ode to sixteen

i. i am standing by the water, and i’m six years old, the wind is pounding into my back. i lean into it, and don’t move a muscle, my cinderella jacket flapping in the wind. i still can’t remember when i let go. i’m running fast and i’m gonna get away, i’m gonna run all the way across the ocean, and i’m never coming back to this place.

ii. i am swimming in the ocean, i’m the youngest on my team. i’m working on my frontstroke but i still can’t figure out what you meant, when you told me to be nicer, try to come off less blunt. my arms burn and my legs ache. i put my head underwater, and i hold my breath. i want to stay there forever, where i can’t see the fun.

iii. in my head i’m flying, and i’m doing all i should. i’m your very favourite daughter, i suffer and i bitch and moan. i swear like a sailor, and that could use some work, and besides, i’m always alone. my arms ache and my legs are sore, but there’s money in the bank. and for that, someone is proud of me. i close my eyes and dream of kissing you. dream of sleeping for eternity.

iiii. i’m walking up the hill and there’s blood in my teeth. and my vision starts spinning, blink and you’re going to be thirty years old, stubborn and prideful and aching on your feet. i am walking up the hill, one second turns to twenty-five, sweaty and tired and bruised, and at some point, all i want to do is survive. just keep on pushing through.

iiii. except i’m holding your hand and it feels like flying, like the wind in my hair, my heart pumping in my chest. i don’t know what happens next, but i don’t want to wake up just yet.

iiiii. i want to dream like i have never felt heartbreak press against my ribs. ‘cause i’m still reeling from the knowledge that all my heroes are just as lost as i am on where to go next. i’m standing by the water and i’m running for the waves, and my jeans are soaking wet. i’m screaming at the rumbling sky. i want to be that person again.


i. i kept the books you gave me, every silly knicknack / and i read through the old letters you wrote back in the 90s, mailed ‘round the world and back again, as tokens / of someone i never got to know / i traced the family back and i hated every second / decided it was better just not to know

ii. and in case things don’t work out / in case fate decides to rip us away, i’ll freeze this moment in my brain / because i am not ready to be eighteen yet / i’m not ready to drown under the weight of myself / i am scared, my darling / but i’m not going to ask you for help 

iii. i sent you the messages / that you’ll read, and never reply to / searched for subtext that i don’t fucking understand / and never found it in the wastepaper bin / i didn’t rock the boat / i didn’t say a word / i bowed my head and let the storm come in 

iiii. and i lingered / i was selfish and young, and i made my mistakes / should have seen them coming, ten miles down the road / but i didn’t, and i don’t regret it / i don’t regret being softhearted and falling for lies, again and again / i don’t regret  being so dizzy from the beauty of the world / i forgot my place for a moment / even if i’ll never be that girl again

iiiii. i can’t believe where i come from / i can’t believe where i’m headed / caught in the spider’s web with butterflies and moths, yet again / writing poetry on the floor at 12am / it just all starts to pour out of me / ‘cause i’m dusting off all the old books i never read / closing my eyes, and trying to find it in myself to start over again 

iiiiii. cause no excuses was great / until it wasn’t / until my brain sounded like metal against asphalt, sharp and bracing / and i wake up feeling tired and dull every morning / gave everything to the first person who asked nicely / i can see how the years will blur by so quickly / i’ll leave pieces of myself like breadcrumbs, everywhere i go / i’ll be 25 and still looking in the mirror, trying to draw the line between perfectionism and devotion to my craft 

iiiiiii. cause when you’re staring at your tired face in the toothpaste-smudged mirror / it has a way of all looking just about the same / i’ve got self-fulfilling prophecies tucked under my sleeve / i’ve got complexes for days / i’m sharp and i’m tired / and i am trying to ask nicely / if you could stay

