Two Texas Trees

photo of a beard with moss

i love this old man’s beard on these desert trees

photo of a tree with painted on eyes

in a texas greenbelt park

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Ten Poems (09-16-17)

1:
Marc said he ran out of his script and has been without his meds for a couple of days.
He has a mohawk now. He tells me. While hiding in his girlfriend’s bedroom to avoid the fight she’s having with her temper-laden fifth grader.
He’s sharing to share, and because I’m there, available.
I say this as a point of pride, but probably because I’m afraid it’s not true,
That people share to me. I’m a non-threatening person. I’m not going to judge you,
Says something in my face. And it’s true.

2:
It is sitting at the same desk trying your best to emulate a machine.
To be paid, enough but not to spare, to do the same task ten-thousand times. To find information for other people, for other corporations to then sell.
And they want me to be happy? I do my job. That’s all they get from me. They don’t get me to care, or buy their products or ideas.
No.
I will do what you pay me for. I will go home. I will leave when I can.
Because I’m just a little more tired inside than I was the day before,
And I won’t be able to apply for new jobs tonight.
I don’t want to play these games for a giftcard. If you can afford to pay me more, than pay me more.

3:
I don’t give them enough time. We don’t do anything interesting.
This one sideburns, tallness, a nice voice, and a blue short-sleeved collared shirt.
At a dive bar where the pizza pans are better maintained than the building.
I don’t think he liked me. He had somewhere to be,
And I had to wait an extra twenty minutes to sober up from the one beer he bought me.
We ran into each other, but not to stay.

4:
I need to buy black markers to draw with,
And enough paper to stretch the world.
So I can listen to jazz and paint where it’s quiet.
In the sun, with windows, and air-conditioning and ice tea.

5:
I will ask him this week.
I will say,
Hey I like talking to you we should hang out this weekend.

No. I’ll be like my Dad.
So worried about everything going wrong and getting everything set, that I’ll forget to order food for myself, and I’ll have to share with what you ordered.

I think he likes me.
I want two tries for when it goes wrong the first time.
I bet it’s the age thing. I bet he doesn’t want to make a move because that gap. But I would be happy if he did.
Maybe he doesn’t like me, or I’m not pretty enough, or there’s something wrong with me.
Oh my god I’m being ridiculous.

6:
Open your mouth and tell our boss that you’re having debilitating cramps.
So what he might be embarrassed.
He’s not in pain. You are.
Tell him the problem. Tell him how it’s effecting your work. Tell him a solution.
Why are you embarrassed? Do you think you’re the first women he’s met with a period?
It’s blood. It’s your body. It’s who you are.

7:
He pushed my no.
And he couldn’t take a joke.
He didn’t know how to say out loud,
Please stop you’re hurting my feelings.
So he pushed my no, and I pushed his silence.
He hasn’t sent me another text after I thanked him for Saturday.

8:
This wonderful woman with purple hair streaks on her no longer gray hair
Tells me, why would I be embarrassed?
No harm.
So what.
She’s right.
Can someone message that information to my brain please? It’s not getting through.

9:
Please give me a dream.
I want something I want to do for the rest of my life.
Give me a calling.
Give me a home.
I’ll work so hard.
If you tell me I can succeed.
Please.

10:
My senior thesis would disagree with you.
I kid you not.
I was talking to stretch my mind.
And she says,
My senior thesis would disagree with you about that.
I don’t want to provoke the people I’m smarter than,
I don’t need to prove myself in that way.
But damn, maybe she thinks I agree with her because I stayed quiet.
You shouldn’t play games with drunk people’s minds, and you shouldn’t tease the easily angered. Maybe.

Ten Poems (09-10-17)

mostly about romantic relationships today

1:
I remember after the first time,
Thinking I should feel something different.
Thinking I should be thinking something else.
Instead of vaguely sick and uncomfortable.
And mostly bored.
How can you not see it on my skin the next day?
How does it not show on the outside what I’ve been doing.
Shouldn’t it be obvious to everyone?
I should be the drunk who’s worried he’s drunk at his kid’s basketball game.
But instead, I over-interpret certain looks from passing strangers,
And take too many showers.

My brain likes to spit back certain moments the next day, as I work through them.
I sat on my bed in my church dress and thought through whatever I was trying to think through.
I guess going over the memories again and again hoping to make sense of them, and relegate them to certain sections of my brain, so that they come when called, and not surprising unexpected, uncomfortable.

