I am not a writer, I am an archaeologist
and I will pick your bones for pieces of history
comb your teeth for the words that got stuck in your mouth
carefully examine your jaw for the ghosts of syllables in your throat
I am no writer, i will not equivocate these dead things
with meaning, I will only hold them as testament to time
saying, “Look upon these works, o mighty, and rejoice.”
there was a human here, and their words and works should be remembered
like hammer and hardwood, on skin and script
I want to study the distance between your eyelids
become a follower of the religions you’ve discarded on your hip-bones
(tossed aside in moments of revelry
and in moments of loss)
When did you forget that your fingernails scrape feeling
from the riverbeds you walk within?
Did you forget that gold gathers on your cuticles
and is shaken off onto every surface you’ve touched?
I will think of you like raindrops on savannahs
landing on brushes dry from scraping dust off fossils
roped-off partitions of dig sites and tents
like a reminder of how much time I will spend on you
I will miss you like killer whales miss vestigial limbs-
reminders of better times past.
I will hold you harder than the deepest grips of the earth
and I will help you rise up, blinking and naked under the hot sun
enamored with the simple goodness of being.
I check my Facebook page 36 times a day for the sole purpose of making sure I have not accidentally posted a nude photo of myself
I reread an email 13 times before pressing send to ensure I have not written something in the email that could convict me of a crime
Before taking a stage when asked if I allow flash photography I always want to say “No” because I’m terrified flash photography will give me epilepsy
I know it doesn’t work like that, still
I never eat nuts on an airplane out of fear of that I will suddenly develop a nut allergy and if I have to asphyxiate I don’t want it to happen at 30,000 feet
Twice in the last two years I’ve been aborted from an airplane for running screaming down the aisles as the plane was taking off
I can’t walk through San Francisco without worrying my indigestion is the beginning of an earthquake
I brace for tsunamis beside lakes in Colorado
I’m not joking
The last time I saw Niagara Falls I couldn’t take it
It was too much much
I had to plug my ears to look at it and close my eyes to listen
Generally I can’t do all my senses at the same time they are too much much
Like if you touch me without warning, whoever you are, it will take everything I have to not hate you
Imagine your hands are electrical sockets and I am constantly aware that I am 70% water
it’s not that I’ve not tried to build a dam
Ask my therapist who pays her mortgage
My cost of living went up
at five years old when I told my mother I have to stop going to birthday parties because every time I hear a balloon pop I feel like I’m gonna get murdered in the heart
Last year a balloon popped on the stage where I was performing, I started crying in front of the whole crowd
plugged my ears and kept repeating the word “LOUD LOUD LOUD LOUD” it was super sexy
That’s what I do
I do super sexy
Like when I asked the super cute barista 11 times ‘are you sure this is decaffeinated? Are you sure this is decaffeinated? Are you sure that’- yes I drink decaffeinated and still jitter like a bug running from the bright bright bright
I have spent years of my life wearing a tight rubber band hidden beneath my hair so my brain could have a hug
These days when no one’s looking I wear a fuzzy fitted winter hat that buttons tight beneath the chin
I only ever wear a tie so that when I convince myself I’m choking my senses have something they are certain they can blame
As a kid I was so certain I would die the way of meteor falling on my head
I would go whole weeks without looking at the sky ‘cause I didn’t want to witness the coming of my own death
I started tapping the kitchen sink seven times to build a shield
My mother started making lists of everything I thought would kill me in hopes that if I saw my fears they would disappear
Bless her heart but the first time I saw that list I started filling a salad bowl with bleach and soaking my shoe laces overnight so in the morning when I ironed them they would be so bright I would be certain I had control over
how much dark could break into my light
how much jack hammer could break into my heart
My spine it has always been a lasso that could never catch my breath
I honestly can’t imagine how it would feel to walk into a room full of people and not feel the roof collapsing on my ‘NO NO NO I am not fine’
Fine is the suckiest word
it never tells the truth
And more than anything I have ever been afraid of I am terrified of lies
How they war the world
How they sound by our tongues
How they bone dry the marrow
How did we get through high school without being taught Dr. King spent two decades having panic attacks?
Jumped at thunder
I think we are all part flight the fight
part run for your life
Part ‘please please please like me’
Part Can’t breathe
Part scared to say you’re scared
Part say it anyway
You panic button collector
You clock of beautiful ticks
You run out the door if you need to
You flock to the front row of your own class
You feather everything until you know you can always, always shake like a leaf on my family tree and know you belong here
You belong here and everything you feel is okay
Everything you feel is okay
"Panic Button Collector" - Andrea Gibson
This is the best poem about anxiety that I have ever read.
