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

the woods

i’m walking through these brambles, i’m tripping on the roots

of trees that have stood here since long before i came here

and when i leave, someday, they will continue to grow up to the sky

and i wonder if my mother has walked these paths before

if my grandmother collapsed in despair between tree-roots,

and if her mother sat in fields of scotch broom, despondent

trying to pull them out one-by-one to no avail

i prick myself on the briar rose and wonder how long disease

has marked these leaves, made petals shrivel and fall to the ground

and i’d pick you a bouquet, darling

but i don’t know when i’ll come back around

and at night, everything feels monstrous and scary

and the wind howls songs i’ve never heard on the radio

never blasted at work to get away from my mind

never hummed to myself, tried with all my might to stay on tune

my lungs shake like feathers

i’ve got nothing left to do

i’m walking through these briars, and i’m wading through the creek

the jagged rocks painting red along the soles of my feet

remember when we were little kids, pushing at the boundaries and wandering

through the suburban wilderness out into the unknown

walk until we were dizzy, until your parents got worried and it was far past time

to get home

i’m sitting by the river now, tracing the initials painted on stone

and i wonder how long my name will echo, when i leave this place

wonder how long it’ll take to fade from memory, before every one of my footsteps

has been erased

i’ll build a home in the trees

and i’ll trace the perimeter with each sunrise

i’ll make a home through the branches of the trees

and i’ll pretend i don’t give a fuck, even though i do

i’ll walk away, someday

and in the bottom of my chest, i’m always going to miss you

stages of grief

1. this can’t be happening, because i have dreams to chase. because i’m fourteen and the ball is rolling for me, or that’s what my english teacher said. she said i hope it doesn’t stop and i felt like i was flying, when they said they were proud of me. this doesn’t happen, not to me. ‘cause someone bigger and smarter’s gonna make it ok. it’s just another two weeks, it’s just another two days. it’s just another holding-your-breath-underwater kind of day.

2. and i didn’t ask to be thrown

into this fucked up shitstorm of anger and hope

i didn’t ask to spend all day sitting alone

and trying to get out of bed

i’ll watch shitty tv until my brain turns to mush

just write and write and write for hours on end

and the sound of the blender

or a car going past

is enough to melt me down to tears and i’m screaming

and i’m slamming the door

and you were supposed to stop this from happening

you were supposed to be good, and fair

but you weren’t, you fucking shit

you walked out and you left me 

standing all alone in the thick of it

3. but i can’t be feeling this, i can’t deal with it, or i’m going to shut down. i’m gonna stare at the pictures on my phone until my eyes glaze over, and i don’t feel quite so alone. i’m gonna crumble like the dry, hot summer soil any other way. god is dead, but mostly so are all my heroes. so is everyone i thought i could turn to in a crisis; they’re just gone gone gone like whispers in the night. and those that remain are flickers of light across the bay. (i’d rather they were dead to me; i’d rather close my eyes and watch the hurt fade away like wildfire smoke.) 

4. i could dig this grief a garden

or i could fashion it a grave

i could sit in the mud of it for hours

i could stare at this bitch in the mirror, cut off all her hair

watch the new grow back in its place

and feel the years blend together

watch myself get a little bit stronger, and taller

a little bit sharper in the face

i could watch my life roll past me 

through the rolled-up car window

just blink and you’ll be nineteen, all living on your own

still swallowing back the lump in your throat

and trying to numb the ache of your old-woman knees

but the one in your chest, it’s cold and it’s empty 

singing for something that i will never reclaim

5. and maybe someday my heart won’t feel like a singing bowl

forever ringing out one damn moment in my life

but all i see right now is water, ‘cause i’m standing by the shore

i’m not ready to be an adult

cause i didn’t have the time to be a kid

so i lie down on the rocks and i close my eyes

feel the january waves hit my shoulders, rush over my head

fill my mouth with bitter saltwater

again, again, again.

This one took me ages to write- I’ve been reflecting a lot on how my feelings have changed over the past few years.

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

princess of the funeral march

i cleaned out my desk today, and i almost cried

over hand-knit slippers and crumpled bits of paper

clenched fists around travel journals

relics of 2012 wound around my throat

‘cause there are things i’ll never tell you

‘til i turn seventeen, and feel the sky crumple to the touch

til i drive off, pass the test

feel the lightning crack of desperation

i just didn’t want to hurt anyone

but i’ll never shut up and stop whining

about my life and its problems

wallow in the negative, til my presence clings like mud to your skin

and you can’t stand to be around my mildew drip

so i cleaned out my desk and felt a bit

of my heart just rip out of my chest

but i don’t need a pencil from fourth grade

the grocery store receipt from the day that everything was okay

and i was good, i was doing what i was supposed to

it’s just stuff

relics and fossils for them to remember me by

i can’t take it with me but i can sure as hell leave it behind

or stay up all night

pack the weight of my memories all the way across the sea

cause what is grief if not a walk down the railroad track, whistling

as you brace for impact

and what am i

if not the princess of the funeral march

there are things i’ll never say aloud

poems crushed in my chest, too dangerous to speak

there are crutches i’ll never stop using, little stupid fucking tricks

breathe in and breathe out

sift and filter out the parts of yourself

rebuild again, and again, and again