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. 

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