He would be a good man if he chose to be.
If he didn’t speak so carelessly of eschewing condoms,
Because he can afford child support.
If he chose to treat people as well as he treats his laptop.
When he decides he can love with the pettiness of – you hurt me so I hurt you.
He would be a good man.
But for now, he’s just a catch for a woman in her thirties.
The kind who think – good enough for the next date, I won’t think about the future.
I still breathe out smoke.
After the flags, and heat, and bass of the music festival,
All that broken grass floating in the breeze,
In the flowered hair, and the suntan grease.
I still feel like I’m breathing out the smoke.
From the boy I kissed last night,
Whose patio I sat on while he smoked,
And I drank,
Overlooking a parking lot and an AT&T building.
I’m breathing out his smoke today.
Happy to be living, I suppose,
But regretting what I put my body through.
She used to tell me I was mean.
As a weapon.
And when he told me,
When he first met me,
That Matt had warned him,
She’ll be a bitch,
But she’s cool.
Somehow it confirmed
Everything I thought I’d avoided.
Because I only have myself to blame for my loneliness.
Only the pretty can get away with the petty.
It’s me that’s the reason they’re all gone.
I have a back-up brunch date who I would have loved to love me.
We talked about reciprocity in friends and lovers, and he took my side of the argument.
And still doesn’t message first.
He’s right. I need to raise my standards,
Which would mean excluding him.
Who will absorb what I tell him,
But never bounce the racquetball back to me.
It just hits the wall like a wet sponge, drops to the floor,
And the conversation stops.
But if I need to talk,
He’ll listen. Not empathically, but with eye contact,
Sometimes all I need,
When I need a reminder to keep looking for better, more.
I can feel myself thinking about running away again,
That high school thought I never outgrew.
Hoping I’ll have some major life calamity,
Some parent will die, some limb shrivel, some monumental thing,
To give me an excuse, to get away, run into the hills,
Start over, start for the first time, live on my own,
Come to term with my loneliness while living in the mountains.
Have a story to tell, something more than hum-drum, somehow matter, find hope, find love, find a piece of life I feel is worth living for again, for the first time, star in my own hallmark movie, and finally be skinny.
I told him he was shiny, a pretty-boy
He didn’t understand. He’d never gotten that before.
But he has a sheen, a clean sheen on his aura.
Like he’s never consoled a friend after her husband hit her,
Or had to watch kids get in a car with drunk parents,
Had a drug-fueled gun pointed at him,
Or wondered if he could afford to eat tomorrow.
He might be into kink,
Think he’s been with a lot of women,
Know how to build a house and wire a fusebox,
But he hasn’t seen real darkness.
You can always spot it on the souls of those who have.
I told him it wasn’t a bad thing.
I remember wishing I knew what to say,
How to behave,
Hoping I was doing it right, with this people I wanted to impress, wanted to like me, wanted to be my friends.
Worried in the middle of something beautiful it would all go wrong, like putting the last lines on a good drawing.
But I can’t be blunt with them like that.
Can’t say, I want us to be the good kind of friends who share secrets, and text about weird body hair and the feelings hormones make you feel.
So I try to play it cool, be myself, quiet in the corner, asking questions, joking, smiling, open, loving, accepting, calm.
Pretending to be chill, hoping it magically seeps inside.
If I don’t have late, unreturned library books,
Maybe there’s no reason to keep living.
It always leaves me with something to do,
Some obligation I’m beholden to, some social construct I can be a part of,
If some computer is keeping track of me, I’m still connected.
It’s like marinating chicken,
You can’t really do anything too drastic if you’re marinating chicken,
Because it’s there waiting for you, it would go bad if you’re in the hospital, and the chicken cost all that money and work. I mean really.
Like unmatched socks, unbought Christmas presents, or half-written thank-you emails,
You have to keep going to pretend there’s a linear story in your life, one with completion,
Where those semi-glanced at meaningless objects will be integral for the plot in season forty-five.
Let me say it again.
Treat me like a person.
Do not ogle me like a curiosity,
Ply me with questions to figure me out,
And discard me when you’re bored.
Only text as a response, and never as an initiative.
Know me for who I am.
See me for what I love.
You think I’m only interesting, because you don’t understand me.
But I happy that I’m interesting to you, it means I have your attention.
I feel important to be interesting to you, someone so mighty.
I’d love it even more if you liked me,
Understood me, could hear me when I talked, and loved me when I was myself.
Because, I change when I know people are watching me, learning me.
