Category Archives: Response Poetry

Undiagnosed

I am a trend, 

The young woman affected

By a myriad of undiagnosed 

Illnesses, relating, relating, relating- 

I am foremost depression,

My soul is concave,

Pulling always towards

The center of the earth.

It dips enough

For the weight of my

Life to sit and push

Air from my lungs

Until it comes only in sips…

From these dark sheets 

I become anxiety,

Held in the bars

Of a homemade cage,

Too shaken to answer 

A call or read a text,

“They’ll find out,” my mind

Repeats, “they KNOW they 

Know they know they know-” 

Then I am manic and 

Filled with spontaneous 

Magic, it’s fire and warmth

Licking up my innards 

And spouting from these eyes!

The world is completely

Within my reach,

I have no fears and 

Leap from dream to dream to dream to- 

-I dissociate-

What was once full of

Charcoal warmth

Slowly turns to ash

In my palms,

And I draw stick figures

On the walls of my mind

With a skinny index finger

Dipped in the remnants

Of my own inspirations.

None of this is as real as I thought it would be. 

I am undiagnosed professionally,

But only because I fear-

I fear above all else 

What my mind is capable of 

Creating, of consuming, of captivating-

 

The Work Week

Sometimes 

It’s okay to pride yourself

On the fact you’re still alive

At 7pm,

That you gradually survived 

Another dull, ordinary day. 

It’s an accomplishment 

To know you didn’t crawl

Completely out of your skin,

And leave your dermis 

Spread like a starfish 

On the lawn.

You didn’t pluck hairs

From your head 

One by one, and drop them 

Out your car window

Until your scalp itched with fire.

You didn’t look at every 

Turn or sharp curb

With morbid interest,

Wondering how loud the tire

Would blow when you crashed 

Your car into a lamp post.

Sometimes

It’s okay to trust that 

You managed something strong

Which many others did not,

you held onto hope 

Just enough 

For this Work Week Wednesday.

Love games 

It’s unfair where women are put,
On a narrow little shelf
made to contain us. 
When we’re left alone
And try to reach out- 
We are simply too needy,
Too damned needy.

Yet, when women are gone out 
For a night on the town-
A lack of communication 
Is enough to hang them,
To brand them sluts
And those fucking whores,
Those fucking whores out there-

The only time “feelings” are
Important are when they 
Are yours-
The conversation becomes serious
When the men decide
That maybe- now- it’s serious,
It wasn’t the right time before.

But if a woman takes a love-step
Before a man
She’s deludedly mad, and 
Should take these steps back- 
Clearly he’s not wanting to 
settle down, but don’t fret-
You’re too young for something serious, just yet.

So Women are put on the bottom shelf,
Gently dusted off when used 
As vessels for what he’s drinking tonight,
And what they’re drinking tonight- 
We’re rinsed out when empty
And set back down to wait-
Until the next luncheon-
The next date.  

Childish Errors

When I look back at high school,

I realize I was lucky enough to embrace

The terms used when I was bullied-

Amazon woman. Band nerd. Art geek. 

Clumsy. Fat. Goody-two-shoes. Jesus-Freak.

I was lucky enough that most of those

Words were just words to me then, 

Many of which have changed these

10 years later.

But the one thing I will never forgive

Was the time I didn’t stop them

From teasing a boy in class.

He gave a speech, and cracked his voice,

The sweat dropped down,

His checks velvet wine-

I saw the hurt they caused 

And I did not stand and tell him

They were only using little words,

And ten years later they would mean

Far, far less than they do now…

I can forgive bullies their childish errors,

But I cannot forgive myself mine. 

Being a Poet

Have you ever read a poem

And felt something claw up from inside 

Your rib bones? 

Pulse quickened, breath shortened?

As if you had pulled the left lung over 

Top of your beating, bloody muscle

Until your worried skin could not 

Hold it in any longer?

Poetry reminds me that I am an animal,

-Flesh and bone and blood-

But also that I am not animalistic.

It is no wonder animals show 

gratitude to people and other animals:

They seek and adore companionship,

Relish play time and a hearty meal-

They live for pleasure without pain or fear of suffering. 

But people are different-

They pull their own hearts out

For no sake but to give to another-

It is not enough to be or show  

what animals are in this world-

Loyal-compassionate-lusting-honest-

No.

People try to one-up the rest of specieskind

By creating poetry- 

By giving our love to one another

Without a hint of self-preservation, 

As any poet knows, writing 

Brings both delight and extreme pain

For the sake of emptying oneself,

and filling up others. 

There is nothing quite like being human-

And absolutely nothing like being a Poet.

Who else (like me)

How many sit in their apartment boxes

Weeping over lovers who have died?

I read a book recently, and the woman

Lost her British lover who far surpassed

Any kindness she thought deserved,

And when his letters stopped arriving

Some weeks after the funeral,

The silence became real, the salt tears

Tangible.

How many sit alone in apartment boxes

Weeping over lovers who have died?

Who else (like me) has not known this loss

 but through a poem or novel, and 

deeply weeps for those who are weeping?