California Dreaming (Writing About You Again)

We’re on a hillside,
overlooking the Pacific,
and it’s 80 degrees;
call it California Dreaming

Chilled champagne,
a fruit platter,
me in a silk robe
and you with a notebook in hand.

And I can see it,
your eyes covered by shades,
but there’s a twitch in your cheek
and your hand is steady with each stroke of the pen,
and I swore I’d never fall for a writer,
but, man.

In the twilight,
I look below and see Byron and Mary
strolling on the beach.
I hear Charlotte, Emily, and Anne
swoon in time with the waves that are breaking—

when I look back at you, head bent over a notebook,
pen still in hand, I stretch out my arms,
wrap them around your neck,
feeling you relax into it…

and you know
that I only write poems about dreams,
because no where in Jersey could we
maintain a patio set
without snow, or wind,
or the chance of getting it wet.

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When the “Door” Shuts

So the boy
you loved three years ago,
cried two years OVER,
finally is in a relationship again.

And you cry,
before you remember

this is the same boy
who told you not to dance in your seat,
who smiled when he dimmed the happiness in your eyes,
who left,
who GHOSTED—

So the boy
you LOVED three years ago,
maybe never stopped wanting
in some way, shape, or form,
is finally in a relationship again

and you spend the next five hours on YouTube
dancing in your seat,
and this time, it only takes 300 minutes
rather than 730 days
before you’re smiling again.

It’s a Given

It’s got to be summer.
The windows are down.
“Chicken Fried”
or “Brown Eyed Girl”
or something that is
irrevocably
warm, wind-in-air
plastered smiles,
hands raised through a
sun roof
good
is playing off the radio.

This is my version,
so we’re driving down the Causeway.
And the reeds are whipping
to and fro
and your fingers are locked with mine
hand is raised to your lips,
because you know I like that.
And you let me sing,
you smile when I dance in the passenger seat.

We hit the bridge
the same time as the chorus.
I look out over the river
I’ve grown up
and around
and between from
and thank God for the marshland.
Thank God for the tiny hometown
where I spent summers feeding ducks,
writing on the porch swing,
letting the sun kiss me in all the places
you will touch so tenderly.

And when we reach the curb at my mom-mom’s,
you walk around the car,
open my door
and start singing to me,
as I lead you down the street,
past my church,
holding your hand,
taking you through my childhood,
enjoying a summer day,
realizing love can be
warm, no traffic,
fireflies at the first sign of dusk,
laughter in the
moon light
good.

Growth.

As I sit here with a quarter cup of coffee left, delaying working on my master’s project (because editing is simultaneously the best and the worst part of the writing process), I think of why in my head, I look at this year like I’m taking a mental vacation, like I’m taking off from reality.

A lot of it had to do with the relationships I had: I was looking to the wrong people who had to remind me that what I wanted or didn’t have interest in was “okay” by their standards. I was pouring love and time and money into somebody who for as long as I have known him has only toyed with me as a flirt and “friend”. I let him see too many sides of me and while I can’t regret it, I learned that I need to finally cut ties with him in order to grow.

He’s one of many people I felt I needed to impress, wanted to be special to. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing alluring about me: you basically see what you get and I wanted him to see something different, extra even. Yet, this took a bigger hit to my self-esteem than I realized at the time and I ended up shrinking into myself, becoming bitter and envious and utterly confused. I lost myself, what little I felt I had left.

And it’s funny because I felt like this time I knew who I was, even though in some ways I was recovering. I felt like I was a fully rooted person, I felt like I could bear everyone else’s burdens, but when it came down to it I repeatedly put myself in an environment where nobody knew who they were and if they did, I didn’t like that person.
I didn’t even like me.

In the weeks prior to Christmas I beat myself up a lot. I lost “friends”, I hated who I was, I felt alone and unwanted and messed with. I wondered why people said things and did things and then acted the complete opposite. (And to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever have closure for some of those questions.)

But then, one night when I was completely and utterly broken down, crying out to God and feeling so lost as what to ask for, it was a mix of voices that all hit me at once. It was looking at a long lost friend and admiring how he didn’t care what anyone thought of him. It was my best friend telling me to let go and forgive myself or else I couldn’t move forward. It was my sister telling me it’s okay to be lost, to not know. It was my manager telling me “let the right ones come to you”.

