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to kill a butterfly for Lindsey
for as long as i can remember, my friend Lindsey
has been in love with Peter Pan.
on a night of pill bottles and pale skin, Peter visited her
hospital room and the green fringes of his kid-clothes
tickled her nose as he glided around the ceiling.
no one knows that Peter actually likes school. it’s
where they taught him how clouds feel on your back,
the difference between young and small, the way
it looks a lot like scratches.
Lindsey carved a map of Neverland into her wrists with box cutter slashes.
the winding valleys and mermaid lagoons weren’t war paint,
just battle cries and bad decisions.
Peter Pan taught her how to trust when he taught her
how to fly but Lindsey sobs like a metronome;
so many ticks, she just loses track of time.
survival isn’t something you learn in school but Peter
traced the purple lines on her arms and penned-in butterflies.
you are no razorblade promise, you are no fragile lung.
you are Lindsey with the angel voice and a
under the underslately i’ve been under the unders,
which is to say lately i’ve been hosting the ghosts
of everything i’ve ever loved and that silence gets to you,
you know, it tears you like the idea of something horrific
and before you know it, your entire existence is
a fresco of maybes and apologies and snapped skulls
and by snapped skulls, i am alluding to the notion that this sterile noise,
this silence, drives you crazy. once, a man told me that boredom
has its holy uses and i laughed at him and the rush of nostalgia
that immediately followed was the worst melancholy,
let me tell you, it was like feeling each of your trillion cells burn
until there was none of you left.
that melancholy was like disappearing,
and i don’t mean the not-eating kind but the kind that has no kind,
the kind that makes you forget your name with its black magic
and sterile noise and its silence.
so again, lately i’ve been under the unders and i’ve been
living with the unforgotten memor
my father lived in Indiamy father is a man of many colors.
on the nights when the moon stays asleep,
he lotions his palms with pomegranate juice.
the sugared blood pools in the creases of his
skin, staining it India’s red.
sometimes, my father scrubs his hands until
they are nothing but flesh & fruit rinds.
when he was younger—all skinned knees and pocket
knives—he must've slipped on a thousand marbles.
my father’s father was a welder who rolled and spun
steel into tiny spheres.
when he died, my father’s hands became blue and
free of pocket knives. to this day, he keeps a bag
of marbles on our mantle.
from time to time, he shakes the cool metal into
his open palms and waterfalls it back and forth.
see, this is the trouble with blue hands:
they never let go of the things that scar them.
they try so hard to be red again.
my father doesn't like whistling because
an old woman in India told him it was uncivilized.
she perched herself on the edge of the Ganges River
what to do when he doesn't say it backa)
you will give all of yourself to a boy who won't know you at all.
he will recycle your parts, make you stationary, bind you into
paper that he will gift back so you can write poetry about him.
you, too, say i love you quickly.
when he doesn't say it back, evaporate.
he will kiss you in places you didn't know existed.
until him, you were a peasant in your body's palace.
he crowned you princess, broke the lock of your castle's gates.
when he doesn't say it back, load your cannons.
you are a fountain pen.
look him in the eye when you write him letters on your skin.
when he asks to read them, surrender.
you have always been this way: too eager
to make wildflowers bloom inside of him.
when he doesn't say it back, trim the stems.
when he tells you that your eyes remind him of tree bark,
show him that your gaze is sturdier than nature's limbs.
without breaking eye contact, slowly back him into a wall.
when he expresses discomfort,
ask if he knows what choking is like.
the garden familymy father met my mother on the train tracks
leading out of Hackensack, New Jersey.
she was clad in blue and embossed with blisters;
he was wearing a black sweater and had a stumbling tongue.
the night they exchanged promises, the moon
was hiding under a cool blanket of factory smoke.
my mother wore a black n’ beige dress,
my father was decked in the finest leather shoes.
their love was a budless stem:
to appreciate it, you had to do some gardening.
the botany of our family is complicated.
i am a shovel and my brother is soil.
my mother is a watering hose and
my father sets with the sun. come winter,
she will freeze in time and we will
barely see him through the clouds.
the occasional drought will manifest into our lineage,
but my mother will burst like a floodgate.
sometimes, it'll get so cold that the crops will be frostbitten,
but my father will break the barrier of clouds.