2:
I’m so much more used to forward people,
Like me.
(Is that a lie?)
Who tell me they want me.
And I feel safe then,
To be blunt like I like.
I want to be the one holding back.
Power. Or something.

3:
Jesus, what have I done?
I broke it off. Officially.
I used my words and said I couldn’t keep the door open romantically any longer.
And two days later he sends me a text,
He says he’s going to change, I’m going to notice a change.
Is he being manipulative again?
Am I his love coach for life now?
Bad for breeding. He was sick with crohn’s.
We were raised in different SES places.
I’m cold steel on the inside, don’t forget.

4:
Did I really call it off?
He was nice.
That’s all I keep saying about him.
He wouldn’t give me grief in the way I want.
It’s a different personality type than I’m used to,
So I don’t already know what bugs him,
And what turns him on,
Just because I’ve met his type before.
Is that why I wasn’t attracted to him?
I’m not attracted to the guy I was with yesterday, but he was forward, so that was fine.
I don’t really want to know what that says about me. I’m not going to over-think that one.
That thought has been relegated to the unopened file cabinet of my brain.

5:
How do we feel about short guys?
I’m not that tall.
But I’m taller than him without shoes on.
It shouldn’t matter right?
No. It shouldn’t.
But I’m finding small things about people again,
The small things mean I’m looking for an excuse out,
Instead of a reason in.

6:
I’m excited to see him.
Is he too old?
Am I imagining too far in advance.
I think the gray hair is cute.
This is the first time I’ve planned out a life with someone.
I get to come into this community of people who have thought these thoughts before.
Who try to plan to get phone numbers, and think of what children will look like.
It’s a first for me.
I really do like him.
My friend told me the biggest problem with ten plus age gaps is that you’re very rarely at the same point in your life.
What do you mean, I asked.
He said, someone wants kids, has kids, or wants to move.
One is ready to settle, and the other wants to travel.
I said I’m open both ways, I just want someone.
We both like the cold, isn’t that enough to build something on.

7:
I wonder if she loves him.
And that’s why she was so upset,
When he said he was starting a relationship with a co-worker.
She has a boyfriend. In Milwaukee.
He seems better than her.
I’ve met the type before. I wouldn’t be around her if not for him.
But they’re “good friends.”
I can’t tell him he’s better than his friends.
I don’t know what troll they’ve faced in a dungeon that’s forged their bonds.

8:
Curls and comfort,
And talking too much.
God I love curls.
He’s a furnace,
But he made me feel attractive.
Which I know I am,
But I still want to hear it every once in a while.

9:
I feel young,
Like I should be happy I still have a first left to feel,
And the novelty of newness still able to take up hours after I should have been asleep.

10:
I went to a church with my sister today.
We sat side-by-side like we did when we were growing up,
And my dad was in the pulpit.
I can’t remember the last time we sat alone in the pew bench together.
It was our dad’s church, small, old building, older chandeliers, oldest congregation.
But it was warm.
I don’t know how to explain it, other than warm.
The rhythm from my childhood was there,
And passing peace, and silent thoughts.
My sister said she was crying a lot,
How beautiful it is to see this group of people coming together to make themselves better for an hour. It’s not often anymore you can be in a building full of people who are good. Who you know are good.
I don’t go to church because I believe. And I told my friends I go because then at Christmas time so I don’t have to answer to my mother.
But I think it’s the rhythm that gets me.
The social aspect. I’m doing what I did the first twenty years of my life. It feels right.
I don’t have to agree with what the pastor says, or say every word of the confession of faith.
I can be in my own space again, know what will happen next, and be at peace.
Think thoughts I’ve thought before, but were just a little dusty.
God, the comfort, and the opportunity to sing as loud as I want.

Ten Poems (09-05-17)

i’ve been crying today. not really happy stuff below
1:
I ate my feelings today.
I ate broccoli cooked without butter,
And a spinach salad with honey dijon dressing.
Then hummus and cold pretzels, because they have to refrigerate both in those little packs.
I went to the store to buy special ice cream,
But when I got home, I was too sad to eat it.

2:
I can’t keep living with her, because she has to be the best,
The smartest, the thinnest, the right.
I can’t be myself here.
She doesn’t let me be angry,
This woman who says you have to get emotions out,
She makes me ashamed to be me.
I don’t want to explain myself when I get home,
I want to cry and eat potato chips with chopsticks so the salt doesn’t get on my fingers.

3:
I sat at my desk today and tried not to cry for eight hours.
Mark, I said, send me a happy update about your relationship,
He told me that sometimes they just look at each other and blush and giggle.
Isn’t that the cutest?
And then I tried not to cry some more.

