Today, I am Mourning.

Sitting on my couch in
the apartment I have not
left in days, I bury my
face in my hands and cry.

Today, I am mourning.

I am mourning the students I
did not get to see yesterday,
the joyful laugher that did
not escape our mouths together.

I am mourning the plane
I did not get on this morning,
flying to new opportunities
I don’t know that I’ll get back.

I am mourning my grandmother,
alone in her nursing home on
her birthday– the one I was
supposed to fly home for.

I am mourning the hugs I did not get
to give her– because who knows
how many chances I have to
hold the one who held me up?

I am mourning for the family
and friends I have not been
able to see. The hands not
held and the food not shared.

Today, I am mourning.

And I know I should end
this with something uplifting,
a reminder of my privilege
and how lucky I am.

but today, right now, I am
mourning. And in sitting
in the space between broken
and healing, maybe there is grace.

Today, I am mourning.
But tomorrow, I hope, will be better.

The King’s Speech

“Today, I will talk about
gaslighting,” the boy
started his speech. I
smiled, proud of him
for choosing such an
interesting topic.

As he continued, though,
the parts of his speech
meant to be dry facts,
hit all the soft, wounded
places I am trying to
let recover and heal.

“Gaslighting is a form
of mental and emotional
abuse. Sociopaths [his
word, and yours] will
nurture, then ignore,
then nurture, then
nurture again, causing
the victim to lose the
ability to trust their
own recollection.”

How many swinging
catwalks did I
learn to navigate,
legs aching as they
tried to find safety.

How many times did
I praise the safety
of your hand, tell
you how much I
appreciated the steady
guidance it provided,
not seeing that the
other was the hand
pushing me off balance
the whole time.

“I’m giving this speech
because none of us is
perfect. We all might
be gaslighted or gaslight
someone else. But the more
we know the more likely
it is we can take care
of ourselves,” He finished.

I smiled, nodded, and
in my heart I sighed and
said, “Yes. We can.”

The Prayer

When the unthinkable happens
and we are without words
that could console or heal.

When the tragedy is too senseless,
the wells of our sorrow without
any seeming end to its depths.

When there are no answers–
only questions, anger, the
curled fist, hurling at the sky,

Why
Why
Why

a gaping, sorrowed wail
echoing through the night,
making it darker still.

In those moments, all
we can ask for is grace.
All we can plead for,
when it seems no haven
exists, is some small
spark that, someday
maybe, it will not
be so bad.

May we find that grace
in the hand we squeeze
a little tighter tonight,
the embrace we give without
question, the “I love you”
exchanged with no pause in
our breath because we know
how unruly and unreckonable
the world can be, moving,
it seems without a care
for our wellbeing.

In those moments, let
joy– somehow still
ever-present like
the sun that never
ceases to rise, despite
the death dirge that
rang through the night–
run in the hand, the
hug, the breath we share.

When it seems like
there is no possible
answer, may my soul
find the strength
to hold onto those
things like the last
flickered smile before
the light shuts off
at night.

Let it find some
kind of foundation
in knowing that,
as each day and
its everpresent sun
somehow still rises,
so, too, will we.

And even though
it is not enough,
we pray that somehow
it will be enough.

 

 

Bones

Fuzzy-fingered, she pulls up
old messages— an archeologist
searching for some kind of
hidden meaning or a code
she could not break. Maybe
now— when the dust has
settled and the light is
better— she will be able
to understand what happened.

Instead, flips through the
old notes, trying to figure
where the bones of her
being started to shape, and
whose fingerprints were there
that she might need to erase.

“What is the half-life of love?”
She was sure she’d read that
in a book somewhere— the
words not quite clear, yet
something clearly moving
through her soul already.

She stops, finally, takes
a breath, puts the notes
away and heaves a heavy
sigh, with breath like barley—
ready to be let go, renewed.

She looks deep within and
knows, suddenly, that
the only fingerprints on
her skeleton are hers,
slowly building, patching
healing, every time she
finds herself broken.

