The Kitchen Sink

I left dishes in the kitchen sink the way some people leave Christmas lights up into January

Spent too little time in the kitchen.

He called me messy,

called me inconsistent,

said “you are not enough homemaker to hold me together.”

 

I left dishes in the kitchen sink the way he left my heart in the doorjamb when he slammed it shut behind him.

Spent too little time chasing after him.

He called me later,

called me every night

said “I only said those things to hurt you, I still want to be together.”

 

I left dishes in the kitchen sink the way I leave people to play extras in the movie that is my life.

Spent too little time deciding it was over.

He called me monster,

called me psychotic,

said “you will never find someone with enough patience to piece you together.”

 

I left dishes in the kitchen sink

So he left me.

And I…

I did not stop him.

Seattle Cliches

[written in 2011]

 

Let’s wish we could find a way to make coffee and fingernails sound poetic. I want to write about the paint on my clothes and the smell of smoke absorbed by my skin. The holes in the soles of my feet and the holes in my mind, but I can’t find a reason to write in the dark. It’s much scarier under beautiful stars when you realize you’re in a city, an alleyway of broken windows and broken hearts laid out neatly in the dust of dirty thoughts and suicides. There will come a day when Starbucks aprons are believed to be a sign that multiple gods exist in our atmosphere when Microsoft stops autocorrecting the I before E rule and “I” no longer needs to be capitalized like God does. I believe dead spirits that walk among us in the bodies of the depressed. Stumbling outside reality in a cloud of unhappy until they master a way to find artsiness in the darkness. They can hear themselves breathing, but can’t decide whether they should hold their breath in to retain life until it evaporates as nothing from their lungs or if it’s better to let white noises crawl under their skin until they’re crazy. The people here are crazy. Driven mad by stop signs and running through red lights until they’ve reached a destination of uneasiness. How he knows he never really loved her because the poetry he wrote when they were together was shit. We’re show-offs to cover insecurity. Cheering hard for losing baseball teams and avoiding ignorance. We never lose hope and that’s where our music comes from. The one thing we deserve to take pride in. That’s soul burning down our esophagus until it warms us in the depths of stomach acid. It took a lot of time on Google Images, searching for pictures of physical deformities to learn that not everyone is born with two eyes, not everyone is everyone else’s idea of human. Where we rip the seams in our rain jackets as an early weather forecast hoping the sun will peak through the clouds we’ve created with wrist pollution. Where we say “fuck” too much and “love” like it’s sacred. Where we believe pop cans and soda bottles and newspapers and microwave dinner boxes deserve a second life through recycling. We’re superstitious. We use eyes to see into souls and window reflections make us nervous with the anticipation of seeing someone we don’t want to look at, we don’t trust, so as a result some of us stop trusting in God. All we’ve known to have grasp of is the sidewalk in which we walk to reach places we’ve never been, but we never venture too far for that would mean chance of facing unacceptance and non-hipsters. We believe that wearing t-shirts with skulls on them makes us brave ‘cause it’s a scary thought that the only place you’ll ever feel safe is in the lap of your mother. So as Seattlites we search for Mother Nature in everything. We just want to be hopeful. We just want to be happy. We’re trying to find the light. Where social status is decided by how many rings are on your fingers and how clean your dreadlocks are. How much makeup can you go without and still be beautiful? Be organic. So we smile crooked-teeth and let our fingernails grow yellow between cigarettes as we say welcome to the city, welcome to Seattle. Here, we do art.

Pool of Flames

[written in 2013]

 

For anyone that’s ever met someone so handsome, you were too scared to touch him.

For the oil on your skin would surely ruin him. Already ink-stained collarbone to collarbone, bent to let your head rest.

And you touch his chest with the barrier of a sweat-soaked t-shirt: safe.

And you feel his heartbeat like it’s made of puppies: Labradors.

And you think this is wild, breathing like a creature hidden under his diaphragm, spreading his ribcage like open-heart surgeons might.

