Poem: My morning

I want so much
To tell you about my morning.

I woke up looking at you,
Feeling your breath rise and fall
Through the mattress.
And then I pried myself out of bed,
Laced up my running shoes,
And let my feet carry me as far away from you
As my heart didn’t want to go.

Meaning I got to the elevator.
No, the front door.
Then you let out this snore that meant
You’d still be there, asleep, when I got back,
So I let myself step out and onto the sidewalk.

Every other runner tries to dodge the waves
Lapping up on the path,
As if they’re trying to avoid a starving monster.
I like splashing through them.
They only want to come play, too.
So whatever clings to my sneakers and holds on,
I’m happy to take with me.

I went three miles before my lungs were on fire,
Then turned around.
Ran another and walked another.
And ended up at the beach.
Our beach.
The one with the small cafe that’s open for odd hours
And serves margaritas on the rocks without salt,
Just the way you like them.

From there I can see our house.
It’s not much, but it’s home.
Home, sweet home.
Mi casa es su casa.
Insert cliche here.

And I imagined you sleeping there,
Lungs expanding and contracting,
Not burning up like mine.
Skin cool and caressed by the linen,
Not gritty with salt and red with sweat like mine.
Brain preoccupied with dreams of her,
Not thoughts of you,
Like mine.

There was a butterfly buried in the sand,
A victim of the playful waves that just wanted to feel
What wings were like
And crushed them in their wake.
The same way I feared my love
Had crushed you.

Except it wasn’t sand that you buried yourself in.
It was a misery that you named after me
Then a woman you knew before me
And will know after me, too.

Because when I came back,
Gritty from salt,
Dusty from sand,
One hand cupped around a broken, buried butterfly
That I wanted to use to show you I finally understood,
And my other hand turning the doorknob,

You were gone.

Monarch butterfly partially buried in sand

Butterfly buried in sand, as found at Ohio Street Beach in Chicago on July 7.

 

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Poem: “Perfectly Imperfect with a Bottle of Singapore Lager”

During one of our imaginary conversations
She called me “perfect”
And I laughed so hard that the Singapore lager
(which I ordered because it had a tiger on the bottle)
Foamed up in the back of my throat
And made me choke on the joke.

Perfect? I suppose I am.
Perfectly imperfect.
Perfect in the way pi is perfect
Because it makes no sense
On purpose
But still has a purpose.

I’m a manic pixie dream girl
Who is mentally stable,
Weighs 150 pounds,
Can’t fly,
Doesn’t like The Smiths,
Zonks out in the backseat during your road trip to find yourself,
Finds nightmares more worth her time than dreams,
And despises that after earning a degree and two promotions
Is still called “girl” in common colloquialism.

As I pass by good opportunities
I wave at them
With the same lolling wrist-roll
As royalty regarding subjects out a foggy car window
Just before the cavalcade careens off a cliff.

I choreograph zombie chases
To Stevie Wonder hits
While I walk to work.

I wait for text messages that never come
But refuse to make the first move
Because I’m stubborn
(but not really),
Because I like being chased
(but only by people I want chasing me),
And mostly because I’m terrified of appearing too aggressive
(even though I am).

My neighbors know my real-time reactions
To reruns of Designing Women
Not because the walls are that thin
But because I’m that loud
In my passion for Annie Potts.

It took me an inexcusable amount of time
To learn that Britney Spears wasn’t the original artist
Behind “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
And I felt betrayed by my elders
When I finally found out.

I expect too much and not enough all at once.

(I stole that last line from a Fall Out Boy song.)

I write poems that suck
Paragraphs that suck
Short stories that suck
And then post them online
And anxiously await comments that say they suck,
That say they don’t,
And that try to sell me all-natural male enhancement hormones.

The smell of Jack Daniels makes me gag
Because it reminds me of fumbling hands, slippery tongues and blurry faces
Encountered during dim nights in college,
And also the death of Janis Joplin.

I fall in love too fast
Because I imagine conversations with people
That make our relationship seem stronger than it is,
That make them seem more interested in me than they are,
That make me seem more perfectly imperfect than I am.
Like this one, right now.

Poem: New Age Resolutions

In the icing on my birthday cake
I wrote a list.
I titled it

“New Age Resolutions.”

Chocolate frosting collected under my nail
As my finger wove between candles and candies,
Tracing:

Start something new.
Finish something old.
Then finish that something new, too.

Be more humble,
But post more selfies.
And videos.
And projects.
And writing.
And update LinkedIn.

Read before bed
And meditate in the morning,
But don’t fear sleeping in sometimes,
And don’t stay up too late on a school night
(Unless for a good reason,
Like a concert
Or one more chapter
Or a friend in need
Or being in need of a friend.)

Run more
But always toward things
Never away.

Don’t regret past mistakes,
But don’t dwell on them, either.
Stop thinking of him when tongue tastes tequila.
Stop thinking of the other him when nose detects a lit Camel Light.
Stop thinking of the other other him when ears catch that song,
Because you never danced to it together anyway.

In fact, go dancing.
Find someone to dance with,
Even if it’s the 1- and 3-count
(You’re Caucasian, after all)
And a reluctantly sipped Corona missing the lime.

Drink less.
Cook more.
Tweet less.
March more.
Swear less.
Kiss more.

Eat more cake.

I took my own advice,
So I ran out of space.
And I signed the contract with myself
By licking the frosting off my finger
With a champagne cork “pop.”