i’d like to be the kind of writer accredited enough to
splay her work onto forearms and kneecaps
inner thighs and shoulder blades
a collection of project strangers assigned a single word from the work’s entirety to display
in dark ink, line them all together
regurgitate a coherent story

but i’m not
and an english degree savored sweet until i lost a muse and the ridges of my palate hid the after taste
metaphors aren’t metaphors if
it never mattered to begin with

instead it’s 1:51am late august early fall
i’m scrolling the names of people curled away in their homes, stringing quotations around the bile in your stomach and citing the way your poison drinks like nectar in their throats

i’ll study the brain
stifle the part that keeps me up
rouse the part that keeps me applauding


and you’re always asking ‘why me’
and the forethought to that statement could be anything you want, anything that polishes the silver lining of your otherwise foolproof playbook

talk to god like he’ll answer
and you probably know this but i’ve been up at night watching the docu-series ‘cosmos’
thinking about the ceaseless expanse of the universe; the big bang imploded from a pinpoint smaller than an atom

there are universes existing in black holes and within those universes there are more black holes, the hole cannot be dug deep enough
don’t tell me the blood rushing to your head could induce any sort of pain
(everything—smaller than an atom)

do you understand that
do you understand that everything we know came from something smaller than what comprises us and yet we are somehow smaller
do you understand that there is no feasible end to everything we know
and we know nothing
so what even is measure
what even is anything

so you can’t tell me the taste of stagnant acid in my mouth should be something revered whenever the world tilts too far on the axis
and you can’t say my chest’s been desensitized by the alterations in the air, why does everything shut down in the dark and why
does winter come so soon

but i’ll shut down netflix and wait for your phone call
and together we can laugh at anyone who’s convinced they’re comparable to a pixel on the map of


my ambiguity is no longer an allure
I was once told my best line involved turning distortion into mural
I floated on that for weeks
and haven’t said anything like it since

when I was fourteen I said
“placidity in water is unattainable above the surface”
my best friend had written it on her wall my creative writing teacher nodded at the yellow lined paper
to this day I still agree with its validity but can’t credit it to anything more than an introductory line
in a fourteen year old’s short story

there are a multitude of things dusting my existence that I’m sure are poetic
my grandmother drinks mugs of hot water because decades ago a hypnotist told her it would help her sleep

a boy I know regularly goes into his backyard pool and forces his head underwater
convinced one day his brain will shut down but his lungs will be so trained as to persist and survive
that he’ll float comfortably in comatose
for at least a few minutes
just under the edge

the old neighbor next door keeps on an antique lamp all night
should be ominous as it shines through the sole window in the attic but
I can’t help but want to trace the intricate shards and beads under my shaking fingertips

I feel incredibly distant when things take a unexpected turn and I’m left trying to clear the air, choking on my own tongue,
heavier than ever and I can’t
get the
breaking a sweat running in place

it’s my noose saying “hang in there!”
it’s my guillotine telling me to
keep my chin up


careful now,
looking back is looking directly into the sun at high noon
and they advise to take protective measures against the harm it’ll do for the eyes and skin
vital things that allow you to see
and then everything that protects the interior from there on out
because prevention with a capital ‘p’ is the ballad of the summer
& that’s just what you do

careful now,
looking back is looking directly into oncoming headlights at night
and they advise to glance at the curb furthest from the approacher
to protect against the harm it’ll do for the eyes and the other passengers of your two-thousand-pound-bullet
vital things that allow you to see
and then everything that protects the interior from there on out
because ‘precious cargo’ is now a household term
& that’s just what you do

careful now,
looking back is looking directly into the orb and watching it bloom towards you even when you’re sure your eyes aren’t even open
and they tell you to release peacefully
to protect against the harm waking up could induce on a wilting body
vital things that have been rendered useless and then everything that should have protected it from there on out
because Take My Life and Let It Be is a church hymn crooned by many
& that’s just what you do

careful now,
just because everything curls against the light
holding up a hand as if there were the power to stop it
looking back would mean having to look directly into you
and my eyes are weak as it is.


