Six Poems for March

picked a fight with a friend. here we are.

1:
In what has to be the most classic unequal treatment of all time,
My mother told me,
I will never let you get away with not sending us any updates for two days,
When you get pregnant,
Not telling us if the baby is born for two days,
Like your brother did.

2:
I want my hope back please.
The hope I had yesterday,
Still had yesterday,
Before you said,
Before you told me,
What did you tell me,
That you really don’t have time to think of anyone else in your life,
You’re too busy with the maelstrom (your word not mine) of what’s going on with you right now
To keep track of anything else,
I didn’t have it in my calendar.
Because your friends have to be scheduled,
Shouted from the rooftops to tell you something’s important, instead of implied.
I think you’re expecting more of me than I can give, was what you said,
The implication being, you’re not worth my long-term,
Not worth the energy,
Exactly what you told me all those months ago,
If I would have listened to you,
Tell me I was fine for right now, but didn’t check enough boxes for anything longer-term
And made sure I knew it.
You’re right. I should have scheduled time with you
So you could remember to ask how I was doing,
To remember to ask how someone else is doing on their father’s birthday,
Their father who just died.
The thing is,
You didn’t even register how awful that sounded,
How self-centered,
There was no expectation of growth,
No acknowledgement that what came out of your mouth was an awful thing to say.

3:
It reminded me of why I left that last relationship
I would love to still be friends with him,
But he couldn’t put me first,
He couldn’t say it out loud how he was feeling,
So I cut him off,
Because that pain was my choice,
Rather than the endless leeching of me thinking I’m not good enough,
Not good enough to be the first phone call after an emergency.

4:
I low-key,
No, scratch that,
High-key,
I high-key hope you remember a little bit of how little support you were,
When someone you loves dies.
Just a little bit,
I hope something clicks and you think,
Wow, what an asshole I am,
I should’ve been nicer to her.
But then, I would still be providing you lessons,
Unpaid labor, after we’re done and gone.
Because we will be done and gone.
I feel it in my bones now.
Maybe not tomorrow.
But the time will come.
You signed for the package, you signed you name by saying I am more important than anything you’re going through. Confirm delivery receipt.

5:
You know what I’m a big fan of?
Not knowing what to talk to your therapist about,
Because so much happened in a week,
You don’t want to overwhelm them.

6:
My friend got engaged.
We thought,
She would get a week,
At least four days, of happiness.
Where she wouldn’t be daily struggling with the choo-choo depression train,
Or the, barely hanging on, train.
We thought that so many of her insecurities would be erased,
Just like she said they would be,
If she knew for a fact he wanted her,
But here we are on a Thursday,
And she still just can’t talk right now,
Because the day’s been too hard.

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Ten Poems for February

researching has been consuming, i’ll keep posting as i’m able

1:
My father asked me for our family trip memories,
He’s putting something together.
It’s so funny what you remember from being a child.
I don’t remember what museums we visited or what historic monuments we photographed.
I remember I got sopapilla cinnamon sugar stuck on my fingers.
I remember that we walked for forever in New York.
I remember that my dad complained my uncle couldn’t get us real meals and insisted bought street hot dogs.
I remember we met my dad’s monk friend who he suggested got a lot of women with the “I’ll be a monk soon” line. I didn’t know what that meant at the time.
I remember what I took a picture of.
What would I remember now if I did those trips again?
Reading what my sister remembered, her bullet-pointed notes in an email response, jogged my own memories.
Oh that’s right, we did visit the Cheers bar.
And I did leave the bag of Supreme Court souvenirs on the subway.
I mostly remember being bored, embarrassed, or tired.
My life hasn’t really changed all that much.

2:
I had the realization today that he’s not coming back.
I got to tell my family on the call.
I don’t know if we’re doing grief right,
But my family has never been closer.
We’re all semi-relieved he’s dead.
And it’s brought this little group of people who are feelings the same guilt for happiness closer.

3:
I’d forgotten what student stress is like.
The assignments due you forgot about.
The constant pressure that you should be doing something.
The odd freedom that comes from an uneasy schedule.
Sending frantic emails at 1 AM because there is something you have to know right now.
And the constant small issues with bursars or tuition or loans or money.
I am very much the same student I was when I was in school the first time.
I’m still snacking on the same things. Oyster crackers and reese’s pieces.
My stressors have changed a bit. I’m a bit grown up. But I still scroll reddit when I’m bored. Worry that I don’t have enough friends. And that I’ll never amount to nothing.

