Thursday, 2 November 2017

where i've been -

You see, we’re tired, my heart and I,
We dealt with books, we trusted men, 
And in our own blood drenched the pen.

― Elizabeth Barrett Browning, excerpt from My Heart And I

{Photo and Art: Lauren Muller/Instagram}

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

a little bit too much alive

I know you would say 'you owe me nothing'
   But I know you think I owe you
                                                         just a little bit
You think you own a little bit of me

              Not enough to say it
                                       Or even think it out in
                                                                onesolidthought

Enough though, to feel it in your hands      somedays
                                                        on the insides of your cheeks
                                              underneath the skin covering your ribcage that's stretched too thin
               
                                     You feel it
                             Mid-day when your back is turned but you can hear my voice
                  When I brush past and the hairs on your arm wake up
      On the cusp of sleep when your mind loosens up and dances on things you half-forgot

You feel 'I own you a little bit'
                                         'You owe me something of yourself'

But you are wrong there


I am a little bit too much alive for you
                                 I still have a vibrancy that you forgave yourself for never having fully
                                                                                                                                                    years ago
    I am still finding how far my arms                                              reach
                 and how tall I can stand when I'm standing up for something
                                                                                                                            (someone)

                                          You forget how much I belong to myself

I want to tell you      (I want you to know)
                   that even though I make you feel something
                            in places you'd long forgot existed
                                     in places you didn't know about before
                            doesn't mean I owe you anything
                                                                           at all
                                                                           of me.

S.
{Photo: via Thome Yorker Tumblr}

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

untruth .

i'm trying to be honest
              for a change
but you look better when i say
      your hair smelled of lemons
             and
 there was an aftershock when i kissed you
         so strong i needed to hold you
              with both hands
                   to steady the seismic tremor
that started in deep
                       and spread to all corners of myself

    and i look better when i
             tell you that i still wanted you
                            the night i took you to my unmade bed
               and let myself undress you
                    with my eyes closed

but i can't sleep with your head next to mine
                 and i've been pretending i don't know why
      but i think you know, already
                                    (you've been pretending too)

                                  it's funny —
being right after all this time
                 like some sick i-told-you-so
                           i've been playing with myself

and i see now that in this light
                          i don't look so good at all
                but your hair has never smelt of lemons
                                and you weren't there the night the ground
                                                 did shake beneath my feet
                                  and,
                                       help me god,
                             i still can't seem to tell the truth
                                              the way i need to:

you are not my sunlight                                                                  
and i will never be your clear night sky.                                                       

S.

Friday, 6 May 2016

haven .

good bye
there is a warm bed on the floor of a
cold room
but it is not a home
to me

i cannot feel safe
curled next to a man
who says he wears his heart outside himself—
like a badge
like a hand-stitched emblem on his shirt pocket—
but who maps out the quickest exits
as soon as he enters a room

who has already told me the ways
he will forget me —
the ways he has already forgotten me —
while i am still tangled up around him
.....

you are a burner of bridges
of roads, of highways
you warm yourself
on all the endings you've ignited —
looking holy and alive
as the flames glow you a halo

and i've been trying to find a place
to hide
because
every time i'm with you
i smell smoke.

S.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

because you asked me what's on my mind and i don't know how to answer like a normal person; here is a poem.

mywed
i've been thinking lately about
                  skin

catching myself staring at the stranger
      on the café bench

wondering if
           the dimples in his cheeks would
                      feel the same as yours
           with my nose pressed into the crease

[if i could ever love him if they didn't
 if i could ever leave him if they did]

how the cab-mans callouses
    compare to yours
        held tight against my ribcage —
     that extra friction
                      sending me over the edge

if the workman's arms are also used
             to wrap themselves around someone
                               soft and breakable
         when he puts down his saws and hammers for the day.

・・・・・
i've been thinking lately about
           forgiveness

whether you can find some for me
     when this all goes to shit

[if you can start storing it up now
 and slowly letting us go
 before we have to]

and whether i can find any for myself
         for taking it this far

knowing that this is going to
         break us both —
                       differently.

