queen anne’s lace

in my head, you and i are both

nine, maybe ten years old

and the world seems bigger from down below

from long hair and crooked teeth

and we climb up the trees

i wish the air would get thin

i wish i couldn’t breathe

remember when i thought

you had a third degree burn?

but it was only queen anne’s lace

a fact i quickly learned

so we walked through the trees, and i tried

to be just like you, i tried to fit in

i always knew you’d slip away from me, i guess

it’s just a matter of when

and if you read this now, i imagine

you’d be rolling your eyes

but i still wonder about you, from time to time

ended up in your old neighbourhood

just up the street by circumstance

the white-picket fences and the neatly trimmed lawns

and no one knows you, but i thought i did

back when the differences between us

were still creeks to be hopped over

and not oceans to be crossed

call me nostalgic

or melodramatic

‘cause lately i’ve been feeling old

lately, i’ve been running my fingers 

over the pockmarked scars still left behind

from back when you were the world to me

lately, i’ve been thinking

that love never heals

it is an open wound in the back of your closet

an unfinished page you can never quite forget

and i still remember,

when we lay on the grass and it all seemed perfect in our heads

we’d be best friends forever, we’d buy an apartment 

in the city, and everything would go our way

i guess it’s easy to romanticize a time

when my feet were never sore

when my back never ached

i saw you at the skating rink, the other day

and hid my face on purpose

which goes to show, there’s not much that’s changed

i still read the books we read

and my parents still make jokes about the things we used to do

after all this time,

i still don’t know what to say to you

losing faith

i’ve been toughing it out

for most of this year

trust me, it’s not a good thing to do

i’ve been biting back the bitter thoughts

that surface, no matter how hard i try 

to be nice, and agreeable, to nod and smile

but my thorns always seem to regrow,

and so i guess i’ll have to accept this too

i look at the stars one night, but it’s pouring with rain

i hide in the roof’s overhang, and bank on decency

tell myself

there is no mountain that i cannot conquer

if i could just want it enough

want to reach the top at any price

and maybe it’s true

but my faithless heart has grown tired

of these railroad tracks, and every time we sit down and talk

i feel so fucking old; listen to songs about nostalgia, about being sixteen

i think this is how it’s supposed to be

i lie on the ground, i look up at the vines

and i talk to my friends, my voice like a sinking stone

i’m fishing at the bottom of the pond

through leeches and silt looking for my keys

but the longer i look, the more they shift in my mind

it’s normal

it’s natural

it’s just a part of life

i’ll pull my heart out of my chest

i’ll try, real hard

and i’ll start all over again

august

august is coming all too soon,

with its rotted poppy-stalks and its apocalyptic skies

i’m told it didn’t used to be this way

but i can’t remember anything

but heat domes and ice baths

lukewarm saltwater lapping against my toes

i can’t slow it down,

i can’t stand in its way

i can’t break the ground i walk upon

and command it

to just give me one more day

august is wilting, all too soon

the lazy-days and panic attacks

the sweat trickling down my back

the carsick stomachache, i stare at a screen

i want to see it all, i want to take in the snap of twigs beneath my feet

the burn in my thighs and the words on the page

i want to follow each footstep back to its grave

i want to run as far as i can bear

but i’m running out of time, and i’m only halfway there

so i brush the dust

off my keyboard, watch the clouds dissipate and fade

in the palms of my hands, i pace back and forth

smash shit on the floor

always by mistake

because august is coming all too soon

because i’m never going to live this again

because i’m terrified, i’ll wake up one day

and wish to do it all again

portrait of a dying star

what if i woke up at 2am

to stinging in my throat?

what if i stumbled in the dark

looking for stupid things i wrote?

what if i etched meaningless words into my skin

dragged them through hell then back again?

what if i tripped, and fell, and broke my leg

what if i collapsed in front of you, pleaded and begged?

too tired to puzzle a logic

out of the words you say?

what if i did everything right, and still

couldn’t fall asleep today?

what if the foundation buckled beneath its own weight

and i stared up at the blue summer sky, my eyes heavy with hate?

what if i couldn’t breathe

through the twist and burn of my inadequacies?

what if i made the wrong turn, and i couldn’t come back

what if i fell asleep at only midafternoon?

what if i stayed here, still

my thoughts sinking like stones?

what if i everything i’d worked for meant nothing at all

what if i sat there on the front lawn as the sky started to fall?

and what if sloppy brushstrokes of paint could not capture the ache in my chest

what if i failed, even though i tried my best?

midsummer

i went out by myself today, and i didn’t worry once what you would think, that whole night. if the jokes made by the guy on stage, or the look in my eyes. is this too much? is this too big, and loud? did i make a mistake?

’cause when people praise me, i don’t believe them, no matter what promises they make. i’ve never walked far enough, never pushed hard enough. and every step i take, there’s a door that closes all too soon. there’s something on the list i haven’t yet checked off, but i’ll get it done, at least by next full moon.

i sat on the phone on the couch today, and tried to trace my footsteps through the snow, back to the beginning. wondered when my calendar started to look like a half-finished prophecy, a paint-by-numbers way to say i’m running out of time.

i came home from work today and laid on the deck outside, watching the clouds pass by. took crap advice from strangers, from teachers, from friends too. i ate up your words with a plastic spoon, and felt the dull butter-knife scrape against my tongue.

i stared at myself in the mirror as we drove, drummed my fingers on my lap. i didn’t check my phone.

i’m tapping my feet against the floor, i’m ready to get up, to run as far as my legs can go. i’d do it, i swear, if i could only find the time. if i could only stop sitting there, staring at a blank screen and losing my mind, drawing up lists of things to take, and things we’ll have to leave behind.