Dreamworld

 The other night,
I found you in a dream.
You were tender and kind
and offered momentary affection.
Even in this dreamworld
you left.

I awoke
feeling emptied of
the intense intimacy
you could provide
and chose
to take 
away.

There is no voice louder than my own (lavender)

I wish I could describe
the voice in my head,
with all its power,
as kind.
As a friend.

On its fifth hour
of circling around
with reminders
of what I do not deserve,
I look to another voice
any other sound,
to silence my own.

A friend sends me the song
"Lavender".
For a moment,
my mind calms.
My chest makes space
for breath.

After a few minutes
of peaceful silence
I let me voice speak.
This time it's easier on me.

Maybe the voice in my head
is in need of a friend.
A kind word.
An embrace.
Some lavender.

T-shirt

I’m thinking of
how it felt
waking up to the sunrise
in a room that wasn’t my own.
 
I watched it rise higher
as I thought of the night before
how magic was made,
co-created with quick wit,
intimacy,
hearing the stories of
the rocks and art in your room.
 
I tried to rest,
and when sleep wouldn’t take me,
I reached across you
for the cup of water on your nightstand.
You startled awake.
 
I rose from the bed to leave.
We talked lightly as I
put my clothes on.
 
I don’t remember the words you used
or the tone in your voice
when you instructed me to
leave the shirt
I had borrowed to sleep in.
 
And I think in that moment I knew
I wouldn’t be back in this room
or in that bed
or under the two blankets
sleeping next to you without
a pillow because you only had one.
 
I took the T-shirt off and
didn’t listen to your explanation
of what it meant to you
and don’t remember if
I even asked
or if I said
something funny to blunt
how it felt being told
to leave this piece of you.
 
It was in that short sentence
I realized
you didn’t want any loose ends.
I would be a temporary connection,
an afterthought.
 
Now looking back
at a moment meant to mean nothing
but charged with more than
I could’ve grasped in the
fog of alcohol,
I wonder what it is
that T-shirt means to you.
 
Maybe you just like it.
It’s vintage and cool
and worn and
it looks like its traveled and
I loved the way it felt when I put it on.
 
When I took it off it felt cold and
used and I
wanted to tell you that I
didn’t want to take it from you
in the first place.
 
And in hindsight I know
that the t-shirt didn’t fit,
it wasn’t mine to wear.
Maybe the contrast of it on me
was too telling.
Maybe it was clear just how much
it did not belong to me.
 
It was that simple request
to leave what was yours
exactly where you wanted it
that led me to hear
what you have said from the start.
 
In the end,
I’m thinking
of how it felt
waking up to the sunrise
in a t-shirt that wasn’t my own.
 
I liked
wearing something
important to you and
although it was temporary
I liked how it felt.

I liked who 
I imagined
you saw in that t-shirt.

Ghosts

I won’t convince you either way.
You decided this
before you met me.

I picture
the ghosts
that may reside in your heart,
ones you haven’t made peace with.

I hope you find enough ground
to feel safe letting another in.
It seems that
in keeping people at a distance
they leave in the end.

A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Perhaps you said those things
to be kind.
Or maybe they were your truth.
At any rate,
I wish your
heart
had room for me.

I’m no exorcist.
My light
shines too bright sometimes
in dark corners.
I can’t dim it.
Not even for you.

After I left your place,
I went to the water.
I’m not ready to
walk with this,
knowing our brief
encounters are over.

I sit in the heaviness of it,
equally as freeing for me,
as I know we negotiated
the best we could.

At the water I release
ghosts of my own.
I see them for what they are.

Some hope goes with them.
I see you with clear eyes.
Kind and gentle.
Perhaps lost in your own head.
Unsure, tempted and fearful.

I can’t pull out of you
words I’d like to hear.
I can’t hope you’ll become
something you are not.

Despite the release,
I'd like to believe
you won’t become
yet another ghost
my words try their best
to understand.

Unveiled

I am grieving the loss 
of who I thought you were. 

Did I pursue you
because you were unavailable, too?

I felt your words had
emotion behind them.

Maybe I wasn’t
listening deeply enough.
Maybe I heard
what I wanted to hear.

Unexpected

I was hoping 
you’d be
unexpected.
 
I found you by chance
reading words written
by your own hand.
 
Sweet mannerisms.
I began to imagine
how you'd feel
moving with me,
creating something
with more than our minds.
 
