Red Light

It was there for almost a second
The green light on the horizon,
Perhaps imagined, but I swear I saw it.
I swear I saw it.

I saw you leaning forward,
Asking questions, smiling
In my direction. You were
smiling.

And God it burned me sent my
Head spinning around the
Dreams I never told you about.

And I talked.
And you talked.
And I talked.
And you talked.
And I talked wrong.
And you slipped out of the dark bar booth
And you slipped out to the night

And I was drunk on my imaginings,
Staggering down the cold damn sidewalk
Beckoning, begging.

And you opened your car door
And I tried to open mine
And I tried to open yours
And I tried to remember what they did in the movies
But the wheels pulled away
And into the street

And there was just enough street light
To watch your face wrinkle and cry
At the red light on Mass Ave and Shepard.

Roastery

I’m applying to creative writing classes. One asked me to write about a favorite place.

My home as of two years ago (and every summer before that) is Buena Vista, Colorado, a town of 3,000 people (when everyone’s home) located at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks. At the center of this mountainous, one-stoplight metropolis is one of my favorite places in the world: The Roastery Café. This corner café, owned by the baseball cap-wearing town mayor (you can’t make this stuff up), is the hub of activity and exchange within my little town. During my time away, I spent many days editing photos in my corner booth, and eventually grew used to the steady stream of visitors and waves from the various people of my town passing through for their daily coffee. Often, my interactions would be brief: Drew, the maintenance guy from the summer camp where my mom works, would say a quick, “Hi,” or a raft guide would ask to pet my dog. Sometimes, friends would sit down and begin long, caffeine-fueled discussions about families, religion, and worldviews. Though I could avoid my Trump-loving friends on Facebook, I couldn’t refuse them a seat across from me at the Roastery. I had to either censor what I say or own it, because private conversations became quickly public. In Social Studies 10, we finished the year off with the German philosopher Habermas, whose hope in society came from places like coffeehouses, where individuals could exchange ideas separately from political or religious settings. I take pride in living in a town where such a coffeehouse exists—where the baristas not only know my top five favorite drinks depending on the temperature and time of day, but also take the personal responsibility of making sure that the townspeople of Buena Vista are happy, cared-for, and safe. This warmth and sense of community has allowed us to develop relationships in a context most societies despise: with strangers in a public place.

I Mounted A Donkey

I mounted a donkey
And asked him to show me the valley.
He smiled and showed me the hill.
The hill was nice, so I rode him still.

I mounted a donkey
And together we walked for a while.
He stopped for a drink and asked for a pat.
The donkey was nice, so I didn’t mind that.

I mounted a donkey
And hummed to his rock and his rhythms.
He spun. Threw the load off his back.
In sweet disbelief, I was bucked by the ass.

A moment’s suspension that quickened my heart
A tumbleweed landing and I was repulsed

I mounted a donkey
And asked him to show me the valley.
The obstinate ass showed me the hill.
I thought about flying, and I rode him still.

Someone Asked Me

Someone asked me if I was an artist once.
I sort of stammered and squinted my eyes.
Artists’ apples don’t look like oranges,
But I’ve got faces peeping at me from margins.

Face.
In the space, I draw shapes.
I draw flowers. I draw his face.

Solve me the story of the chicken and egg.
Of the face I practiced until perfect
And the perfect face I drew to the dregs.
Even when I’m looking at yellow lilies,
My important pages still fill with
Surprised eyebrows and tidal hair.
Damn lips.

And I know he’s not mine anymore
But damn it; he’s stuck in my pen,
Blended into this purple ink,
Bending over this paper over again, and over,
Staining the sheets that won’t hold someone else.
That won’t taste the face of someone less bitter.

So I keep my head filled and hands empty
Don’t stop me; I’m marching up, onward
I’m widening the words I write lately
‘Cause I’m scared of you filling my margins.

January in the Asylum

Dear                    ,

It’s been seventeen days since you last wrote. Seventeen days since I stopped writing. Seventeen days since I last called you Lover.

I just wanted to ask about New Years Eve. Did they light the fireworks again? Did you walk down Copley Avenue in the snow and watch the night explode through silhouetted trees? Did you slide into old bars and eat your family’s food and do all the things you told me about?

Did you miss me at all?

Sorry. I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I’m thinking about you right now. Missing the scattered pages I used to wake up to back when I fell asleep reading your letters with your voice in my head and breath in my ear.

