When the Answer is Only Four Days Away

Terrorized to the point of
shaking and throwing up
one minute,
crying my eyes out
the next.
Two hours later I’ll be sleeping,
then wake up with a mad desire
to bake cake.

Can somebody loan me a straitjacket?

There’s no one.
nobody has crossed that door frame
in 72 hours.

It’s not the fear of that night.
It’s the fear of what comes after.
It could be something frighteningly good
and i might not be able to handle it well
and self-destruct, or something
or I’m afraid of being far away
from what I used to be.

I’d still give this up
for what I used to have
a man who loves me, and
and being far away from knowing
if my dreams would come true or not.

It feels safer if you don’t know.

I could fail.
or I could succeed
and get uglier inside for it.

They say,
to whom much is given
much is required
but can I choose to not be given much?

I’m unhappy
but have no right to be.
That’s the worst kind of unhappiness.
It would at least be better
if people thought it totally excusable
even understandable, that you’re unhappy
and they actually feel sorry for you.
Nothing’s worse than being unhappy
and being unable to talk about it
because you know you’d be
made to feel guilty for it.

I have a lot. I can give back a lot.
I can donate to charity,
pay for a man’s intestinal transplant operation,
or send somebody to school, but
I’ll still be scared.

I’m not worried about failure
but about success
about getting stronger and smarter than I am.
It’s lonely enough as it is.

I ain’t super woman
but everybody expects me to be.
The truth is, I want to be taken care of
I want someone
to share the responsibility for me.

What if “can’t ask for more” really exists?
What if you get there
and you still want more
and feel so terrible
because you’re not supposed to?
What if you get there and it’s a terrible place?

Do you think you understand me?
because I don’t think I understand myself
although I’m talking about it.

I’m scared of knowing the answer
but I still ask
because I’m lonely
and I’m trying to get to the bottom of the loneliness.

Give me something,
something to look forward to
that’s far enough away
that I can feel safe wanting it.

“Red Dress in a Window” by photographer Sera Katie

Love’s Fault

We used to laugh
at all the world’s nonsense
as if between our
intense kisses
and calling out
each other’s names
in moans
and urgent whispers
we’ve found some sort
of solution
to cure it
when we couldn’t even
cure ourselves
or each other

the consequences
of our carelessness
now loom wide and tall
blacker than Poe’s raven
solemnly repeating
final as death

I love you too much
to blame you
so I blame myself

“I’d like to get away from earth awhile and then come back to it
and begin over.”
by photographer Alice, The Cheshire Smile

Fear Itself

I feel blood-stained
cocaine-contaminated needles
on my heart
I sense an abysmal trench
in the pit of my stomach
and I feel worse than helpless,
I feel like I shouldn’t even exist
I feel like I am nothing
whenever I remember
that I am sitting side-by-side
with the possibility
that not only could I lose you
the world could lose you
and I don’t think
I would ever be ready
and I feel so goddamned selfish
for having prayed
asking God to make you love me
when I should have spent
every minute concentrating
on asking Him to save you
never mind whom you love
never mind everything else

this world around me
is so frail so suddenly
like my hands would fall apart
in splinters
and my tears are insufficient currency
to pay fate for what
I would exchange everything for—

for your heart to continue beating
for your lungs to continue breathing
for you to open your eyes
at the end of the procedure
and smile

I never knew fear
before now
I never had a reason to fear
or anything to fear
but this.

