When She Passes By

after Caitlyn Siehl’s “Her, Her, Her”

I met you
sputtering
with her name on your tongue
and the bass beat of “hurt”.
There was a road wrapped tight around your body,
cities popping up like scars out of flesh,
well-worn and rugged.
You called them “her”.
I called her “gone”.

I met your mouth
with a clash of teeth
your tongue lodged down my throat
with a taste of her.
There are shelters in my hip bones and
hostels on my breasts and you come to each
like a weary traveler begging for rest,
reaching for blankets that look a lot like bodies.
They are not “her”.
You say “someone”.

I meet you
years later,
with a boy on my arm
and my heart beating “content”.
He tries to introduce us but you say
“I know her.”
There are skyscrapers sitting in my palms and clouds rolling in your eyes like we have made it to that city, our city, just to watch it downpour.
You tell him “Keep her”.
He tells you “I’m already gone.”

Combatting the “Empty”: 12:29am

One day,
you will wake up
and that will be good enough.
That will be right,
that will be your bones nodding in approval
that yes,
you’ve done well.
Your life has meaning.

One day
you will walk through the door
and come home to something.
Not to someone,
for surely you’ve realized by now
that you are capable of more than seeking
to be complete, when you can create an ending.
When you hold worlds in your fingertips and kiss them into pages,
feeling the bones of lovers break as they hit the ground you’ve made.
Your work has power.

One day
you will fall back into bed
and forget the times where you didn’t feel anything.
Your eyes will be crinkled like orange rinds,
and your smile will match like a pair of new shoes that go perfectly with that bag you’ve yet to take the tag off of.
Your bones will feel like helium
in your balloon of a body and you will never be so happy for the wrinkles, the holes punched into your skin as you will then.
You are something.

You are so much more than everything.

And they may bring you down,
and they may put you out,
but don’t deny them this:
the determination in your eyes when they say
you’re all
or nothing.

Cellulite

There’s something about
headlights out at sunsets,
through sepia back windows,
while the sky is fighting to stay bright,
like we need to remind others that
we are still visible.
The sun does not always choose to shine it’s light on us.
If that was so,
maybe you’d see how many times my soul
has been hole punched simply through
not existing any more,
due to message received, but not worth an answer,
seen a face,
but not worth another glance
and somehow,
though I’m sweating out my weight,
my body still finds skin to fold over,
to divot come summer.
I’m full of so many pockets of
non existence,
cellulite is something I’m beginning to beg for.
At least it holds pieces of me.
Maybe not everything needs to be skin deep.
Maybe scars are just simple reminders that sometimes we want our pain to be seen.

Havens (Facts vs. Fiction)

Right now,
there are pillows surrounding three sides of me,
making me a peninsula.
I convince myself you’re one of the walls.
I let myself fall asleep in your imaginary arms.

Right now
I contact you, knowing I’m needy,
and don’t ask for a single thing except a response.
I just want to talk.
But for you that is too much.
I fall asleep in empty sheets,
with extra pillows,
and pray for the embrace of someone.

Right now
My entire body is smooth. All soft flesh
and imperfections that I hate a little less when clothed in more melanin.
My legs stretch out before me, stinging with the bite of sun.
I meet cushions instead of your lap.
I fall asleep
in a bed containing one body, knowing I can’t even keep myself warm.

Right now
I wish I was curled up against some tangible love,
who hates my hundred pillows.
I want to twist my body to face him instead of finding a wall.
I don’t want to be landlocked,
or triple water-logged.
I want to be an island,
a bit of paradise,
but only in his arms.

Unearthed

Our eyes meet
and suddenly we are an excavation sight.
I’m pulling you out from my smile
and you’re scrubbing me out from under your nails.
We are laid bare,
fossilized laughter
and tear stains.

They find an urn of us
mixed with my childhood memories
and your grandfather’s ashes.
It says:
“Here lies
vitality,
promises,
stone warriors who didn’t dare budge,
who couldn’t for the life of them
imagine simply leaving someone.
Who had the courtesy to be cold to the touch.”

They’re dusting off your scar now;
brush strokes like my finger tracing the back
of your hand.
Like security in something;
love in someone,
even if it’s just at a personal level,
even if you just adore their smile.
Even if your heart stops when you see them months later and no words bubble to the surface,
but you’re now drinking coffee and they’re avoiding your eyes.
They’re just trying to get by
and accepting the change of seasons.
You’re no longer asking for reasons
to why they didn’t stay.

