THAT IS ALL

To breathe with lungs that thank the air

To walk with legs that feel the ground beneath them

To carry a heart always warmer than yesterday

To be under a sky that always shows up

To dance and spin and use my voice

To know that it all is all more than I deserve

To be honestly, and a little bit wildly, alive

That is all I need.

RUBBLE + REBUILD

Because I know that some people's proudest moment is getting out of bed
Flipping on the light switch of their smile 
And stepping out the door into a world they're afraid to touch
I know some days carrying your own body is heavy
When all you want is to be light
But the truth is, you are made up of story
You are made up of something much more important than your heavy
And if I were asked to draw a picture of a perfect person
There would be a crumpled up piece of paper sitting in front of me
Because the beauty is found in the rubble 
And the healing is found in the rebuild
So here I am, hoping, piece by piece, you will understand
That the hurt is becoming something bigger
Hoping, you will understand, when the construction is finished
You won't recognize the held breath
You will only know the release

YELLOW PANTS

I just want to dance poorly and wear yellow pants.

I want to be the loudest pity laughter and to have good shoulders,

the kind people feel safe leaning on.

I want to be me and let them be them, in the truest state.

I want to live really intentionally, but be really quick to love.

I want to lay down on cold grass and feel warm.

Mostly I want to show up.

I want to be there for all of it.

For the change for the grow for the sit still.

In the end, I don’t want my life to look like only a few things were really important and noteworthy,

but every little odd and happy piece.

WHAT IF WE GET UP

And I say to my snare drum heartbeat,

what if you and I just stop in place.

What if we turn on the radio and listen.

What if we just get up... and dance.

What if we act like absolutely no one sees us,

we’re completely alone, free.

What if we let even just this empty room really look at us,

you know,

for who we actually are.

And what if we completely come alive?

What if this empty room gives us the permission we needed

to show up, just like this.

Free. Completely alive.

I hope it does.

Yeah, I really hope it does.



HOME

I’ve always hoped for that,
To not think of a place when asked about home
But to wrap my arms around my fragile and important body
To say, here, 
It has endured storms 
But kept me safe
Weakened 
But never crumbled
It has withheld opinion
But never hardened 
Here, 
Amongst the honest, the odd
The poems and the grace 
Here, in this body,
I’m home

THAT MIDNIGHT GIRL

This is me not asking for permission
I do not bleed in poem anymore
Instead, I rearrange my feelings so they fit into the crowd
Flow out a little bit neater, cleaner, to the point
I have become a professional at talking for hours without saying anything at all
My heart is a bed and breakfast with a lot of strange and loving rooms
But I put up a sign that reads full
I've been trying so hard to make room for myself
Come to terms with the corners that used to clutter on their own
Re learn the pieces that only hurt when they were given permission
You see, I used to write poems in the middle of the night
My heart pounding so hard in my chest like it needed to see what was on the other side
I only let myself shine once the sun went down
Never wanted to make anyone think I was competing for its shine
Didn't want the sun to feel like it had competition
So I'd glow in the dark
Under my comforter writing the words my fists couldn't pronounce
Don't read that, I'd scream
Too much of my mess is in there
But now, I want them all to see- the midnight girl who lit up
Without asking for permission
This is me not asking for permission anymore.

CONSTRUCTION WORK

Some days I fold my laundry with the kind of courage it takes to skydive

I play construction worker with the anxiety I lift from my shoulders

Some days I speak more fluent in approval than in acceptance

And I let Gods voice sound a lot like my own insecurities

But some days my feet hit the floor and the first thing they do is send a thank you letter to my spine

For holding me up

Some days nostalgia arrives wrapped as a beautiful gift, softening the memory of things that were once ugly

Renaming hardship growth

Some days I feel 300 feet tall, hovering above who I used to be

On those days, I want to hug everyone

To apologize for the way it hurts

But tell them how good it will feel to breathe

WARM LIGHT

We were raffle entry believers back then
Thought we'd win the prize
Just because our cotton candy hearts said so
Dangling our toes above a world
We'd not yet learned cruel
But vast and fascinating
And filled with warm light
We had glow in the dark eyes then
Saw the bright even when the lights went out
Even when no one else could
Only knew hurt to live behind bandaids
And broken pinky promises
We were all pinky promises back then
Twisting ourselves into an agreement
To being this honest
This true,
Forever
And now, this life, my life
My odd and lovely and achey life
Is one big glow in the dark promise
That when the lights go out
I will still be this honest
This true
And filled
With warm light

 

