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Posts Tagged ‘life’

After School

“After school”

used to mean

running up the hill

to melodic chimes—

sharing a slushy,

matching blue tongues.

 

My mom always gave me

five more minutes

in the “ducky playground.”

There was a broken duck seat

attached to the ground

with a spring.

I sat on it,

rocking it back and

forth, side to side,

trying to break it

more.

 

My best friend told me secrets

before we slid down

the biggest slide,

and we always liked

the same boys. I hated that

but loved her,

and we wrote bad songs

and stayed up late watching

sad movies.

 

Now “after school” means

401k plans, an unpaid lunch hour,

and early dentist appointments.

Resumes catered to jobs catered

to people catered to me, but

never catered to you.

If you aren’t full time,

you are wasting time,

and there is no time

for you and me

to talk about what we want.

Never say

what a company can do for you.

What can you do for them?

What can you do for me?

 

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I feel vulnerable and my body aches

with uncertainty.

I become anxiety

when my plans tank.

But I still want to hear about

your day.

What happened in class—

the notes you write her,

the next drawing you make.

 

My eyes are always inside screens,

my mind on what I need to do,

my hands on something

I believe is more important.

But it isn’t.

Nothing is more important.

I need to turn and face you.

Time is not running out—

It is right here.

And so are you.

 

I am not young enough

to walk next to you in the halls,

and not old enough to

pass off as your mom.

I am in-between friend and parent,

wanting to have more power,

to give you what you need,

What you want.

I care too much

about your fingers, your music eyes,

your swollen heart.

You are not my child, but you are

worth all my time.

 

You are not the reason

I worry about money,

about where I will end up.

I feel your gratitude

even when you are distracted—

We all get distracted.

I feel like I always am.

 

My uncertain life would be hollow

without your stories, music,

and yearning to be heard.

 

Yes, I am scared.

But if you ever left—

There is nothing that scares me

more.

 

 

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Grad school and relationships

have the same process.

 

You fall in love, even though

you said you wouldn’t

 

when he left you on the stairs

Monday morning,

not even an apology text after.

He didn’t want to give you

a chance,

even after he paid for dinner

and listened to your life story—

 

He pretended he didn’t know

your name.

you became a statistic,

a Facebook friend,

a paper tucked underneath

all the others.

 

You hear about someone

just outside of town.

He is looking for someone—

but you know it can’t be you.

 

No one thinks you have

the right credentials.

You should just find a job

and stay home.

 

You decide to send him a letter

anyways,

 

Almost don’t include the return address.

When rejection is guaranteed

it takes the edge of

the deep-rooted

devastation.

 

He calls you.

Your face buzzes,

a moment packed with

so much—

happy.

Drunk

on the phone’s heat

 

After the first date,

he moves in.

The talk of children—

you lose your appetite

for the left over pizza

in the fridge.

 

You are too tired to make love,

but he doesn’t understand.

he wants to see more of you,

 

He gives you a ring,

and you stay up

flipping through the

wedding magazines,

writing down vendors,

asking your friends what they think.

Their opinions

Their ideas,

Their feedback.

 

You don’t know how you feel

about anything.

 

You don’t remember what it’s like

to have nothing to do,

to have a moment where

you aren’t falling behind.

The date is rolling towards you

like a runaway wheelbarrow.

You don’t know if you should

try to stop it

or run away.

 

But in the middle of the night,

the moon is between

the tree branches

and nothing needs to happen

right now,

 

And you feel him next to you,

stuck in a dream,

But he is suddenly

the most real part

of you.

 

When he turns over in bed—back to you

and you are wide awake,

You trace his spine

with your fingers

and feel his warmth.

It isn’t until then

you realize

you have never loved anything

quite this much.

 

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(Published in Ibbetson Street Press, Issue 38, November 2015)

 

A cold lap waits for

a silent pulse,

late into the morning

when the mind remembers

again.

The heavy hangover

of grief

makes the wallpaper bubble

like humidity,

but the rest of the room

is the same.

 

The digital clock is stuck.

It will always be today—

Even when the minutes roll

through their cycle,

when the cycle feels

rusted, tired, and achy.

 

We often forget that we have

four hearts.

One in our chest—

in each hand,

and our face.

My hands have held you

when you were

the size of

my hands.

My face has felt your whiskers,

the pads on your paws,

your salmon dinner breath.

All my hearts ache for your

body,

 

but I feel the weight of you

on my bed,

my lap, the window sill,

the place where the

red cardinal

pecked at the leaves,

looked in my eyes,

and scraped some of the ache

away

right before he took off.

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Paperback lives are packed tight
in boxes,
wrapped up in bubble wrap and
protective foam.
When I pull out the packing tape
my brother says it sounds like
I am blowing my nose
over and over.

I tape the middle and
the sides of each box—
Not because taping the middle
isn’t enough;
more tape makes it feel more
final.
More real.

My art supplies are heavier
than my literature books
even though writing holds more
weight with me.
I didn’t feel right
leaving my paint behind
even if I would
never find the time
or space again.

I cleared off my walls
before I was ready for them to be
plain.
But I needed to face
the holes that the tacks left behind.

My cat rubs against my face
with the side
of her mouth,
and purrs into my cheeks.
She is entranced by the
boxes piling up, the loose plastic
tumbling with the fan’s breeze,
and the empty bookshelves—
The empty bookshelves.

She jumps.

She sees emptiness
as an opportunity
to explore.

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You are someone that I’ll miss fast,
before the door shuts.
You have always made me feel like
I have something to say.

You are the inside of a typewriter–
has to be open
for the ink to be changed.
But after,
tucked away and private–
cat-like and half loner.

Your drawers and pockets are filled
with conversation starters
and you collect abandoned hammers
on the side of the road
like they are lost people,
or pieces of yourself.

To me you are not someone who
rides a bike or writes or paints,
teaches, loves life.
The reality of you is not that
obvious.

Fingers, keys, and ink make a deal
to find meaning.
Even with all the noise and mistakes
and quirks
you never stopped.

So I will never
stop.

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The pillow burns my cheek,

heat spreading up my ear,

moving through the pillow case

like a wild fire.

I flip the pillow.

Hotter.

My 101 temperature

is lying—

should be too high

to register.

I stare at the wall—

Don’t read the book

I had been waiting

to have time for.

I don’t write.

Even though I am

over due.

I don’t even let

my cat

lay on me.

I stare at the wall.

Pillow flip.

Still engulfed

in flames.

Apple juice tastes different

when I’m nauseous—

it becomes a type of

medicine.

Everything tastes like

medicine.

My stomach forgets how to be

a stomach.

Left side of the pillow

is slightly

colder.

I stare at the wall. I remember

when I painted that tree

there. Took all day

to blend the colors in the back,

without looking like

wet sand at the bottom of a

zip lock bag—

Terrible smell when it sits.

Stomach feels

like a boat,

rocking.

Pillow flip.

Cat wants to play.

I whisper I’m sorry,

and she sits, opens her mouth

wide,

her little fangs exposed

as she gives a little whine.

As if to say,

“Feel better soon.”

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