harvest moon

i wake up, my throat cracked and dry

just ten minutes away from making the deadline

but i’m trying to be calm, this time

keep my breath steady

sit with the tide

even though the bridge is burning

even though it hasn’t rained since july

i wake up, and my lips are sore

i miss you like the wind, rushing through the trees

i miss you like the quiet nights 

like the churning seas

like the sky, reaching for the shore

the leaves are dried up, but they aren’t falling

and i’ve never seen the river this low

sit outside, talking under my breath on the phone

wonder if the power’ll go out

wondering if i’m really alone

so i lie awake at night, shouting into the void

of my pillow, burying my head under sheets

and trying to summon tears that never come

at this point, i’m just looking for release

but when it comes, i don’t know what to do

so i lie on my back

and every muscle in my body aches

in my head, i imagine that i’m someone else

with a driver’s license

a better state of mind

with bones made of steel

and muscles carved from stone

and then i’m holding you, and then you’re crying

and i don’t know how to help you

and you say, stop looking at me that way

i’m trying

it’s all i know how to do

downward spiral (conversations from my junior year of high school)

  1. On a Zoom call, my Psych teacher tells me

“You’re so mature for seventeen”

Sixteen, I say quietly

And I think Jesus Christ that’s young

Maybe I let it get to my head

  1. “With these grades, you’ll have no trouble

in university,” the counsellor 

Reassures me, and I nod for her sake

Promise, I’m not gonna take an opportunity like this

and throw it back in your face

Hope that it’s true

  1. My grandpa says that “music stopped getting better after Elvis”

But we both know 

That it’s not really about the music

It’s about who he was

A zest for life you lose and can’t replace

And I think what if my good old days are already behind me?

What if it doesn’t get better than this?

He says “You’re going to do well in the world”

And I think what if he’s wrong?

What if my downward spiral has only just begun?

  1. I tell Granny about the courses I’m taking

Against my better judgment 

And she says, “That’s good, that’s really good”

Calls me a “smart cookie”

And holds my hand with trembling, bony fingers

I hug her and laugh, say goodbye 

and pretend it’s okay

  1. I’m in someone’s office

He’s tenting his fingers like a steeple as light streams through the blinds

 “All right. What grade are you in?”

Eleven

“You’ve got nothing to be worried about”

Off the top of my head: student loans, scholarships, letting down everyone who loves me, climate change, housing instability

I could get to the front of the line to pay

And lose my wallet at the bottom of my bag

The bus could run early

The plane going by just a little too low could be the one that drops a bomb

People could be cruel, and unfair

They could be absolutely right in their critique

I take the piecemeal

Thank him for his time, and go

  1. “I can’t wait ‘til I get my license

I’m gonna drive to your place, pick you guys up and go”

my best friend tells me on the phone, while I’m sitting outside

Racking up long-distance fees under the outdoor light

And I say I just wish you were here

I wish I could see you more than twice a year

I wish it could feel like it used to, before everything

Got harder; before we grew up under fire

And they say “Ugh, I know”

  1. “I mean, if we’re all just gonna be stardust, it’d be nice to just know”

I’m sitting at my desk, trying to stop scrolling through my phone

And I say something about

How you’re overreacting to an uncertain situation

Putting the cart before the horse

But really what the fuck do I know

  1. You’re lying in my arms and we’re shivering

Lying on your trampoline and watching the sky get dark over the trees

I feel like all of this has aged me

It feels good to tell the truth to you, 

And I wish I never had to leave

As I watch the clouds turn pink in the sky

  1. “There’s so much I’ve missed the past two years

I’m just trying to cram it all in, and now I’m exhausted”

It’s pouring rain, and my fingers slip over the keypad

On the bank machine, and for a moment I forget to put my cash in the slot

God, I know

I am tired, like a quiet ache

And I don’t have the energy to do anything but watch

Time slipping out through the cracks between my fingers

Making a mess on the floor

Counting down to the moment I just crack and say

That I can’t fucking do this anymore

  1. “It’ll come with practise

It just takes time

Just keep trying, and you’ll get there, all right?”

But it’s so hard to imagine

A view at the end of the climb

Whatever you want to call it

But I’m tired, and fed up

After only two weeks

I don’t think that I’m cut out for this

It all goes faster in my head

I’m running on a treadmill

In search of a finish line

Then get off, broken and exhausted

And curse myself for not moving an inch

you can’t fix him

you can’t fix him, honey

but i know you tried

i know you stayed up all night

asking god through google searches

if it was gonna be all right

you took him to the urgent care

you held onto his bracelet, you sat at his side

you waited and you drank your coffee

he said he wasn’t mad

you tried not to cry

you tried so hard

you did everything right

you said it diplomatic, said it soft, said it kind

you rubbed sore muscles

and tiptoed over landmines

you found a hawk at the window, kept it

in a cardboard box for days

you gave it food and water

it hunted you for prey, you listened to it cry

you whispered under your breath, as if

you could teach it how to fly

you cleaned the table

you did the dishes, ‘til they were stacked up high

loved the world so much

you thought you would die

you took home misfit toys and broken plates

and never quite figured out how to glue them

back together, and they always made you cry

you planted a garden out of ashes, and grew tired

by the fifteenth try

you were always the last to hang up the phone

and you were bitter, you were mean

you walked on tired feet and aching thighs

you stood paralyzed at the kitchen sink

all your houseplants died

you woke up early, you 

cracked a joke over breakfast

bit your lip, you did not cry, 

did not admit defeat until your heart was jagged

and bleeding, until you weren’t sure you would survive

you botched the surgery

you left your hope inside of his chest

you sat and you watched on the sidelines

steeped in bitterness, you whispered

under your breath with each cry

you can do it, just flap your wings

can’t you get better?

can’t you fucking try?

you can’t rinse the anger out of someone

who doesn’t want to bathe

you can’t pump the sadness out of someone’s weary veins

you can’t take bad memories like cough syrup

gulp them down with sugar, with tea

you can’t stop the tide

but you tried your best

you scraped your hope out of his chest

you bit your tongue so hard

you forgot how to speak your mind

you can’t save them all, honey

not this time

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