August (A Poem)

Today is my grandpa’s birthday. He passed away August 9th, 2017. I wrote this poem a few days ago about him. Enjoy. (The photo I took last Spring. I love tulips.)

I watched you fade away into a man I barely recognized anymore. Like an old fade photograph going yellow from age and neglect.

I tried to see the man you used to be but I couldn’t. It was like I was looking at you through a thick heavy fog.

You kept fading and we kept clinging to you like a child to their mother.

It was hard to see you like that knowing the man you used to be. And I realized that we were clinging to all but a memory. And though I felt guilty, I stopped coming to visit you towards the end. I couldn’t bare seeing you turn into a husk of the man you used to be.

You got worse, of course, and we all knew the end was coming but we didn’t know when. We didn’t want to admit it to ourselves that you were at the end of your rope. That Fate had her scissors on your string as she slowly sawed, the thread getting weaker and weaker.

Just like you.

And as the August leaves faded from bright green to fiery orange to a dull brown, I saw you in them. I realized that you were like them. You were fading, and though we didn’t want to lose you, we knew it was your time to go.

And though I cried – and smoked two cigarettes that I knew you’d be disappointed in – I knew that you were at peace. I knew that you never wanted us to see you like a fade photograph, a dead leaf. I knew that wherever you were, you were looking after us.

And the childish part of me wonders if like the stories say, you were reborn. And in my mind, I see you as a bumblebee, pollinating the flowers you so carefully tended.

I think about you all the time.

I think about you when I see the tall oak trees stretching out towards the sky. I remember how you used to tell me about all the different kinds of trees. I wish I had paid more attention then.

I think about you whenever I paint wine bottles. I wonder if you’d like the galaxy I painted or the one that looks like a tree.

I think of you when I read a new book. I finished Carrie by Stephen King a few weeks ago. I devoured it. I remember ho we used to talk about books. So many books.

I think about you every time I see a cardinal fly into a bush at my school. I remember the canary I drew for you and how happy you were at that simple gift. To you, it wasn’t simple. I haven’t done another one like it since. Though I’m thinking I should. A whole collection of birds.

I think about you when I write. The story based on that house. I remember how you always talked about the werewolf in the shed. I wonder if it’d make you happy that I’m turning that into a novel.

I think about you when I raise up my camera to snap a photo of the bright red and orange tulip at my school. Like you did, I take photos of nature, trying to capture a moment.

Or maybe, I’m trying to capture the memory of you.


I’d Tell You (A Poem)

If I could say all the things I wanted to say, I’d start by saying you are the reason why it’s so hard to let people in. I’d tell you that you are the reason and why I keep myself guarded.

I’d tell you that you are the reason, why I smile even though I want to cry, why I laugh when I feel like screaming.

I’d tell you about how many meals I missed because you didn’t get groceries. Instead you got your nails done. I’d tell you about how I missed 30 days of school, because you never came home and someone had to be the parent. I’d tell you about staying up late cleaning the house because I knew if I didn’t, you’d wake me up screaming that I was lazy and ungrateful. I’d tell you about falling asleep in my first hour class – sometimes even my second – because I had homework to finish the night before.

I’d tell you about how everyone asked me about my home life. About you and how I lied. And lied. And lied.

I always lied, because back then I still considered you my mother. Back then I made an excuses and reasons. I’d tell my friends ‘She’s doing her best,’ but you weren’t doing your best.

Were you?

I’d tell you how I wanted to run away almost every week. How that one time I did wasn’t the first time I thought about it. I’d tell you how disappointed I felt when my grandparents didn’t even try to keep me. Instead Grandma told you ‘You need to fix this.’

I’d tell you how for a few weeks you’d try. You’d do better but then you’d go back to the same things. And you did try but I wonder now if you really tried hard enough.

I’d tell you that I loved school because I didn’t want to be home with you – not that you were ever home. I’d tell you how I’d meet my friends’ parents and wonder why I didn’t get that. What did I do so wrong where I didn’t get a loving mother and a doting father?

I’d tell you how there were moments where you were a good mom.

You’d make us dinner and we’d watch movies and play board games.

But those moments were few, and usually drowned out by the bad moments.

The moments where you worked doubles all week and didn’t come home for three days. The moments where I had to beg for money from my friends or stepdad so we could have heat or water or gas or food.

The moments where I took care of a child with a 102 degree temperature and had no one to turn to. The moments where you would come home after work and then leave to go drink with your friends.