4:
I thought my brother having a baby would cool down my mother’s all –
You know you don’t have to be in a relationship to have a baby –
Thing.
I was wrong.
She still thinks I would just make a great mom you, know, not that she’s pushing or anything.

5:
He asked me how I felt about marriage
These are not questions you bring up to people you’ve slept with but aren’t dating,
These put ideas in heads that don’t belong,
You don’t like me that way, I heard you tell me that,
Not long-term material, if memory serves,
And you’re asking me about how I feel about marriage?
But I gave you the truth,
Which is that marriage has never been very important to me,
I’m not one for rings and certificates.
But it would, of course, depend on who I’m with.
And now I can’t stop thinking, no not thinking, hoping
Hoping he’ll make some grand gesture.
That I wouldn’t even know how I would respond to.

6:
My roommate’s boyfriend is an idiot.
Not in the, can’t memorize facts, idiot,
But the, wouldn’t know what to do if a woman screamed at him,
Idiot.
And he’s going to go to medical school.
I can’t help but hope he flunks out, because I don’t want someone out there in the world who doesn’t realize he should say hello to the roommate he’s walked past ten times in the hallway.

7:
I bought a dog a birthday present.
How are you spending your very limited resources during COVID
Now that you make less than minimum wage being a grad student?
I bought a dog a birthday present.
A jar of nicer, more organicer, peanut butter than I would eat,
And premium, one ingredient chicken jerky that I googled to check for manufacturing location and chemicals.
I will sit here eating my dubiously treated pork I bought on sale, and be happy,
Because I bought a dog a birthday present.

8:
I miss the touch of skin.
The way my nails can dig in,
Hold on to hips or arms
And grip.
I miss getting hugs
And shoulder bumps
In offices.
I miss hearing other people typing.
I miss hair tousling and making faces across the room at the person I know, but can’t talk to right now.
I miss you mostly. I miss touching you. But those other people too, but mostly you.

9:
I ruthlessly prioritized
Did I mention I hate that phrase?
I said I needed to talk to another student later
Because I know this student currently doesn’t have a place to live
Has left her boyfriend for the fourth time after she couldn’t attend class because he wouldn’t stop screaming at her.
So I told my student with paralyzing anxiety that I would send him a link as soon as I could.
And I prioritized one pain over another.

10:
I made the perfect white cake in a square pan.
Almond extract in the batter.
Fresh jam in the buttercream frosting.
I have no one to share it with.
Because my baking friend doesn’t text me anyone.
And I said I wouldn’t text him.
And so I have to have this ephemeral experience all by myself.
I have to see these beautiful sights and remember them myself.
I don’t get to share them with you, tell you about this new trick for settling batter.
Nothing. It’s just me. And my beautiful cake.
By ourselves.

Four Poems for November

1:
I wonder.
That’s what I say now in my grad papers.
I wonder.
I wonder if the mailman has realized what’s happened.
If he put it all together,
The blue and tan envelopes with the old lady handwriting we keep getting.
The mountain of cookiecutter, white and black cards for him to grab from us.
The box from the donor center.
Extra car no longer in the driveway.
Power bills in a new name.
And no more mail for that one person who’s been getting mail here for thirty years.
Or did he not notice. Are we one of many stops on the route, and he couldn’t tell you the difference between any of the so-called Chapel blank neighborhoods?
I wonder.

2:
At noon I was trying to get a paper written.
At 2:30 I got a call.
Halloween.
Hey, sit down, not good news.
Something something medivac, something aorta.
I put my professors on standby.
By 10 a.m. the next day I was on a plane.
My good mask, the darth vader kind with the special filters, of course, comes tomorrow.
And I walked into a house of relieved people.
The house was lighter.
We kept crying,
But no one has yelled at me since I’ve been home.
We got through the funeral fine.
We all can’t believe how free we are.
Mad at him, but free.

3:
You have to decide the color lining you want in a casket.
Please write down your preference now.
Your selection of $150 urns on display, some with guns and flags and others that look like mini crypts.
You want to bring them clothes that cover their neck. The necks don’t look good.
They only use a lot of makeup if the bruising is bad from where they take the corneas.
You need to know their parent’s names. Is it Ham spelled with one m or two?
Keep it somewhere handy for when you die, so your family isn’t trying to google sitting on the green velour couches in the parlor.
Just go ahead and memorize their social security number.
The phone company, by the way, can’t change anything without a death certificate, and cable, internet and phone are all separate calls, even though they’re the same company.
You die, and it’s paperwork.
You don’t turn to ash, you turn to paper.

