I self-published my first book of poems, and without realizing it, I accomplished a lifelong goal that I had set out for myself as a child. I remember dreaming of being a writer, and as I aged, I conflated the definition of what that meant as only someone who was published or recognized by literary bodies as an “author”. But to be a writer, doesn’t mean someone else defines you as so. Of course, those stages of traditional success are important, are part of a culture around writing and literature that has existed for hundreds of years. But outside of any desire to have a “legitimate” career as a writer, I am more proud to know that I did this for myself, and no one else.
I am a poem archaeologist, who likes to discover things they wrote and forgot about over the years. Something I wrote circa 2012 when I was traveling in Greece and Italy, and preparing to move home.
What to do with all this unspeakable sadness?
Here’s a metaphor:
Do we bury it underground, like festering trash slowly souring our soils?
Or should we carry it in our bodies?
The way that women have learned to carry trauma, when they were only meant to carry life.
Do we disregard it like black bodies battered in the streets,
Valuing our ownership of comfort too much to recognize the sharp wounds of reality,
Or do we drink it like poison,
Like sea waves striped with oil slicks, animal limbs contorted in plastic handcuffs,
Burnt trees lit like incense, smoke blocking out the sun
Rivers running dry, thirsty for salvation,
Tell me, which is it?
And I will tell you, they are one in the same – the destruction of each other, and the destruction of our planet, the hatred we allow ourselves to carry projects itself on the reality we’ve created.
I am up to my ears in debt,
To a country that did not make me,
Only molded me into something,
That does not really fit in any one place,
For too long,
The bottoms of my feet burn,
For bare ground and distant beaches,
And mountains that are good at keeping secrets,
I do not know how,
To chip away at my edges,
Make myself smaller or easier to swallow,
I only know how to smile through sadness,
Detach myself from the sorrows of the world,
Because nowadays I just can’t bear it.
Maybe I am more selfish now,
For preferring to hide behind false altruism,
Instead of taking action,
I walk the world in a war torn fashion,
These wasted passions,
Give me everything, yet lead me nowhere.
I used to envy birds,
That flew wherever the wind took them,
But now I know how to the follow the wind,
Better than I know the inside of my own heart.
Why must I wander, I wonder?
A useless question, with the best intentions.
I am just another young woman condemning herself to a beautiful, solemn, solitude.
Silly sanctimonious girl,
what is it that you dream about?
Buoying boats to take you far from the shore,
across oceans you once thought too perilous to cross?
What do you have to show, at the end of the day,
when you lay yourself down to rest?
A fickle heart,
laden with time bombs,
You create quiet wars within yourself,
Not realizing that the peace you search for,
is just a deep breath away.
Love never kept the bed warm for me at night,
Instead all it ever did was fill me with
unfulfilled fairytale prophecies
inscribed on my back like constellations
hieroglyphs of a tear-stained
that I still cannot decipher
Love taught me how to
hang my memories out to dry
like clothing on a line
until I ran out of pins, only
to put them on later
suddenly too tight on my body
than I remember
We were a dry throat love
Clammy hands and hanging threads
That could never reach far enough
To tie together
I wonder if you forgot me
I’ve fought the urge to mention something to you
But the truth is
I live in cotton candy fantasies made of your closed mouthed smiles
When really the reality is lonely airport gates and
Calloused palms with unattractive finger tips because
I never learned to stop biting my nails
This isn’t an emotion I can explain clearly
Only figments I can piece together to express a feeling
I’m not really lost
I’m wandering purposefully
The way a fisherman follows a north star when he’s lost at sea
Or how moths follow flames to their deaths
I don’t know where I expect my footsteps to lead me
But I find happiness in the process of walking
And it took me months of being alone to realize
I don’t think I’ve actually ever been in love
But I think loneliness builds strength the same way
Landslides erode mountains and
Splitting atoms creates energy
I wish I knew how to write like I meant it all the time
But I love the world too much that sometimes I don’t know how to be honest about it
If there’s something I’ve learned
It’s that wasting time weighing the consequences of decisions
Can make your heart too heavy to carry and
Slow paced solitude is better than
Hesitant kisses with your eyes open
So I’ll keep moving unashamed and unapologetic
Do not shun yourself
Do not promise yourself perfection
It’s just a 10 letter word for poison
Let life chip away at your edges
The same way carpenters carve wood or
Ice ages form canyons or
Exploding stars create galaxies
I’ll keep coming up with euphemisms for transformation
Sparing thoughts for all the loves that could’ve been
While I walk alone across the world
A solitary celebration
For my ever-changing soul
I am a sucker
for chance encounters
with perfect strangers
Because I would rather fall in love
with the potential of forever
Than be disapponted by the reality
that actually transpires
Or so I’ve convinced myself
As I continue avoiding the fragility
of my own heart
I don’t know what to do with this unspeakable sadness
when I look at the world, in all its unflinching horror
and lack of empathy.
I wonder how we’ve gotten this far
away from love,
and the weight of that question,
and my own complicity in the world’s destruction,
are so heavy sometimes that I can’t breath.
But then again,
I’m not the one who’s actually drowning.