Tag Archives: poems

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.

10 Poems for Thursday

1:
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.

2:
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.

3:
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.

4:
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,
Fix me.
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.

5:
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.

6:
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.

7:
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.

8:
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.

9:
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.

10:
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.

10 Poems for the Weekend

the edits will have to come later, i’m used up for the day

1:
He asked me to drop my filters,
To tell him all those things I almost tell him, but renege on.
I told him a lot of those are in place for your protection,
And my protection.
Because it’s pretty dark up there.
And there’s a lot of tentacles to infect the happy people.
He looked at me like he was trying to think.

2:
That’s what I am,
what an interesting reverse.
I am the material,
I am gathered,
Pinched, sewn, and used everyday,
As everyday material
My privacies are no longer mine,
Because I’m with a person who
Shares.
Disgusting.

3:
Well, I got what I wanted and I’m as unhappy as I thought I’d be.
Guess it’s time to fuck it all up again.
Where do I sign?
How can I make this wrong?
How many more people can I leave behind again?

4:
Gargoyle arms and God morning.
They don’t mean anything to you.
Only to the boy who sat next to me at work for round about a year.
And soon to him, they’ll mean nothing too.
We share a square space of time and mind for a little while,
Long enough to help each other get by, not much more.
We won’t ever be friends for life,
Or share a drink at a bar alone, in a group, in the worst dregs of the poorly paid peasant life,
We were kin.

5:
A part of me misses the water so much it hurts.
Not these, not these little lakes, streams, cricks. Puddles.
I miss the water. The beauty, the inevitable, the fear, and the love.
Right there. Just right there.
If I move again, when I move again,
It will be for the water,
To sit by the water and be.
I’m trying to explain it to myself,
Maybe it evokes emotion, and sometimes I can’t do that without help.

6:
I know I’m going to look back on this time with a firm opinion.
One way or the other.
I will have a colored lens to see what’s now through a set polarization.
I can’t see it, feel it yet.
But it’ll be there.
Rosy, gray,
Dusky or sad.
I’ll swing with my feelings the other way. And have a very strong opinion about whatever it is I’m doing now.

7:
What would it be like to be the woman he thinks I am?
All bubbles and giddiness.
Instead of concealment, boredom and anxiety.
Maybe I would have had a steady boyfriend named Brandon in high school,
Gone to college to teach special needs preschoolers,
Discovered my love of baking with my grandmother in the kitchen.
And only have wholesome in my heart.
What would it be like to be that woman?
Who knows how to do her hair and makeup, how to flash with her eyes,
And smile with her legs?
He’ll be disillusioned soon enough.
Leaving all the same for his broken, acknowledged dreams.

8:
Laptop, why won’t you turn on?
Have I forsaken you?
Put another device before you?
I put a pan of cooked ham on you for Easter, but that was just because you were my recipe book and I was out of space.
Haven’t I loved you?
Cleaned you with swipes and air-dusters?
Don’t I keep you in a case, away from heat, light, and laying flat?
Please turn on, my beloved,
My lifeline, my laptop.
I won’t eat ramen next to your keyboard,
I’ll clear my internet history,
Please power on.
What will I do without you?
You are irreplaceable with memories and saved files.
I’ll back you up as soon as you turn on.
Turn back on now.
Please please please.

9:
My favorite part of baking is alone,
When I can take as long as I want to measure the ingredients,
And re-read the steps, without judgment,
Google how-tos on the simple things I know how to do, but wonder, if maybe there’s a better way.
I can soften my butter without the microwave,
Listen to my music,
And eat the batter off the spatula.
I don’t have to apologize for turning on the mixer,
Or over-compensating for different ingredients.
Life, in general, I’d like to spend alone,
Wait till I’m done to show other people,
And allow me to apologize profusely,
For the small errors.