4:
Me. I did it. I broke it off.
I said I needed clarity. And I got it.
Two shots. I gave him two shots.
And now for the first time I get to hear the phrases I didn’t think people really said out loud.
Please stay.
And
I want to go back to the way it was,
I’m really trying,
We keep coming back to this,
I’m sorry.

5:
I’m losing my bed.
As in the previous roommate changed her mind and decided in fact she did want the mattress and frame she left here.
So I’m spending my second paycheck in months on a new bed I probably won’t be able to take with me when I decide to leave again.
It’s just a bed. It’s just money.
Maybe I should’ve taken that offer of six hundred a month for a lakeside cabin on the island.

6:
I’m forgetting,
That I don’t have to be the prettiest to be human,
I don’t have to win every time to be happy.
It’s okay to do it wrong.
Sometimes you can do it all right, and it still won’t work.
My mom still thinks I’m great.
I don’t have to compare myself to anyone else,
I don’t have to say I’m better with people, or I can hike farther,
I can say,
I am me. I am good enough.

7:
I was being emotional,
So then there’s a reaction.
Useful, eh?
Can’t do it by themselves,
But oh man,
Raise a ruckus,
And guess who’s had hidden opinions this whole time?

8:
I’m pulling all the tendons in my brain away from the connections toward him.
Into myself.
I’ll hold to myself.
I’ll be safe.
I won’t need him, or rely on him.
I can again be self-contained. And share surface information only.

9:
I have a thought I take with me into work everyday.
If I make it to line 200 then I can think about how much fun tonight is going to be.
I can dream about seeing the guy with gray hair who I think is adorable,
Even if he’s too old for me.
Maybe we can talk again.
Line 202.
Just six more hours.

10:
We’re meeting for ice cream.
First date style.
I’m trying to be chill.
Stroll on,
As the guy on the radio told me this morning.
But what if he says we won’t work out because I call him on his mansplaining?
What if he has hair that I can see out the back of his t-shirt?
He could send me a cat emoji.
Or he could be cool.
I could be cool.
And he still wouldn’t send me another message.

Ten Poems (09-04-17)

all right guys. i’m having trouble writing. so we’re reinstating ten poems in twenty minutes, that way least i’m writing something.
welcome to day one.

 
1:
I’m working again
In an office that gives you free food and drink and snacks for the day.
What could be better?
I’m in a safe office. There’s a place to park.
The people are kind.
Short commute.
Good pay. Easy.
Easy work.
It’s not hard. It’s entering numbers, basically.
My bills are paid for once, without dipping into my savings.
And yet. Although. But. Wait. Hang on.

2:
Last summer when I had to take cold showers,
I would sing a song as loud as I could in my head.
While I got done what it was I needed to do.
I can’t think about it. If I do, I stop.
I keep hoping, it’ll get better, easier,
If I keep pushing myself to get it done.
Today, getting up will be easy,
Brushing my teeth won’t be climbing a mountain.
But I hiked a thousand stairs yesterday.
My legs are sore,
And I still can’t make myself brush my hair.

3:
No.
You don’t get to treat me this way.
I am not a person to be unsure about or around.
You’re with me or you’re not.
I don’t do half-washed certainties.
My ideas can be fluid and in motion.
My feelings are not.
You’re with me, or you’re out.
If you can’t make up your mind and ask.
I’m gone.
I offered.

4:
I told someone I wrote these.
For stranger friends to see my soul.
And I’ve had trouble writing ever since.

What I say in anonymity, is a comfort.
I process out loud; I need a bounce-back to think it through.
And when I don’t have that, I use you.
But the thought that my thinking, that what I might not feel, but what’s written, true.
Might be heard and exposed by someone,
Has shown me a coward,
And caused a lack of words.
I’m sorry.

5:
I live now with my sister and her husband.
She asked, how could we be stressful?
After living with Mom and her husband.
And I couldn’t answer.
She doesn’t remember all the damage she’s done.
Or the oddities I bear because of her.

She doesn’t see the strength of a weakness,
Or the person behind anti-social whatevers.
If you don’t shower there’s something wrong with you.
Because she can’t be wrong. Right?

6:
Let me tell you the truth.
I will erase this sentence after it’s written, but I have to keep it here to start writing.
I will make it perfect, but first I have to get it out. Then I can fix it.
This is a judgment free zone for the next fifteen minutes.
Write it, then fix it, but be true, and not cutesy.
Just start typing.