S.

Monday, 21 March 2016

unanswered —

questions for the woman i was last night 

back
how far have you walked for men who’ve never held your feet in their laps?
how often have you bartered with bone, only to sell yourself short?
why do you find the unavailable so alluring?
where did it begin, what went wrong, and who made you feel so worthless?
if they wanted you, wouldn’t they have chosen you?
all this time, you were begging for love silently
thinking they couldn’t hear you, but they smelt it on you
you must have known that they could taste the desperate on your skin
and what about the others that would do anything for you?
why did you make them love you until you could not stand it?
how are you both of these women, both flighty and needful?
where did you learn this, to want what does not want you?
where did you learn this, to leave those that want to stay?

by warsan shire

{Photo: Ennevia Flickr}

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

lessons .

things i wished i'd been taught:

        how to respond to a man that won't leave him angry
or me sad.

        no.
reverse that:

          that won't leave me sad
or him angry.
 
                     there.
i think that makes a difference.

                      there.
another thing i wish i'd been taught:

                  how to put my needs above
                      someone else's wants.

steffy at home.barcelona june 2015
         my whole life has been filled with firecracker men
loud and fast and angry
      that burn for a second and then blow up
                          in my face
           and disappear in a mess
                            of smoke and debris.

                                               that live for the reaction.

                and i don't think i've ever been taught
                                 how to stop a fuse that's already lit.
                                          or where my body will be
                                                                                                     least likely
                                                    to get caught by the shrapnel.


                i wish they had been taught to be softer
i wish i was taught to be stone.

S.

Monday, 18 January 2016

to the men .


Aly

the inside of my cheeks
are raw
from biting them until they bleed

i know that you're just asking me to smile but

i would rather spit blood
into the bathroom sink
and wait for the
stinging to
subside

wait until my tongue
gets used to the walls of my mouth
again

wait while a new layer of skin grows back
stronger this time

than open myself up

for you.

S.





{Photo: Matt Fry Flickr}

Friday, 15 January 2016

alchemy .

i've found you in the silence
when i'm alone or in a crowd of strangers

i've found myself missing the softness between your calloused hands
& the laughter on your teeth

& i know we were insignificant — 
strangers colliding on our way to bigger things

but i think you dropped your pen — 
something small and insignificant

& i think i picked it up

& after all this time it's turned to gold in my pocket —
heavy and significant

but it's yours not mine —
all too heavy for my two arms to carry

something bigger
than we were
so that i've found i'm now missing your blackberry sweet kisses
& the sound of your voice first thing in the morning

before either of us had opened our eyes

saying not now not now not now to the early-light
& right now right now right now to me

& i'm sure you left these moments in that
apartment next to mine

before leaving that old town for good

but i brought a button home with me
that turned into a diamond in my suitcase

& i can't seem to let it go.

S.
{Photo: Lily Little Flickr

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

pretend .

you covered me with burnt kisses —
with siren songs
waving your heart outside yourself
like a beacon
but it was just illusion —
smoke and lights and mirrors
aimed at those with simple minds
and i came running.
herons
you tore me down
not all at once but in strips
thin as paint
one room at a time
until my body was made only of
the most basic elements —
nothing of substance
nothing to hold up to the light.

you seduced me with lips that tasted of
clementines
and words that sounded suspiciously like
my own
recited backwards.

· · ·

i only wish i had learned to speak firmly without
sounding mean
i wish i had taught myself the art of
grace
in tension
and strength
in the sea of vulnerability you swept me into.

i only wish
you were everything i imagined
and i was the person i wrote as myself.

i wish
but we don't exist outside of the walls of what-might-have-been.
JO6
[don't listen to a word i've said
i've been crying bathtubs full
of crocodile tears since you left me.
trying to find the last shred of you
i lost somewhere inside these veins].