"For him, I am a pretty bottle
of alcohol on lustful nights where you
are most lonely,
and you’d shoot yourself to the moon.
He wants to get drunk.
Drunk on me, and would tell me that
he loves me.
And I as bitter and brutal, I would tell him
I don’t. And the morning after
he would crave me again.
He is a heavy drinker,
and I am beautiful and lonely."
Red Eyes, Drunk Lips, Messy Hair by Royla Asghar (via poems-of-madness)
Shane Koyczan - To This Day
When I was a kid, I used to think that pork chops and karate chops were the same thing.
I thought they were both pork chops.
And because my grandmother thought it was cute, and because they were my favorite, she let me keep doing it.
Not really a big deal.
One day, before I realized that fat kids are not designed to climb trees, I fell out of a tree and bruised the right side of my body.
I didn’t want to tell my grandmother about it because I was afraid I’d get in trouble for playing somewhere I shouldn’t have been.
A few days later, the gym teacher noticed the bruise and I got sent to the principal’s office.
From there, I was sent to another small room with a really nice lady who asked me all kinds of questions about my life at home.
I saw no reason to lie; as far as I was concerned, life was pretty good.
I told her, “Whenever I’m sad, my grandmother gives me karate chops.”
This led to a full scale investigation, and I was removed from the house for three days until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises.
News of this silly little story quickly spread through the school and I earned my first nickname: Pork Chop.
To this day, I hate pork chops.
I’m not the only kid who grew up this way, surrounded by people who used to say that rhyme about sticks and stones.
As if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called, and we got called them all.
So we grew up believing no one would ever fall in love with us, that we’d be lonely forever; that we’d never meet someone who makes us feel like the sun was something they built for us in their tool shed.
So broken heartstrings bled the blues as we tried to empty ourselves so we would feel nothing.
Don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone, that an ingrown life is something surgeons can cut away; that there’s no way for it to metastasize, it does.
She was eight years old.
Our fist day of grade three when she got called ugly.
We both got moved to the back of class so we would stop getting bombarded by spitballs.
But the school grounds were a battleground where we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day.
We used to stay inside for recess because outside was worse.
Outside, we’d have to rehearse running away or learn to stay still like statues, giving no clues that we were there.
In grade five, they taped a sign to her desk that read, “Beware of Dog”.
To this day, despite a loving husband, she doesn’t think she’s beautiful because of a birthmark that takes up a little less than half of her face.
Kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer that someone tried to erase but couldn’t quite get the job done.
And they’ll never understand that she’s raising two kids whose definition of beauty begins with the word mom because they see her heart before they see her skin, that she’s only ever always been amazing.
He was a broken branch grafted on to a different family tree.
Adopted, but not because his parents opted for a different destiny.
He was three when he became a mixed drink of one part left alone and two parts tragedy.
Started therapy in eighth grade.
Had a personality made up of tests and pills.
Lived like the uphills were mountains and the downhills were cliffs.
Four-fifths suicidal, a tidal wave of antidepressants, and an adolescence of being called popper.
One part because of the pills and ninety nine parts because of the cruelty.
He tried to kill himself in grade ten when a kid who could still go home to mom and dad had the audacity to tell him to “get over it” as if depression is something that could be remedied with any of the contents found in a first aid kit.
To this day, he is a stick of TNT lit from both ends.
Could describe to, in detail, the way the sky bends in the moments before it’s about to fall.
And despite an army of friends who all call him an inspiration, he remains a conversation piece between people who can’t understand that sometimes being drug free has less to do with addiction and more to do with insanity.
We weren’t the only kids who grew up this way.
To this day, kids are still being called names.
The classics were “Hey, stupid” “Hey, spaz.”
Seems like each school has an arsenal of names getting updated every year.
And if a kid breaks in a school and no one around chooses to hear, do they make a sound?
Are they just background noise of a soundtrack stuck on repeat when people say things like kids can be cruel?
Every school was a big top circus tent and the pecking order went from acrobats to lion tamers, from clowns to carnies.
All of these miles ahead of who we were.
We were freaks, lobster clawed boys and bearded ladies.
Oddities juggling depression and loneliness, playing solitaire, spin the bottle, trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and heal.
But at night, while the others slept, we kept walking the tightrope; it was practice, and, yeah, some of us fell, but I want to tell the, that all of this shit is just debris leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought we used to be.
And if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror, look a little closer, stare a little longer because there’s something inside you that made you keep trying despite everyone who told you to quit.
You built a cast around your broken heart and signed it yourself, you signed it “they were wrong.”
Because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a click, maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything, maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth to show and tell but never told because how can you hold your ground if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it?
