DEAR APRIL

You were a month of deception,
picking at old scabs to birth new blood.

You were both the steaming cup of tea
and the burnt tongue aftermath.

You were hard.

But you made me soft,
the same way a child learns to read:

Sound out the words.
Form them with your lips.

Speak.

I do not speak in muted apologies now.
You taught me how to scream.

I will proclaim you for the rest of my life,
singing out–

Hallelujah, it is done.
I am allowed to love at full volume.

THAT NIGHT

I hate that you kissed me.
Hate your audacity
to melt my wax all over again,
igniting at the wick, flickering
all night long, for giving me
a dream to burn for.
Even after winter taught us to stand alone,
separate candlesticks in separate lives–
that night, you stole the fire I made for myself,
taking it all, you heartless thief,
you bad, bad man.

Maybe I did kiss you back.
Maybe I did fall under the guise of your warmth,
the artificial heat radiating from your palms.
Maybe I did believe in it,
in you, in the whispered promise of spring.
Maybe I did believe in that night.
It was the one that made you a villain
in the eyes of everything summer believes in.

I hate that I believed in you.

OBJECTIONS

When I was younger and blinded by the spell of perfection, I wanted nothing more than to settle down, to let the dust of existence bury me in a world of plastic. I wanted to be like those silly wedding cake figurines: my Ken doll dream man and me, perfectly balanced on the top tier of everything safe, our feet plastered securely into frosting. I do, I do, I do. I craved stability, until death do us part: a handful of bright-eyed children as proof of success, a man strong enough to keep me on my feet, a white picket fence surrounding it. I wanted Sunday mornings and rolling hills, to be a mother, to be content.

But somewhere along the way I found myself entranced by the open gate, the road that leads somewhere new. I want to eat the cake with my bare hands now, letting Mr. and Mrs. Something fall from their pompous pedestal, the suicide of artificial bodies. I want someone who will starve with me instead. To shove it all in my mouth in sloppy handfuls, no time to nibble gracefully around silver cutlery. I dream now— of the rush of inconstancy, of chasing the lust of impulse, of spontaneous combustion. I want Saturday nights and lost voices, to be a wild soul running in the night, to be forever hungry for more cake.

I do, I do, I do.
Watch me.
I’ll marry that open gate,
and for the vows
I’ll walk right through.

BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME,

honey. You messed with the wrong girl,
you know. This one is a poet, and God,
aren’t those just the worst? She is flammable,
the girl with night sky eyes and pen-stained hands.
Maybe you should’ve tried to break someone else,
someone who wouldn’t incinerate your bones and
harvest their ashes for ink. Maybe
you could’ve tested your luck on a nice girl,
but sure as hell not the witchy woman.
My darling, you are immortal now,
you and the remainders of a body
I used to worship. I write you
into existence. And in this poem,
you are the gruesome ending,
the bloody finale.
The final word I write
just for the pleasure
of breaking your bones.

A COLLECTION OF SUNDAYS

i.
I remember the sky being as purple as a blanket made of bruises. It was the end of summer. We were children lying underneath a starry dream. You kissed me. Not once, not twice, but three times, because you wanted to make it perfect, as if you were learning how to write in cursive with a steady hand. I melted like lavender starlight. I was fifteen and enchanted. I’m in love. I’m in love with you, can you believe it, we’re here. We’re really here.

ii.
The day you broke my heart, I wore yellow. A walking, breathing dandelion. It was the end of my seventeenth summer, and we were ten days shy of two years. A milestone perfectly out of arm’s reach. I remember it so clearly: sobbing on both sides of the telephone, packing everything into a cardboard box, the disbelief and numbness that stole sleep from my fists. The death of first love. We weren’t just children anymore. We were lost ones. I’m alone. I’m alone again, can you believe it, I’m here. I’m really here.

iii.
You fall for me after months of learning how to live without you. It was Easter. I was eighteen, resilient, and for a moment, convenient. You kissed me without thinking about the wreckage. You told me I’m in love again. I’m in love with you again, can you believe it, we’re here. We’re really here. It felt like coming home after the war, the reunited hope, the new world waiting for us with eager arms extended. We were children again. Maybe you should have considered the wreckage after all.

iv.
The day you broke my heart for the second time, I knew it would be the last. I am not a child anymore. This is not our Sunday tradition, our little ritual. Not your ticket to toy with my fantasies, to see how long it will take to get me to push the reset button. Not a game. Not yours. I am not the same girl under your periwinkle sky, your lavender starlight, your favorite season.
And so I write on, realizing I do not need you to finish my story.
It is the middle of spring now. A Sunday. And this is my life.
I’m in love again. I’m in love with it again, can you believe it, I’m here. I’m really here.

