POEMS

Channels

There are over four hundred channels,
More channels than there are
Ice cream flavours
At the grocery store,
But they all say the same thing—
Not good enough, strong enough,
change enough,
Because the world is broken,
And so are its people.

That’s the diagnosis, the officials don’t say—
The world is broken,
And that’s scary
Because you broke your wrist as a child
And you remember that the doctors
Had to reset the bone,
Like what Daddy does
When Mommy
freezes the computer,
But it sounds different now,
Like wiped clean,
Like everything goes,
Even the people.
Like two by two,
And skies that don’t dry,
And tears that finally match
The ones of the children on TV,
And it scares you,
Because everything scares you,
Even the people.

There is a bubble,
And you can live inside it,
Exist inside it,
Subsist inside it,
But you remember
Being four and
Making messes in the bath
And seven and
Chasing the reflective light
down sidewalks
And nine and
Pouring more soap in the sink,
Barely washing the dishes,
And you remember
Bubbles
P o p.

Always,
They pop.

You can change the channel,
Care for a minute about
Custody battles and divorces
Of people you’ve never
Met,
Laughing at the stories,
Of fictional people
You will never
Meet.
Or,
You can turn it off.

You can turn it off,
And pretend it’s okay,
That your small world
Will never be like
The big, bad world.
That you will be safe.
Because you remember
Being ten and
Running your way
Home,
And the way you were
Safe.
It sounds different now,
Means different now,
Less about points
More about always
Evening the score.

But when you turn it on,
You have to be reminded
That while you were eating
Dill pickle chips from the bag
And watching—on repeat—
The smiling dog flying
Into the pool,
People, human, children
Were dying.
Are dying.

People, human, children
Are dying.

And we can watch,
Keep the channel on,
Cry into our pillows,
Wonder if we are
The type of broken
That needs to be
Reset,

Or if we are just sprained,
Fractured,
Ready for repair.

There’s a little girl on TV,
Just in the background,
Because reporters and
Adults are shouting and it
Drowns her out.
But she is there,
Teary faced and there,
And there is a little girl
Beside me,
Smiley faced and here,
Asking where her movie went,
Why I changed the channel,
And I don’t know the answer,
Just that she is not yet broken,
Not even close,
And I wonder if she—
And the crying child on TV—
If they are the reset button,
The clean slate for us all,
Smiling, crying, human.
Good enough, strong enough,
Change enough.

I don’t turn the TV off,
Because bubbles pop
And bones break
And safety, sometimes,
You have to create.
The world rages on, and
Everything breaks—
Even the people—
But somehow,
We’re still holding on.

Because there’s a little girl
On TV
Who shows a smile now
Behind her tears,
And it’s possible,
We think, with a
Mouthful of chips,
That she’s not broken yet.
And so,
We hold on.

 

 

…And, just in case you need it today:

donuts & daydreams

“perfection is the disease of a nation” –Beyoncé

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.37.42 AM

I used to exist on a diet of donuts and daydreams,
because I was too tired to eat
and too short on time to sleep,
so instead I shortchanged myself,
and as the warm water of a safe shower
fell down upon me,
I let my tears blend in,
because I was taught to say yes to opportunities,
to take advantage of opportunities
resume-boosting opportunities,
no-one-will-ever-give-a-fuck opportunities.
I was taught to say yes to an iCalendar that
was probably ready to say no for me,
because somewhere along the way,
I learned that it was better to subsist on donuts and daydreams,
than to have what-could’ve-beens haunt you in your sleep.

I’m quite certain, the only thing I ever learned
to say no to
is high caloric desserts,
and I’m quite certain that I’d love ice cream even more
if there was no nutrition label on the side,
and I’m quite certain that maybe clothes fit looser
when calories were counted,
but I’m also certain that cashews weren’t meant to be
measured on a scale,
because I’m sick of weighing me,
and I’m sick of weighing cheese,
and I’m sick of missing crackers and carbs.

I feel a subconscious sense of pride
whenever I actually think That girl’s too skinny,
because I have a friend who’s starved herself of life
(and food)
and I can see that her legs are. too. small.
which means that I am still on the right side of the
BODY IMAGE DEBATE.
Maybe I’ve sat on the border,
patrolled by Cosmo and the gents at GQ,
but no one will ever look at me and think her legs are. too. small.
and as I wish that maybe my legs could be
Just a little bit smaller,
I am grateful for this problem.
Grateful that I don’t have this leg-too-small problem.
Grateful like I’m grateful for self-serve
frozen yogurt
and queso fresco,
and the Wendy’s drive-thru at 1 am.
And I’m grateful for the way my roommates and I pretend
our “skinny” mirror is actually reality,
and it’s the rest of the world that’s skewed.
But I’m not grateful for the way I used to let donuts
fill me up,
because hydrogenated oils have never done a good job
at filling my soul.
And I’m not grateful for the line on Life To Do List,
that tells me to get a 4.0
and I’m not grateful for the validation that comes only
from another’s words,
and I’m not grateful for the way I once said
college was a waste of time,
if I’m not employed afterwards.
I’m not grateful for that.

I long ago learned how to love the world—
that I should love the world,
that the world is worthy of my love—
but I think maybe I never learned how to properly love me.
Because the Internet, and parents, and health class videos have said
Love Yourself. You are so worth loving. You are perfect.
But I’m not perfect.
And I’m wondering if maybe someone would like to add an asterisk
to the bold directives we’re given as preteens,
so maybe we could be certain that we are worth loving
* even when our jeans fit too tight,
and our mascara is smudged from the snow,
and our skirt is flying with the wind,
and we begin crying in the middle of a biology test,
and when our heart is too broken
for us to even realize it’s broken,
to even realize that there are people—professionals (or at the very least,
professional glue)—who master in putting us back together.
And we’re lovable even when there’s a minus
beside the B,
lovable even when we’re not grateful for the burden of perfection we’ve been bearing.

Because I’m sick of the amendments that don’t outright say,
but have always implied
that I’m lovable if and only if
I can proudly print my transcript
and if I fit into my skinniest of jeans.
I’m tired of treating mascara like it’s my best friend,
because I think a best friend will love me
pale eyes and all,
because I’m sick of amendments that make me late to class
as I straighten the crinkles out of my hair
and I’m sick of the war I’m always waging
against myself
as I sit through my day, drowning out talks of
history and ethics and grammar rules,
and instead think about whether or not I should
begin another juice cleanse.

Because no one has ever loved me less
for gaining a pound
and no one has ever loved me less
for failing an exam
and no one has ever loved me less
for raccooned eyes and vulnerability
and contagious smiles and snorting laughter.
No one has ever loved me less for my tears,
but I’m tired of crying anyway.

Because it’s easy to love donuts,
and though I do love me,
it’s not always easy to remember why
I love me
because I subsisted on daydreams of a world where
no one will care if there is visible skin
above the waistline of my jeans,
but I awoke to reality where I was taught that the
world is worthy of my love,
but I am not worthy of the world’s love for me.