10 Poems on Almost Love

don’t tell him

I, um, don’t love him.
I mean, I do, in a wish him well, want the best for him,
Would switch places if he was hurt kind of way,
But not in an in love sort of way.
I kept hoping it would just sort of show up.

He’s moving in next week,
Do I just keep going on as usual?
He’s a good person,
Probably good for me as well, and all that.
But I feel like I’m at the wrong end of a Bonnie Raitt song,
Will he ask at some point?
What will I say?

I’m not wrong to want safe,
I checked with my friends,
You Settled.
That’s that.
No shame in it,
Choosing safety and protection
Over a chance at something more.
I would never get that something more anyway.

I think I’ve told him,
So I think he knows,
That I don’t always,
Have the feelings at the front,
The, I think you’re wonderful,
And aren’t you just the best thing on two legs,
I think he’s okay with it,
For now at least.
What if he’s like me and sitting on the hope that the feelings will magically appear later on down the line?

Maybe I’m too un-hopeful,
And I’ll find these feelings that people talk about,
But I doubt it,
I look at my mom
And then I look at my grandma,
My other grandma,
And my sister.
And I think,
I’m not sure the women in my family have it in them,
To fall for people,
Who can’t support us or give us what we want.
Well, we won’t act on it anyway.

I’m so sorry,
I should have suns and moons in my eyes,
You did it all right, correctly, proper, in order, and perfectly.
It’s the me who’s broken.
You put all the right dollars in the machine,
But it turns out I only accept euros.
I just forgot to put my sign up.

What would I tell our kids?
Can I say to them, well, I chose the money?
Or I went with the one that wouldn’t hurt me?
The one that would listen to me?
The one I talked myself into?
The one who’s just as smart as me?
Who’ll let me be a housewife if it all falls apart?
You should do that too?
Do I tell them I’ve never been in love?
But maybe you should hold out for what is a 50/50 shot at happiness to begin with?

If the odds are, it’s going to hell anyway, why not,
You know,
Not spend too much energy thinking about it,
And just go for it.
This one seems nice,
I’ll stick with this one.
Is it bad I didn’t spend more time picking him out than I did a new brand of peanut butter?
But, hey, no problems, so no need to replace him with another jar of Skippy.

My favorite photo of him was from when he was in the hospital,
All connected to heart wires,
Still with his six-pack,
In only low-slung sweatpants,
With the band double-rolled,
And a ball-cap on,
Standing up to put his shirt on,
Looking somehow angelic and triangular,
Beautiful and sick all in one.

He learned to cry for me,
Surely, someone tell my heart that that counts.
He read my memes, and learned about how hard life is on women,
He stopped loving his favorite movies, because I pointed out the sexism and now he notices too,
Like c’mon,
He’s got enough tallies in his column,
Work dammit. Fall in love.

Ten Poems for My Early Fall

On my human experience:

My boyfriend filled all the holes in the real oak wooden floor with white caulk when he visited.
I bought him flowers.
And I killed the spiders.
I told him now nice he was to come and visit.
And that he had to deal with the landlord and the wood flooring.

I told my dad about my ovarian cysts,
And how I’m limited in my medical options
Because I get migraines with flashes.
He told me he didn’t know I got migraines.
And that did I know he got migraines?
And then told me for ten minutes how he gets rid of migraines.
And for the first time as an adult, I realized my dad is still just a bit sexist.

Union boy said to me, I’m sorry to be flippant,
But that’s what they all say.
All the professors say your activism work will hurt your research time and make it harder to publish, so harder to get a job.
But he missed the part where I told him, it was my advisor that said that,
My friend,
My mentor.
My advisor who got me into this world in the first place.
Who told me that I have to be careful about activism work.
He missed the part about the thing being about me, and not a cause.

Someone told me to think about the space you take up in a room,
And ask whether you take up too much space.
And I thought, there are two out of eleven white men in this space,
And if I asked them,
They would say they don’t take up too much space,
But it is always them who talk.

