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.

Poor Poetry

Poetry won’t heal the world,

pretty words and broken lines,

stanzas that grace pure white pages.

 

The flowing words may soothe the ears

of those who care to listen,

but those who need the most on earth

won’t be served by our narcissistic art.

 

Those rotting in their homes,

smell sewers and taste the

blank food that never fills.

How can poems help them,

How can we ever help them,

what can white hands do

against the great wall of poverty?

In my heart, Maria lives,

the twelve year old I met for a week,

who held my hand at dinner

and whose dark eyes lit with joy at the sight of me.

Now, she’s surely pregnant,

a sixteen year old who won’t be on MTV,

she’s sentenced to a cycle I can’t stop.

University is a seventy dollars she’ll never have,

an opportunity thats already escaped.

 

My white hands did nothing for her,

my poetic verse can’t stop

the turn of the world,

the never ending problems.

Riches to Rags

She never felt entitled, a toddler who grew

in a house with high ceilings,

three chandeliers, perfect wooden floors

covered in thick oriental rugs.

Long red curls on her pristine white collar

of her very best dresses,

her mother’s doll put on display at the country club,

a porcelain face to be put on a shelf.

She never felt entitled, a woman who grow

when a family was broke by the loss of a father.

Penniless she left to start anew, finishing her degree

in a dingy apartment she could afford.

She returns to her childhood home,

rugs now worn flat, only when her mother asks.

Her riches to rags, an anomaly she doesn’t mind.

This is how I start my day

7:00am

She reluctantly pulls herself

from the grasp of early morning’s sweet sleep

and puts two feet on the floor, exposed to the mid-November chill

with no socks or slippers to buffer the cold.

 

7:45am

She sits at a stoplight,

left foot taps the floor- an anxiety that drips through her nerves

Always seems to be late,

she sips her Stewart’s coffee

hoping the 16 ounces of caffeine and creme

will remedy her sleepy eyes.

 

8:30am

Twenty pairs of blank eyes stare

into the desolate center of the classroom,

they wait for someone else to speak.

Her paper cup empty, but she still waits

for her bittersweet beverage to take hold.

 

9:45am

Nibbles on a bagel, smiles at the cute

boy who sells her breakfast in this silly

small cafe. Shes scrawling out a poem

that will never hit the screen

forcing herself to toe the line between

reality and her dreams.

 

10:30 am

Her day has truly begun,

She leaves the dreamy morning hours

and continues to go to class

without the mystic poetry that flows

through her synapse and out her hand.

A Poem Inspired by Tracy Lewis

Words flow through my muddy veins

waiting to be let out.

Drifting among the blood cells, red and white.

With the antibodies, fighting unseen enemies endlessly,

with the bits of myself, constructed from carbon,

that are known to be real.

 

Stanzas and verses bumble around, inside me

following the intricate road systems mapped out

by miles of arteries between muscles, bone, skin.

They feel the beat of my always running feet,

the hesitancy in my hands, careful and awkward,

the fragility of ten fingers, constantly dancing through days.

The words want to tell the stories of me.

 

These words, now a deep and violent

red, dyed permanently by my experience. A stain

no household bleach can fade.

They find their way to the meat of my brain,

zapping among synapses, filtered into thoughts,

into these abstract symbols we use.

 

These concepts, they beat my brain

holding hostage my fleshy

eight pound ball of mystery I carry in my skull.

When I’m feeling generous I let a few words

trickle out, into strokes of a pen, symbols on a screen,

refugees on the page. I silently ask them,

are you happy now?

First Lady

Sleeping with the enemy, the PM.

The ones who control.

Those that decide

who gets in, who does not.

And how hard the journey will be.

 

These arbitrary groups,

these siblings joined only

by the letters on their chests,

these letters that aren’t even their own.

A language, an alphabet, a culture that does not belong

to beer-drenched house, sickly-drunk boys,

and passed-out girls.

And so I sleep,

Lying on my back, captured, a prisoner of war

But the PM, for now, he’s mine.

In my casual whispers, my slow and thoughtless words

I guide him between his ears, between his sheet,

as we lay in a bed I didn’t make.

 

His arbitrary brotherhood, the ones he joined

so sacred, boys’ only family

in a world of 8,000. when only letters

can tell you who your loved ones are.

If only they knew how it’s constructed,

who makes the decisions of fraternity.

 

An awkward bar hopper, a transfer kid

A girl whose drifting, illiterate

In greek, in sisterhood, in this bizarre culture.

But, her. She decides. She knows

if she can’t be the president,

well then, she’ll be his wife.