Tag Archives: relationships

Ten Poems for a Summer Breakup

a bit of a muddle

1:
When I go home,
We’ll just go back to being friends.
I said through sobs. You didn’t disagree.
But then you hugged me for so long at the airport.
And you said you’d mail me my favorite hair clip I left in the door of your car.
And you said you wanted to take a trip with me.
But you don’t think we have a future,
Because I don’t want money the way you do.

2:
I made a whole chicken today.
I went full housewife.
I was going to buy more deli chicken because I made too many sandwiches yesterday.
And thought, well, I can just buy a whole chicken.
It’s cheaper.
Lying to myself I have the time.

3:
I looked at him and felt nothing.
This boy who I left my boy for.
I sat with him,
And nothing,

4:
I remember this one position.
When we were sitting on your couch,
Me making sure we were the first people to have sex on that couch,
Like I made sure we were the first people to have sex on your other couch,
With my thighs around your turned body, sitting there by your unpacked amazon boxes,
A mess of not moving,
Thinking, we’ll never be like this again.
You won’t have this space for me the next time I’m here.

5:
Why did you have to tell me you missed me.
You’re not sentimental, but
You were sleeping on my side of the bed.
You ate all the food I made you.
You said your dog was waiting for me to come back.
You cared more about me when I was gone, than when I was there.
Why couldn’t you have cared when I was so depressed I couldn’t move?
Why couldn’t you have cared when you couldn’t arrange your schedule?
When it was my birthday?

6:
I told you, you know, I love you sometimes.
Not all the time but sometimes,
While we were doing dishes.
Rather you were doing dishes for me.
And you were so tired you weren’t quite working right.
And I felt it, so I said it,
So I didn’t regret it later.

7:
Am I driving you away?
I think those were your actual words.
While we were eating tacos at my sister’s favorite food truck.
I couldn’t say anything, think of anything.
You said, your silence says it all.
I wonder if she overheard us, the lady who made our lunch.

8:
I write it down because the depressed person’s short-term memory is shot.
That’s why I’m writing everything down.
It’s not some trying to be better than you competition, be the better note taker,
It’s because I probably won’t remember if I can’t find it somewhere.

9:
All I wanted to do was sit with you,
Your legs on my lap,
And listen to Astral Weeks, with nothing else to do.
No one who would call,
No plans to take my time.
I wanted to feel something at the same time you did.
I thought maybe someone else’s rhythm could help with that.

10:
We worked so well, that last week.
So well.
I made food, and you ate it, and complemented it, and were nice about it.
And I kept thinking maybe it’s a mistake.
You said, in our postmortem relationship phone call,
It would have worked if we weren’t far apart.
If you were depressed, if your mental health were better.
I thought, maybe, but maybe we never would have started.
We never even had to come up with a how we met story.

Ten Poems for July

forgive me

1:
He got married,
The boy, the one who said,
I don’t want to be with just one woman,
I don’t do well with those kinds of commitments.
Why are those the hardest to take, I should be happy for my now friend, my former lover, who I know still is attracted to me. I don’t even want to be with him.
He didn’t tell me, warn me,
Even though we made plans together on our birthday.
Did he propose?
I would have given them a gift goddamit.
Were his kids there?
Did he tell her he loved her?
Is this envy? Sadness? Judgement of myself? Contempt?
I can’t even name it, all the feelings go by so quickly.
Why was he in a blue suit?
What do I do now when he dirty texts me? Will she look into his phone?

2:
I asked my friend,
How he deals with that kind of thing,
When an ex gets married,
After telling you something different,
Realizing it was you all along, that they didn’t feel that way about, just you.
He said he categorizes, not compartmentalized, categorizes.
He said there are buckets he sorts things into,
Hurts or not hurts.
I asked him which one I was in?
He didn’t give me an answer.

3:
And she looks just like me.
He liked me because I was his type.
That feels so degrading, to be liked for your body type, so inhuman,
The person inside doesn’t really count, no, not really, it’s just those thighs.
To see someone who looks just like me,
Right there.
In the white.
On Facebook,
When he wouldn’t even tell his friends about us, were we an us?
Why did she have to look just like me? How rude.

