Conversations with a Human Heart.

Category: on being human.

promise you’ll let me go.


Original Printable 18 x 30”

“The Leonids” by Felipe Posada


If you need me, I’m going back to the space between illness and wellness—that magic place where reality bends in the periphery until it snaps, sharing fractals of what you thought you knew and so much more of what you didn’t… but someway, somehow, most certainly did.

The place where the least sense makes the most sense. A language the heart finally understands.

And in this place, the micro-things in an un-micro body wage an infinitesimal war for their infinitesimal lives. An infinitesimal existence that somehow eclipses the purpose I half-assedly proclaimed for myself in this thirty-second year. As their duty to the greater good drives every moment of their microscopic lifespans, I’m here, glancing—left and right and left again—worried the invisible-but-must-be-there, rushing monsters will sweep me away when I take that first barefooted step out of bed and into the chasm of what could be.

“What could be,” it seems, is always at the cost of what is—a relocation, a moving on, a letting go. And “what is” happens to be the street address of fear, who isn’t so easily evicted.

But in this cosmic space between health and frailty, in these twilight hours of existential expansiveness, I find myself falling, somehow dancing—tiptoed, turning, tapping, twirling—through the stained glass version of what very well’s supposed to be.

Though single frames, cut in on themselves, there’s a harmony to this moving montage. A comfort in distortion, an uncertain certainty I’d never know in the normal place. Because when shapes move outward from an unknown center, I see them in unison—and one by one, all the same—a streaming vision of multiple everythings. And instead of sun rays, I feel stories shoot from fingertips, eyelashes, toenails, and lips. The birthplace, the life-giver, the soulshine mama, who radiates with a setting love.

These, mind you, the same realities that in normal time and space would criss-cross and intercept each other—an intellectual rape of what simply is.

And the taste changes in my mouth in this normal place as I consider how much easier it was elsewhere; I danced in on a stellar plane, and watched with glimmering eyes, the true things, traveling away from this small, single frame. Parallel lines, pregnant with stories. Moonbeams shot from peepers. And all the tales, all the assumptions of what this life should probably be, arranged themselves in a hopeful spectrum—a vision of art and love and possibility.

So let me go back to that place.

Where November is the new date of due. Where unkindness can’t penetrate a sweet, fleshy armor. Where there’s no need to ask, as the yeses already rain from the skies. Where certainty, though uncertain, is reliably so.

When the moon comes for me again tonight, promise you’ll let me go.

everything & everything

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sometimes everything is like whoosh—the rush of blood when you’ve caught him from across the room. when you look up to see that he’s there and he’s yours and it’s the most incredible, fantastic, ridiculous thing you can imagine. but it’s true and you see him and you think, fuck. how’d it ever get this good?

sometimes everything is like ugh—when the weight of your day has finally made its way to your knees as they buckle to the ground. when you can’t imagine doing anything more than dragging yourself across the untidy room, curling apologetically against a favorite leather chair.

sometimes everything is like swish—it’s the tears that collect in your throat, overwhelmed, because you’re breathing in so much unreasonable beauty that it seems absurd that any person (let alone you) should be allowed to exist in a world such as this, a universe full of extraordinary everythings.

sometimes everything is like thud—it’s the bottoming out of a heart as the news finally makes itself heard. it’s the conversation you never dreamt you’d have, but there you are. and there it is. and now everything is real and it hurts to inhale.

sometimes everything is like yow—it’s the white you see when bare fingers are licked by hungry flames. the flash you feel when inanimate comes in wretched contact with animate. when anger throbs in little digits, or not-so-funny bones.

sometimes everything is like tic-tic-tic—the persistent seconds, the ones you hold with such ridiculous conviction. the moments that slip through fumbling fingers, ignorant of the plans you’ve half-heartedly claimed to be yours. these, quite often, are the same moments you secretly scorn yourself for not committing to with every beat of your patient heart.

sometimes everything is like #^@%$!—as you listen to the sounds of your neighborhood infiltrate the peace in your home. it’s the feeling of a break-in, a storming through space you’ve so carefully cultivated with love and good juju. it’s the contrast of a neighborhood, deteriorating like tinder below your well-worn porch, against the little darlings you’ve tucked in to bed on the floor above.

and sometimes… sometimes everything is like nothing—the absence of love and fear and motivation and worry, the missing words, the empty cup, the inability to try or do or fight for one second more.

bury me with the lilacs.

