Warnings

Warn me
before you listen to hip hop,
Country one said.

Warn me
before you curse,
Christian one said.

Warn me
before you befriend me,
Aloof one said.

Warn me
before you laugh,
Stoic one said.

Warn me
before you believe,
Atheist one said.

Warn me
before you love me,
Jewish one said.

Warn me
before you trust me,
Brown one said.

Warn me
before you cry,
White one said.

Warn me
before you become,
They said.

Warn me
before you exist,
They said.

Warning you
that I’m done,
I said.

Noose

There it dangles, the tiny skeleton,
dancing on its tiny noose, haunting me.

It hangs from your rear view mirror,
reflecting the past into the present.

Skeletons are meant to remain hidden
under layers of skin and despair and false hopes.

But you drag them out,
grinning, heckling, getting off on reactions.

Getting off on pain,
you brag about your conquests of physical and psychological and sexual

abuse.

There it dangles, the tiny skeleton
dancing on its tiny noose, haunting me.

Bobbing in front of the mirror,
dragging the horrors of the past, screaming back into the forefront of my mind.

You are the noose,
wrapped around my neck.

Can you see the scars? They linger still,
finger-shaped bruises in a pretty purple painting on my ghost-white neck.

You are the noose,
wrapped around my heart, my mind, my soul,

my past.

You are the noose from which I dangle,
kicking, jerking, clawing at the frayed edges.

I’ll cut this fucker down, one of these days;
I’ll cut you down.

And then I’ll take those frayed bits and fashion the noose anew,
giving it a new home around your splotchy, bloated, corpse-like neck,

fathermine.

~

P.S. A big fat thank you to everyone who offered up ideas and made banners for me. I’m saving all of them and may rotate them out from time to time. Y’all rock my socks. All the damn time.

Désolée (an un-poem)

I’m sorry, but…
I’m giving up on you.

Waiting for your call, your text, your email.
No more.

When you finally come to your senses,
I won’t be there, waiting as I always do.

Ardently, perpetually, relentlessly waiting.
No.

Je ne renoncerai plus à moi.
Je m’abandonne à nous.
Je renonce à toi.

Désolée.
Je suis très désolée.

Humanity I Love You

Humanity i love you
a poem by e e cummings

Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than inquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard

Humanity i love you because
when you’re hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you’re flush pride keeps

you from the pawn shop and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house

Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it’s there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death
Humanity

i hate you

~

I love e e cummings, and I love the pure irony and sarcasm of this one. One could say it’s quite timely as well, but when hasn’t it been? Truly, has there ever been a time in which the ideas presented here haven’t been true? I am quite the cynic and am myself disgusted by the state of humanity.

However.

I also struggle to force myself to trust. To stick my neck out and believe that perhaps it isn’t quite so terrible as it seems. Or rather, that one perhaps shouldn’t disregard the exceptions to the rule simply because there is a rule.

It’s a lonely way to go about life. I know this to be true, firsthand. Still, we should at least be cautious and informed.

Look at me blathering on. I meant to drop the poem and go, allowing it to stand alone. And here I am. Alas, I’ve run out of things to say.

Perhaps more later. Perhaps even about a party to which I’ve been invited. Ah. But humanity.

Pluck You

There you sit, all high and mighty.
You think you’re better than me.
Don’t bother trying to deny it.

I see your sneers of derision.
I hear your whispered plans.
I know you would see my end.

What, you thought I didn’t know?
That I’m not one of the chosen ones?
Hand-selected to exist alongside you?

How foolishly blind you are.
Look at how you must coddle them:
The beauty of your haughty friends comes at a price.

You want them to be with you,
But they resist at every turn, don’t they?
They make you work for their charms.

Yet here I stand, so proud and strong,
Weathering the storms of life
And the destruction of man.

You hunt me down, murderously plucking me from existence.
But you haven’t heard the last from me.
I am far stronger and more persistent than you.

I’ll be back, you sanctimonious prick; I’ll be back.
And this time?
This time, I’m coming for you.

image

 

Pluck me, will you?
No, no.
Pluck You.

Dance Me to the End of Love (In Another Life)

Alone in the dark, you found me.
You said you were waiting for me,
Or someone like me.

