you sick.

What you want is the feeling of less. 

The breath caught in your chest,

the breath you wish was enough

to keep you full. 

You try coffee

You try water

You try closing your eyes

any immediate suppressant 

but there is always that other “n” on your plate.

Finish me, finish your dinner.

Convince them you are getting better.

Get better,

but don’t let better give you that extra letter. 

“I feel pretty when I’m told I am” (91).

Then the half-life compliment dies, always slowly.

Dissolving into my drink alone,

I can’t feel anything alone,

not even the alcohol I guzzle just to prove the point.

It just passes through my lips, and I wonder why

I don’t paint myself pretty anymore. 

All I remember is it all being too much-

that powdered tan with its creamed partner.

Brush it! Blend it! Melt it into your skin!

With bristles- no, a sponge- no, your fingers- no,

you should have never started

you just made everything less than perfect, less.

You didn’t erase your faults, you circled them. 

There! There they are- red & white & not quite skin-colored.

You aren’t skin anymore, you are a “trying-to-be-pretty-face.”

I’m called pretty as soon as I leave the mirror.

Releasing my shackled adjectives

and letting them wash down the sink-rotting

with my other discarded features under the drain.

I still smell them when I come home,

so no one is ever invited over. 

“When Did I Become an Image to Sell?” (92).

People praise pretty

like a choice between pink & blue.

Like we choose what grows between our legs,

even if we like it.

And if I use the men’s restroom 

because the woman’s was full, 

does it have to be a statement?

Does it have to be anything at all?

What is wrong with that cardinal call?

To empty our bladder, as all animals, anyway we can.

Yet all of this matters so greatly, my love

for what other way would men find a difference 

between people and themselves?

It. (a response to Otters)

And not the screaming kind.

No, not the kind of horror that shocks silver screen

but the kind that shocks fear into reality, slowly,

how it is all of a sudden.

You weren’t painting outside

your love-shocked face doesn’t own a red nose,

but it is red. Because you haven’t had it in a while, 

and you got used to pretending you weren’t filled with phantoms.

It is not quite it anymore, but you imagined it away from opaque. 

You still read this, everything

I call it. I know you do.

Because even ghosts have IP addresses,

so I can still speak to you of it & you can’t speak back,

just like you always didn’t. But I’ll know you read it,

like you always did.

“Exposure therapy” (104).

There are two ways to get into a pool.

You can introduce your parts slowly to the cool of the water,

seeping skin under its depths in slow-motion, and

take deep breaths- a hundred- before you make it under.

Or you can fall, take a running jump, and plunge

body into cold, accepting shock that only lasts a moment,

and then wilts into numbness. 

You fall, and because you hate being responsible for his pleasure,

you take your own out of your hands.

You just lay there,

let him do as he pleases until he is pleased,

he gets there every time. 

That’s what you remind yourself, but then you start to wonder.

Is he good, or are you just easy?

Does his breath feel warm,

pressed flat on your stomach, or

do you just not have to do anything?

You can close your eyes and open your mouth and 

let him pump the exhales for you.

It’s easy to pass time like this,

but why are you just passing time?

You must like it because you say yes

when he asks you to beg.

You say stop, and you’re hurting me, and he goes faster.

Because you both agreed to this and you

are just an actress. 

The tears that wet your face-planted pillow 

must be the sweat of passion because you

like this.

Because you said yes, and you started it

by looking him in the eye like that.

You brushed his thigh first, and its not bad

if you feel loved and he gets there.

Before him, you waited for it to be over.

With him, you wait for him to start.

And after, you wait for another him to kiss you,

and sometimes, this one doesn’t ask for more. 

When Will I learn?

“Sometimes it is best to go home and straight to bed, instead of exploring the night” (118)

I feel I should know this now, but I never turn home,

not all the way.

I’ll board the bus home early, 9 o’clock,

just to get off at the next stop.

I don’t want to go home,

I never want to go home,

not until I am too tired to do anything but sleep.

So I step myself in the opposite direction,

even if my friends are gone,

or they were never here today,

I’ll find new ones. I’ll find somewhere 

small enough to hold me in a crowd,

invite the nearest English voice to speak to me,

and hope they don’t expect more than words.

Sometimes I’m safe and 

sometimes I’m lucky, and 

other times I blink from midnight into my bed.

“Not All of Them are Character Studies” (118).

Though they all start that way, don’t they?

With boy parts that dictate everything else about them &

first words I won’t be able to wipe from their forehead.

All my assumptions are true, they always are, until I see

someone too many times to minimize them out of human,

but I still generalize to cope.

Some people prove different, they all do,

I just don’t want to pay attention. 

Black Lung.

someday soon, or 

maybe today, because 

every day my cotton socks soak puddles

left airing out my window.

charcoal breath argues in tufts

a bouquet of white streaming.

my legs quake with the thoughts that come after

and my stomach quakes with the way I wait

for answers. fire burns through twisted paper

a playing card bent and rolled, kisses my lips.

I can hear the wind louder, 

when the window is closed. 

I think clearer about my old habits

the parallel existence of me

spliced by time. 

still head on two pillows

eye mask creased over brow

hands held in the pocket thighs make

my lids twitch with any vibration on layered sheets.

Someday soon, or

maybe it will be today, 

I won’t be able to breathe, because

every day my lungs bruise deeper. 

The Young and the Dead.

No one is too young to die

this fact is hammered

by Kings of Leon’s Joe’s Head.

It’s not his fault, but I blame him.

He is the one screaming

too loud and cracked through the lyrics,

over bass time and drum beats

blasted by his brothers.

Bands are always brothers, and 

bands always break. I’ve heard enough

pool-floating rock star unbreathing stories to know.

Even though I am thirteen and afraid and feeling

a new vortex inside of me that wasn’t there before. 

It’s a black hole. I just learned about those

and now they are everywhere. 

Sucking the life out of everything like a death eater &

I can’t make it stop. 

I fall over and over again into darkness and 

tears mark my face in this sudden. 

It is somber, but not silent.

Mortality is not a thing consumed without sound.

“Had to put a bullet in his head,”

the murdered subject bleeding,

“people can be so cold when they’re dead.”

Maybe he is imagined, but

I won’t give myself this comfort.

I must face the black hole while I have it,

but it spins too close and 

my breathing matches its irreverent pulse, and 

the only thing to pull me out is my mother smothering.

Next time it is a friend with headphones and a heavy arm.

Then a therapist thinks she solves all my problems 

with recycling. Like tumbling arrows will grow 

green over the black hole dilating

like a pupil of nothing at the back of my head.

I grow, even if it isn’t green

and she says different things with different faces

and I pretend to overcome my terror of the nothing

I know lies beyond this now. 

Just Smile.

my friends tell me, 

time and time again,

i don’t know how to frown.

i try, and try again, 

to live this version of the truth

but it tastes worse than suppressing an expression.

even if i don’t feel it, a smile is all

my face knows how to fall into.

i don’t have to feel it to fake it.

what are you supposed to be faking?

what, when you refuse to make anything

outside of a solemn grin real?

He loved me,

this one loves me,

and I can’t force feeling.

He is Cherry B and so many mistakes they start to look pretty.

His kisses linger on the hairs that catch on his teeth

from the back of my neck. They never disappeared,

they were half imagined anyways. How

do you lose someone you only held half the time?

Nothing changes.

Not from this day to the next,

but everything is different in this month.

So different from the last, but

the last was six ago.

Last month I already knew him,

he had nuzzled the same places he used to,

not all- but close. 

These kisses taste like cigarettes, like his

and red bull vodka, like his

and late nights, like his.

But it’s he who drives, pays, and speaks to me

unlike he ever did.

He traces the same patterns on my skin

but my responses don’t match my lips.

He is voice-overs and delayed reactions,

more honesty than I am used to deciphering.

He holds confidence in one hand,

and me in the other,

just like I do. 

He speaks with such power of thought,

even when he is saying nothing. 

Who does he think of in these sentences?

I learn him, I learn his words, and all the while

he is a character. 

I wish I could tell the old him about the new him,

without the question of jealousy

no manipulation or past love,

just speaking to the friend I used to have inside a lover. 

I wish I could tell him

how he rolls a spliff different,

with fingers that curl around my throat 

with too much slack.

How he reminds me of our favorite character

from the show we watched in the late nights

of his constant ailments. He was always in agony.