my mom drove all around the state
tonight just to have dinner
with a woman she once considered to
be her second mother,
the actual mother of her best friend
who died when they’d been young

it’s this kind of frantic determination
that’s unsettling for me to see in her
I’ve never known her to be eager to
catch darting fragments of the past in
any deadfall trap
to then poke and prod at whatever lies still underneath

I’ve never wanted her to be anything more than she already is
and I want to know everything that eroded her to be exactly that
she tells me she wants everything but for me to follow in the footsteps she took until turning thirty
she wants involvement, inner peace, smoke-free lungs and a college education on the side
and I came to this conclusion while getting a late-night high on a friend’s back porch
certainly feeling a very inward calm

she went to school for two years
following a four year stint smoking and skating and watching her own mother keep a threadbare household from letting anything slip entirely through the seams
she’s known a certain breed of loss
that little should have to understand
and has never been able to express any of that to those who ask
and by ‘those’, habitually being myself

I’m not about polite indifference
it’s difficult for me to conjure privacy boundaries when I want to know everything about everyone, not for personal gain but
I just can’t find a single other concept
that connects the spinning world
other than what goes inside the minds of those who keep it spinning
sprinting, walking, limping, crawling

dad can’t hold a conversation without gaining increasing interest in whatever’s floating in the ceiling corner
and the same friend can’t stop picking her nails and tapping her phone screen
when the high slowly fades
I can’t seem to tell the woman driving beside me, gently tapping her thumbs to a hall & oats cd
there’s so much I don’t know
and there’s so much I want to

because I don’t know why we shouldn’t
the amount of breaths I take will never correlate with the number of those taken around me, which means that at some point,
one of us will be even more ignorant than the other
and I don’t see another reason to keep this spinning rock moving
if we can’t sprint together.


everything has been reduced to the hunger to fill blank space
with spindly black text worthy of comment and praise, collected and spread like summer pollen

to the selection of shadow and highlight, tint and vignette, collected displays and
resurrections of stunned gray hearts red with a single prod
validation through pools of numbers
augmentation of right brain over left

I don’t want another calculated moment
I want flavored word, tangible image, fragrant thought
loving you is not spilt red
loving you is crashing blue against black
your eyes refusing to illuminate but rather ornament the darkness, an ocean under the moon

I was raw, thawing against your blacktop
steadily engulfed in heat
charring me alive

I don’t want numerical value to be the lone survivor of worth
death covets an encounter twice—
the first time physical and the second
whenever a name is spoken for the final time
hers just occurred in reverse order

yet a single display of the cross that only awakens her in convenient sobriety
will resurrect dozens of paralyzed hearts
in a fleeting delay of her demise

the hunger has never been poetic
the words never savored, image
never caressed, thought never inhaled
loving you blue is bathing in the dark
and her loving red is mere satiation.


it’s summer, 1982
you rip off the headphones from around your ears, flail at the cord strung up from your back pocket
black flag growls ‘tied to a clock, can’t get loose’—
whiny guitar riff cuts off, shoots away like a buzzing mosquito from your face
can’t stand the heat
hands sweat against the grip tape

slam the makeshift ramp off the stone wall, fuckin thing was cracked anyway
working part-time jobs and still can’t afford decent plywood
or the classes you’d thought about enrolling in for the fall semester when lisa’s brother’s smoke wasn’t strong enough to kill off the incessant need
to grab mom and dad’s attention

lisa’s dead now, like she never even existed
like the phone call was the neighbor complaining about the animals around the trash cans
and her mom brought you some of those fuckin polaroids she kept in a shoebox like a twelve year old
told you to talk to her at night
like it’s fuckin seance

and your oldest brother won’t get his girlfriend to move out of the basement
you can’t even light up down there anymore when mom’s at mass cause she has her clothes hanging up like stepford #6
this shit tape won’t lay flat

you can’t go another day knowing
you’re just a thrashing smear on the canvas of the world around you
you can’t stand knowing your mother’s nightly routine but not what she thought, the look her face permanently set to after she married dad and realized she had four kids by the time she was twenty-three
and a husband groin-deep in the divorcee at the florist