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I had an angel wing surgically removed last week, the burden of one thousand lifetimes extracted with it. feathers plucked, one by one hundred, two by two thousand, three by angry fistful—blood, flesh, and soft memory encrusted.

it rests between a lilac bush and the house of my former self—where insects and swallows make use of the remains.

unceremoniously I watch these little pieces of me vanish to an existence of usefulness I could never afford them. the vestiges of a former life built into new things, pretty things, the composted soul, renewed.
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mercury, you saucy bastard.

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mercury and I are friends again. we’ve buried another bloodied hatchet, rank with the death of yesterday’s order. encrusted with the spoils of another silent war. times will arise when we must bow to the might of otherworldly tempers, to the foxing of forces insistent on out-foxing.
it all happened so fast, the dissolving, bending, breaking me—try to keep up, child, you know I cannot wait.
so I took my licks like I take my coffee, unadulterated and strong. I folded to a wiser man, the street smart king of wicked games. white flag, you saucy bastard.
the cleverest move I had up these too-stretched sleeves was inward, to a place of wait. home base. safety. fled. we’re not weak in these moments, as cutting loses can free hearts of buried bruises; and time away from a battle field can restore shards of hope—to be reinserted in the privacy of home. stay low, sweet warrior.
because after the reconnaissance I emerged the humbled one, and my foe took note and put down his sword. the hard work of wisdom-bestowing finally done.
artwork: street art news

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keep smiling.

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nice boys and nice girls keep smiling.
nice boys and nice girls swallow sad.
nice boys and nice girls keep smiling.
there are no nice boys or girls feeling glad.

when I was confronted by the man with the grey hair, the grey teeth, the grey breath, I winced a smile for approximately seven minutes.

in those seven approximate minutes, I learned how to seem agreeable (nice) without being rude, all the while subtly objecting to the suddenly opposite-of-nice feeling in the room. I learned how to fake nice manners like a nice girl while a once-thought-to-be-nice man touched me. in approximately seven minutes, I learned the difference between feeling nice and feeling not-nice. not-nice feels like wincing a smile through a confrontation with the man with the grey hair, the grey teeth, the grey breath.

thirteen years after those seven approximate minutes, I learned to forgive myself for that smile. I learned that forgiving the nice girl over the once-thought-to-be-nice man was a quiet revolution. I learned that not-nice feelings, like not-nice people, can change everything in as few as seven approximate minutes. I learned that claiming a piece of not-nice-according-to-whothefuckever for my own can be bravery for the nice girl who kept smiling.

the nice girl does not keep smiling.
the nice girl only smiles if she feels nice.

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In her mind, the most demanding hurdle of adulthood was learning to apply lipliner and red lipstick. This didn’t strike many as a great accomplishment, but she was acutely aware of the improbability of it all.

Crimson was the most unforgiving color; without the supervision of a good lipliner it would bleed into her pale and freckled veneer—a color insisting, announcing, intruding.

Red lipstick stained the moment it had new territory to claim as its own. Creeping along microscopic gullies, these web-thin lines actually reminded her of veins, but she rarely reported it as so. Veins almost always made her think of a scrotum; and considering a scrotum in any serious manner made her self-assess relentlessly. She wondered about her mental stability in these moments. Was she strange? or had she had stumbled into some adolescent scar begging to be mended? Did she have a some sort of sac infatuation? Were there support groups for this? Would this lead to other obsessive patterns, moving southward perhaps, past the perineum and straight on to the anus? These digressions would ripple across her skin until she shook them from her body like a unwanted chill. That was silly. Man parts are silly. 

The weird would then reconfigure itself as gratitude—for the universe had, thankfully, decided to provide her a vagina. And she knew well that vaginas were fantastic—a piece of anatomy cultures had created entire mythologies around. As far as Sara knew, there didn’t seem to be anything mythological about the ball sac.