Why did I still love him? Why do I still dream of loving him?

The only answer is we can’t choose 

who touches us with that thought-erasing feeling.

We can choose who we spend our time with,

but we can’t change how he feels.

We only have so much choice when it comes to him.

There are so many hims. So close to the same.

And only I know the difference. 

“Am I Half Enough for You?” (140).

Can’t you blow off everything to do nothing with me?

If you did, it would make me worry, but if you don’t

I sit here. Cold hands & Cold feet,

none as warm as yours.

Time ticks, like it does in every cliche

and like the rest, I wait here forever. 

Chain-shackled to the blue arrow,

the pointed question I know you won’t hallow out.

Not tonight. And it isn’t fair, is it?

That I ask you and want him. I’d never tell you

but sometimes I close my eyes and blend you together.

I don’t feel guilt because I am in too deep to feel anything.

All I feel is empty, and you try to fill me, but still,

there is a piece of me I lost before you ever said my name.

Half-Love.

I write a lot about half-lives

the way things multiply downward.

A million tiny pieces of what once was,

in these minuscule infinities.

I live in a place called half-hating you,

love is supposed to overcome any emotion,

but it shares my heart with hate.

I used to split love and pride there, but

now I’ve found pride in my bones.

I don’t need to practice it anymore, 

I have a cruel space for hate. 

You and I can’t shake love’s apples

from a golden tree I’ve rooted in self-worth, so

everything else is extra, but

I still crave the party of people I don’t need.

The party of one sad man child

who didn’t love himself enough

to love me. 

Sleep is for the Unloved.

I can’t sleep,

mulling mind over the same boys.

They never give up

never loosen their ghosts in my dreams,

never echo out of my ears with enough force to wake

me out of this static

pre-sleep sleep-writing.

Smearing this pen across this page is the only thing

that makes sense to me. So 

each night I echo the last, I

sign into the same seat,

sit bones slanted across a diagonal ankle.

Chin on hand on right knee.

Left hand cramped from playing with my feelings. And 

I can’t sleep. 

mulling fingers over the same words.

How many times have you read him between my lines?

I don’t try, my fingers curl 

these same letters into each other of their own accord,

imagining if I write something,

it’ll turn true. But maybe I can only write the truth,

the gushing mirrorball of all my privileged problems

at once.

Crowding the spotlight,

crowding the space between brain and hand and there-injected, 

is a memory. His hands rough on me 

because he thought he was going to lose me

when I cycled drunk cartwheels into the street.

He told his friends he couldn’t control me,

like that was a bad thing.

Everyone misses me,

at least that’s what they say into the funnel that drips

accounts of other people’s feelings into my ears.

You were harder, 

you held anger that night, 

and when I woke in the bloody mess you made of me,

I grasped something I never had before.

That love can be violent

love can be anger

and my body can give or take it away.

You used me, 

in more ways than one,

but I always held the power. 

What is the Word Womanly, if not Followed by Influence?

We are posting. Posing & Pouring.

Heart us, and we will crown you good boy,

and give you more of what you look to us for.

You want to open the door.

You want to buy us a drink.

You want us to walk across a puddle on your back.

Because what would you do without beauty?

We are dangerous in our soft

demanding in our bat-eyes.

You have nothing to fear

If you shut up and listen

If you cross your legs and sit on them

If you realize the ultimate majesty of women 

all of us who don’t love you as much as we love each other.

Muddy Water

Another poetry collection I have been working on for a while, this one is full of half-truths, momentary backtracks, and muted confessions. Trying to love again, in some watered-down way, I write out of that valley in my mind. The dip that cradles new hearts and breaks them, as I continue to patch myself together.

(disclaimer: if you are my family, you may want to skip this one ;))

Proof.

I feel my figure tracked along the road
and I know I am there.
Breathing in front of other bodies.
When I write, it is for me,
my truth & I don’t care to offend other eyes,
but still, the thought of others weighs heavy on my hands.
Inked words given an end stop,
a pause,
where I imagine a read receipt
at each indent.

You know.

You hold this power over me.
You know you do
that’s why you loved me.
Thats why I can’t be around you.
I dream of the day you’ll cry
and I’ll feel nothing.
No pulse will slow and quick.
No drawn heart will ricochet in my soul.
I dream of this day with my eyes closed,
pressed shut so that one day
I can see you,
and see nothing.

What do I call you?

You go by many names,
and baby, so do I.
I snake like a poison
around my own ears
and listen to the city’s heartbeat
from an open window.
Costar reminds me to “notice everything”
and darling, I do.
Someone drips their words onto my skin
makes love to my lips
and touches me with sweetness
unmatched by any second-day sugar.
I dream of someone in sliding photographs,
because I am not comfortable in still frames.
Hovering, always writing,
over any page.

White lies are only white if the truth doesn’t matter.

Why can’t I stop biting my cheeks?
Like flesh pealing from raw lips
will silence your circular swarm.
All midnight thoughts pull back
to what I should have said
and what you shouldn’t have.
There is no one I love more and trust less
than you.
The pink skin inside lips and tongue are meant to heal the fastest.
So I am always ready to bleed,
each time you chew my mind.
With
every 2am earache,
every 3am tear,
every 4am conversation between teeth,
comes severed skin.
You don’t hear the words I scream at you
they are in my head
but I bear my teeth anyways.
Cannines into wet scabs
blood until breakfast.

melody.

there is another face pulling me when i listen to music
a new theme in my soundtrack
written away from the name that held too much
for too long.
but there are too many lyrics about someone else now
there is a sweet song sliding through my ears and
it builds something new inside me
stacking tracks in a direction i forgot was possible.
youth has a second coming,
i knew it was far from over
those vibrating notes were just the prelude.
i have albums in me
countless plastic photographs to gloss over
with greasy fingertips that lie
in whatever future waits for me.
songs come a few times a week
and they aren’t repeats anymore,
though the artist remains the same.
dark eyes pull me into the present,
into this morning city in front of us.

A-

I thought you could be toxic
while he seeped into my brain with his own poison,
but maybe both can be true.
Could your love for me just be a little too much?
Enough to see through his bullshit when I was blind.
And I need you,
toxins and all,
to erode all these ill intentions.
You are the only one I trust to love me
when everything goes up in smoke.
I wait for your text,
so I can divulge my soul to you.
So I can tell you everything I don’t know how to say to myself.
I can’t stand it when you are quiet.
You sleep, or work, or dance
while I roam another city
and reach for your love with the stars.

True Stories.

How can we be reduced to a grain of our sand?
How do we become defined by our final moments?
Like all true stories, there was always going to be an end to your sweet.
Your bittersweet cavity moaned loud through painkillers
and I sink into that feeling again.
It swells, the molasses you left me to drown in,
this stick of you to my skin.
Sugared sick covering every crevice
filling all empty flesh.
Then I know this quicksand sweet will become a grain.
It must, in time, despite the residue.
You- we are a part of me.
Still, you & I & we are only a moment of everything.

You aren’t the “he” my diary knows without context, and nothing is life or death anymore.

Knowledge.

What would he do if he knew I was writing about him?
Would he be colored in red?
Or know the impact of his stroke,
Know how he lands on me,
And how his fingers curl me inside.
He wants a playlist, and I want him,
Right now,
Even if I don’t know for how long.
He’ll always be alive in my memory.
Exist as a sexy patch of light
Illuminating the French ridges of my mind.
Filling the space I thought would stay empty here.
And am I scared of him or how he makes me feel?
Who am I to know.

Dear,

I would be lying if I said that your affection doesn’t draw me to you or that your free-flowing nights out don’t buy out the fifty percent of my brain that says- stupid girl, run.
I don’t know if I’ve ever known I was making a mistake while I made it before. Not like this, not for this long.
You are dangerous.
But are you really? Now that I think I know you?
Do your gentle friends excuse the sharp edge below your steering wheel like I do?
Does the sweetness of your thumb on my chin excuse what it does to faces that aren’t mine?
I know it is wrong when you throw the first punch, and it makes me want you.
You broke your hand because you are too hard, but with me, you are softer than butter. I don’t have to touch you to melt you. Just the heat of my hand begins to break you, but still, you touch me.

Grass.

