Do you hear the ticking?
Count the seconds,
Wish them away.
Push it off to tomorrow.
Rain check, reschedule.
Plan like you have time.
Promise forever to him. All the time you have and beyond.
Grey snakes through your hair.
Lines mark your skin.
The aching starts.
Memories slip away.
Where did you put them?
all become apparent in your body.
“Time heals all wounds”
The wounds become scars;
the pain dulls.
They mark you always.
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Fake families play out scripted dramas across your screen.
The over-the-top reactions should be disorienting. The lack of clutter in
all the rooms should pull you out of the story, but you’ve become used to it.
You watch their lives with varying
You want to know what happens next.
You want to see the humor. You want to see the painful things happen to someone else.
Maybe it makes it easier.
When you aren’t engrossed in your show (or even when you are)
you scroll social media,
mindlessly following pictures and statuses about other people’s lives.
You want to be happy like them. Go places like them. Take happy, smiling, perfect pictures like them.
And maybe you would, if you did anything interesting.
Instead you resign yourself to watching through your screens.
Because watching is easier.
Because you’re convinced that you don’t have time to do more.
Because you’re tired.
Dark brown clumps of hair paint the shower walls.
They slide down
to clog the drain.
Stress. Stress can do this.
But so can disease and genes.
Stress. I stress too much.
Maybe it’s all in my head, each hair clinging
to my skin, snaking around my arms and legs.
I ignore it.
More hair wraps around my fingers as I slip conditioner through the tangles.
This is real.
I swap out my shampoo.
I take up yoga.
My friends notice.
They stop telling me that it’s stress.
Scalp peeks through no matter where I flip the part,
no matter how carefully I pull the strands back.
I see the doctor,
receive a diagnosis,
Strands keep falling from the follicle;
they break in half.
I count each individual hair,
measure the circumference of my ponytail,
measure my worth.
Type “bald” into Google.
Find men or cancer.
Type “beauty” into Google.
staring at laminated infographics plastered around the doctor’s offices;
staring at our phones, holding our breath and hoping to receive a text.
rereading the inspirational poster stuck to the ceiling, hoping the dentist’s drilling will end soon;
counting down the days to the next holiday, the next vacation, the next party.
for that person we like to say something first.
til the alcohol kicks in before we admit to our feelings.
until they’re gone to tell them how we feel.
Better to wait for the right time,
wouldn’t want to look stupid.
Bustle of the District
where people rush around in suits.
So much to do, work hard, play hard, focus and accomplish a lot.
with rolling hills
and space to hear yourself think.
Where the focus is family
St. Louis, the island, the small town city mutation.
Comfortable, but not safe downtown.
Diverse, but not progressive.
The distance is difficult.
Far from family and friends.
But it’s freedom.
Freedom from memories that hold like quicksand.
Freedom from that box of other peoples’ expectations.
A new perspective, a chance to find me outside of them.
Staring at the mirror and knowing
that she could
She likes the letting go
and the bravery
and the party.
She likes people wanting her
but she likes the jolt before
the touching hands
and the way the girls
just grab hers,
rest their heads like it’s nothing.
Flirt like it’s nothing.
Kiss like it’s nothing.
And maybe it is.
Can’t it just be playing?
She feels the pull,
the dangerous addiction to excitement and numbness and nothing.
“I am a .”
“I am a witch.”
over and over
as if she would
These words were .
She could be persecuted,
be treated differently.
The words stood
against the smooth, white background.
The paper was flimsy,
could disintegrate in the rain.
She was tired of hiding,
pretending to be
Pretending is easy when
people would never assume.
But she tired of holding
She wants to write a happy poem about love
and success and hope.
She wants to write about moving
and her world changing.
She’s stronger now,
even though she’s terrified and misses home.
Writing it is difficult.
The words fly, then dip
down under the water
where she can’t breathe.
Because getting here means
This poem is happy.
In the end, she is happy.
She had to do this happy.
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Silk fabric of the deepest red
swaths the baby,
the symbol of a stillborn.
Baby is placed into the casket
The top closes.
Into the ground
all the way
Mother, almost Mother,
leaves the baby room untouched.
The pale yellow walls mock her.
Baby shower gifts gather dust
in the closet.
Try again? Again?
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When you stand alone
and understand that you can be on your own,
when you transform
from the kid
to the protector,
when you find
that is when you fly.
We begin as the kid
nursing the bird back to health
and letting go of it,
of our past.
But what we didn’t know
was that we become the bird.
And we have to leave that kid.
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