I cover up the feelings.
Because while you won’t hurt me physically,
Those are wide open. So you can have my body.
But you don’t get to have who I am.
Because you didn’t love me for who I showed you.
I pack bond with my phone.
I pack bond with characters in books,
With strangers on the bus who look at me kindly,
With pictures of very chubby birds,
And plants on my desk.
The boy I slept with last Sunday, and the steering wheel in my car
I pack bond with anything that moves and seems to like me, accept me.
Because I don’t have pack, family, home,
So I grasp at anything walking by
And each time an arm gets pulled off,
I have a little bit shorter reach, just a bit shorter,
So that the next time, I can’t quite reach what’s walking by.
I’m sorry I haven’t written,
I’m sorry I’m not enough.
There was too much,
And I was not enough.
Whatever you want to say,
The answer is that I’m sorry.
Not that I’ll do better,
But that I would like you to know I feel guilt,
The kind of guilt one feels when someone likes you but you’re already involved with someone else.
No that’s not right, because I love you all.
Which is why I’m sorry.
She’s still alive.
My grandmother is still alive.
She’s recovered from kidney failure stage four, pneumonia, malnutrition,
They’re taking her off hospice.
Two weeks they told us at Christmas.
What is she playing at, living through the pain as usual, determined to cause as much harm as possible.
Making a caretaker for life out of my mother who has better things to do.
She needs to die. Her brain has huge black swaths.
Also I want to eat the food at her funeral, I helped plan the menu.
What will I call you when I forget my mind?
Will you be my sister?
Or my first boyfriend’s name?
Or nothing at all?
Who will you be to me when I can’t chew my food?
It decided to all catch up with me today,
I finally got enough sleep,
Or sat still long enough,
For my brain to think.
It was all there waiting for me,
All the trauma, heartache, pain, agony, suffering, blah.
I’ll tell them to you one by one as I can. As I need to. As I can express.
I’ll verbally process on paper, talking to myself,
Wanting to have that perfect person that negates the need for all this explaining.
I don’t know the pin number to my debit card.
And I have to buy a monthly bus pass for $41.25.
The money I saved in my little silver box has all been broken.
You have to enter a pin number to get cash at the grocery store.
I just got my new driver’s license, so I can’t write a check at the store to get the extra cash because the dln doesn’t match, so the machine won’t take it.
They won’t let you write a check for a bus pass.
My bank is back in my home state.
They need me to come into the bank to verify my identify, three thousand miles away.
I don’t have an account here, because I don’t have a permanent address here, because I’m living as a “guest” and I’m not on the lease.
So I don’t have checks that match my new license, so I can’t write a check to get cash back to pay for the bus pass.
They have a mobile app, but it doesn’t work on all the buses, and I don’t always have my phone charged.
My sister doesn’t have any spare cash I can pay her for later.
She tells me to go to an ATM.
I’ve never used an ATM, I tell her,
And her eyes bug out, but she doesn’t offer to help.
I miss your old apartment,
That truly awful place.
Near Spiderhouse, west campus, off Guad, past 26th
I miss it now that you have a gate with a key code,
An apartment with white walls,
And no twindly staircase to a creaked, upper floor.
The times we played vr without room to turn around,
The snacks and sweaters in my little paper bags,
The way it smelled so terribly like you.
Your bed on the floor without sheets,
The heart murmur, the thighs, the ceiling-projected midnight movies,
I miss that I had hope back then, that you might want more,
That we could fit together.
That I would trust you enough to share my feelings,
That I hadn’t seen you snap at your kid’s mom.
When you would talk as much as I would,
And find me amusing instead of a thing to deal with,
When I could crash at your place after getting drunk at the bars downtown.
He said he didn’t want it to end, didn’t he?
When I told him someone else loved me now.
Funny, then, he never did a thing to keep me.
I need to be someone’s first.
I can’t come second.
I want to be someone’s sun and moon and all the stars.
So, I won’t date you if you have kids,
Or if you’re in a living arrangement with your brother and ex-girlfriend who’s really more of a sister to you, who you haven’t slept with in three years, is coming third okay?
I can’t take being pushed aside for whatever it is that’s more important.
I want to be important. I want to be looked at, taken into consideration, important, recognized, give me validity you external sources.
Let me go down the list of people I’ve failed,
Of promises I’ve broken to myself,
Commitments I’ve forgotten I’ve made,
Things I wanted so much to remember.
I cannot love myself for being human, I can barely love myself for being who I am.
