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

downward spiral (conversations from my junior year of high school)

  1. On a Zoom call, my Psych teacher tells me

“You’re so mature for seventeen”

Sixteen, I say quietly

And I think Jesus Christ that’s young

Maybe I let it get to my head

  1. “With these grades, you’ll have no trouble

in university,” the counsellor 

Reassures me, and I nod for her sake

Promise, I’m not gonna take an opportunity like this

and throw it back in your face

Hope that it’s true

  1. My grandpa says that “music stopped getting better after Elvis”

But we both know 

That it’s not really about the music

It’s about who he was

A zest for life you lose and can’t replace

And I think what if my good old days are already behind me?

What if it doesn’t get better than this?

He says “You’re going to do well in the world”

And I think what if he’s wrong?

What if my downward spiral has only just begun?

  1. I tell Granny about the courses I’m taking

Against my better judgment 

And she says, “That’s good, that’s really good”

Calls me a “smart cookie”

And holds my hand with trembling, bony fingers

I hug her and laugh, say goodbye 

and pretend it’s okay

  1. I’m in someone’s office

He’s tenting his fingers like a steeple as light streams through the blinds

 “All right. What grade are you in?”

Eleven

“You’ve got nothing to be worried about”

Off the top of my head: student loans, scholarships, letting down everyone who loves me, climate change, housing instability

I could get to the front of the line to pay

And lose my wallet at the bottom of my bag

The bus could run early

The plane going by just a little too low could be the one that drops a bomb

People could be cruel, and unfair

They could be absolutely right in their critique

I take the piecemeal

Thank him for his time, and go

  1. “I can’t wait ‘til I get my license

I’m gonna drive to your place, pick you guys up and go”

my best friend tells me on the phone, while I’m sitting outside

Racking up long-distance fees under the outdoor light

And I say I just wish you were here

I wish I could see you more than twice a year

I wish it could feel like it used to, before everything

Got harder; before we grew up under fire

And they say “Ugh, I know”

  1. “I mean, if we’re all just gonna be stardust, it’d be nice to just know”

I’m sitting at my desk, trying to stop scrolling through my phone

And I say something about

How you’re overreacting to an uncertain situation

Putting the cart before the horse

But really what the fuck do I know

  1. You’re lying in my arms and we’re shivering

Lying on your trampoline and watching the sky get dark over the trees

I feel like all of this has aged me

It feels good to tell the truth to you, 

And I wish I never had to leave

As I watch the clouds turn pink in the sky

  1. “There’s so much I’ve missed the past two years

I’m just trying to cram it all in, and now I’m exhausted”

It’s pouring rain, and my fingers slip over the keypad

On the bank machine, and for a moment I forget to put my cash in the slot

God, I know

I am tired, like a quiet ache

And I don’t have the energy to do anything but watch

Time slipping out through the cracks between my fingers

Making a mess on the floor

Counting down to the moment I just crack and say

That I can’t fucking do this anymore

  1. “It’ll come with practise

It just takes time

Just keep trying, and you’ll get there, all right?”

But it’s so hard to imagine

A view at the end of the climb

Whatever you want to call it

But I’m tired, and fed up

After only two weeks

I don’t think that I’m cut out for this

It all goes faster in my head

I’m running on a treadmill

In search of a finish line

Then get off, broken and exhausted

And curse myself for not moving an inch

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

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

weeping summer

this summer, the trees buckle 

under the weight of september

an unwelcome guest, she comes too soon

her raindrops drip down my cheeks

and the ice-cold water only ever

gets up to my  toes

so i run as fast as i can for the horizon

in search of better days

but my limbs are not my own

as jagged tree-branches rip at my clothes

and oh god, what am i getting into?

so i try to speak, but i’m all out of air

as the commercials play on loop

and butterflies dance in my hair

and i try to find you

between messages unsent

i sit at my desk, sunday afternoon

spinning out codes on the floor

of my good old living room

i think about gods i don’t believe in

and things i’ve got to do

before i’m gone

isn’t it fun? how the things you hated

soften under a rose-coloured touch

how in the hindsight of the present,

maybe my elders knew a thing or two

i run out on the driveway

a second, maybe two

and feel the water soak through my shirt

let me be the waterfall

of bitterness and hurt

let me be careful what i wish for

let me get my dream come true

let me sit at the end of the tunnel

surrounded by light, and think

oh god, what am i going to do?

vertigo swirls around my stomach

i don’t like wind in my hair

i don’t like happenstance or wilderness

i don’t like breathing in this air

but i do, i do, i do