You were supposed to be grass under my shoe,
Nothing.
Nothing but a blade,
Fresh-faced and green.
Climbing up my boot
Caressing my leather until I crush you.
But now I’m crushing on you,
Looking at the space below my platformed heel,
Hesitating.
You were supposed to be grass.
Beautiful and temporary,
Just for the season
Then gone.
Your last pleasure, the crunch
Underfoot.

Read Receipts.

19 seconds on the clock, and this beer falls down my throat easy.
How else are we meant to walk but hand in hand?
If I text you twice, will you smile,
or cringe away from my name?
You make me feel safe, somehow,
as I scroll and react.
So shallow against your words.
I love you.
No, I didn’t say that.
I just think about you often.
You live and lie in my brain now.
Just a tiny version of everything I know about you.
I am tempted to know you,
I hesitate, and want you.
Oh, I really do,
I want you.
I just don’t know about forever.

Again.

How many times will I let you feed me lines,
and gift you any semblance of belief?
You haven’t meant what you said in a year.
I dont believe a word from the forked tongue
you tearfully split, and for the first time
I know it’s true. I dont want to be with you.
It took one picture, and in that moment
something in me shifted.
I grew white hot
at the switches flip and here I am
finally angry with you.
It is all your fault,
this hurt. I know it is your fault,
because I looked inside myself
I scraped every hallow with responsibility,
and all I can find of mine is softness.
I am too soft.
I’ve always been too sweet.
I should have screamed at you while I had the chance.
It took a while, but I have found my sharpness.
The part of me that cuts,
and how dare you sharpen me out of understanding.
How dare you make me cry on my birthday
because you were too weak to bite your lip for one day.
How dare you decide for me what I deserve,
from everyone and you.
How dare you tell me constantly that one day
you would come back after you severed us,
because you were too scared to imagine us in a straight line.
How dare you cut down your own promises,
like they were crops only rooted in this season’s reality.
How dare you never tell me the whole fucking truth.
How dare you swear to me you’ll follow through, this time,
and convince me with drunk words that you love me.
You told me to wait for you. Not to cry because you couldn’t handle it.
And these are things I will never do for you. Not if you ask.

Ahead of Myself.

I don’t think I’ll miss you when I’m gone
but what if that’s a lie?
What if I’m the one who is falling
and your arms just happen to be there to catch me?
I keep tracing back to the time you held me.
naked and sweaty from our nightly activities,
and you just held me.
At the time, all that ran through my head was fuck.
What the fuck am I doing leading you on like this?
It’s cruel.
If you just want to be held.
But now it’s me who is thinking about it.
Why am I thinking about it?
On the street, I’ll start smiling,
because of something you said.
This is wrong,
I’m not supposed to think about you if you are not inside me.
But I see you,
The next day,
and the day after that.
And I’m okay with that.
If I never ran into you at that bar,
met you for a second time at Rennes’ universal rendezvous,
I would have never said yes again.
I was planning on fading,
a fond memory,
and now I hope to remember you for myself.
The man is supposed to miss me,
I am supposed to feel a bit guilty, shrug it off, and become a ghost.

Hurt Me.

When he warned me, i almost died
as I soaked cotton
crossed and uncrossed my legs,
one strewn across his knee now.
His hands like my hair,
they like drawing loose strands around my ear,
and turning my eyes to his.
He says he is trying to be good for me,
and after our first round romp
he stopped me still in the back of his car and held me.
He rested my head on his shoulder
and did the same.
Simple, but not what I was expecting.
Soothing our skin with forward fingertips
unafraid and unencumbered
no thought.
On his shoulder lines a dragon
inked and ridged as I feel it,
and with another kiss, we are all fire again.
His hand grips my throat, and I wish I had the words to say
harder.
Plus fort, I guess, but instead,
I place my hand over his and squeeze.
He doesn’t want to hurt me
but he should
I will hurt him.

Storylines.

Do we start our story at the beginning or the end?
I write in my pink notebook
Like it’s normal at the bar
Because it is, isn’t it?
Doesn’t everyone write while they want a cigarette?
Doesn’t everyone dance this dance?
Tongues dance a million languages between us
And I don’t know which is yours.
Between these and a thousand other tongues
I will choose you.
I choose you.
For now and as far as I can see into the future,
Which is never longer than a week.
Isn’t that enough?
I make enough mistakes in my French to speak to others with assistance
But with you I use nothing.
I am raw with you, and you try to understand me.
C’est pas nécessaire, mais pour toi c’est vrai.
C’est nécessaire.
Je suis nécessaire.

Danger.

But is it even that simple?
Or is it that feeling,
Between my legs
Between my eyes and his
Between the made beds we untuck
And ruin.
It’s his job,
To be in the dark and on the run
And maybe I’m okay with that
Because one foot props the door.
But then my stomach clenches
With each minute he waits to speak
And I want him to keep on wanting me
Like he does
Even if that means breaking him.
I cool my conscience by telling him small things,
With words he may not understand.
Maybe I let this go on,
Because I like the way he feels
With his hand on my back
With my fingers tracing secrets on his thigh.
Of course, I like how he feels,
I like our franglish jokes with their belated punchlines.
The way I talk around the right word
And his lips move slowly to teach me the sound.
Those lips curl around our words then my lips
And he is disarmed in translation.
He cannot lie,
Or maneuver his words to serve him.
There is no mincing between us.
He says what he means, and I say it again,
Because when do we understand the first time?
Our mouths take time to know each other,
And our tongues know what to say without words.
We are high on his work and my American deprivation,
Learning new ways to say it.
Exchanging expressions like currency though it’s him who pays for everything.
He wants to buy me everything,
But I can’t tell if I believe him.
I’ve been trained to discredit sincerity,
To write off promises,
To add disbelief to anything said in love.
But why would he pretend when I have given him nothing?
I tell him not to pay,
Because every coin is charged to my guilty conscience.
Because I will leave, you can bet on it.

I have nothing and everything to say to you.

Tears soak into gray on my violet sweatshirt.
You still have my favorite one,
you wanted it and told me it would be waiting for me,
with you
when I flew back to you. And I said okay.
Because I believed you when you said we would meet again.
I left clothes in drawers you cleared for me &
I wish I was colder to you.
I wish your face didn’t startle me with forgotten contours
burn-branded into me.
You took liberties, and I wish I screamed at you.
But I smiled & everything was your idea.
This was all your idea, from the beginning.
And I wasn’t angry for so long. For too long
my love for you burned so bright it charred
the split ends of my skin and clotted the flowing blood for me.
Love licked my wounds and understanding numbed the way
I never really stopped bleeding.
But this love was temporary, just like yours
and I still need stitches
& fuck you for that.
I can’t believe all the ways I let you fuck me.
Over & Over & Anyway you wanted.
Nothing was off limits for you.
I was blind. And so small. And crying.
But I loved you enough to choke down the tears
I drank them, so you didn’t have to see,
but now they are coming back up.
Soaked with bile & blood &
other indesgressions you asked me to swallow.
You’ve never seen me angry. Not really.
Its rare,
a shooting star,
burning through myself,
I go cold.
Tears fall like ice,
I speak slow,
through clenched teeth steam whistles like a kettle.
You’ve never seen me angry.
Not like this.

overwrought sunshine.

everyone calls me sunshine
it’s in my hair
lining my face
as the first thing out of their mouths,
once they run out of generics.
i’m sure there are many of us called sunshine,
can we get together,
start a club,
and talk about what our lovers say to us
what they call us and think is original?
can we hold each other,
bright and breaking
the stars of love burning,
and the gold that falls around my shoulders
can be too much.
because firing eyes can cool into ashes,
and they will understand this.
just for the minutes recorded by our sunshine secretary
can we bring a room to absolute darkness,
hang our tired arms at our sides
and we won’t have to smile.
no one has to smile,
we can laugh at the literal
our favorite color- yellow,
and the golden brows that tip the scale
of our overwrought imagery.
we are not sunny, we are the sun.
the burning ball that shows the ones who share our bed
the morning.

The Flipside.

It’s crazy to imagine someone trying to get over me.
Me?
Maybe its narcissistic,
but I crave to know what it is like
to know me,
to unknow me.
How do I look to the other eye?
How does this other mind think over me?
This other heart bleeding over my name.
I wonder what it is like to mourn me.
I used to hate the way I looked,
but I’ve never hated myself.
Because it’s me.
If I don’t like me, I can change myself.
Everything there is to hate is under my control.
Everyone else is the obstacle.
So I wonder what it is like to breathe in the wake of me,
and I ponder what must come after.