I had to go to a new therapist after I moved.
They ask you to pick out three people from the website you’d like to talk to.
This was not made by an anxious person.
Or a person who’s brain works differently.
Because it took me four days and two more tries,
To call back with names,
And by then I couldn’t meet with anyone until October,
And no one on my list was available.

Can I eat a bowl of cheese tortellini like chips?
Is that a thing other people do?
I didn’t put sauce on them or anything.
I just, well, maybe the larger point is here,
That I’ve lost the will to take care of myself.

I sat down, with my free panera sandwich I ordered from their group cart website,
In front of the dean of the students,
To say, you have a chance to do better here.
I’ve had a miscarriage, and you need to guarantee time off for students who have miscarriages.
And I had to leave right afterwards to go to another meeting.

I told the professor man who was voluntelling us to organize a conference
That all this work he’s asking for is taking time away from our research,
And it might be in our contracts,
But we’re not getting paid for it.
He said we should be happy for the opportunity.
And happy for the chance to learn how to run a conference.
Someone else said, maybe we can track the hours we spend working on this conference and take it to them next year as evidence that we need a stipend to do this work.
And I was jealous, she was able to so eloquently express what I was getting at without being hostile like me.

I texted my brother,
Has our sister always been this judgmental?
Yes he said,
It’s why I don’t share on calls.
I didn’t protect him at all, did I? Even if that wasn’t supposed to be my job.

I bought a new red dress from Macy’s.
And boots.
And a long, striped-knit cardigan.
I can’t really afford it,
But it made me happy.
I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.
But it happened, and I can add the moral judgement later.

Ten Poems for a Hotter July

I can’t quite believe he’s really sitting over there.
On the couch, as a boyfriend,
And we’re living together
And it’s going well.
He cannot be real,
Like sixteen-year-old-me would have been thrilled,
That’s all I wanted in the world, to be wanted, normal, and accepted,
And a boyfriend was the key to all that.
Now he sits there, on the couch, and he’s all that.
I keep forgetting he’s real.
When I get dementia in a couple years, I will one hundred percent not remember his exists. I’m so used to it being just me.

I did it all alone.
That was what I could tell myself about how much better I was than my sister,
Well, yes, she did this and that,
But look at all I did,
All by myself,
I didn’t have anyone to rely on, it was just me.
Except now it’s not.
There’s someone who comes in and asks me if there’s anything he can do to help.
And now I don’t know if it’s better or worse, and which is the hard way of the two.

I thought it would get better,
After I got what I always wanted.
Once I had someone who loved me for me,
And was supportive of my bullhonkey, and mental illness, was cute, and had his shit together,
Who would visit a taxidermy museum on a road trip with me,
But it’s not,
My depression is still hanging around,
My anxiety still plagues.
And I keep telling myself it’s not fair,
It’s not fair.
This was supposed to fix me.
I just want to be normal.

The down key on my keyboard is stuck.
You wouldn’t think it’d make that much of a difference,
But it does.
It makes excel sheets hell.
And every time I open my laptop and the key doesn’t strike properly,
I think, ah yes, this, this is the time when the misstriking key will break the camel’s back.

There are some words I just don’t like,
So I don’t use them,
And I frown when other people use them,
Because they just don’t sound right.
I have no explanation, I act with instinct here.
But like, damn, that’s such a terrible word.

He walked in as I was writing these,
And I noticed how much I like the bridge of his nose,
Where it bows out a little bit,
Do other people like random parts of his face too?
How many times has someone sat next to him on the bus and thought how nice his nose bridge is?
Or do you have to clock in a certain amount of hours spent looking in the vicinity of someone’s face before you can start to say,
What a nice nose-bridge, my good man.

I do nothing all summer, and think of all I could have been doing.
All I could have done.
Instead of crying on the floor with a fan going in the window.
If other people were me, they’d be so accomplished by now.
If I were better than I am,
(Why am I not better than I am?)
I would already have published and chosen a specific field,
And be doing radio spots filled with love and success,
And people citing me.
Instead, I can tell you how great the goodreads top-twenty, high-fantasy romance novels are.