self care

take care of yourself, honey. scream into a mirror. kick down all the doors. throw your pillow at the wall and cry for people that have never fucking been yours.  think about death and fate, and try to find a story in it all. boil it to pulp, and pick out the seeds. take a break and go insane, your mind spinning like static electricity. work yourself to death, and imagine you’re just like sleeping beauty. start a journal, take up sewing! almost lose it on the phone, about things that happened years ago. clench your jaw and bite your lips. bottle up until your back is sore. it’s all right, you’ll figure it out eventually. read through old journals, and try to meet the pictures in the eye. snap and scream it all out, but only in your mind. with every word beg for compromise, and closure, homesickness swirling in your gut. maybe i’ll never muster up the courage to leave this town. i don’t know how much more of this i can take. i’ll start drinking decaf! write a poem about rage! you’ll be over it soon, don’t worry. this is just another phase.

I’ve been having one of those weeks where no one thing in my life has actually been going especially terrible–actually, a lot of things are going really well. But there are enough things that are about a 5 or 6 on the frustration scale, and I am terrible enough at actually expressing my anger in any productive way that might lead to solving the issue that it has just been… kind of building up until I am just ready to snap. There’s nothing I can do about any of these situations that are driving me crazy; I’m in the position of having no other real choice than to deal with some BS, and suck it up for the next little while until these mostly fleeting issues pass, because getting angry is just going to make it harder to deal with, and in the logical part of my brain, I know this. I just have to wait it out. (Also, I’m terrified of conflict, which doesn’t help–but really, all of my problems right now are very much out of my control.) So yeah. Sigh.

bad dreams

i. i had a dream last week, that i was flying, but i wasn’t / not really / i was lying through my teeth and hoping no one would notice me / when i fell down on the ground with my heart between my teeth / i had a dream last week that time went back, all the way to 2019, and the history books all orbited / from my self-righteous pride / oh god, i miss those days / but only in the moonlight

ii. i had a dream i was thirty and you were gone / you were dead in some war / you were kind and you were good / you ran off to save the world and i didn’t say a word / i’m getting worked up about scenarios that don’t even exist / i’m getting pissed off with my anger and i’m unclenching my fists

iiii. ‘cause in my head, i’m reeling for things / that haven’t even happened yet / and something’s gotta go / counting out mistakes on my fingers and my thumbs / i had a dream i walked on a tightrope, shouting out words from the corner of my mouth without the slightest mind to what they mean / i dug myself a grave, six feet in the ground, and i started to weep

iiiii. but when it gets bad / when the sky lights up with hatred / when i’m stumbling ‘round the house in the middle of the night, trying to find something to cling to / someone to help me tell my left from right / i’ll listen to the old playlists, and wipe the tears off my cheeks / and remember how it felt again

iiiii. ‘cause the monsters creeping ‘round my head / always seem scarier in darknes / it’s just another rainy, starless night / it’s just another day i’ve got to grit my teeth and try to muscle through / or lie in bed for hours the next morning, staring up at the ceiling marking out the seconds on my palm / either one will do


i’ve climbed the mountain and i have done exactly what you asked

i have sung your cloying song and danced your pretty dance

taken a painkiller to boot, ‘cause my throat is sore and my eyes start to water

at the sight of pigtails and braids and a warm, soft bed

i’ve climbed the mountain and come down, gasping and sore

tired, aching, still wanting for more

‘cause there’s no value in the achievement

in the ache and the pain, the bloody teeth

the pages rolling off my cheeks

i don’t know how to fit my feelings

into boxes, i don’t know how to make them nice

and good, and neat

to follow the hand-outs and the worksheets

and make it stick this time

i don’t know how to curtsy and remember the cues

i’m trying, though, i swear to you

and is it failure i’m facing

or is this just real life? 

‘cause aching dreams seemed prettier

in the early morning light

when whatever it takes sounded like a wedding vow

and desperate fixation felt like intimacy

i’ve lied in bed all morning and stared up at the ceiling

muscles screaming

for motion and feeling, wind in my lungs and something to chase

for shoulders at rest

my thoughts running slow

it’s just a fantasy

some romanticized bullshit, a glamour

i’ll never be able to let go

but god, it’s a good one

watching me at night

when time is running slow