i will help dig my brother out of messy situations
and we will be
just a plot of land on the map of our f
unused scalpels“somewhere, there is a museum of unfinished surgeries.” – Dylan Garity
the man who runs this place wears blue Nikes.
he keeps them clean for the most part, aside
from the occasional bloodstain. it is never silent
here, just the quiet of machine hums and ghost
screams. a fresco of chipped teeth and half-beating
hearts hides beneath the clutter of
a solitary room up seven flights of stairs. there is
a file cabinet of medical textbooks. the spines are
only half-woven, the paper slanted and spilling from
the seams. they say that the world ends this way:
all sterile memories and abandoned weaponry.
on the third floor, we are strolling hand-in-hand in search
of unused scalpels when you point at a half-empty IV bag
with wires still attached. I begin to wonder when all the
fractions will stop multiplying.
is this, then, how bed sheets feel when they have
holes in them? or, rather, do the bodies they hold
have holes? when air escapes, it has a tendency
to curl so
water stainsmy father's silhouette painted on
the canvas of waves
assures me that
water stains are not permanent.
darkened fabric means nothing more than
the fruit of possibility spoiling on countertops.
i ask grown men for more answers
than there are chandeliers
in my parents' abandoned mansion.
the creases of my grandmother's forehead
skitter over concern and
land on laugh lines.
i've always been a clever joker,
spreading lips like a contagion.
they could never catch me;
my intoxicating serpent
slithering through sidewalk cracks
breaking backs as children do.
my limbs may have expanded,
but i am just a hot air balloon.
if there is anything
pavements & dark rooms have taught me,
it is that
broken means i'll be okay again.
breaking clockswhen the desire to disembody arises,
do not wipe the sweat from your forehead.
cut your fingernails with a sharp tongue
until they bleed. do not launder your bed
sheets, do not dust off your insecurities.
& everything else.
make an excuse to visit the cemetery;
try and fail to put to rest the festering
that has become you.
hammer the nail so deep into the coffin
that you can hear your late grandfather’s
welding tools mold metal abstractly.
gargle salt water and then spit at the mirror.
tell yourself this will be the last time you caress cursed skin.
tell yourself you never saw him leaving.
call yourself a liar.
resist collapsing like a purposeless mess.
give in like everything else.
pull yourself together for the time being,
then break all the clocks.
my lover went to Japanmu-onna moans into my lover's ear the song
of her witchcraft. i can hear his soft coo back,
his slick wrist maneuvering the way only men do.
mu-onna is the nothing woman.
my lover's neck burns crimson when i'm with him
and evaporates at her touch.
ghost, she is, like lost soul or misplaced matter.
mu-onna, the walls call.
seep back into our hollow creases.
on a night made of confessions and no control,
i found her on my lover's tongue.
her blood had veined its way into his words
and i, in a frenzy of blinks & sterile noise,
strangled mu-onna out of his skin.
when she fleets through a room,
a window breaks inaudibly,
a door creaks but you cannot hear the sound.
instead, the waves of her nothingness
crack wood, glisten glass, choke the surroundings.
how did you make empty so complicated?
if you were to cease existence,
would we be full of everything
or would there be even less?
my lover has mastered your curves,
turned your invisibility into a bedroom game.
he asks me to
i can't keep walking on these dry-rot bonesoh, i am not a poet;
like the ink scratches
of plath, i am
specter boy: decay,
dispose, & disappoint
because this is the way
that writers wane -
(this hangman head is no
survivor story, & gods
do not burn out
I am the moon walker,
the black coffee athlete
in the star-dotted evening gown.
I am young, but I feel old,
like an antique with
Sleep lives in my shadow,
a morphine caregiver
with gentle hands,
but I dare not fall into his arms.
There is a sad knowledge
in his eyes
that I do not trust.
You left me behind,
but my pillow still
smells like you,
and now my bed feels
like a fucking coffin
without you in it.
Nights like this
make me wonder
what it feels like to die.
It bothers me that
only the dead know,
and they refuse to share their secret.
One day I will find out
the truth for myself,
and that scares me.
Three a.m. teaches you
how to suffer quietly.
Sleep pulls on my sleeve
like a black-cloaked child.
He tells me everything will be alright
(but by morning, I know
he will be gone, and
I will be alone again).
Small TalkIt's dripping with logic and reason
the question you let gently drop
onto the table between us,
“So, tell me about your life.”
