little observations

little observations:

 

how his fingers used

to be entwined

in mine

to guide me

to where his eyes

were taking him

 

and your hands are always

firm on my waist

not there to steer

but to just hold on

as though unable to

bear without

touching me

 

the way romance

used to be with him

almost

like a scene stolen

from some script

he was writing

for us

 

and the way you don’t

really do romance

but there’s a warmth

in your smile

and your eyes

when you’re just looking

at me

 

how he used to promise

the world

and sometimes

fooled me into

believing he had

delivered

 

and you never promise

anything

but you just give me

exactly

what I need

 

and I’m not saying

I couldn’t have

loved him

 

but the difference is

I love you

Before it got really bad

Before it got really bad

Dad used to be

chewing gum

visceral spearmint

in memory

 

he used to be pockets

of shiny quarters

a jacket sleeve

proffered to little hands

when crossing

the street

 

he used to be

feeding ducks

bits of bread

in the park

 

Dad was

a cheeky Puck’s grin

the ever-prankster

 

But when it got really bad

he was whiskey

Crown Royal bottles

lining the far kitchen

wall

 

he was a shadow

formed first

in the furrow of his brows

 

he was the dining table

upturned,

cracked flower trimmed

plates

and unrelenting

storm

 

a pocket

Of bruised fists

matching

mom’s bruised eyes

 

Dad was his head

in his hands

 

Dad was a wide back

turned

away

 

But if it gets better

I hope he can

be how he was

 

when I loved him

best

Dear half brother

Dear half brother,
boy who wears my face
boy whose presence
lingers
in my heart
 

the sting of regret
making me cry
sometimes
I wish I were
close enough
to know
you
again
 

memory
burned into me
because I do
wonder if
 

the depths of your mirror
see me
the way I always
always
see you
 

or you ever feel
like you own
a phantom limb
because of me?
 

because the missing
pieces that are you
do disappear
me
 

and I ache
because
I love you,
little brother
 

just for existing
somewhere
even if
it’s not a place
I can ever
reach

love,
Nancy
your big sis

awkward breakups

We say goodbye

like strangers do
on the bus
when they’ve
talked
for a only little
while

unable to touch
tense and unsure
eyes already somewhere
else

mind already thinking
of somebody else

we say goodbye

like there’s no history
here
of us
to leave behind

promises of reunion
hollow and untrue
the only truth between
us wanting to just go

and never looking back
afraid of being the one
who cares more
or too much

so we choose to not
care at all

We say goodbye

and though we wear
such pretty smiles
such convincing regret

we don’t mean
See you later

alone

my heart has been

pried open to display

an empty interior

rusty and lacking;

misuse having done

all it could do

to me

 

I’ve been made

so lost

bereft of people

to love me

back

 

I feel the edges of me

serrated

and weak

but the more I’m cut

the further

the sadness spreads

 

and I can’t do this

 

I can’t keep bearing

all the little aches

of this beat up

little heart

 

all on my own

 

lady death

when I’m not so visible

you think you’re invincible

undefeated

 

but it’s not that I’m

not around

 

instead

I’m the outer edges

of shadow where

I observe quietly

letting you feel

letting you be

 

but when I come

for others

you build upon me

your burning pyres

your wept prayers

 

and all your fears

of becoming

a ghost

in your own life

 

eventually I’ll fade for you

I’ll eat your grief;

cut it up into more

manageable pieces

and inhale the worst

bits

of sadness

when I go

 

clear your lungs

and heart

of tears

 

so that you’re able

to walk around

converse

pretend at cheer

until

you no longer

have to pretend

 

and I let you

forget me

until we have to meet again

stealing souls

The truth is this: we go places, and only pieces of us come back. We turn into the frames of stolen paintings. We become easily ancient and bereft in this way, collecting dust and neglect like an empty vase on a high shelf.

