Assumptions

assume you’re not gonna call back —

trauma says, “Why would you?

Don’t you see my flaws?

Don’t you see my fears

written out in flowers and bulbs?”

 

Ballpoint pens do not lie

like the rest of the world,

like my mind hearing you say

I am pretty, or I am adventurous,

I am, I am…

 

How about you tell me for a change,

don’t let me give my hopes up

but chase me instead–

I know that’s problematic.

But we’re both runners.

You’re faster

(I don’t like admitting that).

 

I assume — don’t you see

and the truth is if my mastery of sound

bites is greater than your impatience

for the uncertain, maybe I have a chance…

Maybe you have a chance…

 

Because I see, too.

I do.

If you just talked out of your ass

that’s one thing — but you paused,

read your thoughts, chose your words,

and said them! To my face!

In a bed, three years of friendship

between us.

 

I will not go skiing.

I will not go see your band,

or whatever men are up to

in a year or two.

I will add you to a list of what-ifs

but fuck-yous,

and I will see you again–

in passing, not friends.

 

You can’t just lay half your heart

out on the table, my friend.

I can’t, but you can, so you did.

Because it’s easier.

Because you’re not as brave as you look.

 

Are our hearts not supposed to

break a little,

after every lost moment?

Are we supposed to minimalize them,

untethered,

dead grandma in a shack,

bury her before the police comes — run! run!*

 

At least I have a beautiful line to carry with me.

No one has ever told me I look like a painting.

Or maybe they have…but not lying on a bed.

 

Because it’s not a big deal, right?

Little lapses of judgement

where heartache dissipates,

feelings exhale, share themselves

outside their owners

what a privilege to be the one

the thoughts were about,

to be there, ready, receiving?

 

A fucking painting.

Yes.

We all are, no?

 

*Last night I saw the film Shoplifters and it was truly great. This line refers to the movie – apologies for the possible spoiler – you should still go see the movie!

 

January 11, 2019

Three Parts

I.

Our hearts wide open

on the sofa, in the den,

we glide

past memories and landscapes

of lost wishes and dreams untouched–

but oh, my dear, did you touch them!

How far you ran!

How far we traveled

when home was right next door?

I can only tell you so many times

how much I love you,

mom and dad,

how much I owe to you,

my gods on Earth, my saviors

of moon and light —

of all the in-betweens and all-togethers.

Success? Winning? Acting out?

Do you remember me,

do you know me better than I do?

I am your baby bird…

and I am here, beautiful, flying…

you make money not to chase

your own dreams, but for us…

talk about pressure!

But I suppose each generation

has its shortcomings of identity

and mind that the world threw at them,

so you throw it back up,

say I’m better than you.

 

You made me.

Without your light,

I cannot shine.

 

II.

And you tell me: “What doesn’t kill you

makes you stronger.”

What if I fear I have lost part of me?

But dear…look around,

you are here,

and this is now,

and now is the Earth and time kissing

on two planes, four dimensions

that we know of, hurtling off in space

and yet perfectly safe.

This world may think its won–

they may have knocked me down–

but maybe that was not me to begin with.

You ask why I’m so quiet?

Because I’m readying up to get mad

and spread some joy around to make it better.

You told me you have some secret cure?

Cure for what? A story unfolded?

Afraid of one’s own shadow?

Or the light bouncing off your face?

Is that how trauma works?

Healing is all Earth is,

is all that’s in your blood, your muscles

and tendons and heartbeats and breaths.

I am here to guide you,

parents, elders, child.

You may see me as Father Time,

but I’ve been your mother, all along…

riding sunbeams, glorifying everything

and nothing. I am Earth.

 

III.

It’s cold in my childhood, only-home

for-a-while bedroom

and I wonder what life “should” have been…

Life sees no life without death.

I was there. I played. I fell. I rose.

I survived, god damn it.

My body and mind are still god damn

here, my spirit unbroken.

 

Sleeping, eating, breathing…honey,

you are an animal as we all are.