Lipliner was—as a result of these microscopic gully veins—a necessity. Without lipliner to fence the fierceness, she’d fuck up the application anyway. Not quite understanding the dimensions of her own lips, she’d be left to choose between wearing a crooked pout or wiping away proof of her efforts.

Other shades would allow for her clumsy, not-acustomed-to-adulthood-ness, but no shade stirred her in quite the same way. Crimson was unforgiving, yes; but spoke the same language as her heart—a beckoning from her past life as a Hollywood scarlet, an imprint on the fabric of the soul itself.

Red screamed when her voice could not. It honored the fire she so-seldom let rage. If she could put on lipliner and red lipstick, the passion she felt surge under her excited skin would finally make sense to the outside world. Red meant owning it all—the failings, the triumphs, the passion, because red offered absolution.

Wear red lipstick, she thought. Wear it and be unapologetically free. 


[image: color]

black & white.

freedom black and white

Dear Existence,

I’ve been pushing things down and I hate that–that’s right, I’m opening this letter with a complaint about complaints. I’m overwhelmed by the feel of fullness, the over-stuffed sensation. Drunk on bottled emotion. So I’m sending all these not-so-terribly-wretched things out into the world for them (you) to deal with.

I hate feeling anything but love; I hate the way a negative anything can slip into my positive everything and bring the whole show to a screeching halt. I hate how utterly determined some people are to bringing other people down.

I hate my past when it rears it’s disgusting head, full of puss and condemnation. I want exfoliate my present of its past.

I hate problem creators—they are a spot on the lungs of the creative community. Why use our most remarkable gift to cause more fear, more hatred, more confusion in this world? Why misuse your magic in such a way?

The news. I’m so tired of what this machine has to say. So tired of wondering where this gnawing feeling originates—it’s on the television screen in every public place in this country. I don’t want to be in public when the public has so much fear to perpetuate.

Measles—someone say measles one more god damn time.

I might hate flying; certainly spinning.

I don’t feel safe traveling now; it occurred to me on this trip. The moment this enormous bird lifted itself from the earth’s surface I felt uneasy. Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, what is it exactly that is wrong.

I might hate flying, I can’t be sure; a double whiskey diluted feelings of oh shit something’s wrong. It’s much more likely I hate leaving my tribe behind.

And the little ones are in Poppi’s capable hands, but can’t help feeling the queerness of it all. Mama’s hands are for holding babes. Poppi’s hands are for holding Mama’s. Babes hands are for reaching out to these people they know as home.

I hate hearing the words choked on the other end when I say goodnight to them; they’re so much braver when we’re all at home. Chin up, little cubs. It’s only going to hurt at night.

I hate getting older; there are moments when I own that shit, but most of the time it feels like opportunity slipping through outreached fingers. You’re supposed to cup your hands—fists are even better. Smother those days into staying.

Youth is subjective. I know, I know, I know.

How many years before I let go of the ideas of “what should have been by now” and free my hands to shape what is?

Things that should have been: books written, names made, vows exchanged, babies birthed, disease beaten, voice found, body nourished, self found, money made, savings saved, countries visited, tattoos expanded, bridges mended, claims staked, past released, present-moment embraced.

I hate complaining; I hate being the one to complain especially.

I hate not finding all the words and stopping before I feel done.

Dear Existence,

But behind me is the coo of a warm mother; behind me is a heart unable to provide anything but love. And though her tiny creation can do nothing but wail, there is something of comfort in this moment. She calls her “sweet girl” and my belly stirs in recognition. There’s an ancient longing to give life, to house life, to grow life; and I love being a woman because of that.

I pushed life into this world twice; and I would do it again and again and again.

ShhhShhhShhhShhhhh and the rocking/swaying/bouncing babe is quiet for moments more.

We’re cruising past tiny lights of some anonymous city—with anonymous faces and anonymous buildings and anonymous cars and anonymous streets—and the copperorangegoldbreathyblueandink fills the gap between earth and sky.