Close.

Am I scared of love again?
I don’t think so
but how can I tell?
I don’t want anyone,
but if I feel the spark,
that magic.
If I felt that familiar feeling
I think I would jump again.
Broken bones heal,
and broken hearts only have so much blood to bleed.

Uncaring.

I am sick to my stomach,
or at least that’s how my body is reacting to a lazy day with little food.
I know you like me. I can tell by the way you kiss places that aren’t my lips.
So I don’t know why I haven’t heard you today. Are you okay? Are you running? What plagues you?
Because you plague me today.
My eyes dart with every flash from my home screen.
I wish you would help me quiet you, before I realize I actually care.

I can’t lie, not to a blank page. Though I am an expert at lying without words.

Come to Class.

It astounds me,
How we all listen and understand
Words spoken and taken.
Paragraphs spell out everything
But I keep some for myself,
With you everything is half.
I half know you.
I give half of myself to you.
And you half understand this.

Games.

Is it worse for you to hurt,
or to ignore me?
I don’t know what to think.
I am sat outside a bar,
there are pool tables inside,
but I only want to play with you.
You are somewhere in the ethereal,
the dense cloud of ether,
connected, or not, to magnets in the sky.
But even if you were here,
I would still be floating,
wishing you were tuned to my skin.
You are a placeholder, not my anchor.
You aren’t heavy enough to ground my lips to the surface.

You trace your hand between swollen skin
and I feel nothing but the warm pulse of life.
No sparks fly from your fingertips,
its almost like I can’t feel you at all,
so I don’t need you to stop.
I like cosplaying as your girlfriend,
drinking your drinks,
smoking your splifs,
holding your hand in mine.
I rebuke guilt
with laughter and rejection,
don’t give me any gifts of permanence.
Don’t give me anything of permanence.

I tell you I am too young to think about staying,
but there are so many ways you don’t hear me.
I can see the hope you won’t let me crush.
Not completely.
I hear you stop yourself
from asking something too serious.
Something you will have to hear the answer to.
Declarations of union
earn you nothing but aversion,
disbelief and laughter
yet you re-itch to ask me for a reason.
I stare blankly
until you toss your feelings to the wind,
and there is fear in me that you will actually buy a ring.
Please don’t ask me anything,
I could never say yes.

Friends.

You touch our lips,
and it could be a hug.
I feel less than when I press
against best friends in dim parties.
Or the first time he broke skin,
and I asked if it was done.
Closing my eyes with the creak
wood platforms and stuffed feathers.
You push inside me and seek more,
stretching to touch iris to iris.
But when I meet your eyes like this,
it feels like lying.
Lying by acting out hope.
By inviting you to forget every rejection from my mouth,
because look how you make it gasp.

When I Grow Up.

Age comes and I believed it when it promised everything
I had ever wanted.
But the candles burned to their end without needing my permission.
With time’s abundant hands
the golden thread can be spun too long
or too short
as it carries you through
and moves, independent of our limbs.
Then and now is nothing.
An invisible wind on a clock
ticks a sleeping child older,
seeping time into bones.
Months can pass in seconds,
and seconds can be pulled into eons
and these are all just different types of waiting.
A lobby waiting room you don’t see around you,
until someone calls your name.

Stop fucking your friends.

I wish I could take back knowing you.
Because now you are a friend.
One who twists my hair around your finger,
looking at the contrast.
Smiling at my smile,
while your voice only queues this mantra I ignore.

Reflections on Midnights

A review of Taylor Swift’s latest album.

With twenty songs, Taylor over-delivered on her promise of thirteen new tracks dropping on the 20th of October. Midnights, and the extended 3 AM tracks, is one of those albums that takes a few subsequent listens before the full impact of her words hit you. Like all of her music, I hear sung poetry and could spend days in her worded worlds.

On first listen, I can understand those who will make typical comments about the homogeny of the tracks. However, as you press replay and listen individually to each song, Taylor’s genius shines through each complete encapsulation of the types of thoughts that keep you up, keep you dancing, and keep you dreaming past midnight.

If I were to get into all twenty, we would be here all day. So for your enjoyment, and mine, here are my first five favorites.

Paris
I wanna brainwash you into loving me forever

Starting with a this-city-is-too-small scene in her first lines, Taylor captures that feeling that burns just outside the static that clings to you and your bottle. The synapses of electricity and nerves that follow you through nights spent betwixt flashing lights and empty alleyways.

Those spiraling midnights that pass without time into 3 AMs without you caring, so long as they pass with the ones you choose to love tonight.

This track inescapably brings me back to those first nights out when I was eighteen with my new friends in Chicago. Drinking cheap wine through quiet alleys, not knowing the difference between this and champagne in Paris. The only thing we need to feel is the embrace of youth that adorns everything in that hyper-sentimentality of now.

And this is what Taylor delivers.

High Infidelity
Put on your records and regret me
I bent the truth too far tonight
I was dancing around, dancing around it

With the knowledge of Zoë Kravits’ collaboration on this album, it is hard to believe that she did not have a hand in the creation of this song. That being said, the most notable similarities between High Infidelity and the closely named High Fidelity, come in Taylor’s use of record-related imagery.

Telling her lover to “put on [their] records… put on [their] headphones and burn [her] city,” Taylor cues her listeners into the presence of music within the relationship she describes. Though “burn my city” can be taken as an instruction to her lover to get back at her by erasing something she loves, I prefer to think of it as a continuation of the record-era imagery.

She knows that her lover may put on their own records and drown their regret in familiar music, but will ultimately turn on her memory. Playing their scenes together through headphones connected to a burned CD implies that these good ‘ole days memories have not been made since we traded music on silver disks.

Bejeweled
Familiarity breeds contempt
So put me in the basement

This hit a little too close to home. With this track, Taylor perfectly encapsulates the sharp line you walk when you love yourself more than the one you love does.

In her first verse, she sets the tone of the relationship described as she admits to being too nice to her lover, putting them first while she no longer makes their top five. Though she communicates this longing for their affection, she also breaks from any ultimate attachment by letting them know, “by the way, I’m going out tonight.”

As the song continues, Taylor notes that although her lover no longer sees her shimmer, it is still brilliant for her and everyone else. “Whats a girl gonna do? A diamonds gotta shine”

Placing some distance between her and her lover, blinded by familiarity, she tells the men who come like moths to her flame that she “can still say I don’t remember” if she has a man. If he wants to draw her back into the “penthouse of [his] heart” that she desired, he will have to wait in line.

The dichotomy of your relationship with yourself while you love someone more than they love you is hard to express with all the layered nuance and particular quality of self-love, but Taylor puts it plainly. “I miss you, but I miss sparkling.”

Vigilante Shit
He was doin’ lines and crossin’ all of mine…
Picture me, thick as thieves with your ex-wife

Introducing more characters in her sung story, Taylor depicts an intertwined relationship between her speaker and an ex-husband and wife.

Ending most of the verses and versions of the chorus with a variation of “I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress for men, lately I’ve been dressing for revenge,” she flips the script of the typical dynamic between a couple and a mistress. “Ladies always rise above,” can be identified as the driving theme behind her lines, as she goes on to describe collaborations with his ex-wife. Taylor gives her proof, draws in the law, and gets even, on her vigilante shit.

This inverse, illustrating no scorned and broken woman, or the hysterical mania that is stereotypically prescribed to wronged women, takes on sultry overtones. The slow, vibrating beat swells behind her voice as she sings lines like, “she looks so pretty, drivin’ in your benz,” and “don’t get sad, get even.”

Question…?
Does it feel like everything’s just second best
After that meteor strike?

When I listen to lyrical music, I most commonly find (or seek out) songs that I can identify direct feelings with. Songs where I can be the abandoned woman, cursing or mourning her inadequate lover. But this time, Taylor hit me over the head with every question I asked myself in those first months of loss. No anger or resentment yet, just questions and imagined scenarios that reply through your mind.

“Good girl, sad boy,” “you painted all my nights a color I’ve been searching for since,” and “did you wish you put up more of a fight when she said it was too much?” Damn Taylor.

There are too many perfect communications of the miscommunications that haunt you as the night creeps into day. The questions you close your eyes and ask your ceiling a million times until one night, you just fall asleep.

