Ten Poems for February

I bruise easy.
I found what looked like finger bruises on my forearm a few days later. I thought. I thought. Maybe one of the other people did that to me, the people I’d seen over the weekend. Who held me when I wasn’t watching.
But it wasn’t
It was me. I held my arm in front of the officers, hard enough and long enough to leave a bruise. Two bruises, my sisters noticed before I did.
They’re yellow and faded now.

C’mon let’s remove those tentacles,
The ones that say you care.
First the one with the memories,
The ones tied to guilt and shame over the silly things you’ve done together,
Then the ones that thought you might be okay, normal,
And the ones that are embarrassment, wanting to do it right..
Finally all your little claws, talons, pieces, hopes, are all back where they belong.
All died like the succulents you water too much.
And we’ll go on as usual.
I’ll not ask for what I need.
I won’t have to learn how to build boundaries.
You can go collect spare tokens with the other partial memories of the boys who’ve loved me.

So what if you’ve seen my body,
I haven’t bared my soul.
You can tell me my brother’s name,
But not how it feels to love him.
Maybe that’s something I’ll never get to share with someone else.
They’ll always be a part of me held back in trust,
That’s where all my optimism in life went,
Reserved from the cynic,
It sits in my heart, and promises we’ll open up for that perfect person
Who’ll love me perfectly.

I have no doubt we make better friends than lovers.
Something about my canal being too tight,
And your lack of patience and finesse.
Maybe I can’t deal with your short height and children.
I’m too much for you,
That’s what you said.
That line you should never say to the depressed.
But we can make each other laugh,
And conversationally rhyme so easily.
Not as lovers, but as friends, we’d be good.
If I were safe and you were taken.

I met a woman in the bathroom last night,
When I was the drunk woman handing out love in compliments the like of which I won’t give to people I love,
She had chains on as a shirt,
I told her she had beautiful nipples.
She said thank you, everyone else had just been staring.
And I continue to connect with the safe people, who I know I’ll only know for an instant.
The only time I’m honest is when I know there can’t be consequences.
And I’m worried I’m becoming dependent on something else to allow me to be myself.
Yesterday it was alcohol, today it was sleep deprivation.
I’m only proud of myself when I can turn part of my mind off.

Maybe if I can tell you then I can tell him.
This is my name.
I was not raised in an emotionally healthy household.
I have abandonment issues, while at the same time am the victim of emotional abuse
And later in my life, sexual assault.
I am the child of parents with anxiety, depressive, and possibly schizophrenia.
For all intents and purposes, I am the child of an alcoholic.
No one ever taught me how to have boundaries
I have only recently learned these are a thing I’m allowed to have
I like things explained to me, because I like to understand.
I like to be right
I like to be safe.
I want to know you like me before I will let myself like you.
But, you’re practice, like so many before you.

My fan can make a breeze and cause a change.
It does more than I do, laying here with a heating pad
But I turned on the fan.
Does that count as inciting action?
Or am I merely circulating already circulated air,
Trying to not smell like the boy who lay here,
Just like the fan,
Always reacting to someone else.

The free food will be eaten or thrown away.
And all that worry about it will be for nothing,
Except creating new grooves in my brain patterns
That are friends to stress and worry,
About how quickly I can eat the food,
If I should have taken it from work,
And whether or not I’m taking up too much space in the refrigerator.

To the women who upload romance novels online
So I can download them for free,
I love you.
I feel guilty for reading,
For downloading,
Even if I do often buy them in print.
But thank you.
For this love affair with the happily ever after,
Has gotten me through a couple bad nights,
Where I might have turn my addicts eye to something stronger
Than the printed love.

Austin, Texas.
Why couldn’t I have gotten stuck up north where I was wanted?
Instead of here.
With all this muck of humanity in traffic on I-35.
And dirt and heat
People trying to be something.
I want my seasons to change. I want to date someone other than a software engineer who plays rocket league and drives a car with modifications.
I want authenticity that isn’t in the form of tacos.
I want to find the damn place I belong.


Three Poems for the Weekend

What would happen if you collected all the men who’ve loved me?

What would they have in common?
Would they be friends?

They would be an odd assortment to be sure.
If I remembered them in their prime.

The young and the old, maybe, collected in the age I loved them.

Louie would be there, proclaiming his love to me in kindergarten before moving to St. Louis.

And the boy who’s not sure if he loves me,
I wonder who would be the surprises.

Patrick from 5th grade, who helped me count all the countries in Africa,
And I never looked at twice.

Josh from high school, who I didn’t realize was in love with me,
Until his father talked to my mom, and told her more about her daughter than she knew,
Information he’d learned from his son.