You have to believe that they were wrong.
They have to be wrong.
Why else would we still be here?
We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog because we see ourselves in them.
We stem from the root planted in the belief that we are not what we were called.
We are not abandoned cars stalled out and sitting empty on some abandoned highway, and if in some way we are, don’t worry.
We only got out to walk out and get gas.
We are the graduating members from the class of “fuck off, we made it” not the faded echoes of the voices crying out, “Names will never hurt me.”
Of course, they did but our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty.
Reprise for a Fall
You’re the reason I feeling a masochist every time I dust for cobwebs
I don’t hold it against you.
I have to love in ellipses because even though I know forever only exists in the present
I need to feel interrupted.
Let’s get coffee in my daydreams.
Let me throw dinner parties and wash dishes and read with you
In moments that’ll never happen.
Let me read comic books while you make me eggs on toast.
Let me get my first job and call you screaming;
Let me put Christmas lights in corners of our first apartment so darkness never catches us here.
Let me marry you in a dress that exposes each of my tattoos and kitten heels; you can wear that lip-biting smile you get when you’re embarrassed by your own happiness, or cocky with your own luck - either will do.
Let me howl and applaud at the most inappropriate moment at every poetry slam (the way I did the first time),
and let’s celebrate us in vegan diners, save the leftovers in breast plate mason jars.
Let me live in that moment,
In the land of the lotus eaters.
When I die there,
Bury me next to you.
When I wake up alone,
A country between us,
Friendship filling the gaps of love and distance,
I’ll make poached eggs on toast.
In a bright apartment wrapped in Christmas lights,
I’ll clean the cobwebs from the ceilings,
And watch the dust fall like snowflakes
In winters we never spent together.
(Note: this is a response of sorts to a poem by emberglass - you can find it on his blog.)
Poem for boy with all his baby teeth in a ring box under his bed. Poem for boy with bee stingers in his palm, for broken neck birds, too many pink scars on his shoulders. Poem for boy nailing our scarecrow to the tree out back. Poem for boy, bloodless hands, dead father, weighed down branches, steady. Poem for riverbank eulogy, poem for the house on fire, for the empty bedrooms, for the baby teeth, for his scratched out face, for the wheat I pulled to make that scarecrow whole. Poem for boy, for husk, for knotted rope, and a white bird, all quiet, all burned.
A final love letter to a nerd
In the abrupt,
Bizarrely time warped
And amusingly brief two months I’ve known you,
You have spent a total of 172 hours talking to me about
Of these three topics, I know close to nothing, but every minute has been a gem
Because for every single passion someone has deemed childish, you laugh them down with your resilient self-acceptance
And I am constantly astonished by your ability to squeal over a Howard the duck reference, memorize all of the possible AUs and origin stories for most marvel comics and boast a knowledge of indie video game developers that I cannot fathom, while simultaneously being
the most mature man I’ve ever met.
You smile, and with that self-parodying regionalism of the land of the out of the closet nerd, you say “I know, but I resent the connotation that comic books are for children.”
Right afterward you remind me that my love does not define me
You never let me make it all about us because love isn’t about the verb
It’s about being worth loving
And letting one awesome person find another
And telling me this, knowing full well and with no less brutality than I inflict on myself when I think about leaving this place, that my awesome person will probably be someone else
Love is believing in another person
Not because you feel like you have to,
But because they’re so damn cool
And the thing about videogames and comics
Is that they’re not for kids
They’re for people who believe in things
They’re for people who give a shit about something
I fell in love with you for your self acceptance
But I stay in love with you for your belief in the rest of the planet
Regardless of the pain and suffering you acknowledge on a daily basis
You accept imperfection because you believe that it’s the first level of the game
You trust the universe because we live in a world of infinite universes
And this is the one you’re in
And this is the one I’m in
And, with the odds always against us, we’re here together
And I’m listening to you rant again
And I love you for it.
Have you ever been to one of those parties
where the air seems like it’s moving slow
it’s heavy, it’s weighted down with conversation
we’re all in relative orbit of each other,
we are drunk, and like so many comets
we are in awe of each other’s relative brilliance.
you’re framed in the doorway.
you are the negative space
between the apertures of the snapping porch lights
on a warm summer night
you can see the dust motes in the air,
settling on your shoulders,
mud outlining your shoes,
faded and dusty.
A little bit like us, you know-
cigarette balanced precariously on your fingertips
as if you were waiting for death to fall onto your teeth unannounced.
take a swan dive into your lungs.
You grab at life like an addict- we both do-
nebulous nights in freefall.
drinking too much and thinking very, very little
of ourselves at 3am
on a porch, just waiting for the next big something.