“Berry Snowstorm” by photographer Clarabellafaire Stock

Soul Tattoo

I’d like to remember you
as you were
that moment when
I lost myself in your kisses
and saw my future in your soulful eyes
before the heaviness of the present
unmasked its leery face
before the pain that
you have to carry alone
caught up on us
and invalidated
what few snatches of beauty
we created
before your unspeakable fears
commenced to undermine
all our chances for happiness

Before the clock
ticks its last tock
and time files our story
as over and done with
a faded scrap of history
let me preserve the best version of you
in my mind:
the man that you were
when you first met me
the man who said yes
when I asked
if he’d take a risk with me
the man who acted as if
love was always worth it

Let me immortalize with a poem
that tortured soul
who momentarily forgot himself
long enough to take the time
to scoop me in his arms
and wrap me in them
so gingerly
before I even understood
what the names
tattooed on them
the pure, warm force
who had been so close to me
every phone call was a touch,
every email was a caress
every night of love
was a miracle

that is,
before you qualified
what a miracle is supposed to be
and left me out
of the definition

I cry for you tonight
but this is
an imperative pain
as I sear the details
of our short-lived past
onto my soul
with the only kind of ink
I have access to
and know how to use
and render it with permanence

and hopefully move on
if that isn’t too big
a contradiction

Image by photographer Inès Amd

Serendipity on Paseo de Roxas

played hopscotch
with me again
when she walked into the diner
while I was two mouthfuls away
from asking for the bill
I recognized her from her pictures
having singled her out
as my number one rival
for your affection
her queenly demeanor making me
feel more insignificant than usual

I weakly reasoned
that though I might not be
one of nature’s better designs
I still have my eloquence
but she shot that down too
when she sat down
with her back to me
picked up her phone
and called you
and started talking

and I heard—
I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,
but I heard
her telling you
everything I couldn’t tell you
all the pains I couldn’t name
she gave them names
and I realized
that all the emptiness and hurt
you’re unknowingly making me feel
she was feeling them too
and all the love I wanted to give
she was also offering to you

What am I then,
this life-clumsy, plain-clothed morena
strapped into aesthetic mediocrity
with tarnished buckles
compared to that
divine mestiza
with a grace akin to emeralds
and authentic Prada
to even think that
after you’ve closed your heart
to her
I might stand
a ghost of a chance?

For your sake
I hope she stays
I hope she waits
in love
until you come around

as for me,
I’m walking away
and neither she
nor you
even knew I was there.

“Selena Gomez for InStyle 2013” by photographer Dusan Reljin

Drunk With Night

An afternoon in the rain
a pitcher of Cuban mojito
four shots of drip Sumatra espresso
an evening of PhD-level mathematics
and you are still
in my mind
and you are still
at the top of my list
you are still
breaking my heart

I’ve always been a strong woman
but always been weak
when it came to this
not this time
it ends tonight

you heard me

I would have loved you
beyond sickness
beyond health
beyond poorer
beyond richer
beyond death

but for such a tortured soul
you can build such high walls
fencing in your own need
beyond your own reach
and even your silence
is so thick it burns
like dry ice

with dry eyes
I gather my strength
from the lateness of the hour
I borrow my resolve
from this state of drunkenness
in my craving for sleep
and haggle for my destiny
from this directionless intoxication
and let go of you,
sweet lover
here’s to you,
beautiful and complex spirit
a toast
to goodbye

I make my way in these
winding alleys of consciousness
the stars above buzzing like bees
silverware clattering on the floor
my nervous heartbeat
pounding in my ears
back home
in the quilted arms
of my solitude
without promises
without pain
without you

Strawberry and Champagne by photographer Kim Fearheiley

The Greatest Heartbreak Of All

Jackie said,
“So now you’ve seen
that it exists
the kind of love
that just eases its way
into your life
and is not about
your head in the clouds
your pulse racing
your heart
like a sledgehammer
or doing crazy things
like shouting it out
from the tops of buildings

and you can’t un-see it

but this love
this one you’re looking at
is not for you
and you just have to
acknowledge that you saw
a possibility
from the other direction

and yes, I know
you weren’t actively looking
but you were painfully open
and you could have tried
and, admit it to yourself
that though you could have succeeded
you could also end up conceding
that it’s more difficult
than you could handle

and yes,
not knowing the answer
either way
is the greatest heartbreak of all.”

Stealing Focus by photographer Sarah Puterbaugh