To slow this decay, I steal missing pieces of other people, people being or pretending to be their better selves. I rob them of their alter egos in sarongs and flips flops, in high heels and tackily patterned shirts. I paste these snapshots of stolen history in random corridors in apartment buildings with rickety fire escapes.

Here these images stay:

Documenting when you were brave and adaptable

When you were better than you ever thought you could be

Standing against a sky so beautiful because of the color in your face, the light in your eyes

Or on a beach, daring to wear what you’re now scared of putting on

Not thinking of stretch marks and extra flesh gathering in places where you used to be unattainable youth

You grinning full-toothed pure happiness right into a camera once

Not knowing the feeling for what it was then; not seeing misery in the near distance

You with people you loved once

And lost touch with or just lost

You, full to the brim, of self once

Long ago

Who knows? Maybe all my petty thefts will turn it all around. Maybe they’ll give me answers to why people disappear themselves and slip away from who they used to be.

And maybe I’ll wake up one of these days with more than half-life heartbeats, and be brave enough to search for the missing pieces that are me.

sleeping better maybe

I’ve been

where I’d rather

not be

I’ve been

counting my lost hours

in the shape of

lost sheep

 

I’ve been

tossing

and turning

trying to forget

what hurt me

then

and what hurts me

still

 

and I’ve been trying

to not be alone

anymore

 

alone being a place

I used to live

alone being a sweater

I used to wear

 

a song stuck

inside my head

 

a wrinkle

in my smile

 

the dead look

in my eyes

reflecting the goodbye

in yours

 

and now

I’m closing my eyes

and nodding off

 

much easier

than before

 

How it is with me sometimes

It isn’t just because of loneliness. Lonely is the wrong word to describe the depth of it; lonely makes it sound teenage, tawdry. It’s more like despair. After you’ve earned it, it becomes you. You wear it as skin and other people can smell it on you, enough to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.

Initially, I love the easiness of not having to produce the right words, of not having to appear the right way because I’ve always been the wrong one, the bad one. I’m something you look at to compare how much better you have it, how much better you are.

After a while, it’s more difficult, more like wrenching body parts just to get through the barest human motions; just to be able to say at least I’ve stepped out of my apartment, and then it’s at least I’ve come off the bed.

I make tea in the kitchen, feeling eyes on me, scared of the shadows lurking in the corners of each room. I’m scared, but I’m lusting for the attention too, more sad than anything when nobody answers my calls.

But then I never pick up the phone the few times it rings, even though my skeletal hand starts to develop an itch for it, an itch to touch something connected to a real world somewhere, a voice that I might know, love or remember.

When other voices come out of the shadows to talk to me, I start to feel relief. Some of the voices are the past, and some of them are me.

Then it’s almost easy to think of drowning in the bathtub or just stepping off the roof. But the way for people with an affliction like mine to die is to just stop living. So I stop living, and hope that means I’ll stop breathing too.

My heart aches at every suicide note; I write these love letters to myself, and to people I don’t know.

Dear Mr. Policeman, I’m sorry you have to see this corpse of mine and Dear Landlady, I’m sorry I stopped paying rent and wouldn’t open the door to you, but I had to stop it all, don’t you see? 

Dear Self, I wish you didn’t get like this. I wish you could just get better like other people do. 

his slow suicide

see how he crumbles

into dust, this man made 

of stone

 

see the years erode his face,

wearing away

his show of strength

 

until he is flesh and bone

just like the rest

of us

 

who knew

more bone; flesh having given

way to wine

 

cups and cups of wine; he calls

goblets and guzzles

 

beads of grey sweat 

on his facsimile of skin,

above his quivering lip

beads of wine

 

But he roars still, imagines himself

thunder

when he’s been mouse all along

 

hiding in the holes 

of his childhood memories

 

and then scurrying away from us

Always, this man

running

 

never finding a version

of his life

he can accept

 

and his tears now fall

into the cavity

which used to hold a heart

 

wearing down what is left

until

there’s only chalk outline