And that is what Midnights is all about.

Purge

There is something stopping me. A cork lodged sideways in Sauvignon, I feel like I am eighteen again, prying that pressed bark from dark glass with a fork. Using every object but the real thing to remove the blockage. Like my young hands leveraging the fork, I try to find substitutes.

Yoga in the morning, reading again from the Charlotte Bronte novel I can only digest piece by piece, long sips of coffee, pulling the caffeine behind my eyes, bus rides to unseen corners of the city. All these forks I try, but I am a firm believer in not forcing myself.

I never want to feel writing as that proverbial monkey, and I don’t want the comfort of losing myself in lyric to slip from my grasp. But as with any love, roadblocks in my writing deserve attention. This is the labor of love.

I can talk the circumference of a million circles new and exciting, but I can’t quite calculate the heart.

I am in a new city, yes, but what new stone hasn’t been overturned somewhere else? To take a page from the eternal Bronte, I’ll address you, fair reader, and ask selfishly, what should I do?

Do you want more flowery drawings of nature? Recitations of journies sat on bus seats, rides on new metro systems? Imagined stories I derive from ancient paint? A ranking of the best places to place my high-maintenance coffee order?

Maybe. But right now, my pen cannot ink those words in a new way.
I want to return to these light-hearted topics, to revel in the beauty of the simplest moments I find in each day, but right now, I do not know how. Whether it is a classic case of burnout, a symptom of the sputtering broken heart that started my Summer, or a touch of that delightful writers’ block all us creatives experience, it doesn’t really matter. I need a purge.

I need to cleanse myself of all the little pieces and poems that are choking my bottleneck. So here is the cork, the pieces I am spitting out slowly, the pressed oak I’ve dismissed in previous posts and I am finally coughing from my throat.

The Three-Year-Old Paper Clip I Keep On My Pocket

something so small it becomes a feeling
something your eyes learn to ignore
unnecessary information, unworthy of sight
until it’s gone.
it’s the opposite of an aberration,
whatever this is,
but just as eerie when it leaves.
I can feel myself growing more abstract
each day I spend in my own world.
one day I’ll be modern art,
that red square
selling for millions to millionaires
who purse their lips and whisper to each other,
“do you get it?”
“I do.”
they lie,
their gold bracelet wrists bend under sculpted jaw,
and they nod because they think there is a point.
but what makes art but the lack of words to describe what we feel.
we fill in these gaps,
hoping some arrangement of letters or colors will unlock meaning
like magic.
what if my art is just this filler?
will you need magic to understand me?
I’m not hard,
not expensive.
I’m as simple as a toddler paperclip,
bent and flexed around a flap of denim.
the denim is not important; none of this is,
but it’s the piece of silver that makes it worth it.
the glint of metal that makes it mine,
so special in the way it sits, ordinary.
arms in shallow spread,
reaching to hold onto something important.

Growing Pains

I miss the morning moments,
when my body grew different each day.
Time spent discovering the curves to my edges,
realizing what my body could do,
where it could stretch,
how it could bend,
learning the limits to my bones and
how they snapped as I broke myself
over a crack in the concrete.
Now I only grow inside.
New synapses accentuate the curves of my brain.
Knowing my body and teaching it to others,
I learn what their bodies say and what they mean
breaking my insides
over the cracks in their promises.

Self-Gratification

Do I write for the love of watching
my own ink line the page?
Do I love the control of curling each letter,
a tendril of intention?
Is it that I want to see
my words stick to each other,
cursive delicacies I gift myself?
This self-indulgence in letters that breeds
pride in violating their classroom rules.
Am I addicted to the smile that clicks ignore
on red underlines?
All this is more modest
than screaming my name in a crowd,
but hardly humble.
How can I feign humility
on the sanctity of the open page as I
grip it, host myself spilling forth,
and ask you
read this.

Here is the Truth

One month of stamina burned through
everything I ever wanted,
but I am still here. And
I am paranoid,
for the first time in ages.
I think about him constantly
& drink about him often
all over again,
after weeks of solace.
What if I just drown myself
in Red Wine and Aperol
rather than sun & steps forward?
I think I hear Rush on the loudspeaker,
but to be honest, I hear my own voice louder.
Asking if I can just let myself drink
until my lips choose another’s
over another glass of wine
& maybe if I were younger, I would.
Or if it wasn’t just me,
a world away & alone,
perhaps I could give in and not sit
solitary & sober.
What glory of stupid youth this would be,
to go to the same Mexican restaurant
across from my Austrian apartment
& order €2.50 drinks all night
until all I know is walking home.

The Same Words I Hear In My Head Each Time I Walk Outside

Listen to the timeless symphonies of leaves on leaves
See how bark liters the same space
where sprouts reach their green heads from hours of shade
Or watch the soft plummet of curled brown arms
as they break from steam
These are the lyrics, the only real ones
Silver circles signal away birds from their garden
Blinding my eyes with each turn of the wind
How slow can we break from ourselves
How many times can we break from blindness and return to it
Forsake our own cycles for this natural reverence
and curl back like fetal flesh into ourselves
each morning

The man with the pink cast looks over his lashes through the window

& at first I was offended.
Another male figure taking the liberty
of a perfect view of me,
sat up & prettily in the sun,
eyes tracing pages and lines.
Now, caught in glance myself,
I can’t help but sit straighter.
Easy voyeur, performing myself for him,
smile curling with my pages,
slowing my throat as I sip my coffee,
eyes caught on his in earnest.

Land of the free man & home of big britches.

these stomachs stretching
50 buttons til they pop
some strained more than others
plastic flying one by one
while some hold on by white thread
fortified by the twisted integrity
of a population who defines the word differently

its time for new clothing
whoever said classic doesn’t go out of style
was lying to cover a country with bleach
so all would ignore the big eyesore
the oozing from the same ignorant sores, from the
elbow, where all come together,
resting against its own skin
unable to see how it rubs itself raw

When I Was Afraid of Spiders

my spine crawled at the sight
eight legs pin pricking points along my back
a myriad of eyes sparkling into mine
toes curled at this contact.
Now arachnidan figures hanging loose
from tented ceiling don’t shake me.
Instead, my eyes close and rest easy,
spine riddled rather by the harsh reality
of the rest of this sleeping-bagged world.

Where are we Ourselves?

I am most myself in a crowd
If I fall, here, it is real.
There are eyes to see and mouths to laugh
as mine do,
at every folly. But
there are two beings inside of me.
There is Caroline,
made & maintained
by all those who see her.
She is beautiful & happy
red-faced & laughing.
Then there is me,
and I have no name.
I am just a something,
something that comes from inside.
I stare with Caroline’s face
& debate the center of being.
Am I her brain?
All her intrusive and intrinsic thoughts?
Or am I in the face?
The identifying cue to her name
that feels different each time it burns into our retinas.
Or is that just it? Am I her eyes?
Trapped in these green iris depths,
at the glittering point of our envisioned world.

Red Wine Lips

I want to lick hers, over there
or his, just the same
red & dripping- fresh & warm- flesh & wanting.
Do you think they would mind?
If I drowned in cherry & took the headache like a pill,
blue first, then swallowing the oxidized color
choking on the glass.
Do you think they would care?
If red passed between us, like a secret.
If we looked the same
& the slices were just stomped grapes
sinking into the anemic feeling
sinking into the barrel, aging.
Could you tell the difference between us,
if you only saw us from inside
pressed and trampled fruit.
I’ll blow smoke over us,
if she is me & him & I watch all of us,
dancing
there, with flowing hair & drenched trousers.
Can you tell which exhale is warm air,
and which is air burning?
Can you tell who I am?
Red.
Like a fallen apple, but those can be green too.
Ripe & ready to be juiced,
I am all the colors in between.

Just Because You Mean What You Say Doesn’t Mean You Are Telling The Truth

Bristle pulls through the gold that hangs
in tangles from my head.
Start from the bottom,
we all know this, it hurts less,
& work your way to the scalp.
Tease the strands into straight lines
like straight foreplay &
with a quick flick from the same stroke over & over
see how the ends omit a faint mist-
a second shower,
this one for dust
as it falls to the floor.
I wish I could live there,
be a single strand floating
in the post-soap soft cloud where all is
washed & not red, scrubbed & not raw.
I want to glow from places other than my hair.
From that empty hall inside,
the space I must gargle and rinse out of me
with salt.
Spitting out its pieces like the second mist
of spring snow.

