Missing Me

Missing Me

As a 40-something year old 

special education teacher

with anxiety and depression, 

I really don’t have too many moments 

to miss things. 

Sometimes I miss Sunday nights 

of bad TV and bleached roots. 

I miss the nights I could stay awake 

past 9 o’clock. 

But what I really miss is the me I was 

before common core and crippling debt. 

I miss the Sarah Jessica Parker, 

Girls Just Want to Have Fun, 

9 year old dancer in me, 

the one who performed in front of strangers

in the neighbor’s front yard on hot summer afternoons. 

I miss the frolicking-through-carnivals me, 

the stuffed purple unicorns and corn dogs me, 

the me who belted out “The Right Stuff” 

at the top of the ferris wheel. 

Sometimes I miss being afraid of thunderstorms, 

Those questionable days watching out for the dark clouds 

rolling in while at the community pool, knowing exactly 

when it was time to run like hell for the arms 

of the college-age lifeguard. 

I was pretty smart for an 11 year old.

Yes I do miss the naive me, 

the one who fell hard for hugs from boys, 

not knowing they were simply looking 

to feel my early-developed rack against their bodies. 

I miss no-makeup-wearing me, 

the small sips from Dad’s beer bottle me, 

the me who sat at the coffee table

with tomato soup, grilled cheese, and Hollywood Squares.

I miss my mother teaching me how to apply 

three shades of eyeshadow, on her bare knee, 

the only light coming from the TV. 

I miss the me that cut her own hair 

and refused to wear a real bra, 

the jumping off the swings 

at absurd heights, daredevil in me, 

the skateboarding on tennis courts me, 

the me that curled up on couches 

with boys after school and listened 

to cassette recordings of dirty comics. 

I miss the me who kissed an older guy 

who dipped and pretended to like it, 

I miss the young, savage, wine-cooler drinking, 

menthol cigarette smoking, crossing a busy 

highway in the dark kind of me, 

the girl who wasn’t afraid of screwing up, 

if she ever really existed. 

I miss the daily poem writing, 

the 2 am epiphany kind of me, 

the student in me who still knew the world 

was hers for the taking, 

the young adult in me who was okay 

with minimum balances 

and boyish men who should have married their mothers. 

I miss the me who truly believed 

she could teach young minds to love

Shel Silverstein, 

collecting rocks and words, 

and putting words on rocks, 

writing stories about magic coins, 

and how to love. themselves. first. 

Despite the things I know I miss, 

I’ve realized I can’t really miss them at all, 

for the walls of my brain, adorned with 

Garbage Pail Kids, bubble gum cigarettes, 

New Kids on the Block posters, and peeled skin

from many sunburns – they may never crumble 

in the chaos of now. 

The me who could write a term paper in one day, 

the me who could go 40 years without breaking a bone, 

and the me who trusted this thing called love – she’s there, 

in the recesses of the mind, striving to live again 

like ghosts and ivy.  

Rainbow of Sins II

Rainbow of Sins II 

You’re the kind of blood poisoning 

women beg for – 

the sweet burn of you 

like fire red whiskey 

sliding down a desolate core. 

My armor is made of rain-soaked, 

tangerine rolls of linen paper. 

Yet underneath all the yards, 

you should see my cast-iron shell,

painted in an apricot coat of resilience. 

Near the light house, we could lie 

naked, wrapped in sheets, in the sand

since everyone around us 

would be too busy gazing at a golden torch 

that’s not meant for them.

Farther away, there are emerald blossoms 

that can turn into confetti 

with a single drop of my liberation. 

The rain always tastes better in Rome.

I’ve learned that indigo ink 

is permanent, only if it’s used 

more on an early, almost lover 

rather than a beloved mother. 

Violet violence is the good kind. 

that’s when I’m bedecked 

by that real kind of love 

that sticks like jelly

then hardens into amethyst.  

Happy World Poetry Day

Talk to me 

Conversations with contemplative pauses, 

glittering crags of phrases littered with shards 

of random swearing. 

I’ll notice how your mouth moves 

when you say things like, “impervious to pain”. 

I’ll take a mental photo of your fingers raked 

through your hair. 

Tell me to stop smoking when I drink, 

tell me to stop drinking while I pray, 

show me how to forgive every once in a while. 

I won’t mind being honest about what my nails 

were digging into each night, 

as long as you keep telling me stories only I’ll believe, 

and I promise to keep drawing on the mirror with lipstick, 

and finger writing my name down your spine. 

Perhaps the start of a poetic memoir, maybe just randomness

Still, every once in a while, a poem or two will come out of nowhere even when I’m drowning in fiction. I highly recommend Beth Kephart’s Tell the Truth. Make it Matter: a memoir writing workbook.

If this jewelry box could talk…

I’m older than anyone left living in the family, 

yet I’ve seen less of your world 

then these rings you never wear, 

and the broken chains you’ll never fix. 

I am stained with nail polish remover and hot tears. 

I thought you’d paint over me one day. 

Then you realized Mom would have killed you 

for altering my chipped, distressed bones. 

Locket-sized photos of people you barely knew, 

broken broaches and chokers, marbles, Italian lira, 

Mom’s chunky necklaces you can’t bring yourself 

to touch – nevermind wear. 

This is what you’ve held hostage inside of me 

all these years, and when you’re gone 

they’ll be no one left to take me to a new home. 

So before I find myself in a rummage sale 

tape a note to me that says, “I mattered once”. 

A note from the bedroom door…

I’m tired of watching you scroll on your phone 

until you fall asleep and the damn thing hits the floor, 

exhausted listening to you bawling 

until that one blocked sinus in your conscience clears. 

I’m open when I should be closed. 

I’m closed, and stay closed, when the breeze 

vies for a chance to cool the sweat on your neck. 

Stop hanging things on me as if you’ll never need me to close. 

I am worth more than the cheap, gray paint you dressed me in. 

I am the first thing that stands against the world for you, 

so use me like you use this pen – 

urgently, with a strong grip and without reason. 

Moving forward 

You forgot I was there, didn’t you? The key fob to what was your mother’s car. It’s funny what you forget once it falls to the bottom of the fifth purse you’ve used this month. Remember when the dog chewed on the corner of me? Mom never scolded the dog since the fob still worked – starting the engine, locking the doors, creating the illusion of safety with the panic button. That’s just the kind of person she was – forgiving, as long as she and everyone she loved appeared safe, alive, and free to move forward. 

Names

we will drive there
one day
where the succulents change color
right in front of you if you look hard enough
and we will lie on the colored river rocks

until we blend into the others
on like soddened roses
on handmade paper

we will forget our names
that weren’t really ours
to begin with

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