My mom worries my brother doesn’t sing enough to his son.
She thinks the baby won’t be talking enough,
And you know,
She’s already worried that the mother isn’t quite the thing,
And doesn’t quite talk enough to that beautiful baby girl.
I say, Mom, it’s probably okay.
And then the next day, here I am worrying that her vocabulary is a little small.

They want to know what to get me for my birthday when all I want is money.
I’m moving across the country,
Just give me the cash.
Well no honey, I want you to buy something frivolous instead,
Just for you,
Maybe some clothes you’ve had your eye on?
Like, lady, give me my free, pass-go tax and leave me alone.
Here’s a link to a sweater, I say instead.

It was even bad on vacation you know?
I was even having trouble getting out of bed on vacation.
Like, at that point, it has to be not my fault, right?
Like I was going to get onion rings at a place I like and go to a bookstore,
That’s prime –
I want to shower so I can go –
And yet, I was stuck on the bed
With the water running
For twenty minutes.
Telling myself to get up,
And then saying, well we don’t have to shower,
We can just turn on the faucet.
Then we can pull the curtain.
Then we can not be such a failure, my goodness.

Ten Poems for a Rainy June

He just wants to help.
Me get out of this depression,
I think is what he means.
Can I make you a checklist?
To get things done?
But I don’t want to offer that because it wouldn’t help in the long-term.
I apologize for being broken.
He says it’s okay.
Will he stay when I’m all better?
Or will he leave when I’m always broken?

I can’t move.
I open the fridge only to eat nothing, because you have to cook everything in there.
So I don’t eat all day.
And get a headache.
I’d rather have a headache than eat celery.
And stew in my sadness.

How can I explain to you what it is to be stuck?
I know to break it into smaller pieces.
I know to do one thing at a time.
I know I’m already late and pushing it.
I’m aware.
I know what to write and who to cite.
The work just isn’t done.
Can’t you see that?
Well, it can just be a draft, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Done is better than nothing.
And I start crying the second I open the document.
Tomorrow will be better.
And then all the tomorrows turn into mush,
And this was due in November,
And it’s still not done.

I broke the down key on my laptop.
From playing N64 games.
That one thing sounded like I could do it,
It was something I could do,
Wanted to do,
And I was so happy to want to do something,
I went for it.
And I played so much I broke the down-key on my laptop,
And I can’t afford to get it replaced.

My mom bought groceries for a lady from her church.
But not her daughter.
Maybe she hasn’t put it together that I’m not working right now.
That I was told I have to get my other work done before I get a job.
So I have no income.
And can’t afford groceries.
I told her, but maybe she didn’t process.
That she could give me money to buy meat,
Instead of a stranger,
Because it feels more Jesusy that way.

She told us she doesn’t like it when we end a call and she’s not happy.
I told her that is her emotion to handle.
She said that’s why I’m telling you.
I cut off the conversation,
Because I’ve never figured out how to tell my mom to be an adult.

There’s a woman in my program I don’t like.
Just flat out, don’t like.
One of those who doesn’t quite do things for the right reason.
Not in a bad way,
In a way that isn’t okay if you want to be a good person.
And it makes me just a little nervous.
We don’t ask nasty questions of each other in this program.
We don’t offer criticism if it’s not building something.
And I don’t see anyone checking her,
And that makes me nervous.

I keep hearing the same thing in my head,
Well then, maybe you’re not cut out for graduate school.
Each time I miss a deadline and end up lying on the floor
Because I’m so sad I can’t shower.
We value your mental health, they have on a banner in green over the doorway.
But make no accommodations for disabilities in their program timelines.
It’s me.
It’s me that doesn’t fit in here. Who’s not good enough.

They gave me a megaphone,
Did I tell you?
They gave me a megaphone at the rally.
And I got the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life,
She said,
I think you were the only one of us who didn’t need that megaphone.

My sinuses ache.
And I’m so sick of brown carpet.
He made us soup, that tastes like bean skins,
He doesn’t keep butter in the refrigerator,
There are beard hairs by the sink,
There are batman mats on the floor,
And I hate this brown carpet,
But other than that,
The living together is going okay.

