A Collection of 4 Poems
To My Daughter
It gets exhausting. Late nights
spent alongside hospital beds
stuck in the middle of crowded living
rooms, shoved between coffee tables
and couches. Bleak, aching faces
watching me in hopes that their loved one
has not died. Hospice is draining,
pulling every emotion out of you
like a vacuum. Knowing that
there is no way you can cure them,
only ease their pain is debilitating.
I miss you. Do you remember
when I had two fifteen-year-olds
die within a week span? I almost quit.
The mornings spent giving them new pain medications knowing there
Is no way to stop the illness. The thought of you being them still brings weight to my chest,
but so does you becoming me. Long days
and nights suffocating me
like an invisible hand pressing
against my lungs.
I wish time worked in our favor.
I leave early and come home late
to muteness cascading through
the house. You were my water
after the draining day. You always
knew how to compensate for the
mourning I endured
each shift. you would even stay up
all night during my on call shifts
and have hot tea sitting on the
countertop. Now you come home
to an empty room and wait
for the night to pass and morning
to come. Easy has never been
part of our routine.
You’re miles away, jaded by life’s
new expectations. You are fatigued
from hours spent studying and
working until it is time to sleep.
Your days have blended
into being the same day
on repeat. I am anchored,
left to pick up the pieces for
families while they collapse at the
realization of their loved ones’
death, not allowed to
feel the loss
Seven Empty Cans
I watch as you toss your head back.
The can moving in unison
to your lips,
like clear coat nail polish.
You look at me
as you crush the can
between your fingers.
It brings me back
to the way you
gazed at me
when we met.
as you moved
your smooth fingers across my lips.
I grab another while you sip
the remains of the last, pop the top
of the silver cylinder,
with a gentle hand on my cheek.
It's like we’re 16 again,
navigating each other’s bodies; It's my turn to toss
my head back
and feel the carbonation
glide down my throat.
The tingle of tonic
takes me back to the first sip.
Your lips drifting
down my neck,
tipsy is an understatement.
We take sip after sip
until sleep beckons us
and there are seven empty cans
on the floor.
Green was invasive
like a termite nest
in an old attic.
It was an empty stomach
aching for the food of acceptance.
It was wanting to be
wanted like you want to be others.
Green was yearning
to be everything I was not.
with skin as smooth as velvet,
smiles as brilliant
Green was consistent.
Always sitting in the pit
of my stomach, waiting
to poison my thoughts.
I wish I looked like her.
Why not me?
Making me a sponge for insecurity,
Green was wasteful,
never accepting what it was given
but always longing for more,
spitting me back out
a different version
I was green.
A Girl's Best Friend
A bundle of bristles
paint over insecurities like white-out
on a perfectionist’s project.
Decorate blank cream features
with scarlet cheeks; recreating
facial structures like a wooden plastic surgeon.
Introduced at the age of 9,
a comforting hand to hold;
always there when her reflection
tormented her, like a grade-school bully
mocking her imperfections. Always there,
teaching her a rulebook
that she cannot throw away
no matter how much she suffocates under
layers of perfected
A Mesage Gone Astray
Selfishness is not always
tied to the object,
greed is not always
bound to the coin;
Generosity is not always
free of deceit, and
seldom does sincerity
evade the void.
You have painted the canvas
and structured your ways;
now cemented in stone,
even your own predict decay.
Yet when the dawn arrives,
and the light reaches your gaze,
know that it was I
who brought you that new day.
Heed my message;
this message gone astray.
My father swayed around the room
grabbing t-shirts, pants, and old shoes.
His fitted watches that never tick, sticky
cologne bottles with a mild stench.
All sat on the dresser,
awaiting his encounter.
For whatever reason is this
my tiny steps pull me in closer.
Teary eyed, and shaken,
absorbed in sounds worth breaking. He said this was his final altercation. I
never known him for a liar.
And as swift as a magician,
his figure faded through the opening, that was once a screen door.
He would say to pray before I lay. And that I did.
Upon the sweet smell of biscuits that fill me up come mourning
and dirty clothes and dishes come sundown. My words blazed as the night
would fall. I spoke them, ever so gently.
I didn’t want uprooted shouts
that spring til my eardrums ache.
I often choke on these words and
my ears ring with stillness.
Then, I fall deep into my sheets
that radiate champagne cheers.
Legs simply on top of each other, pulling the covers to dress my body. Now the
beast will never get me.
His physique mirrored an army.
My mind now as quiet as an abandoned village. Where a population diminished
of fear. Evoking a peculiar idea of where, this prayer for you takes place.