4:
We played cards and no one killed our joy.
We didn’t have to worry about what we were going to get him while we were out.
If he could make it out of the car.
If he wouldn’t eat there.
We did have to track down where he kept the gun that used to be in the keyboard drawer.
We did have to figure out where all the online gambling money was, and cash it out via Canadian check.
We did have to download his contacts into an excel sheet and print out for mom.
We did have to throw away his toothbrush.
We did have to remind ourselves he’s not just in the other room, ready to be in a bad mood, ready to sigh. Ready to yell.

Two Poems for October

because i couldn’t get out the other eight

1:
I miss you.
I miss the way you say my name,
Just that hint of accent still kicking around.
The way you would have helped me know what to wear on the first day of grad school.
And be quiet, when I needed, while I cried.
Told me about some new $300 kitchen thing you don’t need, a better version of my Midwest hand-me-down crockpot and crochet oven mitts.
Why couldn’t you have loved me as a friend?
Why couldn’t you keep me?
Why did you have to cut me off and wait for your feelings to go away?
Why did you have to do what I did to you?
Why couldn’t you have just put me first?
Even said there was potential to put me first.
So I could have stayed. So I could have loved. And gotten to ride in your car one more time.
Hear the gear shifts through the iPhone mounted to your vent.
Made you hike in the woods in your good shoes at dusk.
Made you laugh, and shake your head, and gotten distracted in a work meeting,
Just the once more.
So I’d feel like I still have my friend.
And I’d feel like I didn’t do something wrong.

2:
Please don’t kill yourself this Christmas.
Don’t do it for me,
For my entirely selfish reasons.
I want to know there’s someone in a worse place than me,
So I can feel better about myself.
I need that someone with a darker sense of humor,
So I can still be surprised by jokes darker than death.
I want to feel like I’m bad, but at least I’m not that bad.
I want that illusion that I can help someone who needs it,
Bring food to the needy, have a purpose, keep you alive.
I want to have that edge that says, yeah I have a suicidal friend, but I’m helping her through it.
How cool is that?
I don’t want to be the kid in class who has an edgy reason to be late on her chapter summary.
I want to hear more weird german words, to remind me there’s more to learn.
I want to hear your impossible to hear voice over the phone.
I don’t want another cause I have to take up because another one of my friends died because of it.
I don’t have that kind of time.
I don’t have time to grieve you this year.
Wait just a minute or two, okay?
I would have to meet your family at the funeral, and they sound like total assholes, who wants that?

Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 5

look it’s about boys again

1:
It’s shame. Shame my skin still sticks to me.
It’s a shame I can’t make them love me.
Why would he buy a house with her,
That beautiful woman.
Why wasn’t I enough?
Why did she get the complete-r person?
And I got the scraps and building material.
It’s not fair.
Like the boy who broke up with me and then was surprised when I asked him to leave.

2:
I will not blame the skin that holds me together
This is good skin,
It’s held on,
I like that it shows scars, love marks, and burns.
It’s mine,
I like that life draws on it.
At least it’s not boring.

3:
Do you think that you touch me and I don’t feel?
That we’ll forget when you don’t text back?
Do you think somehow we won’t see the side glance,
The distancing,
The purposeful waiting, so she doesn’t get the wrong idea?
You think I don’t understand what is it that you’re trying to do?

4:
I don’t understand.
Why would you call me and tell me you’re attracted to me,
And then the next week buy a house with your girlfriend,
You’re beautiful girlfriend,
Who I’m sure puts on outfits,
And takes the time to do her hair,
Will smoke with you,
And drink with you,
And her family comes from money too, you know?
She’s the right color, age, weight,
With the right body for you.
You look right together.
Why did you call me?
To see me again.
Why would you do that?

5:
The next one you’re with, she’ll be right,
You’ll get to fix her up just the way you want her,
She won’t have any of this damage in her skin,
She’ll be young, and you can protect, but not be happy for long,
Because you have to love too much, to get that kind of happiness your parents have, and I don’t think you’re capable,
Of throwing it to the wind.

