Keep Pretending

You have never laid a finger on me
but your grip holds
tight around my neck
and I have been gasping for air
since you first showed me
your temper erupting from
your palms landing on the
one you promised to care for

You proved to be a
volcano spreading your lava over
birthday parties and graduations

A tsunami ruining beach days and
washing away sand castles and smiles

You have never laid a finger on me,
but your grip left
bruises on my young mind
and you spent twenty-two years
pretending they weren't there

You are everything
I don't want in
a partner,
a friend,
or myself
and I will scrub your essence
out of my soul, mind, and body
until the only thing
linking us is our
last name

Blistered Hands

my blistered hands
have forgotten what it felt like to
reach for something that isn't
running in the opposite direction

forgive me if i doubt your love
for i have never held something
that didn't slip through my fingers
whenever i looked away

every time i wake with
a kiss on my cheek and
my heart safely in your hands

you are giving me
a break from
reaching because
you are
always
right here

5 Stages of Grief

1 – Denial
I rush to your room,
a small iced tea from Dunkin’ in my hand,
lemon 2 sugars

I see your face and the world is still,
the screams in my head the
only thing I could hear

“She’s gone”
and whispered “sorry”s from
nurses who don’t even look at us
“The social worker should be here soon,
she died 5 minutes ago
we’re still filling out the
paperwork”

You lie in
that bed in
a room
overlooking
the water and
it almost feels like a vacation,
though your face shows
no color

You lie there and
my tears are falling
like each of my eyes
a broken faucet,
filling the sink of
This Can’t Be Happening
until we reach the point of
This Is Not Happening

This can’t be happening

We go home and
the air around me is
imperfectly still,
completing the scene I created in my head.
You’re coming home soon
I’m going to see you again
Repeat
Repeat

I search for your voice
every time my phone rings,
I won’t eat pickles
except on cheeseburgers
because I’m waiting for you
to share them with

I walk into your house and I can almost see you

Sitting

Asking me what I want for dinner
and why I haven’t done anything with
those papers on the table
Almost

2 – Anger

Why did you leave me
You didn’t have to leave me
Not yet
It wasn’t supposed to happen yet
You didn’t even tell me
I need another day
just 5 fucking minutes and
I could’ve seen you.
Am I not even important to you?
Do I not matter?
How can you leave me here like this?

3 – Bargaining

Maybe I could’ve given you another day.
Maybe if I missed that concert the night before,
maybe if I sat by you all night and
didn’t let go of your hand
maybe you would still be here
maybe I could’ve helped your lungs
to keep breathing,
your heart to keep beating
I should’ve been there to save you

I’m sorry

4 – Depression

I know this is my fault

But I don’t know how to live like this
I don’t want to live like this

My heart is empty and
there’s no one to fill this space and
I don’t want anyone to fill this space
it’s not theirs
it’s not even mine
it’s yours

I see you in everything and
how can I get out of bed
knowing you won’t be there to
catch me when
I start crumbling

I am crumbling

I can’t stop crumbling

I don’t even want to live anymore

5 – Acceptance

One year later,

my heart still feels empty sometimes,

maybe most of the time,

but other times…

Other times,
I know I have enough of you to
fill the empty spaces to the ceilings with
photo albums and
home videos and
everything I learned from the
greatest teacher out there
(but nothing involving math homework
because that was never your specialty).

I don’t know where you are or
what you’re doing and
I could spend years trying to
figure out if there is a heaven,

but right now…

right now,
I am trying to fill that
emptiness in my chest with

everything you would be proud of.

Broken Home

When I was four, my mom asked me if she should divorce my father.

She looked at me through
tears in her eyes,
relocating
her right shoulder.
The wall she was
pushed into moments before
broke under the pressure of her
fragile bones and
she was barely standing.
I searched for her
happiness in
the ashes that used to be a
loving father and caring husband,
but the wind blew them away and
there was
nothing
left.

When I was four, my mom asked me if it would be okay to divorce my father.

She did not want her
children to be
from
a broken home,
so instead
me and my brothers lived
inside
a broken home,
broken walls,
broken bones.
But at least
the windows remained
intact.
At least the screams remained
behind doors,
behind smiles,
behind pretending.

When I was four, I got really good at pretending.

Whenever I started to speak,
I remembered that the
perfect strokes of this
painting would become
messy
if the words fell from my tongue.
I swallowed them like
poison
and they devoured
my wellbeing
creating scars to be
explained away by
pretending.
I got really good at
pretending.
My mom taught me well.

When I was four, my mom asked me if she should divorce my father.

When I was four, my mom didn’t listen when I said yes.

hallucination (Haiku #18)

pictures in motion
realistic on their own,
but no one else sees.

I Need You

I can hear your heartbeat across the miles that separate
your hospital room from my classroom. It’s straining under
the weight of years of life. I am sitting here
thinking back to every time I’ve cried in your living room,
every time I hid in your bathroom to get a second
alone, every time I ran around the kitchen table
or played basketball in your driveway. I sit here with water
swelling my eyes thinking that it might be over soon. I’m
not ready for this to be over. I’m not ready to
let go of your voice when you complain about the three
papers on the table that must be cleaned because the house
is a wreck. I am not ready to walk through the door and
not get bombarded with questions and accusations
about what I must have been doing while I was away.
I sit here crying. I cry and I just want to run to
your house because it’s the only way I know how to keep
my heart in my chest and my brain standing still. You are my
safe place, my playground, my sunrise. You are my smile after
a week of struggling. But you grasp your chest and gasp for air
and the clouds I created to block the future from my
view are lifted a little more.
I don’t want to see this.
I don’t want to lose you.
I can’t let you go yet.
I can’t loosen my grip.

I’m Not Sorry Anymore

She remains, muttering the same two words
Bruises cover her delicate framework
Blood stained, on her scraped knees looking upward
How did she fall for his every small quirk?

Now she spends her useless time dressing wounds
Thinking back to the times before her love hurt
Her tears form lakes, depression all around
His hands always return to squeeze her heart

Electricity fills her crippled bones
Tension rises with the shake of her hands
She pleads, he screams without a change of tone
The air escapes her lungs with his commands

Her courage heightens for a mere moment
Left her life behind with one last movement