Party Girls

Party girls, pretty party girls
holographic lids, daggers for nails,
dewy skin under fishnet felonies
how I dreamed of being them.
How I dreamed of flaunting tangled hair,
flirting with newborn night, red lips
teasing the necks of glass bottles,
the necks of bug-eyed boys,
drunk on the angels of adolescence.
The art of slipping through a cracked window,
midnight pact of secrecy
between foot and floorboard.

Pretty party girls, pretty perfect party girls
I could never be them–
never graduating from the school of deception,
how to kiss a willing soul and have it mean
nothing, how to be a body,
just a body in a backseat headed for hell,
how to not tell my mother I love her
as she curls my hair,
giddy over the boys who bring me flowers,
taking photos, beaming from the driver’s seat-
I cannot be wild,
only hers.

Party girls, pretty party girls,
you don’t look so hot handcuffed to regret,
forehead lines, white lines
there’s the line, can you walk it?
Spilling drinks, spilling stomach
down the leather seat
of a blue and white bad dream.

Party girls, pretty party girls,
he just wants your tipsy Friday night,
not your chocolate chip pancake Sunday mornings,
just your sequined belly button ring,
not your father’s firm handshake.
He won’t open doors for you, brush
the wetness from your cheeks.
He will leave you nauseous, grasping
for sobriety, another name blurred by daybreak.
Who are you again, pretty party girl?
Are you just a home for his mistakes?
I cannot be his home, his girl, his name,
his stolen skin.
Only my own.
My skin is the one
I wear.

Why I Write

Because there are midnights, and the moon,
and little girls in tutus spinning at ballet class.
Because there are blue eyes, and calloused hands,
and lopsided grins that never straighten,
and smog-ridden cities, and bridges
where jumpers swim.
Because there are benches under apple trees,
high-heeled boots clicking down hallways, friendship
bracelets and bike rides to nowhere, sun-kissed shoulders
and Sunday afternoons.
Because there are hospital beds and dried carnations,
toes in the mud, soap that smells like
field day bubbles and fourth grade.
Because there are still colors and war
and music and nightmares
and words left buzzing in our hands.
Because we are human,
trial and error, pause and play,
rewind, never stopping,
always playing with time
in constant motion.

the five stages of grieving my first love lost

Denial

Thrust out of our warm, sticky, inviolable womb
I am infant abandoned, shivering in permanent Siberia.
Where are you?
This is the art of waiting–
letting minute hands mother my memories.
Entrusting myself in the safety
of Time’s breath–
I still believe, with a saint’s blind faith,
her hours will carry you home.
I clean up, make myself perfect, practice
the words that will bind my name
to your lips, practice for permanence,
like Mother taught me.
But home is no arctic wasteland,
it is still our little town, and we are Adam and Eve
post-apocalypse.
Are you close? It’s getting late, darling.
I stay up for you, let the lilac roads under my eyes
paint for you a garden to rest.
Come home before they remember how to wilt.
I stay, waiting, writing eulogies
for each hour past midnight, for
the key in the door, your shoes
melting by the stairs, your hand in mine,
still mine,
through our purple forgotten sleep.

Come home.
You will.
I still believe.

Anger

I curse every ounce of you.
Blood river– pathetic scarlet cells,
I wonder how they dance
when I am no longer embedded
in your marrow.
Back when I nested in your arteries
I memorized each hostile channel,
knew the satin strum of your heart
by heart, by my own,
memorized the sudden surge and silence
of your body revolution.

Erase my touch, cancel
every bitter trace of shared midnights,
fingerprinted landscapes, memory foam
lips.
I want none of me left
wandering down your bloodstream avenues.
I am not made of romance,
only burnt-tongued regret
and earthquakes, crumbling buildings,
tragic death of flightless birds.
How easily the sickening sweetness
of first love
melts into cavities of madness.
Perhaps nothing has ever adored me
quite like hatred— the aftershock
of your abandonment.
You, surrendering to my war,
when we were just breaths away
from tasting victory.
You, securing the weapons, giving up the fight
when I could already envision immaculate forevers,
through cataracts of time, already nestling
unmolested under plastic promises.
Farewell you, locking the door,
after I had already built a home from nothing
out of your perfect plaster everything,
a house for my heart made of intertwined limbs
branching bricks of supple skin.
You shed me away.
You leave. Disappear without leaving a note,
an apology, nothing but the ashes
of our only incinerated dream.

