Teach me to love myself

Teach me to love myself:

 

I run only two miles in over twenty minutes,

Shadow cast by passing street lights shows

disappointment in front of me, below me

Behind me. Bouncing blackness mocks my shame.

 

Teach me to love myself:

 

I stand in the shower, alone with my chubby thighs,

Secret scars, stretch marks and cannot help

But think, “I am only 22 and I have ruined my body,”

My hidden razor begs to continue destruction.

 

Teach me to love myself:

 

I chat with my coworkers and our students,

My mind criticizing every word. I cannot find good

In my tasks, only mistakes I solely witness.

Locked in my mind, I know they deserve better than me.

 

Teach me to love myself:

 

One day, I will hold my child whose perfections

Exponentially outnumber my flaws. She will

Look up to me not knowing I am so menial;

Teach me to love myself so that I can teach her.

Kept Up

Three Thirty creeps on alarm clock,

other side framed by fiancée’s gentle snores

four hours deep in dreams.

Anxiety as I first felt it returns,

that monster that has lived under every bed,

Mind kept meddling,

The rhythm of pedals too loud

And feeling legs’ locomotive lunge

Keeps me from sleep.

 

My explorations’ memories left me obsessed

By the lonely buildings I sailed by

Which shrunken psych center no longer fills.

Dorm like cabins with chilly uniformity,

Appearance diverging only in

broken windows, vanished doors, unexpected overgrowth.

The spooked whispers of summer grasses

Mask a suffocating silence.

The inconsistent presence

Of a red car on my left shoulder

Gives me the notional

That I’m not welcomed here.

Yellow paint, warning weathered by decades’ decay,

Insists: CAUTION.

 

I still feel the sting of strength,

Willed to speed from the place which was prison to many

The way escape set fire to thighs and burned up to lungs,

And how these trees were much taller now

Than the ones in black and white pictures.

My ascend is followed by remains of border’s picket,

Uneven and white,

Haunting the grounds like ribs of a man

Left in the sun to die.

I bought gas at the Jamesville depot today

Just as no sidewalk crack has a twin,

Families don’t fracture the same.

Is it sadder to shatter? Or does it

hurt more when divisions grow slowly,

revealed deeper each winter’s thaw

then all at once, passive distance hits

 

suddenly

 

When the oval canvases of

Garin and I, nautical siblings donning

chubby cheeks of three

(photos posed six years apart) that had lived

Happily for 20 years on dining room’s wall

 

Are taped in different boxes, sent to separate cars

hung over tables ten hours apart.

 

When tiny trinkets that

fell deep behind my six drawer dresser-

From bright plastic of careless childhood

To senseless wadded notes of adolescence-

 

Are swept out, widely discarded with

their dusty relatives from the past.

 

When my Saab is piled high, ‘college student’ style,

Not with Soft new sheets and shiny fresh binders,

but four years later, when shards of my childhood,

Baptismal dress, graduation gowns;

Second-grade paintings, senior awards

 

Are the weight felt in the right pedal

That twilight’s long drive home.

Conch

Most women want to be loved,

not just fucked. I have

been cursed, as one who

men can’t fuck without

falling in love.

 

Time and again, he says I’m Her,

the first choice,

one who makes a heart

sick, beat like a snare;

I’m the metronome it needs.

 

But, when he sees me,

it’s all diamond rings and wedding gowns.

Our ephemeral eyes contact in lust,

but his head fills a scene-

clean baby bottles and dinner dishes

drip on the rack, devoted dog wags

between us, lazy dessert chat

of a vacation on the beach.

 

Inevitably, those words break free

before he can think to stop it.

A day, a week, never a month

before it poisons him.

 

To repeat that sacred saying-

and to act as though I meant it-

would be to hold

a sea creature’s calcium

carcass to my ear,

and to act as though I

am mesmerized by the magic

of an ocean in my palm;

I listen to the swirl

of red in my skull.

 

Andrew’s Wall

They lay together in his room,

bodies close but minds adrift.

Both showing off their shiny white pebbles,

perfectly polished, arranged by height, resting in pink

gums-Too bursting with childish joy

even when the other isn’t looking.

Staring at the wall, she admires the bright, shining glare

Artwork in itself.

The wall so remarkably white where

The suspended bright bulb reflects

and refract its beauty

into her own two wet spheres.

The bumpy paint an orange so vivid

She could peel it off,

imagining her thumb nail sinking into the

think, bumpy skin. Cool on her cuticle, stinging in yesterday’s hangnail.

Tasting the citrus burst as it flushes through her mouth,

washing over her tongue.

An acidic carwash forever wearing

tough enamel protecting her teeth.

He laughs,

the sound breaks her thoughts,

Their eyes catch, he asks

“What are you thinking about?”

Pepperoni

The tupperware bowl sat

in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

From there, it mocked everyone-

Daughter and her family:

the visiting vegetarians.

Married couple:

the embarrassed hosts.

But, mainly, it mocked the stepdaughter;

the offensive salad’s creator.

The peculiar swirls of multicolored pasta,

mimicking vegetable patch’s variety,

leave oily skid marks on plastic’s side.

The pool of Italian dressing slowly soaked

by rotini’s thirst- mixed in are

bits of feta, chopped pepper, skinny sliced onion,

and the vile enemy-

tiny, round pieces of pepperoni.

The salad had been made a week before,

the upcoming visit far from her mind,

by the hungry step daughter- she fumbled in

what she could find, in pursuit of her

favorite summer snack. When others arrived,

however, the large blue lid was peeled back

to reveal the tragedy it held.

“We’ll have to make a new one” the step-mom commented,

but let the atrocity lay on its shelf, an

open casket for all to mourn.

Each day, a shower of new comments

circled around the salad’s scandal-

each accompanied with a glance of

annoyance threw her way.

“Pasta salad would go well with this,” daughter’s husband

would comment, his plate feeling its absence.

“Make sure Aunt Jude brings vegetarian salad,”

the daughter would say, adding with her glance,

“with no pepperoni in it.”

The stepdaughter sat, head hung

knowing Clinton could sooner forget Monica

than them let slip away her meaty blunder.

Four adults between them could not produce

another salad, but instead created in her the deep knot

of knowledge that she sat at their family table

as unwanted as her carnivorous creation.

Rebecca

We wake to hangover’s daze

on a slow Sunday, the first hatchings

of Summer noted by haze on the lawn.

Lay three feet apart, his childhood bedroom

stares down at me. I am stuck in the web

of little league trophies, basketball posters,

cleats that fit when feet were much smaller.

Last night’s clothes left on, bunched

and tangled under sheets and blankets.

He stirs, smiles. Hand on my waist,

pulls me close in our familiar, friendly

cuddle- commonplace in our days as

housemates, now our short time together

is sacred. His head dips, aligns lips,

contact births thoughts of the unspoken

ghost- She, my best friend.

She, who was his.

She, who ended their relationship

with our lease.

Forbidden smooches send me to Manderly

living in the shadow of Rebecca,

and I cannot stand the skeleton

sunken somewhere between us.

Like a wave upon the sand,

I collect my belongings

and am gone.