Tag Archives: ten poems

Ten Poems for a Hotter July

1:
I can’t quite believe he’s really sitting over there.
On the couch, as a boyfriend,
And we’re living together
And it’s going well.
He cannot be real,
Like sixteen-year-old-me would have been thrilled,
That’s all I wanted in the world, to be wanted, normal, and accepted,
And a boyfriend was the key to all that.
Now he sits there, on the couch, and he’s all that.
I keep forgetting he’s real.
When I get dementia in a couple years, I will one hundred percent not remember his exists. I’m so used to it being just me.

2:
I did it all alone.
That was what I could tell myself about how much better I was than my sister,
Well, yes, she did this and that,
But look at all I did,
All by myself,
I didn’t have anyone to rely on, it was just me.
Except now it’s not.
There’s someone who comes in and asks me if there’s anything he can do to help.
And now I don’t know if it’s better or worse, and which is the hard way of the two.

3:
I thought it would get better,
After I got what I always wanted.
Once I had someone who loved me for me,
And was supportive of my bullhonkey, and mental illness, was cute, and had his shit together,
Who would visit a taxidermy museum on a road trip with me,
But it’s not,
My depression is still hanging around,
My anxiety still plagues.
And I keep telling myself it’s not fair,
It’s not fair.
This was supposed to fix me.
I just want to be normal.

4:
The down key on my keyboard is stuck.
You wouldn’t think it’d make that much of a difference,
But it does.
It makes excel sheets hell.
And every time I open my laptop and the key doesn’t strike properly,
I think, ah yes, this, this is the time when the misstriking key will break the camel’s back.

5:
There are some words I just don’t like,
So I don’t use them,
And I frown when other people use them,
Because they just don’t sound right.
I have no explanation, I act with instinct here.
But like, damn, that’s such a terrible word.

6:
He walked in as I was writing these,
And I noticed how much I like the bridge of his nose,
Where it bows out a little bit,
Do other people like random parts of his face too?
How many times has someone sat next to him on the bus and thought how nice his nose bridge is?
Or do you have to clock in a certain amount of hours spent looking in the vicinity of someone’s face before you can start to say,
My,
What a nice nose-bridge, my good man.

7:
I do nothing all summer, and think of all I could have been doing.
All I could have done.
Instead of crying on the floor with a fan going in the window.
If other people were me, they’d be so accomplished by now.
If I were better than I am,
(Why am I not better than I am?)
I would already have published and chosen a specific field,
And be doing radio spots filled with love and success,
And people citing me.
Instead, I can tell you how great the goodreads top-twenty, high-fantasy romance novels are.

8:
My mom worries my brother doesn’t sing enough to his son.
She thinks the baby won’t be talking enough,
And you know,
She’s already worried that the mother isn’t quite the thing,
And doesn’t quite talk enough to that beautiful baby girl.
I say, Mom, it’s probably okay.
And then the next day, here I am worrying that her vocabulary is a little small.

9:
They want to know what to get me for my birthday when all I want is money.
I’m moving across the country,
Just give me the cash.
Well no honey, I want you to buy something frivolous instead,
Just for you,
Maybe some clothes you’ve had your eye on?
Like, lady, give me my free, pass-go tax and leave me alone.
Here’s a link to a sweater, I say instead.

10:
It was even bad on vacation you know?
I was even having trouble getting out of bed on vacation.
Like, at that point, it has to be not my fault, right?
Like I was going to get onion rings at a place I like and go to a bookstore,
That’s prime –
I want to shower so I can go –
Motivation.
And yet, I was stuck on the bed
With the water running
For twenty minutes.
Telling myself to get up,
And then saying, well we don’t have to shower,
We can just turn on the faucet.
Then we can pull the curtain.
Then we can not be such a failure, my goodness.

Ten Poems for a Rainy June

1:
He just wants to help.
Me get out of this depression,
I think is what he means.
Can I make you a checklist?
To get things done?
But I don’t want to offer that because it wouldn’t help in the long-term.
I apologize for being broken.
He says it’s okay.
Will he stay when I’m all better?
Or will he leave when I’m always broken?

2:
I can’t move.
I open the fridge only to eat nothing, because you have to cook everything in there.
So I don’t eat all day.
And get a headache.
I’d rather have a headache than eat celery.
And stew in my sadness.