4:
What if all that time ago,
I’d given him the other reading,
The other tarot reading,
The one he made the decision based on,
The one he used to get back with her.
What if I had told him instead, the cards said to get back with me.
Would I have been enough?
Or would we not be together, because I wouldn’t have pushed him,
Pushed him for commitment.

5:
You don’t have to hear about my day.
Naw, it’s alright.
I remember you said that you just don’t have the energy to listen to me or deal with my problems, you’re too busy.
I’m sold for an extra 50 cents on the side.
You don’t have to tell your parents about us, I don’t need to meet them,
You don’t take us that seriously anyway,
And besides you’re so far away,
That concession is definitely worth, what, a dollar?
And it’s money you care about at the end of the day, right?
You can only take care of your people if you have your money, right?
How much am I worth to you, hmm?
Not even a concession of an evening.
What bottom scraping scraps do you have for me that I can thank you for?
A birthday card?
A pizza you ordered me?
Sure. That’s good enough to live on.
If I asked nothing of you, and said please for each dropped piece of popcorn, I don’t think you’d love me anymore.
I’m not your it.

6:
There is something beautiful about switching on an old computer,
Hey this thing isn’t worthless,
I’m not worthless.
I haven’t seen this off gray color on a monitor in a while.
I have to push in a turbo button to get out of DOS mode.
I haven’t heard those sounds in a while,
It still reads the 3 ½ inch floppy disks.
Maybe it’s half curiosity,
Have exploration,
Half archelogy,
And half proving to ourselves that even if we’re as old as the clanky keyboards,
Someone will still save us.

7:
I’m playing a game with him.
Yes I know that’s a bad idea.
I even know it’s a bad sign.
To see if he remembers to celebrate my birthday.
To see if he cares enough.
I don’t know what I’m proving to myself or him.
I’m just not going to remind him.
I’m not going to bring it up.
Just to see what happens.
To try.
Maybe I want the attention and guilt he’ll feel when he forgets,
Maybe I want a sign he cares.
He’ll figure it out quickly after, what, the third call I get that day?
Maybe he’ll say I assume you didn’t want to celebrate it.
Maybe I want the moral high ground clear and fair and square.
Why am I testing him? I don’t know,
Looking for an excuse to leave and be with the curly-haired boy?
I’m not sure.
I want that power over him of knowing he’s forgotten one more thing,
And maybe this one more thing will be the thing he’ll finally start organizing himself for,
My missed birthday for the second year in a row, will be why he finally starts to schedule.

8:
I’m a bad plant keeper,
I don’t check the water or nitrite levels enough
I’m never sure when to fertilize.
“But you care and that’s what matters.”
No, it’s not, keeping the damn things alive probably matters more to them than how I feel.
I killed my friend’s cactus once, I’ve never gotten over it.
Me. Responsible for all that death.
Even plucking the leaves to help it keep its shape.
I turned that brown me. And my deadly fingers.

9:
All I want to do is research,
Says the woman who can’t even do the research she’s paid to do,
Instead she pretends she’s working and hides in her room,
So that the days blur together before the big report is due.
And it’s just like it used to be,
When I couldn’t move for feeling guilty.
Will there be anything I can do without all this muck dragging behind me?
Even brush my teeth?

10:
Your sister is having a hard time,
She called me to say,
Her husband isn’t doing what she knows will help him.
He’s not listening to her.
Not listening to her unsolicited advice,
Coming from a place of comparison not love,
He is a little like me, in that we’d prefer to fail in anonymity quietly, on our own.
Otherwise, leave him alone.
Or wait, is it me I’m putting in that slot,
Me who she wouldn’t leave alone to make her own failures.
Let me fall on my own please.
I too, would like to live.

Ten Poems for Summer

i think i’m done for now.

1:
I don’t know how to ask you to understand.
All my mystical powers of communication sort of fail me here.
How do I tell you to care?
Listen to me tell my own story?
Not while you’re just waiting to respond.
If you don’t want to come with me into my space,
Into what I’ve been through,
Is it worth it?
Should I just leave it.
Instead of begging for empathy.

2:
Let’s try anyway.
I’m not saying my pain is worse than yours, just understand me.
Don’t rebuttal, or talk back,
Can you hear me?
Can you hear me now?
Please, listen without judgement, to learn more about me,
Not to compare to you,
Just to hear me.
I’d beg you to hear me,
Because I, in my pride, think you would get it if you understood.
Maybe you understand already, and you just don’t care.

