GUYS I MADE IT
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.
“Former Stanford Swimmer to be Charged With Rape”
“Every 107 Seconds, Another American is Sexually Assaulted”
“Acton Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting 9 Year Old Boy”
“98% of Rapists Will Never Spend a Day in Jail”
“Rape Victim Who Set Herself Ablaze Dies”
Yesterday, I was drunk and today, I was told that my case is no longer open. Roughly three times a week, I still return to the parts of my mind you so easily took a sledgehammer to, stretching out my body over roads like a chalk outline of a crime scene while the slow blue buzz from too many beers and too little sleep tag-teams my neurons making it a little bit harder to peel myself from the asphalt.
I can’t always tell the difference between high beams and holy light.
I think about you all the time.
On nights I carry my body to bed instead of hurdling it over a bridge, on nights I tuck myself in and sing lullabies to myself even when my voice is hoarse from screaming “My God, why!” to the night skies; on nights I light candles like signal flares instead of like matchsticks to gasoline trails, I wonder if you think of me, too.
I wonder if you even know my name.
I wonder if you know that the third time I broke my arm, it was because I tripped on a crack in a sidewalk or that I won the spelling bee in eighth grade or that even after nineteen years of fall leaves showing me how to fall apart, it’s still hard for me to turn pain into art.
I wonder if you know how hard it is to want to stay alive.
Some mornings, I wake up swinging. I crack knuckles in the same way you cracked all solid ground and I wonder if you know how hard it is to want to stay alive.
Yesterday, I was drunk and today, I was told that you won and, one day, I hope you know what it feels like to understand that a shape cannot exist without a shift.
It’s almost October and I’m still trying to learn how to empty myself of the icebergs last winter left behind. Every time I pass one of those ads stapled to a telephone pole with the rip-off tabs swinging from the bottom, I’m reminded of how difficult it is to keep holding on when the weather feels non permitting.
I can’t say I spent my entire childhood sticking my fingers into light sockets trying to figure out if grief had it’s own color but I can tell you I spent my entire childhood trying to figure out why it did;
Why long car rides shaded me in swatches of cerulean and sea foam not because I was ever car sick but because leaving home made me nervous and why funeral lighting always reminded me of the bottled hair dye my Great Aunt Sylvia used to use to cover up the strands of gray that showed how quickly she was dying.
Last night, I discovered a birthmark on the back of my neck in the shape of someone leaving.
Today, my eyes look more antique than ember- more ink than charcoal- and, unlike the people whose hair changes colors with the seasons, I think I’ll probably always wonder if my eyes change colors with my cycles of sadness.
Yesterday, I took this photo:
The toes belong to the feet belonging to legs belonging to Benjamin- a two year old who neglects to adequately pronounce his r’s and likes to poop on floors.
To Benny, my sweet little wanderer, life will not always be kind. It will not always be gentle water wakes meeting shorelines but rather tsunamis made of rage. And stings. On days you bear your wounds, remember, one day, your bed will no longer feel like your only home. Remember, one day, you will love yourself completely, without restrictions or regrets- radically and with everything you have.
Do not apologize for this.
Remember, one day, you will stop wanting to crawl back into the womb and start willing to climb out into the belly of life, as new and as quiet as the day you entered it. Remember, one day, your spine will no longer be the only tool that provides you with posture. Remember, one day, your fingertips will know what it feels like to want to hold on instead of letting go, your rock bottom will eventually bottom out and give way to solid ground below; remember one day you will stop feeling like a coward for struggling while everyone else takes gulps of the shit you convinced yourself was corrupting your lungs.
One day, you will no longer feel like an echo but, instead, a siren that sings loud and clear.
One day, you will no longer feel like a gun is always pressed to your head but, instead, a bullet that knows exactly where to spit its fire.
Remember, one day, not every day will be the worst day.
Be present. Be light.
Should you ever find yourself bleeding, do not bandage it. Let it spill out, gradually, so you can know what it feels like to be drained, to be gutted and turned inside out.
Be heard. Be kind.
I hear that there are currently 88 recognizable constellations but there are many that have yet to be discovered.
Find them, Benny.