3:
How can I explain to you what it is to be stuck?
I know to break it into smaller pieces.
I know to do one thing at a time.
I know I’m already late and pushing it.
I’m aware.
I know what to write and who to cite.
The work just isn’t done.
Can’t you see that?
Well, it can just be a draft, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Done is better than nothing.
And I start crying the second I open the document.
Tomorrow will be better.
And then all the tomorrows turn into mush,
And this was due in November,
And it’s still not done.

4:
I broke the down key on my laptop.
From playing N64 games.
That one thing sounded like I could do it,
It was something I could do,
Wanted to do,
And I was so happy to want to do something,
I went for it.
And I played so much I broke the down-key on my laptop,
And I can’t afford to get it replaced.

5:
My mom bought groceries for a lady from her church.
But not her daughter.
Maybe she hasn’t put it together that I’m not working right now.
That I was told I have to get my other work done before I get a job.
So I have no income.
And can’t afford groceries.
I told her, but maybe she didn’t process.
That she could give me money to buy meat,
Instead of a stranger,
Because it feels more Jesusy that way.

6:
She told us she doesn’t like it when we end a call and she’s not happy.
I told her that is her emotion to handle.
She said that’s why I’m telling you.
I cut off the conversation,
Because I’ve never figured out how to tell my mom to be an adult.

7:
There’s a woman in my program I don’t like.
Just flat out, don’t like.
One of those who doesn’t quite do things for the right reason.
Not in a bad way,
In a way that isn’t okay if you want to be a good person.
And it makes me just a little nervous.
We don’t ask nasty questions of each other in this program.
We don’t offer criticism if it’s not building something.
And I don’t see anyone checking her,
And that makes me nervous.

8:
I keep hearing the same thing in my head,
Well then, maybe you’re not cut out for graduate school.
Each time I miss a deadline and end up lying on the floor
Because I’m so sad I can’t shower.
We value your mental health, they have on a banner in green over the doorway.
But make no accommodations for disabilities in their program timelines.
It’s me.
It’s me that doesn’t fit in here. Who’s not good enough.

9:
They gave me a megaphone,
Did I tell you?
They gave me a megaphone at the rally.
And I got the best compliment I’ve ever gotten in my life,
She said,
I think you were the only one of us who didn’t need that megaphone.

10:
My sinuses ache.
And I’m so sick of brown carpet.
He made us soup, that tastes like bean skins,
He doesn’t keep butter in the refrigerator,
There are beard hairs by the sink,
There are batman mats on the floor,
And I hate this brown carpet,
But other than that,
The living together is going okay.

Ten Poems About the Boyfriend

1:
Do I have other things to do today?
Deadlines to not miss,
People not to let down?
Well, yes, but instead, I thought I’d write to you about my boyfriend.

2:
I haven’t gotten a chance to tell you about him.
What would you like to hear?
About what he looks like?
A bit pudgy, 5’11”, brown hair, like a bad FBI agent, white, and long-limbed.
How he treats me?
He bought me tulips for Valentine’s and will pick me up from campus and tell me I’m pretty.
How he is in bed?
He’s very nice, takes forever, but really wants to see me cum too.
Does he have money?
Well I think his family has some, and he doesn’t have debt, but he hasn’t been working very long after he graduated.
What’s he do?
He works at the same place I go to school. Academic advisor like, but in a different department.
Do you like him?
I’m still not sure. My whole body wants to like him, but I still feel almost nothing, I keep waiting for me to get attached, and it keeps not happening.

3:
He eats every meal on placemats.
He has three eyebrow hairs that stick straight up.
He is very endearing.
He walks like a cowboy,
He tells me from all the lunges he did in his teens.
He sprays his vents for spiders every weekend.
And he vacuums with his headphones on.
He doesn’t eat gluten, or butter, or sugar, really.
He won’t wear sweatpants in public.
He doesn’t know what to do with his hair.
He told me he missed my leg hair when I shaved.
He has an earthing blanket he leaves on his bed,
The first time I heard him say that, I heard birthing blanket,
And got very confused.
He sleeps with ear plugs and a mask, on elevated pillows.
The old southern woman in me wants to tell him,
Oh, bless your heart.

4:
We bonded over Batman, funny enough.
We both have the animated series in a collector edition boxes.
He hasn’t told me he loves me.
But he stares at me when I’m not watching
He’s trying to get better at dirty talk,
In a way that makes you smile, but not laugh.
I told him he’s the nicest boyfriend I’ve ever had,
And he said, that’s kind of sad.

