Sunday, October 16

Like Your Hands

As the man hands me my change,
I notice that his hands look like your hands,
Before the hospital,
When we were able to hold them,
And you were able to hold us.

And as I collect two quarters and three pennies,
My stomach clenches
And I don’t think I’ll be able to eat the food I just bought
Because his hands look like yours.

And as I drive forward,
I remember that I’m driving into a life sentence of
Constant rememberings, all of them full of you,
And your absence,
And my anger,
And my grief.

And I think, for the thousandth time,
That I can’t wait to talk to you about all of this.
I can’t wait to tell you that I saw hands that looked like yours
And that they made me sad
And I can’t wait for you to tell me
How to live with this
Because you always did have the best answers,
Even if some of them were made up.

I want to ask you how I’m supposed to answer the question,
“How are you?” because my honesty is now laced with leaden heartache.
Does it make me disingenuous to say I’m okay or is the silent caveat I attach in my head enough to make my answer real?

And I can’t wait to hear
What you think about the way I listen to your voicemails and the way my face crumples and becomes a funhouse mirror.
Does it make you feel loved that I miss your voice this much,
Or does it make you sad to see me so broken?
What would you say to me if you saw me curled up on the floor with my phone and your voice and my tears?
Would you tell a joke to make me laugh?
Or would you hold me and agree that
Death is bullshit?

I know you’d hate the way people tell me it happened for a reason,
Because we both know that’s a cheap way for others to feel comfortable with a loss that has made me irrevocably unokay.
If you were here, we’d talk about the things people say because they’re afraid of grief and we’d talk about how they shove their sorrow in a closet with their doubts and their vulnerability and we’d talk about all this
Over bowls of ice cream on Sunday night.
And as we’d clear the dishes you’d say something like,
“But we’re all just people trying to figure things out,”
Because you look for the good in everyone,
Even the people who tell me your sudden death was for a reason.
You’d find some love even for them,
Because you’re so good at loving and living and being human,
Which is why this all makes me so angry.

Dad, how am I supposed to live,
When the hands handing me change
Look like your hands
But aren’t.


Tuesday, September 20

Golden tears,
The price and reward of love,
Are memories cloaked in grief,
Shining as they


Saturday, August 27

Their touches should burn one another, but-

my joy and grief hold hands, marching through moments like unexpected best friends. 

"Together," they whisper. "Together."

Sunday, August 21

Not That Girl

I recoil when people touch my shoulder, 
whisper, "I'm so sorry."

I want to tell them to take it back because
I am not that girl.

I am not the girl who lost her dad.

I can't be. 

The girl collecting a thousand sad stares, the girl with pocketfuls of ache, is carrying a burden with which I can't lock eyes.

For to look is to crumble.

And I already crumbled yesterday.


Tuesday, July 12

Dear Dad

I can’t stand that all the stories I’ll want to tell you
Will have to be whispered to the sky
Instead of into your ear

And I can’t stand that when I wrap myself in blankets of memory,
Comfort is followed by sorrow, love by missing.

And I can’t stand that I know the answer to,
“Can humans run out of tears?”
Because I googled it twice.

And I can’t stand that I had to write your obituary 30 years too soon,
And I can’t stand that I wrote it in past tense.

And I can’t stand that Alan and Laura
Is just Laura now,
And that just Laura had to buy a casket and cemetery plot,
And had to fall asleep
In a bed that’s now too big.

And I can’t stand that you won’t get to hold my children,
To toss them in the air,
And read their favorite children’s books.

And I can’t stand that my children won’t know
How it feels to be loved by you,
As I am loved by you.

And I can’t stand that you aren’t going to call
As you edit photos,
Hoping, instead of music, to listen to the sounds of your family,
Because you loved nothing more.

But, Dad, I hope you know that I would feel all of this pain,
Over and over again,
Just to have you as my dad for even one day.


Saturday, April 23

Over and Over Again

If we hear something over and over again, it becomes normal.
Repetition, expertly applied, becomes a sleeping pill, a chemical designed to lull us into compliance.
What at first seems sharply wrong is soon softened by the cascading words, crashing against the shore over
-and over again.