What about the minor crushes,
The boys I left behind,
How many of them could say I loved them back,
How many told me,
How many were related to me?

Would there be any fights,

I wonder.

Dad would be there, and my step-father,
And then we start getting into forms of love,
Does a grandfather count?
Do the people who said it count or just felt it, even if they didn’t know they felt it.

My first boyfriend would be there, who I dated for two seconds
I didn’t actually like him I just wanted to have a boyfriend
I remember telling my mom, and saying, you’re supposed to like them aren’t you?
My pastor would be there,
Who else loves me?
What a weird category to make, while slightly self-serving.
Would they be ugly, famous? Fun, funny, aggressive? Self-effacing.
No one I’ve known this year or the last.
It’s not a matter of not being there to love,
It’s being there long enough to love.

Would they argue about who loved me best?
Longest? Worst?
Would they wonder why they were there? Compare themselves to each other?
Would there be lots of colors, or would they all look the same?

Would they get along?
How much could you learn about me from listening to them?
What stories would they tell?

I want a new scar to match my fading one from last year.
I subscribe to the rather hillbilly ideal of,
More scars the better, means you’ve lived, and you’re reckless,
And you’ve survived,
Which means your lucky.
And I want lucky friends, so you can hang with me.
I feel like I’m not living,
I need to do something, anything,
I want a new scar,
I don’t want to be hurt,
But to be able to point to something tangible and say,
See? I do things. I am a keeper of stories.

I am living in such a place of self-condemnation
I cannot be proud of myself for taking a shower today,
Making food, or brushing my teeth.
I only remember the horrors of my past,
The things I’ve said,
That were wrong, stupid, incorrect,
And think of all the other terrible things I’ve done.
I’m paralyzed, immobile from the stupidity of my past and present.
But the part of my brain that kicks in,
In kindness really,
And tell me to stop feeling,
It’s okay to go numb for a minute,
It hasn’t hit yet.
Maybe my stomach is just upset because I’ve drank too much milk lately.

Ten Poems: Arguing With Myself

I made ten thousand extra dollars last year from my retirement account.
Because I started a retirement account young, and set up automatic payments years ago.
And suddenly, I get my statements, and poof,
Look at all that money I won’t touch until I’m old.
How can I complain about corporations profit margins
When here is literal proof in my hands,
That I’m benefitting.
How can I argue anything when I can see both sides,
When I change my mind,
When I’m not informed enough,
When I’m not good enough to think the thoughts I think?

I don’t want to hear her talk about politics.
I can’t stand it.
Whine near someone who can do something,
You’re talking to a crowd who already agrees with you.
You’re not promoting action, you’re reveling in drama.
This isn’t constructive. We’re spinning our wheels in our own wheelhouse.
Let’s go to a city council meeting.
Talk to someone who doesn’t agree and let’s plan something concrete,
We all know he’s crazy.

I don’t want these men to lose their jobs until their guilt has been proven.
At the same time, if the justice system fails victims so often, public court is all we have.
But if you’re just getting rid of the attackers from public sight, you’re not fixing the problem.
Stories are to be believed as much as fact.
But I still want proof, even if it’s testimony.
I want better education about what’s right and wrong,
And I want it to come from parents.
Not from schools. I want what’s right to be clear.
At the same time, I doubt this would happen.
All we have left is sensationalism law,
That will break so quickly on a false accusation.

I want a doctor to be able to kill her.
She never would have wanted this.
I think she deserves the right to want to die.
She’s there already.
I know it’s a slippery slope.
But for god’s sake the woman can’t swallow food anymore.
She’s not hungry.
Can we please kill her?
I can’t keep watching my mom try to take care of a dying plant.

I am not defined by my work.
That is not where I fit into society.
He’s wrong.
I do not need work to be a part of anything.
Work is an option.
This nine to five is a western concept, as is steady employment.
Sure the factories employed people with a little extra money to go the movies on a Saturday,
But no one likes working in a factory.
These jobs were soul-sucking to begin with.
The economy was better, life measurements were better.
How did we get to this categorization? Of people.
Have you ever tried to categorize people?
Their feelings?
Good luck.
Because I am a person, my worth, my value, is there.
It is not in how much I can fit on my little black screen.

Pick someone and go with it.
I’m tired of all this back and forth and over-analyzing.
You’re tired of being alone, just find someone.
It’s a fifty-fifty chance anyway.
This one will be as good as the next.
I’m tired of looking for a reason to be alive,
Why don’t I do everything wrong,
Throw my lot in with a stranger,
Tie myself emotionally to something unstable,
Have no identity of my own,
And wear some sort of apron thing.

