[poem] war paint

Instead of crying, I did my makeup in the middle of the night. Here are my thoughts.


When your words land
like fists,
instead of fighting back,

I will paint my eyelids the hues
of a fresh bruise.

I will choose shades that look
like black eyes
and old wounds. Like
how warriors smear their faces
with the blood of enemies slain,

I will take my pain
and beat my face bold with it;

with every brush stroke, declare
I am done with hiding.

I am done with apologizing.
I am done shrinking myself
to the size of your expectations;

wearing your accusations,
allowing them to tint and taint me.

If you do not like my colors,
I will not tell you I am sorry.

I am not sorry.

I am not sorry.

I will never let you make me sorry again.

Fin.

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[snippet] Poem I stole from Twitter.

Note: The first two lines, in bold, are from Richard Siken bot (@sikenpoems), a robot Twitter account that, I assume, tweets out scrambled lines from Richard Siken’s poems. 

The rest of the lines are mine.


Don’t you see,

it’s like I’ve swallowed your house keys:

 

like I am the latch,
the lock,
the thing that opens the door that takes you
some place you have always looked for,
never realizing you left it long ago.

(the bookshelves are dusty, the bed
is still waiting for you to return.)

My actual favorite lines from Richard Siken are:
My dragonfly,
my black-eyed fire, the knives in the kitchen are singing
for blood, but we are the crossroads, my little outlaw,
and this is the map of my heart,

 

I don’t think this is how stars work…

Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 12.42.18 AM

One of my very good friends, John, has made it a habit to check up on me from time to time. “Hey, you okay?” he messages at random hours, on random days.

Unless things are really bad, I usually tell him I’m fine, not to worry, because to be honest, I am either sunflower or stormcloud. There is no in between, at least for now, so “okay” can mean either of the two, because either of the two is “normal.”

I catastrophize a lot. It means I tend to think of the worst case scenario and blow it out of proportion. My friend Esther once told me that I like being miserable. I recoiled from that statement then, but now, older and maybe a bit more self-aware, I realize that miserable–maybe that’s too strong a word; we’ll go with melancholy–is almost comforting in its familiarity. Over the past few years, I have learned to understand being sad better than being happy.

I don’t trust what isn’t familiar. It often slips away just as I get used to it. Maybe that’s why melancholy, in a weird way, is “okay” to me: it’s somewhat consistent, predictable, reliable in a twisted way, else why would my Facebook memories show me that one year ago today, two years ago today, I was posting sad posts?

(I think this time of year, lots of people tend to get sad?)

But back to John. The last time he messaged, asking me if I was okay, I did the usual thing I always do: deflected. I told him I was managing, that I was stressed but it was nothing serious. I told him not to worry, because I don’t like people worrying.

“I’ll always worry.” He messaged back. There was a smiling emoji, which in internet-speak I think means the fact didn’t bother him. And for a moment–or, okay, longer than a moment, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this–it felt good to know that there were people out there who weren’t bothered by the fact that they worried about me from time to time. Because, and maybe I’m extrapolating a bit too far here, it means that I’m worth worrying about.

I’m really thankful for the people who think I’m worth worrying about. I still don’t like it when they worry, though, so I’m working hard on–because, guys, it really is work; life requires effort–being okay, really. Okay isn’t good. It isn’t even fine.

It’s just: I’ll get through this day. I won’t fall apart. You don’t have to worry.

But I’m thankful that you do.