B.

Four years without you took roots like prickly flowers on arid earth; flowed through like hot liquid down our throats. While we miss you miserably, the muddy cracks make space for light; the burns radiate warmth. We are better people because of you. I hope you’re well 🖤✨

Exposed.

I slit my wrists open and the exposed vein bled out the horrors of my barely-there childhood. My chest echoes hollow from all the pain and crying. I am birthed to be nothing more than a dam of misery. I am birthed to be nothing more than a shrine of my mother’s lost youth.

I was born on a September night while storms brewed in the horizon. My mother bled like she never did before, her hips dipped in and out of pain. I was born from the ashes of her dreams. Her sorrows gave way to a life full of promise and yearning.

Her bed is where she will lay unfulfilled for decades to come. I am my mother’s savior — all her hopes made flesh. For a moment, as most women are wired to feel when spawning their young, all her failures seem so trivial as she looked into the eyes she carved from her flesh.

But I still catch her in daydreams. She traces the silhouette of her “maybes” and “if onlys” as if she could bring life to them just through wishing. She lives through me because it is the only way she knows how.

Her skin bleeds rose petals from the thorn crown she wears. Her floor scattered with relics from her adolescence. What hopes and dreams died with her that day she found out she is with child? What medicine does she take for her restless heart?

She said her life has been multiplied by four; that she is reborn one child at a time. Still, she gets lost her in daydreams. We are her surrenders. We are her hopes and dreams and “could-have-beens”. She comes to life sipping on our tantrums. She sinks her teeth into our tears.

But my mother is also the monster under my bed; the bottomless canyon I keep falling into. Her name conjures nightmares and I constantly slip into the void of her creation. My mother has carved me empty.

Written on my wrists are the words she repeats into my ears:

You have surpassed all I am, all I ever will be. You will be my saving grace — all my dreams realized. You will pull me out of the gaping wound of my own mother’s doing. You cannot leave me behind. You will save me. Please, save me.

For L.

I know relationships are nebulous — they can uplift and defy gravy, or they can lead love-drunk sirens into the bog. I have drowned in the quagmire many a time. I have been saved by well-meaning, but tempestuous boys many times, too. But while they got me out, my body and mind didn’t leave.

The body never forgets. Pain creates a hypervigilance that manifests like frozen embers. You can never put a finger on what sensations are there, not really — they are low, hot trills that permeate the crevices of your skull, the valves of your heart. They tingle and then numb. They leave the body through the path carved along your spine and diffuse into the atmosphere — taking every bit of hope with it.

You are then left empty, as if there is no more of yourself to lose. You become a shell yet again. The hollow hums, then vibrates until it becomes unbearable. There is a burning need to fill the void with more bodies, more trinkets, more half-meant promises. I know all this. I feel all this.

It is not your fault. The world can be a ghastly place. And while people can heal you, they can also wound you. The closer you let them, the deeper the cut. You are in survival mode like your ancestors before you; like the ill-fated lovers of a bygone epoch. You have not much choice left except to fight, flee, or freeze — and right now, you are frozen still while the earth violently shifts below your feet. You can stay there and never again feel, or you can drag one foot in front of the other and heal.

You are allowed to feel weak, but you are not obliged to make yourself more palatable for the consumption of others. Allow yourself one more choice. A new way of living requires a painful awakening, releasing, unlearning. Allow yourself to soften and exist in the delicious place of the present. Allow yourself to feel small for a time until you suffocate under the weight of the narrow space, until you tire of the affliction of wasted time, that you force yourself free.

Let go of burdens heavier than your broken heart. Revisit decrepit tombstones to remember what you allowed to die in order to live. Revisit dusty shelves sagging with lessons drawn from all the places you have been.

When you give your weaknesses space to breathe, you allow the right people to see the fabric of your soul and where the threads are damaged or worn thin — to which they, at minimum, will do no further harm. Instead, they will ever so carefully start to weave their own threads in places where you are laid bare and bleeding. Some will depart, some will stay, but each will leave a masterpiece in their wake — a tapestry meant to drape on the shoulders of the willing and the worthy.

There is a magical life ahead of you. I pray that you live it.

Hard brew.

Once upon another time, there was a girl whose hopes and dreams left her aching for time to go faster. Her heart was massive, her faith unshaken.

“What could possibly go wrong tomorrow?”

Now, her cigarette smoulders in her makeshift ashtray. She’s been putting off getting a real one because she cannot bring herself to admit that she’s been a slave to this nicotine tyrant for a good part of her life now.

The island is vast, but life is short in her city. There’s a knot in her gut just kicking and screaming.

“Do people in my life care enough to love the muddy parts of me just as much as the shiny ones?”

It’s five minutes before 11. She sits and marinates in the gloom and silence. How many others share her delusions of a high-functioning adulthood?

Melancholy brews in the pot and she sips from cups filled with her own internal tantrums. She has yet to pick out what to wear for work tomorrow. She keeps staring at the clock wishing, praying for time to stop so she can while away in the standstill.

“Can I put off life for a little while longer?”

Only a few know the way she breaks. Only a few have cared enough to help pick up the pieces. Her light flickers most days and she dreads the burnout. Her grief changes shape, but it never ends.

For D.

Most days, I look down at the wreckage of what once was a heart. My soul made heavy by the dreadful weight of melancholy. Most days, I live in a tyrannical regime of clocks and calendars. My thoughts fall from porous hands into silent waters. Most days, I hide my heart and give away my body. My skin screams violent protests against my fallen convictions. Most days, I am an imaginary friend standing outside while looking in. An entire universe separates me from a world where I do not exist.

