“___ is the hottest girl on campus!”
grab a black marker
cross out “hottest” and “not”
cross out “ugliest”
cross out “stupid”
cross out the remainder
cover the page with the truth
My nose is too big.
My eyes are too small.
I am ugly.
I am fat.
I am stupid.
I am unlovable…
fear of someone finding it
fear of someone reading
cross out the truth
cover the page and turn it black
fear of someone holding it up to the light
fear of someone knowing
crumple the paper
rip its fibers into tiny, ambiguous shreds
throw them into the air
Street lights widen their gaze, and
buildings and lampposts bend outwards
as the sidewalk swallows you up.
A hand grasps the top of your head,
pushing you down into the floor,
but the body knows its feet and inches.
An elevator lifts into the air so that
the body stretches with gravity’s opposing pull,
then snaps back into place.
Feet haphazardly place themselves in front,
striding side-to-side with slow progress
down a spinning hallway full of mismatched lights.
The upper half follows your swaying head,
toppling over left and right until you
collapse like a blue-spotted ribbontail ray,
dragging your arms and legs across the seabed.
Rest to resist the incoming explosion.
Sadness and guilt gnaw the bleeding heart and rotting brain.
Veins in the hands tingle ready to alight in flame.
Darkness grows from inside, but there remains a bright glow
I am waiting for the next wind to blow it out.
Fingertips shoot light out into an empty room
as sweet violin notes dance along.
The body rises into the air and glows.
Eyelashes fall to rest on the skin,
the movement causing ripples.
warm water cascades down skin
so slipping silk becomes saturated
muscles melt onto the porcelain floor
spilling into a breath infused puddle
building until bone sits by itself
knees bent, pulled in, hands grabbing
a gone face – burst and
H2O molecules freeze, suspended in various points
of the room’s coordinate system for a moment only.
The sun sets and lights go out:
Stillness but the one breath shared –
Eight million chests rising and falling to a single beat.
In one alley within the grid of buildings
A woman sits on the ground with an old blanket
And a cardboard sign asking for money.
Her body moves up and down, gasping,
Throat trembling as a hollow crawls out.
Its sound waves journey beyond the body as ellipses,
Echoing out and returning back again to her.
One city, one scream no one hears.
Their smile blooms
but their chest hurts, and their eyes glimmer
a billion lights burning in and out:
the never-ending growing and shrinking
of gassy flaming bodies into giants and dwarfs.
Behind your back it shrivels –
what else did you expect from such a stubborn flower? What else
did you expect when you know it knows one day it will die?
I am afraid of falling.
The white feathers of my wings let go and float off with the wind.
I offer others my ears and words when they come –
Sometimes you need help flying.
But even feathers get heavy when you hold up too many,
And now my own are fading.
You were my angel and for once you held me,
But now you have gone away.
My arms grow weaker every day.
I shut my eyes and ask the Lord for
forgiveness, when I look up and see a man
across from me in the neighboring building,
gesticulating as he looks down at me, while
speaking with Him on the phone. My body
freezes and my lips tremble. I look back up
at him, wondering what he must think
of my flushed face and body leaning against the rail,
hoveringWhat if those eyes belong to God?
I turn and walk away.
A little carousel sits on the table
Grandpa flips a switch
and the animals spin slowly on their poles
Cousin William taps each life with his index finger as it passes
Tap! The horse neighs
Tap! The dog woofs
And tap! The tiger roars
While Little Cousin William does this, Grandpa smiles
and presses a tiny button so each pole glows
Then, Grandpa met God
Grandma said he probably talked about us all the time
She said one day he would introduce us to the singing angels
The little carousel lies in the corner
I carry it to the table and set it down
I flip the switch
Tap! tap! tap! – no dancing
I press the tiny button –
Dust doesn’t glow.