1 Year after Coming Clean 

Your ex-whatever
pops up on my
“people you may know”
and I remember the poem—

only girls who break you
get a poem written about them—

and I remember you leaning
against a truck in B lot
and telling me
that to her,
you were “too happy”.

I remember telling you
“I never liked her anyway”,
because that’s what I usually say

in these situations
where you’re mad at your heart
for getting hung up on a rose of a girl
with words that cut like thorns,

mad at yourself for falling,
for getting a poem written about you
with a cliché simile.

And this girl,
with the quirky eyebrows
and sanguine smirk,
never can be caught smiling
in any of the photos she shares with the
the world

and that might not
justify me not liking her,

but it sure makes me feel good
when I can get you laughing, teeth bared
in the moonlight.

And I thank God
for your broken heart;

for a poem where
you compare her to smoke,
to coke,
to everything that kept you
at the brink of falling apart,

she’s gone now
and I’m sitting in a car
with your hand tracing circles on my hip
in pure silence,

and I know when I told you earlier
“I want the very best for you”,
not only was it sincere,
it’s because I believed
you deserve it.


Sleepy Hallowed

Your fingers curl around mine
and we are drawing the curtains closed
The soft touch of your palms
against the back of my hands,
the way my back leans against your chest
and you kiss my head and it’s
almost time for bed.
The room is dark except for candles
on the dresser,
the end tables,
and we find our respective
sides only to have our legs tangle under the covers.
We sigh against one another,
our breathing keeping time with the traffic outside.
The streetlights don’t stream through either
room darkening curtain or blinds
and I turn my face to kiss you,
to thank you
for peaceful nights,
curled into your side,
in a house on the fork,
falling asleep to the sounds of sleepy streets
and cars holding the kids
who can only find peace
in midnight drives.


While I still lack resolve,
let me say this:
there is something about
when you say my name
that strikes fear in me;
because the next words out of your mouth
are always the truths I’m not ready to hear
like you care,
like you’re here because you want to be.

But what’s even worse,
is that I believe them

—that we find ourselves
listening to playlists
in the back seat of my car,
where I got excited over choirs
and clap-backs,
where your fingers are making circles on my skin
and I’m talking a mile a minute

and when I apologize for it,
you laugh. Say: “you’re fine”
(though I know it)
I tell you: “I know I’m too much to handle”
only to have you negate it.

Three weeks ago I told you
I loved you,
not expecting to hear you repeat it.
Last night,
for the first time in a long time,
you gave me a reason to believe it.

When the “Best” Comes Pt. 1

It will be something simple like:
we will dance
in the kitchen,
and I’ll be cooking something edible.
And you will hold me from behind
still swaying to the music playing off
of whatever medium it comes through.
Our shoes will be kicked off
and the table will be set
and there will be a vase full of
lily of the valleys or hydrangeas
or peonies
and from the window,
light will stream in.
I will sit across from you
in our dining room,
we will join hands and
thank God for the food,
for this life,
for everything that aligned
just the way He wanted it, too.


My mother stresses
effort when it comes to
relationships, where
my father
stresses happiness.

Sometimes I wonder
if this is out of practicality or
lack-luster romance;
and, to be a pessimist,
I sometimes question
who fell out of love,

But, I want to
contest this, say instead
they fell into us,
chose family over
lust; saw
the whole picture
of 1 + 1
equals infinite possibilities,
they became “we”,
and together,
in one room,
watch a video of their wedding
day, watch them kiss
and pull back with
smiles on their faces.

I know
they weren’t settling.

When they ask
each other what was
on their minds that day,
they can’t recall with certain clarity.
But when they stress
what I should do with boys and broken hearts,
it’s not out of complacency,
or lack of fuss,
but the fact that they only want
the very best for me.

The Actual Abuse Poem

I want a love
where I don’t have to
bargain my body,
where we don’t
fix things
by you hitting me.
I want the only
kind of compromise
to be between my
Maker and me.
I don’t want another conversation
in the basement
with my mother
to tell her how badly
I was bleeding.
I don’t want to be shocked
that it shouldn’t have
hurt me.
As a concept,
I still miss us,
still want all the places,
the promises. I can’t listen to
classical without thinking of
the opera, and I’m
dreading going back to Philly
without a hand leading me.
I want a love
where love poems
come easy. Where
‘hurt’ can’t be found
a concrete thing.
I want a love
that loves me,
that puts in effort,
that keeps me happy.
I want a love
that doesn’t make me choose
between them
or me.

Fair Exchange 

A boy
I have not spoken to
in three years
pulls me aside to tell me
I deserve better.

My sister calls this
an act of God,
that sometimes someone has to speak
the truth because I know it,
but don’t believe it myself.
But this time,
I agree with her.

Think it’s funny
how someone who used to beg me
for things below the belt,
doesn’t know how he’s interceding
for the Holiest of holies.

Want to tell him,
I see it, too,
how God’s purposely
protecting me.

Want to apologize
for clearing out my backseat.

Want to cry out
the cliched “hallelujah”;
shed tears on the drive home,
and thank Him for his mercy.

Praise Him
that it’s been over a month
and these lips have been
consistently denied the opportunity
to learn the contours of
another no-good-for-me
some body.