Luna

Under the coolness of night, the insomniac insects fly frantically under the lamp post. Neon white orbs poking circles throughout the campus, I pass the posts one by one unafraid. Perhaps I am silly for not having fear on an all-woman campus. Perhaps I am allowed to quiet my breath, as I loop through the cycles of my frenzied thoughts. Out there, my mind flies in and out of the light like those by the lamp post.

Pouring back into the street, my friend’s scarlet red car pulled away from the diner two hours earlier. Through the car window, I sighed “the moon is my wife.”

Perched highly away from the world, and a face contoured with the light reflecting the sun – I admire her from a distance. I love best from afar I think. With the blare of punk rock, I sometimes fool myself in believing that I’ve already met my love. She is high – weaving dreams under other people’s pillows. She is high – with NASA’s expensive telescopes admiring the pock marks on her face.

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A letter with no return address

It’s the things that I remember at midnight that will kill me.

I hope I forget the curve of your under eye,

When you’ve barely slept.

I hope I don’t turn over in the night;

Dreaming, how I heard your voice

Pulling wire between my ears,

Tuning over and over.

I hope I crawl inside that cardboard box

At the back of your mind so well,

And collect the lacework of spiders,

Mixed in with the dust.

I hope I carry my heart to the grave,

And never try letting her attach herself to people like stickers which peel off-

Eventually, turning into faded stamps

Which never grace letters.

I hope I remember not to pack a part of me

In your suitcase,

Pushed under the bed,

With shiny new locks.

I hope I pick myself up like a wooden doll,

Arms held up by string,

Succumbing to God’s puppetry,

How I step step step across the floor,

With nothing but a wandering eye,

Which falls on the grass,

Where the shade never casts the silhouette of a dandelion.

I hope you forget me.

 

 

Stress is the Cheapest Contour a College Student Can Buy

I checked off the white and black grid boxes, before sliding the paper into the metal rectangular crate. Each day, I stood in the a la carte line, ordering the same thing. Weekday to weekday, the waxy grease paper stained my hands with the anxieties of college.

“That’s all you’re going to eat.”

“There’s no need to be stressed.”

“How are you?” “I’m doing fine, thank you.”

On pilot mode, I steered myself from one side of the campus with my eyes blurring past the trees and rain-slicked pavement. The metal door handle, the white staircase brick walls, the heat lamp above the pizza, the scuffed marks on my black boots, and the forced conversations. I dove headfirst into feeling like I had time for nothing at all. I swam inside the hours connecting two a.m. and seven a.m. which I calculated how much time I had left to write a paper. A paper whose words came out chalky in my mouth, and tasted like plaque build-up.

Pennsylvania’s fall felt like a heat lamp, whose ambiance left the skin lukewarm. By noon, I wore a light jacket. By three p.m., I clutched the jacket close to my abdomen and power-walked to the next building. By six p.m., my coat felt bulky against my tote bag, but at least the wind only whipped my face.

Senior year in college equals the amount of stress in an entire year crammed into a day. Perpetual tumbling, uneasy somersaulting, and haphazard sprints; I challenge myself in staying with the idea in mind I am graduating.

Yet, I feel as though someone has dropped me in the middle of the forest. They have left me with enough time to peel the blindfold away and recall faintly how the bumps in the road are familiar.

I learned, hadn’t I? My high school diploma in my back pocket, I had made it to college halfway across from where my credits began. The transcript states I started at community college and worked full-time. The transcript states that I transferred to well-to-do liberal art college. The grades fluctuated with the times. The resume changed as I navigated inside my anxieties about the future.

“What are you going to do after college?”

“I just hope you find someone nice.”

A friend, a coworker, my family, and my conscious all stood on my shoulders – as if God came down with a pen and paper wanting to know how much I wasted time.

It’s Thursday, the desk I sit in during Travel Writing has a gap between the floor under one peg. I awkwardly rock back and forth, creating offbeat counts when I press my pen to paper.

Today, I am living with myself and dismantling the fictitious dream I began at twelve.

9:12 pm. The dentist told me to stay away from sweets, and I’m sitting here chowing down on an oreo candy bar weighing my life options, in a dim lit room.

 

Her name in my mouth

Please remind me where I met you

copper-blushed girl.

Perforated brown leaves

coloring your eyes –

The black satin strands

falling down on your shoulders.

How do I carve your name out

of the forests, I’ve grown inside myself?

Joan of arc, sword-drawn activist

how do I cup your worth,

and show it to you?

