This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
if all things get worse before better
and the squeaky wheel gets the oil,
we are well on our way to utopia
The bumps feel familiar under her feet as she wanders along the edge of the platform. This block of yellow has become both a friend and an enemy to this girl whose coat is too big and whose shoes have a little too much extra room. She swings both of her arms together, as a child who has seen her mother’s arms swing as she walks but does not understand that this is a natural action. Her legs do not swing straight forward when she walks. Her gait resembles a drunk who believes he is walking in a straight line as she ambles down the platform slightly hunched under the weight of her backpack full of clothes, a mix of innocent child and jaded adult.
Train stations are one of her many homes. She visits three each weekend as she travels from the city where she has a home specifically for her education to the only place she truly feels at home, and back again. Her commute is an average one, but she feels separate from the crowd of commuters with blank faces who only see a disheveled and tired girl of twenty, a small girl in a big world with a backpack to hold her whole life. Maybe she’s a runaway or a dropout, or maybe she’s just always been homeless. She knows the case is that she has too many homes, that she feels chained to too many places but not enough people. But she likes to pretend she is a wanderer, unchained, just ambling down platforms and riding trains with nothing more than her backpack.
She wishes she were that interesting.
Tonight I am cold
and afraid of the dark,
the shadows are trying to get me.
Put smoke in my lungs
or call out for the sun
as long as it helps me.
Tonight I am small
and wearing a frown,
my tears want to tumble
my legs to crash down,
my mind wants to roam
my heart to go home,
simultaneous longing to be loved and alone.
The shadows exist when the sun is awake,
so how can I ever find the warmth to feel safe?
you’ve always over-romanticized the idea of someone who was forced to grow up too fast. you filled pages with the beauty of these characters, their gentle love, healing words, and quiet understanding. but you still hadn’t grown up yourself, so what the fuck did you know?
you fell in love with a boy who became a man at twelve, and you expected him to hold you and talk about the stars.
it’s hard to see the night sky through a cyclone, but you’d never seen a cyclone to know this. you spent your whole life on cloud nine, and your whole life was childhood. you were empty and thought a tornado would’ve given you meaning, until you learned that clouds can’t hold up shit, and you rained down. you learned that wind only brought chaos.
you still expected him to offer gentle love, healing words, and quiet understanding. but he couldn’t understand your fixation with meaning or why the hell you thought a cloud had supported you. violence doesn’t breed an angel just because your shelter bred a fiend.
you were always wrong about being forced to grow up. he laughed at your assumptions, and the bitter breeze joined in.
you stepped into a cyclone and tried to bring the stars with you. if he couldn’t be gentle, healing, and quiet, you would force these traits on yourself. but you would learn that sometimes there is no such thing as quiet surrounded by eighty mile per hour winds and that there is only so much room for healing in the brevity of the eye. you would learn that there is nothing at all romantic about these forces, yet no matter what you would learn in the chaos and violence of the wind, you would continue to love him, not for the gentility you expected but for the strength you found.
you will never dream of returning to cloud nine.
a collection of others
there is no one here
this collection is swayed by others
and helps others
but is never helped,
is hardly considered.
this is not a person.
this is only space,
and on the gravestone
will be the same
excite me with your eyes
if a gesture is too much
and comfort with your body
if you don’t have the right words,
but do not say you love me
be proud of me when I get good at your favorite game
and tell me you’re glad I like to play.
look at me like I’m wonderful and new
though you see me every day.
don’t get so used to me
that I forget we’re more than friends
because just a little thing’s enough
every now and then
so I don’t start to doubt your claims.
if you love me,
before it’s too late
You look into eyes and you see pain
you see goodness
and you drown.
Love starts in these eyes
but it is not yet love.
You love the broken soul you’ve found
(you think you love the flaws)
but it is not yet love
until you hate the flaws
for the damage they’ve done
and the expanding cracks in the soul
you hadn’t noticed
until it became love
From where she stands, her shadow envelops his. As she gets closer, her shadow shrinks and shrinks until it is miniscule beside him, and she realizes that this is how they really are. The closer she gets to him, the smaller she feels.
She smiles at this. She is small.
Alone, she insists on being big. Untouchable. But with him, she is who she is and she is small. She is hardly over five foot and he is nearly six, but this is not what makes her small.
She is small because she doesn’t know how to survive alone. She is small because she acts big and because she is afraid to admit she can act.
He makes her feel small because he makes her feel safe. He shows her the truth of what it means to be big.
What is out there
that hasn’t been done,
Where is the eighth color,
the other sounds?
Where is there more
than flesh to touch,
hearts to love?
What is deeper?
Why are we not infinite
like the numbers,
counting ever onwards?
Why are we limited
like the alphabet’s length,
still as weak
as our collective strength?
Where is the twenty fifth hour,
and why does a day
have to stop?
What candle can we hold
when our numbers
When does a beginning
stop meaning an ending,
and where do the ends
What good is a circular planet
full of segmented lines,
and why can’t we stay on our feet?
Why must a buildup
start losing speed
and why do mountains have tops,
and why can’t the moon
come to meet us,
when our numbers
hey, wake up,
you are letting it consume you.
Never give in to the earth,
only wonder - can you bring it with you
to meet the heavens
do I make it hard sometimes,
is it difficult to love me?
how do you do it so easily
while I’m still here struggling?
what is this aching,
why can I feel the absence of your arms
like I feel the blanket wrapped around me?
where is the relief I once felt
in having time to myself?
why do I need you so?
having time to myself feels incomplete
for you’ve become half
of the self that I am
It’s the heartbeat. I can feel your warmth beside me and your arms around me, and I know that I am home. But it’s your heartbeat that tells me that home is a good place.
Rhythmically, it says, stay. I am calm. I am safe. I am here. I am calm. I am safe. I am here.
I am here, and I am never leaving, and you never have to leave either.
We are calm. We are safe. We are here.
Your heartbeat reminds me that the world was meant to be like the steady beat that sends life to the far reaches of your body, to those places my fingertips and eyes know so well. There is a center to each of us, whether we know it or not. There is one single, private point from which radiates each of our lives. Your heartbeat is becoming my center. Your heartbeat is becoming my own. I was never so lost as in the instant before you said hello. I was my own center point, with nothing centered on me. It hurts to be one’s own center. It hurts to be the sun of an empty universe. It is lonely and lacking rhythm.
We are calm. We are safe. We are here. But only because we are one.
You moved a whole universe and filled it with sound. You turned a lonely center into a shining orbiter, a star pulsating to the beat of the true sun; We are calm. We are safe. We are here.
We are one. We are whole. We are home.
It’s the heartbeat.
I see you in everyone
You are the hero
who acts like a villain
because you doubt your own ability
You are inspiration
You are the heart
of your mother
of your brother
of your lover.
You do not see it
but I see you in everyone
You do not know it
but you are
what it means
there are poisons in the courtyard
that should be in my brain
they’ve escaped the cages of my thought
and are running wild again
and I don’t know
should I catch them?
or announce their origin,
reveal the poison’s me?
do I stay silent,
or do I cease to breathe?