And once again they walk away.
And things could never be the same.
Your best friend is mad because of all the pain
you went through,
but you’re not “her” anymore.
And he doesn’t say goodbye before he leaves the store and it’s like you never happened even two summers ago.

They found the wreck of us, kid.
Picked it up and held it in their palms
as gently as if it they could break it further.
They heard all the words we said at night,
saw all our shared smiles.
They held back from brushing the tears off my face when I cried.
They saw the way two hearts beat in sync, but one still had to break,
because taking that leap, wouldn’t have guaranteed for an easy landing.
They saw what was,
compared to what is,
broke the bubble of what
could have been
and decided to bury us,
give my mind some rest,
once more.

Satisfaction Guaranteed (A Poem You Don’t Deserve)

And this is ‘what I want’:
Sitting on my knees,
on top of your bunched up sheets,
mine & your fingers twining,
messy hair & baggy T’s,
backdrop of ‘Fight Club’ &
the glow of your TV.

I’m holding my body like a cell tower,
watching your eyes flicker at surface level;
wishing my veins were wires
so I could possibly connect with—
trick myself into believing
we are something worth
being tangled together

& not just our tongues
or our legs,
but the look shared
when I tell you it’s okay
if I’m a pit stop, because
I love listening to you at rest.

& I’m sorry this is not a
sext or a CD
or skin brushing skin,
but rather stitches being
ripped.

Here’s ‘what I want’:
Banana custard,
to be laughing,
to have you look at me
like I’m made of poetry
& the aftertaste of tragedy.
That something isn’t pretty
unless some part of it
is cracking at the seams.

So I’m sitting on my knees,
looking at you across a
bed full of everything
we’re going to leave unsaid,
& waiting for your turn to
break me,
bend me,
until every pore is oozing,
honesty,
until there is nothing left,
but messy.
Until we are exposing the
grievances between our
teeth, until our palms
are touching because we
need to make peace with
something & between the
two of us, I don’t want
to be another thing that
simply fizzles out,
another failure to our generation.

Between the two of us,
I want to be the thing
you cling to when the wind
is howling & there are
branches scratching at your
window & some plane of
sanity is the only thing
you’re seeking.
I want you to come to me
& I don’t mean
just fucking.
I want you to read
this poem & understand
what I’m saying.
That all words written
are bled through lead instead
of breaking skin.
Instead of tearing at some
animal instinct in my veins
that says I’m only ‘good’
when the moon is waning.

When you, of all people, ask
me ‘what I want’:
I want you to get it.
I want to watch ‘Fight Club’
& have silence not feel
like it’s strangling.
I want to feel like all
inner demons will fall away
with something as simple
as two palms kissing.

I want to make love to your
lonely,
& I want you to hold mine
through the night.

Cracks 

I should write a letter:

It starts like:
“Dear Self,
Don’t ever stare at your ass in the mirror.
There are dips and folds and shadows
that only know how to make tricks
of your body
until you are wishing a magician would
saw you in half,
so maybe the scars could be even.

Dear Self,
you wrote words onto pages instead of
stanzas into skin
and for that you should be celebrating victory
and not wallowing in
fatty chasms
that you believe you can never climb out of
unscathed.

Then
dear Self,
wear your battles, babe.
You hated being skinny
because your soul was so full
and the days you lived,
you saw only rolls
in the mirror
and
DONT STARE AT YOUR ASS.

It was a little over a year ago,
you remember I’m sure,
you’re on a yoga mat in an unfamiliar house
with a girl who made you feel like you aren’t so alone in this world.
And here’s what she taught you:
that fighting doesn’t always mean stay dry,
fighting is not improvement upon the first try.

Fighting
is coming back to the mat,
for something as simple as breath.
Fighting is getting motivated even if you only
do one set.
Fighting is endorphins that made you get up and go,
and maybe some days let you cry.

But fighting is always do, do, do
and instead of do not, I’ll settle for “tried”.

So,
sweet Self,
over a year later,
when you’re staring at your ass in the mirror,
here’s the difference:
For starters, you HAVE an ass.
For runners up, you’re working at that.

And for those who don’t know,
for all the times you were sore,
the sweat was just the beginning.
You pushed yourself forward,
you had strength and your pen flowed,
and because of this,
your wrists remain empty.

Dear Self,
despite what I said,
your body is not a trick.
Dear Self,
it’s true there are some shadows,
but everywhere else,
there’s light shining in.