6:
Non-hurt Me,
She would have sent a joke request via venmo for $400
And offered to reschedule.
No problem.
She wouldn’t be totally heartbroken.
She wouldn’t have said the same thing happened last year,
And that she expected nothing less from him.
She would be able to stop crying.
She wouldn’t think it was an indication that, like usual,
No one can put her first,
And that they promise to be better, only after they’ve hurt her.
They never mean to hurt her, of course, of course.
She wouldn’t see it as,
But he knows, he knew, how much it meant.

7:
I refuse to be casual about my feelings, they’re there right?
Even if I’m feeling them and I know they’re an overreaction,
I should still respect them.
It’s not an indication of the fact he doesn’t want to be around me,
Or doesn’t respect me,
But, wait, why isn’t it?
He said he does want to spend time with me.
I should have said, sure we can move it. Sure it’s no problem, nice of you to think to reschedule.
It’s a scheduling error,
I’ve made them myself, I can’t blame anyone for making scheduling errors.
But I’m leaving town soon,
Denver would have said all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go.
And I was planning for this,
But why aren’t they rescheduling around me,
Why do I have to be accommodating?

8:
I’m sure he knew something was wrong on the phone.
He asked me about my day, like he wanted to amend,
He only does that when he’s guilty,
I wouldn’t want people to be kind to me out of guilt,
That’s not kindness that’s shame.
Don’t touch me anymore,
Don’t touch me with that heart donut-glazed in shame.
Don’t touch me with your hand or your I-feel-bad-for-you eyes .

9:
Internally I’m deciding how I want to be around him,
The next time I see him,
If I ever see him again.
I’ve vacillating between aloof and uncaring,
Me, but without the parts that make me
The kind of person I am with my father,
Removed, pleasant, distant.
Or to say, hey, I want to embrace what I’m feeling,
I should tell him yeah you made me cry, but I know it’s unreasonable,
I can be All Me with you all over again,
Only to cry some more.
I think you broke it though, not on purpose, the part of me who was just starting to be herself.
Why do I plan anything nice in my mind? Is it unreasonable to cut him off because of this? Probably yes.
The fates of power and tipped my way now, and I don’t want that debt on my conscious.

10:
I’ve snipped the vine root.
The imaginary one I grow,
A nice little visual of any caring I have for him,
Our connection shining rose gold on the great, black, mind plains, I thought of it as a rose root,
I tried to cut it a while ago, but it didn’t work, my shears couldn’t get through it.
The edge of the scissors wavered back and forth, only gouging, not cutting.
They did this time though,
And I tried with my hands to put the pieces back together, but they didn’t reattach,
The graft didn’t hold, even with masking tape.
I feel nothing for you now.
Not even commonly brotherfelt love.
Nothing.
The sparkles from the cut bond are ash on the floor now, too bad.

Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 4

these are personal not political, but don’t think the politics aren’t there

1:
It happened and I’m mad my mother was right.
I saw a baby and I wanted one so badly I cried.
I rocked myself, and I cried.
I was happy there was still a very small chance,
Even though it would upend my life,
I planned for it anyway.
So I could daydream,
About what I wanted, for once.
It’s pure want.

2:
It hasn’t even been a week,
And I’ve already had an offer.
That I shouldn’t take.
I shouldn’t take,
I shouldn’t take.
But I want someone to not have put me in a category of “not good enough”
Like, why wouldn’t that hurt my feelings?
Why do you even have a “not good enough to love” space?
I could have been at his house, with his cats,
Not being alone, saying screw covid, but being treated honestly for who I am,
And not playing this –
You’re good to be casual for now, but not enough to make me care about you, or try to make you feel good.
But I’d have the testing fears all over again, are we clean?

3:
My grandmother only approved of my mother’s husband after she’d had dementia for 3 years.
She also put whole grapes in her rice krispies.
Hand washed the plastic cover over her regular table cloth,
And collected tea cups even though she drank coffee.
But there I was on a Saturday, sitting on my friend’s couch, missing her.
Missing her not being alive.
And sad, because I realized I’m still at the start of missing people, I’ll just keep losing more people the longer I’m around, and I haven’t been around long at all yet.

4:
Weird thing happened.
I said, I’d turned off my feelings for him,
To him.
Directly.
Which was a lie. Then.
But today, it wasn’t a lie.
I didn’t feel anything but sympathy for him.
Sympathy that you have to live in such strict boxes, with so much fear.
Where you don’t think you’ll work with someone long-term, but you get along well enough to limp along, for a bit, to stave off loneliness.
I’m worried my mood will change and my feelings with it. Again.
I’m worried I’ll retaliate and hold myself off, because he’s doing the same.
Tit for tat. Dumb way to play with people.

