Ache

I don’t feel like there is something beautiful
inside me trying to get out.
It’s not as if there’s a monarch
lodged in my throat, or a line of rubies set
beneath my breastbone.

It’s more like I have an ache, deep,
near my spinal cord, or maybe my kidneys,
and I have to stretch and twist and rub at it
like an old man does his arthritic knuckles.

Aspirin is useless for that type of pain,
the kind that sometimes wakes you right before dawn
or stabs you square in the gut
when you’re chatting on the sidewalk with friends
and suddenly a person walks by with their head down,
tilted, a private smile on their face
and you fall in love for just a moment.

I write to that spot.
My poems address the ache, press into it a little
and release, let the flesh bounce back into place.
It helps, you know. It helps in the way
you tell a child to turn off his lamp
specifically because he’s afraid of the dark.

Not for me

You are not for me
You will belong with someone else
as I belong in another pair of arms
in another bed
on any given night

You are not for me
And I know this but
I appreciate the wisps
of your hair falling in
a smooth curtain
I admire the tidy irises
lining your inky pupils
I have noticed the
freckle spill across
the bridge of your nose

We lay in different pairs of arms
and sleep in different beds
yet I wanted to say
I appreciate these things

Fear of Loneliness

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There are common paths my mind travels upon,
certain slow, lonely longing meanders in the woods.
We all crave belonging. It’s a long life,
despite the years flashing past like
scenes from a speeding train window, blurring.

Well, we all travel anxious hallways some days,
searching for familiar faces and growing
terrified of being left and forgotten, unwanted.
Of ceasing to breathe on a cold city sidewalk,
passerby streaming by with not even a glance.

So on these winding paths, I must remember:
We are all alone and all afraid,
we all want to be loved,
and in this we are together.

Why Anger?

There is a muted acceptance for me today, in the boiling sun. I recognize that life will not always pan out according to the way I’ve planned. I realize that we can all utterly break down at any moment, and cease to work, just like any old kitchen appliance. In this way we are the same; we all die.

But there is another way to see it. We can make the choice to see others as vast and meaningful. Every person is a collection of thoughts and experiences, love and loss. We are more similar than we are different.

I can reach out, willing to listen and accept, or I can retreat to hibernate under my covers until I feel brave and confident. But that day may never come, or I will convince myself of this. There are the easy things, and there are the right things.

There are also a lot of silly words that get in the way, and many unkind thoughts. I’m tired of gritting my teeth and grinding my jaw. I must face what I feel.

They say that depression is anger turned inward. Turning it inside out is difficult, and I can’t justify hurting another person in the ways I’ve injured myself. I have to treat them with kindness, not just with overt actions, but with caring thoughts.

I see the irony here.

Being a rebel without a cause doesn’t appeal to me. I have no vengeance on this world; I only want its forgiveness and to make the right choices from now on.

Why anger? Sadness was easier. Sadness is easier for me to gather inside my chest and appreciate the weight. Anger plows straight through my most sensible thoughts.

Why anger, when people have told me they could never picture me being angry?
You’re so mellow.

I could wish for this burden to lift, but I know confronting it will benefit me in the long run. We are always capable of more than we realize.

8th Grade

Within this pen tumble the old school-days

Of lined notebooks and diet Sprite

Of carpet bleach and vomit

Arranging ourselves alphabetically at the door

 

My blue ink encircled the utter loneliness

That only a thirteen-year-old can understand

From sour and grinding smiles

Shot across the lunch table

 

The cafeteria din smothered my appetite

I brown bagged my self-esteem and tossed it in the trash

If You Want to Be My Friend

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Here’s a short poem for you, if you want to be my friend.

I’ll say it now (but just one time), and hope you understand.

 

At first I may be quiet, shy, or uncertain how to act.

Please know I am just nervous, a bit insecure, in fact.

But once I leave my shell, we’ll discover who the other is.

With people who are close to me, I’m much more talkative.

 

Now, friendship is a push and pull, always a give and take.

If we cannot find a balance, our bond will be at stake.

I can’t spend all my energy on someone who doesn’t see:

Friendships best endure when built on reciprocity.

 

I fiercely love my friends, and keep them by my side.

The make me proud and make me laugh; they keep me honest and alive.

We could be partners in crime, or mellow classroom pals.

We’d dance and drink, read and think, stay up as late as night allows.

 

So this is my poem for you, if you want to be my friend.

All you need to do is smile, say hi; extend your hand.