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


the other day, i found ripped-out pages from my notebook in a  box under my bed. they’ve been sitting there for ages, and when the paper crinkles beneath my fingertips and dust starts to bury me, i feel like i’m ten years old, half the world still unknown to me.

nostalgia’s gonna be the death of me. i treat old notebook pages just like they were people, left them rotting in desk drawers and tucked under pillows. sometimes i wish it wasn’t all framed on walls for show. sometimes i put on my old flannel shirts and feel like i’m fourteen years old and seeing red, cause the world wasn’t even halfway like what you promised it would be. but you didn’t care, you didn’t even try to help me. and i knew then like i know now, that i’ll never get those years back. i’ll never know what could have been, if only.

if i would have been stronger, wiser, a little more grown-up, and a little bit more ready as i stand by the shore and wait for waves to come.  i thought grief was supposed to feel like motion, like a valley i could walk through. but i’ve been sitting here all morning, my fingers all stuck together with glue. my t-shirts forever damp, and my room a mess. i should have said what i meant when i still had the chance. i should have held on tighter, i should have tried harder.

but i didn’t. i stood out in the rain and i tripped over my shoes, i fucked it all up. i didn’t listen to my heart, i pulled my hood up and blasted out my ears with my headphones and sat in the wreckage til morning. and i’m still aching down to my bones. still picking forget-me-nots and biting my lips ‘til they bleed.  cause i took your word as gospel and you were full of shit. sat on your lap, practised justifying the ends by the means, and lying through my teeth. 

but i don’t trust you anymore, and now you barely know me.


i’ve got dreams that ache like honeycomb

i’ve got a heart that’s in too deep

standing in the ocean, water up to my knees

trying to find my direction

trying to get out of this, god, please

i’ve got dreams like pressed flowers

staining book pages, crumbling in my palms

i’ve got dreams that feel more like curses

like i’m tantalus, sitting in my fucking pond

i’ll stare up at the fruit trees, i’ll lust after the water

and the second i reach, it’s gone

i’ll self-sabotage, bury my head in the sand

just trying to do what’s right

i guess i’ll just make a future out of sailcloth, and forget

to sew over my pins

i guess i’ll smile, and nod, forever be in flux

i’ll change faces like the moon, and i’ll hide behind the sun

‘cause i’ve got dreams like birthday balloons

sagging plastic on the floor

i’ve got dreams that ache like open sores

stubborn scars across my palm

a memory of idealism, long since fucking gone

i’ve got dreams that taste like lavender

and go down like wildfire smoke

dreams like steamed milk lullabies

curdled to the touch

i’ve got dreams so bright they’re blinding

i’m standing barefoot in the rain

and looking up at the sky, hanging to raindrops by fraying lines of thread

it’s not much

but i don’t let go just yet


i’m bleeding out, slowly

in papercuts and bruises, crumpled tissues on the floor, because

the kindest people i know are always the most broken

the most furious and sharp, they’re sour to the touch

i’m bleeding out slowly from muttered remarks and unfortunate conclusions

the weekdays slipping out like cards between my 

trembling fingertips, change the story 

change the narrative, that old ache inside my gut

keep it just the same as it ever fucking was

and dig the groove deeper into my skin

cause i’m so scared to mess this up, and i’m even more scared

to win

scared of what it’ll do to me when i’ve got nothing left

to thoughtlessly pursue

when there’s not an easy button to press

a pillowcase calling my name

it whispers more more more

so i’m flipping the pages and i’m biting my lips ‘ til they ache

staying up late trying to capture the planes of your face

drawing clear lines and divisions

splitting the world up like the pieces in a pie

i never get it right, no matter how hard i try

rip up the canvas, snap the frame

i’m erring just on the side

of perfection, so fucking terrified 

i’ll grow up and be just like you

i’ll be that person, i’ll let down little kids

i’ll make them beleive in fury and damnation

i’ll bite my tongue and think about you

about how hellfire touched your cheeks and something in you chose

to be good and kind

to try, try, try, even when blood drips off your lips

it’s the bravest thing a person can do

and when i lose faith in everyone

i still believe in you

sweet 16

This is actually a song, I’m gonna record this later on guitar I think–but for now, here’s the lyrics.

i’m driving down the freeway at 9:30 sharp

slept in past both my alarms, forgot to wash my face

but i’ll brush my teeth when i’m in the shower

if that’s what it takes

wishful truths, no law for youth

i feel like some cliché

i’m swallowing back another panic attack

and i’m never coming back to this place

i’m scraping knees on gravel 

treating bee-stings with honey

i’m crying over spilled milk

i’m crying over tea

i’m hungry and i’m sore 

and i just wanted to eat

but sure i’ll take the money

so i can buy myself some big kid shoes

and fuck them up real bad

so i can try to stay awake

try to keep my tenses straight

nous devons partir bientôt

mais je suis desolee 

been pulling back into my chest and 

sleeping in a ribcage 

listening to my heart beat strong and steady

and i’ll walk across the stage

but i never finished ninth grade

but i never earn it, never feel it

nestle up inside my DNA

i’ll be good

you’ll call me brilliant

and i’ll swoon just like the 

winter trees as february sun shines 

through their leaves

i’ll try not to worry

sweet fucking 16

tie up the monsters in the closet 

read some history 

i burned my feelings in the microwave

and damn it tastes like victory