5:
I invited him on my birthday trip.
Maybe that will be the next and last time we’re together.
And it will all be about me.
He’s the free add-on that I won’t take into consideration.
I’ll be the one laying on the floor communing with the moon.
He doesn’t get a say in where we stay.
He’s allowed to bring the dog.
I turn my phone off for three days and embrace the thoughts that come,
Which are usually, mostly, anxiety. But it’s nice to have it in a new place.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t end up coming, like the boy last year.
But I’ll get that beautiful drive by myself again, and it won’t matter,
Because it’s about me.

6:
500g bread flour
Why do you still love me?
350g water,
I’m writing this down, I promise,
No, see I’m taking notes.
Add 1/8th tsp yeast.
You told me you can’t say no to me.
Mix.
Turn.
Let stand 30-40 minutes.
Does that mean I can ask you for things?
Add 50g water.
15g salt.
Mix again.
You’re not supposed to flirt with me anymore.
Turn.
Wait 30-40 minutes and turn again.
Rise overnight on the counter.
Tell me why you love me.
Stretch out in the morning.
450 on a convection oven.
Tell me again I’m pretty,
Before I forget we said we wouldn’t do this anymore.
No, no, you only bake it 10-12 minutes.

7:
It’s me and the snails on the sidewalk at midnight when the weather has dropped below 90 and I can walk.
Me and the snails and the toads and the roaches on the sidewalk at midnight.
Flowers growing into the path,
Running into one-line spider webs,
Listening to podcasts,
Talking to my mother,
Tracking my distance, donating 25c a mile.

8:
Why can’t I be weak and still loved?
Why is all I do defend my right to be vulnerable,
To carry my trauma,
To have not had experiences,
To be uncomfortable.
To ask you not to say those things or use those words.
Right as you’re walking away.

9:
Is that what you do brain?
I finally give you some calm, some space, you’ve been having a nice time exploring,
And you give me unprocessed trauma,
You throw the boy’s words back in my face,
The idea that I should deal with the trauma, that there’s something wrong with me?
That it’s not okay I’m not at 100%?
It’s not fair.
I give you space and you give me more to deal with.

10:
He came over to pick up some candy I made.
And he didn’t leave.
I wasn’t expecting him to stay.
Had no beer to offer.
No nuthin.
I stayed six feet away.
The first hint of hey I have things to do, I thought would make him go,
But it didn’t.
He said something interesting,
He said I stack up better than anyone else they’ve ever been with,
Better job,
In better shape,
Better educated,
Better beard.
(Apparently that’s a type he told me)
Nothing about who he is as a person, which is all I care about right?
But he thinks of himself in these measurable terms,
Am better than.

Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 3

these have a distinctly romantic bent for which i cannot explain

1:
I’m a memory you don’t use to make decisions anymore.
I saw her, she looks just like me,
Was it that I was your type, just my personality didn’t fit?
I knew we wouldn’t work.
It doesn’t mean I didn’t want it.
You said you didn’t want that –
That life –
The one woman, living with you, loving you,
With you.
I said I needed to be able to be put first, and that couldn’t happen because of your kids.
You said, I want to be able to go with the flow and live in the moment.
I guess, it was my fault, taking you for your word.
I broke you up, got you back together, what will happen the next time we talk?
Will you remember to call on our birthday?

2:
How are you actually supposed to tell people how you feel?
This must have been some magical lesson y’all were taught in kindergarten.
And now we tell Tommy that what he did hurt our feelings and ask him not to do it again.
How do I say to this boy, hey, I have stronger feelings for you than I thought I would.
They caught.
How do people bring these things up in the moment?
Can you really tell people they made you angry? I’ve never seen it work. I have no modeling.
I’ll just keep guessing. But I feel like I’m buzzing around a bug zapper, waiting to get hit with electricity when I make the wrong move.

3:
64 ounces of soap.
That is how much came in the mail today.
Since April 27th I’ve known we were running low.
I looked for low-shipping local soap companies, liquid, of course, it has to be liquid.
I found online bulk retailers, I could buy a pallet of soap, shipping incld, not that expensive, really.
Finally, Monday, I was adding mustard seed to my grocery store online cart that now acts as my reminder list, and I saw it.
Two-pack Softsoap refill, free two-day delivery $8.94.
And it came in the mail, wrapped in overly large, unbranded ziploc baggies.
My soap. It came in the mail.
I called my mother,
Mom, I got more soap.