10:
I got enough sleep,
Enough sleep to process.
And I found out what that deprivation was covering up.
The I’m not good enough.
That’s what I was hiding under there.
If I’ve gotten enough sleep, I don’t have that excuse anymore.
I have to own up to the fact my brain isn’t the best,
I’m wasting away,
I haven’t hated myself lately, and maybe that’s why,
I haven’t given my brain enough power to do so.

Three Poems for the Weekend

1:
What would happen if you collected all the men who’ve loved me?

What would they have in common?
Would they be friends?

They would be an odd assortment to be sure.
If I remembered them in their prime.

The young and the old, maybe, collected in the age I loved them.

Louie would be there, proclaiming his love to me in kindergarten before moving to St. Louis.

And the boy who’s not sure if he loves me,
I wonder who would be the surprises.

Patrick from 5th grade, who helped me count all the countries in Africa,
And I never looked at twice.

Josh from high school, who I didn’t realize was in love with me,
Until his father talked to my mom, and told her more about her daughter than she knew,
Information he’d learned from his son.

What about the minor crushes,
The boys I left behind,
How many of them could say I loved them back,
How many told me,
How many were related to me?

Would there be any fights,

I wonder.

Dad would be there, and my step-father,
And then we start getting into forms of love,
Does a grandfather count?
Do the people who said it count or just felt it, even if they didn’t know they felt it.

My first boyfriend would be there, who I dated for two seconds
I didn’t actually like him I just wanted to have a boyfriend
I remember telling my mom, and saying, you’re supposed to like them aren’t you?
My pastor would be there,
Who else loves me?
What a weird category to make, while slightly self-serving.
Hmmm.
Would they be ugly, famous? Fun, funny, aggressive? Self-effacing.
No one I’ve known this year or the last.
It’s not a matter of not being there to love,
It’s being there long enough to love.

Would they argue about who loved me best?
Longest? Worst?
Would they wonder why they were there? Compare themselves to each other?
Would there be lots of colors, or would they all look the same?

Would they get along?
How much could you learn about me from listening to them?
What stories would they tell?

2:
I want a new scar to match my fading one from last year.
I subscribe to the rather hillbilly ideal of,
More scars the better, means you’ve lived, and you’re reckless,
And you’ve survived,
Which means your lucky.
And I want lucky friends, so you can hang with me.
I feel like I’m not living,
I need to do something, anything,
I want a new scar,
I don’t want to be hurt,
But to be able to point to something tangible and say,
See? I do things. I am a keeper of stories.

3:
I am living in such a place of self-condemnation
I cannot be proud of myself for taking a shower today,
Making food, or brushing my teeth.
I only remember the horrors of my past,
The things I’ve said,
That were wrong, stupid, incorrect,
And think of all the other terrible things I’ve done.
I’m paralyzed, immobile from the stupidity of my past and present.
But the part of my brain that kicks in,
In kindness really,
And tell me to stop feeling,
It’s okay to go numb for a minute,
It hasn’t hit yet.
Maybe my stomach is just upset because I’ve drank too much milk lately.

Ten Poems: Arguing With Myself

1:
I made ten thousand extra dollars last year from my retirement account.
Because I started a retirement account young, and set up automatic payments years ago.
And suddenly, I get my statements, and poof,
Look at all that money I won’t touch until I’m old.
How can I complain about corporations profit margins
When here is literal proof in my hands,
That I’m benefitting.
How can I argue anything when I can see both sides,
When I change my mind,
When I’m not informed enough,
When I’m not good enough to think the thoughts I think?

2:
I don’t want to hear her talk about politics.
I can’t stand it.
Whine near someone who can do something,
You’re talking to a crowd who already agrees with you.
You’re not promoting action, you’re reveling in drama.
This isn’t constructive. We’re spinning our wheels in our own wheelhouse.
Let’s go to a city council meeting.
Talk to someone who doesn’t agree and let’s plan something concrete,
We all know he’s crazy.