These are the bad days.
These are the days when you don’t know whether it’s worth
rolling over on your side in the morning
to see if it’s bright outside
as if you can see anything out the window
other than the opposing building,
staring down and choking sunlight
all unreflective and gray
three years out of high school, less than twenty five miles from birth
soaring ever outward, but apathy- the centripetal force
illogically pulling us back to the same place.
We don’t really know where we’re going
but it’s not here.
just out of earshot
I hate the taste of tobacco on my lips
and my cigarette’s half gone
and I hate the taste of tobacco on my lips
and you look at me
like I know what I’m doing.
Like I’m not just as afraid
Like I don’t rise every morning with my feelings in my throat like bile
Like my fingernails aren’t bitten down constantly
Like I know what I’m doing
Like my heart hasn’t grown fungi
sprouted down and planted shallow roots into my epicardium
blood vessels expanding under the weight of increased presence
and forcing out the dreams I used to have
suffocating my blood vessels and leeching something from me
holding me down, watching my every move
a constant companion, spreading vines over my bones
calcifying my nervous system
and I just want to be okay again.
you ask me if I’d like to go inside
and i have to strain to hear you through the groves of dark woodlands
around my head
just another minute out here.
I still have a lighter in my hand
and I am going to start a forest fire,
and I hope I will not have to again.
prelude to a fall
I call you papercut girl
because you’ve drawn blood from me more times than i remember
but only if i’m careless with my hands.
Your parents raised you this way, to be razor sharp
if you don’t trust someone
and soft white if you do.
I call you spiderwebs
because it’s been so long
and I still find traces of you in my hair.
You are stronger than your gossamer would lead you to believe
they’ll pattern steel after you,
they’ll raise bridges with your designs
I want to tell you this because I want you to remember:
you are going to shine after the rain ends.
They will write theses about your complexity
and poetry about your beauty.
Falling in love with you is a cliffside.
It all becomes a fearful thing
it’s a chasm, and we’re holding hands and walking off the edge
you and me, spiderwebs,
just one long fall.
If we’re lucky, we’ll see the bottom coming
and our hearts will erupt from our backs like parachutes
and let our crash be easy
and let our wounds be slight
and let us walk away without feeling like we had to.
So let me hold you now, papercut.
Rest your head on my chest and sink your breath onto my rib-bones
lay heavy on me, tangle me up
let me pour my words onto your skin
so when another sees in you what I did
I will have pressed into you imprints of my handwriting
and you can never truly erase that
and you will not want to,
because wrinkles give things texture.
and I want you to remember when you were my papercut
and never forget why I called you spiderwebs
and as we lay on my bed, sheets all lily-white,
I will promise that I won’t either.
I love breakfasts alone. Especially in diners.
Eating breakfast with friends is a treat, of course. When I think of one of my favorite breakfasts, I think of being ten, making an egg scramble for nine sleeping guests with my godmother in Newport, Oregon. Mary and I chopped the vegetables diligently, and on tip toes and with watchful eyes I soaked in the steps, the rituals of making eggs. I learned. I wish I could say I learned how to make eggs from my mother, but that’s not true.
Another favorite breakfast was served just a few weeks ago: after a party, Dante and I made eggs, bacon and potatoes for our hungover friends. Working in a kitchen with the man you love is such a quiet kind of happiness, an egalitarian performance for the people who have accepted your relationship with open arms. That will always be one of the good moments of us.
The first time a man made me breakfast, I woke up sad and scared. An evening of too many joints and suffocating self-doubt hadn’t yet sloughed off my skin, and as I cautiously walked to the kitchen- he lived in a 26th-floor apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows, staring out over a snowy newton, mass- Justin was making me eggs, fried, on toast with avocado and cheese. He made us breakfast with that meditative smile, as if he were letting me see his private moments, his solitary bliss, his quiet mornings of egg on toast. We sat at his cheap kitchen table and ate in silence- the first moment I thought to myself, “maybe this guy cares about me after all.”
Justin and I did not end well, but when I feel sad, I still make eggs on toast. I hope he thinks of me sometimes, in those solitary mornings, and doesn’t feel resentment. I hope he knows that I keep his eggs on toast at the table, even now.
But I love breakfasts spent alone, because it gives me a chance to taste the silence in cups of coffee, in sausage gravy like glue, in egg scrambles made for one. I know I have many more solitary breakfasts left, and that doesn’t make me sad anymore. I can walk into quiet diners with orange lightbulbs and waitresses with whisps of strawberry jam hair, watch families love one another over sausage links and wheat toast, and savor the time I can spend with myself.