CENTER STAGE

When I am up there,
glittering under pale white lights,
there is no other world.
This is my only reality– the adrenaline dance,
the roaring crowd, the delirious insanity of it all.
I forget my heartache. Up there, it is dead.
I forget about the insecurity that lives on my skin,
the fears that hide like trembling children
under my fingernails.
Up there, I am a goddess aflame,
each moment a spark of gold,
an unforgettable ghost.
For some people, this is the art of letting go,
of surrender, of seizing the moment.
But for me, it is the art of holding on,
Hold onto this, you twirling little fool.
Hold onto the rush, the first down beat,
the kick, the spin, the leap.
You can never predict the final bow,
the curtains closing for the last time,
the standing ovation.
Hold onto this, you
beautiful fleeting dream,
one day you will wake up.

AUGUST FOREVER

We have never spent a summer together
but for some reason, everything he is
reminds me of the season.
Something about red cheeks and giddiness,
incomprehensible emotion–
like a first love but even better,
so sweet it feels like August
in the middle of April.
It feels like we’ll never grow old, suspended
in permanent youth, like all of my past lives
have finally been destroyed
and no longer sting to the touch.
It feels like wildfire.
Something about how intensely we burn
together, fanning the flames of something
yet to be born, yet something already warm
to the touch, something as close to perfect
as perfect can get.

Something the Sun can only dream of.

Something even the Sun would want to revolve around.

18 lessons learned in 18 revolutions around the sun

i.
Hearts are fragile objects. I don’t know why they don’t come to earth birthed in bubble wrap, secured in styrofoam. Sometimes I worry mine will slip through the crevices of my rib cage and shatter. We need to be more gentle.

ii.
I will continue to outgrow people. Even if at one point their arms were perfect winter sweaters, a home to nuzzle up in safety, no fabric lasts forever. It will rip and stain and shrink in the wash. It’s okay to part ways with loose threads.
I am forgiven.

iii.
It is our duty to love as much as possible, as often as possible, as deeply as possible. We wake up. We stretch, roll out of bed, find matching socks with sleepy eyes. One day we won’t. Shouldn’t that mean something?

iv.
My love is not a liability. Neither is my heart a charity case, a burden, a broken back. I do not have to apologize for my own electricity.

v.
Some days, it is okay to be distant from the world. Forget the breakfast, the meetings, the grocery list of obligations. Tuck back in. Cover your head. Sleep until tomorrow.

vi.
Cry when you can. Over broken hearts. Over moments of ecstasy. A good sob into a pillow can sometimes be more consolation than any collection of words can allow for.

vii.
One day, it won’t hurt as much.

viii.
It doesn’t matter what the kids from high school think. They’re kids. They probably always will be.

ix.
It actually doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. At the end of the day, we are all made of the same chemicals, atoms, strings of protein and information. We are all dust and struggle, fear and insecurity.

x.
I am enough. Even when sitting in the bathtub, feeling anything but clean enough. Even when surrounded by a thousand other beating hearts, feeling anything but seen enough. Even when I am not, I am still.

xi.
I am not a doormat for you to wipe your feet and leave when things get hard. Clean your soles somewhere else. You are not invited here.

xii.
Alone does not always mean lonely. There is power to solitude, to sitting and letting your mind entangle, new wind blowing through old air.

xiii.
Think about it. Even bad moments never happen twice. Cherish the trauma anyway. You are allowed to find beauty in hurting.

xiv.
Before you hand out a second chance without considering the consequences, think again. Dwell on it. Is the restart button on healing worth pressing?

xv.
You are allowed to embrace your power. The cosmic stare, the aura, the explosions. You are allowed to obliterate.

xvi.
Every morning, we are new.

xvii.
Anything can be an accomplishment. Making the bed. Contemplation over coffee. Deciding to show up even though you’d rather wallow around the house like a sick ghost. Show up anyway. Walking through that door is a celebration.

xviii.
I am loved. Not by the person I swore would love me forever, not by an indecisive boy, a back-talking friend, a moment in time. No.
I am made of love past comprehension.
No descriptions, poems, or quantities.
I am infinitely my own.