3:
I don’t want these men to lose their jobs until their guilt has been proven.
At the same time, if the justice system fails victims so often, public court is all we have.
But if you’re just getting rid of the attackers from public sight, you’re not fixing the problem.
Stories are to be believed as much as fact.
But I still want proof, even if it’s testimony.
I want better education about what’s right and wrong,
And I want it to come from parents.
Not from schools. I want what’s right to be clear.
At the same time, I doubt this would happen.
All we have left is sensationalism law,
That will break so quickly on a false accusation.

4:
I want a doctor to be able to kill her.
She never would have wanted this.
I think she deserves the right to want to die.
She’s there already.
I know it’s a slippery slope.
But for god’s sake the woman can’t swallow food anymore.
She’s not hungry.
Can we please kill her?
Please?
I can’t keep watching my mom try to take care of a dying plant.

5:
I am not defined by my work.
That is not where I fit into society.
He’s wrong.
I do not need work to be a part of anything.
Work is an option.
This nine to five is a western concept, as is steady employment.
Sure the factories employed people with a little extra money to go the movies on a Saturday,
But no one likes working in a factory.
These jobs were soul-sucking to begin with.
The economy was better, life measurements were better.
How did we get to this categorization? Of people.
Have you ever tried to categorize people?
Their feelings?
Good luck.
Because I am a person, my worth, my value, is there.
It is not in how much I can fit on my little black screen.

6:
Pick someone and go with it.
I’m tired of all this back and forth and over-analyzing.
You’re tired of being alone, just find someone.
It’s a fifty-fifty chance anyway.
This one will be as good as the next.
I’m tired of looking for a reason to be alive,
Why don’t I do everything wrong,
Throw my lot in with a stranger,
Tie myself emotionally to something unstable,
Have no identity of my own,
And wear some sort of apron thing.

7:
We’re not going to be friends.
We have gone through hell,
Known as our current job,
Together.
And we are bonded.
But you’ll never hang out with me outside those,
Those doors right there.
Those glass double doors.
Because you don’t see people like I do.
As entities to enter your life, and love while they’re there,
As a whole person already.
You’re using me to get through our jobs.
I understand.
And I’ll leave you to it.

8:
How do I standup to her?
Why does she get to be mean to her,
But if I’m mean back, I get yelled at.
That’s not fair.
I have to get out of here.
But I have nowhere to go.
I’m a failure. I keep cycling here.
There’s nothing new.
Something in me has to change.
I need perspective.
Let me stand on a desk,
Or forget about time for a while.

9:
You know what I did today?
I applied for new jobs,
After all that worry.
I organized, folded, washed dishes and my hair,
I prepared and thought out, and now.
Well I was waiting for someone to come over,
But they’re putting me off, and now,
Now I don’t want to do anything else today.
Why can’t I be happy with myself?

10:
My mother said I should offer to take my sister to the gym with me.
Because I’m trying to be healthy.
Because I’m losing weight.
And suddenly, it was about my sister,
Mom thinks she’s worried about her weight again,
Like she was for years in high school,
Doesn’t she remember how many years we’ve been dealing with this.
I cannot make her happy with her own body.
I can barely keep me up here on the line, and you’re putting pressure,
Blaming me,
Trying to get me to make her happy with her body too?
Why can’t it be about me?
She sang to me yesterday in the car, middle child syndrome,
When I said no one was home to take care of me during my wisdom-teeth removal surgery.

Poems from the Plane: Christmas 2017

1:
Don’t ask me permission like it makes a difference.
Don’t pretend to need my blessing.
I’m no deciding factor.
Go ahead.
Put her on hospice care. It’s past time.
I don’t know why you’re insisting on picking me up from the airport.
Mom. I can take a cab, stay with your mom.

2:
I didn’t realize other people’s memories don’t work like mine.
I’ve combed it so often,
That very few are tinged with emotion any more,
It’s more of what do I remember,
And how was I feeling,
I’m like a third-party to my own mind.
I see what’s going on,
But offer no judgment to the woman there.