Ten Poems for March

Please just love him.
Body, why can’t you work right?
He’s perfect,
Perfect for you, just the right amount of flaws, perfect.
He’s such a good man.
Mom warned me, when I told her,
She said, if you marry a man who you don’t love,
Want-to-have-sex-with love,
You’ll meet someone you do,
And you’ll have an affair and run away together,
Trust me as a divorce lawyer.
I said, Mom,
I don’t know if I’m even capable of that kind of love.
When have you ever seen me go head over heels?

We listened to Whitney Houston and drove to get slushies.
And we took a detour so I could tell him about Fleetwood Mac
And have him listen to Silver Springs and Go Your Own Way,
With all the context.
It’s like, Layla is never as good a song until you know he was in love with George’s wife.

They’re going on their honeymoon before they get married.
I find this weird.
Then I find it weird that I find it weird.
For one minute, I think I can move in the world without carrying notions about women and love,
Just kidding, no way.
Look how judgey I can make you about a person’s vacation.

I said, we’ll go to the wedding, if we’re still together.
And they said, are you thinking about breaking up?
I said, no, I’m just bad at relationships.

His mother wasn’t happy apparently,
That he might move across the country with me.
I gave him this article about parentification,
And he was like, yeah this is what my mom does,
So I think he’s pulling away from her.
And I feel like a wedge to this invisible woman I’ve never met.
Who lives in his phone, and calls him while we’re eating.

I called my favorite old friend,
To get an opinion.
Because someone (not the nice boyfriend) exploded at me when I told them how I felt.
And he made a good point.
He said maybe you’re not compatible,
As friends,
If you’re having to work around them so much, like you would a co-worker,
Maybe you’re not compatible.
I told him that line about not wanting to be with people who make you edit your soul.
And then we talked about other things and I got to hear him laugh.

Why is it sexy to be on mute with your video off,
In a conference call,
Kissing your boyfriend, or making eyes or touching his body?
Somehow, it’s just sexier.
Checking that you’re on mute for that instead of eating crackers too loudly.

He told me he loved me, almost in so many words
He said, can we use the l-word now?
Because he agreed to move across the country with me,
If I go to school in New York,
He thought it was time.
We had a good dinner out,
And he sat in the car with me, and he said, before you turn the car on,
I hid in the high wool collar of my black coat.
And said this is scary.
But I had been watching too much of The Bachelor
So things like, falling in love with you,
Made me suspicious.

I can’t get through the muck in my head,
To get anything done.
I spin my wheels.
And then cry about wasting time.
I take breaks on purpose that turn into day long hour watching.
I can’t get out.

I was not acting out of love,
I don’t know how to tell someone they hurt your feelings
And also act out of love.

Ten Poems About the Boyfriend

Do I have other things to do today?
Deadlines to not miss,
People not to let down?
Well, yes, but instead, I thought I’d write to you about my boyfriend.

I haven’t gotten a chance to tell you about him.
What would you like to hear?
About what he looks like?
A bit pudgy, 5’11”, brown hair, like a bad FBI agent, white, and long-limbed.
How he treats me?
He bought me tulips for Valentine’s and will pick me up from campus and tell me I’m pretty.
How he is in bed?
He’s very nice, takes forever, but really wants to see me cum too.
Does he have money?
Well I think his family has some, and he doesn’t have debt, but he hasn’t been working very long after he graduated.
What’s he do?
He works at the same place I go to school. Academic advisor like, but in a different department.
Do you like him?
I’m still not sure. My whole body wants to like him, but I still feel almost nothing, I keep waiting for me to get attached, and it keeps not happening.

He eats every meal on placemats.
He has three eyebrow hairs that stick straight up.
He is very endearing.
He walks like a cowboy,
He tells me from all the lunges he did in his teens.
He sprays his vents for spiders every weekend.
And he vacuums with his headphones on.
He doesn’t eat gluten, or butter, or sugar, really.
He won’t wear sweatpants in public.
He doesn’t know what to do with his hair.
He told me he missed my leg hair when I shaved.
He has an earthing blanket he leaves on his bed,
The first time I heard him say that, I heard birthing blanket,
And got very confused.
He sleeps with ear plugs and a mask, on elevated pillows.
The old southern woman in me wants to tell him,
Oh, bless your heart.

