My Mother’s Laugh, 2017

My broken ears healed to the sound of my mother’s laughter;
even before my hearing aids clicked on, it was how I found what I sought after.

In grocery aisles: lost, exposed, and alone,
her bells would break through, calling me home.

It was as if her womb knew it contained a soul already a little battered,
knew how to overcompensate in the only way that could have mattered.

And when I was chosen and growing in warmth and comfort,
it was her laugh sounding through that awoke me from my slumber.

Four years later, with new devices in my ears,
finally I was able to listen to everything there was to hear.

I tuned into birds chirping, trees rustling; everything sounded crisper,
And I began to hear the words people kept to themselves, a whisper.

“She’s so loud,” “I could hear her coming from a mile away,”
“I had to hold the phone away from my ear,” “her laugh is a horse’s bray.”

No one knew the secret debt my mother had paid to me that made her loud,
No one knew she was destined for a deaf kid, her laugh calling to me in the crowd.

It seemed the little bit of favor that was the volume at which my mother spoke
was, to the rest of the universe, an insult to prod her with, a cosmic joke.

I still listen to the insults quietly aimed toward her, now thinking it’s tragic
that no one understands that a loud mother with a deaf daughter: it’s actually magic.

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Lost and Found, 2017

I used to dress up in mud
caked onto my hands,
misted onto my face.
I felt beautiful, invincible,
strong.

I would walk down the sloping dunes
toward the lake,
bucket and brother in tow.
Eagerness pounding through my veins,
invigorating.

Now I dress up in makeup
concealing my face,
carefully painted.
I feel beautiful, invincible,
still strong.

I walk down city streets
toward nothing at all,
camera and sketchbook stowed.
Eagerness still pounding,
still invigorating.

There are things I lost as a child,
and things I gained as an adult,
but the things that are constant
are the ones I bathe in,
keeping myself alive.

From Therapy, 2017

I am a sunken ship,
resting among the water that pulled me down.
I rest buried in the sandy graveyard leagues below.

The waves down here are so calm,
I often forget the strength of the ones that capsized me.
I forget how I used to fight to right myself.

Once you’ve swallowed enough force
you can convince yourself its better this way.
You can rest with what you vowed to battle.

But when sunlight fights through the depths to find me,
I remember I used to bail out even small volumes of water from my hull.
I remember I used to bask in the splendor of the sun.

There’s no road map to talking about trauma in casual conversations

“He’s not a very nice guy”
(He abused me when I was too young to know it)

“Montana is beautiful but it wasn’t for me”
(I spent most of my time in isolation, drunk and hiding)

“I didn’t want to be a doctor”
(I knew if I went to medical school I’d eventually kill myself)

Lies that everybody tells, aren’t really lies.

River Rocks, August 2017

Like a rock made smooth by the river,
I have been made soft my my caregiver.

I longed for my original jagged edges,
longed to remove myself from the soothing dredges.

Now I break myself against everything I meet,
hoping to be reformed: battered and beat.

And now that I am broken once more,
I wonder what I did all of it for.

Perhaps there is strength in being polished,
for there’s certainly weakness in being self-demolished.

Poems about Noah, 2014

I used to think love meant making room
Meant being consumed
I used to want passion, fire and lust
A love that burned hot and turned doubt into dust

I used to see him and I in terms of what I had won
Our futures, our presents, all that we’ve done
I now know that winning is just consolation
The true prize is knowing—just knowing—elation

The first time I saw you wasn’t exciting or new
It was old and comfortable like I’ve known in few
We came together, inspired and awed
I wrote on your arm, “the world is full of gods”

I used to think love meant being consumed
Invaded, made new, allowed to bloom
I now know that love is being explored, to roam
I now know that loving you was like coming home

//

a boy touched me once, and it resounded forever

waves of something — emotion or whatever

 

he was number three of a list that grew after

to great lengths, i can’t lie

not like him (he was an actor)

 

I saw him read poetry and words beat out his chest

daring to be heard like i never could, like he was best

 

he was something, something real and without fear

if not a little egotistical

much like me (i’m an engineer)

 

maybe it was fate that our love grew damp

or — likely — that he left for jewish summer camp

//

My last summer here, I drink wine on an illuminated porch, twinkle lights all around me. A boy is sitting next to me, showing me his tattoos. I wonder if this is what falling in love feels like. It will take us hours to kiss, to get to the actual raw skin and bones of the act.

Until then, we satisfy ourselves with gentle grazes of the fingers as I draw fake tattoos on his arms of my favorite quotes, the things I like to doodle in class when I’m not paying attention. We retreat to his bedroom, a simple room occupied only by a bed and dirty clothes, to watch a movie.

When the movie is over, he starts to take off my clothes. I am frenzied; he is calm. He turns on the lights, and looks at me. I feel like I’m burning. I’ve never been looked at like this. Whether or not I am falling in love with him is no longer a question; it’s a certainty screaming inside my head as my lungs struggle to take the next breath and my hands struggle at his zipper.

Three weeks later, he has already moved away, but I replay the night over and over as I fuck his next-door neighbor.

Poems about Parents, pre-antidepressants.

(mom)

its her, with the walls around me

the taste and all i can’t see

shredding circles like the thing i cant think of

the woman who pushes and who shoves

 

memories fade like they’re wont to do

an aging smile and a morality true

what light, what dark,

what wanders and sparks

 

stories about potential choke in my mouth

tongue in cheek, birds headed south

like flying away would solve all

but I’m meant to stay past the fall

 

“stay, stay, stay,” she shouts

but the truth and my words have since come out

i’m not her, not the one she wants me to be

is this —poison— how i’m meant to be free?

 

not a doctor, not a lawyer, not close to success

would i trade it all for a “you love me?” / “yes”

mother, mom, sweetness above

and i thought i was done writing poems about love

 

//

(dad)

i am covered in sugar

made to taste sweet

i am bathed and borne

to be palatable

i can hurt, maim. i can break

as long as i only do it to myself

 

my father doesn’t love me —

“can’t you find some sort of coping mechanism”

“can’t you control your emotions just a little”

i am fire and ash, destroying myself from within

but far be it from me not to bury in myself in sugar

Talk Shit, 2016

learn to be messy and learn to talk shit

learn to leave places when you know they don’t fit

 

work hard to earn keep in a world you’re unsure of

work hard to stay steely, cast out notions of love

 

pray all you’ve done will reward you one day

pray that no one will know that you pray

 

breathe hard and breathe deep but know it will end

breathe in and breathe out, power pose, and click “send”

 

know that nothing you do is for sure

know there is no such thing as being pure

 

at the end of the day, open your legs and your heart

in the morning think that nothing could keep you apart

 

unlearn it all, make it all go away

make space in your mess for his holy day

 

nothing is certain, but blood, sand, and grit

take it all away, at least you know to talk shit