There aren’t any clouds in Texas.
Oh sure it rains, turns gray, and the sun disappears.
But where is my orange and purple?
Where are the dayends in a blaze of glory?
I want my feelings to be seen in the sky.
Those beautiful moving, sweeping, forces of nature.
There are no swirls, fluffs, miniature elephants, or dancing biscuit dough,
It’s clear, or it’s airplane stripes, or a gray you can’t see, deceiving all these southerners,
Making them think those painters are making it up,
Instead of barely capturing how beautiful it is where it’s not this damn hot.
Leave him alone.
I must have spent the same amount of time thinking about texting him as I have actually spent with him.
I want him to plan things with me,
And take me seriously,
And like me.
He’s starting a new job, I should leave him alone.
He doesn’t care about me,
I’ll never see him again.
Even if my family did background research and really likes him.
What did I do wrong?
Was I not enough of myself?
Why doesn’t anyone love me?
Please, at least,
Don’t text him again, after this one.
He told me I have one setting.
I only behave with people one way.
I said yes.
He said he was just noting.
I told him that he hadn’t seen my other sides.
He told me to drop my filters.
I said they’re there for your protection.
I knew he was immature.
I knew it.
I told my sister.
And she laughed at me, that I need someone communicative.
She laughed because she think I don’t share.
But I knew he was incapable of talking about his feelings, at least with me.
But I need that kind of transparency.
I don’t think he knows enough to try and change.
To ask for what he needs, to infer, to care, to suppose, or touch me with anything other than his hands.
It feels like he threw me away, by not taking the time to think of me.
Just because it doesn’t show on my face doesn’t mean I don’t feel it.
But now I read something online that says, adapting your actions based on how you think the other person will react is manipulative. Is it?
I don’t know.
If you’re only responsible for how you feel, doesn’t that let you get away with whatever you want? Lead to pleasure-seeking behavior only?
Maybe it’s just a sign that I was raised in a bad emotional environment.
He keeps calling me weird,
I think I asked him not to.
I told a friend,
Anyone who still has their bed against a corner isn’t mature enough for a relationship. Doesn’t take into account basic accessibility of two people sleeping.
I sat there at two a.m. wanting to leave.
Because I couldn’t sleep.
Because I didn’t feel like he liked me.
I don’t want to be called weird.
I want to feel normal and fine just as I am,
Not away from you
Just okay for being me.
I’m sorry you don’t come across people who behave differently than you expect.
Is it because I already had it worked out in my mind?
He isn’t for me.
He makes me feel bad about my body.
Goodness gracious. I’m supposed to say out loud –
Please don’t blame me for the way my body reacted, or
I’m sorry I threw off your groove the first time we tried to have sex?
What else can I say but I don’t have a lot of sex, and I’m sorry.
I’ll be a joke you tell in stand up.
And you can be my thought in a poem.
My heart was protecting me, I knew this.
And I’m little mad at it, for not letting me get hurt, feel.
But I’ll be leaving unscarred, and with a little more perspective on myself.
Here’s what we’re going to do.
We’re not going to initiate contact.
I left nothing in your apartment.
I figure in a couple weeks you’ll invite me out on a Monday.
And I’ll decide from there.
I won’t seek your attention. So I can detach.
I’ll be horrible, and not speak how I feel out loud,
I’ll turn into the ball of self-sufficiency.
Wring out the old happy face leftover from my terrible years of living with my mother and telling everyone everything was fine.
And you’ll get no part of me.
Even though I laugh all the time, and can usually keep a conversation up,
I’m supposed to be quiet?
While you make me feel bad for taking too long to get wet?
You’ve never said you wanted me.
I would have thought about being body monogamous, but my heart would’ve remain elsewhere,
Behind those filters you hate so much,
Behind the never minds you don’t want me to stay, that’s where I keep it.
Because I need a depth you can’t provide, I need understanding, compassion, and bluntness.
I need it. I’m not scared to ask for this, it isn’t rude, and I’m asking politely.
Is it because he’s going to say what I think he’s going to say,
The same thing I’m going to say,
Which is I’m indifferent, and my body needs warmth?
And then you compare to me a character from an anime show?
Is it my work to fix it? Do I want to take that on?
It isn’t my work to point out what your mom didn’t teach you, and twist to make it better.
For someone who hurts me?
You don’t really get to hurt me twice.
Those doors shut honey.
I’m sorry I have too many filters?
I’m sorry sex makes me jumpy and tense because I’ve been assaulted?