7:
At the blood bank to give blood for the first time,
I threw up at the reception desk, into her trash can,
From nerves. And because I had just hiked six miles of stairs in the Texas heat and humidity without enough water. Then I drank warm water I had waiting in the car, and took a bite of a granola bar that had been sitting there too long.

I called my mom.
She was the mom I remember.
The great mom.
Who was there for me.
To make me laugh, and make me feel better,
Tell me how great I am. That I’m superwoman.
And all I could think abut was that I don’t know what I’ll do when she’s gone.

8:
I don’t want to be boring. I don’t want to have done nothing.
But I don’t want to travel the world and use what I take from other people’s cultures as a way to make myself better, as a way to make myself more appealing to new people I meet.
I want to be important. But I won’t mistreat people. If you tell me I’m doing something wrong, if I’m hurting someone, I’ll stop.
I want someone to love me. But I want partnership. I don’t want to make all the decisions. I want to be the bridge partner who calls trump, and lets his partner lead, directing the flow of power from behind the scenes with well played strategy, silent strength, and smarter than you all.
I want to be able to support myself, and live alone, I want to find out how to make myself happy,
Without your help.

9:
If you can’t run with me,
I’ll never see you as an equal.
If you can’t go twelve-rounds arguing about why a zebra would be a better politician than a hippo, I don’t want to let you see me.
If you are too grounded to never admit you’re wrong, to never be corrected,
Or take a criticism with a nod and a you’re right,
Then I want to go back to my people, the friends I know.
Who will argue with me about the socio-controlling forces of the anarchistic traffic light,
Or at least smile while I ramble on.

10:
I’m scared you only love me without my filter.
That I’m Doug Stanhope, only funny without the alcohol.
When I’m not sleeping enough, and my brain can’t work well enough to work against me,
I can only then be myself, and only then loved.
But when my bricks are up full force, when I’ve slept and ate enough, I become a waiting game,
Waiting for me to go back to “normal.”

Please Don’t Judge Me for This Later

Is this what happens? They just keep dying.

She wasn’t even twenty-one. She was still trying to find the kind of eye makeup she liked.
First responders isn’t who’s on call, it’s the who’s sober call.
She was so young. She can’t be dead. Not again. She was making bad choices in life.
Goddammit. I talked to her about alcohol. Not that I could have done anything. That poor town.

Is this what we let happen? We just keep letting these accidents happen? Again and again. You forget which cake you made for which funeral. They come in threes don’t they. It means they have one more.

And the people there are still sticking it out. What has to happen to get really angry? When do you say, no, I’m done living? What has to happen? One more fisherman dies because he doesn’t know how to swim? One more girl drinks herself to death on the beach? I guess it’s good you guys are so bad at giving your daughters protection, because with all the kids you’re losing, you’ll need to make a lot more one way or another.

So what she shouldn’t have been dating who she was dating? So what she made trouble and hung with the wrong kimono-wearing crowd?

She died and she didn’t make the news. Why would she? She wasn’t anyone special. She was another native girl from the villages. She didn’t get out. She wasn’t stupid behind those eyes. She was a slow kind of alive. I didn’t really even know her. I knew her enough to say hi at the airport. Enough to say hello. Enough to keep her secrets. Goddammit. So what? She was brought into this world to get taken advantage of by older guys? Then left without an education or tools, with the liquor bottles open on the counter. And we let it happen again? That’s it. I’m done I’m so done.

She wasn’t old enough, she wasn’t old enough to fall in love with things, to have a passion to learn that you can be passionate about something.

She didn’t know that could happen yet. She was too young still, to learn about herself, to do anything other than pay attention if she had to pass her classes with c’s.

I remember that age, when everything is terrible and you think you’ll never find a passion, or something to get excited about. But she was so even. So calm. Maybe it’s that calm that people who are drinkers get who haven’t gotten drunk yet that early in the day.

I can tell you her father was a drinker. I can tell you she’s a victim of her society. I can tell you she’d seen it happen and knew it was a possibility. I can also tell you how experimental she was with the way she looked, how she carried herself with a solidness you don’t often see in young women. And then I run out of things to say. Because I didn’t take the time to know her better, she was too young. And I was too old, and too nervous about myself.

And like most of the people, you accept and you keep going, not changing, just acknowledging that’s what happened.

Do I donate to her go fund me page, so her family can pay funeral costs?

What do I tell my friend, the first responder? Do I tell her I’m sorry? And what do the people I know tell me? They’re sorry. Geez, a lot of people you met in Alaska die. Then they wonder how long they have to talk about it before they can change the subject.