Remodels

when we assaulted my childhood bathroom
my father and I armed ourselves
with hammers and saws and sandpaper
first we stripped paint from the walls
layer after layer
we peeled pink after purple
and took back the yellow I asked for years ago.
I grabbed hammer in the iron-clad grip children seem to possess
& wrecked havoc
broke walls into their naked beauty,
smashed through the second door that made everything too small
all while my father sawed in half
the tub we could never bleach white enough
and from the empty space I pulled
powder and nails before we paused
looked upon a paper cup with plastic straw
preserved by working hands in the hallow walls of the room
long before I was built

Construction

climbing over you is nothing
but building a wall backward
taking plaster from planks
pulling on that pink cotton candy
that’s where you are,
you are the fleshy fiberglass
sparkling at me with your supposed soft
that cuts each hand
reaching for your false pink.

Chambery Charm

Though my reason for this morning trip to Chambery is far from ideal, as I sip my Cafe Glace, I can feel my bones loosen as the city’s charm works its magic on me.

So much empty space reaches its body from market to market, from boutique to cafe. Ancient cobblestone polished by the tracks of over 700 years of foot traffic. The light steps of locals trace these ghosts of Sovie’s 1295 kingdom capital, and it is hard to be upset about my little tragedies.

My waterlogged laptop, the bike gear tear in my jeans, the broken teeth of my expensive wallet zipper, and the never-ending soap drama of getting prescriptions in a foreign country. Okay, I am still upset about the laptop, but really, I shouldn’t be.

How many people have trampled over this very spot with no grasp of what the word laptop could possibly mean? How many trousers have been torn from ankles here? I am lucky to have coins to spill from my wallet, and experiencing another country is a gift I will never regret.

Privilege checked for the moment, my mind can wander from red roof to gray tower, awed by the morning mist that enchants Chambery’s center even further.

I can see eras of petticoats catching on the stone underfoot. The same stone clacked by horseshoes and soothed by wooden wheels for hundreds of years. Ivory canes stamp the places in between, and language passes like a human symphony. Moss grows in tufts along pale walls and collects in green patches where stone and cobblestone make their corner, forever.

Amid the regular chatter, my ears pick up on the sound of English from the table beside me. I overhear one woman, dressed in green beaded lace that travels from collar to floor, telling her knit sweater companion that “you cannot truly be yourself in front of others. That is simply the performance of self.”

I have heard this remark before, and though I have previously decided it doesn’t strike in me a complete note of truth, it does spur delicate digestion of the words.

Staring

Which me will I dress in today?
I flip through endless hung selves in mirrored closet,
What does it mean to perform for others?
Is the self another? Does the girl I touch from inside count
as a swollen head, tracking the movement of her limbs? My limbs.
Do I have to belong to anyone?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder,
but what if it’s not beauty but being?
We belong to our beholders, to the eyes
wandering along scrubbed skin. The eyes that
climb the length of our bodies & burn our image
in the back of our retinas, just like science class.
You- there. The you that is me,
the one I see in flipped phone camera,
do you see me- some faceless puppeteer?
Or is it her you see? Pretty & Confident & Smiling
at the lens. The same being regarded
by marbles, inlaid in friendly heads.
They have seen so many girls.
Spent years seeing a teenage basket case
and observing an accomplished woman,
watching a comic, a sad girl, a girl full of laughs too late at night.
Do they mean their words when they purr them to my ego?
When we smash our faces together and smile?
There is nothing to do but laugh at the other eyes,
the yellowed and bloodshot who whistle
from mut mouths.
Twisting unintelligible words through yelps and howls.
They see fresh meat walking- how miraculous- an object
they window shop and wish they had the year and money to buy.
Even their selves are elusive. A moment
changed by the next, but this I know.
All staring eyes trace the outline of my back
and imagine what lies beneath. Sometimes
thin and rumbling ribs, or a heart beating & bleeding
fresh and blue, still a lace cage of bone. This I know.
I am a woman,
shaped by those who see her. Owned
by all versions of the truth.

This weekend, the 17th and 18th of September, France hosts the “Journees du Patrimoine.” In Chambery, the celebration of French heritage means that their historical attractions are open and free for the public.

Aside from the buzz of museum patrons and sightseeing families, the town swells with the typical Saturday traffic of its weekly market.

The pedestrian square overflows with vendors of all kinds. Large cheese trucks with flagrant fair, vegetable tables bright with organic orange and local green. Other vans open their doors to hanging meat, and farmers create castle walls from crated chickens. The hens scream through beaked mouths when his rough hands bind their red flailing legs, and I can’t help but cringe away from the sound and sight.

It feels so cruel to shove life into cardboard boxes, even if the strapped and peddled journey leads to a happy home, to a daily life of eggs and stroked feathers. Even if their small life serves infant hands as they are both taught about the circle of life.

It still feels wrong.

Chicks & Chickens

Is there anything worse than life in a box?
Strangled semblance of a free-beating heart.
The heart still bleeds.
Even if you can’t see it.
Even if you lock it away.
Even if you close your eyes & scream.
You will still smell iron, dripping.
Metallic nature will lick on your tongue,
the veins caught in your teeth.
This is the way of life. This is the fate
of the delicate & delicate hearted.
If you can’t fight & win with bare hand, you are weak.
Because words can’t break the force of muscled arms,
elbows locked around necks stop the sound from echoing.
Words are latent. They slither,
poison like Eve’s serpent.
Lingering in that empty space between ears & biting
after its smart tongue has been severed.

A walk through the loud market brings me to my true objective, the Musee de Beaux-Art de Chambéry.

Entering the former grain hall, its sliding door entrance lacks the awe of the paintings inside. Mounting its three flights of stairs and resting my eyes on painted canvas and wood, I begin to enjoy the quiet beauty of this Savoie art.

The museum houses a small collection of art from the Middle ages to the 20th century, focusing on beautiful renditions of the region’s landscape and religious paintings. The landscapes are soft and understated as the religious works boast gold and violence in their typical fashion.

Among the others, one painting stands out for its subtlety and elegance, despite the hints of violence that lie beneath first glance.

Judith Presentant la Tete d’Holophere Vers
Mattia Preti

Draw violent lines into soft curves.
Light reflects on faces from imagined source,
but the faces are imagined too, and
aren’t we all?
All our digits & prints just figments of some God’s imagination.
Some say life makes no sense without a Him,
without their voices singing hymns to Him in the sky.
But isn’t that the point of all this?
Nothing is meant to make sense, nothing is meant to do anything
but live.
Isn’t living all the more magical this way?
What is living but a waking dream of life?
Our dream. Our life.
Our violence and our severed heads
rolling.
Who’s to say that is the end?
Perhaps like stars, our souls burst into that same dust of being.
Perhaps our faces come home as the earth takes flesh from bone.
Isn’t this more magical than heaven?
Isn’t nature more righteous?
The rivers that chisel rock & the drops that dew our skin
are followers of no right or wrong.
All they know is stardust. Gravity,
the buzz of perpetual motion inside ourselves,
the falling and severing of molecules,
love & hate stirring between lips & hands
is just movement.
All the same, as we are.
It all gets kinder
if we stop straining to know anything for certain.
Some things just fall from the sky like rain,
all bodies are flooded with dust & some self we named soul,
and life just flows,
leaving rocks & the rigid behind.

One Year.

After nearly a year of forgoing caution and letting baggage float away in soft waves, dropping the heaviest from BA passenger planes over the Atlantic, my whirlwind love has been severed. In the following collection, my heart beats in erratic morose code and bleeds fresh and fragrant with the unbridled flood that flows from first real love. Some written at the precipice, the peak, the fall, and all riddled with the fire I felt burning and tied myself to until all that was left was smoke and bone. Here lay the pieces, and I hope you enjoy picking them up.

Fall

Waking up without you is like chewing gum instead of brushing your teeth.

boy&santorini

it was nothing at first

sat across from me on the patio

nursing a cigarette and

it makes my head spin now but then 

I didn’t even notice how much I was paying attention

how much I liked the way his lips tugged and his eyes softened

as he took each drag from his cigarette 

Grecian Aubade.

5 am, I wake to a rustling.

