the invisible sad

you don’t see this, of course


but sometimes it’s so hard and

I force myself to cry

until my throat is raw and red


like ribbon


hoping to wash it away

but there is no drain;

it just collects


and you don’t know


how fragile I’ve always been

news flash:

same old same


in every fist I make to keep it in

keep the sad locked up


shush you


lips closed

but trembling and

always on the verge

of telling

but I won’t

I can’t


I know better than

to disturb the facade that is

all of us going through

the motions by which we’re

so easily


of each other


you can look for the sad

but you won’t see it,

of course


because I bury it

so deep

all you notice

is the smile

which I draw on with lipstick

to make you more

comfortable to be

around me


and you continue

blissfully unaware


but you don’t know

you don’t know, of course

that the sad

never stops

missing you

I miss you, and I’m filling those empty places you usually inhabit

inside of me
beside me

with wine and conversations
with people who look over my shoulder when they talk to me

friends who are suddenly too busy
too far to give me a moment
for despair

they don’t want to hear
how I’ve been gutted by your absence

and how the bloody tracks I leave behind in the bathtub don’t
quite appease my pain

Instead I’m told: chin up
and smile so
I’m shrugging off the feeling of wrong that keeps echoing
off the walls
in all the places
in which you aren’t
but I have to be

my sharp angles brittle and unwelcoming, and the softness giving way to the wasting

the wasting away
of a me
without you

I don’t like myself this way

and if you saw

you wouldn’t like me either

see you at our reunion, bitch

is it fair that tormentors get

happy endings in the form of

symmetrical wedding photography where

her teeth are so white and clean in her smile

you’d never imagine she was so full of



look at that evil bitch’s happiness

look so gooey sweet


and I don’t want to hurt her myself

but shouldn’t the universe hurt her or something?


where is that bad karma lurking and when will it

come to fruition

burst inside her like a ripe appendix

with a message from me saying

this is what you get


for fucking me up all those years ago


giving me sleepless nights and so much self-hate

I filled notebooks with blood-red ink

might as well have been bleeding


leaving me breathless and choking at the thought of


voice trapped in a box of shame and

a body bent to hide my ugliness which was said

to be buried right into the color of my skin

and even the shape of my shadow unsightly


tear tracks dried on my face

I was a clown

to her

at ten years old


staring at bridges and trains and knives with

the deepest yearning


her laughing into my face and telling me to go ahead and



well, I’m not dead

surprise surprise surprise

there I go

surprising us all, myself included


so see you at our reunion, bitch


where I hope to smile

because I’m too happy

to care anymore


(your misery an added bonus)

I’m not good at this

when it’s just me here

that’s when I get the most fearful of doing something



left to my own devices

who knows what ways I’ll come up with

to hurt myself


people see me outside and think I’m okay

oh so well put-together this facade of

mine eyes hold lies

treachery untold


left on my own, I unravel


I sink into my bed and glaze over

at the ceiling

melting away until I feel cadaverous

and only then

do I notice what’s happening


I know I’m waiting for somebody else to stop me

look, this is self-sabotage

and I’m so quiet as I spiral


I lose words in the fog


I forget




I forget





I no longer know

what the fucking point is

reject pile girl

back then we

we were glory days

and sake pub nights

photo booth adventures reflected in our

gaunt, exaggerated faces

because we’d forgotten how to sleep

and were too defiant

to admit needing rest


you were the closest I felt to loving a girl

you were best friend shivering with me

in full costume and make up heading into

the empty street

with leaves and garbage crunching under our cheap, fake leather boots


we were anarchists

my hair was blue, yours white

and we used to shout fuck you to people

who looked at us funny


and we probably deserved funny looks

because there you were

so beautiful

and there was I, raggedy-Ann, plain-Jane androgyny/

butch girl so out of place, out of touch

with the world


I think I dyed myself color

just to be seen

I think I was your opposite

because otherwise, I knew I’d fade

out, your ever-sidekick novelty

out, damned spot


but then I moved away

and we weren’t us anymore


you stopped caring about

what I had to say


and I learned to look in the mirror

without cringing

I learned that I might just be

beautiful too


you stopped caring

about me


and you weren’t overtly unkind

just thoughtless and that hurt more

because you faded me out

out, damned spot


and left me

in a reject pile

miles away from where

you’d ever have to see it

liar liar liar

how many do you think you can tell

before I stop you right there

before I recognize the disease living in the whites

of your lying eyes


your gaze is deliberately aimless

and emphatically sincere


a cheap imitation of flawless performance

for a fool who couldn’t afford

to lose her imagination

and wake up then


you think

I should have no reason for suspecting

you but

you’ve always thought

me as innocent, guileless


for you:


I am petals pressed in between

your pages

preserved too well

and as unsullied

as the day you met me


but as you’ve lived your life

I’ve been living mine


and along the curve of your carefree grins I’ve seen

that nervous twitch at the corners

the bead of sweat that trickles from your upper lip

down your throat

where a telltale inhale of just not right

unreality lives


I know now

when you laugh it’s

strange and hollow

you throw your head back and make a display

of yourself


but not for me


and to keep me from walking

you’ve held my hands tight

forced me to face the illness that is you

with your lips pressed against my brow

crooning words like

baby and please

and I would never


you are an act

meant to convince


- well it doesn’t convince me anymore -


but baby

does it still work

on you?

childhood lessons

how long I was still

and afraid


I learned myself



I was a girl

waiting as long as I had to

unwilling to return

to the outside

because it wasn’t safe


it wasn’t safe



I was a girl

who lied everything

until parts became


until I forced

myself to live

that way


Lies like

You’re not scared to a trembling lip

You don’t need anyone
to red rimmed eyes

You don’t feel pain to blue-imprinted skin


And now I don’t cry

in front of others


And now I laugh at monsters

because they’re nothing

in comparison

to people you love


And now,

I expect to be hit


but never flinch



I learned



an ode to ex-lovers

I’m going to lie here
with my jars of hurt
struggling to hold the weight

That is sadness

I could name
every scar that I wear on my wrist, on the inside of my elbow

and the cracks in my lips when they try and fail to form
a smile

I wish there were more here
than men who want to fuck me

Men who see a body but not me

I don’t know when I became so corporeal, so physical that

other monikers of self
too many rejections
making me obsolete

And waved away when done with
Ready for refuse piles

I’m lost


You too
can fuck me or wish to fuck me

But each and every time you do

I hope
You’ll be different
than the others

even as you shift away
further and further
from touching

In public

Or looking me
In the eyes

Just like they did.

Dear half brother

Dear half brother,
boy who wears my face
boy whose presence

you are shadow now

you are some ghost

I can’t shake off


because my heart

won’t let you go


and I can’t apologize

for what I said, and

for what our father is not

even if it hurts

to not see you


but I’m sorry

our truth is not kind


And I’m left to wonder if

the depths of your mirror
see me
the way I 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

and make me

hate myself

for letting you walk away

just like that


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



he was a shadow

formed first

in the furrow of his brows


he was the dining table


cracked flower trimmed


and unrelenting



a pocket

Of bruised fists


mom’s bruised eyes


Dad was his head

in his hands


Dad was a wide back




But if it gets better

I hope he can

be how he was


when I loved him