And I fill the gap between earth and sky, too.

But what will fill the gap between black and white? Love. Love will fill the gap and spill back into my positive everything.

I found love. Can you believe that? I found it waiting in the place I left it and now I get to exist in love every damn day of my life. Can you believe anyone could be so lucky?

Dear Existence, I want to thank you for all the magic you’ve shown me in my 30+ years. I want to thank you first, for offering so many years to learn and grow in.

For every problem creator there is a solution finder, a problem eliminator. You’ll know a problem eliminator when you find them, they light up your insides like a halogen bulb. And you’ll feel more capable of handing life than you’ve ever felt before—a contagious fuck yes mentality. And the world is yours once again.

Spinning is much like flying and flying is akin to free.

Flying. Spinning. Freedom.

There are two worlds in every reality: black or white // black and white.

Perspective is what sets us free.

Dear Existence, thank you for the solution finders of the world. Thank you for sending them into my life when I need them most (and for knowing I always need them most).

Thank you for the words that sometimes come easily and sometimes make me work. I’ll be better for having the experience of both. Thank you for my dancing fingers across these familiar keys and the ability to accept that sometimes, not finishing completely can still be the perfect amount.

With love,

Your willing participant



[image: black//white]




She avoided eye contact with the patient patients who stood next to the “Please Wait Until You Are Called” sign. She hid a figure full of baby weight, though the baby had come months ago. She hid a scowl full of condescension too, though the feeling swelled around her as patient patients swayed uneasily in their neat little line. “Next” she spoke with unfeeling to the non-feeling keyboard before her; unwilling to reach out to those patient patients with her eyes.


The mother stepped forward to greet One with all she knew how to give: warmth. “Hi. I’m here with Three. He’s here to see Eight.” She glanced across the barren waiting room to her child.


Three backed clumsily into the only single seat in the waiting room; the only seat his mother couldn’t share with him. He locked eyes with the images that bled across the wall; quickly-moving hazels, quickly moving pictures. He dropped into his single seater, lifting his gaze only momentarily to look for Two, who was still exchanging words with One, who he supposed didn’t like her job here much at all. He smiled sweetly, a side effect of his mother’s warmth, and dropped his gaze yet again to his book.


Two tried not to watch him for too long, she knew he liked small statements of independence—like bringing his own reading material and single seaters. She broke her gaze to return to One, who was doing an excellent job of wearing umbrage like a broach. She doesn’t like me, Two thought to herself. She doesn’t like me at all. 


One spoke as few words as possible. She spoke through her computer monitor making Two lean forward inch by inch to gather words from the air between them. She dampened her language; squeezed so reluctantly from a swollen jaw. Her days were long here and even though she only vaguely recognized this woman who sat before her, she couldn’t stand her sight. This little bitch with her sweet, shy smile… Bullshit. 


Two could feel her patience waning with each reply so-begrudgingly fired from the other side of the desk, intensely aware that her welcome had somehow worn out. She signed by the X, dated by the O and wrote “mother” next to the last empty line. Finally.




Three didn’t stop reading when his mother took the nearby two-seater; he would finish the paragraph first. “Done, Mommy,” he said to Two, closing the book and offering it to her in one sweep. He wasn’t close enough, he knew this. But he reached anyway.


He wasn’t close enough, Two knew this. But she reached anyway.


Three reached as far as his nine-year old limbs would allow him to, missing his mother’s reach by less than an inch. In one brave move her tossed the book between them, releasing too late, sending the book quickly crashing to the floor. “Oh,” sounding far-more surprised than he should realistically be. “I’ll get it.” He jumped from his seat in erratic hurry and handed the book to his still-reaching mother.


I knew he was going to do that, Two thought to herself, trying to keep the annoyance from creeping across her face. I knew it. Once the book was safely in her hands, she watched her oldest fall back into his single seater and she tucked the book into her bag.

She looked around the office, trying to replace her unpleasant experience with One with something. Anything.


