Just scheduled two performances. Woohoo!
If I had to, I could count the number of conversations we had
on a hand obsessed with saw blades,
and I swear
if I focus hard enough,
I can still feel the weight of his body in my fingertips,
the rhythm of walking in that 6-part harmony, a Catholic waltz.
It was the closest I’d come to touching him in ten years.
Convinced me my name meant “Pearl,” but no
Ever spit me out, perfect. No, trial by
Gave me these
I’ll admit some are
Just a touch darker than I wanted. I was a
Misery. I was
Pouring rain. I once
Quit living because I felt too
Then, I have reached a better
Understanding of myself. I am
Volumes, memoirs, letters sealed with
Wax. I am
eXactly the person I should be,
Young, and slightly
Today my life is:
A small dose of
Caramel dissolved in coffee, feelings of
Even though I
Faced a fear, or tried to at least…
Hums from my laptop, as
If I need a quiet
Poor me, I cannot afford naps today. I have to fill my
Quota of stress, meetings, work before the
Seemed to think I should make more
Ultimately though, my
Wreaking havoc on the
boXes of my agenda above other, more sane activities. My
Year is now segmented into days and hours, and those meetings… events, papers, a few
Z’s here and there before the sun come up.
You know how it is,
It was the worst anxiety attack you’d had
in a while,
the one I asked you how I should handle, step by step,
"Prepare me for this," I said.
You laid with your head in my lap,
your tears becoming dark stains on my jeans.
I leaned over, set my face so close,
"Focus on me," I said.
I wanted you to feel me there,
I locked my arm on top of yours,
my palm to the back of your hand,
our fingers intertwined,
a flesh and bone safety bar.
I asked questions,
pulled answers out of your mouth like rope,
uncoiling anxiety laced knots from your lungs.
Every few minutes, I reminded you to breathe.
You stayed with me that night,
after I insisted.
I figured, why should we both have to feel alone,
you with sudden stops, the jarring of falling and being caught,
and me with the aftermath of courage,
You found the ability to breathe again,
your chest opened
as if the keys to those rusty gates
And then my own tears came,
because I never knew where
or why or when
I would want to hold such keys.
I was afraid they would not work,
and when they did, I cried,
and I don’t know why.
I was thinking of your voice,
like champagne I could not wait
when my eyes landed on Peggy’s gun.
She’s talking about timelines now,
when I scream,
when I get released,
what questions they’ll ask during my debriefing.
I cannot remember the color of her eyes,
only her ruby red glasses frames.
This time last July,
you and I were eating cake,
and dodging gnats,
taking inventory of our sparks.
Peggy’s giving Devin permission to be an ass to the crisis negotiators,
but I think he’s more preoccupied with the sweat dripping from his forehead.
Melody’s chair grinds against the tile,
The Sergeant is deploying the throw phone.
Subtleties of acid are starting to climb up my throat,
I can taste it on the back of my tongue,
as if my body thinks this is real.
If it was,
I’d still be thinking
of your voice,
I find your bobby pins everywhere,
formalities you absentmindedly drop
for me to find later.
I hope I’ll forever have opportunities
to hand them back to you,
even years down the road,
when perhaps the pins are lighter shades,
bought to match your greying hair.
I will never have to bury them
as memories deemed too painful
to hold in the palm of my hand.
Allow me to clarify,
I am not the praying type.
I stopped talking to God
the night Mary died,
you know this about me.
on the night I didn’t know
if I would wake up single,
I prayed myself to sleep.
I went through the rumoured
five stages of grief,
over and over and over again,
pausing the longest
Do you understand the marks you leave?
You’ve already left?
My tongue slips into familiar grooves,
I don’t even utter the name of God much anymore.
My curls contain traces of you,
even my hands bear your scars,
and happily so.
My dear, you are worth burning for.
I’m not sure I’ve ever said it,
but I miss your poetry—
the nights we both pretended
we didn’t know what each other wrote.
Even our tension,
the uncertainties and possibilities pulled taught,
the echoing vibrations we both fought to ignore…
I miss that
just a little bit,
but I still do feel traces of those moments on my skin,
when I look down
and find bobby pins.
Dear fellow student,
I am so glad you are confident enough in your faith
to write “Jesus loves you,” on the inside of the bathroom stall,
but I worry we may have different interpretations of Jesus.
would your Jesus
love my girlfriend and I?
Would he love me in all my pro-choice,
Would he join me in raging against modern purity movements?
Would he protest anti-abortion laws with me?
Would be attend same-sex weddings with me?
