Coffee stains

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Life happens in the shots of time between sips of coffee
I slurp bitter foam today dreaming of creamy moments with you tomorrow
of hearts beating on espresso, sending echoes through porcelain cups
of steam rising to fog frosty window panes in early mornings
of my lips leaving blotchy stamps like red leaves pressed onto a page
and your hands shedding inky scribbles of in-progress poetry
onto dense mugs

Of caffeinated kisses stirred with sweet sentences
and decaf discussions brewed with iced passions
All interrupted by quiet sipping
All leaving impressions like the brownish rings that will linger after
cups are washed, pots are cooled, and grounds discarded

I slide my hands through 3 o’clock hair and the corners of sleepy eyes
hoping to be hit with the rich scent of coffee beans and you.

In your absence, I sip
I sip often
Between sips I hear birds tuning, the neighbor’s cat snoring, and the last whoosh of steam shoot from the coffeemaker into a pool of light
I sip often
Hoping that my last sip will mark the first bookend on a piece of time you exist.

I imagine ordering your existence to a barista
“I’ll have…a patient partner with an extra shot of unpredictability and intellectual stimulation.”
      “Would you like to try our new flavor? Its sweetened syrup inhibits rational decision-making.”
“Sure, why not?”

I’ll wait at an unfurnished ledge, fiddling with splinters
Hoping they got my name right, hoping another tired soul won’t grab mine by mistake
– Or on purpose
I sit and push sugar granules along knots of wood, observing time ooze by the outside glass
I wonder if the window is not in fact, a two-way mirror
I observe a stuffed elephant bobbing on the surface of a family
And lovers running into light poles, the lock of their eyes unpicked

My ears ache with anticipation of my name
of the coffee shop customers hearing, even for a second, that my order is ready
of the warm, tantalizing comfort of that first sip
of those milky moments with a nameless future desire
of enjoying the sweetest piece this life has to offer
Before the last drip of mocha splashes
Before the cups are washed, the pot is cooled, and the grounds discarded

 

Paper Trails

Image result for paper in the wind

She is notorious for paper trails. Bus passes, cinema stubs, brochures, receipts float into her footprints as she walks. Bit by bit, she folds, tears, and rips; letting scraps fall into the breeze. Tiny paper remnants can always be found in her hair and on her scarves. They fill her boots until they overflow. It’s easy to see where she’s been by following the bread crumbs of wadded paper that lay in her weaving, uneasy footsteps.

She carries up to five newspapers in her purse at all times; ten for dates and parties. Her inky fingerprints stain porcelain coffee cups and waiters always find creases and splits in her tips. Teachers frown upon her test-taking habits. She uses her pencil to poke holes in the multiple choice answer bubbles. Her classmates call her the human hole-punch. At parties, straws clog often from stray scraps that found their way into the punch as she walked by. It’s a favorite tradition for the party-goers to use the soggy wads as spit ball ammunition. Often she is the target.

Her dates get used to the taste of paper in their dinner. Sometimes they find the habit cute. They smile when they find bits on their sweater and in their bed. She once fell in love with a man who woke her up by sprinkling the colorful pieces above her, like confetti. He left her trails in his apartment to remind him of her. But eventually he, like the others, began to throw the pieces away. He vacuumed every morning, frustrated when another fresh snowing of scraps was stuck in the carpet later that afternoon.  She never has a boyfriend for very long.

Her habit only increases. Soon, the constant slicing, biting, tearing, crumpling keeps her from sleeping. Her fingers grow tired and full of paper cuts as large piles of white nothings grow taller and taller in her apartment. She has twenty newspapers stacked on her doorstep each morning and begins collecting leftovers from recycling bins. As the stacks and piles grow higher, they begin to form structures. Walls are erected out of torn grocery bags, egg cartons, and strips of cardboard. She constructs a ceiling of newspapers so that she can read the articles when she looks up from her bed. The printed letters are her night sky. She forgets the color of her floor that now lies beneath layers and layers of confetti. When she is finished, she is living in a paper mache kingdom.

It was on one of those late sleepless nights that she thought, in hopelessness, about the boy she loved, the friends she’d lost, and the millions of paper trails she’d left behind. It was on that night that she became frustrated at the constant tearing of her hands and at the black and white blankness of her paper kingdom that gleamed at her every time she opened her eyes. It was on that night that she lit a match. Cinema stubs, book pages, flyers, newspapers, cardboard boxes, exams, receipts, and the girl sat quietly as orange flames roared.

In the morning fire fighters and neighbors followed the paths of ashes left behind from the fire and midnight winds. The ashy trails reached incredible distances. For hours, crowds followed the blackened piles, sifting, searching, hoping to find an endpoint where she would be. The trails twisted and interwove themselves and from above, one could see it was actually only one, continuous path. It was her last and longest trail.

A trail with no end.