5:
He watched period dramas with me, in all their costumes
And follows the plots,
And yells at the characters,
No, Willoughby, what are you doing?
He tells the screen from next to me on the couch.
And he doesn’t complain about it.
Because I watch wrestling with him on Wednesday nights.
And can now tell you the storyline of Hangman Adam Page.

6:
He didn’t touch me for three dates,
When I only went out with him for sex, oh my god, I wanted sex.
I finally texted him
Asking, have you been tested recently?
Trying to get things moving, you know.
And he sent a text back that said, I really like you,
I want to do this right,
We should talk about the relationship before we get into all that.

7:
He had to go to the hospital,
At the same time I had to go to a wedding.
And I took care of him on his couch,
Even though the nurse gave us both COVID,
And he looked and looked at me.
Saying, no one ever treats me like this when I’m sick.
His mother, I overheard on speaker phone,
Told him he should stop calling 911, and that nothing too serious was wrong with him,
And what was he thinking spending all that money.
Then I understood, why me saying, it’ll be okay,
Got me the wobbly-wibbly eyes.

8:
There are songs I sing in my head, when we have sex,
First it was that slow hands, like sweat dripping down my dirty laundry,
Then it was Shakira, Shakira,
But just the guy’s voice saying the name, not the rest of the song,
And now it’s been this old song,
About needing to let go of past flings so you can love the person in front of you.
He’s a good man, he’s a good man. I keep telling myself to just let go.
I have to let go.

9:
And he is, he’s such a good man.
Read more about mental health, when I told him all my problems,
Sends me cat pictures when he knows I’m having a bad day.
Makes me food, even though he can’t afford a ton of meat right now.
Winks at me when he smiles and blinks.
Let me use his office when I had a paper deadline.
Told me, it’s his job, when I say thank you.

10:
It’s not supposed to go this well, right?
I’m not used to people respecting my boundaries,
I’m so suspicious of how well it’s going.
I told my therapist, annoyingly well.
It’s very odd to me.
Here’s this support system,
And it’s like, working?
Is this what happens to normal people?
Like we get in fights, and then he thinks about it, and we come to an understanding, and then he doesn’t do it again?

Ten Poems on Baking with the Cake Bible

Love Letters to Rose Levy Beranbaum

1:
No one understands me like you do.
Will I mix this with a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer?
You’ve thought of that.
You’ve given me adjusted mixing times for that.
It’s because you love me.
You are the Richard Simmons of baking.
You anticipate when I will be tired, when I will skip a direction, or forget to do something,
And you gently tell me to just keep going, you can do it, look I gave you extra information for why you shouldn’t shortcut.

2:
Mix the sugar with the flour?
Not cream the butter and sugar together first?
I am not sure this will work.

But my cake turned out perfectly.
Forgive me for doubting you,
You knew all along,
Of course it would work.

3:
You give me ounces for measuring,
And cups for conversation.
Because you know somedays I will want to be precise and measure in the quickest way, the easiest way.
And sometimes I won’t trust myself to know how to measure a cup,
I want external proof I have enough flour.
And you provide both.
Just for me.
In that little table before the steps.

4:
But that sound so complicated and involved
My mother says,
I could never do all that work.
You don’t understand mom,
The recipes,
They are simple and straightforward.
She’s just thought of everything you might do in a poor kitchen at home by yourself with no one else around,
From substituting the table salt for kosher,
To microwaving the butter because it didn’t soften,
And she has contingency plans for it.
You can’t find your loaf pan because you’re roommate used it to make meatloaf and it’s been sitting on her refrigerator shelf since the dawn of creation?
She’s got you.
Use a springform instead. Here’s how you change the baking time.

5:
Only for you, Rose,
Would I grease my cake pan,
Then cut parchment paper out to fit,
Then grease that paper,
And flour that paper.
But you’ve never steered me wrong.
So here I am in my kitchen, listening to my jazz station,
With my boyfriend on the couch in the other room,
Cutting out pencil-traced parchment paper,
Because I trust you.

6:
I have a secret for you,
I can’t afford your book,
I got it from the library, but I had to give it back.
And now I use a pirated PDF copy I downloaded and ran through text-recognition
So I can ctrl + F for things I crave, like “white cake” “frosting” or “ganache”
But when I search my computer for other words, so often your book comes up,
And it’s a nice reminder, that I could give up school and become a house wife
And just bake all your lovely cakes.

7:
It’s too much power.
To know I could make something this good,
Anytime I wanted,
And could afford to buy the good butter at the store.
Why should I do anything else,
When I could just make happy cakes, and share happy cakes and eat happy cakes?

