Comparison

Sometimes I
look at my poetry and
see a lack of seriousness,
of trauma.

I hear exceptional writers
describe the oppression
the discrimination
the injustice
the world
provides.

I wonder if my own
experiences
my own hurt
the self-made kind
the mental spirals
my self-reflections,
are as universal
or as worthy
to be shared.

And maybe the comparison
is where the actual fallacy lives.

Is it wrong to take space
in arenas where there are no
rules or
standards
for how much pain a piece
must contain?

What I choose to explore
through writing
is most often
the ways in which
I interact
with intimacy
and the ways in which
I do not.

So maybe
I'll give myself permission
to write
without judgement.
To share without
comparison.

In the next room

In one room
my grandmother begs for peace.
She cries for her mother,
screams in confusion and pain.
 
In the kitchen, he cooks dinner alone.
Smelts, fresh bread, salad, a beer.
I watch my grandfather as he moves
quiet and purposeful.
 
He fries the fish as he holds back tears.
He hears his wife cry out in pain.
His own is angry, frustrated.
He tells me,
 
“this was not supposed to happen.
This is not how I imagined the end.”
 
He sits at the kitchen table
the Steelers’ game plays in front of him
He does not notice me watching
as he drizzles hot sauce on his meal.
 
He turns, sensing me behind him,
tells me to grab a plate.
I do, knowing this is an important offering.
 
He fixes me dinner,
too many smelts than I can stomach,
salad, and bread.
I begin to eat silently next to him
 
This is his language of love.
 
He gets up suddenly
grabs a glass from the cupboard
pours half of his beer in the glass.
He hands it to me.
 
I drink. I take him in.
I say nothing. Because I know
he needs this. He needs me
to be silent with him, to eat
the food he has made
to accept what love
he has left to give.
 
To do something
anything.

April 1st

You share you haven’t 
written
in two months.

I’m startled at the idea
that you’ve not reflected
or inspired
a note
a poem
or paragraph
while I’ve written about you
most days.

I’ve written about you
since the night
I thought
you were something other
than who you turned
out to be.

Burn

There is pain
at the center of my chest
it reaches for cold,
anything to soothe the fire
you had no intention of lighting.

Tell me,
what is the antidote
to loneliness?
To rejection?

You do not reach out.
It hurts more than if
you’d simply write
to tell me
I am not the one for you.

I am burning, burning,
don’t you see?

Moments and meaning and time
swirling around,
wasted.

Wasted on
thinking of a love
that never began
or lasted
long enough
for it to burn.

I’ll look to the south

You are 
your favorite authors 
your beloved
literary characters.

I dive to understand
your mind 
and come up
breathless and more confused.

I seek refuge among
the clues you’ve given me
in memories a decade old.

I review the
drunken truths you let
slip that evening. 

I only get you
when your guard is down, 
broken in with substances
meant to numb you.

I just hope I find you
before you meet the same fate
as the characters you look to
to fill your lonely heart. 

washed away

I open the drawer
where I keep the lingerie
I wore that night.

I look to 
the bottoms you took off
to enter 
without foreplay or affection.
Without protection.

I asked you to wear a condom.

I stand alone in my bedroom.
I hold the shorts to my nose
the satin smells like your cologne.

I'm reminded of the blind hope
the unfulfilling physical touch.

I feel mixed sadness
as I place
the satin shorts
in the washing machine,
reverently.

I wore them to feel
sexy,
desirable.

Like an object,
you take,
you play,
and return me
once you’ve finished.

I shut the lid
turn away from the wreckage,
wishing desperately to redo
the night you came inside 
looking for a way out. 

Reflection

She says to me,

“You get to figure this all out. 
What a beautiful
challenge to overcome.”

She suggests I look
not to the trauma
or the pain
but the fear.
Fear of being left.
Fear of being seen. 

“You look through lenses
scratched and clouded.
You feel through fear.
Until you know your ground,
until you know
what you want
and expect nothing less,
you’ll continue to question.
You’ll continue to feel doubt.”

I look to her
tears decades old
decorate my face. 

“So what now?”

She looks at me with
a knowing smile.

“You already know.”