4:
Editing essays of folks who say they’re great writers.
I texted my friend applying for grad school, engineering management.
Hey, quit using adjectives. I have to cut the part where you say “I’m a succinct writer.”
I told him in the first round, tell me a story.
He said okay.
I told him in the second round, an essay should be supporting a main point. If your paragraphs are not supporting the main point …
Suddenly I was talking to my 8th graders, my tutoring students.
Why do we never learn the fundamentals?
Why do engineers never learn humility, clarity, or empathy?
Why can my 13 year olds not remember how to structure a paragraph for an essay?
Why don’t I remember I’m supposed to be full of coddling, even when they ask me for editing help?

5:
There’s a power dynamic issue, when one half of a friendship is in love with the other.
I left it with him, to decide if he wants to be my friend.
But I drew the boundaries.
I said I cut myself off from feeling anything toward you a long time ago.
He said he thinks that’s impossible,
Saying instead you know how I feel,
But never spelling it out like you want him to.

6:
I want to cry alone in a sound-proof room,
Feeling bad for Stevie Nicks in Silver Springs.
That’s what I’d do if I were alone.
I wouldn’t have to explain the way we use curse as a verb in America.
I could leave my room without someone saying my name.
I would wear my silvery, sparkly, somewhat dangerous top all day, because it’s shiny and it makes me happy.
But, look, I wouldn’t do any of those things if I were alone. I’d find another blocker excuse to stop me from living how I wanted. Today, I’m just using the stay-at-home orders trapping my roommate and I together.

7:
I returned a 23 palms shirt to the UPS store.
I sent emails to ads on craigslist about apartments in Washington.
I called the insurance company to fix the double claim that was denied falsely.
I made my bed, called my mother, took a shower, and put a sprig of rosemary in my hair I stole off a bush I passed while I was walking by.
These are the things I did today. I will not think more than one hour ahead.
Today I do one thing at a time.
I will now go make a playlist of music to listen to in the car tomorrow.
Notice how I hamper my own planning and future analysis brain, but I get stuff done for now.

8:
My body is smaller than it was in college,
I can see a vein in my neck now,
Feel a collarbone under my tapping.
My thighs, I’ve measured are still the same size, 24.5 inches.
My roommate told me that I’m melting.
I feel like I was supposed to look like this all along, and I’ve been hurting my body for all the things I imagined I did wrong.
There are wrinkles now around my eyes, without the fat to fill them in. And there are hip bones I forgot could close drawers.
But I still don’t know how to dance. And I still can’t do anything right.

9:
I told my therapist,
My dad said something I think you’ll think is funny.
I told him, my dad, when he asked how I used the money he sent me last week,
I said oh I’m using it to pay my therapist.
He said, so I’m literally paying for my mistakes.
I laughed.
He said, what would have been funnier is if you would have said, no for that you’d need to be paying more.
We laughed.
I’ve never seen my therapist laugh so hard, so unexpectedly.

10:
He texted, asking how I was.
I responded, and asked the same. To only receive a one-word reply.
I warned him, I’m calling you if you don’t give me anything.
So we sat on the phone for an hour.
And I oddly felt nothing but friend affection. A minor tug when he told me about another woman, how he’s going to focus on work again.
And I told him how I’m having trouble sharing.
It felt like we were friends again.
Like he made me promise,
When I made an off-color joke after he texted me for the first time in months,
Either drunk off his ass or sober, I’m not sure which is worse, he said, let’s always be friends.
I said pinky promise.
This is one of those ones where I want to read ahead in the chapters of life to see how we end, if we’re still friends in five years, or if I’ve forgotten his name, and I’m not sure where he lives.

Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 2

these are not as good as the last bunch. but they’re here.

1:
Today, once again,
I sat at my laptop and stared at my screen.
I should start that project.
I should at least plan the project.
If I sit here long enough, the fear might go away,
Then I can take a baby step toward completing the project.
I need to be okay feeling this feeling,
It’s okay.
We’re in a pandemic, it’s okay.
You gave yourself this deadline.
You can do the work by then.
But I know, it’ll be Sunday night, and I will have beat myself up for not getting work done, again,
But,
I will have finished another novel,
Because there’s nothing as good as reading when you’ve got something, really, you’re supposed to be doing.