I believe in human error!
I believe that the eternally shifting
gears of the great machinery of mankind
are not always perfect.
I believe in heartbreak
I believe in true love
that crashes against skin and skin
love that breaks like waves
on the cliffside
I believe in human erosion!
I believe in human patchwork!
in threadwork! and mattresses!
strewn across the landscape
crash-pads for crash-landings
crashing down on cliffsides
I believe in human erosion.
I believe in electric poetry
ejected from fingers and throats
rejected from interiors where they cannot stand
charged from human bodies onto recorded media
us, the mediums of current
electric wires shot through with charged words.
I believe in electric poetry.
I believe in human error!
I believe we’ll land on the moon someday
but this time, we’ll put up a house.
I believe in lunar landings
and the possibilities afforded to us by anarchistic
utopian and idealistic, patterns
of sociological movement.
I believe in anarchy. I believe in utopia,
and I believe they are twin and lovers
both in the field of political thought
and in the the bedroom.
I believe we’re better than this!
I believe the children of humanity will not be remembered by age
but by contribution
and that the contribution of creating something
is on par with and level to
and making it better.
I believe in human error!
I believe we make mistakes!
I believe we’re still making mistakes
I believe we can do better.
I believe in getting better.
I believe we are all ghosts rising out of bodies!
I believe that out of body
we might see each other better
like the first time you put on glasses in the morning
and hallelujah, I can see
and you see someone else.
I believe we are all ghosts rising out of bodies.
I believe in talking to each other.
I believe in children talking
and that one day I will have my own that I can talk back to
running around and making a mess of things
and someone will be there to help me with that
I believe in hoping for the future.
I believe in human error.
I believe that sometimes you think someone is all you need
and that someone turns out to be all someone needs
it’s just not you
and sometimes, you have to make peace with that.
no matter how much it pains you, because god damn it
I believe in human error.
I believe in technology.
I believe we can make things that do things
better than we ever did-
in rocket fuel and robotics
and the crystalline grids of computer processors
working hot and heavy under covers
on equations, like lovesick math professors.
I believe in technology!
I believe in eternal life.
I believe in making beauty that goes on
and keeps giving, in communities sustained by
cooperation and mutuality
I believe in getting better.
I believe in doing better.
I believe the the human spirit
is beyond cage and comfort
but rises out, touches heavenly bodies
both on earth and beyond her
and that one day, I believe,
this poem won’t be just hopeful,
it’ll be fulfilled.
Faces of school shooters
After reading some of the comments on my original ‘Faces of school shooters’ post, I thought I should say this…not ALL school shooters are white males. The main point of putting this photo set together was so people would see that a school shooter can be ANYONE. The comments on the ‘Faces of school shooters’ photo set are disgusting. Comments such as ‘White privilege’, well, where is it? They got the same sentence as any other person would. Also, comments such as ‘Fuckin white people’ and it has been reblogged by blogs with are called ‘thisiswhiteculture’, ‘whitepeoplesaidwhat’, ‘murderwhitepeople’, ‘whitepeoplestealingculture’, ‘whiteguiltconfessions’ etc. Would this be OK if it was a person of any other colour? I think not. So why is it OK if it’s white people? Racism does work both ways
Because American society is quick to label black on black crime, quick to notice that more blacks are convicted than whites (although they usually incorrectly assume it’s because blacks commit more crimes), and quick to label any violent crime by a person of middle eastern descent as terrorism. In short, American society loves to racialize crime, except when it’s white people in question. So some people seize on the fact that the stereotypical school shooter is white for a sense of relief.
"A cornered mouse may bite a cat, this does not reclassify a mouse as predator and a cat as prey" (thanks emberglass).
If the people who you’re describing believe that only white people can or do commit mass shootings, or even if they just associate mass shootings with white people, you’re right, they are being racially prejudiced. According to the first definition of racism in most major dictionaries, they are being racist. The problem with that is that it’s a simplistic and uninformed view of what racism is in american society. It is much more damaging for white people to associate crime with minorities than it is for minorities to associate crime with white people, because white people are in power, so to speak. We hold more positions as judges, prosecutors, policemen and women, and as lawmakers.
Finally, you claim that “They got the same sentence as any other person would.” This may be true for the specific black person you showed a picture of compared to the specific white people you showed pictures of. I do not know. I very much doubt, however, that it’s true when you look at all the cases. And I know it’s not true when you look at all crimes.
overview of racism in the criminal justice system:
overrepresentation of youth of color in justice system (I think, I haven’t read these in a bit):
Useful recommended reading list:
relevant news article:
is ‘black culture’ to blame?