We bonded over Batman, funny enough.
We both have the animated series in a collector edition boxes.
He hasn’t told me he loves me.
But he stares at me when I’m not watching
He’s trying to get better at dirty talk,
In a way that makes you smile, but not laugh.
I told him he’s the nicest boyfriend I’ve ever had,
And he said, that’s kind of sad.

He watched period dramas with me, in all their costumes
And follows the plots,
And yells at the characters,
No, Willoughby, what are you doing?
He tells the screen from next to me on the couch.
And he doesn’t complain about it.
Because I watch wrestling with him on Wednesday nights.
And can now tell you the storyline of Hangman Adam Page.

He didn’t touch me for three dates,
When I only went out with him for sex, oh my god, I wanted sex.
I finally texted him
Asking, have you been tested recently?
Trying to get things moving, you know.
And he sent a text back that said, I really like you,
I want to do this right,
We should talk about the relationship before we get into all that.

He had to go to the hospital,
At the same time I had to go to a wedding.
And I took care of him on his couch,
Even though the nurse gave us both COVID,
And he looked and looked at me.
Saying, no one ever treats me like this when I’m sick.
His mother, I overheard on speaker phone,
Told him he should stop calling 911, and that nothing too serious was wrong with him,
And what was he thinking spending all that money.
Then I understood, why me saying, it’ll be okay,
Got me the wobbly-wibbly eyes.

There are songs I sing in my head, when we have sex,
First it was that slow hands, like sweat dripping down my dirty laundry,
Then it was Shakira, Shakira,
But just the guy’s voice saying the name, not the rest of the song,
And now it’s been this old song,
About needing to let go of past flings so you can love the person in front of you.
He’s a good man, he’s a good man. I keep telling myself to just let go.
I have to let go.

And he is, he’s such a good man.
Read more about mental health, when I told him all my problems,
Sends me cat pictures when he knows I’m having a bad day.
Makes me food, even though he can’t afford a ton of meat right now.
Winks at me when he smiles and blinks.
Let me use his office when I had a paper deadline.
Told me, it’s his job, when I say thank you.

It’s not supposed to go this well, right?
I’m not used to people respecting my boundaries,
I’m so suspicious of how well it’s going.
I told my therapist, annoyingly well.
It’s very odd to me.
Here’s this support system,
And it’s like, working?
Is this what happens to normal people?
Like we get in fights, and then he thinks about it, and we come to an understanding, and then he doesn’t do it again?

Ten Poems on Baking with the Cake Bible

Love Letters to Rose Levy Beranbaum

No one understands me like you do.
Will I mix this with a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer?
You’ve thought of that.
You’ve given me adjusted mixing times for that.
It’s because you love me.
You are the Richard Simmons of baking.
You anticipate when I will be tired, when I will skip a direction, or forget to do something,
And you gently tell me to just keep going, you can do it, look I gave you extra information for why you shouldn’t shortcut.

Mix the sugar with the flour?
Not cream the butter and sugar together first?
I am not sure this will work.

But my cake turned out perfectly.
Forgive me for doubting you,
You knew all along,
Of course it would work.

You give me ounces for measuring,
And cups for conversation.
Because you know somedays I will want to be precise and measure in the quickest way, the easiest way.
And sometimes I won’t trust myself to know how to measure a cup,
I want external proof I have enough flour.
And you provide both.
Just for me.
In that little table before the steps.

But that sound so complicated and involved
My mother says,
I could never do all that work.
You don’t understand mom,
The recipes,
They are simple and straightforward.
She’s just thought of everything you might do in a poor kitchen at home by yourself with no one else around,
From substituting the table salt for kosher,
To microwaving the butter because it didn’t soften,
And she has contingency plans for it.
You can’t find your loaf pan because you’re roommate used it to make meatloaf and it’s been sitting on her refrigerator shelf since the dawn of creation?
She’s got you.
Use a springform instead. Here’s how you change the baking time.

