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.


printed out the inbound train schedule
not bothering to check outbound times
it’s not a plan to avoid coming back,
it’s just not a plan to make a speedy return

took a walk to the end of the neighborhood today, mentally compared the view of the sky from the sinkholed sidewalk to the view olympus must be imagined to have
the house is scattered with polaroids of august sunsets with digitized dates in the corners but today there was no camera to bring along

each passing second brings a gradual transition to crouch beneath the tree line, blue to pink pink to red red to orange orange to
absently check snapchat stories
you’re getting drunk and high in a friend’s car with four grav caps and a bud light

first thought
‘did you even see the sky tonight’
decide the answer is no, couldn’t give a shit, read a poem online
decide the angst is exhaustingly cynical, overdone like leathery meat
read bukowski and tried not to grimace
get to the part where he says ‘as god said / crossing his legs, / I see where I have made plenty of poets /
but not so very much poetry’
laugh despite myself
look out the window with a camera in hand
see the sun is gone.


a friend of mine can go for days without seeing or speaking to anyone and
it’s not avoidance, it’s not depression
it’s an independence only told in stories
of near-death experiences and religious awakenings

and I could never muster the courage to subject myself to anything like that
every waking day needs to be concentrated with the knowledge that other breathing, writhing creatures
are somehow aware of my own breathing, writhing existence
because the last time I heard the world around me go quiet
the rabbit hole was deeper than I thought

I left school and watched my classmates take candids and write checks and drink stale beer in some mock celebration
while I sat and scrawled letters to everyone who’d made noise in my ears
peculiar sounds that reverberated through my body and carved notes in my skin
manic, rushed, drunk-minded sober-tongued sentences strung together like a poorly displayed children’s craft
only to hear back from one
and feel the burn slowly smolder

I have no other method of expression other than through written means
the need is tiring, wringing myself dry over bare ground is tiring
but I’m alive and well and yet to see the face of god
so continuance will remain my strong suit.


if we’d all been born six billion years from today well
it wouldn’t happen, any and all life on earth would’ve been obliterated & consumed by the ever-growing sun
so how lucky are we to be here now,
not lucky like lottery lucky but lucky like
I have a pretty good chance of waking up tomorrow
but I guess not everyone can say that

so even with this knowledge I can’t seem to grasp how the continually absurd world ironies don’t bother me,
the exhausted ‘running from the rain but sitting in tubs full of water’; alanis’s ‘meeting the man of her dreams and then meeting his wife’;
so many insisting they’re god incarnate, really a speck of dust on the face of the universe like the rest of us
like shelling out two million to fund a commercial
to beg for money for the starving

and although the world’s a rat race careening towards the sun
the most ironic part is
I’ve never really wanted it to speed up.

  • friend: you speak french?
  • me: yeah
  • friend: say something in french!
  • me: je suis venu ici pour passer un bon moment et je suis honnêtement sentir si attaqué dès maintenant


I imagine the daybreak taste of cigarettes and coffee must be pretty satisfying
I could do without the lung cancer or addiction aspects but somehow
I need to get the raw relief everyone’s talking about

I don’t have brothers and I don’t have sisters and I can guarantee no matter what level of noise you think daylight brings, or how quiet your walls are at night
you’ve yet to sleep where I sleep
so I’m not sure why I think I need any sort of early morning mercy

the first fear I had as a little girl was hearing someone’s full first name
when before I’d only recognized them by the blunter, more honest version of themselves
& I thought I still believed in this
until I realized my own name
had little abbreviation.


sit back, consciously watch the depth of the rise and fall of your own chest
even when each seam stitching it together seems as though it’s already
stretched to widest girth

on days like today I am nothing but trapped inside my own body
I can’t help but believe there is something more feral, more agitated
prowling back and forth behind skeletal bars only to back away in the midst
of direct eye contact

yet as of late little rattles the exterior cage
and anything to swipe across the beams makes more of a musical resonance that settles inward
rather than any profound disturbance

but everything is temporary—almost intangible
in the upcoming months I expect to lose more fragments of my life than I can fill the growing void with
be it writing, sleeping, alcohol,
sitting on the floor of the bathroom trying to dial your phone number

and I’ll work to recall my demeanor of recent days, stretch the skin around me
so whatever’s lingering beneath can breathe more easy.