There are moments you must do nothing

but rest, let the Earth care for you.

You cannot take over for her.

We all know what it’s like to interrupt

the most powerful women in our lives.

This is the mother of all mothers,

life giving grace from the God

that is a woman, that is everyone in between.

You have a scary fucking story in your head,

taking over God’s role?

Hell no!

I have my dad’s wings

and my mom’s heart,

so I can keep gliding,

gliding…

 

January 4, 2019

My Body, My Choice

Vinny chats me up as one can do in 8th grade

(as boys can do in 8th grade), and says,

“Girls look better with their hair down.”

 

10th grade:

Allie tells me over pizza in a torn up, faux leather booth:

“People think you’re really pretty.”

 

“Take the bait,” they whisper.

“We are you.”

Your face, your words,

your worth:

we hold them in our hands.

 

I grew fragile.

 

“Not to mention you’re beautiful,”

a text from Devin I saved on my phone for 2 years,

a reminder that if I kept this up,

I could be loved.

“You’re special,” they said.

“Your precise,” they reminded.

“Keep it up.”

I never heard them clearly;

it was always muffled in my ears.

 

Confidence was for the battlefield,

and without cleats on my feet

and a soccer ball underneath

I depended, fully,

on this

damn

face.

 

Middle school:

Vinny was saying he “saw my potential”

and in that moment he pointed a finger at a moon

I did not know — that lights up the sky day and night.

With each step forward from that statement came promise,

like one day my body would, miraculously, lift off the ground and fly.

 

High school: I worked, observed, learned to follow the rules.

I made friends. I chased boys (or at least followed the chasers).

I saw a twinkle form in my eyes like the sun hitting my face

and I felt something grow: confidence big enough to sew a sweater.

That confidence was soft and warm and humble,

each stitch a modest color, so I put it on:

oh, the comfort…the ease.

 

What sweater?

This is my skin, clear as day.

I don’t need all of these words–

they’re woven into my Long Island DNA

and somewhere…somewhere…I seized it.

 

College: I was prepared!

My sweater was woven!

My charm was rooted!

Soccer, friends, face.

 

And then, college happened.

And it was full of devils,

people a mere sweater cannot take on

you want — comfort?

We’ll beat you.

You want — friendship?

We’ll desert you.

You think you’ve got talent?

We’ll show you.

Bam               bam              bam.

My skin faded, my body ached,

and what can a person do but blame what is left?

 

Wisdom swims through my veins.

Nana has her Jesus

and I have my Julia de Burgos

and that’s quite alright with me.

I build a new ship to freedom…

something you cannot wear, but ride–

invisible on all sides, impenetrable,

so much so that my world forgets the words

“break” and “fear” and “fall,”

that Kenny’s story can be his own.

that Marlena’s antagonism can be her own,

and that I can feel the wisdom in me,

the quiet confidence that does not need

a coach to tell me my worth.

 

I just play.

 

December 22, 2018

Trees

My back

is strong

like a piece of bark

it has its edges

but it is stable,

it stands tall–

it is stillness

and silence

and me.

 

These elements

of control

have never been

my friend.

 

Illusive fears

of loosing

a self

that I had forged

by lack of force

the word loss–

I could write odes

to loss

and sonnets

to loss

and haikus

to loss

and I would still

remained

lost

in the same sentiment

 

Who am I?

 

Where do these attachments

leave me?

Where did I acquire them?

 

Did death bring up something

deep inside of me

that always needed healing?

 

An unknowingness of stability,

the entrance of doubt?

 

I am here, writing,

wondering,

thinking back to trees with hearts

written in their sides.

 

October 8, 2016

All

It’s all about leaning forward.

 

In the moments fear grabs your neck like a thief

and you don’t know where you belong–

the sky or the ground–

realize that all we can do is lean into the moment.

 

It’s all about being honest with yourself,

about yourself.