3:
The most intimate thing I’ve done?
Given him a sweater.
He said in a text message that he’s never the one to start something.
But I couldn’t tell, I was waiting.
I was literally laying in your bed watching videos on a ceiling projector.
We’ll see how I feel tomorrow about the kids thing.
A friend told me, don’t you want kids?
That shut me up.

4:
You know what I want for Christmas?
I want personal morality to apply to the workplace.
That’s just business. What does that mean?
Why is this okay?
Why is doing a good job, good work, the equivalent of holiness?
Why is competitiveness disgusting interpersonally, but accepted when you put on a blouse? Why is suddenly protecting your best interests more important than equality.
If corporations aren’t our new churches, we have loyalty to nothing else.

5:
I don’t want to go home.
I want to go back to having an apartment to myself with Netflix gratis.
The ability to leave lights on without impunity.
The noise volume regulation of a toddler.
Jacking-off squeak privileges.
And grabbing what I need from my room in a towel.

6:
She says she doesn’t see the point of her –
This is my brother’s girlfriend –
Why would they be together?
Jesus, have you ever been stupid abut how you feel?
Sometimes suitability is more about the answer being,
I don’t know I just do,
Than,
I admire his mind.
I think, to ask that, you must never have done, no, let yourself do something stupid for a feeling.
He likes the girl. Leave him alone.

7:
Dad called me to say,
Oh I missed out on spending time with the sweetie twin.
He would have taken the train to see me at my three hour layover.
You’re not serious. I’m not serious. We both know,
But the sentiment dad, is appreciated.
Even if it’s not to see me, but “your daughter.”

8:
That Midwest gray, I love you.
I’m from there.
Those lines from the sky, those grids, where everything is flat,
And the sky clouded for months.
You miss it.
How could you miss an itch in your ear?
I missed the normalcy.
I want what’s normal to me to be normal all around.
Gray sky in December is right in my head.

9:
I was so mad. Just mad. Why can’t god even decide to kill someone?
Why do we have to do it? Why are they waiting on me to let her die.
To discharge her. To new nurses with unlimited paid meds.
Who’s going to do her hair?
Mom, I’ll be your sounding board again, for your parent’s funeral speech.
I’ll get ready to put that pressure on another human when you yourself die.
In family tradition.

10:
I told him no one wants to hear they’re just like someone else.
How do I tell him that he has the wrong idea about me?
I am nothing like this woman, girl.
Except my silliness that comes out when I’m around you.
Don’t tell your girlfriend she reminds you of me.
I didn’t know I ranked that highly in your estimation of people,
But, keep it to yourself okay? Like the girl for being her.

Ten Poems for Late December

1:
Know where I am?
Hawaii. On Christmas vacation paid for by my mom.
And so much has been happening,
So much has happened, and yet,
I can’t bring myself to write about it just now,
Because there’s palm trees out there
And water and sun.
In December.
So I’ll sit and watch this dragonfly a little longer.

2:
He didn’t tell me he had kids,
Little kids,
Like toddlers,
And do I get involved? Knowing either he’s a poor father?
Or he’s a good father, and he’s been hiding it from me.
I think I have to see where it goes.
Suddenly all the big little faults seem worse,

3:
I read dirty poems on the plane ride,
The whole time hoping the woman next to me couldn’t make out any words on my screen.
Like Please or Master,
Perl or Sweet.
So I switched to trying to sleep,
Alternating between playing music and how long can my battery last.
I accomplish nothing on plane rides.

4:
Did you know you can get constipated from stress?
I didn’t.
You think it was the travelling to my mother’s house?
Then to Hawaii for Christmas to meet with relatives.
My money problems?
Putting my grandmother in hospice care?
Having to hear my mother tell me she doesn’t want her to go.
What do you say to that?
I’m not asking you, I’m asking God.
What do you tell your mother when she says,
“I don’t want my mom to go?”
Huh?
I want an answer.
Why isn’t she dead already so we can start grieving?

