Eleven Poems in October

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

1:
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.
Something.

2:
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.

3:
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.

4:
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.

5:
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!

6:
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.

7:
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.

8:
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?
No.
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.

9:
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.

10:
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.

11:
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.

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