Sermon

Last night, I went to sleep feeling like my life were beads of a rosary I no longer knew how to pray over and the night before last before last before last, you took my body like a priest takes the body of Christ during a twelve o’clock mass he forgets the sermon to.

You were never something holy.

Flesh turns to smoke, smoke turns to wine, wine turns to 808’s and I’m still trying to figure out why I thought saying your name would sound like some sort of confession my god could absolve.

This morning, I felt crucified.

But I guess this is not about how you left me bound by a crown of thorns or how you painted me in swatches of cerulean and cheap purple I’m still learning how to cover up or how pain and pane sound like saving graces when I’m drunk.

This is about how it’s 11:11 in the morning and I wish I remembered how to spill without crumbling.

This is about how I no longer know how to make “I’m still hurting” sound like hymns you want to sift your toes through or how to light my cigarettes like signal flares instead of like matchsticks to lighter fluid.

This morning, I stood over the toilet bowl wishing fingers into arms, arms into bodies, bodies into embraces; wishing that my ribs would emerge from my chest like the branches of my favorite tree but this is not supposed to sound like a metaphor.
This morning, I woke up christened in the oceans of apologies you made me feel like I was obligated to say but this is not supposed to be poetry.
Like oil spill to body of water, what you did to me was not something I could skim off and call myself a hero for.

I woke up to a medicine cabinet of pills lined up like piano keys and I don’t remember how to cry without weeping.
I wonder if Jesus knew God was going to save him.
I wonder if Hemmingway raised the handgun like a holy hand to a sinner.
This is not supposed to be poetry.

None of this is.

I said no.

I said no.

Oh god, I said no.

And I hope, one day, your confessional is not as painful as the Amens I cried out after I realized that holy doesn’t always mean whole.

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A Letter To The Things in Which I Am Learning to Love

To my stomach, an anomaly of soft curves made from proudly eaten cupcakes and pizza,

To my feet, calloused with midnight adventures and every tree that I have ever climbed while trying to prove to my brothers that girls are strong too,

To my hair made of tangled forests and wild vines- the dominant trait from the blood of my ancestors comprised of beasts and lion-hearted girls- I hold my head high to balance this crown.

My hands can’t fix everything no matter how badly my soul wishes they would, my eyes are wide and naïve searching for a god- a beauty that scratches deeper and realer than any manicured hand ever could- and my skin is rough and weathered and tethered but it is made of earth and young civilizations so I will not apologize.

To my body, I will apologize for betraying you because American Apparel only makes size extra small and I thought that was better, I will apologize for making you believe that freedom comes only in the form of beauty that is silken and bears a straight nose, I will apologize for starving you and abusing you and shredding you into galaxies on nights it felt too dark and too lonely to be alive, however,

I will no longer apologize for

Owning you.

To my body, my body that no longer offers ribs in the sunlight but, instead, offers strength in all lights, you are not just my body;

You are potential.

Let’s grow old together,

My friend.

Selfies in a leather bodysuit after pizza. Yolo?

 

Little Universe

I cried when my first dog, Belle, died. Like me, she was a hand me down from people who had less time than love for her and I think that’s why our souls understood each other; why a part of me died when she stopped breathing. I spent hours trying to study her, unravel her; I spent years trying to reprieve her, to revive her and although, during those years, I had no storms chasing me, I found refuge in the way she curled herself around me during crisp summer nights. I guess, in a way, it makes me selfish for wanting her to live forever but she grew old quicker than she should have and before I had the chance to understand how sad loss could be- we ran out of time to say our goodbyes.

I cried the night I could feel my dad giving up on me. I grew up admiring the way the world spun in his eyes and the way the Grand Canyon weaved puzzles in his palms but that night- the night I got too drunk to remember my name yet hardly drunk enough to forget that he was an ex soldier- I saw no evidence of an Earth and all proof that he had waved a dozen white flags long before I even had the chance to sober.

Not even the strands of the leftover buzz could muffle the sound of you forgetting me; erasing me.

Have I ever told you that I once saw Jesus in a McDonald’s bathroom stall? His skin was made of porcelain and his sins, made of stainless steel manufactured in China. In bold purple Sharpie, the door read “Eat acid, see God” and, although I’ll never admit it, that night I realized the teen spirit bleeds out in more forms than one. Holy scriptures of adolescence, psalms of hormone-driven emotion etched in pencil and teen angst somehow understood that we were all sinners searching for a way out-

That we were all flawed in some sort of way and that we may possibly never know if all dogs really go to Heaven.

I cried for eternities the night I became painfully aware of my imposition on space; that I took up more of it than I probably ever deserved.

I had every intention of stripping that night of its darkness but after hours of desperately trying to scratch the stars away from the sky with my fingertips, I realized that I was incapable of stopping my world from dying so, from then on, I chose to move my body gently and eat slowly; to swallow Eucharist in the smallest of pieces and nibble timidly around the cores of apples in the case there were grenades hidden within their cores. I learned how to read labels, to walk on the edges of my toes; I learned how to control, calculate, and categorize-

Good foods.

Bad foods.

Fat,

fat,

fat-

buffering the awkward matter between reality and the world as I had wished it would be. Food kept me sane; kept my worlds from colliding.

“Lex, you’re so bony!”, my mom would tell me as she laid rubbing my back after long days of work. I swear, it seemed like she worked forever. Her hands, cold yet never harsh, made maps through my spine and pit stops at my hip bones, knocking hard on them to make sure they were real. Making sure I was real.

“Bony, bony, bony!”

My mom was right, though. I was never a particularly large kid- my knees jutted out farther than they probably should have and I often found myself wavering at the lower end of the BMI chart during my yearly physicals. However, her phrase- my hip bones- later became the gauge of my progress- my worth- as I shifted from preteen to teen.

And I hope she never knows that.

I’d never blame my parents for my insanity. After all, when one tells you to jump from a mountaintop, you don’t close your eyes and let the wind take you just because.

No.

But me? I was born with too much fire and a hopelessly desperate need for adrenaline so, truthfully, I think I’d always sort of wondered what it’d feel like to fall, to be wisped away in a cool breeze just like the ones you read about in romance novels.

On nights when I cursed gravity for concreting me and the gods for making my feet too heavy, I found myself grazing the planes of the body that laid beneath the heavy sheets and thick night air, searching for those

hip bones.

On mornings when the air smelled of dew and cheap coffee and I prayed to the skies that I would have the power to be less needy, I found myself studying the way the shower water trickled down my stomach and over those

hip bones.

Hip bones.

You could tear into these words, rip out their roots, and chop away their stringy structures; you could dislocate these words, feel your fingers through their rhythms and peel away the alliteration that binds these letters together.

You could consume these words, feel the predicates dribble from the corners of your mouth as you crunch them out of existence; analyze these words, call out their “important” images and themes and crush them into powdery debris as you ask yourself, “…and how does that make you feel?” but none of that could ever erase the fact that this world is a perplexing place. In one motion it creates the most beautiful, freeing moments and in the other, it kills your dogs and makes you hate yourself for not being invincible. I used to cry over real things, you know. I mean, real, “Holy fuck!”, life-changing kinds of things. Now, I cry when I get stuck behind sleepy trains or when my pants don’t fit or when my apples are bruised or when other things that will never matter happen and I hate the world for messing up when it

made me.