Again, I waited. You didn’t show.
You showed me that my wishbone shouldn’t be
Where my backbone ought to go
You took my wishes and made them reality
And put a spine in to hold myself up longer after you’d be gone.
I told you I would take a bullet for you
But you were holding a finger on the trigger -
I trusted you not to let the bullet fly.
And you never did; that is trust in love.
You built me up vertebrae by vertebrae until I stood on my own
And held my own head up for once.
You showed me I am better covered in kisses than
Covered in scars; but you loved the scars the same.
You untied my chains and set me free but
You let me stay by your side and you whispered in my ear
My place to stay, as long as I want
But you would never force me to stay.
You ripped off the tape and let me speak my mind
And listened as the words flow
It was like giving you a tape recorder that traced my every word
In order to tell whomever you pleased; but
You kept it between us every time.
And if you wanted to leave then you have every right
But you hold me close and let me know:
I am everything you need, but I am whole on my own.
You are everything I wish for at night,
With my spine, my wish bone, my scars, and my kisses.
Everyone bought at least one of the t shirts but
Stopped wearing them when it ceased to be “cool”
And everyone had that green bracelet for the attention but
One by one they faded from wrists and now his name isn’t even mentioned.
Because this was never about the loss of that tan face; much rather
The selfishness of saying “I knew that kid” and the desire
For others to romanticize their fake pain.
Because the ones who felt it deepest were the faces unseen,
Hiding behind stall doors and trembling hands
In too much pain to even pay attention.
Because this was only ever about doing what was socially appropriate
Like writing his name on your hand and hoping
Someone would ask how you were doing.
And everyone could fake the tears the first few months but
Some hearts have wounds and not scars that still bleed freely with pain
Those same broken hearts are covered by black t shirt memoirs
Unromanticized and certainly forgotten because
They never drew the attention in the first place.
But now it’s been long enough that it’s not even cool
To write about him on Facebook or even
Post a few words on a timeline that most say
Should already be forgotten.
I’m not ashamed to say I miss him or post my thoughts
Upon his wall again.
So don’t make me the criminal here when
You’ve no idea the pain of waking up from a dream with him
Only to realize he is gone for good.
We spent so much time dressing up
As skeletons and ghosts on Halloween
It is hardly a wonder at all,
That this is all we have become.
I am not a present to be opened on Christmas;
You do not need to touch me in order to have me.
I wear bad decisions on my wrist
Where most adorn themselves with jewelry
The bright red lines like scarlet thread
Show every mistake I’ve made.
And most days it’s a fight just to get out of bed
To be on with my life
Stuck in the sheets like nightmares playing in my mind
That plague me all night long.
Food is a battle I’ve yet to win and
I eat up thoughts of you for mindful nourishment instead
It’s enough to keep my blood sugar high
And my head hanging low.
Afternoons are a magnetic pull back to my bed
To curl up and cease to face the day when
Every moment burns worse than flame to flesh
And I feel it tear my soul.
The sound of rain on the roof begs me back to blankets
And my mind could really use the break
When every step forward feels like a marathon.
Days like these come too often and stay too long
When my limbs feel like ice
And touch can’t be felt.
So what’s the use of getting out of bed when you only
Wish you were back asleep because the nightmares
Are more comforting than the horrors of the mind?
But these days pass like the rain
Until hope proves to be true but I know
These dark days always return.
my dad walked out the door one evening and never came back
i left you the way i found you; abruptly and unexpectedly
broken and bleeding on the pavement outside your first house
you were a nomad and i was a small town in a flyover state
that seduced you into building a house where you never thought you would
i was a war in a foreign country that you signed yourself up for
thinking there would be a thrill and you would be a hero
you died a coward in a land not your own as i packed up my things
and i moved on.
it runs in my blood to run, and it runs in your own to disrespect
all the women in your life; as your father and his.
you can’t fight blood and you can’t fight feelings that don’t exist
you said you loved me on a night that i couldn’t feel
and we dragged that along for three more years.
you were lonely and i was a compass pointing to home
you should have known that you can’t make a home out of a person.
i loved you the way i sleep: short bursts and rude awakenings
but i stepped out of bed and over your soul
you drew a line in the sand, and i walked the other way
i couldn’t expect someone to respect me when
i didn’t respect myself enough. So I walked away.
death made me wait less than you ever did;
and i’m tired of waiting for you.
for three months i waited for my dad to come back in the door
with a valid excuse for the twisted life that he lead.
but he didn’t; and i waited; but i’m done waiting for you.
sit by your line in the sand and fight your foreign wars but don’t you dare ever wait for me
just like my father and his before, i’m leaving never to return
you will never be anything but your father, so i’ll take a cue from mine
you could never have loved because you never loved anything in your life
i should never have expected to be the first.
you can’t make homes out of people, at least not out of you.
and i’ve always been more of an empty cathedral;
beautiful to look at but nothing but religious words and empty seats inside.
you took a seat and tried to make this your home, while defiling the sacraments within
i am not your home. i am not your own. i am not a compass.
i am my own.
It’s been four years to the day on the first of the month
Since my hands intended to destroy my body
And bury it deep in the grave.
But four years have passed while depression has not
Yet I learn to leave each day with a smile
And a kiss to the world
There are walks that have yet to be taken
And I’ve gone on dozens of meaningful
Walks since four years ago today.