Alone in the dark, I found you.
You walked out of my dreams.
And sat at the corner table in the back.

You looked so lonely, but you weren’t alone.
Music kept you company,
Lady Sennheiser singing in your ears.

Roulette Dares
Turning Kind of Blue
In Bliss from Visions of Johanna

I recognized you;
You recognized me.
Our fates were meant to collide.

The scent of rain infused the air.
On a wet sidewalk, glimmering under streetlamps,
We shared a kiss that stopped time.

We fucked on the sofa,
Made love on the floor,
And merged our souls beneath the stars.

You were my soul’s delight,
My heart’s desire,
My mind’s welcome torment.

Our passion unrivaled,
We fused into one.
The universe looked on in awe.

But it wasn’t enough.
I couldn’t compete
With the life you already had.

Our demons clashed,
Our souls in torment;
We wept more than we laughed.

But I can still hear your words in my ear.
They keep me warm at night.
I’ll meet you, my dear; I’ll meet you again.

In Another Life.

(Don’t) Forget to Remember Me

Do you remember how dependent I was upon you?
Do you remember how I couldn’t sleep unless I was in your bed, being your Big Spoon?

Every night.

Do you remember sweeping my hair back and drying my tears?
Do you remember reassuring me that it wasn’t my fault, the things he did?

To all of us.

Do you remember telling me you’d always be here?
Do you remember saying you’d never abandon me, because you loved me?

For a time.

Do you remember helping me learn how to read before kindergarten?
Do you remember telling me how proud you were that I could read at your level by second grade?

And that you were jealous.

Do you remember brushing my long hair?
Do you remember telling me how beautiful the curls were?

Then ripping through them.

Do you remember laughing when I tried to playfully coax you from your depression?
Do you remember telling me I would make a great comedian someday?

But not today.

Do you remember when I had a nightmare you died, so I called you sobbing in the middle of the night?
Do you remember telling me that you loved my big heart of gold, and you’d never?

Go away.

Do you remember when I screamed at him, to get off of you?
Do you remember how hard I tried to take care of you?

Of all of us.

Do you remember telling me to get over it?
Do you remember telling me I should forgive him and be by his side?

No matter what.

Do you remember promising me a special gift like you’d given the others?
Do you remember crocheting half of it and bringing it to me in a garbage bag?

Forever unfinished.

Do you remember the big green plastic cup?
Do you remember drinking until your eyes were glassy and your speech slurred?

Only water.

Do you remember all the sleepless nights?
Do you remember all the men from the Internet?

Unraveled.

Do you remember the intervention?
Do you remember saying nothing was wrong, but you’d never speak to us again?

How dare we care.

Do you remember being the only one at the wedding?
Do you remember having a tantrum and making it all about you?

Cried all night.

Do you remember telling me I wasn’t praying hard enough?
Do you remember telling me I was being punished for something?

Barren.

Do you remember telling me my vocabulary was too high?
Do you remember saying it was disrespectful to ever ask why?

Sheep.

Do you remember when I cried and begged you to respect me?
Do you remember when I cried and begged for you to come to me to talk?

Instead of gossiping.

Do you remember how I begged for you to love me?
Do you remember how much it hurt when I always had to be the one?

To call first.

Do you remember going away?
Do you remember where I am?

Lost.

Do you remember who you are?
Do you remember who I am?

Mother Daughter.

Did you forget to remember?
Did you remember to forget?

Me.

Do you know how much I hate it?
Do you know how long I spend sobbing in bed, every year?

Mother’s Day.

I hope I remember to forget.

You.

As easily as you’ve forgotten to remember.

Me.

Achieving You

We weren’t supposed to connect in person.
It wasn’t supposed to be the same in the corporeal.

I was supposed to be a troll.
You were supposed to be superficial.

We were both supposed to be inarticulate and uninteresting.

Your touch shouldn’t have been so electric.
Your body shouldn’t have shuddered at my caress.

Your kiss shouldn’t have transported me to another realm.
My eyes shouldn’t have drawn you into another universe.

I was supposed to be too afraid to let you touch me.
You were supposed to be too repulsed to try.

But Darling.
My Darling.

It’s you.

You are my love.
You are my soul.
You are my heart.
You are my completion.