3:
The first time a man slapped my ass,
I was 10.
And I stopped and stared at him, a family member.
My mother said, she’s just not used to that yet.
As I went to grab them another beer.
Him with his trucker hat on, dentures out.

4:
My dad touched my hip when I was 11,
Through my shirt, while I was laying on the couch.
Saying my waist was coming in.
I didn’t know what that meant.
I thought I had been laying on my side too much and my ribs were caving in.
Like I thought my feet were flat because I wore skater shoes with no support on the bottom.

5:
My mother accused me of self-harming at 14,
Because she saw me in the shower,
And my stretch marks on my chest looked like scratch marks.
You can damn well bet no one told me those were normal.

6:
My gender segregated sex-ed class asked who hadn’t started their period,
Only me and one other girl raised our hands,
The next year no one raised their hands, so I kept mine down.
I wouldn’t start my period for three more years.
I was so scared back then that I was broken I would hit my pelvis, convinced it was broken.
I just wanted to run fast and have a boyfriend.

7:
My mom took me to JCPenney’s to get my first bra,
Even though “there was nothing there”
She was angry the regular section didn’t have bras small enough,
She yelled at a saleswoman,
We went to the kids section for training bras,
She refused to buy me one that fit.
Touching me saying there should be gaps here.
So instead I got my dad to get me one while we were at Walmart
It was a white band and it had an ice cream print on the white cloth strip in the middle
I wore that until both straps broke.
No one told me how often to wash it. Or that I was supposed to wear it every day.

8:
I had a five-dollar bet with my stepdad that by 16 I wouldn’t be all into the makeup stuff.
I never was.
Maybe out of spite for him.
Thinking I was going to turn out a certain way.
I used to put eyeshadow on one half of my eyelid only, because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. On the days when I wore the blue polos to school, because navy blue was the coolest color.
My sister would mock me for wearing anything other than black,
And mom couldn’t afford, or remember to buy me, any beauty products.
I was using my brother’s baby shampoo until I went to college. Only wearing makeup to prom.

9:
I gained fifty pounds when I started puberty.
I was still getting taller.
I didn’t know how to eat meals.
I’d been packing my own lunch since the 2nd grade.
My sister tried to teach me how to throw up,
And my brother would eat everything he could, to “get a belly like dad”
I hid chocolate under my pillow my mom would find when she slept in my room because her husband was being awful.
She’d tell me it was okay I was gaining weight she still loved me.
But she would watch me eat every mouthful and ask me how I was doing with it,
And tell me I looked skinnier every time she saw me,
Each time I was gaining weight.

10:
I can’t stop thinking about how different my life would have been if I’d been told.
I’d like to blame my mom a little bit, for some of the trauma of me as an adult,
Maybe he wouldn’t have touched me if …
But I’ll die still blaming myself, so there’s that.
Never sharing this kind of stuff with boys I love,
Because when I have in the past,
It gets compared to how hard they’ve had it too.

Six Poems for March

picked a fight with a friend. here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Poems for February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 5

look it’s about boys again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ten Poems in Twenty Minutes: COVID Edition Day 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 April

i’ll get better.

1:
Sandpaper and jell-o.
Me, who’s usually the robot, in this case, is the jell-o.
And the, I’m sure nice to everyone else, in this case is the sandpaper.
He took another woman to a wedding.
He told me this as we were sitting down to drinks at the same place we always went to, the same place he never tipped enough. He told me as an aside.
It was a test, the meeting, to see if we could be friends, he said.
Not even more than that. Just if we could work as friends.
Me, I ended it over text, it had been enough. I had been hurt enough.
And he said with exclamation points and bad grammar how nice it was of me to spend so much time with him.
I’m cherry jello smoothed on high grit sandpaper. I’m just smashed to pieces.