5:
She’s not capable of handling it.
She can’t.
She doesn’t have enough unselfish juice to take care of other people,
It has to rebound onto someone else.
Here she is telling me,
It was so hard.
Like I don’t know.
Like I haven’t seen this before.
How do I have sympathy for this woman, my sister, who had to take care of my mom taking care of her mom for three days?
That’s it. Three days.
It was so hard. Why aren’t we more sympathetic towards her?
The kindness isn’t there. I keep looking, hoping to find somewhere, that caring.
But instead I find anger directed toward whoever is present. Me.
She will never see it as anything other than relating to her needs.
I need to stop judging her for what she can’t do.

6:
We’re going to talk about it for a minute.
No one gave me a sex talk.
My mom says she gave me one.
She didn’t.
I went through sex ed in a conservative Christian school,
So sex was evil and you were going to hell.
I was told I was a piece of scotch tape,
The first time mattered, but if you keep sticking that piece over and over on your skin it didn’t hurt anymore, you weren’t worth as much. As a woman. Because your tape lost it’s ability to pull hair off your arm.
I had a beer with my friend yesterday,
She hasn’t talked to anyone. She says she’ll research it online.
I told her to see an OBGYN, they are there to treat you like a sheep. Ask the questions, they won’t judge you for it, they’ve seen weirder. You are a number. It’s perfect.
Why are women allowed to have painful, uncomfortable experiences because no tells them it shouldn’t hurt?
Why did the woman teaching high schoolers sex ed not know that oral can transfer stds?
What is so wrong about facts and information?
It’s my body. Tell me about it’s bones and what they do.
About it’s blood flows and cycles.
Tell me that it’s okay I don’t want to be on birth control.
Tell me it’s okay that I don’t want to be regulated.
Tell me it’s okay that I don’t like tampons,
Cups, or iuds,
Shaving my bikini line or the hair on my toes,
Tell me it’s okay to be unsure about being confident.

7:
I’m a failure and I’m breaking down.
I can’t keep working this job.
But I can’t apply, it’s so hard for me to apply.
I can’t keep living with my sister.
I can’t keep avoiding getting a higher ed degree.
I want a house to put my stuff.
Magically, mystically I want to not work and have money.
I’m just so tired.
But I don’t have references because I’m too shy and scared to ask.
This old cycle, I’ve been here before.
Hello old friend. Glad you’re back.
Take the place of dying relatives and alcoholic aunts.

8:
She said he raised a fist at her,
After telling her to mind her own business,
He has a point,
But at age 67 you’d think he’d be able to regulate emotions,
And say what he needs to say without yelling.
He’s incapable of understanding other people have feelings.
I just avoid him now. I take an active indifference for the years of pain he caused me.
But he threatened to hit my sister, I didn’t see it.
And she was furious.
She was more mad that mom wasn’t on her side.

9:
I found it,
I was sitting with mom and my sister and her husband at a pie restaurant.
I was upset we had to wait an extra thirty minutes.
I was being quiet. Trying to be contained,
And they mocked me for it.
Mocked my feelings.
Teasing me, taking pictures, telling me to make that face again it would make a good meme.
Mom didn’t say anything.
She said I was “in a bad mood” and being a “bee-bee” because she wouldn’t say bitch.
My sister would make faces and say, “don’t take my head off”
Anytime I show any negative emotions.
Somehow when I’m upset I get mocked, but when anyone else is upset they get avoided and respected.
Just because you think it’s a silly thing to be upset about.
This right here. This is why I can’t share how I feel.
And she did this to me.
I just hadn’t seen it in such a long time. It took me a minute to recognize it.

10:
I needed to rage at god and no one was available.
I had to the apartment to myself, an opportunity to get drunk,
And no one returned my call.
I wanted to be mad at god for dementia,
For families,
For airplane turbulence and grief,
And I didn’t have any friends.
So I sat by myself on the computer.
While I packed, and daydreamed about how excited my mom would be if I were pregnant.