There is no erasing to be done.
There is just the smoothing
over of the places once cracked
now stronger than they were before.

Find the Body Home

I wrote but didn’t publish poems the past few days.


Stop. Breathe.
You have time.
You don’t need
to put everything
down all at once.
You don’t need to
live everything
all at once.

Find quiet pleasure
in the feeling of
your breath swelling
then ebbing out of
your chest, knowing
you have your body
to come home to.



burn it all down now
the anchors tied to your feet,
the harbor you made.

 

The Body at Peace Time

She breathes, lays her
back against the couch
as she takes sinks into it.

The cool glass rolling
across her lips. She
closes her eyes and
appreciates the quiet
whirring of the fan,
the blinds rustling.
This, she thinks, is
what peacetime feels like.

For so long her body
has been a battlefield.

It is hard to come to rest
when you have trained
your ears to listen
for signs that the calvary
is coming, waiting for
the bomb to drop— not
just for the aftermath
that will rip through her,
but for the way she
will pay for existing
to be bombed
in the first place.

Now that she has
walked away from
the war, it is strange
to try and live normally
again, sometimes.

What does it mean
when her body’s
ability to feel safe
is novelty and
not the norm?
How long will it
take for her to
stop listening for
the whistle of bombs
every time the wind
rustles the blinds?

She rolls the cool
glass against her
lips, breathes, and
tries to see if she
can learn to train
her body for peacetime
too.

The Last, Best Thing

I’m on the second day of the OnBeing Gathering, and I am already in awe of the number of connections, spiritual fulfillment, and pure grace I have gained here. Every time someone has joined me at a meal or started a conversation, I have been so grateful to be pushed outside of my introvert zone and made some truly fantastic connections.

One of the benefits of this has been the space to refocus and start clarifying my own purpose and desires. I’m beginning to realize, very quickly, that I really love writing— poetry, prose, short, long– I want to write more. 

So, beyond giving up coffee, I’m going to write a poem a day for the rest of Lent. I have some making up to do, but I’m excited to push myself in this way. It won’t be perfect, I know many of them will be bad, but I know I need to start rehabilitating and rebuilding the muscle.

Anyway, here’s the first.


2/16/18

When the last, best thing
spills forth from
your lips, what will be
the image that you paint?
The story that you tell?

You have lived a life on
the cusp for years now,
so carefully dipping
that funny toe of yours
right the buoy marked, “SAFE.”
You have reached around
that barrier trying to
find some sign saying to “GO.”

Can you see beyond yourself?
Can you find the place
in you that is pure
movement? That bubbling
red blood in your gut
that fuels the body
to movement, to action?

Can you ride that river
to the sea that called
your ancestors, as it
once did to you? Can
you find comfort in
the raging currents,
see the beauty and
not fear the white-foamed
wave that swallowed you?

See your rabbit-heart as
the paddles of your ship,
the curve of your hip the
rudder of riding the current.
Know that the last, best
thing you say or see will
be found on the side of a buoy
or ever be the safest route.

Go, now, knowing the best
thing will be to set out
and find yourself home
again.

Asking the Moon to Cease and Desist

I was reminded that I wrote this 5 years ago. To date, it might be one of my favorite pieces of poetry I’ve ever written.

I’m turning 30 on Friday, and I know I should sit down and reflect, but I really don’t know if I’ll have time. If anything, I listen to this and smile at the girl I once was. I no longer talk to the subject of this poem, but it is such a nice time capsule of who I was. And I am joyful that while I’m wiser and more self-sufficient, I am still as unfettered and loving as I was then.