Like veterinarians might.

They baptized me in a pool of flames, igniting every nerve ending into letting me be my own person. And drowning me in the truth that one will never be as good as two.

While I see his body is a temple, he sees a city recovering from a harsh winter, peeling ice off the telephone wires where talons perch on their way south.

So when my coffee’s gone cold because I hesitated at its taste,

When tears reverberate down my jawline and my hair won’t get out of my eyes

When my toes break from dancing on the feelings of people around me and avoiding his contact

When I’ve sinned beyond all recognition of the little girl they once rocked to sleep

Because I know they baptized him in a pool of tea, too hot to swallow, too sweet to claim

But my fire burns hotter underneath his boiling figure with the fear of losing fuel- I need them to recognize my helper, my accelerant

So I will climb up the walls I was built in, char every room where I froze in bitter air during sleepless nights, wondering about the judgement of god

Craving arms to wrap around me like the ribbon on a gift

Tied to every love I faded out of, every guy that made fun of the way I pointed my hair dryer like pistol, every girl that tried to hang herself with her extensions and choked on acrylics, every daughter and every son that might inconveniently wake us up on a Saturday morning for breakfast.

It’s so romantic. But at times romanticism makes me feel like a cat stuffed into a hamster wheel. He’s like an eagle resting on a robin’s nest praying God bless you, undressed with the crest of a beating scarlet chest, pounding through every bound breast compressed to express that eagle confessed ownership of the beating scarlet chest of a robin. And you never woulda guessed by the way he speaks to me. So until I sprout wings, I’m wondering how far my feet can take me before I finally meet my soul mate.

And if he’s not comfortable with snuggling tonight, I’ll understand and then he’ll lend me an arm so I can rest my softened jawline against his bicep and watch him breathe. Staring at his mouth, soaked in his smirks, until I come to the conclusion that those are the curves that matter and he is the reason they call it a cupids bow. And the crease that parts his lips is shaped like wings. And I believe they’re gonna take me to heaven. They’ll save me. And I wonder if he’s thinking the same thing about me and I wonder if I have enough in me to save him and I wonder if he even needs saving.

So for anyone who’s ever questioned whether they start too many sentences with I. Or anyone who’s ever questioned if their pen ran out of ink or if the paper just stopped listening. Or anyone who’s ever questioned if they should go unspoken when they saw feathers poking through ace bandages yearning to stretch a beaten down wing. And every handhold with palm lines pressing until the creases all fit neatly together. For anyone who started believing that if god made anyone in his image- it’s this guy. Then maybe you’ve taken a risk. A chance. A flight… and found out it was worth it.

[I hate poems that rhyme]

He fell from the belly of the softest cloud

And landed gallantly at her arm

The heart in her chest never beat so loud

Never felt her face so warm

The man in the sky let his ridges go blunt

To prove he meant her no harm

But danger was undoubtedly at forefront

Despite his ease and his charm

The greatest conflict ever known to the sun

Her holding the hand she’d been dealt

Is both the riskiest thing she’d ever done

And the safest she’d ever felt.

An Open Letter to My Barista

 

Dear Barista Girl,

I usually get home at 6:30 in the morning, tiptoeing from my SUV to my front door with my duffel bag and a coffee in hand. My neighbors all think I work the night shift. I do work the night shift. I also work the day shift. Sometimes I work 48 hours in a row. After that, I lose count.

You see, I live a double life. I am half emergency room technician, half firefighter. Often times I get off one 12-hour shift to go straight to another. Occasionally, I get to go home and sleep in the bed that I paid for. And sometimes, I stop for coffee in between. This morning, you were my barista.

