The frames of these college degrees are chapping my ass
every time I try to sit down for just one second and hear the wind in the trees.
All I can hear is the incessant drum beat of
not good enough, not fast enough, not enough hours in the day.
I am sick of this song.
I’m double and triple booked,
running back and forth across the freeway of insanity.
Oh, trembling overpass and gun-shy mobile device,
hear my cry.
Car the color of butter,
Starbucks line blocking
the leftmost line of traffic,
know that I will not rest
until you have been brought to justice.
You with the indecipherable vanity plate,
reveal your soft purple anger to me.
I will match it
with deep scarlet screams
built upon five head-butts to my dashboard
as the bees buzz in the bushes of the
And so we go each morning,
the sun slicing the sky like a coconut cream pie.
You applying mascara, he picking his nose,
I scribbling poetry
on junk mail, my palm, whatever I can find
without bashing my bumper car into the next.
We go separately.
but together somehow.
Because aren’t we together in this? Aren’t we?
Did you sign up for this shit?
Wouldn’t you rather be home making strawberry jam,
spreading joint compound on that crack in the dining room wall,
stroking the head of a kitten?
Tell the truth, wouldn’t you rather be living your life
instead of dropping coin after coin
into someone else’s broken and thrashing washing machine?
Of course you would.
And what of these huge fucking egos we drag around,
egos the size of double-wide trailers,
stretching like billboards across our skies,
Shrieking me, me, me. Look at me.
I am seeking a new language.
I need more words.
Better words which will allow me to explain the exact way my heart breaks
when I step out into the splintered world each day.
Fallen oak, broken bicycle spoke, nothing but clouds in the sky.
I fuss and fidget
watch things grow
or fail to notice that they grow at all
I take out men, nail clippers, and ink pens,
the arsenal of survival.
I gaze at a painting
too numb to notice the blue smudge at the bottom.
I need words that speak less of what I do
and more of who I am.
This jagged scar that is my heart,
of promises that I could not keep,
of a hunger that will never be fed.
All I really wanted
was more time
under the soft crumpled bedsheets
reading poetry aloud
but instead, I have this fucking commute.
So a couple of months ago
love walks through my front door,
bangs his head on the pots and pans
hanging from my ceiling and he's been here ever since.
He asks to hear my poetry and then cries
as my lonely voice rises like steam from spaghetti
in my crowded little kitchen.
He drinks all the beer and spills some while he's at it.
I’ll be honest, love seems clumsy.
He drops things.
He washes my dishes, breaks my favorite mug
then cuts his thumb while trying to repair it.
Love often second guesses himself.
He worries that he's not enough
as the stars sprinkle themselves
like confetti across the sky.
I beg him not to waste these precious moments
on fear and doubt.
He cannot help himself.
But this is not all that love does.
Love helps me move and insists
upon carrying all the heavy things.
He stays right by my side when I’m sick
and whispers sweet butterfly
as I throw up in a trash can.
This crazy love thinks that everything I cook is delicious.
He calls me a poet in a voice that is hushed
and awestricken, as if I'd singlehandedly
cured cancer and then he proceeds to send me
text messages worthy of Whitman.
When love puts his arms around me,
it’s like swimming in a stream
that has been warmed by the sun all summer long.
Sweet and true.
Strong and deep.
When he looks my way,
love catches his breath a little sometimes.
I can see it
and then his glorious smile lights up the world.
Love dreams with me in the inky blackness of my room
and when he mutters in his sleep,
I can hear my name sewn
like bits of lace between the layers of his words.
Love drives me hours to meet his father,
singing cowboy songs at the top of his lungs,
his hand tapping his heart on my thigh.
When I step forward to shake dad's hand,
love's face looks exactly like
that of a small boy on Christmas morning,
Love is gifted in the ways of the night and knows exactly
how to tangle his hands in my hair.
But the very best thing that love does is this -
he says beautiful, honey pie.
Do what you want.
Be who you are and don't you let anyone stop you,
Spread those glorious wings and fucking fly,
and I think he means it.
So does it matter what we call each other?
What words we use? Do I need to nail this shit down?
No, because words don’t even do it justice.
This is cocaine and coffee.
This is lightning in my veins.
This is big.
It’s laughter down deep in my belly and
the inside of a tiny cottage warmed by the flicker and flame of hope.
It is enough to know that this is love
and I will take it and fly.
I will hold out my hands and ask for more.
She vibrated with need, I can see that now. She was breathless with it, each word darting after the next with no spaces in between. Restlessness personified. The sharpest memory I have of my sister took place when she was four and I was six.
I immediately hated the dress before I’d even finished tearing the clouds of tissue paper from the box. What sort of present was this? I only liked things that were pink and I loathed dresses as a rule. I carelessly tossed the dress, box and all, onto her lap and tore into the next gift.
Hours later, she descended the staircase deliberately, placing each foot squarely and completely before raising the next. Her hair was an explosion of hairpins rising like weapons from her head.
The skirt was a melee of miniature green and white checks, finished at the bottom with buttery lace and jingle bells and she wanted to be certain that the bells didn’t cry out until exactly the right moment. Her sharp little shoulders rose as she took a breath and jumped onto the bottom landing with a flourish. She trembled, she spun, and she whirled in her colossal desire to be noticed. On the television, music blared while Hoss rode his horse through a cloud of dust.
Not one of the others glanced her way.
I raised my hands to clap, and someone shushed me from the couch. At exactly that moment I saw her soul for the first time, already worn a little thin around the edges. Her face was frightfully pale but not a tear fell. Each freckle silently shouted and clenched its fists. Her chin rose to the roof as she spun sharply on one patent leather toe and clomped back up the stairs.
For years after that, I taught her how to lose. She lost every race we ever ran. She lost at Candyland, Scrabble, and Boggle. She was not as pretty as I was, and she did not have dimples, a fact that I used to my advantage on a regular basis. The truth is, she was a copper penny shining in the sun, and I am a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. She was smart, and funny, and kind and I left her alone to fend for herself, a task for which she wasn’t quite prepared.
Thirty years later, dangling from the orange electrical cord, I think she had just enough time to silently query, “Notice me now?” before the cord prevailed. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have been kinder to choke her myself.