Tag Archives: poem

The Woods

the hands are mine – small and pale,
hungry. it is as if a seed has dropped into my
palms, stretching inward

seeking nutrients from a body I have never
understood. it is as if someone
has planted the last tree here,
inside me
and it’s urgent and important and
sometimes my anxiety peels back the
bark protecting my chest until
I can’t breathe
teetering against roots without
an anchor, always a jump away
from felling the forest —

then
he smiles at me

and I can feel the leaves press against my skin
from the inside, I open my mouth
and taste fresh air;
hand over hand, I climb out of myself.
I find the sun.

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They Could’ve Been Dancing

I truly believe you’re either born a poet or forged into one – but I can’t decide where that leaves me.

I’ve been a poet longer than almost anything else – my love for poetry just barely predates my trauma and the subsequent illnesses it wrought. Poetry was my coping mechanism long before I understood what I had survived. Words just make sense in a way that numbers and figures never quite managed.

April is National Poetry Month, intended to expose the nation to the beauty and calamity of words. Poetry is where I began. My first poem was published in Highlights magazine before I was old enough to type. It was about the wind. There was an owl. That’s all I remember. But I dictated the poem to my mother and I was so proud when she printed it out. Proud, but nervous. Once it was sent to the magazine, it wasn’t my poem anymore. But we have the print in my closet, locked away under other little memories deemed soft enough to treasure.

And so I was a poet.

I won an award at Tattered Covers. It was expected that the winners would read their work aloud but I couldn’t, not in the slightest, so I trembled behind my mother instead. She read about the wind and I shook, face red, my words so separate from myself that I could barely stand to hear them. Then the crowd applauded! And suddenly the fear and dread melted into something different, something I have struggled to define in the years since.

It was like being heard for the first time.

I hope I smiled then, but it’d be true to form if I had cried instead.

 

 

They Could’ve Been Dancing

we’re packed into a storage house
past its prime, plastered with graffiti and
band stickers and my friend’s glitter
bombs from five shows ago that never
washed away

I don’t know any of the songs but
that boy has my heart in one hand
and my hand in the other and
I’m shouting beneath my skin, eyes open,
watching the men grab each other
and sway

it’s beautiful
tangentially speaking
as if music, like weeds, grew
around a structure and said

“yes, here,
this will be enough.”

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Wisdom teeth

Learned today that most young girls
wake up crying after sedation
Doc pulls the needle out and before
their eyes open,
they’ve flooded

hot tears, a riverbank bursting,
nothing sweet about it – just sad
on sad on sad
the gauze lining their beaten gum tissue
fades to red as they shake

Doc is gentle, Doc is good
but I know this will not be the last time
a man carves bloody craters there
I know these girls will be
floodland women, jaws aching
as they struggle to pry
calloused hands from their bruised tongues.

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Chronic

My body is shutting down.

Fibromyalgia morphs stress into pain – the more stressed I get, the more pain I feel. It always starts in my feet. I can feel the muscles churning and twisting underneath thin skin. I press my thumbs into my heel to stave off yelling.

This pain carries upward, like an exponential chart made physical, made unreadable, made unreliable. Pain moves upward. It is currently as high as my hips and spine. Imagine someone unbolting the connector for your hips – all night. The echoes of their monkey wrench colliding with bone again and again and again wakes me up at all hours. My spine radiates pain at the base. I can feel the exact vertebrae that has betrayed me.

When you find a doctor who believes in fibromyalgia, they ask you to recount every trauma in your life. Using this method, they can give you a general idea of when you maxed out your Flight or Fight response. I was eight and I have long since discovered that there is a third option.

Flight, fight, or freeze. Everyone forgets the freeze.

You know what blows about having a chronic illness like fibro? No one can see your diagnosis. Your own family tell you it’s no big deal. Friends will tell you their aunt’s father’s best friend had it and he still ran twelve miles every day. People will tell you that your illness is your fault, that you’re not doing enough, that you could force yourself to get better “if you would just…”

And you know what? They’re going to tell you the same thing.

People will tell you that you should not feel sad. People will misdiagnose your pain as a tantrum and their privilege will allow them to see nothing else. They will tell you to get over it, they will tell you there’s nothing to be down, they will tell you that there’s no reason to be upset.

Many of us are hurting right now. We are stuck in the freeze, our wounds open, our throats raw. I’m going to invite you to take your time and heal. However long you need. It is valid to feel devastated, terrified, angry. You’re allowed to feel whatever is filling your chest cavity. When you’re ready, we have some work to do.

I love you. I’m proud of you. We’ll figure this out together.


 

 

TO THOSE WHO HOLD CONGRESS WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU FEEL DIFFICULT TO LOVE

Wolves have 42 teeth and even the ones
that melt your heart are strong enough
to pierce it and there’s no such thing
as mercy on the forest floor

Look beyond the gaping maw,
remove the bandages from your palms
and remember that it has always
known your taste

This time, run
this time shove the blood-moistened snout
from between your ribs and howl back
scream into the night that bore the beast

This time
take no prisoners.


 

an old poem that felt fitting after this week. Please, please be good to each other – love loudly. Heal however you need, do no harm, and lean on the people you trust.

and if you need people, you’ve got me.

-K

 

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A Different Kind of Today

I am not succinct. I envy those who can write cleanly, those who don’t abuse commas and easily trim run-on thoughts. I am long-winded and reaching, always reaching, for connections and reasons and substance.

That’s who I am, you know?

And it carries through to almost every facet of my life. Very rarely can I let things pass unsaid. For example, I point out every wonderful thing I see on car trips – “look, a cow! do you see that windmill? those clouds are so FLUFFY. I’m pretty sure I saw a duck.”

I suspect this trait makes my company an acquired taste, but I hardly mind. I find myself amongst openhearted and loving people who accept these quirks with a laugh.

With that in mind, here are two pages from my latest watercolor chapbook. They are short and not so sweet, but I’m proud of them all the same.

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“I’m sorry – someone’s at the door and I thought I made it pretty clear that this house fire was intentional – can I call you back?”

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“I used to think it was romantic, the idea of breaking down each other’s walls, now I’m starting to see that it’s a coding violation and the landlord is calling the authorities.”

 

 

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