8:
My friend came this morning to pick up extra cake from my party yesterday.
I said to him,
Do not text me if you do not like the cake.
I know the cake is good.
If you do not like it, you are wrong.
Rose, you give me this confidence.

9:
I gave another friend cake in a Tupperware,
He said to me,
The person in my next meeting after yours had to watch me lick the frosting off the lid.
That’s how good it was.
These are my people.

10:
I don’t know how to say you’re name out loud.
I’ve never watched any of your videos.
I only know that your recipes are perfect.
And the batter tastes as good as the final product.
And I love you.

Ten Poems of Jumbled Mess

1:
I do not have a big singing voice,
I have this little flitty thing that sounds better with other people.
I will sing with you and make you sound better,
I’m breathy and weak on my own.
I’d really prefer to sing with you and the tape,
Really,
Actually, for most things, I’ll do it by myself, I can do it with a recording if I have to,
But I like it best when I have you there with me.

2:
I like to move through my sliding screen door as quietly as possible in the morning.
Making so little sound,
Socks on the carpet,
So as to not bother the world,
With more sound it doesn’t need.

3:
There’s enough room in there.
There’s got to be enough room, right?
You can love us all enough,
Well, me enough,
You can still love me.
Even after you’re married,
We can stay friends,
And you’ll still take my 2 A.M. calls,
When my family member dies and I don’t have anyone else.
There’s enough room there, right?

4:
My therapist had to tell me,
In effect,
It doesn’t bother me when you share bad things,
You’re not a burden, part of his job,
And that he thinks he doesn’t know how I’m still going on doing all this, meaning life.
Half of me doesn’t believes him, half of me thinks that if I believe him I’ll turn into a monster.

5:
We went on a road trip driving through Idaho.
And I saw the rivers with rocks running below the little thin twisty highway.
Rafting suddenly makes sense. Given how beautiful it is.
I’d sit on a fat, yellow cushion to get an excuse to stare, and tow a beer cooler behind me.

6:
I have so much to do.
I want to spend all morning making a complicated chocolate cake,
Where I’ll have to go to the store twice, once because we didn’t have the right oil, the second because I forgot I was almost out of brown sugar.
But if you told me I had to make the cake,
Suddenly Batman on tv would sound so much more interesting.

7:
I told you, that I’m worried being me will make me lose more friends,
More friend’s wives will ask me to stop messaging them,
Telling me long messages about crossing boundaries, text paragraphs, single spaced.
You say I wouldn’t want to lose you as a friend,
And I cry a little more, because right now you’re not lying, but you will be later.

8:
Introspection is contagious,
I tell someone I think too much about how loud I laugh,
And I can see on their face they’re doing the same.
That’s no good.
Laugh your obnoxious laugh!
Scare those birds!
Don’t mind me with my circle of critical nonsense.

9:
I bought fifty dollars worth of clothes two days ago, and now I can’t buy groceries for a month.
But mom I got a blazer, a real blazer that fits and it’s brown and I’ll look like a real professor,
She says that’s good you deserve it you’re always so good with money.
Fine Mom, I’ll judge myself then if you won’t.

10:
How do you explain the subtext of what someone is saying when they’ve just met them and haven’t known them all their lives?
I called your brother after you,
Is code for, why didn’t you pick up your phone?
You must’ve been out drinking,
Is code for I was worried about you but I don’t want to say anything, and I can’t believe you forgot me, you terrible daughter.
But if you asked, they probably wouldn’t say that, oh no, that’s not what I meant at all!
How do you go about writing that down?

Ten Poems for Late August This Year

1:
And I’m sad again,
They’re in the living room, and I’m trying to work,
Getting something done that should only take an hour but is taking me three.
I’m sitting on my bed eating snacks
Trying to work,
Still thinking I made a mistake moving away from all those places I recognized
To sit here and read and feel dumb and study.

2:
It’s hard to be around someone who’s smarter than you all the time.
Brighter, faster, funnier.
What’s the fun in that.
Like I get the, surround yourself with smarter people bit,
But like no one really believes that there aren’t some people who aren’t always going to be smarter than you.
But, I don’t want to have to prove myself,
I want to have a conversation with you,
A full conversation,
With the back and forth bit,
Not the information given bit.

3:
I left the boyfriend,
Why didn’t he say anything?
Why is he being antagonist?
I don’t understand.
I want it to be all about me, please.
For just a minute.
Tell me I’m pretty and special.
You didn’t even mention it. I don’t understand.
I’m starting to question myself, was I supposed to …
That always makes me nervous.

