2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

Once we were angry youth…

Once we were angry youth
shaved heads and colored hair
When I saw you were tragic
I adhered to you
So many secrets to keep
so much truth to grasp
We made honest promises
and everything we felt
it was sacred
Velvet capes and monkey boots
it was The Cure and L.S.U.
Music sang so many things
we knew them all by heart
We sat against the stereo
volume up high
as if to absorb it
inhale its passion
the truth of it all
was in guitar strings
and piano keys
I was anchored to you
in the hurricane of our youth
We outlasted the storm
and the years became memories
and miles grew between us
You and I got regular haircuts
and wore practical shoes
Always and always
I swore to keep us tied
I’d be that solid girl
who cleaned up after
those natural disasters
But the tides have changed
and it’s you who set sail
you pulled up the anchor
and I am untethered
The current and our priorities
the list of things we hold as true
are no longer matched
Faithful wife of twenty years
I am still living alone
Mother of teenagers
I am the mother of none
Woman of the God
I no longer believe in
I know it was only loyalty
that tied us still
You hardly listen to music
and the song in my heart
is the saddest melody
I release you-though you’ve been gone
We are no longer angry youth
Will you return on another tide
Will time rise and fall
like the ocean waves
Will the anchors never sink
in the same deep waters
I am drifting out far
I know I can swim
But you were the only one
who knew the beginning and the end
long letters in pen and phone calls
salsa and bookstores at midnight
long drives to nowhere for the sake
of the songs on the stereo
and the promises and the secrets
we have none left to keep

Originally appeared on Jackie & Tanya’s Friendship Blog, 3-14-13

2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

How He Is Not My Child

I didn’t stay up at the hospital until three a.m. waiting for the
doctors to assess the situation. I didn’t have to be the one to
sign papers for the insurance company, for permission to treat,
for release of legal responsibility. I didn’t have to field the
calls, protect him from his mother, sit next to him for hours
under the cold florescent lights of anger. I did not bare the
weight of pen on paper to surrender my flesh and blood to the
intervention of complete strangers. I am not the parent
deciding always how much to force him to wake up early, get
up out of bed, and live his life, or how much to let him sleep,
let him fail classes, let him learn from his own mistakes like a
boy on the verge of adulthood. I didn’t watch the labor of
sixteen years calling out from rooftops for men in uniforms to
pull him down, dress his wounds, search for more weapons.

Originally published on Cadence Collective, 10-15-13

2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

Brown Eyed Boy (But Not a Boy)

You strode in with shoulders
of a man so much taller,
your eyes held back with the tilt
of your head and chin up.

I tried to see you coming from behind
but I was looking for the wrong boy.
There was this guy—not a boy—not a man
but same brown eyes, same brown curls
(and growing). It was you, undeniably.
Your brows were long and circles
under your eyes were set hard.

I know that posture so well,
I’ve seen it my mirrors past
and in my angry generation.
But you—not you—not your brown eyes,
I have your face memorized like song,
I have loved every inch of it.

I hoped you’d never be familiar
with clenching fists, scraping skin,
bracing the beat of your heart
to stop it from hemorrhaging,
it will callus thick like cartilage.
Grit your teeth and stare them down
without flinching and unbolt the windows.

I have only seen you as a child,
my hand-holding boy in the back seat.
But here you sit, defiant smile,
refusing to play nice—I’m listening.
You now at sixteen, elbows out
tired of rolling with the tide.

You see none that qualifies, all their
smoke and mirrors don’t fool us now.
We are all playing the part of the wizard,
but you’re far too old for fairy tales.
I want to sing you to sleep, but you
are not six, you need more than lullabies.

You mapped the exits, found the weak hinges
(eventually, you’ll see them everywhere).
I can’t offer you shit, except how I get it,
I’ll stop holding you to that promise
that you will invent that shrink-ray
and keep yourself a child for me.

Originally published on Cadence Collective, 9-29-13

2010s · Poetry · Unanchored

Pack Animals

Groups of teenage
boys laughing
like hyenas
still make me
grit my teeth and
tighten my grip
as the twelve
year old me
crosses her arms
across her chest,
pushes her eyes
down like a
criminal when
my only crime
was passing them
on the sidewalk.
Boys in packs
are hunters, not
friends and a twelve
year old girl can’t
fight back, so she
learns to walk fast
and smile like an
apology but not
like an offering.

Originally published in Atticus Review, 7-16-13