Would he sit next to me in class and study ethical sex-work,
would he meditate, read verses of the Qur’an,
would he study Dan Dennett and John Hicks and Sharon Olds
If so, I’m glad to hear it,
I think we would be amazing friends,
but forgive me if I am less than optimistic
that we were thinking of the same
When you are gone for weeks at a time,
and we exist in 5 minute conversations—
I have a tendency to time them,
I get bored enough to start building things.
I steal away into woods
I ought not dare go,
and I harvest its gnarly branches,
twisted things they are.
I usually build a cabin of sorts,
something big enough for two.
It will burn hot.
It will burn bright.
I make weapons too,
things I convince myself you’ll be eager to carry
the next time I see you.
I spend a lot of time on these,
it takes hours to carve them just right,
they splinter on impact.
Hey, I need to keep my mind occupied, right?
Ah, but the cabin,
it comes together slowly, always slowly,
but surely nonetheless.
Conflicts I had forgotten begin to
worm themselves out of the woodwork
remind me with a tap on the shoulder of their
They are long dead, long into the process of decay,
but if I focus on them long enough,
they again gain a stench.
You, my dear,
are not a fighter.
I know this.
give me enough time and I
can turn you into one.
I do turn you into one,
and depending on how sleepless
my nights, sometimes
I even stock my own armory with shields, comebacks.
After all, I do need to defend against those weapons I so
I even rehearse, mentally of course,
but I play out the fight,
which usually ends with me setting
all this angry wood on fire.
It’s my chance to show you how
I can burn.
I am dangerous in here.
I get to count down your arrival,
keep my breathing even,
prevent the sweat from weakening the grip in my palms…
And you show up,
match in hand…
and we walk the edges of this meadow, this place
where my mind crafts citadels from twigs.
And you set the building ablaze yourself,
a light, careless flick of your wrist.
And we both watch.
And I feel warm.
And your hand is in mine.
And all I can think is
how much I would love to sit here,
plop down on a log and maybe roast some s’mores,
all while we curl up into a quilt, either yours or mine.
And you smile.
And the rest of me melts
I am liquid in your fingertips.
It’s a pattern, all of this,
practically a ritual.
And I must say I love the simplicity
with which you shatter
my built up battles.
You burn my fortresses to the ground
and the ash, my dear,
is sweet enough,
always sweet enough.
And now I can finally get back
to loving you.
I shed my skin every few months,
stretch and split to adapt to
too much change,
spend too much
time trying to find
threads strong enough to sew myself back together,
but the tears are rough,
and I never did learn to sew properly.
I don’t know how many more
stitches I can take.
See the thing is I had promised my bones
They wouldn’t be exposed to sunlight anymore.
I had you to doctor me up.
Your stitches were precise,
I healed better when you were here,
didn’t feel septic.
Whenever Ernie and I talk poetry,
I imagine we’re slumped over a bar,
arguing over whether or not to scrap endings and
most effective syntax.
She says maybe I have to go through one of those
love poem phases,
but I think sometimes I’m too bitter for such sweet things.
Maybe I should be drinking Scotch
instead of Bailey’s.
Isn’t that the road poets are supposed to go?
Though, if I’m honest,
you ‘re the only taste
I’ve ever loved on my lips.
I’ve probably painted a pretty bad picture of me,
didn’t portray the situation with enough accuracy.
The truth is I only drink when you’re not here,
and always just enough to survive
Yes, I love you,
will continue to love you.
You are easy to love,
It is so hard, though
to know the best way
to love you
when I’m fighting to live
Do you remember the time
I taught you where to find the North Star?
We were standing in my driveway.
It’s not as bright as people expect it to be,
but most nights I can still find it,
six inches away from the Big Dipper.
Do you remember the Perseids?
Do you remember the late night dinner run Northern Lights,
they were faint, but there.
Do you remember the harvest moons, I swear we’ve seen a few.
Romeo and Juliet wrecked that whole
star-crossed lovers thing, didn’t they?
But our stars seem to be constant,
so I knew there was trouble that night
when we didn’t even share the same sky.
Your eyes drifted up to find colors
and mine, frustrated, fought to find anything past light pollution,
I thought “Damn, is it this nice being away from me?”
I got drunk that night,
swallowed shots of rotgut feelings
I have, locked away
in some cold dark place.
I chased each and every one down with a whisper,
“I will not be the one you resent. I will not.”
I assure you, they burned all the way down.
My friend Sam, bless her heart,
talked me down, along with the help
of a David Cook song.
She told me, “Megan, you have an unshakable faith
in your ability to survive things like this.
Not many can say the same.”
She is right, you know. She tends to be right about me
But I’m not quite sure that’s the faith you’re looking for
I have faith in the North star.
I found it that night, by the way,
right where it’s always been.
So do me a favor,
when you see colors
and I see haze,
find that star
and tell me to do the same.
Show me you still remember where it is.