moth to a flame

feel the choir in your shaking lungs,

the mucus-soaked daggers in your throat

it’s so close and yet so far away

remember how it felt? remember

the way the light called to you, dizzying 

remember the people in that room, laughing and cozy and warm

remember how the flames touched your skin but you didn’t care as your cheeks melted onto the floor

as your eyes went blind in the flashing lights

it’s all inside your head

this whole kingdom you’ve built

it’s made from iron filings, a couple

magnets from the dollar store

and if you close your eyes then you are floating

on a rock, in space, and you are still trapped inside your mind

scroll through old messages and delete each and every one

vivisect each piece of yourself, present them in packages

hand-picked to please

and keep going, keep cherry-picking til your fingers are sore

keep going until you just can’t do it anymore

race toward the light and do not think where you are going

feel the weight of gravity one split second

before the crash, before the fall

before the words left unsaid squirmed in your throat

before you became someone you didn’t recognize at all

twist and turn and shift in the water, slippery skin beneath your fingertips

bite your tongue, hear the voices echo in your head

and remember a time when you didn’t know the kind of things

that will be said, and said, and said, ghost-knives cutting into skin

shrink back into old t-shirts that never quite fit

and perch on your candle on january 1

watch it burn your wings, watch it make you holy

and wish you had the strength to run

blink

today, she’s standing in the pouring rain, her jacket soaked through and clinging to her shirt, her knees covered in mud. today, she’s tired of running from it. so she lingers in the downpour, and feels the icy wind on her cheeks.

i’m getting older, and sometimes, when i look in the mirror, i see it like they do: i’m a bright young lady, headed off into the sun of some big old future that’s barely just begun.

today, she’s standing by the river, the cold water up to her knees. she’s gonna make you proud, she’s gonna let you down a hundred times, as the waves surround her, chill her to the bone. she’ll dive under the surface, and listen to the silence. feel the current drag her along.

i’m getting older, ideals fading into harsh realities, like february rain, melting winter wonderlands into long drives home. like the moment you wake up, feel the sleep roll off your eyes.

and i’m a shit liar, really, dancing circles around inconvenient truths. i spend all morning just scrolling through my phone. i could waste time; i could cough into my sleeve. i would bury my head in the sand long before i tell you what i mean.

today, she’s walking home, and her jacket’s soaked through. she’s on a boat to god knows where. blink, and the exhaustion will fade, the night will turn to day, and all your best moments will seem to fade to black again. and these precious moments will slip like raindrops down your cheeks.

close your eyes, count to ten. before you know it, you’re gonna be living it all over again.

august

august is coming all too soon,

with its rotted poppy-stalks and its apocalyptic skies

i’m told it didn’t used to be this way

but i can’t remember anything

but heat domes and ice baths

lukewarm saltwater lapping against my toes

i can’t slow it down,

i can’t stand in its way

i can’t break the ground i walk upon

and command it

to just give me one more day

august is wilting, all too soon

the lazy-days and panic attacks

the sweat trickling down my back

the carsick stomachache, i stare at a screen

i want to see it all, i want to take in the snap of twigs beneath my feet

the burn in my thighs and the words on the page

i want to follow each footstep back to its grave

i want to run as far as i can bear

but i’m running out of time, and i’m only halfway there

so i brush the dust

off my keyboard, watch the clouds dissipate and fade

in the palms of my hands, i pace back and forth

smash shit on the floor

always by mistake

because august is coming all too soon

because i’m never going to live this again

because i’m terrified, i’ll wake up one day

and wish to do it all again

portrait of a dying star

what if i woke up at 2am

to stinging in my throat?

what if i stumbled in the dark

looking for stupid things i wrote?

what if i etched meaningless words into my skin

dragged them through hell then back again?

what if i tripped, and fell, and broke my leg

what if i collapsed in front of you, pleaded and begged?

too tired to puzzle a logic

out of the words you say?

what if i did everything right, and still

couldn’t fall asleep today?

what if the foundation buckled beneath its own weight

and i stared up at the blue summer sky, my eyes heavy with hate?

what if i couldn’t breathe

through the twist and burn of my inadequacies?

what if i made the wrong turn, and i couldn’t come back

what if i fell asleep at only midafternoon?

what if i stayed here, still

my thoughts sinking like stones?

what if i everything i’d worked for meant nothing at all

what if i sat there on the front lawn as the sky started to fall?

and what if sloppy brushstrokes of paint could not capture the ache in my chest

what if i failed, even though i tried my best?

midsummer

i went out by myself today, and i didn’t worry once what you would think, that whole night. if the jokes made by the guy on stage, or the look in my eyes. is this too much? is this too big, and loud? did i make a mistake?

’cause when people praise me, i don’t believe them, no matter what promises they make. i’ve never walked far enough, never pushed hard enough. and every step i take, there’s a door that closes all too soon. there’s something on the list i haven’t yet checked off, but i’ll get it done, at least by next full moon.

i sat on the phone on the couch today, and tried to trace my footsteps through the snow, back to the beginning. wondered when my calendar started to look like a half-finished prophecy, a paint-by-numbers way to say i’m running out of time.

i came home from work today and laid on the deck outside, watching the clouds pass by. took crap advice from strangers, from teachers, from friends too. i ate up your words with a plastic spoon, and felt the dull butter-knife scrape against my tongue.

i stared at myself in the mirror as we drove, drummed my fingers on my lap. i didn’t check my phone.

i’m tapping my feet against the floor, i’m ready to get up, to run as far as my legs can go. i’d do it, i swear, if i could only find the time. if i could only stop sitting there, staring at a blank screen and losing my mind, drawing up lists of things to take, and things we’ll have to leave behind.