4:
What if I don’t want to do a PhD in what I’m studying.
What if I want to write instead,
Bad poetry I post on the internet,
Will they let me do that instead?
Please.
And pay my rent.

5:
It’s 75 degrees and I’m freezing.
I have two sweaters on.
This is what I get for moving from Texas.
To somewhere that gets cold starting in August.
I’m going to die.
Someone please bring me a blanket.

6:
Do you know how much I love you?
The way you’re only nice to me when you’re sad,
And the times when I can hear your dog’s collar shaking in the background,
And you’ll argue with me with your mouth full.
I don’t think you’ve ever felt it, and that’s okay with me.
I’ll hold on to this while it lasts,
And I’m still glad I told you.
Not always but sometimes,
When you’re being ridiculous about how to organize the dishwasher.

7:
I sat crisscross on the floor with my friend,
Who had never been in a library before.,
The libraries outside of the universities,
The regular people libraries.
I said I had to show her my favorite book.
And I found the children’s book my dad loved,
Everyone poops. It’s called.
And we read it on the floor together.
And she thought it was hilarious.
She took a picture to send to her boyfriend.

8:
It suddenly mattered again
How much skin showed between my pants and my ankles,
If my top stopped at the right length,
If my shoes matched in a way I hadn’t cared about.
Since we went back in person.

9:
It’s me who will fly back to my hometown to take care of my mom.
That way we avoid all the drama.
Me and mom.
We do okay together.
We’ll be fine.
Not my brother who lives an hour away,
Or my sister who has the flexible schedule.
Me, half a continent away,
It’s me who’s coming to take care.
And I’m glad it’s me.

10:
I called you for your birthday,
You let me.
I sang as loud as I could.
I loved it.
Did you know that?
How much I love singing badly to you for your birthday.
And I also love how you save all my voice messages I send you.
I really do.

10 Poems on Traveling Back

talk to me

1:
The city smells the same you know,
That really distinct smell of hot trash,
And smelling like it needs to rain, but hasn’t.
The highways move in the same swirls.
The buildings seem to be newer and there might to be more of them now.
I forgot that the heat stays around all day, and doesn’t take the hint to leave when the rest of the days guests are departing.
I forgot what it was to walk outside and have the shirt stick to your back. Instantly.
I forgot the colors people wear here, the pinks and blues that you don’t see near Seattle.
Mostly, I forgot how lonely this city is when you’re poor and cannot afford to go anywhere.

2:
He picked me up from the airport,
Even though I had to change my flight time.
I wasn’t expecting to land,
I wasn’t expecting to make it on the plane.
I’d heard people say before it all feels like a dream,
But never felt it myself before,
Are these really my hands back in this city?
Are those really my shoes?
Did he really give me a hug?
And then leave me on my own?

3:
Watching someone buckle or unbuckle their belt,
Clicks my brain into what-if’ing.
Even buttoning or unbuttoning their pants,
In the living room,
On the couch,
Checking the loops before walking out the door.
Draws my eye.
And my body.
So I stare, every time.

4:
We’re getting drinks on Friday,
With people I haven’t seen since, was it Christmas before covid hit?
Dinner on Wednesday,
I’ve got a tour scheduled of one of those homes an architect owned and mosaic’d himself.
There’s concert tickets I’d like to buy,
And a trail I’d like to walk again.
And, oh, that one restaurant that survived the pandemic has their patio open.

5:
I haven’t been able to work.
I tell myself this,
I tell myself that,
I calm myself down trying every trick my therapist knows.
And here I sit, in front of my computer, or book, or phone.
Unable to do anything.
Thinking through mud, moving through molasses.

6:
Eavesdrop and people watch.
Those are your goals in the terminal.
You can try to read, or get something done,
But it never works,
You can’t even watch out the plane window.
Learn about what semi-conductor job the person in front of you does.
Be a nosy old lady for a few hours.

7:
I didn’t feel anything when I saw you but confused,
And trying to figure out how to act.
What was I supposed to do.
Can I put my feet up on your seat.
Wait I have to call my mom.
And you haven’t even looked at me yet,
Except to knock my glasses off.
Was I supposed to respond to that?
And you telling me you had to go back to work.

8:
You won’t still like me
By the time I get back,
You’ll have been on date three with the ice cream shop girl,
Who elbowed her coworkers about you,
And your huckleberry flavor I’m sure.
The girl who liked to hear about the history of the Idaho star garnet
Will have decided you’re the one for her.
And I’ll think about your curls from over here.
Forever.