Explore the earth from end to end until you find the brothers and sisters of the Big Dipper and then, once that is through, explore yourself from end to end until you find the constellations of yourself you’ve never met before.
Be calm. Be resilient.
Always, sweet Ben.
Trigger Warning: I don’t think I’d really ever consider myself a perfectionist however, even as I type this, I find myself clicking spell-check five
Trigger Warning: Cliche people with cliche names and cliche motives don’t come with trigger warnings.
They don’t put trigger warnings on jaded men with receding hairlines just because they remind you of how light refuses to cease receding into nights, every night, or how we’re all thunderstorms and, eventually, there will come a time when we will have to part ways and recede back into the parts of sky from which we came.
They don’t put trigger warnings on the moments you realize you and the dirty laundry that has been laying on your floor for weeks now have both been wrinkled by the time spent, there,
on dirty floors.
They don’t put trigger warnings on middles.
There will always be befores. Before love. Before life. Before losing a hundred and two pounds. Before the material world invades your mind with rules about tampons and riot signs.
There will always be afters. After finding your other half. After death. Aftermath.
But there will never be trigger warnings on the gray matter; never any caution tape around the fleeting moments between the binge and the purge, the time you take hovering above the toilet seat wondering if your fingers will taste any different than the last time.
In moments of awkward silence, there will be no trigger warnings to help fillintheblanks.
There will never be construction cones surrounding the time you remember the instant you forgot pain could also be a verb.
For me, it was always a noun- always an object that burrowed between my bones like a lost little rabbit. But it had teeth and they always threatened to break my limbs. That, that was when I forgot pain was also a verb and instead remembered that I was a hyphen, a person in between feeling fine and feeling good and feeling great- a sort of
s e p a r a tion-
and I wanted to learn to join the joy and the sad, but my mouth was always a comma in which mild catastrophes and dew kissed breakfasts were always pausing to spill out.
One day, when you wake up remembering how this time, last year, you began fading into a much quieter version of yourself at the same time the leaves of early autumn did the exact opposite, remembering how your body, for a brief moment, felt like a foreign country without anyone willing to occupy it; one day when you wake up remembering how you used to let your dog off the leash so maybe it’d run into the street giving you a reason to run too, you’ll realize that there will never be an adequate amount of warnings to prepare you for this.
One day, when you wake up remembering the times you thought of windows like collections of tiny shards of glass finally understanding why pain and pane were homophones, you’ll wonder if a body unconscious is a body still. On the nights when the moon is more a word on the tip of your tongue than a saving grace positioned at such an angle in the sky that, for a little while, it almost seems believable that holy light is alive and well, you’ll wonder if living and breathing are really as intertwined as we are lead to believe.
To my mom and dad,
From now on, I will try to love the way the left brain loves the right brain if there even is such a thing. I will love like all my gray matter really does matter, like it’s more than just a scientific term, like my brain is capable of more than the grey it shades itself into every day.
I’m sorry you could never understand why I, like rainfall, wished to elope with the ground on days my brain felt like hurricanes but there are bees and yellow jackets that sting to know they’re alive and there are bees and yellow jackets that sting to inflict pain and I can’t promise you I won’t be both but I can tell you that even on days I can feel the storms rage inside me, I will wish to live twice as many times as I wish to die.
To my brothers and sisters,
I will not always be kind. I will not always be able to bite my tongue and hold back the fire living inside my mouth that threatens to turn every word into a burning building but every individual cell will still do its best to put out the flames until this body is not hot but warm.
Until this body understands that, sometimes, spitting fire is worse than swallowing flames.
Trigger Warning: May I always see my own beauty without having to break any bones.
Trigger Warning: May I always be a series of riptides that never learn how to flow in the same direction.
Trigger Warning: May I always be full of opposites; may I never be perfect.
Trigger Warning: May I be flawed and flowing in the wrong direction if it will only teach me which one is the right one. May I always be riptides and never tsunamis. I may be monstrous and aching but I never want to tear myself apart.
Sometimes I will be unforgivable. Sometimes I will be one stumbling, heaping spoonful of an apology that no one will know how to swallow and I can’t promise you there won’t be bruises. I will always be bruises. I will be full of holes that others will do their best to fill, but the truth is that maybe I can’t be saved.
