In the unkindness of the mirror, I think I want to kill myself but instead decide to dye my hair

Because our hearts weren’t
big enough to be wombs, we worked
on making them hard
enough to be fists : weapons
to strangle our ghosts,

the ones we thought
we had left in the last life,
or at the bar, or sunk
straightjacketed
brick-to-pedal
in the bed of the James.

but we didn’t leave them :
we carried them; being
ghosts, they weighed
so little we could pretend
we didn’t mind. and maybe

we didn’t– because maybe
we half wished
to become ghosts ourselves,
see the air squeeze
from our bodies, live
a little too close to the edge;

feel the rush, then the plunge,
then the dark // but we didn’t.
we stepped back, took up
our day jobs, ran fingertips
over the callus of our hearts and settled

back into the hum, feeling
for the next cut to spread
ourselves open
& up to the light, seeking
applause for our brokenness,
a new way in, a new outlook, our next ghost.

 

unseasonable

 

in the street, a small boy hums the twelve
days of Christmas under a hot June sun.
cobwebs gather like cotton in the windows
in a matter of days; i stay
up too late reading stories i already know,

wage war with my body, long to sink
drowned in a hot bath, or back down
onto the cool stone floor
of the kitchen where
you made me forget the heaviness

of my skin, where gardenia slips
through the screens– the plant
they said will never make it
through the frost.
every movement of my hand

is hedged; even dreaming;
even sweaty against the tile, there
are still more clothes to wash,
still more doubts to run clean.
it is hot for this time of year, we’re told,

no relief in storms.
it’s five a.m., and a firetruck screams red
& white through crust-eyed darkness, winding
its labyrinthine, becoming distance,
still; soft; threat.

 

 

Because not every day was meant for bitterness

I bought a unicorn. Swapped
it for my work-a-day black
espresso taken with a daily dose
of state-of-the-world and self-disgust.
All sweet-tart pink
powder & blue syrup, topped
with a spiral of pure white cream;
you needn’t tell me no one needs that crap,
the processed sugar & color, short-
chained fats, the plastic cup;
I savored every last drop, followed it up
at the Salvation Army
with a pair of crocheted pants
and a sleeveless fringed tank
2 sizes too large that reads:
love the little things.