There are sights to be seen and the wonder of the universe
To be absorbed deep into my fragile bones
There have been and always will be
People to love on and be loved on in return more than deserved
And that handsome boy with the tan skin to be kissed
(We would have missed each other
Had my hand succeeded in destroying my body
Four years ago, the first)
And I’m glad I stayed alive to meet him
And the wonderful friends I have made in the last four years
Because there is a puppy waiting at home and
Two parents who must care and three sisters always there
And every where you look you find more people
Who would have noticed if the hand had succeeded.
There are flowers to smell and rain to feel
And snow to catch on the tip of your tongue and
The turn of your nose and your mitten hands.
Clouds must be observed and the stars will take your breath away
But you can’t see them from underground.
There is so much beauty in the world and the pain will go
And maybe it will come back, but every day is a gift
Sometimes we fake smiles at gifts we receive for Christmas
And find out later how useful they can be.
So smile at today because tomorrow you might miss it
And realize there are people who would miss you too.
Four years later I’m finally glad I made it
And had so many mistakes since then, but that’s ok.
When the door opened and I fell into his arms,
I’m glad he saved my life.
And you’ll be glad to be alive too.
it aches and it cuts and you scream
and you want to run but when you try you go nowhere.
legs become like trees, rooted to the ground.
your heart feels like an atomic bomb that goes off only to go in reverse,
suck itself back together, and explode again.
it’s a constant repeat that nothing will heal.
it feels like nothing will ever be the same,
and it won’t.
there’s nowhere safe to run to so you sit there, feeling everything
yet nothing at all.
you just have to let yourself hurt.
it’s the only way to properly heal.
It only ever took you two drinks in
Before everything came crashing down.
And this isn’t another poem written for you
It’s the cleansing of the memories that plague me yet
A subtle way to try to forget the marks; the five finger bruises and the cut on my cheek.
And the night you drank too much to hear me screaming
You always had wool in your ears and a cuss word on your tongue
And it was never too early for a beer or to tear down the only one who cared about you;
Because everyone else left you to drinking and skating by
While I tried to stop you from going off the cliff
That we stood on together and shouted as loud as we could
Before everything went wrong.
And you turned to the alcohol because God wasn’t good
Letting everything inside of you fester until you broke
Like the way the bottle shattered on that rainy night- the night you won’t ever remember
And the sober girl here will never forget.
But the shards and the scars tell a story
That your selective eyes will never again read
Because I will never let you close enough to my wrist
For you to suddenly rekindle the memory and the emotions associated with the scars that lay there.
So drink your heart out tonight on a too similar rainy day, standing alone on the concrete
And I’ll rest easy a state away and know:
My body and my mind are safe here and now
And the memories will flow only to ebb like the drunken waves
That have finally set me free.
I think about the last time
More times than I ever should
I’ve watched it play out in my head more times
Than my mom has ever seen The Breakfast Club.
She used to watch it weekly.
People say you don’t die once - you die twice
But I’m here to say otherwise.
You died the day you crashed into the tree.
You died three days later when I awoke to a text message
From your phone.
A whole two months and one week passed
Before you died again.
I packed my bags for senior retreat only to collapse
And soak them with the tears that screamed your name
Because you should have been there.
And don’t get me started on my birthday-
You fucking left me out to dry
You died on my 18th birthday too when
You had made me a promise to stay
This year was supposed to be better, you promised
And I yelled that to the sky, more angry at you
Than I’d ever been.
The year before was the violation of my body
But you died again on my 18th birthday
And violated the pieces that remained.
I held it together until Christmas, but I never liked the holiday
The first seventeen times but of course
You died again that week.
Your death recurred over and over
Every time you were supposed to be there but weren’t.
And that’s only the first six months recounting
The times you died over again.
Too many now to count in my head.
But you died again tonight;
I heard the song you used to sing on repeat
The meaningless words that have haunted me all this time
But your voice in my head was faint, disappearing
And I realized you really die three times
The death when you crashed your bike.
And again every day until
I forget the sound of your voice,
When you truly die a second time.
And the final blow will come when all of us are gone
And someone breathes your name for the last time.
I learned from you that real men
Put on more layers; they don’t try to take them off of you.
That doors are meant to be held open
Even though I can get them myself
And dinner dates are fun
Despite having to eat in front of someone.
I learned from you that 2 am will pass
But it’s ok to cry in the dark
We learned the past won’t change but
The future is ours for the taking.
I learned from you the power of three words
Whispered at night from tired mouths
Or screamed to the ocean in the middle of the day.
Some feelings come and wreck us, but
I learned from you safety and trust.
That real men don’t make you walk home in the rain
Because he was pissed about one thing I said.
My thoughts can find safety in the confines of another’s heart
And that was the purest thing I ever learned from you.
I can’t eat sleep or breathe.
Wasting away as these four walls close in tight once more.
I am a tree standing alone
A vine grows from the ground; entwining around me
Strengthening as I become older, never leaving my side
It tightens around and around my core until
One cannot tell where it begins or how long it has been there
It coils and it saps out my strength
Extending itself to all my branches until it stunts my growth
And kills all form of abilities.
The vine has become the tree; the tree has become the vine
There is no distinguishing the one from the other
There is no telling what is me and what is depression
We have grown old together like play mates
And my old friend leaves me breathless again
Under the weight of what has been
And the anxiety of what yet could be
Leaving me the gift of nothingness in the present hour.