Hasty hands scrambling in the bunks below.

7 am, I feel salt under my brows,

under my eyelids, 

saltwater washes over new bodies.

You, next to me, consumed me 

like the waves that stripped us raw.

3 am last night, friends made mistakes

as we played out our own transgressions,

but I feel more than Catholic guilt this morning.

By 9 am, you wake,

we kiss because we’ve kissed before.

When you leave me in bed,

it’s to come back with bottles of water, 

the object of my throbbing head’s greatest desire. 

10 am is too long 

I tell you, I have to go.

11 am sees you cross the abyss, 

between dock and deck,

five hours late to meet your friends.

They are there, but not waiting, 

right there 

at the harbor.

The next 11 greets me above your name.

Your voice streaming tears down the screen–

you meant everything the night before. 

I cry too, I don’t know who for,

but a tear falls from my cheek,

as I whisper to you.

I love you too.

never have i been so sure.

i don’t understand how i am sitting here, 

a pillar of sparks

lit up by nothing more than the heart that beats inside a boy 

a million miles away,

and im not scared.

Not in any real way. 

I am terrified, 

of the feelings i have and the daydreams that circle my mind.

I am frightened,

By the way, my heart jumps when i see his name and pounds when i see his face.

But i am not scared. 

Not of him. Not of me. 

For some strange reason

When i close my eyes- When i think of the reality of him,

I feel safe. 

Signs. 

You are everywhere, walking in whispered visions through my mind.

Your name written in mine like we’ve been written together before.

You wear black on black every day like what I wanted all along was simply, you. 

You add Amy to the playlist you make me and I cant help the goosebumps that line my skin everywhere 

I want you to touch me and 

I want you to touch me everywhere.

& you say

I’m written in the chant of your favorite team.

My hair, falling down my shoulders the color that caught your eye.

My nose ring you notice and my lips you want to kiss. 

I make you nervous, as you mix your drinks and tell me my spiderman shirt is sexy

& i like that.

loverboy.

I fall through sheets 

Silky and soft around my figure 

When my name falls from your lips

When your voice touches my ear

With the hint of your touch

Cities of nerve endings erupt

Down my spine, faltering my breath, quivering my skin

I want your hands on my hands and

Your breath in my lungs

Your taste on my tongue, I want the

Yellow sun that lights our skin 

to immortalize you in my eyes.

declarations.

How am i supposed to tell my friends that we screamed i love you.

I love you. 

I love you to each other. 

I  love you between waves.

I love you all night.

Winter

Few and far between are the moments of absolute clarity.

Those sparks that illuminate who you have been all along. 

Fleeting knowledge- a diary burning quickly in the dark of my heart.

I Fear You Love the Romance of Me. 

With your arms, embrace

my shaking corpse and chase

your blazing yearning from my body.

I want this branding kiss on my forehead,

to feel flaming fingertips as you slip,

down my flickering wick 

until I can’t belittle the power 

of your finger.

I, the instrument you play and tune

With eyes- soft when they strike.

Fingers- careful when they pluck. 

You never burn through.

I love the way your rough hands cover me

and I fear 

I love the danger of you. 

ENG 101.

Im trying to bite my tongue 

as I sit in a class I’ve outgrown, but

Id rather it be your teeth on my flesh

pressed against my mouth to stop my voice.

Id rather it be your hand on my neck

latching onto my throat,

Than the tight grip of the clock 

as it ticks the time between us.

Victorian Love Affair.

his thumb traces my lip like a secret;

the taste sweet and sultry and sleazy.

he glares at me with eyes sharp and piquant. 

he bares his teeth to diamonds, greedy.

I am too modest to love with all he desires,

though cold and stuffy in his supposed nature. 

our tempers kiss with lips of raging fires. 

toeing the line of passionate anger. 

with corset tight- taught enough to collapse a lung;

I still see us written in the stars like a zodiac. 

rich and pompous with his reckless tongue;

swiftly speaking, the ribbons off my back

and now there is nothing left but him

as we tear each other limb from limb.

Iris.

Just like the waves rolling over our weightless bodies,

There is a soft peace reflected in your eyes

Your pupils, dilated just enough that I can see

Windows to worlds where we are infinite 

always running, but never away

you play me like an instrument

tuning me with your touch

Our footsteps pounding the pavement

A metronome

keeping tempo as I get lost in colored iris

So much depends upon my smile.

You hold yourself responsible 

for any twitch that curls my grin

and for finding peeking pearly whites 

under these lips you part as the sea.

So much depends, yet

as with anything holy, 

you hate being held responsible 

for the tremors 

that tremble these same lips apart.

So much depends, so 

through silver lens, I hide

tearful reflections 

from sparkling their presence

upon my cheek. 

So much depends, still

I am powerless to hide

the quiver-

holding taught all arrows

behind mute lips. 

So much depends for you, 

my amenable God, in

seeking my eternal providence. 

Taking my silicone path of least resistance,

with white knuckle grip on the short leash that snaps,

upon my smile.

Spring

I miss you. I think it is time. Maybe. I think it is. 

Confessions, you watch my body and imagine you know my soul.

Never doubt my fondness of your happiness, nor my devotion to my own. 

Too many words crowd my tongue 

as I speak of you. 

LodontoChicagoistoofaradistanceforlovetoomuchtoofarawyandIneedyourighthererightnowbabypleasebringhometome

These syllables fall 

flat against the open pale palms 

you reach to my lips.

All these worries  

Silenced with touch & Raised with a look. 

All parting lips licked 

in perfect harmony. 

Sweet sweat drips from our temples 

drip-drip- dripping from the sun,

combining on the tongues

of bleach blonde brunettes below.

Shape me into an object of Permanence.

I am writing you out of me, but

the only one who could change a name was you.

Acceptance is self-love,

blaming bruises left of lust 

as they mark the way my eyes meet my own.

I am more beautiful in ruin,

no tension clouding my features,

no pressing or impressing anymore, just gravity inflicting it’s slack truth.

You couldn’t take too much.

It was all too much.

Still, I remain sickly grateful that once,

your lust was enough to fuel the rest. Enough

to move your hands

to make love to clay

to mold an object with permanence

Public Transportation.

With a gold band that binds stone to skin, I imagine I am tying 

you to me. 

Under any gold glow, we see the best version of the truth — 

and assume all is revealed with the sunlight, 

bouncing from edge to edge, 

crystallizing uncorrupted purple.

I can’t help thinking about you in train cars. 

You, the same way I can’t avoid the ring of blue around my heart.

The very same shade that lights 

my finger under the fluorescents of the underground.

And here it is again– this CTA blue, 

so strong the chlorine color prickles your nose 

just as your eyes meet the acrylic blue-bottomed pool.

Why is it in transit that we chose cheap blues,

sparkling away from noble purple, 

under artificial light.

Eating.

Where is your smile? 

Where are your teeth? 

Did you eat them while you were waiting?

Did they crunch different from my flesh?

Did they crumble as you did as they were broken by your lips?

Did their cigarette-flavored bleach burst on your tongue?

Did they taste as poisonous as your words?

Did they slice your gums and gnaw on raw pink?

Do you ever think about these incisions?

How they came from you and consumed you,

while I, powerless, watched.

The Knowing.

To know someone is to accept an anger born from understanding their trespasses.

No.

To know someone is to hate everything else.

Summer

Today we dared each other to say something, but it could have been all in my head.

To Date A Man. 

They come in every shape.

Tall & always falling short.

Big & suffocating with skinny arms.

Fast & Slow with Fingers & Minds.

Trading types with the twist of their tongues that

say this,

say that,

say anything

they think will unlock you. 

Like all humans, men are self-conscious,

staring daggers into your most intimate corners.

Hilt forward,

the tip breaks their skin. 

Watch how he bleeds for you. 

Watch & clean up the mess,

he shouldn’t have to ask, it’s for you. 

So many men & so many games,

how am I supposed to remember a name?

This question I ask 

until I wish I could forget. 

Men are easy 

until you find a good one. Then you

Say this & that & anything & falling over

the dull point of your own blade

to keep his eyes open. 

Cutting hair & ties just

to keep him calling your name. 

But what you forget is we are all the same. 

Distract him, 

he falls,

he is warm putty in warmer hands

until he remembers he is 

broken. 

We are all broken,

but he thought you were meant to fix him.