NERVOUS BONES

I have not always known the super power of waking up without worry

I have these nervous bones and poem lungs

that always seem to fall short of a deep breath

My fingers are sore from stretching them so wide, holding them open

to catch opinions of others, and hide them away

before anyone else can see
I run out of hands before I can count the times I have taken 10 selfies before I find one to post
I wish I could have all of those back

I would wallpaper them across the room

Make a museum of the times I decided I was not enough
I would title every photo
And invite everyone in

To show them the art

That I have found in being seen

PARACHUTE WORDS

I have always had a ticking curiosity

a time bomb desire

to get to the bottom of who I am

to walk across the landmines

of my eggshell bravery

there is a wise brokenness in there

Somewhere in the dark corners of ourselves

someone, somehow, is holding a flashlight 

and they are seeing us

helping us see

and I wonder, do they know

that my heart beats yellow, every time

like the sun on days I still thought I could reach it

do they know

my conscience is a loud hospital room 

with a lot of open wounds

I am holding so many bandages

made of sloppy words 

wrapping them around people 

like a little girl playing dress up, a doctor

my stethoscope fingertips

holding pens against peoples hearts

hoping each beat will tell me what to say

I am not always sure 

rarely

But these words do not fall flat when they land

they are made of parachutes

somehow they have learned when to jump

and when to stay

I am taking lessons from them

One day 

I will befriend the courage it takes

to be heard 

For now

I am filled with a big gladness

a gaping warmth

Knowing that not everything with a parachute

must land so soon

YOU ARE WRITTEN ABOUT SO KINDLY, DEAR

I've been reading your story

Your quiet drumbeat of a story

The catchy tune it makes

And if it's okay, I've been finishing sentences for you.

I've noticed you haven't written certain parts

And if it's okay, I've been putting myself in the empty spaces

You are everything but simple,

You make your bed every morning

And your floors are always clean

You smile and people get better

Your version of alive makes everyone feel seen

It makes them feel like the color gold

Like they are the reason the sky is lighting up the way it does at dusk

You make them feel loud

Like a song trickling out of a summer night window

Resting in ears of passerby's

You make them feel bigger

But smaller, too

Aware of their just right size in a not so right world

And I cannot believe how just right your quirks are

How well they fit your crooked smile

How they spill off of your rock solid character like raindrops

Like storms that people are thrilled about

Like sitting inside beaming about the thunder

About the rain pelting the roof

You make them feel this way

Glad to be inside

Glad to be living in the human they are

Glad to be glad, for once

And they are

But you more so

Because you care about peoples broken pieces

In ways I've never seen a heart care

It is so just right

And you are so just right

With your bonfire smelling clothes

And your flailing limb dance moves

You are written about so kindly in so many stories, my dear

MAKING NOISE

When I was young,

I didn't know how to snap my fingers

I would hit them against each other

Like two tone deaf vocalists trying to duet

I spent far too much time trying to make sense and not nearly enough just making noise

I walked into battle fields with poems instead of fists

Wearing metaphors and rhymes as armor

And I let people tell me that gentle didn't survive wars

But here I am, Purple Heart, shell shocked

And gentle.

Still wrapping my metaphors around the ugly stuff

Because I am twenty two and I still have not found a language that translates pain

So I speak it in analogies

I've learned to snap my fingers now

But I prefer to do it wrong

I like myself better when I stop trying to make sense and just make noise

AND YOU ARE DANCING

And you

Catapulted your way into my ocean

Vast and stormy,

Calling off all search parties
I wasn’t much for being saved

You, life preservers for hands and a flashlight for a voice

Did not know that you were a one man rescue team

Scouring the dark for a girl who was too familiar with the waves

So there you came,
High beams, shouting, you don’t have to stop swimming

But I want you to know that I am cpr certified
If you ever choke on what society is trying to feed you

You don’t have to stop hurting

But I have bandaids to add character

And then, you told me, “I am not one for shallow end swimming”

I, somehow, impossible girl, asked you to bring me to land

And now, I feel ground beneath my feet
Fragile and certain

And you are dancing around the room

Your limbs flailing like baseball bats
blindly swinging at a piñata at a 10 year olds birthday party

Your smirk is so warm the winter air is sneaking through the windows trying to get closer to you

Your words, the punchline of every joke ever told

You are never not funny
And I am sitting on the couch
Covered from head to toe in bandaids
Laughing so hard that I can’t feel any of my broken

I cannot remember a single scar

My body is tensing with each gasp for air

For once, I find a good reason for forgetting how to breathe

And I look at you,
Still dancing,

And I say

I am not cpr certified but I will give you all of my air when you have given too much of yours away

