She called everyone a misfit, wearing the city like a cloak. Fire eyes. Field of poppy lashes. “No one expects anything from us,” she said, “which makes us more dangerous like unidentified alphabets.” I started rummaging for what hides in my shadow, finding a grocery list for ends of times. “Nothing is quiet anymore,” she added. “Our wrists harmonize with the wind.” “Don’t forget our tongues!” someone shouted. “Yes,” she spoke quietly. “Our tongues are the synthesizers to our souls. And we’ve got entire albums hoarded behind our lungs. So, let’s turn up the volume and dance!”
for Adam (and always Rebel),
I don’t want to seem frazzled or hungry, but the way you’ve amputated parts of me to solve your mood swings unnerves me. You never asked me if I preferred my blond dirty coils, which were so long everyone noticed. They call me dry now. Bleached and removed. Bold, but someone else’s version of who I should be. You never ask. I love when you lose your fingers inside me. Remember how lonely I get when the wind is not around to tousle me. Or the sun is hidden behind clouds or Winter and I’m cold. You cover me, sometimes, but not often enough. You never ask. You never asked when you changed my complexion to blue, orange (a mistake), pink, green (intentional, but still a mistake). And red. You insist on controlling me with scissors. You think you understand me better than I do. But you never ask. I look terrible in bangs; please stop cutting them into me. If I was meant to be shaved, I wouldn’t keep growing back. You. Never. Ask. Maybe it’s time you did.
Have you checked for asbestos?
Could there be mold hidden beneath your teeth?
Are the cracks in your skin signs of shiver and haunt?
Can I rent a kayak and travel the length of your amygdala?
Is there an ingredient your fingernails like to hoard beneath them?
Why is that area of your body police taped and boarded up with planks and nails?
Are your wrists remorseful?
Can you climb or have your knees asked you not to anymore?
Why don’t you wear make-up to cover-up to brighten?
Can everything be altered? Will that make you feel better?
Why do you crack your knuckles?
Why does your belly bend?
Can your shoulders survive the childhood you house on your back and lug around?
What do you mean you never had a welcome mat?
What do you mean your doorbell is broken?
What do they wipe their feet on?
How do they let you know they’ve arrived?
Are you the sort who leaves your body’s windows unclasped and doors wide open?
How stained is your glass skin?
Thank you so much to Essay Press for publishing my chapbook of poems, carpus.
Carpus is a gutting of body, all the kicked up grit of gender and love and (mis)understandings of self
Thank you to the incredible editors who were patient and encouraging: Aimee Harrison (brilliant reader/editor), Travis Sharp (created the cover), and Emily Pifer (video embedder).
Let me know what you think! Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out this video of one of the poems featured in the book:
I didn’t always hate you, pink. I liked your jellybeans. Your Rainbow Bright hair. Your participatory hue after a summer sunset. I collected cavities from all your bubblegum. Cancelled my mistakes with your erasers. You sugared my lips with your cotton candy. I even liked my meat to look like you in the middle. I may have even pressed your synthetic pink threads against my young pink body, playfully rummaging my hands over all your pinkness.
But now it’s your voice which I cannot seem to get out of my head: high-pitched ponytail and knee socks. You tell me all your rules, pink. Who can wear you. Who can kiss you. And I just can’t eat your jellybeans anymore.
It’s not that I need to love you; I just don’t want to hate you so much.
So I locate your address and travel the distance to find you at home. Pepto Bismol shutters and walkway and door and I know it’s yours.
I search out the music in your pink, pink voice. Try to remember you coat my tongue and wear my lips and there are bits of my body all salmon-colored too.
Pink, I could love you if you weren’t painted on that tool kit, marketed specifically for you-know-who. And pink, I could love you if you weren’t so political. So militant. So girl.
Pink, maybe we could share a meal and eat greens and yellow squash and red, red beets and remember that a color can just be a color. Without wardrobe. Without gender. Without a rule book for who may approach you. I could love you, pink, if you stopped being so pink all the time and mingled with the rest of the far more open-minded rainbow.