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I haven’t loved my body in a while.

I haven’t loved my body once in my life.

When I was nine years old I hated my legs.  I would stand in front of the long mirror in my parent’s room in my underwear and stare into my own eyes.  I’d wonder things like why can’t my thighs be more muscular?  Or, why don’t I have bony kneecaps? Or, why can’t I have slimmer calves I guess, since fourth grade, I wondered why I couldn’t be prettier.  I thought if I stared at myself long enough in the mirror, or flexed my thigh muscles hard enough, that maybe my legs would morph into something I loved.

Realistically, at nine, I had great legs.

The self-deprecation didn’t stop there though.  In middle school I used to sleep with leather belts tied around my torso thinking they would make my waist smaller.

And in eighth grade I remember running from Algebra II just to find a safe haven in the bathroom where I keeled over to the tiny-tiled floor.  Erin Sullivan’s words echoed between the cobalt bathroom stalls and buzzed in my ears—Why is she wearing that shirt? She looks fat.

I wasn’t fat.  I was a thirteen year old with a retainer and too much hair to know what to do with.

I can tell you one thing though.  Ever since I was six and found out my best friend’s brother molested her, I promised myself that I would do everything in my power to lessen the suffering of others and to learn something new with every opportunity I was handed.

And I was handed a lot of opportunities.  Many of which went sour, or left me feeling empty.

Now, at twenty-five and a half I find myself acting like my nine year old self.  I stand in front of my own mirror this time.  It’s on my buttered-yellow walls of my 400 square foot apartment in Lambertville, NJ along the Delaware River.  I think about the mountains as I look at my curvaceous legs, wide hips and broad shoulders.  I want to climb their dirt beaten paths.  I want to find a cave.  I want to be alone.

The difference about being twenty-five in comparison to being nine is that I can very rarely look myself in the eyes.  

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exactitude vs. the imagination

Sometimes I feel so cyclical and predictable
like the way it takes the Earth 365 days to circle the sun
like the way it takes Jupiter 4,332 days to do the same thing
I undoubtedly repeat myself
My lies
My loves
My routines
I can’t shake what I know
and I won’t shake what I don’t
Steinbeck started Of Mice and Men at the river
and he ended it there too
What is he really dying to tell us through this?                            Perhaps that we can’t move forward
Or maybe that
we always end up where we begin
despite how far we throw ourselves—:
Scientists can mathematically and accurately predict
how many stars are in the observable universe
A doctor can estimate with reputable proof how long a patient has to live
in stage four cancer
A nutritionist can tell you how many vegetables to eat
to balance out your bad habits
But I  can’t find
my footing
In a maelstrom of insecurity
delusion
and anxiety
Sometimes I wonder where the exactness comes from—
Sometimes I wonder if experts feel madness
doubt
dismantled
Somehow
I know they don’t
or maybe they trudge, unequipped
It’s hard carrying the weight of demons
an ironton, coal, sludgy mass—
especially without any credence
especially without a numerical equation
providing an exactitude
that I still can’t fathom exists
Instead I dig the soles of my feet into the silty banks of the river
I look up at the sky; feel how small I am—
I am rooted, grounded
I came from rich, irriguous earthcrust
Not alone
but with others
who feel an emptiness
that is only broadened
by the men who have certain
answers to the questions that
are better left
ignored
leaving us to create
imagine
and to understand
that in 365 days we will pick up right where we left off.

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the twenty-second of april (a birthday poem)

the earth works in odd ways
some days she gives us a bouquet of rhododendrons
others she gives us a sludgy mess of pitch
that drips
and drips
and drips
regardless
she still turns a full 360° on her axis daily
no matter what
managing to not soak up
the pain, or give a shit
about the bliss

she just keeps spinning

today, 26 years ago, I was born
and today in history
Tsjaikovsky completed “Swan Lake”
poison gas was used for the first time in WWI—
Sachenhausen was liberated at the tail end of WWII
America showed the world the first atomic bomb on network news
Earth Day was made an official holiday
a handful of men stole 3.3 million dollars
7,000 people were slaughtered
in stadium of Kibuye Rwanda

but I still take the time to
mark another year on my skin
26 is going to be different
26 is going to be beautiful