And I'm watching it carefully
telling myself it won't bite
it's more scared of me than I am
and I can capture it with glass.
And I can't rest the answer there
because it's bigger and scarier
and this one will bite will sink
will tear apart the careful stitches.
It's too big for this table
and I can't put it onto you
so it weighs heavy on my neck
and the silence stretches further.
122% humanI am simply a human being because
underneath my paper skin beats with blood,
and my muscles still twitch after it has stopped
as if it still longs for life.
I am simply a human being because I
carry battle scars on my body.
(but all books are just spines and
stories to tell, so sometimes I think maybe I could be
printed enough times to not
feel so alone.)
humans are not stars. we do not
glow with a resonance that can be seen from light years
we may fool ourselves into thinking
we could be—(movie stars, pop stars;
did we ever think maybe being famous is not synonymous with
loving ourselves?)—but even comets fall
to earth with baggage.
but if I was to be something more than
a girl who reads too many books and loves the study of
people more than their society,
I would be a supernova.
beautiful, so beautiful I'd explode someday.
into an abyss; a black hole. destroying everything I
came into contact with; eating the
leftovers with my bare hands.
we were told never to fall for poets
we were told never to make homes out
of human beings, but neither of us
have ever dealt in absolutes,
so here we are
i've always been an atheist
you make me believe in an afterlife
you tell me that God is the
first and the last great artist
you're always running away
but i bring you back, time
and time again ( like the
hour and the minute hand,
we're always dancing )
we're writing each other into
our own stories, each the protagonist;
each the saviour, each the star-
crossed-companion and i have
never been more in love
how can two people be so close
and yet so far apart? more than
miles chasm the space between us( we're using "i love you"
to fill the silence )
i want to glance back at you
as i take the final steps away( the television is still turned on -
filling the frigid sculpted air
with static and radio heartwaves,
that familiarly too-cold comfort )i
.the birds don't sing
anymore, they sigh -
a magpie shouts, i think
it's time you heard this,
god you really are a stupid
girl, if you saw things
from up here you'd understand,
see - some kids they don't
ever hatch, don't mean
that it's your fault, and if
you hold on to the shell of
em you're the one that's gonna
crack - so throw it out yeah
just get rid of it i'll
help you if you want, i'll
scoop it up with one swift
wing, and i won't be
bringing it back
(things might be picture perfect but i much prefer the frame)
i am no god-made manoh, you're so pathetic,
with your parasitic nervousness;
you're an anxious fever-boned boy
& you've got manic headaches
scrawled into gasoline anthems
like you don't know love's
only parasympathetic &
we're all romanticists
(you may have smoke-spiral fingertips, but
we've all got a knack for burning ourselves out).
you have seven days to live.1.the news doesn't hurt:
it's his eyes that hurt you,
the glimmer of his past
creeping in just like
his father used to creep in
at three a.m.
with a sin on his mind
and rage on his hands.
he waits for you to react,
but you don't
because he's suddenly seven again,
while mommy cries
in a ball on the couch.
2.you think time
is a funny thing.
people talk about it
like it is an object:
"I need more time," they say,
like they will go to the store later
and buy more.
but you know that time
is more like an ocean wave,
with an endless
pounding that continues
long after we greet the dirt,
and we want more time,
but time doesn't want us.
3.he tries to force you
into his wrists,
his ankles, his collarbone.
he thinks that if he
loves you enough,
he can save you.
you know that he can't,
so you cut through him
night after night,
searching for an exit.
4.sometimes death scares you.
you remind yourself that
no matter how much you want
metronomesi have a nervous habit of ghost-writing words in cursive
when people shout them at me. it all started when
my father taught me how to lose track of time, that
a moment multiplied into a million is just a minute
rolling itself into an hour and before we know it,
every year is stuck in caps lock.
i curl it into my left palm with my right index finger
and practice spatial reasoning as Einstein once did,
how he built a vast sea of
they say that music is the universal language.
tell me, does every room have a tuner or a clock?
our metronomes tick in
most don't have enough but i've always known
a surplus. what do i do when my moments multiply
at a much faster rate than i do? my phantom fingers
room on my left palm to scribe his words in cursive
so stories overlap and my father's speech blurs
into a jumble of hot air balloons.
i have a nervous habit of ghost-writing words in cursive
when people shout them at me. their
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