we are sitting with our knees touching
my insides are tight and squirming and the blood coursing through my veins is winded and bored and breathily telling the rest of my organs that it’ll catch up with them, seventeen years and nine months of running in circles

I can hear my aunt in the next room talking through my mother and
deliberately caressing the golden cross around her neck and I am trying to ignore the fact that I know, I know she dug through her dusted jewelry box to find it minutes before we arrived and

I know, I know she only wears it on days she has to prove something,

I’m looking directly in front of me and
he’s sitting with a leg up and a warm beer in his hand it’s about to be the third he’s choked down but he’s nonchalantly scrolling through his phone, I’m looking at the ring on his finger but I’m not seeing anything, nothing is registering in my head except

when I was younger and living in my old house my mom was talking animatedly with the same aunt on the phone and I could tell the other end was desperately trying to reach through the receiver to see if someone was really there

she ended the call and came into my room and told me that he’d done something very wrong, something about a gatorade bottle on a tailpipe and

they were about to pay x-amount of money to clear his name and I remember wondering how monetary anything could act as a cleaning agent
yet here he is now, shiny and unblemished like that cross and that ring

we couldn’t let our grandmother know
except that detail was only instructed to me; at a very young age it was determined I was the canary of family, like the chokecherry tree covering their house it still stands today
do you see the irony here because it took me about sixteen years
and every day when she shuffles into view and barks about the metal in my ear the fabric on my blemished body the refusal to pray to an empty room and the threat of determining my own future

I can’t ruffle my predestined feathers
for fear that the truth reaches through the receiver and sees if someone is really there.

at a pool party


"hey bukowski no offense but why dont you take your shirt off in the pool"
"why do we run from the rain but soak in tubs full of water"
"aight take it easy man"

(via bobsagetisdead)

you sling a leather bag over your chest and adjust the glasses you pretend to hate to wear
all the while I’m seeing fragments of myself slice through the cracks in your composure like light filtering through the willow in your front yard, shoulders sagging
and I don’t know how to explain it to you well enough, this isn’t anything beautiful,

this is sitting in the backseat of his car on that back road entrusting him with the most private corners of yourself and watching his eyes slate back, they’re no longer looking into yours, they’re looking everywhere else this is

taking your first sip at a stranger’s house, feigning experience party of one, where is everyone you know and why couldn’t you just be satisfied watching that fear net movie on your mom’s bed

this is watching him speak about his sister shrugging his shoulders making a weird uncomfortable hands-in-the-air-defensively “don’t ask me” gesture

this is spending the day finding the perfect dress wondering how you’ll ask him to this dance you shouldn’t have to it’s been a few years but it’s a long shot last time courtesy and having him call you and mutter and break it off that night.

I’ve been officially promoted to the spectators booth.
I’ve scathed the same arena under the same eyes behind plate glass who’ll pitifully watch, sympathize, crow at you, put one hand on the divider as though they’d ever volunteer to join you down there and from below you can’t comprehend anything except hot asphalt, cool mahogany, rum and red paint.

I’ve never gotten used to parole hearings
to sit before a panel of eyes
who only want the best, really,
who distribute lists of happy living requirements such as
i. go to bed early
ii. eat fresh fruits and
iii. drink lots of water

I nod to the judges in agreement.
after all, tucking myself away to overdose on natural sugars and drown in the name of hydration seems like the best plan of action.

with ill-convinced looks they send me back to my quarters
and I’m greeted by tally marks on the cement walls in the shape of the names of everyone who’s handed me something fragile
and I’ve dropped it to the floor.

under my gray mattress there are disintegrated journal pages
with half-legible full-strained
explanations of my every move.
I sleep atop them so often
they rarely see the light of day.

and unlike andy dufresne I’ve yet to face
a false conviction
and it’s just another routine pill to stick in my throat making it harder and harder to swallow
despite the creased paper water cup I’m provided with.
I’ve stopped partaking in my fifteen minutes of activity
and also unlike mr. dufresne
I’ve yet to attempt to tunnel my way out.

I’d like to be able to convince myself that quiet observation from the
corner seat in the last lunch cafeteria
is something I could content
myself with
for the rest of my life.

I spent the majority of the darker evening collapsed on a sinking couch
with my face pressed into the crook of
my elbow and hearing the words
“syrian roadside bombing” and “mobilized russian troops” blare from
the television set and thanks to my preoccupied corner of the world
I didn’t flinch once.