9:
I take the 803 to get to your apartment,
The northbound,
It’s a five-minute walk,
Then I know how to get to you from there.
I’ve got the pass on my phone.
It’s planned in my head,
It’s just whether or not I can do it,
Get myself up from sitting when the time comes to start moving.

10:
She talked to me the whole way there,
At 4:30 AM on the winding path from our town to the airport,
So nice of her to drive me,
And it was going to be her first time driving my car,
When she went back.
She talked to me about odds and bobs, her family and how smoky it was because of the fires.
I’m not sure if people don’t take her seriously,
Or if she flies under their radar or what.
She works so hard,
I’m just not sure if the sense, the common sense, the practical nature, whatever,
Is there to back her up.

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 don’t know what to make of it either

1:
Safe. I told you.
After you said that you have trouble to talking to pretty girls.
I said you wouldn’t have that problem with me.
You said, “don’t you remember the first couples sentences I said to you?”
I said I just remember you were safe.

2:
I found myself uncaring about promises,
That had meant so much, so much.
When I was alone, wanting that stability, to know I had a place and a title, with a boy.
I found someone I liked.
Do you know how hard it is to find someone I like?
Who automatically understood,
I didn’t have to explain things to,
Didn’t have to burden them with the knowledge of all my trauma,
They got it.
I’ve never liked someone else while I was with someone else before.
This is a new one on me.
Decisions to make, I guess, assuming fate stays on my side.
Chance it for nothing? Or stay with the angry one?

3:
What am I doing,
Calling this late at night,
For talk through the phone I would never say if I weren’t sleepy,
Playing with the edges of the knife.
Please just help me feel.

4:
My professor uses jumps scares to test your biometric response.
He says “Boo” really loudly.
They don’t think about PTSD responses to these sorts of things,
Or these fireworks going off tonight.
I get teased for jumping if I’m deep in thought.
Or pushy relatives who want a hug, when I don’t like to be touched.
The loud clapping to call your dog.
I’m constantly vigilant for what will set me off,
One more filter to add to the pile.

5:
What will it be like to be with you?
Are you a kind lover?
Am I making a mistake?
Will we instead have no química?
Will you not like to kiss, or think I should shave more than I do?
Will that one spot on your neck taste like what I think it will?
Will my thighs turn out to be too big?
Will your dog stare too much?
Will your meds let it go through?
What if you’re the perfect height?
What if your hair curls exactly the way I want it to?
What if you look at me like that forever?
What if I hurt you?
What if I snap and yell?
I have to get myself sorted first.
I should have gotten myself sorted out first,
Before I sent those texts.
Am I really thinking about leaving him?
For a chance?
A chance at touch?

6:
What will it be like to see you again?
Will your mouth attack me again?
Will I be put up in one of your houses?
Will you drive me up north to see my friends?
Will you let Grace eat pizza on your couch?
Will I be able to sleep again?
Or will I walk your paver stones in the backyard until I can rest?
Where will I talk too loud?
Who will I love?
Do you even remember how I feel to touch?
Will you call me fat again, well not fat exactly,
Tell me again how I’m not your type, meaning chubby?
Or un-makeuped?
Will you just be drunk again?
And order food all the time?
Fight with me again that women shouldn’t be believed straight off.
Tell me I’m not worth your time with deed and action.
What if what I will makes it true.
What if all I do is cook for you?
What then, is a month too long?
What if the summer isn’t enough?
Will you let me drive?

7:
I can’t get it out of my head.
You said you’d think about me every day.
You knew how powerful that was, I hope?
I hope I’m nice in your memory,
Or your new created fantasies.

8:
There’s a check I can’t cash from my father
For money for a hotel room to escape the heat bubble
Because we don’t have air conditioning in this part of the world.
I can’t cash it.
It’s too much.
I didn’t buy the air conditioner either.
Too scary.

9:
I can’t brush my teeth today.
I couldn’t water my plants yesterday.
You can’t see the floor of my room this evening.
I can’t eat properly anymore.
I want to be a magical pretty number that means I’m healthy.
I have a pile of work I haven’t started.
A boy I haven’t called,
Money I haven’t organized.
And love I haven’t spent.

10:
Say you’ll like me until August?
Please just put a pin it in for me?
I can’t ask,
But it’s all I want to do.
Love me just a little,
Little enough to wait.

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.