and your youngest brother is so fucked up he can’t even run away without coming home with a recruiting officer against his hip, sign this initial that
your father had never looked so relieved
your mother had never looked so dead

and your older sister who parades around the house after going to school for a few weeks in the city before dropping out entirely
you hope she ends up working behind a fryer, or some kind of landline
she’s perfect for a telemarketer because you can’t possibly be the only one with a vendetta to cut out her tongue

you think, if you ever have a daughter
tell her to do whatever the fuck she wants in high school
as long as it’s not what you did (or rather, didn’t)
tell her to get as high as she wants when friday night rolls in and her father slides into the bottom of a pint glass
and mom can’t get her fuckin nose out of a bible (but that’d never be you)

tell her to fuck her nineteen year old boyfriend and fuck anyone who tells her what she feels isn’t real
but enroll in those classes and keep her mind sharp so she knows when to tell
if it isn’t real anymore

tell her to take the damn polaroids and keep them close if it ever happens
and that you’d be there with a shoebox
tell her the thumping she hears at night
is never actually a hellbent intruder
but just the pounding of her own heart
in the soft shell of her ears

tell her you won’t expect her to do anything except perfect a kick flip off the stone wall
and grab everything she’s ever wanted by the seam in the crotch
but it’s too hot for that now.


you take pictures on old cameras in old clothes and try to feel new
these glasses were your uncle’s in the seventies, that girl was in your dream
last night
which is not noteworthy because it happens all the time
but lately you are writing everything down, even the unimportant things


can’t emotionally function after this ugh kATE HOW


dear kay—
I don’t pray to the passing ambulances anymore like you asked
and I don’t have time to recite the alphabet for every stroke of my toothbrush

dear kay—
it’s things like that that make me hate myself for ever allowing the slightest possibility to disappoint you
and I thought that bringing worn report cards and answering your questions as amiably as possible would somehow prevent that

dear kay—
I never want you to treat me as an equal
maybe it’s the unwavering selflessness that comes with your willingness to believe in something so much larger than yourself whereas I—
but no, regardless of what I think
I’m a piece of shit in comparison

dear kay—
you are not an acquired taste
and you deserve someone who will pour you an evening mug of hot water and not question why something like that appeals to you

dear kay—
the weeds in your yard are in no way a reflection of the house you keep
and I always felt very safe sleeping in mom’s unaltered bedroom after studying the displayed teacups on the wall downstairs

dear kay—
you deserve someone who can write you a mantle-worthy poem
but I wouldn’t want you to have to take down the china.


I’ve taken to scrawling matchboxes and pistols on the bathroom walls
anything to materialize the energy enkindled by both objects following
the strike or the pull
that I should equally be feeling under my own skin
that’s settled quietly like adrift sand

my body’s reached its lively allowance for both anticipation and apprehension
I have glued the pieces together so many times over that tonight I couldn’t tell if I looked brand new or threadbare
while we talked about elementary school teachers
nick talking about playing the lead in the play he chose for his class
me talking about the weight I lost from vomiting out of fear

and the raw inadequacy I felt when he would talk about his music is now healed pink, a shine I see only in certain light
and I could see how watching me squirm made others happy but my awareness now is the same as it ever was, the difference being
I haven’t lost sleep over it

in south station I felt small walking between the valleys of thirty-floored hotels and enterprise buildings
I felt small weaving through the crowd of students and mothers and skaters
and businessmen eroding the ground beneath them with the speed in which they’d run to catch a meeting
checking their phones for the time
rather than any unread messages from the people they forget they’d rather be with

despite the flashes of suits in my peripheral the feeling was humbling rather than intimidating
I didn’t feel the urge to be anything more than a dot on the landscape
and despite the civil indifference
that kind of altruism is something I’m working on

I’m not going to fear moving out of my house, I’m not going to fear the actions of my counterparts
I’m going to sit beside you while you get high in the living room and watch planet earth
everything is so temporary
there’s no space for anything but acquired acceptance.