you again

“You’re not leaving me alone down here,” it speaks, calling up from a trench between me and sleep.

I try to bypass and ignore, to no avail; I curse and implore, but rest is derailed.

I cannot fall asleep so down instead, my soul to keep but not my head.

I dig around the edges, pry with fingertips, try to get leverage, wonder what it even is.

I resign myself to crawling underneath, coated in mud, finding it hard to breathe.

I lift with arms and legs, my back on the ground; “Now you know my weight,” it says, starting to settle down.

I push it over and out, roll my sore body on its side to see. Then I jot down the name of the one disturbing me.

one of my favorite poems

Mr. Ehrmann, we desire the same conditions.


I cannot seem to avoid myself, vexing as I can be.

I work to be calm and kind.

Yet sometimes a cyclone ravages my cranium.

I was quiet and meek once.

It nearly killed me.

No, not figuratively.

These descriptors you used,

The things I hate most about myself at times,

The cardinal crimes women are told never to commit,

Sometimes they are survival.

Sometimes they’re the skills needed

to escape suffocation

by a drunk person

lethally wielding

a soft, silent pillow.

Leaving the City (and Subset)

It’s not even a bad ride.
The bus doesn’t smell of bodily fluids; no traffic impedes the way.
Ahead, a shower of sparks illuminates the silhouettes of overpass workers.

Urban rains splash on greasy sidewalks,
churning bubbles that slip down puddles.
Other drivers crawl along slick streets,
peering out as grainy, low-resolution snapshots of themselves
through speckled screens.

Chattering and silent passengers depart the metropolis together.
Falling asleep while a stranger drives is a strong show of trust,
or resignation,
performed by many aboard.

But not me.

A passing liquor billboard ad says,

Droplets strung in the windows cast tiny, translucent shadows
that slide around the caravan space like ghosts of bugs.
The haunted long for sunshine,
but she is still miles away.

— subset —

after the shower, shadows slide
speckled streets smell strong
sunshine says, “show soul, stranger”
but slick silhouettes slip past, splash the sidewalks
strung out on snapshots and screens
still, she sparks

*I realized there were quite a few “s” words in the original piece, so I decided to quickly write something random using each of them while minimizing additional words.


a chasm blown into my chest
in the shape and size of a feline silhouette
not at the end, when she was small, but at her glorious prime

an empty stretch from sternum to gut
drafts swish through, sending occasional howls up the esophagus
whooshes that whisper I miss you

I watched your silvers turn to gold
not how most see their colors progress
but most are not majesty embodied

sands, filtering through an hourglass
time, running out of color
us, of air

hurricane remnants arrived just after your last good day
a breeze to lift the heart right out of me and away
the same gusts that kept it beating so long, circling back for their empress

goodbye dearest familiar friend, Windy
I tried so hard to deserve you, to know and love you
your joy was pure light in my life; thank you

mall birds

I tried to free mall birds once. Stock team started our workday before the sun. At that hour, feathered blurs streaked the ceiling with abandon.

During breaks, I pondered the unspoken logistics behind keeping droppings from shoppers’ eyes and bags, while plotting to rescue the droppers.

My appointment to the post had nothing to do with physical strength (which would’ve been nice for all those boxes). Rather, I had an uncommon capacity for self-resurrection during deep sleep hours.

Being on time before time ought to be allowed to be on.

It took a few weeks for my crew to tell me, with a laugh, they’d taken bets on my first absence. “We just thought, you know, another college girl. She won’t be here too long.” I wasn’t offended; I’d met the day crew (who called the mall birds “pests”).

Painstakingly, I got a gray one as far as the first set of double doors. In that glassy limbo it flailed around, confused and alarmed, until finally, it scrambled its way back to its enclosure.

Sofia walked over shaking her head. “No, mami. She cannot come and go like you. She is here for good, like me.” She chuckled cheerfully. So I laughed too, but without ease.

A shiny gray tuft was swirling its way down to the grimy floor, heavily weighing my insides.

send myself forth

sometimes I almost remember
what it’s like to be

bigger than a room
and smaller than a sigh

scream it into a mirror
this is who I am

close a mouth
swallow stardust

someone left, someone’s here
the observer took the wheel

introduce an avatar
being steered through chaos

questions pour in
if I wasn’t here, would you be?

where is everyone—or was that one who?
do people still listen to shells?

I pour them back out
focus on the day-to-day today

be in the now, not in the know
throw an anchor in the present

and stay
with you


This is fine. This is good. Everything goes just as it should. This is fine. This is fair. Not one cloud in the air. This is good. This is right. Nothing to see, no one to fight. This is fair. This is free. Any questions, don’t ask me. This is right. All is well. Not one secret I could tell. This is free. There’s no fine. Now stay calm, stay in line. All is well. It’s all, right? Fine; goodnight.