Four wobbled across the shiny floor. His laughter filled the echoing room. There were people—new people—sitting in this great big white space and he loved people. Especially new people. His steps were stiff and clunky, still not entirely his own. He smiled at the sensations, so many sensation, lighting his little body up. There was the slap, slap, slap of his tiny sneakers as they hit the unforgiving linoleum. There were the humming lights. There were the pictures—quickly moving pictures—that seemed to dance like magic from the wall. The only places he had seen pictures like that were at home; but this couldn’t be home.

Four slap, slap, wobbled to a halt as he screamed in elation, unable to control his little voice.

Da-da! Here he comes! He’s going to GET ME!


Five picked his pace way up as he saw little Four making another break for open linoleum. She’ll kill me if I bring him home from the doctor’s with an injury, he thought. He saw Four stiffen up his body preparing for the dramatic scoop. “Gotcha!” he yelled as his little boy squealed yet again in delight. He exchanged a knowing smile with Two as she watched him turn on his heels back to their seat.


Two could feel her heart making space again; she could feel the trauma of One subsiding as she watched the young father keep his little one safe and happy all at the same time. She glanced again at Three, who had enjoyed watching Four’s father scoop him up; and she couldn’t help but miss her little ones being little.




“Here we go, Four. It’s our turn now.” He gathered the diaper bag his wife had over-packed for him, his coat and his son, marching them all past a gently smiling Six.


Two sat silently as Five walked past her again; admiring his child-collecting time; watching him disappear with Four until the door clicked closed behind him.




“That’s us, Babe. You ready?” She collected his things in much the same manner as Five and guided Three through the door.


“Alright, Mister. Go ahead and stand on that Mickey face over there. We’re going to check your eyes first.” She spoke in an overly-rehearsed way, but could hardly help it at this point. Her life was passing her in this hallway, administering these tests, checking these vitals. She wondered about Two: she seems nice enough, but young. Was she really old enough to have a nine year old?

She walked Three through the vision test, giving Two stray glances. It was obvious Two hadn’t taken him to have his eyes checked recently. She pushed down the urge to categorize her as a bad mother.

“Has he had his eyes checked recently?” She feigned kindness.


Two could feel what was happening behind the question and felt compelled to over explain. She wasn’t a bad mother; why were people always assuming she was a bad mother?

“He sees his eye doctor annually; his next appointment is actually in March. Three weeks from now.” She could feel the desperation creeping up her throat and she felt small again.


“Alright, Mister. You ready? I’m going to have you take off your coat and shoes. We’re going to weigh you next.” She used “mister” ornately and could feel its artificial taste in her mouth.

She didn’t have anything to say to Two, so she focused her friendliest efforts on the child.


Three allowed himself to be ping-pongged between each machine, noting to himself the numbers flashing on each new screen, as if their significance was not yet apparent. But would be.

Seven led him down the hall and he imagined his friends, who were still in school, playing Follow the Leader behind him. But it was just Mom behind him.


Seven led Three and Two to an uninspired exam room and began firing questions to Two.


At least she’s making eye contact with me. Just keep smiling. She might not be so bad.  


At least she knows his history. Just keep smiling. She might not be so bad. 


“Mom, do you have any snacks?”


“I don’t, honey; didn’t you have your snack before you left school? I packed you almonds. All I have in my bag are ginger chews, how about one of those?”


Oh.. Almonds.

“Sounds like Mom packs you a nice snack!”

And just like that, Seven and Two weren’t at odds any longer.


Three squirmed on the table, enjoying the scratch of the paper and the darting looks of Two. He knew he was well-acquainted with the micro-leverage he wielded when they were out in public like this.


“Alright, Mister. Dr. Eight will be in to see you soon!”

She stood up, rolling the stool back under the desk. “Enjoy the rest of your day,” she said to Two; and she meant it.


Two sat opposite a large rectangular mirror while Three crinkled away the minutes on the exam table. Her lips were freshly done in red-tinted glass and her jeans were free of cat hair. A success story on any given day. Her eyes told another story—sadly, an accurate one. How she hated the mirrors in this place.

She pulled her gaze from the mirror and refocused on her patient patient. “Do you have any questions for Dr. Eight?”