So, as I write this, as I air out the last weeks of what 2016 was to me, how dark and lonely a place I found myself in, I also found peace.

Peace in the fact there’s a plan for me, there’s people for me, there’s a life I know nothing about ahead. Peace in the fact that I am actually alone and don’t want anyone else for the first time in my life. The fact that I want to take care of myself, that I enjoy showering because I can put care into my body. That I can play with different make-up techniques, mess with colors and experiment. That I can take pictures and document even the stupid little things that excite me. That I have a wish list I can add and subtract from and save money toward.
That I’m reading for pleasure again, trying out new genres, visiting old friends.
That I’m trying to learn a new language, that I’m trying to go to bed early, do some kind of physical activity, and even learning how to do the simple things like cooking, cleaning, and laundry (chores I never really was forced to do but now want to).

I’m writing things I like, even if not posting, I’m writing more than poetry. I am editing this project and watching it become this new thing, watching how grief transforms one person entirely but that is just one way. Watching how there is still growth in it, hope in it. (Actually finding the first piece I ever wrote about this character and how much the vision has changed.)

And these are all little things, but they’re also all positive. They are little desires and dreams of mine, but they’re mine and I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, not just from where I was drained this summer but also from removing myself out of multiple toxic outlets and just taking time to figure out myself. To find joy in what I have, in what I do.

In short I’m learning to love who I am, even if she’s flawed, even if she’s not your typical beautiful. Even if everything that once mattered to her wasn’t really who she is but what facade she put out.
I’m finding joy again, I’m living in peace. I’m learning there is more inside of me that makes me who I am, like goodness and kindness and gentleness. I’m learning to be patient and to stand firm in my beliefs even if everyone around me is doing or saying differently. I’m learning how much my morals really matter to me. I’m learning that beauty really is only skin deep and that I need to be a woman of depth. Of unrelenting and unlimited faith.

I don’t know if anyone reads this or if anyone cares, but in the first ten days of the new year, I find myself liking this version of me. I’m reminded of who I was before I met half these people, before my club family, and “friends” and boys. And I’m seeing her again, grown up, knowing she’s enough, choosing joy and using her time wisely.

“Sexy Love”

Ne-Yo is playing and I’ll segue way into:
I’ve been thinking about you
so let’s play it back
and I’ll tell you what I miss:

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Scratched record;
that person doesn’t exist.

I’ve Been Thinkin’ Bout You, You know, know, know

I’m falling off your map;
right between the points of:
“Get to know her”
and “Remember when we—-.”

I have found that
just because you think of someone
constantly,
doesn’t mean you cross their mind as
frequently.
If
at all.

I have found that
there is nothing to really
miss
of me.

I keep conjuring up
scenarios
where again
our eyes will meet;
half of them,
you smile weakly;
murmur you miss me.

And I keep
wanting you to reach out
and contact me.
Reach out
and grab hold
of me.

Because this time last year,
we barely knew anything about each other.
And by September,
I was full on
head over heels
falling for….
I don’t know
anymore.

And I want to tell you,
that I don’t care.
But, I never lied to you.

I guess what I’m saying is,
after everything,
I still remember how your brow furrows,
and how your eyes lit up.

I can still see your face when you’re laughing
and somehow, I’m still the girl that goes into the trailers.
We just don’t sit on boxes and have heart-to-hearts,
yet.

Because though, I’m just the there for the moment,
and though I’m trying to forget,
you unfortunately gave me plenty to miss,
and I guess,
I’m not over you yet.

Exodus

When I was younger
I would watch the raindrops
sprint down the window,
leaving watermarked trails
in their mass exodus.

They were running from chariots,
they were running from pharaohs,
they were running for fear
that once they stopped
they’d be swept up.

Ocean
raised, walls of
waves mounted
fish and whales caught in
freeze frame.
Muddied footprints
and the power of
Elohim.

Gracious
grace.

Sometimes,
I see chariots of fire
over my shoulder
and I don’t know if
they are coming to capture
or carry me away,
bound for
clouds and not shackles.

Sometimes,
I fear that no one is chasing
after me.
Sometimes,
I think it’d be best
to wait for the pharaohs.
Sometimes, I fear my feet
will catch up with me.

I’ve learned
that their are many names
many faces for
demons,
both inner and
outer.

So,
call me a coward;
regardless,
restless,
I’m still running.