Or if you even pray at all.
are you still watching?
I have never enjoyed watching TV shows.
I was never the type of girl to be wrapped up in an episodic format that always ends with
Just propelling into the next with ease
Because you have to
Because you need to know what happens
I cling to a certain series, a popular one at that
Five seasons, forty minute episodes.
A season I started alone back in August when I first came to college, then
They came along.
We began watching together, becoming invested together in the wild plot of a television
series that was originally produced in 2008
We found interest in it again in 2022
Laid on laps with laptops propped in beds
Lounged on floors with TV stacked on top of A.C
Playing musical chairs with who’s dorm room we would end up in
I was enthralled.
With the tv series or him I still am unable to answer which one
Like all the beautiful things in life
things came to end
But we still hadn’t finished the show.
We continued as best we can to make it through the final series as him and me
Instead of a we, instead of an us
Him and me do the best we can
Him and me
Laid on laps with laptops propped on beds
Lounged on floors with TV stacked on top of A.C
Fingers holdings hands, the same hands that hold heads close to hearts
For some feeling of familiarity that once filled our lives
It’s there, but it’s so incredibly different
Because him and me both know that seasons have to end
With fifteen episodes remaining
I beg that somehow in some way I can figure out how to make the final season longer. There has to be something, anything to keep him coming over
Once the season comes to its finale,
So do we
Are you still watching?
At the top of the cliff,
a farmer wipes sweat
off his brow, just missing
the outline of child-sized wings
that catch on his plow.
On the cliffside,
a shepherd glances
at the callous sky, swears
he catches a glimpse
of sun-scorched hair.
From the shore,
a fisherman casts his line,
wondering why the smell
of waxy, burnt sugar
wafts through the air.
By the time Icarus,
plumage charred down
to gnarled-branches reaches
the halcyon waters,
the sun has already begun
to dip below the horizon.
Like the others, it is unmoved,
rays barely dimmed, as it watches
the weightlessness of youth melt
off Icarus’s shoulders.
The boy hits the water headfirst,
Silently slipping through the waves
With an unimpressive splash.
Like a flame just blown out,
the smoke curls towards
his adolescent eyes, and Icarus
realizes he will be remembered
solely in the snuffed-out embers
of his own demise.\
FACE OF THE CITY
Patrick the healer.
Paving the roads.
by the throw of a ball
Spewing Arrowhead stadium.
Forming concession stands out of his hands.
Clearing up traffic on I-70
with a pump fake,
Faking cars left to open up the right lane.
Building a new park in our neighborhood
with a touchdown dance
Filling potholes on the street
With the shimmering gold and sparkling diamonds of a Super Bowl ring.
The skyscrapers to new heights
A floating city
Held up by a King
In the Sea of Red
Love, compassion, and unity.
Everyone comes together to cheer him on
Life is a prison
24-hour lockdown with no possibility for parole
You play your role
But what if things changed?
What if things were never again the same?
That sounds nice
I’d like to get outta this cell and do something
These bars can’t hold me
Your eyes can’t judge me hard enough for the
things I will do
I’m gonna require more from myself
Open doors full of wealth
I’m gonna stop stressing and do more for my
My mindset is switched
Ain’t got no gun on my hip
But I’m finna start shooting shots like I can’t
I’m gonna become my own rock
I will break out and hide the lock
So when you feel the same
Come ride the wave
There’s always more room for the extraordinary
Love is like...
Love is like your
Home. You are so excited once you move in
And it’s empty and new and ready for you.
You palace all of your things where you want them.
You spend all of your time there and it’s comfortable.
You lie on the couch and prop up your feet.
Sit in front of the fire,
Sit on the porch and on the deck.
It’s your place,
Where you belong,
You move out of that home, and you miss it dearly.
And one day, you turn the corner to that house
And feel that same feeling, but it overwhelms you
The feeling is trying and brings tears to your eyes.