 

 

 

 

 

Worry-stitched sleeping

I never sleep before midnight anymore.

Find me, curled in a C shape –

balled in a worry I won’t undo

until morning.

A morning where half the sky

slices the baby blue curtains

away from night’s navy nightgown.

If I weighed my worries in a grocer’s scale,

the store might overcharge me

for pounds I had last time.

My burdens fit me elegantly,

a form fitting piece –

I wear for any occasion.

Please, if you see me sleep,

don’t fear the strings

tightening and loosening.

These mere things orchestrate

my dreams.

 

 

Beginning with Pity

I felt it nearly a week later.

Hunkered down in my bedroom, I laid there with my legs strewn over one side of the air mattress. The whir of the plastic fan – which no longer turns in many directions – gave me my favorite white noise.

It doesn’t really matter.

In the other room, my father’s droopy eyelids fight with themselves on how long they can stay open. Usually, they fall back down within five minutes. Sleeping off the drunk haze, I sometimes wonder if he even dreams then.

The sunlight creates long, thin rectangular lines on the opposite side of my room. Hung over the blinds, I have a tapestry with two binder clips attached to either side. Laying there, I grovel in how much the past year flew by. The amount of heartache I self-inflicted with myself encourages me that I shouldn’t open up to people anymore. I won’t tell as many people that I love them. Each time, I trekked through the woods with spray painted tree trunks, hobbled in my converse sneakers through a small stream, and felt the warmth of a fire in the middle of an abandoned building – I missed a part of myself.

It doesn’t really begin how you think it does.

This daunting act of finding myself starts whether haphazardly. Whenever, I spend time alone – it can happen one or two ways. By definition, I am an introvert who succumbs to a hermit lifestyle. I have a phone, a notebook, food (mostly bread and snack things), and music. I’m set, right? Yet, other times I lay curled onto my bed with the frustration that the soreness in my back will not leave. Enacting the U-curl pattern of a caterpillar, I can’t seem to sit with myself.

I don’t want anyone to get me anything.

Six days and a few hours, I felt the tremendous weight of how alone I felt. It’s an invisible pain I suppress that resurfaces when I’ve buried my true self so far into the ground.

In the other room, my mother would lay outstretched on the living room couch. Half listening (and mostly sleeping), she enveloped herself in the biblical history YouTube videos. Our house would make the only sounds of two different TVs on either side of the apartment, the whir of my fan, and the tremendous amount of sorrow I felt on my birthday.

Smoky Lounges + Adulthood Depression

There’s this hookah bar downtown.

A neon painting with a half-painted face becomes the backdrop to any angst rock start-up group. You know, a few guys early to late twenties sing covers of Aerosmith and Nirvana. If you visit the lounge enough, you’ll expect to see them. Torn jeans with knees jutting out, and a flannel over a band t-shirt.

At times, the hookah bar swallows the poet sitting on top of the bar stool. In front, a young woman with a slim build scrolled through her poem on her i-phone. Behind the sheet music stand, she gave us the pain of who she lost and the glimpse of the fantastical forest creature in front. Other times, a boisterous comedian might quip a few good one-liners but might bargain a shitty basement-level joke.

Nonetheless, I weld myself there. I pour myself into the smoky haze floating as Dr. Seuss clouds above everyone’s heads. Once, I saw a drunk man befriend anyone he hadn’t seen before. Another time, there was a beautiful woman with two Afro buns on either side of her head, a man who sang about bath salts, and a bar host who gave my friends and I red roses.

I’m not quite sure how an atmosphere can assure you. For me, I wasn’t supposed to be in a place like that – the way I was raised. Yet, at the end of the hookah hose – I puffed a thought or two. Besides I didn’t have to get life “right” every minute.

Appropriator: Employment application OR Lost and Found 

I ate from the table, making sure that my elbows rested,

left hand never rose from my lap,

and that my water glass sip

didn’t crumple the invitation given to me.

It’s all one big chance to win it big,

find your place,

use two euphemisms,

about finding a culture that doesn’t make me feel like an outsider.

See, I’ve never been outside the United States

but I’ve been a guest in more than four states-

examining each spine I come in contact with.

I look at backbones on sale,

placing wagers if I can score one like that,

like hers prepackaged without shipping and handling fees.

You don’t understand,

how misplacement in adulthood

asks the questions: who are you, where are you from,

and will you fit in here?

I look at skin, eye shape, collar bone,

and find myself in a Polly Pocket world

switching between identities, communities, 

and grievance of reparations in hopes I will be invited to eat

at this table again.