Being a girl

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Being a girl is being gun shy
It’s loving the man behind the gun so much,
you’ll do anything to keep his finger off the trigger
It’s drawing his name in a heart in your blood from the bullet wound after he shoots

Being a girl is staying afloat
It’s keeping rampant waves of the emotional storm
striking your insides from tipping over any boats, puncturing any sails
It’s drowning in anxieties, doubts, and insecurities, but still coming up for air

It’s the strength it takes to be seen as weak
Rolling the dice in a game of cheats
Taking a deep breath when the world falls at her feet

Being a girl is playing dumb for dumb players
It’s apologizing, strategizing, realizing—
Her best wasn’t good enough

Being a girl is

Being a girl is cutting off limbs and contorting into unnatural shapes to fit inside somebody else’s box
For a girl, makeup isn’t only the beauty products slabbed across her face, but is her affixing a smile, caring eyes, and open ears every morning in the mirror
Which are later wiped away at the end of the day from the puddle of tears on her pillow

Being a girl is a competition, you have to prove what you do is worthy of taking seriously
You have to step on some self-confidences, hurl some judgments
What’s targeting some sensitive self-conscience bulls-eyes?
Throwing a few gossip grenades?
If at the end we are what’s shining in the rubble, we have made ourselves worth it

Being a girl is being a mannequin
It’s posing, expectations of clothing, and self-loathing
It’s becoming accustomed to gazes and becoming deaf to dirty darts of harassment
The necessity of travelling in groups
The dealing with dangers of being out after dusk

Being a girl is a lonely journey
Independence is the redemption, self-reliance and non-compliance
Are essential to becoming a woman

Being a woman is no easier

Being a woman is taking on the world that molded her so unforgivingly as a girl
It’s using her talents to challenge mindsets on what society sees as her assets
It’s fighting and surviving
For that girl she used to be

Being a woman is righting the wrongs
Being a woman is being strong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t tell where it starts and you begin

You told me you want to die young, famous like Cobain

It wasn’t until today that I believed you meant it

It wasn’t until today that our world changed

You blow up at me right on time just when we are starting over

Leaving me cold alone, wondering what might have been

 

I always wondered what our lives would look like, how we would end up

But in the aftermath, I lost my desire to imagine a future for us

It wasn’t until an impersonal website informed me

That recovery is only a “journey”

(that your kids may well get it too)

That I could see the future clearly for what it would be

 

I always cherished you sharing pieces of yourself

You only shared it with me

It wasn’t until now that the weight of being the only one you told sunk me

I pleaded you to find help (you never did take anything seriously)

It killed us and in the silence

I realize the next time I’ll see you will be at your funeral

 

It wasn’t until tear-choked through the phone that I finally said out loud

The thing that stops my breath every time I dare to face reality

The one way I have hope we’ll make it through

The reason this is all so hard:

I love you

Lovelace

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I met a girl draped in lovelace, desire dripping from her curls

With misty eyes of mystery and lips puckered up with words

Her lily hands, they guided me through gardens bloomed in red

But her moonlit beauty truly held back grasping all she said


Old lover’s ghosts grew behind her eyes as she shed her tired shield

I told the girl to trust, to ease, her heart with me – be tarry free

I spun sweet sentences, carefully wrapping them around the worry

But her melodious voice completely melted over what she was telling


Her hesitant heart beat wildly and I told her just to rest

She finally quieted questioning and leaned against my chest

A tender piece of time twisted quickly in my mind

But with rush I sang songs of shortness, I began to leave with her behind


The clouds cleared from fiery eyes, now filled with ferocity and growing despise

I blew her back her burdens as she cursed the air filled with my whitest lies

Something within her bosom broke and I could see tears welling

But darkened day and clenching trees prevented me from hearing all the yelling


She wrinkled up my words of empty wooing, throwing them to the ground

Exclaiming how her life and lace were now and forever, loveless bound

Running now through rows of roses, I heard her broken pleading

But her silver dagger unflinchingly kept me from leaving

I didn’t know

I didn’t know this time would come

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have my heart pulse again

I didn’t know that the electric butterflies inside me were still alive

I thought you killed every last one

Yet I’m standing here, watching the barbed wire fall from my heart

All because he’s looking at me

I, a broken record, thought I’d be whispering your name on repeat for forever

Until he stopped the track, He gave me a new sound

While he and I start like clashing storm, you and I end with a quiet kiss

I’m okay with you and you with me

Our love is different now, not gone, just different

It runs deep to a place I’ll never be able to dig

My heart will forever be rooted to you

Thank you for being steady

Even when I wasn’t yours, you held me close

Thank you for calling me strong when I was at my weakest

Seeing my beauty in my ugliest of times

For destroying every single thing I thought I knew about love

and teaching me what I know about it now

I hope I can use that with him

I hope this new soul is as vibrant and frustrating as yours

I hope you find one as contradictory and full of love as mine

As I write, I cry one last time because of you

The tears of yesterday were from pain and panic

Now they fall to my keyboard out of happiness, and relief

They fall from eyes that see us from a distance

They recognize all that we’ve done, gone through, and become

It’s an amazing view from here

So wish me luck

Kiss me one last time

I’d say goodbye,

But we both know

This isn’t the end

This Poem

I wrote this poem

I wrote it on the corners of textbooks, the margins of yesterday’s newspaper, and my bed post

I wrote it there because that’s what writing is to me

It’s the late-night logs I keep when an idea strolls in at 12:31 AM

The frantic scribbling after that perfect pun reveals itself in spanish class

When I drop everything else, because my soul craves language

I kept this poem

I kept it in between the pages of my favorite book, in the very back of my sock drawer, and underside my pillow

I kept it there because that’s where personal belongings go

and that’s what my writings are

personal

They are a fragment of me, the missing puzzle piece

So I keep them close

I never write out words on clean paper, then put them on display

That’s not me

I’m messy and shuffled

an observer, a learner

So are my words

I love this poem

I love it not because it’s my finest because I assure you it’s not

but because it has my voice

Because no matter how terrible something I write may be

I love it because nothing else in the world is

as genuine me