I am a ghost, most days. Exhaustingly morose at worst, seductively haunting at best. Like clockwork, my hands betray me as they shake with the volume of all the words that fall out of my mouth. They can no longer catch them. They can no longer contain them. So I find myself constantly hurling strings of letters and syllables about hopes and dreams and fears and failures at people who say they want to make sense of the haunting, only to find out they will always fall short.

Most days, I am a voyeur. My feet take me along cobbled streets lined with bare-window brownstones and my eyes catch a glimpse of the animated life within. When I passed by your window, you let me in. I told you I was born, like my mother, in a storm. Because of that, I sail troubled waters to live up to form. I like to keep my heart tucked away from prying eyes, never to reveal too much. In it are wounds that are too profound to heal, while some have set so heavily into scars they feel like braille. I did not know you would have reading hands. Such hands hold a cup full of high life, that is they have lived a life without me. I did not know you would have kind eyes. Such eyes have seen the world for what it is, and now they only see me.

I cannot remember a time when I violently wished to stay in one place. I cannot remember a moment when I became weary of being cynical. It used to be that I remember tenderness only through the haze of my dreams. Now, I taste it on your lips. Now, it seeps into the textures of my skin. You have made all the difference.

I will wait for you all week. Every week. For as long as this love permits. This love is a voluptuous exile of our choosing, an oasis in the middle of an arid world. I have had the pleasure of meeting past lovers who had the power to lift reality for a while, who simply had roughly the right shape to fit for a time. But you weren’t made to fit. You were made to radiate radical softness in a hardened world. Here I am, soaked to the bone in your light. The empty parts now filled. My old and worn soul made new.

If my intention for this opus still escapes you, put simply: I love you.

Shot glasses.

The tides swell with excitement

as the moon rises to its throne,

as the stars take a dip in the ebony sky.

Behind the brashness of the wind,

behind the poise of the waves,

is a dribble of melancholy life

that savored the same,

that whimpered the same.

“Where does the sun go when it sets?

We all know sunsets can only last for so long.”

These questions beat on,

like martyrs in search of the wounded.

Never stopping until they taste

the bittersweetness of the truth.

It is here,

at the bottom of this glass.

It is here

that you’ll find the raw,

the wounded,

the sublime.

Here is the place

where broken hearts go.

Here is where the sun

goes to die.

Sunset boy.

My sunset boy in a sea of sorrows,

do you know I worship the gods that reside in the hollow of your neck?

We were both born on hallowed ground,

my bed is our witness.

Hold me as I moan songs of pagans.

Kiss me as I sway to the ballad of your lies.

Your skin radiates carnal bliss

and I inhale every bit greedily.

Let’s hum the unsung melodies of this permanent fate.

We are too big for our skin,

too morose for the dripping sunshine.

We wear our anguish like brand new shirts,

words come too close for my liking,

careless promises taste of honey and leaving.

Bedroom eyes and measured steps,

my knees made liquid.

Let repetitions be staged,

I implore you.

I adore you so horribly.

A fear & a wish.

The sirens came after my thundering heartbeats

screams of rescue pounding on the door

You with the syrup hair and bedroom eyes

Words, wine-sweet medley

I drink them all up

until the glass is half empty

I prayed to the fog

addressing a loan god

Summer insomnias amidst body heat

Scent like the heady aroma

that rises from the earth

after rain

Let’s make homes out of the echoing silence of this paved uncertainty

Ego, larger than life

yet cowering deep within

You are both a fear and a wish

the nightmare and the daydream

Loving intent hidden in confined spaces

of a black hole heart

I scurry away

Love is the specter that hides in the closet

the insidious shadow under the bed

How many times have I made a home

in the belly of this beast?

So I scurry away

You are both a fear and a wish

the nightingale’s song to the poison in these veins

So I sway

to the ballad of your singsong voice

I dance

to the twinkle in your eyes

There is no way out

there is only surrender

So why do I

refuse to answer the door

and hide?

Still you.

The moon shines bright as longing begins to afflict me again.

I turn on the light to take down the dream of you and me.

Can I resurrect the parts of me that died when you left?

My darling, how can I turn back time?

I loved you at my prime.

It seems that my heart has peaked.

My soul is still yours.

It’s still your warmth I seek.

My freckled lover, how do we start over?

Life has been unkind to the love still brewing inside.

How do I unlove you?

How does miles of skin unlearn your touch?

Today, there is no more you and I.

Tomorrow, I will keep living a lie.

Pen to paper.

Write to remember. Remember not to build homes out of the fleeting. Remember that settling for measly crumbs will only lead you to the witch and her gingerbread house in the woods. Remember that when people tell you they’re incapable of change, it’s probably best to believe them. Remember that the smell of smoke means a burning castle, or a broken, freckled prince holding a metaphorical cigarette, saying, “If I cut these wrists, would they bleed the blackest ink? Would they leave a perpetual stain on the threads of the tapestry woven by these unsteady hands?”
Write to forget. Forget the nightmares that anchor you to the ground. Forget how every inch of skin ached at the sight of a former lover. Forget the lies that you have mistaken for the truth. Forget how vile this world can be for allowing the loneliness to take up space on the empty side of your bed.
Set those thoughts to paper, write it all out. Let your pen bleed what your mouth refuses to speak. Set in longhand the pain that cripples the heart, clouds the mind, weakens the soul. Write down the past and leave it there. Write down affirmations that let the light in. Darkness is a mere specter. It’s an abstract abyss. It will only wield power if you let it. Photosynthesis that shit. Write down the words: I am enough.
I am enough.