participation trophy

i’m not your prodigy now, not anymore

i’m not a silver bullet, i’m just 

going on seventeen, hair pushed back

trying to cram in as many poems into autumn evenings

as the stack of books beside my bed grows higher

i’ve been trying it get more sleep

and i’m not much good at that either

it’s a thankless, never ending task

i’m not your symbol

not your poster child

not the exception to the rule

i will not feed myself into the gears of a machine

no matter how shiny, how loved

if it’s going to spit me out the other end in tears

i’m not going to fall for it

not going to tear apart my skin,

not going to hate my body

not going to bask in hopelessness 

not going to give up, for any more

than half the day

i’m gonna call my friends

i’m gonna sit on the bathroom counter, and talk until my head stops spinning

and i’m gonna turn off my bedroom light

these days, i’ve been trying that thing

where i don’t run myself dry

and i fail, sometimes

fall back into old habits, make the same old mistakes

get it done in double the time

and maybe it won’t matter in the end

maybe people will be miserable

maybe i won’t be the best, or the brightest in my grade

but i gave it everything i had in me

i fought with all my might

and then i went to bed

i’m doing okay

it’s a non-event / a temperary-permanent state of mind / i’m lying on the water, and i’m staring at the sky, and i don’t feel half-bad at all / i’m sitting on the phone with the doctor or the therapist, and i don’t have much to say at all

i’m lying in bed, and i’m tired from my day / i don’t know if it’s me, or if it’s you /  but i’ve got nothing to bitch about beyond the ordinary / work and school and the weather / and  my dreams, they’re just as absurd as ever, but that’s okay

i went to see you last night and we sat out by the stars and talked / and i wish i’d taken pictures, but i didn’t, and already i can feel how it’ll slip from my mind / i’m so scared of forgetting, but i guess that makes sense / and i think that it’ll all come in time

we walked until our feet were sore, ogled at pretty things / i went home, a little tired / and i thought about how much i am loved / and how much i love these people too

and there are things i can’t say, things i can’t write / there are gods i haven’t prayed to, and things i haven’t chased in quite some time / so i sit here, and i figure my shit out piece by piece / and i try to give it time

there are long, dreary, lazy days where i don’t feel much at all / and i miss writing poetry, i miss having something of much importance to say / i miss the frenetic typing, the feeling of it all just setting into place / but at least i haven’t got so much to write about / at least my shadow keeps a steady pace 

i’m doing okay, really / i’m trucking along through the dust, through the tired days / and when my therapist calls me, for a moment i can’t figure out what to say


i thought it was frostbite, but it’s not, i’m just standing there, heart-racing, waist-deep in the snow. there’ snothing you can do to help me, but the wolves won’t hurt me. i’ve been here before. the frost clumps to my eyelashes, and i wince at the path less taken. i’ve done that before, too. but the blizzard is too thick, and i can’t see the forest for the trees. that’s been said before, a million times–you know what it means. i thought it was drowning, but i think it’s just osmosis. i think i’m just falling asleep. i think my fingers don’t belong to me, and my lonesome heart has really known it all along. i’ve been staring down at the water, and wondering what lurked that deep. i thought it was heatstroke, thought it was something i could treat. thought it would go away with time or place or a change of mind. but i think it might just be me. me, and my stubbornness, me and my pride. i hope i never lose it, ‘cause you need it to survive. i thought i was losing my mind, but i think i’m just seeing things clearly for the very first time.


i sharpened my tongue on flint / and i practiced on myself at least a little bit / don’t wanna say it, but it’s true / i carved my eyes out of marble and jade and i looked out on the world in a rose-tinted shade / i fashioned myself hands and fingertips out of driftwood, of mahogany / and i scribbled on my arms with free business pens / searched for something i was supposed to be feeling, a warmth or a sunrise that just doesn’t come / you can stop, you can rest now / that’s what i’m told, but if i set down roots i’m never going to leave / if i bow my head, and go to sleep, they’ll wake me up centuries later, when my friends are dead / so i practised asking for what i want with my head held high / i practiced watching like a hawk, and now it’s just what i do / the knife cuts both ways, this has always been true.

i studied the moviements of my face in the mirror, of my trembling shoulders and my tired thighs / and i watched the light shift before my eyes / have you ever noticed how the world changes upon observation? how there’s a fault in everything if you only look / it’s in my blood to be this way, which is really just to tell you that i am tired / the door is shut and i want to lie awake, staring up at the ceiling, thinking of all the things i’ll do / and i’ll dig the knife a little deeper, i’ll find some way to be bitter about something or other / marinating in fury on the bathroom floor / the knife cuts both ways / and i know how to hold it in-between my palms, sifting through words to let go, and words to leave to rot on the back of my tongue / things i’ll never tell you, ‘cause what’s done / i’ve already forgot



those muscles like a bowstring

like the greasy words slipping down your throat


around, what, 100 square feet?

the carpet and the bedframe

and the bookcases, buckling

beneath their own weight

look up

at used car prices, the night sky for all i care

and spend hours and hours and hours

scrolling through apartments on my phone

scribble down figures in notes

maybe i’ll take up running, maybe i’ll change my plans

but i don’t want to tell a soul


your jaw and try

to put a pin on why you feel sick

and why you can see it 

all rolling out before you


you’re walking on a tightrope, my music playing on loop

like the buzzing of a fly


up that story, up all those words

and grimace as they stick 

to your eyelashes, to the bottom of your throat

you’re never gonna forget those words that were said

when you were ten years old, so why don’t you

etch them into notebook pages

and tear through the paper with your pen

why don’t you feel useless, why don’t you stay up late

why don’t you sit inside these four walls

and drive yourself crazy

there’s a world out there, if only you could find it

if only you could go

if only you were braver

if only you didn’t feel so alone

as you talk and talk and talk

to tiny voices on the telephone


those fists into battering rams

into wrecking balls, ready to knock down whole rooms

in the span of one breath

i’m gonna spin around in circles until i catch my death