And the pain is something we must endure in order to experience such depth of beauty.

I hiked 12 miles and broke my foot
To experience some of the richest, most fulfilling beauty of my lifetime.
And I would do so again.

I ached for it.
Fought for it.
Cried for it.

I had to achieve it.

You, my Love; you, my Darling.
I hope I’m achieving you.
I want to achieve you.
I need to achieve you.

Achieve me.

This.

This incredible thing.
This reality of realities.
This is real.
And should be.

But we must endure.
We must achieve.

Stay with me.
Stay with me,
And I will wait for you.

A (Temporary) Departure

Sitting in the airport
Waiting for my flight
The one that will take me
Back far away from you

From the top of the country
I’ll return this day
With a heart so heavy
But so full of you

I blame you fully
For how I feel

You welcomed me warmly
Showed me your life
You made my heart skip
And stole the breath from my chest

So it’s your fault, my dear
That my pulse has quickened
And I want to flee the airport
Come running back to you

Just a few more things to tidy up
And I’ll be back before you know it
This is the flight that takes me away
Soon I’ll take another, this time to stay

A Public Censure from a High School Outcast

I am in the process of preparing my house to put on the market. This is finally the year that I put myself first, no matter how difficult that is for me – because it is completely out of character. And this is going to involve some major changes and upheaval. I always put others first, even (usually) to my own detriment, almost without exception. I have been this way my entire life.

This change wasn’t some lameass resolution for me. I don’t do resolutions, at least not in the way most do. Life changes and extensive shifts in perspective don’t suddenly and miraculously happen simply because the clock ticked over to a new year. Time as we know it is a man made construct anyway, but I’m seriously digressing here.

The point of bringing this up was to mention I’m working on getting my house ready to sell. And this means days and weeks of meticulous sifting through thirty-five years of accumulated stuff. Some of that stuff is meaningful; some of that stuff is being donated; some of that stuff is being sold; some of that stuff is outright garbage and has been hauled straight to the bin and to the side of the road where people pick it up (you know what they say – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure), but some of that stuff is meaningful to me in some way or other and cannot simply be tossed out. Like the box of letters from my paternal mamaw. She was my penpal for a good two decades. Or my diplomas and commendations. Or my report cards and IEPs from elementary school, and the notes from teachers and little awards I received. Or the stacks of photos and photo albums. There have been lots of laughs, lots of tears, some raging and ripping up photos of that man who ruined my childhood and so much of my life and my outlook and behaviors, some quiet reminiscing, some shock; you get the idea.

One thing I came across was surprising to me. I didn’t even know I had it. A simple piece of paper brought on a flood of memories. Unpleasant ones at that. I was in 11th grade, I think, which puts me somewhere between 16 and 17. I was depressed and miserable and hated high school with all that I had. Not long after this period, I experienced some of the best years of my life until the bottom fell out of that, too. But for now, I was fucking miserable. I experienced suicidal ideation. I never cut myself, but I’ve always had this problem with picking and digging and tearing at my skin. So I’d wear long sleeves almost exclusively, in order to hide my arms.

I had changed schools that year, which is what seriously ramped up my depression and self-loathing. Those last two years of high school did a lot of damage to me, but the others did as well. Before I changed schools, I never had what you would call friends. There was simply a group of outcasts who would gather together during lunch. Some of them hung out together after school, but mostly we just clung to each other on the sidelines of life. It was our own little depressed group of grunge kids on this life raft we created to weather the storm of cheerleaders and jocks and geniuses and rich kids and bullies. It raged around us, splashing us with its venom and vitriol. The bullying had gotten so bad that I perfected this death to you glare and assumed anyone and I do mean anyone who looked at me meant me harm. I struggle with that still. And so we gathered together in this little corner at lunch. Playing hacky sack. Sneaking to the bathroom to smoke a roach. Talking about The Doors and Pink Floyd and Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Wearing the tie-dye Grateful Dead shirt I bought at a yard sale. Long sleeved of course. And that silly “Elvis is Dead. Deal with it.” t-shirt I wore all the fucking time. Mostly because it was black. And I was in a black wearing, flannel over-shirt phase. Close friends and confidantes we were not. But we needed each other. Or at least, I needed them.