I would like to request a cease and desist
That you stop with these over-the-moon
tactics. Don’t shake your head and
act like this is news. You created the
moon-tide strategy. The one where I take
a big running leap off your surface
and you somehow wield gravity and
centrifugal force and I don’t get
very far— a wave grasping at the shore
trying to regain my own center. But it’s hard
because the weight of your hand
on my back is a powerful force, and the
gravity of it still leaves a print on the
moonlit beach between my shoulder blades.
and the centrifugal force that
made as you spun your fingers through
my curls over and over again
until I lolled my head against
your chest is too strong on warm
Hawaiian nights, even after a few longboards.

So I am requesting a cease and desist and
maybe even a breach of contract.
because when we set up this agreement
no where in the bylines did you disclose that
conversations with you would be this easy. That they
would reveal the same level of comfort my immigrant
mother once described she felt when she finally finds
someone that speaks her native tongue.

and when we entered into this binding measure there
was no fine print to warn me that
you could make me laugh so hard, or
get me so frustrated with how ridiculous you are.
Trust me, I’ve checked. Waiting for you text before
I go to bed has left me a lot of time to learn some things
about contract law.

And the contract was clearly signed under duress.
there was that moment where we could and maybe should
have walked away but instead you put
the barrel of possibility on my lips and
pulled the trigger. And no red-blooded woman
could’ve withstood firepower like that.

So this thing we are still creating each
time we talk, it must cease. it must desist instead
of continuing to wrap itself around my thumbs
every morning when I text you and around
my throat every afternoon when I wait for your
call and around my eyes every night
when I scan the bar for something that will
serve as your poor-man’s version
but everything I see is shaded with a tinge of
our poorly-lit what-shouldve-beens.

But that’s useless to me now because you are
6000 physical miles away and 12000 emotional ones
and when my head is hitting the pillow you’re already in the next day.

And all I want to do is call and ask you what our tomorrows look like and
if we every course-correct this sinking ship or we just keep
filling in the blanks with poor-quality facsimiles. I already
see it in the guy who almost smells like you but it’s tinged
with cigarettes a whiskey different from the one that
was on your breath when we met. And I see it in the girls on your
Facebook who have curls like mine but lack my… funny thumbs that
could press into your palm when we walked down Hollywood blvd together.

And we’re still walking now, the image of us goes around
and around in my head and beats on my heart like
the waves, pounding the shore for no other reason
than that the moon commands it because no one has
begged it to stop.

The Day I Learned to Swim

I have been running from the ocean since I knew I could swim.

It’s a strange paradox, I know. But at some point early on it
seemed like the ocean of my own heart was
too big to bear. The first time I tried to navigate it on my own,
I was hit with tidal waves of heartbreak and currents
of unnavigable passion that I had no idea how to control.
I was terrified of getting sucked underneath.

So, I jumped on the first floating object I could find.
I sought hands that I was sure could lift me from
the riptides of my own stormy heart, I looked for lips
that would breathe air into lungs too salty with my own
sadness to have a voice. I was so terrified by the first chill
of the water that I desperately clung to the first source of
warmth that would wrap its arms around me and
name me as complete. I played keep-away from the ocean,
And when one lifeboat drifted away, I jumped on the next
insistent that if kept moving I wouldn’t ever get swallowed
by the waves of my own sadness.

After a while, though, as wonderful as the feeling of floating
is, I realized I was missing something.
I learned I can never really feel safe if I don’t believe
in the buoyancy of my own being.

This time, I am trying to be brave.

I stepped out of the ship I built and
decided I needed to learn how to swim.

I jumped into the ocean, felt the chill, and when
I felt like I was going to drown, I began to kick. Hard.
I flailed and churned my limbs. When the winds roared
in my eardrums, I roared right back. I screamed
The sadness out of my chest. I learned to listen to the slapping
of the waves and hear the rhythm of my blood pumping.
I notice the way the tide pulls and clinches at my heart and then lets it go.

And after a while, I realized I could use the currents to push me along.
I could rest in the quiet spaces in the sea, when my
ocean heart would slow the storm and allow me to float,
calmly, from one place to the next. I flipped onto my belly
and began to glide through the water, and embracing the chill.

That was the day I learned to swim.