2:
I said to my roommate that I was going to sit with a suicidal friend.
This was a lie.
In fact, I was sneaking off to a boy’s house.
So I could hug someone.
And not be told to eat something,
Or offered coffee I can’t drink.
I wanted social time,
Not this limbo between no alone time and no people time.
That’s what it feels like with a roommate you don’t really like.
I’m always assailable but never purposefully seeking company.

3:
I got a sunburn.
On Sunday.
I put sunscreen on my face and the front of my neck.
I low-key wanted to get a tan.
To prove I still can.
And to show off my slightly less jiggly body with proof I got it in the sunshine.
Instead I got a sunburn on the back right of my shoulder.
And I’m sleeping on my one side.
And smelling like the green burn cream aloe lotion.
My roommate told me, she didn’t know my skin was so sensitive.
When she came into my room at 11 p.m. to “hang with you.”
But she wishes she was as white as me so she could dye her hair copper.
And other things I can’t make up.

4:
My friend.
I like friends. I like having friends. It makes me feel nice and fluffy inside.
Look at me, family, I can do what you can’t!
I can have lasting friendships.
She’s having a hard time.
And I want to go and sit with her.
But I can’t.
Same as last week. The risk is too high and she’s too immunocompromised.
If she dies though, I’ll feel so guilty.

5:
My appetite is back.
So I made the only mac and cheese they had at the store,
Which is the gluten-free kind full of words like non-gmo and happy looking lambs and things.
I found the way to make it better,
Was to add small pieces of chopped deli ham I had fried in butter and kosher salt.
I could eat it then.
This is what I’ve been sharing at work, with my friends,
With family who call.
We’ve been talking about the food we make,
And the tricks we’ve learned.
It somehow feels belittling and I don’t know why,
To only talk of food,
And the food I make.
Belittling maybe, in that I think these people only think of me in terms of food.

6:
My lovely therapist lady suggested I talk to my dad about how I’m feeling.
It went badly to say the least,
But I did learn how hard it is to be on the other end of the behaviors I have.
The talking about emotions from some distant third-party line,
The switching gears,
The over-definition of terms and abstraction of whatever it is you’re feeling,
So you don’t have to feel it.
The sense that when you’re sharing it’s to as a supplicant to some gatekeeper,
Who will hold the pain for you.
It’s annoying. I do it too. It’s where I got it from.
Him.
At least now I know.
And I tried to share with a friend this week, how I was really feeling. Tried.

7:
I’ve started to hate the sounds of my footsteps on the pavement.
That’s how much I’m walking.
But it does tired me out.
So I can sleep.
Then push next on my alarm three times.
And move from the bed to the chair to do work.
Where I pretend things matter,
And in fact,
All I’m thinking about is how I’m still waiting for someone to save me.
This time it’s a magical vaccine that will make me have this beautiful life again,
That I don’t think would fit me anymore.

8:
I had a lawyer draft a whole estate plan,
Including contingencies and everything.
Paid up front.
And then haven’t been able to read the edits to the documents and sign off on them.
My mom told me today, her life insurance is good until she’s 66.
And one of the policies goes to her kids, instead of her husband.
She said, that’s where the money for my funeral will come from.
My investment account made $350 dollars since I opened it.
Dead people’s money.
It feels like dead people’s money.
It feels like everything I pay for now has blood on its hands.

9:
A book made me laugh so hard, I remembered what it is to laugh.
The sound caught me off guard.
Is that me?
Is that what I sound like?
All that rust?
She was just describing something funny about Seattle city planning.
It wasn’t that funny, reading it the second time.
And I comfortably shift back down,
Into my “I’ve seen everything old-internet veteran” mode.
Safe again, from my own smile.

10:
I shut off my phone to disconnect.
Maybe re-center.
And as I was waiting for the screen to go full dark,
I picked up my work phone,
And started scrolling.
What new habits will come from this?
Will I always have a switch that can be flipped now, that remembers,
You have to stay six feet away from them.
They’re too close.
Don’t breathe their air.

Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 1

i’m back, it’s been a while. let’s try this again. covid style.

1:
I am, after so much time,
A normal weight, though my thighs are still too big.
I don’t quite know how to deal with it.
No bras fit anymore.
Not even the bra that I kept from middle school that has the top of the cup folded over
And washed so many times the fold has it’s own line of lint.
That bra doesn’t fit.
I dropped toothpaste out of my mouth,
And it hit the counter.
Instead of my chest.
I don’t know how to deal with this.
Was my chest part of my identity?
I didn’t think it was.
But now, none of my clothes look quite as good,
My silhouette more smooth than wavy.
My ass is always covered by my tops now,
Buy I keep wondering where did I go?
And why did what left have to come from my boobs?