We’re not going to be friends.
We have gone through hell,
Known as our current job,
And we are bonded.
But you’ll never hang out with me outside those,
Those doors right there.
Those glass double doors.
Because you don’t see people like I do.
As entities to enter your life, and love while they’re there,
As a whole person already.
You’re using me to get through our jobs.
I understand.
And I’ll leave you to it.

How do I standup to her?
Why does she get to be mean to her,
But if I’m mean back, I get yelled at.
That’s not fair.
I have to get out of here.
But I have nowhere to go.
I’m a failure. I keep cycling here.
There’s nothing new.
Something in me has to change.
I need perspective.
Let me stand on a desk,
Or forget about time for a while.

You know what I did today?
I applied for new jobs,
After all that worry.
I organized, folded, washed dishes and my hair,
I prepared and thought out, and now.
Well I was waiting for someone to come over,
But they’re putting me off, and now,
Now I don’t want to do anything else today.
Why can’t I be happy with myself?

My mother said I should offer to take my sister to the gym with me.
Because I’m trying to be healthy.
Because I’m losing weight.
And suddenly, it was about my sister,
Mom thinks she’s worried about her weight again,
Like she was for years in high school,
Doesn’t she remember how many years we’ve been dealing with this.
I cannot make her happy with her own body.
I can barely keep me up here on the line, and you’re putting pressure,
Blaming me,
Trying to get me to make her happy with her body too?
Why can’t it be about me?
She sang to me yesterday in the car, middle child syndrome,
When I said no one was home to take care of me during my wisdom-teeth removal surgery.

Poems from the Plane: Christmas 2017

Don’t ask me permission like it makes a difference.
Don’t pretend to need my blessing.
I’m no deciding factor.
Go ahead.
Put her on hospice care. It’s past time.
I don’t know why you’re insisting on picking me up from the airport.
Mom. I can take a cab, stay with your mom.

I didn’t realize other people’s memories don’t work like mine.
I’ve combed it so often,
That very few are tinged with emotion any more,
It’s more of what do I remember,
And how was I feeling,
I’m like a third-party to my own mind.
I see what’s going on,
But offer no judgment to the woman there.

The most intimate thing I’ve done?
Given him a sweater.
He said in a text message that he’s never the one to start something.
But I couldn’t tell, I was waiting.
I was literally laying in your bed watching videos on a ceiling projector.
We’ll see how I feel tomorrow about the kids thing.
A friend told me, don’t you want kids?
That shut me up.

You know what I want for Christmas?
I want personal morality to apply to the workplace.
That’s just business. What does that mean?
Why is this okay?
Why is doing a good job, good work, the equivalent of holiness?
Why is competitiveness disgusting interpersonally, but accepted when you put on a blouse? Why is suddenly protecting your best interests more important than equality.
If corporations aren’t our new churches, we have loyalty to nothing else.

I don’t want to go home.
I want to go back to having an apartment to myself with Netflix gratis.
The ability to leave lights on without impunity.
The noise volume regulation of a toddler.
Jacking-off squeak privileges.
And grabbing what I need from my room in a towel.

She says she doesn’t see the point of her –
This is my brother’s girlfriend –
Why would they be together?
Jesus, have you ever been stupid abut how you feel?
Sometimes suitability is more about the answer being,
I don’t know I just do,
I admire his mind.
I think, to ask that, you must never have done, no, let yourself do something stupid for a feeling.
He likes the girl. Leave him alone.

Dad called me to say,
Oh I missed out on spending time with the sweetie twin.
He would have taken the train to see me at my three hour layover.
You’re not serious. I’m not serious. We both know,
But the sentiment dad, is appreciated.
Even if it’s not to see me, but “your daughter.”

That Midwest gray, I love you.
I’m from there.
Those lines from the sky, those grids, where everything is flat,
And the sky clouded for months.
You miss it.
How could you miss an itch in your ear?
I missed the normalcy.
I want what’s normal to me to be normal all around.
Gray sky in December is right in my head.

I was so mad. Just mad. Why can’t god even decide to kill someone?
Why do we have to do it? Why are they waiting on me to let her die.
To discharge her. To new nurses with unlimited paid meds.
Who’s going to do her hair?
Mom, I’ll be your sounding board again, for your parent’s funeral speech.
I’ll get ready to put that pressure on another human when you yourself die.
In family tradition.

I told him no one wants to hear they’re just like someone else.
How do I tell him that he has the wrong idea about me?
I am nothing like this woman, girl.
Except my silliness that comes out when I’m around you.
Don’t tell your girlfriend she reminds you of me.
I didn’t know I ranked that highly in your estimation of people,
But, keep it to yourself okay? Like the girl for being her.