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.

After

You approached me after my set
in the way I knew you would.
Head down, quiet.
Timid.

You complimented my writing.
Described the ways you
liked my first piece,
the one with the numbers.
I wrote it knowing you would.

I wanted to know what it felt like
to sit and watch
as I stood in the light
reading words meant
for your ears alone.

You didn't offer me
feelings and
you didn't describe
your experience of
hearing poetry
clearly written
for you.

I looked to you
as I
read my last piece
and observe your reaction.

You looked sad
and serious
and you were leaning
into
each word.

You got the message.
As quickly as you leaned in,
you pulled away.
Perhaps in the only way you could.

I still hoped.
I hoped you'd feel
inspired
to make space
for the feelings between us.

I hoped
you’d say something to
challenge my perspective
on what happened
and did not happen
between us.

I offered the chance,
multiple opportunities.
I hung around until you left.
I made myself available
as I did from the moment
I introduced myself to you.

“Your writing is beautiful,”

you said.

I know. I know it is.
My mind is, too.

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.
 

Only

“I’ve only met you twice,”

he says sharply.

Only.

I feel badly for you.

You see,
I’ve only met you
in my daydreams
my fantasies
in my dreams you come to me.

I see you in my
projections
face you in the
ideas of the future
join you in images I create.

I talk to you in poems,
I feel you in the words.
I look for you in pictures.

“I’ve only met you twice,”

he says,
as if that’s reason
for why I should not care
that he has not met me
as deeply as I have met him.

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.