Yes and No

He was here

But now he’s gone.

Is there more to the story?

Yes.

But also no.

He loved me

But now he does not.

Do I hate him for what he’s done?

Yes.

But also no.

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That is Why

When I write a poem,

I take out a knife and cut

Slowly into my chest,

Through the shell of my ribcage.

And it is my fleshy,

Beating heart that’s bleeding out

Onto that still-blank page

Whenever I write the words.

You so often ask me

Why my words are so mournful,

Why my soul seems so pained,

Perhaps now you will know why.

For in every poem

That I bleed myself to write,

There is pain in the act,

And that is the reason why.

House of Cards

I’ll see you on the other side, my dear,

Where we’ll pretend that we were never here.

Don’t want to see you cry, that’s just the game,

For nothing here will ever stay the same.

The sun comes up above the city lights;

It’s harder still to see what’s wrong or right.

Fate will twist and bend and shake, uncertain;

We take our bows, and down goes the curtain.

O, my fragile heart is nearly breaking;

And all of the earth is cracking, shaking.

Life is a repeat of unanswered calls;

That’s just the way that the house of cards falls.

April 9th

It’s April 9th. I walk, slowly, down the sun-soaked pavement and up the hill. It’s hot for this time of year—too hot, and my back is already dripping with sweat, leaving an ugly dark stain on the back of my shirt. My mother would gripe and complain at me for not running home and changing, but she isn’t here. There’s no need to listen to her, even though her high-pitched voice has somehow followed me through three jack-shit cars, two college dorms, and an extensive collection of ex-boyfriends. I don’t walk with purpose; I am aimless, lost. This town is tiny and I feel just as small, unsure of myself amongst the people who have known me since before I could even toddle. They all know me. Think they know me, of course, because how could anyone possibly know me when I’m not even sure if I know myself? But anyway, everyone is friendly here, in a snobbish, offhand sort of way, and so I can’t walk down the street without someone calling my name.

I ignore them.

No one can say anything, of course. I’m the preacher’s daughter and they better stay damn far away from me, or I’ll put in a word with my father, who’ll put in a word with the Man Upstairs, and then they’ll all go to hell. But in a handbasket, of course! I’ve heard the Devil likes a good snack before bed.

I walk into the nearest convenient store, something with a stupid name I never can remember—something along the lines of Dog-O-Malley or King of the Corner. My mother would be brought to tears if she saw the sketchy looking men who hang around here. I shrug at them, even as their eyes linger on me longer than they probably should.

My flip-flops slapping against the grimy tile floor, I plod over to the little fridges, where they keep the beer and wine-coolers and other such things I’m not old enough yet to drink. I dig around for a moment, trying to find something I like, my skin practically steaming as it makes contact with the cold air blasting full in my face. The sun has made me burnt and stupid and sleepy. I’m delirious.

Finding nothing appealing in the fridges, I go for the nearest six-pack I can find, not bothering to see what flavor, and slide over to the cashier, a middle-aged man with skin red as a tomato and a potbelly he can’t seem to stop scratching at.

The man at the counter takes the six-pack from me, scans it.

He looks at me.

I look at him.

Then, with a harsh sniff of his rather disgustingly rotund nose, he hands it back to me without so much as a word. I pay him in cash, a big fat wad of dollar bills my father handed me before the weekend started, when he figured I’d be out doing things like this—drinking, partying, smoking—just with people my own age, not wandering around on my own through town with no purpose and no idea what to do with myself. Underage drinking is not encouraged here. Of course not, that would be stupid. It is, however, tacitly ignored.

Before I know it, I’ve made 13th street and three of the bottles are empty. I’ve left them scattered on the ground for someone else to clean up. I’m sure it bothers anyone who sees. The man at the bank growls at me underneath his breath. The woman pushing the stroller up Main Street shakes her head in dismay. But again, no one says anything. (Hell! Handbaskets! Fiery damnation!)

I don’t even realize where I’m headed until it’s too late to turn back, till I’ve landed myself right-smack in the middle of town and there is no one left to scowl at me and all there is is silence and gravestones and emptiness in the world. I stumble over a rock and slosh beer all over the grass, losing my left flip-flop in the process. I feel like an idiot for coming here. I shouldn’t be here. I can’t be here.

I start to turn back, but something stops me, keeps me anchored here. I have to see him. What kind of a big sister would I be if I didn’t at least say hi? I take another swig of beer and careen forward.

By the time I make it to his little tombstone, I’m wasted.

Innocent

Innocent, innocent, you think me so innocent

Me with the red lips and the blue eyes and the smile

Never daring to do anything unexpected

Always so obedient and docile and kind

I’ll do whatever you say, I promise

And I never break a promise

I could never do anything unexpected

My entire life is planned out by the minute

Not one of you sees past my curved little smile

And my big, blinking eyes

But you don’t see the cigarettes, I suppose

Pressed in the silver ashtray I hide in my room

And you don’t smell the alcohol

That still lingers on my breath

Hidden beneath mint toothpaste and pearly-whites

And you don’t know about the men

With their grey eyes and black suits and blacker souls

No, I guess you couldn’t know about that

I’m good at playing innocent

I’m good at being so good

And as long as I keep this curved little smile,

You’ll never know my secrets.

Still

When I am gone,

The little ones

Will cry at night,

But be alright,

For they are strong.

 

I will be lost,

My hair wind-tossed,

My lips both bruised,

My lips all used

And stung with frost.

 

In morning chill,

My darlings will

Avoid my room

Like it’s a tomb,

And miss me still.

 

When I have left,

And they have wept,

They’ll still go on,

For they are strong

And innocent.

 

With no one there

To comb their hair,

Their minds will reel,

Their hands will feel

The embers flare.

 

They’ll find a room

Much like a tomb,

(The one I used

Before I bruised)

So full of gloom.

 

And if they choose,

They will not lose

Their golden hearts,

Though torn apart

By Death’s cold dues.

 

They’ll look outside

To ocean tides,

And smile tight,

And see the light

That still resides.

Away from Home

In March I had read this fantastic book called Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke. It focused on a girl named Violet who rents out her guesthouse to a mysterious, handsome, mischievous boy named River. It was a thrilling read, and had my heart racing from beginning to end. I’m currently reading its sequel, Between the Spark and the Burn. I’m only about 1/3 of the way done, but I wanted to share a bit of it with you. This bit of prose gave me chills, because it’s so true.

“Being away from home was an eerie thing, thick and powerful and overwhelming. It was energizing to see new places and people, your brain on fire, your heart stirred up. But it was also kind ofsad.”

Truth. I feel exactly like that whenever I’m away from home more than a day. It’s just a dull sort of ache in your chest, the urge to run as fast as you can, as far as it takes, in order to get back to the place you know best. To the people you call family. 

I hope you all get to be with your families, and that you have an excellent Labor Day weekend :)