The moments where you’d come home drunk and I’d have to clean up after your vomit and tuck you into bed, when it should’ve been you tucking me into bed.

The moments where I’d break and be a normal teenager and act out and not do my chores. Then you’d yell at me and tell me you were disappointed, and I’d go back to being the perfect daughter even though all I wanted was to not be. All I wanted was to be a kid, but I couldn’t. I had to be the parent. Because you wouldn’t be. The moments where I’d lay in bed crying and all I wanted was you, but you weren’t there.

If I could, I’d tell you how many times I contemplated death. How when I first put that blade on my wrist, I felt like for once I was the one in control. I’d tell you that I didn’t hide those cuts on my arms and legs because a part of me wanted you to say something. I wanted you to ask what was wrong. I wanted you to be the mother and comfort your daughter but you never did.

You never said a word.

I’d tell you that my friends saved my life because they cared. They asked questions and comforted me. I’d tell you that I was too cowardly to commit suicide even though I thought about it, because all I could think about was my brothers and sister. Who would take care of them when I was gone?

Certainly not you.

I’d tell you that leaving was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I’m glad I left. Because I was drowning. I was a day away from self-combustion. All of my friends knew it. They could see that if one more thing happened, it’d be over.

I’d tell you that I used guys for sex because it made me feel something,

And I let them use me because at least someone wanted me.

Even if it was just my body. I’d tell you that I burned some bridges because of how angry I was.

If I could, I’d tell you that when I left in that car heading to Arkansas, for the first time I could breathe. And yes, I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But I didn’t care. It was the first time I felt like I was going somewhere better.

If I could, I’d tell you how I listened to “Break Away” by Kelly Clarkson on repeat, Over and over, because I was the one breaking away.

I’d tell you that I no longer worry about my brothers and sister, because they are so much tougher and braver than me. They’ll be okay. They’ll make it.

If I could, I’d tell you that you wear rose colored glasses, that even if you read this you wouldn’t understand. You would still claim you’re a good mother, and that you are doing your best.

You’re not though. You repeat the same actions over and over again. The same mistakes but you never learn. And I could try to tell you but it’d be a waste of words. A waste of air.

If I could, I’d tell you that I don’t hate you, though sometimes i wish I could. It might be easier to hate you. It may save me some grief if I could hate. But I don’t.

If I could, I’d tell you that every time we speak on the phone, I want to chain smoke. I want to light up that cigarette, pulling out the smoke, as if I could blow the anxiety you make me feel.

If I could, I’d tell you that the reason why I dye my hair and refuse to have dark brown hair is because everyone always tells me how much I look like you. And I don’t want to look like you in fear of becoming you.

If I could, I’d tell you that I pity you, but most of all I’d tell you that I don’t think about you at all. You barely cross my mind. I don’t need your approval. I don’t need anything from you.

If I could, I’d tell you that I got where I am today, in spite of you. You didn’t make me the woman I am.

I did.

My friends did.

My grandparents did.

My cousins did.

My aunt did.

I did.

Everything I have done I did myself, with the encouragement of the people who love me. You had nothing to do with it.

If I could, I’d tell you that I am no longer that little girl wanting her mother’s love. I am a young woman. And I’ve long figured out that the only person you love is yourself. Or the bottle.

If I could, I’d tell you that the reason I don’t any of this, is because it wouldn’t matter. You still wouldn’t listen nor understand.

If I could, I’d tell you that I’m happy where I am, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.

If I could, I’d tell you that I am finally free.


Tell Me (A Poem)

Tell me,

do you think of my touch

When the cold

snowflake lands on your warm

skin and melts,

dripping down

your rosy cheek

like a tear?

Tell me,

Do you think

about my kisses?

The way I was so cold

on the outside,

like a marble statue,

but on the inside,

I was like ice cream

melting in the hot summer sun.

Tell me,

Do you think about

my smile?

Like the first flowers of Spring,

the buttery yellow of daffodils

as they poke their heads out

from beneath the snow,

or the vibrant crocuses

as they try and reach for the sun.

Tell me,

Do you think about

my voice?

like the rushing of water

as it crashes onto the rocky shore,

revealing a shell the color of your eyes.

Tell me,

Do you think about me?

Do you see me wherever you go?

In every season?

Do you wonder where I am,

or where I am going?

Do you even care at all?

Do you paint me like I paint you?

Try and capture your smile

like the flowers in spring?

Do you sing about me like

the ocean sings to the shore?

Just tell me,

because I need to know

Do you think about me

as often as I,

I think of you.