history repeats itself because
we never really remember
and forgetting is easier and
is done with an unconscious certainty

today is merely my birthday
another day closer to the day I’ll die
a day I won’t know until I accidentally
make eye contact with death
and he takes me in
hard:
one
solid
gulp

but today I know my worth:
while throwing dirty pennies
into the fountain and
later into the river
I like that they will most likely stay untouched
in the cement bowl
I like that they will disappear
into the silt

like the rest of the world on every
April twenty-second
I am existing through
two opposing planes:
black // white
happy // sad
important // erased

today is a day
that won’t matter much
in comparison to all the others

because we’re all part of a bigger, spinning thing—:
we’re all connected
we’re all the same
and this is how we make it

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an homage to the suffering

any man would be happy with me
because i was born to suffer

when i told you i loved you
i meant it—:
my honesty comes
from the backbone of my throat
where i keep my unspoken words
they fester there
tied blisters to my heels
like the aches that lace my soles
loving you hurt

 there are times, i too,
want to know this life:
its curves
its concave back
its insides—turned over pink
fresh and raw
like a blooming crimson tulip
taut and plumb

i was born to suffer
like the oyster
caged in its shell
shucked
plucked for a pearl
or forced to procreate alone
in the depths of the blueblack sea

 there is a loneliness in this world that
hums in the steps of a widow
lurks in the shadows of our subconscious
it’s stitched in our skin
we wear it with fear
and it hangs
laden with a decline
that slopes
along
the curve of my spine
and sinks
into the ground
opaque with
the tears
that make
the ground so fertile

 

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you think you know me

you think you know me
because the small of my back
fit the dip of your palm
like two cleanly split pieces of pottery
and because i
danced with you like your shadow did
in the almost dark places
my cheekbone pressed hard
against your chest
your ribcage separating me
from your heart
you think you know me
because you’ve tasted my skin
wet honeydew on a sultry summer night
i wanted your hands in my pockets
i wanted your soles on my palms
i wanted to lift you up to Orion
but the trouble was
that i didn’t know the stars would take you
i didn’t know
that i belong to
myself—:
this caused me to explode
outshining the sun
then
drying up like the residue
the sand leaves in
the crevices
of a seashell

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i can’t help that i’m a mirror

there is no escape
       from a world that hypnotizes the insane
       with pills, scripts, and forgetting—:
i like to face destruction
       forehead to forehead
       iris to iris
      mind to mind
i like to be broken down
       unpeeled so the rawest parts of me
       leave others uncomfortable, dismantled
i like being an artist :: unraveled and alone
i like creating what the world hides
       behind
i like being immersed in crisis
i like being ignited
       just as the match hits the striking surface
       in a millisecond
i like when i rebel
       as if i were the pastel cream-colored leaves
       of the tree that refuses to complete
       photosynthesis,
       the focal point of February blues
i want to be the whisper
       the rain makes as it pounds
       heated pavement
       lost in summer’s humid mist
i want to feel the ocean
       when i’m folded up inside of her
       cradled by decompression sickness
i want to desperately escape
       the world that tells me
       i feel too much
i can’t help that i’m a mirror
       and swallow the world’s
       pain

 

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No More Clichés

(imitation poem of Octavio Paz)

skin like velvet
eyes brown: moist earth crust
after a storm
the lines of your face
are more beautiful than
pitch dripping and molding
to the body of a tree
delicate breath
strong arms
you hold the beauty
of a thousand
fireflies—:
bringing light to the
damp, dark places
how many women have kneeled
before you,
their hearts in their palms?
how many Nerudas have written
odes to the soles of your feet?
to your addictive mouth
your majestic aura.
but today I won’t make one more cliché
and write this for you—:
no, no more clichés.
this is for the men
that like Orlando live
for their loves, carving
their hearts into the bark
of the sycamore
that hopes for battles:
battles for the love of unpeeled skin
battles for the passions triggered by
the rising moon and heavy sun
or battles to outlive the thick desire
to give in.
yes, to you men in a world of despair
to you, full moon in the cloudless skies
to you, fighter of an eternal war of loss
to you, man of my soul.
from now on, my eyes won’t cast upon the flawless
rather, they will look into the universe
and watch the waning and waxing moon
be born and re-born again,
and so, no more clichés.
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