Beautiful

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He told me i was ugly

so I knew myself beautiful

i wish that applied to only one man in my life

used to think the only way

to ever be whole again

was to set fire to their legacy

burn to charred crust

their tiny, petty cruelties

their thoughts tattooed inside my eyelids

their grimaces of approval

& sharpened malice vowels 

it has taken me far too many 

heartless heartbeats

to realize

i can only erase their fingerprints

inside my pores

if i don’t give them the power

to define me

10 Seconds

For Lucy & Cory

Lucy & Cors Wedding 2

I met you in a strange land

Full of fireworks, bing long and awed faces

Thrown together, our sanctuary grew

An island of foreigners in a sea of locals

We could easily have become friends

Conveniently losing touch when we returned

To our western reality

Instead, we chose to become family

Playing Phase 10 on your porch

— Not at all competitively, of course —

While peeking through laundry to people watch

Singing 1950s ballads with befriended gangsters

Crying, laughing, cheering, hurting, hoping

Occasionally choking on the smell of stinky tofu

I remember sitting on your bed

One lazy afternoon

Watching you sort through your collection

Of definitely-legal DVDs

While also sweeping the floor

You exchanged glances briefly

Then went back to your respective duties

You weren’t even near each other

But the love expressed in that 10 seconds

Was more palpable,

More potent

Than anything from legend or the silver screen

In such a quiet moment

I witnessed soulmates

Strive

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i don’t recognize this smile

winking behind uncharted waters

buoyed, backlit

by joy and expectation

used to be, could only see

floor free depths of drowning

currents concaving + flexing

not even bothering to beckon

sandprints

venturing far, far away from

chartered courses

into unanticipated undersea caves of

human emotion

bristling bone carapaces teeming with

squirmy sentiment

lit only mildly with

blue burning deathless torches of apathy

but cobalt hues and gray questions

no longer surround me, striving to

fulfill the commands

of their rock bottom masters

i learned to be

unstoppable force and swaying reed

give both the respect they deserve

and, flung free,

flourish

Raw

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i am not who you see

the person bending out of your pupils

unfolds with grace and majesty

but i,

i lie here flushed and soulbared

draped in disillusionment

my clunky sobs stampede through

too thick air

lips dance in an unfamiliar grin

that feels wrong

even as i laugh at your awful jokes

right now,

i want to be anyone else

but you look unflinching at

some beautiful, powerful me

and i’m caught

like a semi-reluctant butterfly

trapped in your gaze

waiting for you to see

i’m actually a moth

Tangled

what is the beauty

of bittersweet

my emotions used to be

unplugged

no matter how many switches

i flipped

demons blinded me

but now i can feel

a million million colors

it makes me proud, fierce

like a shadow stricken elephant

who remembers a time without

yet still, right now

the edges of my emotions run ragged

blurry watercolor fault lines

sun swaying and thorn cloudy

the currency of my feelings

cannot spend

and i’m left bare, confused

Belief

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i thought it would feel

close&crystalline

instead

it’s a far away

wonky weird amber

pulsing slowly against

sudden sweet goosebumps

as painful as they are pure

these noble sentinels

standing

up

reaching out to touch

this curious new feeling

settling comfortably

inside my mind

nudging aside scars

most only half-healed

mouths agape,

they retreat with deferential nods

+ make room for the

mysteriously edged

awe-inspiring newcomer

Awake

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after millions of minutes

hiding

soul sleeping

both rapunzel + rip van winkle

yearning for escape

trapped between skeletal bars

now when i stretch

fingertips for the sun

i can feel their shine

+ not the shadow they cast

Unveil

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the inaugural unfurling

of cloud-wrung fancy

breathes fresh air into

stale crevices

pockets new askew

add unexpected edges

where before were only curves

dogeared shames + satisfactions

formerly core buried beneath

a socially acceptable surface

now updug + exposed

is it for you

the primal glint of gold

or the lush musk of sex

the clipped courtesy of separation

the romantic savagery of wildfire

the stealthy intimacy of influence

the puissant demand for more

if i were to plunge

into a cave of wild abandon

populated only by your dreams

what would i find?

Brink

unnamed-1

dauntless, i

perch

upon an inescapable edge

rock bottom lies far below

terrified of what it might mean, i always avoided

the promise of its bared predator teeth,

vein-yellowed skeletons smiling

with the unvarnished arrogance of inevitability

distracted, i catch a

peripheral glimpse of the pearl swirled skirts of

beckoning eddies + waves of wind

gleefully coaxing the horizon a bit further to freedom

torn, i

tumultuous sinner + agony angel

achingly worthy + w(e)ary of redemption

afraid, i

breath caught inside an in-between moment

sink or swim, bend or break

anchor or feather

unsure, i

what the decision is/for, i do not know

still, i find myself

dangling

over jagged honed maw, under stretched out sky

ready, i

do i have hope left enough to fly

or can i finally trust myself enough to fall,

to break

without shattering?

Elegy

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although you may have been

taken too soon

by the master of mortality

who ultimately unites us all

with our loss comes a blessing

we can still keep close

a million memories of you

the unvarnished grace

of your survivor smile

the infectious bubble

of your laughter spilling over

to splash + charm everyone nearby

the dancing fingers sketching

thrilling cursive loops of

your latest dreams onto the sky

the haunting gaze of your

mama bear mother’s eyes

the unique, charisma-churning drive

that propelled you to endless new heights

love wasn’t just in your name

it was in everything you gave

it was all of you

Dedicated to Lisa Love, RIP

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