2:
I drove my friend to the grocery store.
She doesn’t drive.
How do I tell her that I don’t want to go in,
I actually don’t want to breathe her air,
I don’t want her to touch anything.
She suggests a game night because we’ve already been exposed and she hasn’t been out, her roommate isn’t here.
But she’s gone in lyfts.
And she was just in the store.
And her roommate is still working.
How do I tell this wonderful woman, who I feel might be suicidal,
That I can’t hang out with her?
I’m too nervous.

3:
I called the clinic, I sent a note, they called me back,
They said, the doctor would like you to come in,
I said, isn’t that just for emergencies?
They said they’re allowing obstetrics emergencies and patients with abnormal bleeding.
Oh.
That’s me.
I’m abnormal bleeding.
They’re going to take my temperature outside.
I’m to wear a mask.
The doctor will wear a mask.
They’ll do an ultrasound if necessary.
I have to remember to drink more water in the morning.
In case I have to pee, for a pregnancy test.

4:
My roommate who can’t cook keeps offering me food.
Usually right as I’ve just finished my own dinner.
She makes Turkish pizza that isn’t cooked on the bottom.
Uses tomato paste that’s been sitting on the counter.
Where is this intersection between being polite and respecting cultural norms,
And saying, get the fuck away from me, you just touched the stove after handling raw chicken.
Yes you can have my vinegar, go make pickles.
But for the love of god, leave me alone.

5:
My sister didn’t say congratulations,
She said, I assume if you wanted my advice you would have asked.
I got into grad school.
The thing I’ve been trying to do for so long.
And she said, in a tersely worded text,
I’m here if you’d like to get my thoughts in this process.
Somehow, once again,
She’s managed to make it about her.
This big thing in my life,
Somehow managed to make me feel guilty.
About her. Not telling her the right way, in the right time, with the right coddling words.

6:
My therapist lady is good.
She tells me to feel what I’m feeling,
And be in the moment, feeling what I’m feeling.
Don’t think more than an hour ahead,
To what I might be worried about then.
Apparently this is what mindfulness is,
Not the corporate crap I was fed in onboarding training.

7:
My biggest news is that my spider plant is growing babies,
Pups I think they’re actually called,
I will grow them.
And give them away.
And love them forever.
This is the plant I stole from my therapist’s office.
So many years ago now.
I pinched one of the babies off her vine, while I was waiting, and put it in my coat pocket.
I had it in a big pot so that its hair could grow out over the googly eyes I glued on the terracotta.
It has babies now.
I haven’t killed it.
I can keep this alive.
I can keep me alive.

8:
I’m seeing a boy who has such interesting, strict definitions of relationships.
But never thought to tell the people he’s with what he expects,
And hasn’t quite mastered taking the blame for bad communication.
I told him, my body likes him, really likes him.
But my brain isn’t quite sure.
He has what I like to call the engineer’s morality.
This is black and that is white.
And I will work to do this thing, and make sure me and mine are protected.
I don’t think about the implications of the work I do. That is for someone else.
These are the people who make the Amazons possible.
Because they build the machines that tell us how to move products faster,
Not if we should move products faster.
Just how.

9:
I sent my brother a graduation check in the mail in a card to his apartment from mine.
I will not be there to see him graduate.
I will not buy him pizza.
Last year, last year,
When we were talking about when to buy my plane tickets.
I said, if you want me there, I’m there, even if it’s just to buy you pizza
And say I’m proud of you.
I can’t be there now.
I never bought my ticket.
I love him (and now his fiancé) from afar.
I talk to them on speaker.
And say I love you to him and his dog and cat.
I care from over here,
In the same distant way I always have.
And I offer money.
In a card.
Signed with love.

10:
My friend called me to chat.
Who are these people who call to chat?
Why do you not have a purpose?
What am I to do with this chat?
But I listen, and treat it like a conversation with my mom.
More listening than talking,
But paying attention because your insights are wanted and you might get quizzed at the end.
She tells me that she needs validation that it was okay to break up with this boy because they didn’t click in real life. They were long-distance before this, video chatting.
I say yes, if you don’t click, breakup.
She hangs up to work on a work project.
I start taking notes of friend’s conversations again, like my grandpa did, on the backs of package return slips, to help me remember.
That boy’s name who lived in Portland,
For when she calls again.