Sunday, February 14, 2016

Who We Are

He didn’t have any money, but he knew She wouldn’t care. 
When she’d walked into the bar with freshly cut hair and painted nails, his heart sank, but after the first round of drinks his fears faded as the girl talked openly about heartbreak, hiking, and finding freedom in nature. 
He’d wondered about her for months, ever since she started commenting on his Instagram posts, and when she finally reached out to him, it was like a small token from the universe after all his years alone.

His red truck squeaked on the right side, and emitted a low rattle as his pulled it into the driveway. “Just took a power washing job. Not used to working fixed hours, but I need the cash,” he explained.

She followed him up the shaky wooden staircase to his flat, the floor of the apartment welcomed her with a moan. Her eyes scanned the artifacts of the space, searching for clues. It was all thrifted. The coat rack, the green velvet sofa, the broad, aging desk. He was so proud of the 350 square feet, “All the windows," he grinned,  "I couldn’t pass it up.”
She sat down on the green velvet and listened to him continue their conversation from the bar, diagraming his theories for her on a the back of an old poster. He was full of strong opinions.

She’d thought about him for months ever since she first came across his Instagram account, and began fabricating stories to compliment each picture, conjuring up the man. He was somehow less substantial now that she’d met him in person; not the image she’d created from following his posts. She’d expected him to be thicker, more judgmental, slightly brooding even. But he was more like a willow branch, flexible and kind. She watched him shuffle through the trinkets on his desk and fought off the need for him to be any certain way. 

They shared a brownie. He pulled the small white napkin of a side table up to the green love seat at a diagonal, slicing the space between their knees. “That water is for you by the way.”
He wanted to do something with her. She’d sat across from him all night, at the bar and now here, gesticulating with every word as she spoke, and nodding her amber head as she listened. He took his ideas of who this girl might be, might be to him, and painted her with them. He took her hand, ran his fingers across her palm, and looked inside of her for what he’d been seeking.

When she got up to leave, he lifted her off the ground. A controlled slow lift wrapping his arms around her body in a squeeze, then setting her back down, he let his hands linger on her ribs just a moment before dropping them to his side. He’d been doing this all night; placing his hands on her elbow, hand, forearm - whatever he could reach from across the booth. However he could touch her. His touch taking hope and shaking it to life. 

When she stepped toward the taxi, all he could manage was a kiss on the cheek. The heart is not always so bold, and the head says “you don’t know her.” 

“But maybe..” the heart whispers back, “maybe.”

Sunday, January 31, 2016


If I'm being honest with myself. I knew you liked me and you knew I liked you but we were too chicken to define it, both too afraid to admit it. And so we carried on in limbo until it couldn't be sustained any longer. The careful balance snapped and you vanished. I resented your leaving, still do. How cowardly. But I still think of you. I wonder about you. I dream about you. Did you vanish to save me from disappointment? Who was I imagining you would be? Would you change for me and show yourself? I had kept my guard up with you... Though I tried to discard it! So I sent you bold words, sweet words. Sent them off to Silence. The best friend of Rejection. And so. I stopped trying. And my wondering became a disgust. A good riddance incantation to heal my bruises. I wanted to retract all of the compliments, any of the attention I gave you. Why do you keep me away? Are you afraid of me? Don't I fit? Don't you see who I am, see me? You do not. And you are too afraid to. You peer at me through the looking glass. My smiles my pretty glances my robust energy. You watch and you wonder. But you don't dare answer your own question. 
You're afraid of disappointment. You’re afraid that I don't see you

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Aperture

She was unconscious. 
Darkness swarmed 
Behind her eyes 
and she heard murmuring
and she spoke
Irises expand, swivel, swirl

Drops of light land softly among the blue

“Now I see, dear mother.”
Words rambled on, telling everything she knew
Great heaps of information


The aperture opened once more.
Drops of light landed gently among the blue.

“Oh mother! Now! Now I can see.”
And her words swelled, a revelation
Light speed recounting
Facts, fancies
Questions, answers
Assured was she


The irises opened yet again
Drops of light landed tenderly among the blue.

The girl stopped talking

Tired lips rest.

Dear mother took her child’s hand
She combed her child’s hair

“Oh. Now I see.”


I once had the experience of being unconscious. Or rather, I had the experience of coming back into consciousness. I think about it all the time actually, as a great metaphor for life. Every cycle of life is a new revelation, what we thought we knew before becomes clear in a way we could not have predicted. Like putting on glasses to see how crisp the scenery becomes. 
Right now I ride a glorious wave that is sure to break. One day I will see things that aren't clear to me yet. Can't be clear to me yet, because the next wave hasn't arrived. And that's OK. 
I think we champion our life to the best of our ability. With what we have and what we know.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

She's a B*tch.

Alyssa Dunphey was a bitch. 

