Once Upon a NightlightWhen I was five,
a doctor pulled my pants off without asking.
He was trying to help, but I
didn't know that. All I knew was it was
wrong, wrong, wrong.
When I was twelve,
they said I looked seven,
called me a midget freak.
I'm nineteen now,
look fourteen, I'm broken.
Do I have to break again
Lock the window, slam the door.
Maybe I'll never be twenty-four.
I wish upon the nightlight.
We're all just crouching under streetlights
like shower heads and watching ourselves
go down the concrete drains.
Mom says I've started walking like dancing.
I haven't danced in a decade, not since
the dance class lady said to watch my weight and
my mom said she's only eight and
now I don't dance.
Some people, you know,
say children never forget.
I hate dresses and mirrors.
Damn it, I'm ugly.
My eyes are water bottle caps.
I tied a soda bottle in a tree.
It fell and smashed, but if you're nice
I'll show you the pieces.
The trees bend the wrong way in the wind.
I fall in a hysteri
The Wake-Up CallWake me up when this is over.
Memories are formaldehyde
in the Chemistry room (it’s been years,
but it still stinks) and yesterday is bitter.
I’ve spent a long time not asking
for the things I need, but
if I see myself in pieces
much more, I’m going to go crazy.
You’d laugh and say I’ve been crazy
a long, long time.
I’ve always been good at burning
Wake me up when things get better.
The fences ramble against the edges
of my brain, and the shelves are
overturned. They make ridges,
they’re my spine.
I should complement my spine
on a job well done. It’s upright,
but I’m too busy vomiting in the toilet
and my doctor’s too busy telling me
that that’s normal.
No one has bothered to speak to my spine.
I was born at 8:45 at night.
I wonder if my parents slept,
or if they watched me and marveled and
what the world had done.
I was born not breathing.
But look at me go,
watch me breathe.
Wake me up when we
DoorknobsThe whole room was blue, almost underwater in the faint light coming through the thin wisp of a curtain.
She was sitting next to the window, intermittently peaking out through the slit between the curtains and turning to look at him. The shadows of the raindrops were cast on her face.
“It looks like you’re crying,” he said, his voice strained and fake-cheerful.
She smiled back at him, her face split wide into an expression that was almost hysterical, before she glanced back at the window.
“They say I’m depressed, you know,” she responded softly. He glanced down at her skinny arms and the bracelet snapped around her left wrist. It was too big. It had fit when they put it on. Her skin was bathed in the blue.
“Yeah. I know.”
Her eyes were enormous as she stared at him from the corner of the room. His own were filled with tears.
“Damn it,” he said, brushing them into the corners of his eyes.
“Don’t worry about it.&
(In)ComprehensionI am a mixed-medium nightmare.
I am gut-spew, medicine bottles
like soldiers and pharmaceutical sweat.
I am bones, hair-falling out,
carpet of keratin failures and
scratched palms and sorry,
I am sorry, I am so sorry.
I am my mom’s eyes when
are you going to shower today?
and my own when yes when
I wasn’t really planning on it.
I am a plaything, bait-and-switch,
jumping from place to place on
hot sand, burnt and crying.
I am nine medication switches
in half as many weeks.
I am human, please stop
doing this to me.
Dear Mr. Sleep Doctor Sir,
I find it amusing that you’re trying to get me to schedule an appointment when I just spent the last hour explaining to you that I haven’t slept without one of you doctors making me since last April. It’s June now, or so that calendar says. I don’t know what today is. My memory isn’t in chronological order. Next Wednesday was three weeks ago, tomorrow is yesterday’s aftertaste. What
StorytimeIf I told you a story,
would you listen to me?
I could tell you a story about a little girl who lines her feet up on the cracks of the sidewalk, not because she’s scared of breaking her mother’s back but because she’s scared the whole world will open up, rotten teeth and saliva and all into a mouth that’ll bite her out of the air and leave her shadow behind.
And while she steps over the cracks she whispers to herself.