I am not good with directions, but I will memorize the map of your smile and guide you back to it when you’ve gotten too far
I am not much for attention, but I will stand on top of chairs and give standing ovations for the parts of you you haven’t learned to clap for yet

I cannot sing, but I will give you the silence that comes in between songs

I want to be

The place you go to when you’ve forgotten how to get anywhere else

The best hiding place, the spot you set everything down

And stop dancing
For just long enough to know that you should start again

You should always start again

FEELS LIKE JULY

He looks like nostalgia

Feels like an evening in July

His words sink in like the sun does to the sky

He is that old favorite song

That heart racing sing along

He looks like summer

In the depths of snow

I cannot understand his warmth

But my God,

I can feel it

BLACK + WHITE

I had a dream
It wasn’t in color

I was standing in a crowd
Everyone saw me but no one looked
Beauty recognized without lies

I was standing in a crowd
Everyone talked but no one spoke
Shouting in silence, language without words

I was standing in a crowd
Everyone moved closer but no one flinched
Hands raised in the air, without making a fist

I was standing in a crowd
The sun starting to go down
Without question we sat together under the night
We’ve never looked better in black and white

STRANGER WITH THE BILLBOARD SMILE

You showed up like a one man search crew

A 6 foot answer

To a question I never opened my mouth to ask

You tiptoed in on feet made of tambourines

I never knew you were coming

Suddenly you were just... here

And I could not remember what it was like when you weren't

A perfect stranger, with a billboard smile

As if to say, oh, it's you,

It's nice to see you again

You asked what I thought about gratitude

Like you knew I'd just learned its meaning

I said I didn't know

That maybe it took time for it to catch up to us

And I wondered if you'd been running all this time

You were the most unassuming lighthouse I'd ever seen

The loudest silence, the brightest shadow

I was a little kid again scrambling for a place to set myself down

You, a good hiding spot

A familiar place to wander back to,

Certainty

I thought about checking the dictionary

Just to see if you were the picture next to its definition

Ironic that I would find you among words

Nestled between metaphors

Like back washed poems I'd written when I was fifteen

Dreaming up someone

That wouldn't point out my return label

 

Thank you for being the first one to tear up the receipt.

STORY

We've both written so much story since then,

Since race car heartbeats and skin that burned against the stars

We were so close to the sky

So unafraid of falling, we dug holes below so when we let go

It would take longer to land

Our imagination thunderstormed

We were rain in a draught

The moon a mad scientist

Our chemistry making holes in the night


Somewhere in between washing machine feelings and anesthesia heartbreak

We found a way to pick up our pens

Our names have been written out of our new books

The ones we write with shaky chests and trusty spines

But in every chapter I find myself writing you In-between the lines

In metaphor and punch line

You live in the commas,

The parts that haven't found their end


Today, I ended my sentence with a period. 

BRAVE

Brave.

I wear it like my fathers coat,

Just a little kid playing dress up, drowning in too much fabric

It floats off my tongue like a kindergarten giggle

Rosy cheeked and twiddling thumbs

Too shy to look it straight on

Brave.

I hold a magnifying glass to its detail,

Wondering if it does the same to me

It parades through the streets, I look back watching it awe

Memorizing it's march

I trip over looking back

Brave.

I squint my eyes, hold it up to the sun,

It is not see through anymore

LEFT THE NIGHT BEHIND FOR A CLEAN SLATE

I’ve always treated life like it was mine

Like I deserve to be living it

Because after all these years

I’m learning

That pain is less romantic than being really

Unapologetically happy

I carve my initials into the sky

So I can roll out of bed with the sunrise

And wake everyone up with my light

I wonder if the night misses my wallowing

Or if it’s applauding my absence

I left it for a clean slate

The sky trades in its black and blue

And shows up in its pinks and golds

Bragging about its bright blue possibilities

The morning knows we’ve got a lot of work to do

But it never asks us to weep with it

FORMER ATOMIC BOMB

I don’t write poems as often these days

Mostly because I’m not as sad. I guess that’s a good thing

But some nights I lay in bed, my sheets familiar against my skin

And I remember what it was like to be an atomic bomb

My fingers numb from holding open my own eyes,

As if they were a book trying desperately to close

The goosebumps on my legs shiver against the ocean of linen

Then I’m paralyzed again

And I wonder if it’s coincidence that our bodies are so capable of preserving pain

Or if we need to be reminded of our holes

The breeze they let in

I’m grateful for mine

Though I wish you hadn’t left so many for me to befriend

I know them by name now

And I’ve told them to forget yours

Since I’ll never know how