The Nth Poem on Inadequacy

24 Jun

the burden of existence
consumes me in my idle moments
— when nothing can buffer you from
the imaginings of expectation and the
suddenness of failure.
when inadequacy licks like wet heat against
your very marrow — acidic, inescapable,
immobilizing. when it fills your bones
with lead and you are never able to mount
appropriate defenses.
here you are held down by your own silence.
nothing you say has consequence.
nothing you do is relevant.
the burden asks for proof of your
being and the burden of your proof
is as immaterial as your efforts.
here you lie and sit and stand and breathe and run and jump
and nothing matters except the inadequacy
observed after your actions.
nothing matters except the fact that your matter
is so much futile atoms.
you occupy definite space and edge out
all possibilities away from you.

– July 5, 2015


weird headspace poem circa Dec 2013

24 Jun

the problem with circumstance is that it happens all the time
every time and not quite in the same ways
but always somehow getting in the way
of your routine. your fixed habits, your
unerring patterns of activity,
your consistency insulating tightly the
breathing space around you.
you plug it into the holes you didn’t know you
could bleed out of, where the people can otherwise
comment on how surprisingly clumsy you are,
or how funny, or how disarming.
you disarm yourself when you disrobe yourself.
so instead these become part of your artillery:
fixed activities and an obvious path.
so people do not see too much, or comment
at length, or heaven forbid, try to understand.
nothing is worth the revelation.
nothing is worth the exposure, the unexpected
judgment, the inevitable reveal of your most secret, softest parts.
you are not prepared for how the sun will feel
on your uncovered surface
or how damply the rain will buzz against your skin
or how jaggedly the weather,
the wind
or someone’s words can cut you.
circumstance leaves a lot of room for error, and error
leaves you no room for entitlement.
you must realize this.
you must recognize this.
habits are protective, and routine can kill you,
but it will do so slowly,
without obvious pressure or passion,
quite in a considerate and humane way.
hide your epiphanies away.
shout when you must shout, and whisper
more quietly than how the trees rustle on a still morning.
do not come without a warning.
let people expect you, even if they will never know the
depths at which you have hidden your self-concept.
daily is a secret, subtle art of becoming someone
tighter and tighter against
who you are.

To One of the Best People I Know

24 Jun

For Jeanni-Panini, something I wrote for her 23rd birthday in 2013:

This goes out to a beautiful girl with a stunning mind
and a reckless soul. She is strong and proud and has a good reason
for remaining ever quite just so.
Her roar will make you quiver down to the marrow of your bones.
Her bones are made of steel and sometimes in the light of the mornings
you could be seeing the faintest outline of wings.
She can fly like many other beautiful things.
She deserved to be airborne. Gravity is reserved as an option.
The winds of circumstance run through her fields
and others would be windblown but she remains rock-solid
and unchanged by blades. If she allows herself, she can be unmade.
This goes out to a brilliant girl who thinks as soon as she blinks
and edges up to the brink of the frozen lake
of thoughts. There is a square kilometer of ice
beneath her smooth surface. You would be afraid of such ice.
You should be afraid of such depth.
Turn her over and you would uncover a mountain.
Turn her over and the very ground
of how you love and who you’ve known
would be the sky and would be the clouds
and the very land would shake beneath you.
Her devotion is no question. Prepare for a landslide, an earthquake,
the smashing of tectonic plates.
This goes out to her when she is not anymore a girl
But a woman who stands under the weight of the world
she has tried to love and understand and hold
without knowing if she must or even if she could.
She could not understand it all, could not love it all.
And that is fact. Clear as day and plainer than sunlight.
But still she tries and there are few of us so unrepentant
in intensity, so adamant in our tendency
to love and think and feel.
The world will rub the salt in before the wound can fully heal.
This is her greatest strength and her most breathless fragility.
Take care of her, beware of her, hold her close and let her explode
far from you and when she does, remain a rock
so if she must, she will remember that she is whole.
Before she burst, she was a soul.
And when you see her, you will know
that being rock-solid can still mean growth.
The world will unmake her but she will recreate
herself — she will contract, expand and oscillate.
She is hotter than a white dwarf and colder than a dead star
and denser than collapsing plasma and wilder than a supernova.
She will enter your life and change the orientation of your polarities
Hold onto her if she enters your orbit.