     Everyone knew this and it was a widely accepted fact at Prestonwood Baptist Church. New members of the church were warned, “That little one? With the dark hair? She’s a bitch, so don’t worry about it if she smites you, it’s not you, it’s her.”
     Mrs. Dunphey realized this about her daughter when she as 4 years old. They were at a birthday party for one of the girls in her play group. The little girl was opening presents and received a bright pink pony with shiny silver and purple hair. Alyssa locked eyes with the pony, entranced. When told the pony was for Mara, the birthday girl, Alyssa narrowed her eyes, just briefly, then lifted her tiny chin and silently gulped. Shortly thereafter, while the cake was being distributed, Mrs. Dunphey found her daughter at the present table cutting the mane and tail off the small pink horse. Alyssa pursed her lips and shrugged her right shoulder when Mrs. Dunphey took the scissors away and admonished her child. 
     But it wasn’t just incidents like that in which Mrs. Dunphey realized her daughter’s true nature. It wasn’t just the “You’re fat” or “Your face looks funny” or “You have big breasts” comments that Alyssa frequently doled out. It was the thread of self-serving malfeasance that lingered in her young, narrowed eyes which Mrs. Dunphey found astonishing.

     As Alyssa grew up, she slowly began to realize the nature of her own bitchiness. It was like a twitch couldn’t control. Unlike when she was 4, people began to be less forgiving of her lewd, if honest, comments. They were no longer funny, and a planet away from charming, coming from an 8 year old. So Alyssa took it upon herself to prune this nameless persona. 

When she was 9 she was first told what she was. 

     Jimmy gave her the word. He was 12, and on that particular day at Prestonwood Baptist Church, the Sunday School classes were lumped together due to low attendance, pooling the 9 through 12 year old pupils into the same classroom. Jimmy took an immediate liking to Jessica, another girl Alyssa’s year with short strawberry-blonde hair. Alyssa thought hair that color was unnatural and intolerable. She also thought Jimmy’s freckles were unnatural in quantity and equally intolerable. Both people in question made Alyssa narrow her eyes whenever they spoke. 

“Who can tell me what a parable is?” The long nose teacher asked in her high voice.

     Jimmy stared at Jessica as she answered, “It’s a story that teaches a lesson.” The teacher smiled at her, “Well said, Jessica.” The girl bobbed her tomato head and smiled back. Alyssa narrowed her eyes. 
     After the lesson ended, all of the pupils gathered in the dining hall for donut holes before their attendance was required at the morning service. Jimmy leaned toward Jessica in line and stuttered as he asked her something about the bracelet she was wearing. Alyssa narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips as Jessica smile back at him. 
     When it was her turn at the breakfast table, Alyssa carefully filled her cup of orange juice and made her way to the table were Jimmy sat. The boys at the table gave her an odd fleeting glance, surprised she had decided to sit next to them, then turned back to their conversations. Alyssa picked up her orange juice as if to take a sip, then delicately tipped it over, so that the contents landed perfectly in Jimmy’s lap. Jimmy threw a small fit of course, and so Alyssa took her cue and found somewhere else to sit. It was at that moment Jessica came back from the bathroom, and Alyssa made sure to fill her in on the commotion, Jimmy wet his pants. 
“You’re a bitch.” Jimmy’s words rolled across the room and landed comfortably on Alyssa. Yes, she thought, that’s what I am.
    It was then that she really started working at it, perfecting her bitchiness. She’d spend 45 minutes in the bathroom mirror just looking at herself in the mirror, adjusting her eyes and lips until she attained the perfect bitch face.

     Mrs. Dunphey was ever ashamed of being responsible for the girl know as “the little bitch” among the worshippers at Prestonwood Baptist Church. But Alyssa was born that way, and if God gave her a bitch for a daughter, well, Mrs. Dunphey planned to love her little bitch of a child all the same. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016


I feel your absence in every room.
I’m tired of looking for you

Wait, you say
I am waiting too long!
I’m afraid I’ll forget
To open the door for you 
I might lie idle 
Consigned to oblivion

You hide
You ask me to wait
I forget what I am waiting for

With each new face
You remind me

Your kiss has been there, all along
On the lips of others
That wear different eyes
And hold me 
With different hands

Your kindness has been there
While I sit across the table
From a different man

Your passion has danced
In the eyes of one whose words
Relay a separate truth

Your generosity has been there
There in the hearts of many
Sharing comfort

I see you and feel you
At every crossing
Coming and going
Wearing many faces
Women with hats
Men with shoes

I feel your presence in every room.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

I know what it's like.

When I turned 30, I sat down to write. I thought I'd write about life and everything I still don't know about it or haven't experienced. I started to write about the shame I feel not having been in a long term relationship. Let my weepy heart weep! But it was like trying to force yourself to cry when the tears just aren't there. The shame just wasn't there, wasn't prevalent. What was prevalent? Eagerness. That's what I feel most. An incredible eagerness for life, for what's to come, and a gladness for what's been. Life astounds me. The process. How delicate and hardy it is. I'm astounded by all the things I'll never know. But hey, here's a start. 

I know what’s it’s like. 

I know what it’s like to be young.
To win a gold medal. To pee in my pants. Ride a horse. Pee in my pants while riding a horse. Get lice. Break an arm. Ride a bike. Do a handstand. Climb a tree. Make a fool of myself. Be loved. Be cherished. Feel grace. Feel wonder.

