042

You’re coated solid gold, the messiah,
and I’m inhaling the fumes from below,
you capture me in corners and open space
capture me, get bored and walk away

quizzical, to see if I know what you know,
the difference between trees, I don’t,
what you’re trying to get me to say, I don’t know,
your interest in me is just passing through
your interest in me is if you’re in the mood

It’s only fair to give credit where credit is due
you had me trying until it was what I couldn’t do
you had me dejected over everybody else
when they managed to win you,
the desired result, I bet I checked the right box

I have your particles in my heart,
gold flakes from resting in your mistakes
no more skirting by and holding my breath
yet, I find you on me all the time
sitting in the corner of my eye.

041

Hey you,
I’m still checking my inbox for your emails
they never come,
still wondering if you’ll ever send that letter
well, I guess not,
I was so easy to let go of

I’m still checking license plates
wonder if we’ll ever accidentally collide
if you’d even bother to say hello,
well, I guess not

I still have that guitar and tattered amp
still have those gifts and other things
guess you spent a lot on me
when money didn’t mean a thing to you
could never fill a room with you

I still have that note you wrote
the one with all your answers
but no apologies,
That note you asked me to burn
the one I kept instead

I still dream that you were something
somebody that wanted to take me out,
somebody who didn’t let me down,
I’m still hitting the ground

Hey you,
why was I so easy to let go of?

040

I know this story
you’ve told it before
you’re chasing, I’m running,
I can’t stick the landing, no
I can’t keep my feelings to myself

you crawl in while I sleep
entangled in my sheets
waking as a casualty, I
cant wash myself clean
can’t stop thinking now

Always seconds from the door,
just cradling the ignition,
just a few more boxes to move,
and there you are again
cracking your knuckles,
ready to break me in

This carousel sort of routine,
I can hear you telling me
you’ll never let me go,
never let me go,
and I sit on my horse
pray the path is straight
that I’ll escape

but you’re in my dreams every night
some phantom sort of sinner
and I, I just can’t keep you out
I can’t get off this horse.

Stories From Growing Up: Involuntary Holdings

Reason one we keep you inside:

You are an illegal immigrant. If the police come snooping around, they will take you away forever. You will be treated badly. You will be put in a prison where you eat out of a communal bin like a pig and get raped by the other inmates.

No, you cannot volunteer anymore.
No, you cannot go to school.
You need to stop going for walks.
Don’t answer the door.

You tell me you’re just doing the best you can.

You always had papers. I didn’t.

Stories From Growing Up: A Message for Me

He was the only one home, so I let him know I was going out for a walk. Something didn’t sit right, so I didn’t stay out long.

Good job, idiot.

He had spraypainted it on the glass doors leading out to the patio, for me. Sloppy blue letters. Underlined “idiot.”

Everybody was home now. Moving along like day-to-day, not acknowledging the large message projecting into the living room, ignoring his reaction to my apparently small sin: I had accidentally locked the door. I had accidentally locked the door and left for 20 minutes.

Idiot.

Stories From Growing Up: Smuggle Up

Seven years old, we went to Disneyland and I got my first purse. It was a crossbody with a tiny silver crown. I wore it everywhere, for years, even when the lining started to fall apart. It was full of little bits of nonsense, but it was all my sorts of nonsense.

I took it with me through the airport for entertainment and snacks.

Before customs, my mom took me aside and asked to put something in my purse– I had the room, so I said alright. $10,000 in the Disney purse, $10,000 dollars to hide from customs. How many of us agreed to do it?

I think they were hiding through us, so they could hide the numbers from everyone else. But I still don’t truly know why, just that it never felt right.

Stories From Growing Up: Throwing Punches At Sickness

Where is the proof? How does the brain change?

I waited an entire year before I told them about my diagnosis. In retrospect, I should have made the decision last much longer. I wanted to have some sense of what my life would be like, some sort of resolution before I could open the door.

Prove it to me, tell me about academics and science. I am not a daughter, but a translator and educator. Tell me as I cry about how I am hurting that you need to know if this is even a “real thing.” I suppose it’s easier for me to tell you than for you to politely explore it yourself.

I am only your daughter if we can call this a matter of being too sensitive and absolve ourselves of its name. If we can pretend that all my turbulence is no different from what other people go through– what if this is just how it is at your age? 

Pull your head out of your ass.

Funny that my reality is unfounded, but is strategically useful.

Are you sure you can handle this? The token response when I do something unfavourable. The voice that tries to say that it can see my sickness, but what it means is that I have done something they disagree with.

Did you take your medication? The thing you abhor, unless you can use it to paint me as irrational. If I am upset with you, it is only manufactured.

As it turns out, you don’t need to believe anything. You just need to know how to manipulate the people that do.

031

I rest my head on your shoulder
you take the picture and let me go
take the picture and I don’t know,
if it’s all the same to you,
I don’t want it this way

You light a cigarette
ducking under an umbrella
going out into the rain
I taste the smoke as you go,
if it’s all the same to you,
I’m a little over the burn

You sit on the edge of the room now
indentations in the middle cushion
where you used to be,
won’t retract, no welcome back,
if it’s all the same to you,
I think I’m gonna spread out now

I’d show up for you out of love,
ride the aisle seat so you can see
be a window ornament
while you sit on your phone,
If it’s all the same to you,
I think I should sleep.

smooth white, you find the walls
more interesting than my eyes,
your drink is a better walk
than a walk with me,
If it’s all the same to you
I think this is it.

Stories From Growing Up: If I Could Go Back

“We were just having a conversation about what she would change if she could do this all over again.”

he looked at me in that calculating way, savouring the moment. Like there was a pleasure in delivering something that only served to cause pain. As if he felt there was righteousness in chipping at my self-worth, never letting me build it back up.

I was prepared. He got nothing from me because I knew the answer years before it came out of his mouth. I felt it before he ever put it into words.

“If she could change it…She wouldn’t have had you.”

I am a product of regret. I will never have to explain that feeling again.

Stories from Growing Up: The Worst Possible Thing

One time, when they were finished fighting, I walked out of my room to see him sweeping up broken dishes from the kitchen floor. As if the moment was disappearing because he was cleaning up. As if what happened didn’t permeate the entire house.

The fighting felt like the worst possible thing. Like my heart sinking out of my chest and the world was falling apart. I thought that was the worst thing, but the honeymoon phases always rolled back in. I could do my best to roll with it.

I could not bear being left behind. They had a blowout fight. She collected my siblings, intending to leave. I told her that I didn’t want to go, I was scared, so she left me.

I watched her go up the driveway with everybody but me. I watched her decide that it was more important to make a statement than to love me. I watched her decide that it was okay to leave me behind in a situation that she herself didn’t want to be in.

That was the new worst possible thing. Being the one left behind.