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.

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


maybe i just wanted / what they sold me on a movie screen / a gorgeous supernova across the sky / a depression so deep they’d immortalize it / in songs and stories / for the rest of eternity / i wanted to make sense / i wanted to slide down someone’s tongue / like butterscotch candy / bring a smile to red painted lips / ‘cause maybe i can’t change the world / can’t tell my left from right without checking my hands / or remember the street names of the places i grew up / but i can love you for all that it’s worth / and it’s all perspective, isn’t it? / so maybe i just wanted it to be simple / and easy / to get it on the first try, to twirl across the stage  without the slightest / bit of panic curled up inside my chest / maybe i just wanted to hold somebody in the palm of my hands / know how to stitch you back together / on all your broken days / but i stand there, hand half outreached / my heart caught up in my throat / watching you cry from two feet away

a brief reflection on growing up

i used to hate flowers 

and dirt under my nails

wet hair

and bruises on my knees

i used to loathe nonfiction books

warm showers, mint toothpaste

and poetry like this

too many knots and hoops and black holes

the words like an abyss

i used to grab my sword and charge

at the slightest inclination

used to cut myself to pieces 

and build myself a new kind of damnation

i used to write short stories

never to be finished; about mountains

and death, and endings with a bow

and i don’t regret a second

every fumbling mistake

and rambling intro

i used to want to grow my hair out

all the way down to my back

put it in braids and tie it up

so shitty boys would like me

and i would never have to like them back

i used to want to die my hair blonde

and buy expensive things

like the girls in the movies

i used to daydream about it

used to climb up on the roof with a ladder

as high as i could go

used to run down the street barefoot

until my low-rise jeans were soaked

I just turned sixteen and have been feeling just a little bit sentimental, in between having an absolute life crisis. I really like this poem and I hope you like it too.