Sunday, March 15, 2015


I learned at 9 years old that I am too much.
I was 10 when I learned that crying
is not what 10 year olds do,
I was 11 when I learned to cry alone.
At 12, I knew how to contain the emotion inside my frame
and let it out only by trembling, I was
13 when I learned to contain that, too.

But it's taken 29 years to realize that emotions
are my first and only language.
That poetry
is my only way of speaking truth,
that everything else is a lie.
It has taken 29 years to learn
that it's not wrong to be a writer.
It's not wrong to put the truth in words
to let it be thought,
not wrong to let these thoughts out into the day,
to speak frankly of truth
and lies,
I am learning
that you don't need to see the fire to know something's burning--
but ashes only tell some of the tale,
I am 29 when I realize:
it's not always wrong that I've been lying.

I am learning that it's okay to hold my words captive in the burning building of my body.
Okay that I sometimes wait for days to pull the alarm;
let them smolder and burn to ash, make my body
a wrecking ground, a burial plot,
a scarred topographical map you can trace your fingers over like Braille
reading me even in the places of
no words.
I am learning
that my words will only ever suicide themselves onto the paper anyway.
I am learning
to find solace in the ways I sort through the ash.

I am learning
in this world of closed umbrella hearts
and hard-boiled eyes,
it's not wrong that my umbrella has only ever been open.
My heart is full and receiving
and still always preparing for rain,
my eyes are fragile
with thin shells and runny interiors,
I am learning
that the arch of the shell creates a stronger exterior
than might be seen at first glance,
I am learning
that even though I know this
I can break in the weak spots anyway.

It's okay that the size of my feelings doesn't match
the size of my skin.
They push from the inside
kicking like a fetus
just wanting to be born:
I've carried them for decades
and they are running
the words out of my mouth, setting fire to my inside
like teenagers looking for trouble, they are
matches, and fire crackers
carnival rides and broken records -
I sometimes sit breathing in the dark
blanket pulled over my head
the sound of my breath is the fire alarm
reminding me something is burning.
I am learning
the ways I search my body for a fire escape.
I am learning
to keep the fire extinguisher on hand.

I know you think I'm lying.
I know you think this is
poetic license or
angst-ridden writer or
dramatic woman looking for attention,
but I am learning to tremble.
I am learning
to sound the alarm.
To pull the trigger on anger
on grief
on shame,
I am learning to lodge the bullets firmly in their chests,
to set fire to the structures holding the lies
and watch them crumble.

As I walk from the rubble,
I pull out my umbrella.
I breathe in the smoky truth and decide to learn
to shield myself from the ashes. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Write Something True


I so want to write today. 

Scratch that.

I need to write today.  I've needed to write for several days, actually, but I haven't done it.  And now I've been sitting and staring at this page and watching the sleet come down for longer than I care to admit, waiting for brilliance to come gushing over the page.

But brilliance -- like much of the country right now -- seems to be frozen. 

So instead of shooting for brilliance, I'm starting where I am.  Unfortunately, where I am right now consists primarily of "I'm stuck in writer's no-man's land," and "now "Let It Go" is going through my head because the word "frozen" has been forever ruined by Idina Menzel."

Thanks, Idina.


I saw this brilliant little piece by Brian Andreas yesterday, and I immediately fell in love with it:

                                    How To Write Something True
1. Forget everything you know & everything you want to say.
2. Listen to the quiet voices of the world. Start with your heartbeat.
3. Touch the pen to the paper. Feel it, the way it is only at one point all the time. This is the place writing shows up.
4. Write one word at a time. This will take more effort than you think.
5. This kind of writing doesn’t care what you know, because you already know it. This kind of writing just wants to see what happens next.
6. When you can do this easily, go back to #1 again. This time no pen, no paper.
7. Live. Now you have something true to write about.

Perhaps this is what I need.

My heart is a little hurt-y today.  In part, there is Stuff.  In part, I just hate the month of March.  The whole month.  March 1 feels qualitatively different from February 28th, just as April 1 will feel like a breath of fresh air.  March is my "hold your breath and duck your head and just.get.through it" month.  March tells me that what I need to do is pull in.  Hibernate.  Cut open my heart, cover the hurt-y places with bandaids, bury them in scarves and winter coats, throw an ice pack in to numb the pain, sew up the incision, and wait.  But even just that -- even the cutting, and the covering, and the bandaging, and the burying -- even that requires looking at the hurt-y places a little bit.  And sometimes, hurt-y places just don't want to be looked at, you know?

So here's what I'll do: I'll follow the steps to write something true.  Will you do this, too?  Let's write something true together.

*Edited after the fact to add: This turned out entirely different than I expected.  It definitely correlates to the Brian Andreas piece above -- each of the 7 items served almost as a prompt for the corresponding stanza of the poem below.  I don't pretend to understand my brain.  This is just what happened.*

(Working title...I might change it...I hate titles.  Anyway...)

Truth Between the Lines

1.     These things are true:
I wear my fear branded into my skin. 
I tuck my insecurities into bed with me,
turn on a nightlight, and give them a kiss goodnight to assure them,
I will see them again tomorrow.
And it is true
that even when I kick my fears in the ass,
I'll only ever find them crawling back into bed with me.
They bring flowers
and whispered apologies,
so I am forgetting
that I only sleep with my fears because they make me feel safe.
It is true
that I invite them in.
Call them lover, call them friend, they are
my longest relationship.
In the morning,
I make them pancakes.
We drink coffee together as the sun rises,
and in that morning light,
I forget about the ways that I know better. I insist
that it will be different,
that I am strong enough to fight them. 
I am forgetting
about the ways they can crawl inside me.
I am forgetting
the way they know the scent of my blood. 

2.     The quiet voices are hard to hear
over the cacophony of Importance. 
I breathe in and let it still. 
My heartbeat roars, unexpectedly:
like a winter thunderstorm, she rolls
into my body, and envelops me
till I take refuge
ever deeper inside.
Start here, she says.
I breathe out and let myself be washed
in the deluge of thoughts. 
I start again. 

3.     This is the way we learn to be here.
The way we come here, to this place, again and again,
where pen meets page. 
Lungs meet air. 
Where tears meet face, and broken meets open, 
in this pinprick of a moment, line becomes letter,
letter into word, word into sentence, sentence into voice.
Here is the place where Showing meets Up to scare Giving away from her,
is where Running meets Away
and carries her back. 

4.     Slowly. 
This writing is a holy creation of destruction:
one word at a time, we build missiles that destroy our broken interiors. 
Something cannot be created
where no space exists.
I am learning
that truth creation is only ever a process
of deconstruction
taking apart that
which no longer serves us. 

5.     So we build from the nothing. 
Create something that only
exists in our minds,
I look for evidence of me in the spills on the paper:
this holy, fucked-up mirror of truths,
this pen
knows the ways I make breakfast for my fear and self-doubt.
It has watched me invite them in
despite bruised lips
blackened eyes,
shattered dreams,
this pen
is unforgiving in its truth.

6.     These things are true:
I wear my fear branded into my skin. 
I tuck my insecurities into bed with me,
turn on a nightlight, and give them a kiss goodnight to assure them,
I will see them again tomorrow.
I invite Self-doubt to breakfast despite knowing
she's only a jealous lover,
I start over
and over and over as
these facts unfold, here,
where Broken meets Open.
Where Running meets Away
and carries her back

7.     These things are true:
I stare into this holy, fucked-up mirror of truths.
I try to drink my coffee alone
before my breakfast guests arrive,
and I live.

I live.

I live
in this place
where Showing meets Up and scares Giving away from her.

I live
finding truth and breathing room
in the destruction between the lines.