Monarch

Her lips were always smiling,
A bright shade of pink
That always made me think of spring.
We’d sit at the table for hours,
Picking beads of certain colors
And arranging them in stencils
To later be ironed.
I always loved the sparkly orange one
Because it looked
Like the wings of a monarch butterfly.
And that’s what she was:
The monarch of our family.
Wings stretched,
Sparkling in the sunlight,
I know she must be soaring
Somewhere in sunset-pink clouds.

When We Were Young

Once upon a time,
Joy poured from thick, gray clouds.
You and I
Cheered.
I kicked puddles at you,
And you tried to push me into them
As we screamed,
Wild beasts that we were
When we were young.
My straight hair
Frizzed
And curled around my rosy cheeks.
Your glasses
Fogged,
And you abandoned them
And all caution.
The others
Ran inside.
We stayed.
We lived
In the mud and grime,
And we were free.
Today,
It rains again,
But what falls from those clouds
Is sorrow
As you put up an umbrella
To protect your vision
And hurry inside.

Merry Go Round

I used to love
The merry-go-’round,
Always riding
Up and down
On a beautiful horse
Whose mane stood still
As it rode in circles,
Ignorant to thrill.
There came a day
When it began to feel slow,
And I realized
There was nowhere to go
On a horse that always
Rode the same path,
The scenery always
The same as it passed.

Phoenix

Gray walls surround me, desolate and empty.
No pictures hang here, no art, no color.
So barren and void of all feeling, all emotion.
Water seeps down from one corner,
Inspiring cracks in the paint to form around it.
In one place, the paint has chipped off entirely,
Revealing a single orange fleck
Of immunity to this depression.
I begin chipping the paint with my fingernails,
Desperately needing to know
What lies dormant beneath its cold surface.
The chips flutter to the ground, catching the light,
Like snow against the dreary, gray background.
They collect at my feet, sticking to my socks,
Gathering in a pile on the floor around them,
A cluster of ashes, dust, and decay.
I stare at the pile as it grows, my fingers still picking,
Gray chips floating down like smoke billowing up
As the pile of ashes stretches higher.
The cracking of chipping paint like the crackling of a fire,
Leaving disintegrated residue beneath its brilliant flame.
It is alive.
The chipped away paint reveals a vibrant mosaic,
Color stretching from the pile of ashes upward,
Like fiery wings erupting from nothingness,
Illuminating the room with newfound glory,
Creating summer from a wintry wasteland.
A shame it was ever hidden,
But how extraordinary to uncover,
Born from the ashes,
Inspiration.

Can You Hear Me?

Can you hear me?
Can you hear
The cracking,
The wavering,
The fear?
Can you decipher
The words
That rise from my lips,
Their meaning?
Are we speaking
The same language,
Or have I suddenly begun
Chanting in tongues
That only I
Can understand?
Can you hear the running
Of tears down my cheeks,
Or the stinging
As they burn them?
Can you hear
The pain you’re causing
The scraping
The bruising?
Is my drunken slur
Too thick
For you to comprehend?
Is it the wind
That’s drowning me out
Or am I speaking to you
From underwater?
Can you hear
The fire in my throat
As I struggle
To keep speaking
To keep trying
To make you hear me?
Can you hear
The simmering
Of water vapor
When at last
I give up?

Worth

I asked for it.
When he told me,
In my drunken haze,
What he wanted from me,
In hushed tones
I leaned in and whispered,
Anxiety in every slur,
“I never have…
Before…”
He asked me
If that was a yes or a no.

I waited until we were alone
To tell him,
Louder this time,
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.”
But he had full intentions
Of giving me what I was asking for.
I repeated even more loudly,
“I don’t think we should do this.”
He kissed me harder,
Pulled more fervently at my clothes,
As if I was telling him
To hurry up and give it to me.
Because asking for it
Never meant that I asked.
It’s always only meant
That I deserved it.

Wishing You Well

I wish you much love—
None returned.
So that you feel only
Disappointment.
I wish you many smiles—
No joy.
So that you know only
Isolation.
May your dreams wither,
And your soul cry,
And may you never
Know empathy
From another.
May your smile
Successfully
Disguise your misery,
And may others
Always tell you
To smile more.