But that doesn’t mean I ever have to stop trying.
Trigger Warning: I am worth trying.
I am worth stupid silly laughter, sunburns, embarrassing pictures. I am worth inner thighs. I am worth the pulp at the bottom of the orange juice carton although I was never pulp.
I will never be the last thing left at the bottom of anything. I don’t deserve rock bottom. I am not leftovers. I am not disposable.
Trigger Warning: I am worth trying.
Trigger Warning: I am worth trying.
I am worth trying.
Not my white mom’s; my black mom’s.
Well, “African-American” if you want to get technical but who wants to get technical with someone who pronounces your name wrong every goddamn time she calls,
when she calls,
if she calls.
I’m not bitter.
I guess the problem with us, as people, is that we think we are gifted with eternal time; that we can spend entire lifetimes fucking up without any repercussions. Without any consequences.
In second grade I got my first pair of glasses;
In fourth grade I got sent to the office.
In eighth grade I won my first spelling bee and, in tenth grade, I learned that words only help
when you speak them.
I spent my entire childhood wishing I could bottle thunderstorms. Heavy thunderclouds and lightning bolts fastened beneath glass, electric wind swirling like frenzied lightning bugs in mason jars – I wanted it all. I wished ink into words and words into mouths and mouths into outstretched arms and that mothers could not both arrive and depart in the same sentence.
I wished to be reckless. I wished that even when I could talk about darkness no longer, even when there were no more instruments to adequately express my anguish; even when there was nothing left to tarnish, I wished to be fearless.
You see, there will come a day when there will be plenty of time to be cobwebs, plenty of time to be bronze medals, or snail shells, or lupine seeds, or fragments of exoskeletons examined and pinned, rustling at the past, but there will never be enough time to live if you spend it wishing fantasies into realities.
Did you know that a mother bird regurgitates her food into the mouths of her children to make sure they eat?
Sometimes I wish I knew who the fuck I’ve been trying to feed by emptying myself.
I spent every shitty high school lunch period wishing my cut apple could return to itself without help, without reassurance; that its sections might remember each other. I was devastated the day I discovered that
could not survive without
I wish I had learned how to speak with words long before I learned how to speak with my body.
I wish my black mom would call me.
I wish I didn’t spend so many years trying to convince myself that fixing pain with more pain would, somehow, teach me how to survive; how to be okay.
A man with green woven eyes that each started out with a train of thought that went on and on and on ending in tangled messes pooled in his pupils took advantage of me last night. It was dark and our blood seemed to be mostly comprised of Pinnacle bullshit and chain-smoked memories; we cut off what we could but somewhere, along the line, I forgot things.
Little interwoven fibers.
There was no needle to pull the thread along.
And I forgot a few more inches of his eye string until all I had was a tiny little piece and I couldn’t quite remember just where we had started off.
I suppose I’d never seen the end of the world before last night; where salty air grips your throat violently.
Where the sea meets the sky in a dull blue line before you.
It’s where the wind caresses the tiger lilies in big ceramic vases, where the street glimmers with diamonds and emeralds of broken glass; where children’s thundering, heartbeat footsteps pound as they race for the rides in bright and foamy sandals.
Where the garbage and mystery flirt lazily with murder, where the seagulls converge on plump, glossy trash bags; where the flies hum their own ode to the stench amplified in July’s humidity.
Where tiny diners stand as they implode from within; where nothing ever changes.
It’s the immortality that lurks in the peeling, stained wallpaper, and the sticky linoleum floors and the cigarette-tainted voices of the waitresses.
I saw that last night. I saw it in the way his bottom lip missed a step when I murmured something about trust; I saw it in the way he swallowed me whole.
And maybe I’m insane for making someone so violent sound like a masterpiece but
Maybe that’s how I allow myself to forgive.
And maybe I can’t quote biblical verses or remember the story of Adam and Eve but maybe we’re all just misguided sinners in the hands of angry gods and maybe this is why 1:24 in the morning feels so goddamn beautiful even after men with heavy eyes ruin your favorite pair of underwear and
Crush your universe.