I’ve started packing to leave this place and to reenter the world outside these gates. The world where you are. But I’ve stopped calling you Lover and, though I can walk down your streets, I can’t knock on your door.

Damn. I’m sorry. I just miss you is all.

I’m sorry I couldn’t catch you. I’m sorry that, from inside these gates, I couldn’t care for you. That these gates aren’t an excuse anymore. That I gave up.

I just wanted to write and assure you that if you’re hurting, I’m hurting too. And that I’m fine like a marathoner running mile 22 on a sprained ankle. Don’t write me back, please. Don’t give me a chance to stop running.

Last time you wrote, you sent me a newspaper from December 4th. Why?

 

 

 

December in the Asylum

Dear Lover,

I told myself I wouldn’t write you this time. Last time, I wrote you. But this time is not like last time. Last time, I lost you. This time I still have you. Perhaps this asylum isn’t what I expected. They’re keeping me here, you know. I used to write, “Im chill I’m chill.” How desperate I was to convince you that I didn’t care. I was mumbling in the dark, squinting at the light, pinching at the pain, and thinking words would show you. I’m chill, lover, I’m chill. I’m still here, you know. But I’m talking to people now and the Words they gave me are getting Less Scary. High Functioning is what they call me. Higher, even, than others. Higher, perhaps, than people outside these walls. Higher, Lover, than you. I’m chill, darling, and it’s killing you. You can believe that now.

Yesterday, the woman told me I had no red flags. No red flags because I put away my white flags and fight back now. I don’t run in circles anymore; Lover, I’m not spinning out. I used to write that you never read my letters. Now your letters are stacking up, and Im not sure I need them. I don’t know what happened, darling. I’m packing up my strings in brown packages, wearing colors, sharpening my pencils, and no one is telling me not to. They’re letting me out soon, I know it. They said “We don’t try to keep you from the world,” but I still need permission to see it. My gut tells me it’s all falling away soon. I see pigeons on sidewalks and conveyer belts under x-rays and expectations and I’m not scared anymore.

Does that scare you, Lover? Are you scared that I won’t be in a cage anymore? Or are you scared that my letters now sound familiar?

Lover, I never wanted to leave you. The letters in my basket were the fresh air that kept me from choking. You, lover, are man enough to cry and fall asleep and wake up with a bulldog named Winston. You, lover, have given me family and a home with bright eyes over the ocean and books on yellow walls. For the most gentle intimacy, you said we never got close. I guess, reaching through iron bars, we never had the chance to. I spent many nights dreaming about what it would be like to stand face to face– to reach out and to touch with no sirens or bells. Will we get there? Both standing? Now in my dreams, I watch you fall out of the sky and I’m running out the gates to catch you.

I can’t catch you, Lover. I never could. Because I am chill— really. I’m not running in circles around you anymore. If you land in my arms Lover, I won’t be able to bear the weight.

What, then? I don’t know how to lose you, but I don’t know how not to.

Sucker-Punch

Even now, I know that nobody’s reading this. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t written in a while. Because my life wasn’t quite trivial enough to brush off in the French mysticism that surrounded this blog’s birth. I figured I’d write things that would be easily shrouded by the voices in my head; I couldn’t scream about the big things from the rooftops of an abandoned city. I mean, that, and that the people that I write about read this. Bold language favors carpet stains and finicky WiFi routers, not stuff that hurts people.

I’m here though. And I’ll have wanted to know what I felt tonight. And I’ll have wanted it to be buried in raw archives. Maybe artists just use art to hide their feelings from the passerby and show it to the thinker. Wonder, then, reader. What here is purely aesthetic?

Sucker-punched, guard down,
I’m hit after everything’s done
After I’ve told everyone I’m fine
After I’ve kept the right distances
And he’s picking up his pieces

And so comes the avalanche
In silent, secret, abstraction
A blinding cloud of white
Cut hair wet, tired body undressed,
Assassinated in a pocket of breath

Four years ago, I felt this before
When I held a pitchfork in the morning
And a Colorado summer’s floor fell through
A stiff breeze whispered me a name
Until I wilted and wept there in the shade

Fucking idiocy, this stuttering surrender
You got to hate me and hold me
In bruises from the fault lines.
I let good terms overturn me
And rolled away while the fire kept burning.