I am receding. this is a good thing.
I took three minutes out of my day earlier in the week to change my perspective of the deli line as I waited
for mom’s half pound turkey breast.
everything dulled significantly
I settled into a complacent calm
and nothing told me otherwise
that I didn’t mind the archetype fluorescence and tile flooring.

it’s okay to see the world
the way everyone thinks of it during the inoffensive daylight.
it’s also okay to shudder
the minute the lights go off.
vonnegut insists so it goes,
but maybe it doesn’t have to.

  • Rae: Every session you say that I need to love myself, to like myself more. For months now, you're like a broken record. But you never tell me how to start or when to start or where to start.
  • Kester: Fine, we'll start now. Not next week, not tomorrow, not after I've finished my cup of tea, we'll start now. Now, close your eyes. Go on, close them. I want you to tell me what you don't like about yourself but be honest with me. Don't be clever, don't be angry, be honest.
  • Rae: ..I'm fat ..and I'm ugly ..and I ruin things.
  • Kester: Try and find some sense of how long you've felt that way.
  • Rae: I dunno. Since I was about 9 or 10?
  • Kester: So this is an opinion you've formed, a long time ago about yourself. Open your eyes. Now I want you to imagine, a 10 year old version of yourself sitting right there on this couch. Now this is the little girl that first believe that she was fat and ugly and an embarrassment. I want you to imagine her sitting there right now. Now tell that little girl she's fat.
  • Rae: I'm not going to do that.
  • Kester: Tell that little girl she's ugly.
  • Rae: I don't want to.
  • Kester: Tell that little girl she's an embarrassment and worthless and useless, because that's what you do every single day when you say that to yourself. When you convince yourself you're an embarrassment and a burden. Don't you think she's ugly?
  • Rae: No.
  • Kester: Or fat?
  • Rae: No.
  • Kester: Or an embarrasment, or worthless?
  • Rae: No, just stop it. No, right. No.
  • Kester: What do you want to say to that little girl? If she said that she felt that way about herself, what would you tell her?
  • Rae: That's she's fine, that she's perfect.
  • Kester: Then that's what you need to tell yourself. Every time you feel that panic, that anxiety. You need to soothe yourself as you would soothe the little girl. You need to tell yourself that everything is going to be okay. If you commit to that, then I promise you that you'll be able to face anything, and it starts right now. Everything starts right now.

I remember vividly the morning we
shuffled into the gymnasium
orange with the stretch of the sun
each tossing our mesh bags in protest
of such an early start but
quietly suppressing the fact that
we wouldn’t want to be looking at anyone else, and

you boasted of losing your vision
in patches the night before while
I took extra care in lacing my sneakers
when you continued to say you’d
driven home anyway

we both glanced at her when she
approached with blushed cheeks
against her olive skin and turned
our gaze away when she sat down and
looked like she’d had a lethal reaction,
her eyes dilated and swollen and
pink to the touch and you looked at
me and I flickered to you and we
rose simultaneously and

you began to stretch your arms and
pace away and with my ears perked
I followed and you turned to me and murmured
“she’s been up all night crying”
“how d’you know”
“are you fucking blind hello look at her”

she claimed she’d forgotten to use a cold compress
against this reaction to some new sleeping aid her mom gave her,
who knows what’s in the back of her medicine cabinet the woman literally pops pills to remember her name every morning I don’t know how she remembered to give birth to me

we all nodded, yeah, definitely.
before then we couldn’t have imagined
going to bed every night with a cold compress laced across our foreheads
but it’s more soothing than you’d think,
and nobody suspects a damn thing the next day.

I’ve had three recurring dreams I can think of
you’ve never been in a single one.
no I know wait sorry that isn’t what this is about
my point is that every morning I wake up
I can’t remember what happened, all I know is that it’s happened

I can’t help but feel I’m the bitter cold that freezes your car door shut
the soap sting in your eye
the stranger who flips you off in traffic
and that particular tone in your mother’s voice
when you tell her that ‘absolute last thing she wanted to hear’.
I am every minor event
that drops the course of your day from a ten-story building.

of course your mind was everything more
than the warmth that rises off a city sidewalk
or a letter addressed to you in the mail
it exceeds any phrase like “it made me think of you”
“please be careful” “I have to tell you something”

I am stitched together of remnants of everything that could have ever been
and everything that actually ever was.
I’ve been advised that you can’t throw stones at glass houses and
you can’t shake hands with closed fists,
but how can I explain that to the thirteen year-old me as girls
from middle school threw eggs at my garage cause I made
the team and I couldn’t seem to dig my nails
out of the bed of my raw palm.