Magic Show at the Temple of Friendship
I hate endings
and chapters closing
and saying goodbye when
I know it’s not really goodbye,
Because I’ll see you again
when you come by my town,
and you know I’ll be waiting,
so you have to come around,
and do please remember, for me,
that it makes no difference
if we never speak for the next thirty years,
and then, in thirty one,
we go out for tea
Just like that one time
way, way back last week
when we talked about going home
and let ourselves pretend
that maps were to scale
like the Midwest was Main Street,
and I’m two blocks south,
So of course we’ll cross paths
and have tea
and laugh at
our memories we’ll always have,
that no one can erase
because even though our time was brief,
you've altered my soul indelibly,
Do me one last favor,
and think of me when you can
because I’ve stuck you in my heart
like those golden sticker stars,
and god, you know how much I hate to cry,
so what if I don’t say goodbye because
even though it’s ending,
and it is,
it’s never really an ending when you’ll always be my—
i assume it’s the way
the card reader pings in acceptance
and the avert of my eyes
as they travel down slowly in contempt
but now i see
in between the handprints on a dirty mirror
all my weaknesses and the oppression of awareness
that clings itself to you
was it the way your hands strummed along my back that turned
once iron held independence
to a deceiving ghost
whose presence drifted off in wind
like that of engine smoke dissipating into the thin
there was once an episode of Vampire Diaries
where the protagonist was able to “shut off” her emotion
and the ability to breathe
found its way into her lungs
and heartache felt like miles away
12 years old
and i never would have thought
i would yearn for the wielding of such power, mighty capability,
and pray for the chance to finally brush my fingertips against the smooth edges of control
an entity once tangible
a remembrance that forces teeth to clench,
tears to swell
and shame to drip slowly into my cup of worth
and you’d think i’d hate you by now
that your unintended glory
would blind me with rage
i love you greater than yesterday's parade
of kisses and dreams
I flinch. At the feeling of my fathers lips brushing against the shell of my ear
whispering the insecurities that shackle themselves to my ankles
condemning this once secured walk of confidence
to become hesitant
and now i’m here
hugging you so tightly
and breathing in the scent that delivers me simplicity
and wishing i could place this bucket of needed clay
in front of you
and lather it in between the spaces of bricks
placing them side by side
one by one,
on top of another
until a wall surrounds this bleeding heart
I wanted to be something with teeth.
But I was born gummy and golden-haired.
I was not the disembodied spine spiraling
towards my own savage ends.
I was the oyster with no vertebrae, the
supposedly painless creature, just bivalve, just
entrails and a gritty pearl, really just
a pretty girl who wanted the other things that entrails entail:
a knife, a sacrificial lamb, all the gods descending
into something just out of sight.
I wanted to kill the titular prince
in the end
and I wanted to have a shared agreement
that it was the right thing to do.
I wanted him to be more than a star
disappearing in the night.
I wanted to warn him I’m
not what he left behind.
I wanted slitted eyes
that only see what needs to be done.
I wanted to be all spine and I wanted
to wind up and bite and
I wanted to be something with teeth
and enough venom to kill
the constraints of space and time.
Because I needed
to be three parts anger
and only one part sadness.
You know some women are so beautiful
they are never born at all.
they come into the world full-breasted,
pearl-skinned, standing in a shell,
with long bronze hair blowing
around their bare asses in the ocean breeze,
and perfect noses too.
These women, the ones worth painting, don’t cry
and have only the vaguest sense of modesty.
(After all, she’s sort of trying to cover her boobs
but has an alluring look on her face like she’s asking for it,
and who could know what a woman really wants?)
In your “Birth of Venus”
did she ever wonder:
Where’s my mother?
Why am I naked in the cold ocean?
Where’s my mother?
Why am I alone?
Did she ever wonder if she was raped?
Do mythical women ever meet rapists when looking for gods,
or do they struggle to tell the two apart, like the rest of us?
Women worthy of worship come from Adam’s rib or Zeus’ head or seafoam and Uranus’ ****.
Women worthy of worship don’t come from other women at all.
And the men wanted these women most.
You, Boticelli, knew all this. Why else would a seashell be that big?
The Human Condition
I’d heal your femur if I could,
Keep you safe and warm and dry,
I’d even hunt or gather firewood,
While you sleep uneasily beneath the night sky.
I am not a particularly strong or frightening person,
I don’t know how much damage I could do,
But I wouldn’t let your condition worsen,
And I know I'd fight to the death for you.
Time would pass and I wouldn’t regret it,
All the time I spent nursing your broken bone,
But death was coming for you, and I couldn’t let it,
Compassion being one of the few things that we own.
In the end, we humans are social creatures.
Despite the extra effort civilization requires
Our empathetic nature one of our finest features,
And when we forget that, our humanity retires.
My Heart Lies Here
"My heart lies here," I point.
"Below, in these ruins."
The ash falls gently,
The breeze flows, fluid.
"It wasn't always this way," I explain.
"Before, it was content."
The dawn arrives splendidly,
The night never forgets.
"I dreamed that it was mine," I comment.
"Once, when I was young."
The trees stand tall for legacy,
The grass forgoes its tongue.
"I wish I still had it," I gesture.
"Here, in my hollow chest."
Instead, it lies beneath the rubble,
There, forever at rest.