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.
(trying to remember this everyday)
(trying to remember this everyday)
hunter s. thompson + bill murray
WHERE CAN I GET THOSE SHIRTS
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.
—Dancing in the Dark
mirah + bruce springsteen = perfection
— Miranda July
Remember this: when he leaves you, he will leave you with bruises. Dark oil spatters on the slope of your ass, thumbprints on the handlebars of your hips, faded pink tooth marks on your breasts. Remember how you exhale sharp beneath his big hands, remember how you can’t seem to tell the difference between pleasure and pain anymore. Remember how much you like it when it hurts, how you can’t remember who you are in that moment, when he is gripping your thighs or yanking your hair, how you lose yourself inside that small sharp shock of pain. When you slept next to him in the massive bed in the tiny house pressed up against the Sacramento river, you dreamt of people leaping off craggy cliffs into pools of water, landing on their backs, their spines snapping like dry wood. You dreamt of illnesses shared like necklaces, of your name written in permanent marker on the dirty walls of public bathroom stalls. You dreamt of your name there, written over and over, but you could never read what it said about you. You dreamt of boys from years ago, boys you had left, boys you had hurt, and in your dreams everyone is always dying and there is always a small electrifying chance that you are too. You awoke gasping, with stale beer breath, and roll over and see him: gentle curl of his top lip, eyes closed, breathing peacefully, freckled shoulders peeking out from beneath the comforter. He has slept next to you for the better part of the last six months. He held you both times you wept, drunkenly, and both times you wiped snot on the sleeve of his tee shirt and he pretended not to notice. There is so much inside of you that he does not understand, so much movement, so much fear, so much darkness. You will never deserve him. You fuck him five times a day and you still do not deserve him. You can feel this in every bone in your body. All you can do is kiss his soft face, trace his jawline with your thumb, and wait until he opens one sleepy eye, wait until he reminds you that you are awake, you are alive, there is something inside of you that is small and scared and can maybe, maybe, maybe be loved.