 

In the times joy cradles you in their arms

like a newborn child

know that you, too, can rest–

realize that you, too, are safe as long as you exist.

 

It’s all about loving yourself,

the darkness and the light.

 

Society comes up with names for every game we play,

whether it’s in our head and back again

the way we look up at skyscrapers and billboards

beach walkways and desert islands

your children are my children

we are all of the same skin

just let me in on the secret of sin

there’s no winning or losing,

there’s just where you are

and where you’ve been

in these bodies we pray

these genes aren’t moving today

they’ve taken up residence for a reason

in an effort to survive despite the season

trust in your Self, above all else

no matter what name you’ve learned,

you are here Now,

so love all of your Self,

not just some.

 

April 10, 2016

The Human Condition

Alone

in my head

how did this happen again?

Afraid of myself

more than anyone else

afraid of my mind’s tricks

like the devil

part of me runs,

part of me nourishes.

 

External realities

versus internal dimensionality

my vulnerability

got me everything good

and everything bad

trust my mind–

it is strong,

then flies out the window.

 

All I can do now

is observe the mess I am in:

feel the anxiety,

the past pain,

the current waves of doubt

and listen to the monster truck

of thoughts roll through my head

as if it was the last track in the world.

 

Perhaps this is the most natural thing:

to let up, to let it win and lose

and nothing and everything

to let the stories be

to let the suicide be

to let my knowledge free

to let my wisdom bring

me the greatest joy I’ve ever known:

the expanse of life

growing in and out

nothing the same at any moment

love blossoming in my bones

while fear eats my mind–

it’s just one iteration

of the human condition,

is it not?

 

So eat away,

my friend fear…

I’m not sure what role the pills will play

but life can’t get away

simply because experience and temperament

created a shift in my thinking

understand that this is still

my gift of a body

and I respect its reaction–

mind, body, and soul connected–

to the darkest corners of life…

sweet loneliness turned sour

and still with age, abandonment

of reason with one phone call,

one bad dream…

and still the pure light of tomorrow…

the pureness of now.

 

April 1, 2016

 

More than anything, this is a release of thoughts and feelings surrounding mental health and my own struggles/my family’s struggles and experiences (the mention of suicide, a phone call and pills allude to a tragic family event) with the topic.  

You are never alone, no matter what unfolds in your life.  It can be difficult to find meaning out of suffering and loss, but it is, indefinitely, part of the human condition…and through the cracks, love and art can find their way out. 

The Fight

I once thought of life as a screen.

Shakespeare had his stage. Silverstein, some blue skin.

Entirely hidden.   A teardrop in a lake.

We all have our moments.  The daunting school hallway at ten. The basement party at twenty.  The busy conference room at thirty.

But I don’t want to hide.

I don’t have anything to hide.

Somewhere down the line of evolution, we established that our lives are meant to be competitive. We are meant to thrash and wrangle and bite. We are meant to be afraid of each other. I’d like to think we know better now. There are greater things that motivate us.

Then why don’t we act like it?

Life can be pretty scary. When all you hear on the news are gunshots and all you read about is a blonde Republican’s hair, why wouldn’t there be some fear?

I’d like to think we know better.

Competition separates us. We have isolated each other.  Our money. Our land. Our relationships. Our minds. Our hearts.

We all come from the same thing– we should know that now. We still don’t agree upon it.  Isolation still pulls through. When religion is supposed to bring love and it instead hides fear– it continues to isolate us. When education is supposed to open minds and it instead hammers the same ideas into us over and over, we remain locked in the past.

I’d like to think we know better. I’d like to think we can think better, act better.

I’d like to think that we are all just humans– not the money we decided to print, documents we decided to write, governments we decided to form.

We are all just people.

Yet I still feel the need to remind myself of that sometimes.

A friend of mine recently told me that being vulnerable, not wearing the mask, laying it all out on the table– it’s more than the fear we perceive. It means you don’t need to wear any armor. It means there is no one left to fight.

I’m ready to stop fighting.