“Hmm. I’m not sure. I’ll have to think about it.” He was used to asking questions. So he was confident he could come up with something when the moment was right.

He filled the space between them with “I’m hungry” and went back to his crinkling.


Outside the door, two heard the sound of a file—Three’s file—being removed by Dr. Eight. She felt the urge to seem busy rise up in her chest; she’d hate to be waiting, staring, as soon as he opened the door. She began digging through her purse for one of her ginger chews.

She heard the click of the door and the familiar voice sing a gentle “hello.” She waited half a second longer before she swiveled her head in fabricated nonchalance. “Hi, Dr. Eight. So nice to see you again.”


Eight pulled the stool from under the computer and sat, smiling. He was always smiling. “How is everything with Three?” He turned to Three, still busy crunching the paper under his little seat, “You’re sure getting big, buddy.”

Eight turned his attention to the computer screen, nodding and smiling as he half-asked questions. He was familiar with Two. He was confident in her parenting; he knew they didn’t let the their children play video games, he knew they ate well, he knew the family was active and wore seat belts; he knew she’d refuse the flu shot again.

He was bound by protocol, but her kindness made it feel like much less of a chore.


“Dr. Eight,” Three piped up, “I have two questions. First, what is your favorite part of being a doctor. Second, what is your least favorite part?”


Two smiled to herself; not exactly the kind of questions I had in mind, but that’s Three. Always curious. Always asking.


Eight chuckled to himself; he was as familiar with Three’s inquisitive nature as he was with Two’s parenting.

“Well,” he thought out loud. “My favorite part of being a doctor is helping kids get well when they come into the office with a problem.” He looked over his shoulder to watch Three nod—he found this to be an acceptable response. “And my least favorite thing? Well, sometimes it’s very sad when I try to help and kids get very, very sick. I don’t like to see that happen.”


Three nodded along until Eight finished his thought. “I thought you’d say that,” he replied. “I was just curious.”

He watched the doctor make a few final notes in his file before standing up to meet him at the crunchy table. Dr. Eight wasn’t very tall, which made Three feel safe. He was one of the shortest kids in his class and made a point to tell people so. At Eight’s request, Three took deep, meditative breaths.


“Heart and lungs sound good!”


Three followed Eight with his eyes as he moved to each side of the boy, first checking his eyes, then his throat and nose and finally his ears.


“Looks good, Three. Looks good.”


There was an inexplicable pride swelling in Three’s heart; he wasn’t sure why, but Eight’s praises made him feel as though he were a superior specimen in this moment. He had good working parts.

At Eight’s request, Three reclined on the table, finding the least awkward place for his hands he could come up with; arriving at a position which made him feel much like a pencil. He watched Eight as as he moved back to his right side.


Three was about to erupt, Two knew it. She braced herself for the impact of Three’s laughter and wished she had some way to warn Eight. She watched as he put his healing hands on the boy’s stomach.




Two laughed to herself and met Eight’s smile with one of her own; she was so grateful to have found him. A gem in this backwards little town.


“Everything looks great, Mom. We’ll see him in another year unless anything comes up. You call us at anytime.”

And he meant it.

Eight said goodbye to Three, reminding him to keep eating good foods and playing soccer. Waved over his shoulder and shut the door with a gentle click.


“See? You survived.” She waited with a patient smile on her face as she watched Three struggle through retying his laces. When he was re-bundled, she opened the door, leading him back down the follow-the-leader hallway.

Two saw Seven standing next to Nine near the nurses station; she thanked her, smiled, and walked back through the door.

Before leaving, Two knew she had to approach the receptionist area one last time. She managed to make eye contact with Ten, One’s neighbor, who called Two over with a calm, quiet demeanor.


“How did everything go, Buddy? Would you like a sticker?” Digging through the drawers, she struggled with finding something a nine-year old wouldn’t consider lame. “How about superman?” Ten asked with hope in her voice.


“Well.. OK. I guess.”


She reached across the desk to hand Three his sticker then turned her attention back to Two. She saw relief in the mother’s eyes for some reason, relief and good will. “We’ll just get you set up with an appointment and you’ll be on your way.”



