dear depression

i hope you know what you’ve done. when you chose me as your victim i was young and naive, awkward and self-contained. everywhere i stepped i saw broken glass and splintered crosses so i tread fearfully. when you chose me, you chose well. i didn’t know difference yet between feeling sad and choking on an inexplicable sadness which, to this very day, still claws and crawls its way up my throat when people ask, “what’s wrong?” i didn’t know, but you taught me.

you taught me that the best way to divert attention from myself was laughter, a smile; people don’t have to inquire after my health because they can see for themselves. clearly i am ecstatic, i am on top of the world, i am joy if joy skipped meals and forgot how to sleep, how to feel, how to care. i had many bad days. and i don’t need to tell you the number of times i screamed softly under covers at my own emptiness, because you already know. you were there, not a witness but a cause.

i remember how you decided to play hide and seek with my happiness. most days you left me fumbling in the darkness, haunted by everywhere i had gone wrong and terrified of everything i could still ruin. ever relentless, you kept stealing, and stealing, and stealing, another week, another month, another year of my life. but for every painful hour i spent forgetting myself and slipping from grace, i learned.

you made your home beneath my skin and constricted my lungs and crashed static through my thoughts, but i learned to let my friends and family fill my tormented mess of a brain with stories of hope triumphant and sing lullabies to the cacophonies that echoed in my ears, and when i could believe in anyone but myself they told me i was loved, and i learned to trust them instead of the splintered emotions that ran jagged through my small and sorrowful heart.

now, i am not the same person bending over backwards to walk with your weight. i am not the empty house with dead lightbulbs and cracked plaster walls. i am not the destructive self-harmer with anhedonia. i spent too much of my life wanting to die when what i really wanted to do was live. and now, because of you, but thanks to me, i can do that.

dear depression, you taught me how to die in spite of myself, and that i couldn’t help. but in fighting you, i learned to live for myself and i chose to live. i choose to live.

thanks for nothing,

your universe lives inside you

i grew up on the taste of space—
learned the names of planets
before places, stars before cities.
i could map the sky well before
i knew how my own heart worked;
this turned out to be both a blessing
and a curse—i recognize the familiarity
of an ever expanding galaxy echoed in
an ever swelling soul. each beat, each breath
stretching astronomy and arteries into vein
constellations. into unfamiliar shapes &
stranger sizes—but the resemblance ends
there. people say they see stars in eyes
but i only see puzzles of feelings, fear
reflected in a mirror when i consider my future.
what we know of the cosmos sings its way
through mystery and myth. what i know of my heart
can be measured in fleeting moments;
i wish humanity could navigate emotion
as well as the astral elements.

flavors of fear

how is it that you always end up alone?
here, holding down a fort you’re afraid to abandon;
not home. just the truth of blood—iron in veins,
frugal disappointment you still can’t afford.
your mother wonders if she made a mistake
when she forced you into a world you’re clearly
desperate to leave. meanwhile you wonder
if you’ll ever be able to forget how bitter
everything tastes. how nothing washes down
right, not even water. you’ve tried
every liquid lie in the book, but it all burns.
as you pick up another glass of emptiness
your throat promises pain. maybe this one
will cure you. maybe this time.


bleeding lips & broken hearts

the authors of romantic ya novels never met you
or they would know that biting your lip is an act
of desperation. it usually draws blood (bitterness);
and it’s meant to. the cut stings and reminds you
to draw a breath. reminds you that you’re real
even though it feels like you have paper hands
and ashen lungs. school is hell but sometimes
summer terrifies you more than the mob maze
rat race of public education. (sideways glances.
gossip whispers. gossamer thin sanity
threading through classrooms. feels like
lungs collapsing under the weight of hopelessness)
see, the simmering heat between dusk
and cool evening clarity brings back memories
of tasting blood in a cramped classroom;
torrid temperatures that echo overflowing anxiety.
you wish you weren’t here. you wish you
weren’t here. you bite your lip hard enough
to draw blood. you wish you weren’t—


we astral children

it’s funny because i always wanted
to live life like supernovae: tearing
through the fabric of the universe,
natural fireworks, fractured fantasias,
a galaxy’s gift to an empty audience.
because that’s the catch—most stars collapse
unseen, unspoken, unassuming.

i once asked you how astronomers
could look at so much death and still love
space. (the destruction of a supernova
spans galaxies. how can you not mourn?)
you answered me by naming celestials
formed from the scattered fragments of stars:
the beauty in death is birth.


the poet speaks of pain

she writes like most people sing—
hymns with paper and pen, hallelujahs
broken. hallelujahs blessed. God knows
too often the words crack and crumble
every line aching desperation and speechless grief
—eloi eloi lama sabachthani? FATHER!
where are you? God knows she only means
to praise, somehow, from this present darkness.
i want to tell her she is heard—but she’s not looking
for an answer from human hearts. O LORD
why am i so alone? MY GOD, MY KING
i come with tribute: worthless words that belie
the depth of my mourning. i come bearing
the burden you chose for me. i come bruised,
i come beaten. i come blind and i come home.
abba, i am still and always—your little girl.


the scariest thing about a haunted house is how it reeks of abandonment

something to mourn. you always found this
in every heart, in every home—always thought
haunted houses were more sad than haunted,
as if the haunting was an afterthought;
an unintended side effect giving way to grief.
nobody sees the walls weep—they just see
water stains and crinkled wallpaper and maybe
a hint of hopelessness in how the hangings sag.
but oh, can you imagine tragedy for them?
can you dream broken pieces of a house
(formerly a home) and put them into perspective?
ghost that used to be a girl, glass fragments
that once gleamed in a chandelier—
dear stranger, it wasn’t always this way:
we can promise stories if you promise to search them.


i imagine death so much it feels more like a memory

when i was young enough to care, i taught myself how to tell the difference between faux flowers and the real thing. living greenery always sported some remnants of death; wrinkled leaves or splotchy blemishes on petals. most people would call these foibles flawed—i called them evidence. a birth certificate of life under the sun and not inside a factory.

someone once told me that we start dying in our twenties. that even if we’re healthy, our bodies will pass their prime and start deteriorating. i always found it terrifying that we as a human race have so little time, but now i name this more evidence. proof of how we live just as much as we die, how the two ephemeral actions are irrevocably intertwined.

i think we have something in common with flowers besides being in love with the sun and the rain and the earth. we wear death as easily as we wear life, and the oxymoron of our apparel provides a sense of completion.

perfect beauty lies
in living imperfection
of dying blossoms.