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

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

knife

i sharpened my tongue on flint / and i practiced on myself at least a little bit / don’t wanna say it, but it’s true / i carved my eyes out of marble and jade and i looked out on the world in a rose-tinted shade / i fashioned myself hands and fingertips out of driftwood, of mahogany / and i scribbled on my arms with free business pens / searched for something i was supposed to be feeling, a warmth or a sunrise that just doesn’t come / you can stop, you can rest now / that’s what i’m told, but if i set down roots i’m never going to leave / if i bow my head, and go to sleep, they’ll wake me up centuries later, when my friends are dead / so i practised asking for what i want with my head held high / i practiced watching like a hawk, and now it’s just what i do / the knife cuts both ways, this has always been true.

i studied the moviements of my face in the mirror, of my trembling shoulders and my tired thighs / and i watched the light shift before my eyes / have you ever noticed how the world changes upon observation? how there’s a fault in everything if you only look / it’s in my blood to be this way, which is really just to tell you that i am tired / the door is shut and i want to lie awake, staring up at the ceiling, thinking of all the things i’ll do / and i’ll dig the knife a little deeper, i’ll find some way to be bitter about something or other / marinating in fury on the bathroom floor / the knife cuts both ways / and i know how to hold it in-between my palms, sifting through words to let go, and words to leave to rot on the back of my tongue / things i’ll never tell you, ‘cause what’s done / i’ve already forgot