Say It Straight and Humble

I'm Alison. I'm twenty two. I live near the ocean. I'm trying to learn how to be a writer.

"Present the luminous detail and do not comment." - Ezra Pound


I remember

when all I wanted

to do was fuck

a married man. I remember

when all I wanted to do

was undo, destroy

everything that found its way

to my doorstep, say goodbye

before they could

even breathe hello, shatter

all the wine glasses and rip up

all the flowers and burn

like the mountains and shake

like the earth. I remember

standing in the shower

watching the blue river

of my veins beneath my skin.

I remember the kind doctor

who gave me a latex glove

to cry into, who told me

that sometimes your mind gets sick

just like your body, I remember that

like it was a whispered prayer. I remember

when I was on fire, when I wanted to burn

down the forest of my body, when I wanted

to fuck everyone but wept when anyone

touched me, when I slept for days, when

I couldn’t stop shaking, when I felt colors

in the pit of my stomach, reds and oranges

and bright-bright blue,

sick mind strong body blue, sick mind

set jaw blue, Pacific ocean blue,

that stretching, swelling blue, that too

full for your own body,

too full for the whole sky,

fall to your knees just because

you are alive blue.

You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.

cheryl strayed

(trying to remember this everyday)

hunter s. thompson + bill murray

hunter s. thompson + bill murray


January 30th

For Barry

My poetry professor died this morning. I am trying to take this slow. My poetry professor died this morning and when I found out, I cried in the bathroom at work. When I found out, on my lunch break, I made a noise, a little gasping squeak, like someone had hit me in the chest with an open palm. What they don’t tell you about grief is how heavy it is, how it fills your lungs like water, how you will be walking down the street and feel yourself sagging. How death feels less sharp from the floor, how things like crumpling and crawling feel acceptable, feel normal. What they don’t tell you about grief is that it is all water-weight, that your nose is a waterfall, that your ribs are wet wood, that your trachea is the sharp rock on the river bank. My heart hurts. This is not poetic; I don’t know how else to say it. My heart hurts. When I found out, my heart clenched like a fist and then hurt like a long, low wail for hours and hours. When I found out, I cried in the bathroom at work. I stared at myself in the mirror and thought about how you would find the poetry in this tiny tragic moment: the hot pink walls, my puffy eyes, me crying over the death of my poetry professor in a pink bathroom that smells vaguely of shit. You once told me to edit towards strangeness and it changed my life. I never told you, but it changed my life. Tonight I reread every email you had sent me, even the boring ones about the reading for next class. My heart hurts. When I was nineteen I wrote a story about the first time a boy went down on me and I was scared to show it to you and when I finally worked up the courage you were delighted by it, chuckling in your scratchy growl of a giggle as you turned the pages. You believed in me. I loved you. My heart hurts. What they don’t tell you about grief is how selfish it is: you believed in me, and I am not living my life in a way that would make you proud. You are no longer living, and all I can think about is how I am living my life. Grief is a selfish thing. It takes up entire rooms. It eats the last slice of pizza without even asking. It spills red wine on your couch cushion and flips it while you’re in the bathroom. After work I forgot you were dead and bought a fur coat. I went home and ate Indian food cross-legged in bed and cried in my new fur coat. I could hear you laughing at me; I could see the wrinkles in the corners of your eyes. My heart hurts. You taught me to be brave, you taught me to write hard and clear, you taught me to embrace the ugly woman inside of me and face the world with flowering frankness, with grit and chutzpah and gratitude, to find the strange marrow in each moment, to laugh and it and wonder at it and hold it tenderly in my open palm. You believed in me. You taught me to open my arms to my writing, to not be scared of what moves inside of me, the darkness and light. You taught me about Buddha. You taught me to believe in myself. My heart hurts. My poetry professor died this morning. I loved him. I am trying to take this slow. I am trying not to crumple. I am trying to remember you. I am trying to stare down the throat of this. I am trying to be brave. I am trying to make you proud. I am trying to find the poetry inside of each moment of this: the slate gray wall of the sky, the first rain of winter drumming long fingers against the roof.

blame it on my wild heart


Skinny-kneed boy, legs like jello,

shoes half-off, socks peeking shyly,

crooked grin always

crawling up your cheekbones,

you have no idea how I feel

about you. Gap-toothed boy,

limbs like early December

tree branches, walk

like syrup over pancakes

at IHop at two in the morning

on a Wednesday in the summer, quiet

drawl, born in the deep sticky-hot swamps

of Missouri, dirt under your fingernails,

filthy mouth oozing curse words, you have no idea

how much I think about you. On my lunch break,

I see your abandoned shoes in the office, pressed neatly

together and something stirs in the empty

canyon between my ribcage, you sliding

around the sales floor in your flatfooted sock-feet.

How I feel about you is swelling

up underneath my skin like a bruise, purple

and blue and green around the edges.

Skinny-kneed boy, stale cigarette breath,

yesterday’s wrinkled clothes, you smile at me

and I open up like a tulip – all blue eyes

and red lips and collarbone, all giggles and

eye rolls and my body, a dance

you don’t know how to begin.

I tell my piano the things I used to tell you.

— Chopin

joan didion, get down with your bad self

joan didion, get down with your bad self


—Dancing in the Dark

mirah + bruce springsteen = perfection

All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life, where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.

— Miranda July