Writers Block. 

I have not written this version of you in lyric,

saving your absence from becoming real

from being past & not present,

this hurt

 because we no longer walk the future.

hovering

your vacancy in me must hover

must keep its pulse

beating.

away, but not a ways away,

just close enough to feel your fingerprint

even if I can’t feel your finger. 

08/22/22

Like a pen with half its ink,

I am splintering,

lost & tired & running out.

I am so many things.

A child.

A woman.

A free spirit.

I’ve been so many things to you.

For you.

A lover, a consoler, a daydream, an idea.

How can all these things mourn you?

I dream of the space you used to fill,

I can’t afford it anymore,

only you can curl my limbs in that direction.

My body has writhed and twisted and lied,

but only yearned for you.

You are too easy to replace,

too hard to replicate.

I’m not drunk enough to touch you,

though you still live just behind my eyes.

There, you ruin me.

Thank god I’m too strong to be ruined.

Toppel my tower,

and my stone will still see the sun.

Suns.

I need a new side of the sun to glaze over 

my eyelids in the morning.

I thought different lips would make me cry, 

but they are just different.

Pillowed skin powerless to change me,

only yours could do that. 

Yours showed me new parts of myself,

other sides,

other suns.

Different lips don’t make me miss you more,

you are chronic.

Different lips are just different;

different from me so I am not alone,

different from you so I am not changed.

I need a new part, a new place, a new sun.

But what if like lips,

different suns cannot change me. 

The Truth.

Static cling to the thought

of you.

Just static. 

You pull apart easy,

as I fling you into a different corner,

hoping to hide you for longer

among the dust. 

While I was honest.

you gave me half-truths,

devotion with a half-life.

I knew, even as I signed myself over to you.

I knew, so I am okay 

in the aftermath I saw coming.

I knew you couldn’t hold on forever,

but I would still choose to dream with you.

over&over.

Château de Menthon St. Bernard

Green- it’s everywhere, surrounding the harsh stone cliffs and lapping at the castle’s feet. Red roofed towers point their sharp skulls through the fog and break the rolling air, cascading across rocked edges. 

It is easy to see why this Chateau was the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Red paneled windows and painted roofs send me instantly to my childhood and the joyous promenade of flags and families at the start of the film.

As if the castle’s appearance wasn’t impressive enough, the structure dates back through 23 generations of the Menthon family. Originally built in the 11th century, the family of Counts continued to expand their construction into the 20th century. 

Now operating with plumbing and electricity, part of the Chateau remains the residence of the same family. The other part exists as an exhibit for tourists and locals to travel through time. 

To the left of the castle, a little garden of medicinal herbs and spices is cultivated by the grounds keepers. Labeled and manicured just as they would have been through the middle ages. 

Animals rest next to the garden, a lamb, some roaming donkeys outside, a pair of chickens, and multiple peacocks occupying the land just before the sprawling vineyard. To this day, the castle’s vineyard produces local wine, though another family oversees the process. 

Briar Roses

What would have happened if he forgot to kiss me?

And the vines overtook stone with their binding arms,

thorns prickling my hem through the open window

Would I be overgrown?

Would my nails grow long beside my idle limbs,

my hair cascading in knots across the bed and onto the floor?

Would I spill over the edge, and would we be buried, 

living but not quite alive?

Would you take me now, as your prize?

Mount my flower on your wall of corpses,

I’ll stay pinned and pretty, I promise. 

Forget my string of lovers and 

I’ll forget yours, I promise.

Before you call me yours, I will be,

placing your lips on mine, you claim me.

This is how the story goes, 

you marry me with silver inlays

and introduce me to pearl’s mother.

Prick your finger on my poison

and it tastes so sweet. 

You have me, but we will never have

Absolute serenity, only this hovering peace.

Love close enough to touch but not to grasp; 

compelled affection cannot hold with closed fist.

This freedom lies just out of privileged reach.

With a small group, we made our way through the Chateau’s most historic rooms. Starting with a small courtyard, the open air was lined with passageways and balconies above. 

The small doorways and petite hallways stood out, reminiscent of the smaller figures that occupied these halls centuries prior. As such, our modern size made it difficult to shuffle from room to room but ultimately allowed us to slow down and appreciate the antique details of the castle.

Reaching the Menthon family’s personal chapel, I took in the intricate medley of stone, wood, and gold. A site of tranquil devotion, the small room holds artifacts and art through multiple centuries. The ornate robes of religious officials are kept behind glass alongside golden chalices and open ancient texts.

Next, we entered the kitchen. Slightly larger than the previous room, it resembled the courtyard with wooden passages forming a triangle of open air. 

One oven and one table took most of the kitchen space, with two cavities carved into the floor and covered by thick glass. Filled with ash, the cavities operated as pseudo fridges in the early centuries. Kept cool within the building’s stone, the compartments remain close to freezing year-round. 

Though the kitchen’s limited appliances and layout were thoughtfully constructed, its location within the castle was not. Placed on the opposite side of the family’s dining room, the designers remedied this problem by burrowing a service tunnel that allowed servants to propel meals through the walls with a system of pulleys and tracks. I’ve never seen anything like it. 

As we ascended the tight, circled stairway, we were led into my favorite room. The library.

Over 12,000 books lined the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, all dating back to before the French Revolution in 1789. I was in complete awe. On a table rested a book of law documents, open to a page signed by King Louis XIV.

Three walls bursting with books were completed by the fourth wall’s wooden mantle, telling the story of St. Bernard of Menthon in eight parts. Thought to be one of the first residents of the Chateau, born in 1008 and passing in 1081, St. Bernard boasts a life of incredible charity and religious devotion.

The legend goes, St. Bernard was engaged to a rich heiress, but knowing that he desired a religious life, his father locked him in his room before the wedding. There, St. Nicholas appeared and instructed him to jump from the window. 

Heeding his advice, St. Bernard lept from the open window and was immediately caught and carried to Aosta, Italy, by an angel. There he helped build hospice structures for pilgrims and anachronistically healed patients of the black plague. (The black plague occurred in 1348, 267 years after St. Bernard’s death). 

At last, he returned to the family castle, where he was forgiven by all.  After, St. Bernard rose to the rank of king in heavenly paradise. 

Moving on to the great saloon, one can see St. Bernard’s supposed room and the fateful window just to the left of the room’s grand fireplace. 

The center of entertainment and relaxation for the Menthons, this room also charts the family history through portraits and paintings of its members and their various coat of arms. Aside from St. Bernard’s chamber, the great saloon also hosts the room occupied by the Counts of the 19th century and a smaller saloon where many objects of the last century rest. 

Moving toward the Countesses’ bedroom, we observed a slightly grander chamber with wall-to-wall tapestries and a rather petite bed. Redecorated in 1820, this room was home to the Countesses of Menthon over the last few centuries.

The bed, slightly arched and small, was built in this way due to superstition at the time. It was thought that lying in a flat position was reserved for the dead and was therefore avoided by the living. Negligibly creepy bed aside, I was impressed by the attention to detail that stuck to every part of the room.

Wooden cabinets were inlaid with gold and mother of pearl, carved intricately with delicate strokes. The tapestries depict scenes of the surrounding nature, and in the corner lies a dress ruffle owned by none other than Marie Antoinette. 

The grand finale came with the pilgrim’s room. An expansive said to house those who journeyed far to see the site of St. Bernard. 

Equipped with a small oven, religious paintings, a long table set, and ancient arms, this room maintains a communal feel that has no doubt extended through the ages. Helmets above the mantel date back to before the 9th century and the construction of the castle itself.

Exiting the Chateau, I remained in awe. The sheer beauty and integrity of the castle rival anything I could possibly imagine in America. 

Chateau

Guarded & Silent.

Stone cage & Gold chain.

This is how you find me. 

Make me home.

Clean my bones & Paint me pretty again.

Carve your crest into my arms.

Cover me in quilts & Stamp my hands with new ink.

This way, I’ll never really change.

You will

Grow gray & Sag skin.

But all I need is polish.

Bury yourself & I’ll take care of the rest.

Your body a bulb 

I will surround with water.

What a beautiful history

you can have with me.

My limbs may fall

but what do I care?

They’ll be mended in next bulb’s bloom.

More parties & calamities will ricochet inside me,

but I will always love your blood

run through any veins

I will hold your tired body with mine.