[image: open wide]

little boy lost.

little boy lost

I know you were waiting for me.

Little penguin chest puffed high.

Cap tilted. Smile rehearsed.

An eager tassel waving hellos long before tiny hands could rise to greet the crowd.

I know you were waiting for me.

Nervous little fidgets.

Buttons twisting. Smile withstanding.

The pull of reluctant fabric and the dancing of disbelieving eyes.

I know you were waiting for me.

My little porcelain child.


My hazels. Your hazels.

Ceramic hazels, gleaming.

I knew you were waiting for me.

The young mother full of good intentions.

But I made you wait.

I know you were waiting for me.

My fragile, darling boy.

When they called your name, I was moving to you; I was moving so-quickly to you; I couldn’t get to you.

I couldn’t get to you in time.

And I’m sorry if that moment changed you.

Little boy lost.

I took you in with arms and eyes.

You shook with the memory of a fading pain.

Sweet skin tarnished; streaked with the language of a little boy’s greatest fear.

She isn’t coming. She isn’t here.

She isn’t coming. She isn’t here.

She isn’t coming. She isn’t here. 

I wasn’t there.

Tiny heart sinking. Little chest heaving. Perfect face cringing.

I know you were waiting for me.

I made you wait.

My little boy lost.



[image: you were waiting]

I should have smoked more cigarettes.


I should have smoked more cigarettes. 

I know that’s not what I’m supposed to say here, but it’s true. If I’m going to say goodbye to the blissful, wretched everything, I am going to say it with a smoke between my teeth. A nod in the direction of the grandmother moon. Eyes closed, shielded from upward rolling tendrils. It was something I was good at, you know. You can be skilled at just about anything, and I was a nicotine artist. I didn’t believe in angry pulls, not dainty either. Slow, sexy, thoughtful. Everything you want a cigarette to be.

But I stopped smoking years ago.

I should have told him I love him, even when—especially when—he tired me. 

We grew into one another; we realized that toward the end. His not-taking-shit-ness dissolved my perpetually bleeding heart, until I found myself saying no. No is spelled with exactly two letters. No is interpreted in exactly one way. No. No. No. It’s easy, just try. The yeses evaporated from my crimson lips over the span of seven years and condensed on his sharpened tongue.

You stole my yeses, mister. 

Well, you stole my nose. Nos. No’s.

My arguments grew stronger than my biceps; but in my muscles’ defense, I went to the gym so much less. I should have told him he made me stronger. I should have told him he made me stronger in every way.

I should have kissed them harder, while they played, while they cried, while they slept.

Congratulations, you’re a mother. You’ll have approximately twelve restful minutes for the next two lifetimes because you’ve naively brought precious, delicate, clumsy beings into this earth’s thorny social climate. Half of these minutes will come as a result of too much whiskey on an unfortunate December evening. Three of these minutes will be earned by your hand (right) while you recline on your bed after a long (twice interrupted) shower. One of these minutes will arrive unexpectedly in a quiet house while you paint your toenails and pee at the same time. The remaining two minutes will be divided between each of their births—that’s right, child. You’ve been allotted one minute after each birth to admire the creature who was for so long within, but now rests very much without. For the rest of your maternal minutes you will pray to the sun and the stars and the wind and the moon. You’ll go mad on a daily basis. You’ll regret in ultraviolet. You didn’t know you could love until you became a mother. You didn’t know you could hurt until you became a mother. Congratulations on becoming a mother.

I should have abandoned the tomorrows; discarded them with yesterdays.  

Instead, I kept my collections far from dust and sticky fingers. I put them in mason jars, marked “Y” for yesterdays and “T” for tomorrows. I locked them in a closet, buried with the relics of all my I-wish-I-could-have-beens—a sewing kit, Rosetta Stone (Italian), pilates DVDs and love letters from someone named Frank. I didn’t know Frank personally, but I believed him when he told me I could do it my way.

I should have done things.

I should have done so many things.




I should have smoked more cigarettes.



[Gala des Varietes Records]