Bargaining

No longer your sweetheart,
I am lover turned liar.
Little negotiator,
clinging to God’s very heels,
a beggar clothed in soft-spoken despair.
No, I tell Him, I do not need joy. Take it.
If it means being able to watch
you drift to sleep in my arms again,
take it all.
Leave me ravaged.
Let me forget the flight.
Please, I plead Him, take my strength
if You must.
Steal it from my fingertips, my eyes,
the shoestring fibers of my muscle memory.
For a world without you is one
I do not possess the will to wake up to,
to make my bed for.
Let me sleep. Let me dream, instead,
of mornings I do not wake
haggling with destiny over you,
over your return, over our holy restoration.
Of mornings where we walk, hand-in-hand,
past the valleys of separation, past
any chance of fractured endings.
I lie to myself– I can live without joy,
without peace, without safety,
without you.
I can feel my tongue writhing in knots, as if
the words themselves know better,
know they are hollow,
know it is all deception.
Take it all.
Take me back.
I would do anything: lose my voice,
shed skin, disregard consequences.
I would give up.
I would give everything up.
I would give up my heartbeats
to beat fate, to hear,
once more, on broken record repetition–
the symphony in your chest,
marching on, with
or without me.

Depression

How effortlessly one year,
eleven months, twenty-one days
fits within cardboard walls.
I pack away glossy framed
photographs: turquoise skies,
hands interlocked, oyster pearl smiles,
frostbitten kisses I can still feel phantoms of.
Paper cards in perfect handwriting,
I love you to the depths
of the human soul
and even past them– happy birthday
my angel, to many more spent being yours.
I pack away transparent mason jars of folded reasons
why you love me, why I am goddess glittering
in the glow of your eyes, worth dying for,
worth saving.
You should have saved your words,
your time.
It is all confined, every cell,
into a box in the basement out of reach,
in the basement where we invented magic,
you lifting me up, our flushed laughter ascending
in the pixie dust of extinct Decembers,
our feet frozen, our lungs young
and ablaze. Now it is empty,
static with distant recollections that sting
upon resurrection.
I pack away everything you have touched,
even gently–
the hidden crease
of my elbow, the shy bend of my neck,
the boarded-up windows of a guarded heart.
I pack you away, as if concealing these objects
is enough to conceal the agony
of finality.
Abandon it.
Abandon the memory of your hand,
how your thumb danced with the back
of my palm on the nights we could not stop smiling
for the life of us.
Painting tenderly, your imaginary pictures.
I, your canvas, your soft-hearted muse,
the art lost
in forever translation.

Acceptance

Moving on
is not erasure, is not
shedding dead skin, is not
labeling you extinct.
Instead, it is
tasting the nectar of solitude
my tongue has since forgotten,
a neglected sweetness,
reconnecting with stillness
that now feels more tender than lonely.
Instead of looking for you, I look around,
a marble-eyed infant absorbing color
for the first time. Each shade flavored
just for me.
Tonight’s twilight sky is twinkling sapphire
mirror pools of my own veins,
pastel pulsing reminders
that even without you, I am alive.
Inhale, exhale, deep breath breeze,
brand new encore.
Cruising with windows down,
hair tangled in October wind,
eye contact with new eyes–
they are not yours, but they see me.
Breathe in, I still love you a thousand times over.
Breathe out, perhaps I will
until the car stops,
until the windows roll up,
until the hair untangles,
until the eyes shut,
always.
This is how I let you go–
choosing to love the way my hands
no longer tremble
when they are not holding
onto lost time.
Once, in the fire of young flame,
I lived for you, burning promises
and watching them glow,
leaving red ghosts imprinted
on our eyelids.
It is time to live for me.
Goodnight.
Dream well.
You are still.
Tonight I tuck myself
into warm silence,
safe space,
and sleep.