lost in translation

i’ve never been good with a turn of phrase

subtle punchlines and references

to movies that i never saw

i’ve never been quick on my feet

or good when it comes to memory

i never understood those shakespeare plays

but i hear they’re something special

and i’m trying to understand the rhyming verses

to see the things you do

i’ll get there, eventually

i’ll translate the twisted words and i’ll muddle through

the things that were supposed to come easy

i’ll make sense of it, clicking puzzle-pieces together

simple rules; black and white

i’m good at that

clear lines

knotted paths of string in my palms

something i can touch

i’m good at breaking, but not so good at fixing;

my sweaty palms slipping on the wrench

the house is flooding, water’s rising

but i still don’t have the guts

to do what i need to do

and i don’t understand this language you speak

of soft touches, leaning into my shoulder

i don’t have faith, i don’t have time

but i’m still trying to get through; watching the way

you give like it doesn’t cost anything to you

it doesn’t come naturally

it doesn’t quite fit

and i’ve never been a good student

but i’m not the type to quit

up at 7

sometimes it feels like i just blinked / and woke up in someone else’s story / the middle left a blank / until the very last minute, when a burst of panic comes my way / i’m up at 7 / dragging my feet / and i’m curling up in the blankets, watching tv / clinging to the nearest body that’ll hold me / even if it’s burning up my skin / and i’m bandaging up scraped palms / swollen cheeks / on the bathroom counter / the guidance counsellor tells me not to worry / but every day flies past like a shooting star, always just out of reach / cause one minute, i was ten years old / and now i am twisting the keys and starting the ignition / again / again / i’m up at 9 / jacket over flannel over turtleneck sweater / laying my head in your lap and crying my eyes out / picking gravel out of the wound / bit. by bit. by bit

happier (sunday afternoon)

i’ll be happier once i graduate

once i buy my parents’ car with all that money i saved

from working in the heat

and drive off into the sunset

my teen movie bullshit playing on repeat

i’ll be happier once i finish

with my big fancy degree

i’ll be happy with a certificate

to prove that i’m stronger than they thought i’d be

i’ll be happier when i can finally breathe

when my life doesn’t flash before my eyes

every time i go to sleep

when i stop eating leftovers for breakfast

and leave the house more than once a week

i’ll be happy when they clap for me

when they kiss my cheeks and touch my hands

and tell me they love me

when the people in the crowds scream my name

they say we’re proud of you, and everything you’ve done

so i don’t have to get my hands dirty

no wait

i’ll be happy when my grades go up

another number on a screen

i’ll be happy when strangers on the internet

figure out how to fix my self-esteem

i’ll be happy when i fix the fucking pimples on my skin

with multivitamins and a fake new name

when my clothes are nicer

when my hair curls just right

i’ll get better with time

i’ll improve because i have to

there’s nothing else to say

i’ll be happy

when you fix me

with true love’s kiss

and make all my problems go away

until my stomach aches

and my callow bones begin to crack

yet again

and now it’s sunday afternoon and i just want

to take it back

i want my neon god

i want my mother’s lap

i want cookies and cake and hummingbird food

i want the world upon my back

and then i’ll be happy

then, i’ll be proud of me

i’ll be strong and smart and good



thoughts while learning to drive

stop before the sign, then inch forward


don’t hit the pedestrian

hold the wheel firm and strong

don’t crash into the neighbour’s car

make up your mind

have a plan before you go

don’t half-ass it, drop out 

before the finish line

’cause there’s no time for being nervous

now you’re out on the road

now the cars are piled up behind you

pull over, they’ve all got somewhere to go

don’t panic and don’t cry

you are not three years old

just keep your eyes on the horizon

indicate before turning and look where you want to go

and maybe if i try hard enough

mimic the way she holds her head

then i’ll stop feeling crazy

then i’ll stop feeling weak

do not hesitate

do not falter

smooth motions; no stomping on the brakes

maybe if i did yoga

or got better grades

maybe if i tried another medication

until i’m all out of brand names

maybe if i took up running

cold showers

maybe if i acted like the other kids

take the car out of park, reverse, 

then shift into drive

don’t scratch the paint

don’t drive into the thorns

i’ve spent my whole life wishing i could be in control

but now it’s here, i’m sitting behind the wheel

and i still feel like i’m eleven years old

no wait i’m twenty-five

pull over for the car behind you

don’t park near the traffic

scratch that, just get out of this alive

’cause now i’m sixteen and

it doesn’t feel like a movie

but it definitely isn’t real

soft feather-fingertips and frost on the glass

the new year’s coming

brake slowly after easing off the gas

I’ve been learning to drive. It’s exhilarating, and really scary too Sixteen is a weird age to be.


i. it’s good to hear your voice / cause i haven’t heard much of anything these days, beyond the bomb-blast shock of the drums on the floor and / it’s good to see your face / cause for a while, you’ve been gone / and maybe, so have i / jacket over flannel over turtleneck over little white lies / i used to tell for attention / seven years old, eyes bloodshot with desperation / it seems like a lifetime ago / like i blinked, and now i am here / sixteen years old / i’ve got my headphones in / i’ve gotta be doing something / everything / drowning out the ghosts at the door / i’ve gotta burn it to ash / paint myself an empire / and rip it to shreds / it’s not good enough, no / it never is / even when you smear blood on the wall and you don’t go outside / there’s no beauty in self-destruction / even when it’s easy on the eyes 

ii. it’s good to hear your voice / i’ve been trying / really / trying to do you right / trying to be the person you think i am / she’s really something, isn’t she? / god, i am loved / and it kills me / i am loved, and it sinks like a death wish into my bones / i am loved in every city light, every absent curve of flesh and bone / this mixed-up bag of shit / but if there’s a single lump of gold in-between the shards of glass, i’ll take it / and could you just hold me, like i am ten years old / and press kisses to my forehead / and sing me to sleep like a little kid / and i will hate it / and i will close my eyes and lean in / to your shoulder and we’re watching tv / / i am loved / in soft touches and silly jokes, in every bandage on the kitchen counter / every word i never wrote