The Expectation of Grief


You point to a box,
call it a house for grief,
say it’s standard issue
and there are no exceptions,
this ration
of walls is all you get.

You gesture toward a moment,
red as a stoplight, and call it
a cutoff, as if the heart
is nothing more
than a too-far-gone
drunk at a bar—
at some point, you must
refuse it service.

You say the word over
as if it is a scarecrow,
as if loss is an easily fooled
bird, as if feelings
can be fed to the wind,
as if a lie
might fly high enough
to become the truth.

You think this is
something I get to walk away
from, that it’s not a car wreck,
a suicide, a bad diagnosis.
You think bandage,
you think hid the pills,
you think medicine
is a miracle.
You think fix.


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Some nights are still rough. I feel a crushing sadness I don’t feel very often.

I’m going on a date tomorrow. Why shouldn’t things be great? I feel nothing. I date as a pastime nowadays.

I don’t even write poetry as often anymore. Perhaps I’ve plumbed all there is to plumb. I try to write once a week almost out of guilt.

And oh look, “Paperthin Hymns” by Anberlin just came on, one of the saddest fucking songs I’ve ever heard in my life.

I trudge through the same misery as so many others. It brings me no relief to acknowledge that, merely reiteration of the idea that nothing is original, especially heartbreak.

Do you talk to your mother
about me when you drink?
Do whispering thoughts undulate
from your subconscious,
yearning to be heard?

Go on and carry me as your burden
I won’t say a word and
I’ll breathe in this sulfurous shame
And suffer the same
As I have for so long

a band-aid for this bad heart


I don’t want to be gone
but that’s what I am:
an empty coffee mug,
a house full of old silence,
a ghost-filled parking lot,
arms and bones
shaped by the word without.

How did I get here?
This place where there’s too much
blame in my blood, where
I’m sure I’d fly away
if it weren’t for these
bricks of doubt
around these clay feet; now,
even my heart
refuses to beat right, a reminder
of everything’s that matters
more than I do—
sometimes grief echoes,
and the sound is worse
than its origins.

I made this
with my own two hands,
but it’s gone monster
and it intends to swallow
every one of my limbs,
and sometimes (don’t tell)
I consider letting it,
because giving up
seems to be the thing to do—
tell me
how many broken miracles
does it take
to make one that’s whole?

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The thought of holding your hand nearly drove me to tears this morning
It was not the taste of your lips, nor the way your eyes pierced right through me,
A chain reaction of thoughts led me to the hopeless memory of simply clutching your hand as you drove along

You, you beautiful cancer, still pollute everything

This life has taught me that we are promised nothing,
Least of all that love will listen when you simply ask for it to stay

And suddenly I become a part of your past
I’m becoming the part that don’t last
I’m losing you and it’s effortless
Without a sound we lose sight of the ground
In the throw around
Never thought that you wanted to bring it down
I won’t let it go down ’till we torch it ourselves


Happy birthday.

Existentialists R Us

Today’s your birthday,
Inexplicably, I still remember,
I can’t remember any other girl’s
But yours is in my head
Along with inane minutia,
Like the deepest point in the ocean,
Or the world’s deadliest snake,
Not that I wish I’d drown or be bitten than remember,
But this day sits like an immovable obelisk in my mind,
A memorial to the best and worst thing to ever happen to me

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