Gossip Girl

You’d think that Chuck and Blair were my best friends

in high school, how much they told me

what to do,

what I wanted,

right, wrong, relationships,

expectations, exceptions, assumptions.

How many of these straight couples have we seen on TV,

on the movie screen? You’d think watching the same story

would have tired us out by now…

but look at all those remakes!

“Boys will be boys” so let the playboys play,

let the Netflix episodes stream

with titles like: “Conquest 1: Anne.

Do you pass the Bechdel test?

 

And yet, my mind relishes it!

3 hours of “Next Episode,” “Next Episode,” “Next

Episode” when I already know what’s coming.

Come on, socialized females—

we were taught to savor it,

to be silent, to watch

this brunette pair with pretty faces,

there is no grace here

when I’m still second class

there is no grace here

I think I’ll have to pass

and yet I’ve watched for 10,000 hours

officially a master

how many minutes have we been feeding

ourselves

this

shit?

The sexist disguised as the best friend,

the feminist disguised as the loser, the bitch.

“Paint it black,” Mick said,

so maybe we should scrap the painting

if I’m still quoting advice from the tomb

we are buried in, white male words

we are covered in.

 

To carry Chuck and Blair’s

abbreviations, hallucinations…

It’s heavy. It’s hard.

 

They taught me it’s okay if he leads me on;

I should wait. I should want it.

They taught me it’s okay if he looks at me

sideways, smirks, and moves on;

I should be flattered. I am top dog.

They taught me I should love a “he.”

 

Here’s a scrap, dear women.

Here’s a slice of the loaf you asked for.

Now, why aren’t you happy?

Why do you keep talking?

 

‘Cause we’re human.

‘Cause we’re hungry.

Damn hungry.

 

At the end of the day, my adolescent self watched Gossip Girl, idolized Chuck and Blair, and part of my heart still loves them. And that’s the point.

 

October 29, 2019

Letting the Memory Settle

As we skipped rocks at Walden Pond in steady rain,

you told me I just needed practice,

that my outstretched hand needed to move

in one single, continuous motion.

You selected each stone with care, inspecting

their flatness as if choosing flowers for a date,

only to send them off into the gloom, certain

of their own uncertainly paced descents.

I laughed at your advice, my voice skipping

rhythmically despite my un-thrown stones.

We were part of our history class field trip,

and you asked, “Why does the water

only reflect parts of the trees?” I shrugged,

letting the question settle into the pond and practiced

questioning what parts of you I could see:

lone like a stone, easing me away with each ring

of water that expanded to meet the trees;

you alone, like Thoreau, without me.

 

Unknown, 2014

My Gold

Because how can you read the news, my Jo?

How can that shit be your day job?

The day glaciers melt and

people teach machines to

teach other people

about the same machines and

sitting in my rose garden all alone

can lead to murder and

taking a soda without asking

and running out the door

can lead to murder and

you can meet a love of your life

and realize that everyone

is human, and that no relationship

or person will ever be perfect and

that in spite of all the “good shit”

going your way, you can still feel

lonely and out dated and

so damn curious about the future

that you just don’t want to know anymore.

 

How can anyone guarantee family?

I got so god damn lucky.

 

How can anyone read my lips

and promise neutrality?

Everyone’s always gotta have an opinion.

 

We live on stories, so we might as well

accept the truth and move on.

 

If truth is the end of a rainbow

I am never going to see,

I might as well pray to it

and acknowledge its existence anyway,

know that Spinoza will help me find my way,

that Julia will help me find my way,

and that this god damn one beautiful Earth

that has done nothing but save our sorry souls

one lifetime after another, promising renewal

and never quitting, never disappointing—

it lives in me. In you. In us.

 

After I read the news,

I have to remember:

my first mother may one day be all I have left,

but she is everything…

before I got here, now, and long after

you and I are gone.

 

Thank you for giving me the chance to live on, to see a few stories play out,

and know that while the foreground is temporary, the background holds,

sacred,

secure.

 

August 19, 2019

Floating

Loneliness

floating

on an autumn leaf,

winter turns to spring

so please speak softly:

we do not want to scare the buds.

They may hear the truth,

like a riddle

read off the page

and asked to solve for entry:

a one-way ticket over the bridge

from single to taken,

a world where kisses do not betray

and suitors come equipped

with emotional intelligence

and a bow and arrow.

I hear cupid,

underground,

readying himself up—

 

just another risk

the Earth will take.

 

 

April 10, 2019

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

The Revenant

Last night,

at the movie,

you sat next to me.

 

The theater

was full,

I sat alone

between you

and three guys,

conscious

of my singleness.

 

But then you

rolled over,

to share his faux

leather recliner,

and I smiled.

 

Most of the time,

my independence

likes being alone.

 

It gets its own seat.

 

March 5, 2016