1990s-grunge-wear
This is what we were like. Only there were far more dudes than chicks. Most of the chicks were banished for bringing drama to the group.

So when I changed schools, I lost that. I no longer had a shield or raft to cling to against the raging tide of bullies. Especially the preps. They were the worst. Those were the ones that made my life hell all through high school. And now I had no protection. I had no wall of outcasts surrounding me to buffer me from the storm of bullying and back-stabbing. Which leads to the piece of paper I found last night.

I had an AP English class, which I would have loved (because English. Yay. My favorite subject for years.). Except there were about a dozen cheerleaders in that one class. They chose it on purpose because the teacher was the mother of one of them. I had no idea, or I would have scheduled a different class or requested a change. Such as it was, I was stuck in a very special hell of torment and glares and snickers and cruel jokes at my expense. Me, the poor girl in hand-me-downs, thrift store clothes, high-water pants and shoes held together with duct tape I’d taken a black Sharpie to on the black parts and White-Out on the white parts so the tape wouldn’t stand out so much.

At some point during the year, we had an assignment. We were instructed to write an original poem and then select one from our textbook that went along with the same theme. Then we had to buy white t-shirts and somehow paint our original poem on the front and the textbook poem on the back, then wear them to school on the day they were due and recite our poems from memory. This terrified me. I didn’t learn how to be able to do public speaking until college in my twenties. I can do it now, but I was terrified back then. Like vomiting over it a couple of times leading up to it the week it was due.

I couldn’t persuade my father to buy a new white t-shirt for me. “I don’t have the money for some fucking school poem bullshit. Use one of my old undershirts.” No, of course he didn’t have the money. He’d spent it on the twice weekly sacks of pot and pain meds from his 19 year old dealer. The shirt he gave me had the inevitable pinhole burns in it and huge deeply yellowed pit stains. I stole change off of his dresser to buy this glittery green puff paint to get the poems on the shirt. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. But I knew I would be humiliated, and I was. But this time, it was mostly in my head.

It was time. The teacher called my name. My stomach flipped and then flopped, and I felt dizzy and off-balance as I left my back-corner desk and walked to the front of the classroom. Voice shaking, I began:

Nobody

You think that you are better than me
From your clothes, to your style and your hair
You think that you are better than me
But I have ceased to care

You smile and pretend that you are my friend
But I am not here for your pity
You smile and pretend that you are my friend
But I will have nothing to do with your sympathy

In your eyes, I am nobody because I don’t measure up to your standards
But I am not the one who tries to be something I am not
So before you judge me again, take a look at yourself
And face the reality that you are no better than me

And as time marches on
And your shine is all gone
For all of your glitter, you have nothing to show
Now you are nobody, and I am somebody

And you will never be better than me

To their credit, after the snickering subsided, the room got dead quiet. Not even the usual whispers and note-passing that happens during things like this. And the looks on their faces were a mixture of confusion, disgust, surprise, shame. This quiet, wallflower, grungy, nerdy weakling was speaking words of condemnation. To them. This was directed at them, and they knew it.

And then I read the poem I had selected from the textbook, and their shame and confusion turned to shock and fear. I could see it in their eyes, because I had finally worked up the nerve to make eye contact. And so I began:

Richard Cory
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich-yes, richer than a king-
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

I somehow got through to some of them. But not in a way that made them nicer to me, more in a way to make them lean away, look away and leave me completely and utterly alone. Which was a relief and respite from the bullying, at least in that class. I think they were afraid of me. Nervous. Fine. Yes. Great. This I can use. And so my death to you glares increased. I rarely spoke, but I could shoot daggers. And I did. And I relished them shifting in their seats and looking away. I felt guilty for a lot of this later, in some ways still do. But at the time, I finally felt relief and used my anger as my new wall of protection, my new life raft.

I read the paper. I re-folded it and sat there in this reverent silence. Then I opened it and read it again, finally re-folding it and tucking it away among the things I’ve decided to keep. At least for now. As a reminder of what I was, and what I’m working so hard to leave behind. The anger, the fear, the skittishness, the guilt, the distrust, the anxiety, the self-loathing, etc.

Here’s to my year of change. It will happen slowly and then all at once. And I can’t fucking wait.