2:
I’m trying to try on clothes as fast as I can in a pulled-closed, thick-curtained, wheelchair-accessible, overly-bright, closet last Sunday while my sister waits outside. Wondering why I hate this so much. When they don’t have your size and you feel too big for the room.
I remember why I hate shopping for new clothes.
We had to buy new clothes, she wanted us to buy new things,
They had to fit,
But hurry up the store clothes in 15 minutes and your sister already tried on her things.
When we spent too much checking out, she would go silent, fast-fidgeting hands, and say it’s fine. Then not talk to you the whole way home while she rationalized how much she spent out loud as we drove back from the cash register where our coupons were expired and she argued with them.
She would tell me over and over again how I was still pretty even though I gained weight. And didn’t I know she gained so much weight in high school she ran out of sizes in the stores. She was fat before anyone else was fat.
And it looks like you’ve lost weight recently.
You should buy that, you know, it looks good on you. If you don’t buy it, you’ll regret it later, you should get it if it makes you happy.

3:
I am mad at the god I don’t believe in anymore because he’s taking away her hands and her music.
My choir director, the director of the choir I don’t want to be in, with gray hair, and a purse with keyboard keys and music notes.
She’s had too many strokes, and she can’t play anymore. I watch her week by week lose a few more notes, forget a key change, and slip in a scale.
And I’m mad at her god. I’m mad at her god for her.
My sister tells me that parents will force their kids into the best schools, which makes the whole community suffer, because the wealthy parents take their resources away from everyone else in the local public schools.
I’m sure it’s time that someone else should take over, I’m sure Carol’s time is up, she’s had her turn.
But for her, I want to bend the rules. I want my kid to go to the best school out of district, because I know her, so she should matter more.
She should get to keep her music.

4:
I talk to my mother on the phone,
Who feels like a failure if she can’t cheer me up.
I’m sorry I couldn’t make it better.
Sometimes I should just listen and not say anything.
But she never does.

5:
He said he’s looking for someone to love.
This is the boy I’ve been spending time with,
Who doesn’t want to date me, but hang out,
The one who conveniently forgot to tell me he had kids,
The same one who told me he’s not looking for anything serious,
Just bought the love languages book for $5 from his friend because he saw it in his bathroom.
I told him he’s scaring me.

6:
My dad went to vegas on a helicopter tour,
He told me he wants to go on a blimp, that’s the only other aerial transportation he would like to take before he dies.
I keep thinking in my head, they don’t do blimps anymore.
Maybe I can commission goodyear when he dies.
I think that’s hilarious. I think he would think that’s hilarious.

7:
A woman screamed on the bus.
Hunched over with a man above her saying he just needed to get her home everything would be fine.
She screamed for four stops.
They got off, and the bus driver pulled over,
And yelled at her radio operator that she called emergency and no one answered.
I still wonder about that woman.
Drugs? Was she really just needing to get home? Was it something worse? Should I have done a damn thing other than stare?
But her scream and the seat she sat in are chilling in my memory.

8:
I went to Cuba.
And I took their culture back.
I took their rum, cigars, and small souvenirs made in Panama.
I held onto the colors they let us see.
I have a piece now I get to hold over everyone else who hasn’t been to Cuba.

9:
I should just say,
You’ll do.
I won’t find someone who’s my everything.
But you’re not going to hurt me, and I am able to reproduce in a stable environment.
Romantic love is for nothing anyway.
Marry someone from the business school, actually afford property in this city.
I told this to my friend who said and I quote,
“Meh you don’t want that.”

10:
She finally died, my grandmother who wouldn’t die.
I kept saying to myself,
Well she’s never died before.
I don’t know what to do.
What do I tell my mother,
Who wants to give out goody bags at the funeral?
50 lbs of chocolate-covered gummy bears.
And bingo bucks,
Wrapped in ribbons in the church narthex on the table with the photo albums.
The grief never came.
She didn’t die herself. She died as what was left. After her brain scans were empty and her children’s names were gone.
I managed the grief of my mother. Who wanted her alive longer at 90 years old.
We took the funeral flowers with us back home.

Ten Poems for August

1:
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.

2:
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.

3:
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?

4:
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.

5:
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.

6:
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.

7:
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.

8:
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.

9:
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.

10:
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.

10 Thoughts on the End of the Relationship

1:
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.

2:
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.

3:
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.

4:
He keeps calling me weird,
I think I asked him not to.
I told a friend,
Who said,
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 different,
Not away from you
Just okay for being me.
I’m sorry you don’t come across people who behave differently than you expect.

5:
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.

6:
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.

7:
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?

8:
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?
No.
You don’t really get to hurt me twice.
Those doors shut honey.

9:
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?

10:
Obviously oblivious.
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.