Soon it became clear
this chance encounter
this unexpected meeting
my forwardness,
a story I’d like to fall into,
would not turn out as anticipated.
 
The result leaves me
feeling bewildered,
saddened
when the ending
unexpectedly changes.
 
I am left
still holding my pen
writing all that I hoped would be
even when evidence
so clearly indicates
a diverging plot.
 
And maybe the unexpected in this
will be more than
unfulfilled hope.
Perhaps I will discover
the art of listening,
accepting where you end
and I begin.
  
I will,
in the unexpected,
navigate voicing my own wants
I’ll attempt to let go
when my needs aren’t met,
and when my wants come second
to yours.

damaged lenses

Tonight street lights are the only stars.
A few burnt out and I do not see
the black ice on the sidewalk.
 
I fall
hit my head.
Shattered something in my eyes.
Grey turns into bursts
of red and blue
and all the things
that don’t make sense.
 
I ask two strangers,
 
“What does it look like?”
 
They tell me love is
orange and yellow normalcy.

I crawl to my car
reach for my glasses
in the glove compartment.
The colors fade and I’m seeing
for the first time
in 13 years.
 
Out loud I ask,
 
“What have you done?”
 
Sadness comes to me
petite and vulnerable
yearning to be seen.
 
She looks at me,
shakes her head.
The view shifts and I’m there.
I’m 13 and I’m falling.
I’m 14 and I’m calling his dad.
 
“Your son, he took pills.”
 
“What happened? Why did he do this?”
 
“I told him I didn’t love him anymore.”
 
I’m alone on my bedroom floor.
My mom listens outside my closed door.
She hears a flat tone in my voice
dissociated from the words I say.
 
“He did this because of me.”
 
My voice sounds older.
Older than 14.
Thick with pain and knowing.
 
I watch myself from the window sill.
I see the exact moment there’s a shift
in the eyes of a teenager.
 
It is then
I begin to believe I am responsible
for the feelings of others.
 
That love is torturous and painful
secretive and life-threatening
all-consuming.
 
It is this moment I believe
I am the victim
and love the betrayer.
 
The numbness of 14 consumes me.
The same feeling
that helped me dial the number
to tell his dad his son called
to say goodbye.
 
His dad is remarkably calm.
When I say these words
and that I was the reason for them.
 
A car beeps.
I startle and see a crack
in the glasses
that have sat in their case
for 13 years.
 
The frames are bent,
the lenses scratched and cloudy.
I remove them from my face,
fold them delicately in my lap.
 
I wait to feel.
Nothing comes.
 

Clean

I don’t know 
how to untangle
this web that is
more like metal bars
behind which I unravel
at the thought of you.

I want to reach out 
for answers
and decide against it.

What would you even say?

It’s the strangest feeling
cleaning a wound
caused
by the weapon I handed you.

I wish I never
invited you in.

Avoidance

I stay busy
so I don’t think of 
your empty touches,
your silence.

I fill my time
to learn what
healthy means.

There are some mornings
I turn off my alarm
because I can’t
sustain the busyness.

I succumb to thoughts of you
and I think of how to
be busy again.

Side effect

It was one of those nights
where the phone 
and the distractions
couldn’t drain from me
the sharp ache of a feeling
I have no name for.
I have no space for.
 
I walked to the water’s edge
sought refuge among
the reflection of clouds
on the reservoir’s surface.
 
I see a man propose
to a woman in tears.
I stop to take a picture,
to preserve their moment,
to be a part of a love
that’s not my own.
For a moment 
I pretend
to know it.
 
Behind them
the clouds hang thick
covering a descending sun.
Stubborn in its want to be seen,
the sunset's rays emerge in fragments.
 
I let myself wonder about
the side effects
of falling 
without knowing what’s below.
 
There’s a certain kind of pain
that comes with the risk
in opening myself
without knowing how to close.
 
And I often wonder 
if this is what others feel
when they hope for 
something
someone
that may not belong to them.
 
It's dark now. 
The clouds have grown thicker.
I assess the risk 
in letting people in.
 
I’m so used to the sharp ones
the ones that bring with them
unintended consequences,
unexamined intentions.
 
As I walk to my car
leaving behind the water 
and the newly engaged couple,
I wonder the side effects
of pushing people away
or of letting myself be seen.
 
I am unsure which consequence 
I'm more willing to live with.