I know what it’s like to have great friends. To have blood sisters. To bind myself in absolute and fret going off to college in ten years time. 
I know what it’s like to fight. To forgive. To move on.

I know what it’s like to forge a new path.
To leave family, to move away from friends, to walk down damp new streets.
I know what it’s like to be brave.

I know what it’s like to explore. 
To feel the splash of the sea salt on an early morning beneath soaring cliffs and squawking fruit bats. To dive in the calm. The slow inhale and exhale of bubbles. 
I know what it’s like to get lost in a city eat strange fruits dance until the sun comes up jump a flaming rope swim in hot rivers hold a sloth sky dive over mountains smell a volcano pluck leeches from my ankles stare at the stars sleep among the shrieks of hyenas, among lions, among elephants. 

I know the cold of a buss station floor in the dead of night. The stench. 
I know what it’s like to be threatened. To be mugged. 
I know what it’s like to be scared.

I know what its like to grow older and feel younger. To throw a party. To eat cake.
To write a poem cry into a book to love to envy to kiss to miss for far too long. To be alone. To be embraced.

I know what it’s like to be alive and to slowly awaken. To unravel. 

To marvel at the wondrous adventure.

Saturday, September 19, 2015



“It was him. It didn’t look like him. He wore a different face. But I knew it was him.” 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Sara wrinkles her face in disgust.
“My dream, Sara, he was in my dream again” I sigh. I thought she would understand. 

I had dreamt about him again, though it was the first time in months. After the split he’d haunted me. Filling my head each night as an thick shadow, whispering to me, tapping on the inside of my skull, demanding my attention. 
Leave me alone!  Tap, Tap. Let me sleep! Tap!
But he never would. 

Months later, I couldn’t believe I still wasn’t over him. His touch was on everything here. T-shirts hiding in the corners of my closet still carried his smell. Constant reminders invaded my day. His name was too common, I felt a pang every time someone said it, or when I walked by a house he once said he liked, or condoms. I opened a drawer searching for a pair of socks when saw the shiny foiled packet. A flood of chemicals flushed the lining of my stomach, and he was back, teasing me with his absence. 

“Look girl. He wasn’t good enough for you anyway. He didn't fit in with us.” I could never find comfort in Sara’s words of condolement. 

Doesn’t fit in with us?
I look at myself in the mirror. Grey t-shirt. Grey cotton shorts. Hair in a wild bun atop my head. I’m just a girl. I’m anyone. 

But Sara hit a partial truth. He never was at home in my world. We’d sit at dinner with a group of friends, my friends, sipping wine and he would nod his head, obviously bored. With the pretension of them all, he’d later explain. 

“Why do you have to be so judgmental?” We bickered constantly. From the front seat of his car he’d slip insults from the corner of his mouth. I’d break from my sally-sweetheart routine and reach out my hands to strangle the words in his throat. Somehow we’d always end up kissing until the air left our lungs. 
Toxic, they said.

When darkness falls, reason loses its footing and I hear his tap.
I miss you, I whisper back to his shadow. Night after night, I miss you. 
And night after night I’d fall asleep to the sound of the abyss taking up residence on his side of the mattress. 

One May morning, the light broke through. 

Rays filtered through the yellowing glass of the window pane, stroking my face back into consciousness. 
He had been there last night, walking around in the tunnels of my dream state. I realize he hadn't visited for weeks. 

My dreams had been traveling elsewhere. His shadow, now a wisp. 

I close my eyes and try to focus on his face. But it isn’t there. The edges of his jaw and lips are fuzzy and I can’t make out the blue of his eyes. 
It was the first morning I woke up not wanting him.

I look over at myself in the mirror by the bed. Same grey t-shirt, same anyone girl. I close my eyes again, and my sockets fill with vapors. Faceless, I feel what I am. Layered and powerful. 

As the wound dries, within it something immense grows. It quiets the tapping.

The last traces of him all but evaporated. I look around the room for his fingerprints.
A film of him on my wine glass, between my sheets, or atop my desk where he’d sit write me songs? They’d forgotten his touch. 
The months had slowly rubbed away at his stubborn residue. 
The morning made me think of the first time I wore glasses. The world I had known was vibrant and beautiful, but through the lenses the crisp of the leaves reached out to me, and nature shone with new definition. 

He was like poor eyesight. You don’t realize how blurry things are until you put glasses on.


I enter the living room and Sara glances up from her magazine. “You’re looking great today, girl!” 

I’ve heard that loves remains. 

Once the traces of him finally faded, his stubborn residue removed, what was I left with?

Memories warp. They thin. They dim. His became cast in a rosy glow. The fights, once appalling, breathed romance and nostalgia. The way he held my hand in the dark. The way he whispered to me with thick breathe, and I could feel the smile in his words.

I’ll never be completely clean. But as I cross the room, it’s not the residue of him I carry. It’s the love that etched itself onto the soles of my shoes. 

It’s the residue of love that remains.