Only for you, Rose,
Would I grease my cake pan,
Then cut parchment paper out to fit,
Then grease that paper,
And flour that paper.
But you’ve never steered me wrong.
So here I am in my kitchen, listening to my jazz station,
With my boyfriend on the couch in the other room,
Cutting out pencil-traced parchment paper,
Because I trust you.

I have a secret for you,
I can’t afford your book,
I got it from the library, but I had to give it back.
And now I use a pirated PDF copy I downloaded and ran through text-recognition
So I can ctrl + F for things I crave, like “white cake” “frosting” or “ganache”
But when I search my computer for other words, so often your book comes up,
And it’s a nice reminder, that I could give up school and become a house wife
And just bake all your lovely cakes.

It’s too much power.
To know I could make something this good,
Anytime I wanted,
And could afford to buy the good butter at the store.
Why should I do anything else,
When I could just make happy cakes, and share happy cakes and eat happy cakes?

My friend came this morning to pick up extra cake from my party yesterday.
I said to him,
Do not text me if you do not like the cake.
I know the cake is good.
If you do not like it, you are wrong.
Rose, you give me this confidence.

I gave another friend cake in a Tupperware,
He said to me,
The person in my next meeting after yours had to watch me lick the frosting off the lid.
That’s how good it was.
These are my people.

I don’t know how to say you’re name out loud.
I’ve never watched any of your videos.
I only know that your recipes are perfect.
And the batter tastes as good as the final product.
And I love you.

Eleven Poems in October

i had a hard time getting these out. have mercy.

She laughs louder when she’s watching Friends with you on the couch.
Her teeth stained wine-red,
One of the glasses that means something sentimental to her in her hands, thumb out, under the bowl.
I’m vaguely suspicious of people who use things every day that are precious to them.
All sixteen of these mugs are important to you?
There’s something there under the alcohol, and the Ado Annie squeal that makes me squint.
Something a little frantic, something a little covering-up. Something suspicious when you don’t get my lube jokes. A craving for, what is that? Fulfillment? Recognition? Love? Stability?
She’s searching for something over there, in that laugh of hers.
One of those people who haven’t been told not to laugh all the time, at the end of every sentence, even when you’re feeling awkward. Like one of those men who’s never been told he’s not interesting.
Something scary in the too wide smile, that foreigners think of as stereotypical American girl.
Something just a little bit whitewashed that doesn’t come off with the makeup remover.

Smoke alarms only go off when you’ve got a migraine and you’re already sensitive to noise.
The battery is only wired in when you’re trying for the first time to figure out how it works.
The bleeping is only at its loudest when you’re in the middle of something else.
The burner only smokes when it knows you’ve got somewhere better to be.

I cannot read the articles you sent me.
I have stared at the same first sentence for ten minutes now.
I’ve checked my phone twice.
I have read at this word before.
Nothing is getting through.
The writing is too bad,
My anxiety too high.
I cannot read this wonderful thing you sent me,
You’ve sent me to die.

I lost two plants this week.
My pilea mollis
And one of my tradescantias.
It was like a colony collapse.
I don’t know what happened.
I watch in slow, pitiless dread as the leaves turned brown and fell.
I looked on as I saw the clump of leaves on the ground after it got bumped by the brita filtered water pitcher.
I bought two new plants, a dark green aloe, from a lady who said I’d know her front yard by the ducks in the fence,
And from a blonde, no-nonsense woman who handed me two begonia cuttings for a $3 venmo.
I don’t know why I replaced them so quickly.
I don’t know why I think I’ll be able to take care of these guys any better.
But I bought new plants I don’t have room for.
To plant in dirt I don’t have the energy to unbag.
In pots I can’t afford to buy.
In light that’s dying this time of year,
In a room that’s too cold and too dry.
By a caretaker who’s barely hanging on.
That’s me, thinking I can keep things alive.

I’ve had a thought new to me.
If people who do their best don’t always succeed.
That means there’s hope for me, because the opposite is true.
People who don’t work as hard as they can, have the possibility of success.
That’s me.
Who’s losing two days a week to depression,
Hope dammit. You’ve given me hope, I could stumble along perfectly fine forever!