sun day

deep in the valley
staring up at the mountains
smiling, warm, giddy
enjoying the local flora, honeysuckle
tiny droplets with a hint of sugar
the peach juice is imported
but it suits the atmosphere and hydrates faster
counting breaths
getting lost in thee double digits
drop a penny in a well
causing ripples and making wishes for ever
the sun smiles
she loves me;
she loves me hot
blanket of stars in my eyes

stand in flow

round and round all tends to go
pendulum and tides
high – low
drought followed by hurricane
poor stand-ins
for sun and rain
stumble, learn to moderate
feast – famine
too soon, too late
reject perfection (and its flaws)
elect connection
and more pause
sitting still and letting all flow
being boulder
no need to row
with time, I will know
and in time, I’ll go


when I fell in love

with the mask

it had been worn so long

the wearer didn’t know it was there


I made many mistakes and overlooked the peeling

at the edges

her only mistake was underestimation

she grew to understand a self beneath

the mask but wouldn’t tell me outright

hoping I would see through it or puzzle out

what had taken her lifetime

over time, the one she died to become

grew resentful towards my affection

for the facade

believing I couldn’t love the person wearing it

perhaps even that nobody could

I could have

if I had ever met them

that mask was painstakingly chiseled off

whereas mine, less secure, fell suddenly

in an empty playhouse

crashing on the stage

shattering on impact

X marks the spot


as you learn, you will see plainly

a songbird scarfs down a butterfly

whose fragile wings emerged chrysalis branded with a starvation timer anyway

the uneating, eaten by dinosaurs’ heir, with a cheerful chirp

you may be tempted in those eat or be eaten days

to crawl under your bed and supplant the monster there

lurking and snarling to dissuade further injury, perhaps even inflicting

but eventually the mattress gets flipped and you’ll find yourself on top again

fear and discontent maximizing the acoustics of an emptied room

the way is through, the way is acceptance

instead of shying from understanding to prevent jadedness, develop mastery of your experience

observe the back-end workings of former mysteries when they present themselves

and mourn the loss of novelty and ignorance if you must, since society exaggerated their value

then move back into the exquisite space of right now in your own body

once you know that life is, at a minimum, the suffering

of gradual decay compounded by perpetual loss

breathe again and feel warmth on your skin

move your feet through your world with a little more compassion

move your hands through your world with a little more kindness

Like the Wind

I guess I’m glad
I didn’t realize
when we met so long ago
that I would listen some day
to your loud struggle for


while I fumble to treat and sooth you
without sure answers or enough guidance

when you huff, puff, wheeze, sneeze, and pant
I barely sleep
but when your breath quiets at night
I cannot sleep at all

you have always been a thorough, albeit impatient, teacher
touch the face, never the feet; pat the sides, never the spine

sometimes I miss my favorite sound: your happy rumble
muted now by the constant, strenuous effort of inhaling and exhaling
I have old recordings, but I can’t bear them

but you, ever clever, find new ways to be a gift
you stay by my side
with your impossible dignity
comforting my heavy heart
thank goodness it was open
long enough
to meet you and
be filled
by you and for you
your whole life
you sweet creature
my Windy darling

My dear contrarian

Never work harder to

convince people

(especially yourself)

you’re right

than you work to

be right.

Integrity is better

than spectators’ support.

Successful negotiation

is harder than,

and superior to,


Collaboration champions

and strengthens


which changes minds.

Is progress not the end goal?

Perhaps it never was for you,

if you require opponents foremost.

How disappointing.


They say matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed.

That is true of our kind.

When we pass, our essence is recombined into the living.

The deceased are not simply an addition, though;

their spirits multiply our own.

In this way, we not only carry our ancestors forward,

into the future they could not see,

but they carry us upwards,

into such heights as we could not imagine.

Our numbers dwindle,

but our people grow ever brighter.

I wonder sometimes,

perhaps uncharitably,

if your people choose to do the opposite:

multiplying incessantly, but losing much along the way.

Not creating, just repeating.

Not destroying, just neglecting.

full cup


I conflated success with fulfillment
and I defined both with other people’s words
(despite what else I could hear)
it has taken gargantuan effort

to pivot

something better, someone brave
but after the tower finished burning
and I evacuated into the woods
I am whole
(which is better than perfect)
being her(e) is worthwhile
after all

Thanks for Fucking Up

And now for a slight change of pace. (And because she likes things that rhyme.)

Thanks for Fucking Up

To all the fumbling hands before me
that didn’t put a ring on hers,
I must speak my gratitude
for every beautiful day that occurs.

Thanks for letting go
of the best you’ll ever know.
She’s the star of my favorite show,
and everyone sees her glow.

You kicked dirt in her face,
then wondered why she didn’t shine.
But these days, oh, she’s radiant,
and these days, yes, she’s mine.

When people meet her now,
they all commend my choice.
When I think of your mistake,
I simply must rejoice.

Thanks for fucking up,
thanks for letting down.
Thanks for sucking, putz,
and not staying around.

Tell yourself it wasn’t meant to be,
tell yourself you’re better off.
I’ll tell myself treasure everything,
while you brood and whine and quaff.

I cannot pity one who ever caused her pain,
So I’ll just say “thank you” once again.
If you’d held on, if you’d held down,
My life’s love may have gone unfound.


At what point

Should I confess

That I only came here

To witness the end of your world?

I never intended

To fall hopelessly in love

With the Earth, as it died

Or, especially, with you.

How could I know

Something fading so quickly

Could still be so beautiful

That I would rather not leave?

If it lends consolation

You had no choice or chance

This conclusion was drawn

Long before you opened your beautiful eyes.

I will hold you afloat

While the waters rise

And rock you to sleep

As nature’s fury awakens.

I came here to watch death

I came here to study terminal hope

But I’m staying to be part of this doomed life;

I’m staying with you until our end.