If we hear dads tell their sons to, “toughen up,” over and over again,
It becomes normal.
Toughen up
Toughen up
Toughen up.
Because apparently feeling is a woman’s sin
And boys aren’t allowed the temptation.

If we hear, “you throw like a girl,” over and over again,
It becomes normal.
Like a girl
Like a girl
Like a girl.
Spit out of mocking lips like a taste they didn’t like.
The words acidic, burning skin, a scar left to remind us that
XX chromosomes mean shame and, “like a girl” means embarrassing.

If we hear people greet each other with empty, “how are you?”s over and over again,
It becomes normal.
How are you- good
How are you- fine
How are you- actually, I’m-
The phrase left to echo in the spaces between asking and caring.
For to treat a platitude as anything else is a stamp of naivety,
A breach in social contract.

If we hear people say, “you can’t take a joke,” over and over again,
it becomes normal.
Can’t take a joke
Can’t take a joke
Can’t take a joke
The implication slapping our pain in the face,
Because even though their words slice through our thin, carefully woven beliefs,
And even though their words will leave us with a days-long stomach ache,
And even though their words chip away at the pieces that make us us,
We’re choosing to be offended.

And if we hear people say, “I love you anyway” over and over again,
It becomes normal.
I love you anyway
I love you anyway
I love you anyway
Stipulated love masquerading as real.
They tell us they love us despite our flaws,
Not realizing that the word we hear isn’t love, it’s flaws,
Their pity-sharpened claws scratch at our souls,
But how lucky that they love us anyway.

The repetition is a carousel we can’t seem to exit
And the circular justifications for cruelty
Instead of making us dizzy, make us numb.
Because if we hear something over and over again,
It becomes a normality
And those normalities, so often raised out of the ashes of good intent,
Can become a noose,  
Ensuring permanent numbness.

And numbness is the desertion of feeling, the product of a society that tells you your experiences aren’t valid. Their pre-packaged viewpoints are available for consumption, though, if you can force yourself to swallow the pill.

But if repetition has the power to normalize,
Then we should be able to normalize words and actions too.

Instead of interrupting, we can listen. Over and over again.
Instead of saying, “how are you?” Out of robot lips, we can wait for an answer. Over and over again.
Instead of looking for cracks, we can look for beauty. Over and over again.

We can use repetition not to numb, but to validate.
We can let waves of acceptance crash over and over again.

So let’s say, “I love you, all of you” over and over again,
Until it becomes normal.
I love you
I love you
I love you.


Wednesday, April 6

Around Here

Tonight I stared up into the darkness and sighed as Conlin's sporadic snoring pushed me rather ungently from bed. I was restless and Conlin's snoring was relentless and so I rose. And here I am, my curser pulsing and my words teetering from foot to foot, anxious to arrange themselves. 

I have so many things I want to write. Lists of things. 

My desk has become a boarding house for post-it notes on which hastily scrawled to-do lists live.  Occasionally, optimistically, I add, "blog," to the list and then watch as everything else gets checked off and the purple-penned blog begins to discolor, the orphan item on a list of completed tasks. 

But here I am. Me, my words, and the illogical urge to write lists. 

Buckle up. I'm 'bout to list at you.

//the inconsistent tone of this post //the nutritional value of pizza //donald trump //but seriously. donald trump //watching humans use tradition as an excuse for hatred //seeing the smiles slip off my students' faces when they think no one is watching //the way my student's voice quivered as he told the carpet he didn't think his parents loved him //seeing my students hurt //see any of my students hurt. 

//reading books, good books, particularly in the early morning or late at night //sipping half crio/half coffee while reading //spending time with friends that make me feel whole //strawberries //laughing hard and laughing frequently //getting enough sleep so I feel restless at night //making up narratives to explore the lives of the people a few treadmills over //stumbling upon a sentence that makes life sharpen //dancing when I'm alone //dancing when I'm not alone //walking barefoot on warm pavement //watching sunlight glint off car tops //teaching //watching one of my students wait for his bus while whispering his slam poem to the sky like an offering//my students //all of my students.