Conversations with My Father

It’s not your fault that you told me to go on a diet when I was 7. It’s not your fault that you told me I looked 4 months pregnant after a holiday meal. It’s not your fault for yelling at my mom for eating 3 grapes after dinner. It’s not your fault that you look me up and down when I come home, checking to see that I am still skinny and within your standards.

It’s my fault for remembering.


You tell me to take myself less seriously.



On our last night you asked me
What I didn’t like about my body.
I got frustrated
(Too many things to list)
Why would anyone ask that?

You wanted to kiss all the parts
I didn’t like
Until I would like them.

So I named a few parts
And you put your head under the sheets
And kissed them until I fell asleep.

Today I want to tell you
Which parts I don’t like
(The parts my father pointed out to me)
But you aren’t here to kiss me any longer.
(Let me heal myself)


Closed System

Time passes differently
I’m sure
when you’re the one
who doesn’t give a shit
when you’re the one

for whom this is just
a passing curiosity
idle chatter
to what makes you happy
to what gives you
when your theory
of mind doesn’t extend
across the distances
that grow between us
when you simply can’t
be bothered
to remember that I care
the way you used to.
You are a closed system
of thought and deed
and I am sometimes
sucked in, dragged along
in parallel
but the rest of me
just gets in the way.

Oblivious, you
pat yourself on the back
and I join in when you let me
from where I stand


You never will

You know
It’s not the end of the world
just the end
of my life in your world,

the reality wherein your whims
constitute truth; your senseless threats,
life history tradeoffs,
natural as fucking or entropy;

your feelings, the weather –
the gusts
to which I trim my sail
even if it swamps me,

the swells I alter my course to ride
through fog so thick
you cannot see me,
you know?


Anchoring Heuristic

conversations always carry
an undertone of finality, now
that it is clear to me
what the most magnificent
of exchanges can hide:

strong enough to turn
the whole thing inside out
at the drop of a hat, words
that felt once big enough
to hold the universe

into small, unyielding
shards meant to puncture
the foundations that let
those dreams grow at all,
never forgiving them for that.

like marbles I mistake
for planets, anchoring
and adjustment heuristic
gone haywire, I rush
to believe in

heaven knows must collapse.
Is this what trust is? Drifting
from our moorings, from
perspective and forgetting
how wonder can turn in on itself?


Beneath the Stains

She is long gone now.

When you can’t hope to find yourself without her,
you think back, watch
hour-hands twirl like blades, dance
in the direction opposite their instinct and cut
through the grey swell of your present tense.
In the sole quiet moment of a windy afternoon
a child sways on a swing, sketchbook and lungs
both filling with the gently soaring sun
and the fierce, wistful sky
without knowing or caring what any of it might mean.

She is drawing a house as it sits patiently
amid the soil and grass, a house alive with clocks
ticking away every sentiment she coaxes onto the page.
Her lines are drawn
with the tenderness of one who has not yet learned
that when those clocks have spun her along too far
for comfort, their solemn eyes
watching over her like guardian angels with poker faces
(ironically unchanged by the very years
their endlessly circling hands see in and then out again),

she will still be sitting on that swing. Her hips
will be too big for it, and her long legs
too awkward for her weakening momentum to lift her
from the ground. The sun-dappled spot will be a mere remnant
of a girl who could look at that house and see
something more than the countless
unfinished projects never, now, to be complete –
something more than the imperfections riddling
those walls and the peeling paint forsaking
that ceiling – something more than the reality

that it is decay that happens
while we are making other plans. And she will
become who you are today when time lets that last
betrayal settle into place, a tired puzzle piece,
and you will miss the girl who didn’t need
to fool herself into thinking that we are something more
than lonely players in a game we have ourselves
constructed, each searching for a “self”
that has never existed, ever-striving, ever-reaching
at the expense of what any illusion costs: everything.

But she is long gone now.


PS. Prompt: “Beneath the stains of time, the feelings disappear./ You are someone else; I am still right here” – Nine Inch Nails