There are some things nobody should ever have to see. I have seen a lot of them. Especially for someone who is less than a quarter-century old. I don’t talk about it often because there are still people who have seen far more than I have and the ones that haven’t don’t need to carry my burdens. But I’ve seen it. Husbands having heart attacks in the hospital room down the hall from where their wives died a month ago. Babies born fully intact, but too early to live. People so smashed in their cars that you can’t identify what body parts are what. Little kids not breathing with self-inflicted bruises around their necks. Gunshot wounds, chainsaw wounds, rabid animal bites… Between my two jobs, I perform CPR on someone roughly once a week. Some people like to throw out words like “hero” and “brave” and “strong,” but I am just another broken human drifting around the shadows of the world trying to keep other people afloat.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my jobs. I love them the same way you love yours. I just have days that make me feel the same way Frappy Hour makes you feel.

And I am tired. I am so tired. And my coworkers are so tired. And you… you are exorbitantly and wonderfully caffeinated. And this morning, as I sauntered into your workplace in a uniform that included red eyes, smoke-filled hair, saliva dried to the corners of my lips, and a mind filled heavy with replays of last night’s calls, I barely heard you cheerfully thank me for my service.

You looked so confused when I, very seriously, returned the thanks. So let me explain, Barista Girl. You are my hero. In this moment and in every moment in which my performance relies solely on how much coffee I’ve had that day. I believe just about every emergency responder will agree that you make a difference in the world so deep and you don’t even notice.

You fill our cups with the magic stuff that wakes us up, keeps us alert, and helps us work efficiently. You fill our cups after the 3am calls that didn’t turn out so great and help us wash down what we don’t want to remember. You fill our cups in the evening before drills where we practice over and over again so if we haven’t had our coffee before the real thing, our muscle memory will hopefully carry us through.

And I notice you. I know you’re on your feet all day trying to please the unpleasable. I know the smells of work follow you home and your apron has a permanent place in your passenger seat. I know you are probably overworked and, despite the number of espresso shots you sneak between customers, you go home tired just like the rest of us. But gosh, Barista Girl, with your unending smiles and wishful thinking and overall positivity, you just mean so much to me.

You are responsible for keeping the rest of us going. And that is a responsibility I can’t even fathom.

So I thank you for your service, Barista Girl. And my patients thank you for mine.

Wanderlust

[written in 2011]
I suffer from wanderlust. I want to see the same constellation during a cloudless night in at least two hundred different locations. I want to have a sleeping bag and a thermos of coffee and a package of Oreos wherever I go for the rest of my life. I want to see a comet, I want to believe in fortune cookies, I want to close my eyes at 11:11, and wish on shooting stars. I want a hard-cover notebook filled with quotes and poems and anything else I find inspirational. I want thick-rimmed glasses, a warm beanie with earflaps, and as if it couldn’t get any better, I want to ask you to join me.

I suffer from non-denomination. I don’t believe in soulmates and I don’t believe people can be possessions, but I think if anyone gave me you, it was probably Orion- that’s who I pray to on nights when I can’t find God in the sky. I think Orion is more disciplined, he’s got a bigger belt and if there’s anything I learned growing up, it’s that you don’t mess with someone who’s got a big belt.

I suffer from stimulation. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m handed a hand and lips press against my ear. I keep your secrets whispering in my subconscious. They speak in my dreams alongside my own secrets which I cautiously share with you from time to time. I’ve never been comfortable holding someone’s hand or sitting in the front seat. I’ve never been easy to trust someone. I won’t say that it’s different… I won’t say it.

I suffer from friendship. After spending months being that wrong person everyone sends text messages to, I’ve learned to write your name in pen instead of pencil with intentions of keeping you permanent. I feel like you are me in a different costume. Even white out would only cover you up until someone scratches it off to reveal what I’ve been looking for, what I am, and what I have been for a long time. In fear, I can paint over you all I want, but you will still be there.

I suffer from you. I’ve found ways to find who you are in extreme detail dancing in my tired mind. Engraved in my sore heart that beats to push blood through the veins only you see. Filling my right lung with warmth and my left lung with happiness. Bringing thickness to my skin and helping me feel invincible. This reflects in my eyes, reflects in my aura.

I suffer from wanderlust. But with you, staring up at the sky, I don’t suffer at all.