I think I’d be perfectly content to eradicate every
memory I have of the past seventeen years
except the sound of every chuck berry song my dad crowed to me in the morning,
every feeling of white blindness from the sun on a brighton street corner
and every summer night dodging the rising heat on your weary carpet.

my entire life can be
described as me blindly crashing into obstacles
shattering them to pieces in my momentum only to have
their shards lodge themselves into my unresisting skin

and instead of carefully removing each jagged edge
one, by one, by one
until the wounds have settled into puckered pink lines
I shift into a decently comfortable position
and revel in my newly sharpened silhouette.

…this wasn’t what this was supposed to be about.

it’s 9:50pm march 16th 2014
I didn’t sit down for five straight hours today
I was in my own home
this is not cabin fever.

it’s 11:24pm march 15th 2014
we are in my car
you want me to stay wherever I go
you warn me about a girl who comes back every weekend
to her mom and her old town friends and “like,
go be at school”
you’ve confused me as being the one to tell you
certain things
and all three times it hadn’t been
I wish it were.

it’s 1:08am june 27th 2012
I am on your floor
staring at the ceiling
listening to you talk about god.
I have a funny taste in my mouth
and for a second
we almost swayed each other
into taking on each other’s beliefs.

it’s 2:32pm august 1st 2012
my feet are screaming against the blacktop
I wish I lived on this side of town
I wish I’d gone to boston
I wish I knew him then
I wish you hadn’t taken a sip behind the bleachers
I wish you hadn’t driven to his school
I wish you hadn’t gone into his dorm
I wish I never wrote anything
I wish your brother would drive us around every day
I wish I weren’t graduating in two years
I wish we would film something
I wish I couldn’t hear your parents fighting from inside
I wish
I wish
I wish
I could move from this spot.

in 1949
three married couples settled themselves in suburban west connecticut
on revolutionary road.

the first were older
having been together for over forty years already, steady retirement,
the wife worked as a neighborhood realtor and their one son
was just run-down, she assured with a smile,
his doctorate in mathematics took a toll
on his sleeping and eating and
he’s down at green acres,
quietly tasting electroshock therapy.

the second are newly married
young and impressionable with a sales position and a parched acting career
blonde, stepford, cigarettes and sherry
two kids in a white house on a sloping hill with a ford in the front and yellow buds by the mailbox
‘the wheelers on 115 revolutionary’,
the marital suburban prototype
as frank commutes to the city for work and spends his lunch breaks on top of the rouge-cheeked intern.

the third are closest to the wheelers
living just above the line of shrubs,
shep can’t keep himself from asking
empty questions to a room full of
kids glued to the midday television set,
so he continues to stand on his side lawn with a glass of ale and
stare at the wheelers’ porch
hoping to catch a flash of blonde.
milly can’t help but constantly rearrange the guest cheese plate and tugs at
the string of pearls around her neck,
politely ignoring the vacant look she receives
when she calls shep back inside.

electroshock didn’t do too much
for the emotional burdens,
but the concept understanding of mathematics
has long passed.
the wheelers can’t go a night without
biting down on the neck of their smokes only to taste bitter grit
so they’ve decided to move to paris, job free, suburbia free, a new life.
at this news, milly cries to shep at night,
she’s so relieved, so relieved,
he thinks it’s just as ridiculous.

only two kids will do, though.
the dirt cost of living over there only works for four, not five, it’s been ten weeks already,
but before twelve is when it’s safe to get it over with and just think of paris
but they have this at-home instrument
that didn’t mention anything about
post-procedure bleeding and the weakness, the hoarse voice, a roaring ambulance and
it was just too much
too quickly.

the realtor often speaks about frank,
the beautiful colonial on 115 revolutionary and how it sold so quickly
and his new home in the city.
he’d do anything for those kids, hell, they’re all he has now.
such a shame
she was fond of them, they were so different, even from the moment they stepped off the train.
they were just—too whimsical, a bit neurotic, very trying people,
in fact, the new couple she’d sold the house to were really the only suitable people she could envision living there.
very nice, very congenial people.

their paris would have just been foolish,
they lived with crayon on the walls
warped window panes, depreciation,
it just wasn’t right.
and all the while the husband looked on intently at his wife and her shaking head, her pursed lips,
with the hearing aid in his ear
turned entirely off.