What would make it better?
I’m sure it’s my fault, but let’s keep putting the blame over here shall we?
What’s he going to tell those friends of his that would never ask after me?
She found someone else,
Hand wave, haven’t seen her in a while,
I don’t know, good as far as a I know?
No one would ask him what happened.
No one would be like, bro, you’ve been an asshole.
Do you think because apparently I’m a machine, that I don’t need words, feelings, water, and food?
He’s hurtful in his casual everyday.
I told him he can say whatever he wants, but that he’s responsible for the result.
And he told his friend that he has to watch what he says around me.
Equality feels oppressive sometimes to the ones used to getting their way.
Go ahead, keep calling me a robot.
Then ask me why you only see one side of me.
She butted into a conversation to say how nice it was to hear me laugh,
Told me she felt like being social, and sat at the other table,
And sounds like me when I talk.
She’s the worst combination for my personality,
Self-confident and incompetent.
She changed the spreadsheet without permission,
Calls her fiancé her partner.
My partner this. My partner that.
I have thought it out. And now I know.
Exactly why I don’t like her.
I tore up the paintings I was making for my brother for Christmas,
After my mom called to tell me grandma was going into hospice.
I told him what happened and that I’d make him more.
He nodded and forgot, I’m sure.
I finally finished them, just now in April.
I told him they’re coming.
He sent his address.
And now I have the uphill battle to make it to the post office.
I went on a terrible awful date, where I said more to the waiter than the dinner partner.
And yet, I want him to call me, and message me too much.
Is it so I can decide how I really feel about him?
Maybe I want everyone to love me, just because I want options,
Or choices. Or it’s something evolutionary?
Am I so reactionary, I can’t go get what I want?
I have to react to how you feel.
Think about it forever.
Even if I didn’t like you,
I want you to think I’m great.
External validation from the opposite sex, I guess. Confirmation that my worst fears aren’t true,
That I’m not unlovable, socially awkward, unattractive, mean.
Somehow them wanting to see me again, spend time with me again,
Is proof I’m worthy of living, loving.
I live with a very critical woman,
And I’m worried it’s rubbing off on me.
Not allowed to misspeak,
Not allowed to leave unscrutinized.
Or you’ll get teased, or it’ll get brought up again,
Or they’ll remember.
She waits for me to fail, so she can feel better about herself,
But I’m too competitive to let her win, get away with it.
And there’s a tension, and I can never relax.
I’m worried I’m making other people feel the way she makes me feel.
All I want to say to the whole world is leave me alone.
Let me make mistakes in private.
I felt like the whole lining of my uterus fell out.
And I uttered a quiet, annoyed oh my god.
I wanted to tell my boss, I need to work the rest of the day from home,
Or I will spend 1/8th of my day walking to and from the bathroom.
Taking pain pills and head-down on my desk.
But I didn’t because somehow,
Women are supposed to be quiet about this massive pain
If we’re at work,
It’s not supposed to exist,
I’m not supposed to wince if I’m in a meeting, and I get a muscle cramp hard enough to leave me on the floor.
I’m supposed to be proper, and whisper the gross words I say instead.
My sister confided in me, over tea and a Pakistani food truck,
She looks for mother figures, but hates that she looks for mother figures,
Angry, because she thinks our mom didn’t do a good enough job.
But I don’t care.
My mother has been a person to me for a long time.
What can I tell her when she looks at me like she wants me to be angry too.
She wants me to stop seeing our step-dad in solidarity with her.
But being threatened with being hit,
Doesn’t scare me.
I’m tougher than she is in a lot of ways.
And there’s a strength in that I didn’t realize I had.
I’m painting triangles,
Not well, skillfully or with meaning,
But because it makes me happy,
And I’ve been excited to come home with something to do for the past three days.
My mother told me,
I think you should have a baby, so you can center yourself,
And have something to live for,
You could get one of those people to do it for you,
I think it would be good for you.
You’d make such a good mom.
It’s the exact opposite of what I’ve been telling myself,
To be okay alone.
To be solid here, right here, and live here, and not tomorrow.
And now I don’t know which one’s right.
I miss the days before I realized I am my body,
If souls don’t exist,
Before I realized I can’t say,
My body wants this, my body wants that,
Instead of I want. I need.
I miss the days when I thought I could escape the skin I wear,
When I didn’t realize I have to live in this forever,
Be trapped here forever,
When I get sick,
When it fails me,
And when I finish dying.