You do not talk to women about their food habits.
I don’t know how you don’t know this.
In the same way you don’t ask anyone why they don’t drink.

I’ve taken up looking cute,
Since you told me I dress suggestively.
And goddamn if the fuckers didn’t notice!
God bless them folks who praise you for matching your socks and necklace.
That took so long to work out, you damn well better recognize.
I read through like fifteen style blogs to find enough clothes I already owned to copy a look.

I’m not quite sure if it’s fair, but that’s what you’re getting now.
You don’t get my personality anymore.
You get the work me,
Which is all you should have seen in the first place.
You’ve lost access to my personal information.
I can hear my therapist in the back of my head,
Is this a reaction or a response?
Have you thought about all the things your feeling,
And then decided on how you’d like to act from there?
Knee-jerk this response, you jerk.
Enjoy this blank façade wall everyone else gets.
And know that you could have had more, all of me.

Fine. Okay.
What am I feeling?
Stings. It stings that somehow you passed me over,
Without saying anything. Created confidences with my roommate,
Which don’t allow me to share.
Took away my safe space,
And now my guard has to be up.
That hurt. Definitely makes me feel like I’m not good enough, that you chose someone else and made me guess, purposely kept it from me, shared your relationship info to my roommate and not me.
I don’t like playing those kind of games. I did once, apologized, and didn’t play them again.
You took my home away from me.
Then you told me what? Told me that I don’t have enough self-confidence, no that wasn’t it.
Insecure, yep, you called me insecure when I asked for your opinion.
And I really don’t think that’s it, I think it was plain-spoken jealousy.
Disappointment is hanging out there too, I wanted something and I didn’t get it.
Shame? Yeah, throw that in with the lot. I can’t believe I felt those things or acted on them.
And then had the gall to second guess myself about what I did wrong.
Annoyance, sadness, and anger. They can round it out,
All hanging out there together clipped on pieces of white paper hanging from wooden clothespins.
Now I’ve catalogued, I guess I should decide how I want to respond.

I don’t know how I want to respond,
Respond is the longer-thinking one,
Unless my dyslexia mixed up those terms, in which case, sorry stressy-management therapist guy I’m trying my best.
Do I still want to joke with you? Do I still want to give you the benefits of advice and consolation? Things I didn’t get? Play ball with you and your dirty innuendos? Do I want you to know you broke something?
Do I want to hear your worries and frustrations? Be the kind of friends I thought we were? I’m not sure.
How I would like to react is to be invisible, coast by and coast through and not have to deal with it. And I think you might let me get away with that. With the coasting by without talking about it, you’re gutless enough.
Now that you’ve got a serious-enough girlfriend, what’s appropriate?
See, when this has happened to me before, my relationship with the guy was already understood, but in this gray patch?
I think I would like to bring it up at some point, maybe let him know that I think that was a little rude, and that I’m not sure I can trust him with personal information. And then keep my distance.
I think that’s what I’d like.
I would like to not care, or rather, I would like to appear to not care.
Be polite but keep my shields on high-alert. Let nothing escape that can be used against me.
Keep that vulnerable heart of mine a bit more protected.
And I’d like to not change my mind, not be petty, but self-contained.
Whole, and okay on my own, not seeking, but sustained.

Today, all I’ve got is fire.
Fine, body, if this is the one emotion you’re going to let through,
We’ll go for it.
What battle do you want me to fight today?
Should I yell at the Dean’s office some more.
Maybe I’ll finally get my internet fixed.
And I’ll just keep reminding people that you have to tell people these things,
Whatever these things are.
Otherwise they wont’ know.

Five Poems for the Morning

i feel like these are all terrible and i’m sorry

I was in the middle of thinking,
Big, beasts of thought,
And you and your dog walked up.
So now I’m thinking about you.
The big grand plans my mind makes for you at 7 AM.