There are teeth down below,
a mouth, tunnel-dark and
we’ll fall, we’ll fall and
that will be that.
And the shadow will be left,
lost, it’ll be lost, it’ll be lost and
that will be that.
I could tell you a story about a little girl whose subconscious is an owl, who holds her arms out stiff and tries to be a bird, so desperate to fly away that her arms never stop, moving like the shaking of an earthquake inside her tiny candlelight bones.
She flaps her wings up and down and laments they are arms.
OsmosisMy brother and I
used to walk on the beach.
We’d step from rock to rock and
end up far out in the ocean.
He’d always climb down
and let the water lick his pants.
I’d look at him with groundless terror
masked as judgment and he’d say
What? We’ll get wet anyway.
I’d always end up in the water,
wet socks and pants, Mom would scold,
but I always acted like this time I wouldn’t.
I knew it would happen, but I never let it,
and when water crept through my shoes
I’d cry for being such a fool, for letting it.
Osmosis be damned, it was my fault
for not trying harder.
Half of my sleeping nights I
dream it all and don’t exist when
I wake up. The other half is empty
and then I dream with my eyes open.
I have this dream sometimes where
all my friends line up and offer me
death. I ask them if they want me to
and their smiles crack and hang sideways
like a nicotine-addict’s when they take
out a cigarette, the I know I shouldn
BalloonsI never meant to be like this,
she's a stranger and my eyes are blank.
Her office is red, red-gold, red-brown,
red-purple and red-blue (but that
doesn't make an ounce of sense!
So? Neither do I)
I'm blank now,
my hands are tangled in my lap,
knotted because I never learned
how to tie a proper knot (Girl Scouts,
not Boy Scouts and goodness knows
a little girl will never need that)
so I learned my own haphazard knots
to tie balloons to my wrist.
They lifted me towards the sky,
and I want to tell the counselor
who's name I haven't learned
that I need my balloon back.
I want to tell her I'm the one
who cut the strings.
When the blue bled out of the sky,
it got caught in my shirt instead.
And I wear it over my sternum to say
this is how it once was,
this is where I was.
But it's gray now, I'm gray,
and my face is going blank.
And she looks at me like
I'm the wrong sort of stranger.
And I want her to know that this isn't me,
that I didn't use to be like this
Ghost in the MachineThere were days
her happiness in brightness,
when she would hold
her hands over her eyes
and the cracks of sunlight,
like old paint on drywall,
would shine through
to let her know exactly
who it was that held her.
Who is it?
And at that moment of recognition
...she felt okay.
More than photons
reflecting off of totem shells,
humanity is conch-cradled
in her dusk where light perception
is limited to the moon, where blind
is a swear word and an oath
dependent on a circadian
arcade: she is blind
and going blinder.
she allows herself a curfew
to blow out the lantern
and sing without color
for the first time.
you rely on a perfect balance—
trusting the sunshine to smile
on your bare arms at eight a.m.,
two p.m., half-past six and ticking on,
letting the moon comfort you
as patchwork clouds shawl over
midnight's studded shoulders,
leaving behind aspects of life:
natural, mundane, mechanical,
and self-made doubts.
Don't forget yo
Driving through the NightmareThe bracelet on my wrist is blue
and can tell you my name and
who to call and
where I should be and
two of the half-a-million things
wrong inside me.
I'd add insomnia and
a whole host of other things,
but they only gave me five lines.
How am I supposed to only be five lines?
// \\ // \\
I haven't slept in four days.
I've been in a nightmare where it's foggy
and rainy and sunny and all of the possibilities
all at once.
And it doesn't make any damn sense
because I'm only allowed to be one thing
and awake seems to be the only option
?? !! ?? !!
I've been in the car that drove through the nightmare
because Isaiah took me to the pharmacy
and tried to find something that'll reset my brain.
Because I'm one speed setting too fast
and as I tried to tell them my voice got stuck
and I switched to trying to dance.
And people don't know if they should smile or cry
because I might be crazy and spiraling
but for once this last month I'm laughing
because I can