I wonder about the man who took a photo of his wife for the back cover of the book I’m reading.
Why did he insist on putting his name on the photo credit?
How did he ask her to pose?
Did she take a long time to get dressed?
Is that how he sees her, slightly stiff and turtle-necked?
Did he look at the photo and think it was good,
Did he put it in context of someone else’s world and think it was okay?
Did he think, well I think she looks perfectly fine, she’s never been gorgeous, but her friends will like this one?
How many photos did she ask him to take?

I’ve done a lot of staring at the plant on the corner of my porch
It’s my yew tree I’m growing in a bucket,
Well a container.
It’s where I look when I’ve woken up too early in the morning,
And don’t want to be on my phone,
So I sit outside, and look at the horizon,
And the plant is in the way.
I wonder if it knows how long I’ve looked at it.
How many of my thoughts it holds,
Or if it even likes being outside.

I told him it’s an empathy issue,
I was tired and he was mad,
And he kept telling me these things I’d only heard people on tv say,
Things like I can call those people whatever I want.
And they can just deal with it, it doesn’t hurt me so it shouldn’t hurt them.
And I thought I was special and still a full person to you, because I was somehow in your circle,
But I’m not, am I? I’m still not fully human, not fully you.

I don’t have time to make cookies.
Or the money to make fudge,
I’d rather just buy something,
Or have someone make it for me,
Mom come make something for me.

Ten Poems of Jumbled Mess

I do not have a big singing voice,
I have this little flitty thing that sounds better with other people.
I will sing with you and make you sound better,
I’m breathy and weak on my own.
I’d really prefer to sing with you and the tape,
Actually, for most things, I’ll do it by myself, I can do it with a recording if I have to,
But I like it best when I have you there with me.

I like to move through my sliding screen door as quietly as possible in the morning.
Making so little sound,
Socks on the carpet,
So as to not bother the world,
With more sound it doesn’t need.

There’s enough room in there.
There’s got to be enough room, right?
You can love us all enough,
Well, me enough,
You can still love me.
Even after you’re married,
We can stay friends,
And you’ll still take my 2 A.M. calls,
When my family member dies and I don’t have anyone else.
There’s enough room there, right?

My therapist had to tell me,
In effect,
It doesn’t bother me when you share bad things,
You’re not a burden, part of his job,
And that he thinks he doesn’t know how I’m still going on doing all this, meaning life.
Half of me doesn’t believes him, half of me thinks that if I believe him I’ll turn into a monster.

We went on a road trip driving through Idaho.
And I saw the rivers with rocks running below the little thin twisty highway.
Rafting suddenly makes sense. Given how beautiful it is.
I’d sit on a fat, yellow cushion to get an excuse to stare, and tow a beer cooler behind me.

I have so much to do.
I want to spend all morning making a complicated chocolate cake,
Where I’ll have to go to the store twice, once because we didn’t have the right oil, the second because I forgot I was almost out of brown sugar.
But if you told me I had to make the cake,
Suddenly Batman on tv would sound so much more interesting.

I told you, that I’m worried being me will make me lose more friends,
More friend’s wives will ask me to stop messaging them,
Telling me long messages about crossing boundaries, text paragraphs, single spaced.
You say I wouldn’t want to lose you as a friend,
And I cry a little more, because right now you’re not lying, but you will be later.

Introspection is contagious,
I tell someone I think too much about how loud I laugh,
And I can see on their face they’re doing the same.
That’s no good.
Laugh your obnoxious laugh!
Scare those birds!
Don’t mind me with my circle of critical nonsense.

I bought fifty dollars worth of clothes two days ago, and now I can’t buy groceries for a month.
But mom I got a blazer, a real blazer that fits and it’s brown and I’ll look like a real professor,
She says that’s good you deserve it you’re always so good with money.
Fine Mom, I’ll judge myself then if you won’t.

How do you explain the subtext of what someone is saying when they’ve just met them and haven’t known them all their lives?
I called your brother after you,
Is code for, why didn’t you pick up your phone?
You must’ve been out drinking,
Is code for I was worried about you but I don’t want to say anything, and I can’t believe you forgot me, you terrible daughter.
But if you asked, they probably wouldn’t say that, oh no, that’s not what I meant at all!
How do you go about writing that down?