This goes out to her in her moments of hurting
and her moments of remaking and her moments of healing.
She has wings even in the dusky light of the evenings.
She can fly like many other beautiful things.

a thing you write to tell yourself a thing

24 Jun

what is success but the sum
of small victories and happiness
but the sum of small satisfactions.
say here that you find yourself
beating someone to the last
seat on a bus, or you find a rolled-up
wad of bills in a bag you haven’t used in months
or that your best shirt is all clean
and waiting for you
on a hanger with no snags on its edges
on that 7:00 Monday where
you couldn’t afford to be late for work.
— those small victories that snowball
into something truly magical.
say here that someone bought you your favourite
coffee because they owed you or because
they found you cute in that shirt
(it is your best shirt, after all.)
and that while this other person bumped into you on the
elevator and your coffee spilled all over you,
it was a cold-brew and your shirt was dark
and nothing would stain anyway.
(and then because they felt story they bought you
another cup of your favourite.)
those small, endless victories; the shrewd precision of fortuity.
what is happiness but a series of endless
averted crises, success but the
zero-sum of a game between you
and Murphy, and you come out winning.
somewhere out there is that day, then;
and somewhere out there the sun is shining
and somewhere out there some
regular run-of-the-mill sucker
like you is winning at life.

so go on and step up to the plate, child.
no matter how drab you feel today
or how small your field is.
the drumbeat goes on,
the crowd is still watching,
and the game won’t play itself.

A Statement T-Shirt In Facebook Status Form.

15 Apr

I have been called weird my entire life
Back in nursery when I vomitted to get out of class
Back in first grade when I was best friends with the class bully
Even in high school, where most experimented with sexuality
and I hadn’t even hit puberty yet.
(When I was 14, I revealed to my seatmate that I thought
the letter “N” was the more mellow and old-fashioned older sister of “M”, and that the number 8 was, of course, a fatty.
She said she had never been as weird as I was
in that moment.)
I was a leftie when most people raised their right hands
Turned the opposite way when everyone instinctively turned clockwise.
Sometimes I walk in a crowd and wonder what would happen if I suddenly
break out into song.
I am not sure whether I was really weird.
I never really felt out of place, and maybe that makes it a bit dangerous?
Maybe we’re not supposed to be completely sure
of our off-centered-ness.
And it’s not that I am being odd to be artistic or whatever.
(Art is production, creation, workshopping your idea-baby into
something that can nourish the souls of others
with its lines and details and
I do not have such lofty goals.
I do not even have goals.
Everything here is circumstantial.)
And no, this is not a bid for rebellion, either.
There is no authority I would like to buck up under
and rear my long, proud neck against.
I am not a warhorse metaphor.
I do not have cowboy dreams.
I don’t even really care what the prevailing system is, although
over time, I have learned to observe, and imitate, and imbibe.
To make small talk in a crowd
and to use my right hand for a handshake.
To follow another person’s train of thought when my mind thinks
their eyes look like the headlights of a UFO.
To realize that the patterns of human behavior
are a process and product of evolution
and I do not have to be so mistrustful
of everyone’s gender roles.
Or circadian rhythms.
Or Gestures, with a capital G.
Is this being mature?
Is this selling out?
(In my experience, I would rather look like a halfway-decent, reliable-looking
young woman than to wear a lime green scarf
and muster up the attitude for it.
Making yourself visible?
It’s still pandering to an audience.)
The point of this all was to attempt to demonstrate that
I cannot be remonstrated for something so mandated
as a cultural tendency or the impulse to rhyme.
I do not seek a definition. And I am pretty sure this does not qualify
as either a poem or an essay.
This is not a problem.
Violations and violence and violins.
As long as you bear some sort of resemblance to expectation, you can survive.
Were it not for the leftovers after everything weird has been commented upon, anyway, no one would even know what “normal” is.

October 28, 2013

I live my life inside a thought.

14 Apr

Sentences are my muscles – they keep me upright and keep me moving and they are striated with their fervent desire to be meaningful. It is not painful because I am used to the weights of my own thoughts.
I used to reach down and feel the stretch in my head, like a burn, pulling the motions far beyond what my body is used to. Then I stretched and stretched and reached over and suddenly I had wrapped the sentence so effectively around my head, it’s fingers were touching and it was tight, the blood in my words pumping desperately and elsewhere my circulation was getting cut off, bam!
A release and the pins and the needles of punctuation,
of editing, of looking over and proof-reading my life
beliefs – suddenly they hurt and they blotted the world between their sparks.
And I let the over-stretched muscle-words go and I grasped the weights of retrospection, of criticism, of appraisal — I lifted them high and the life-blood pumped back even more fervently.
And the appraisal, the criticism, from the other side of potential energy, they felt like defeat.
But I did not let go, I raised them even higher and
the muscles of my words hurt like paralysis.
They seemed defeated, from the height I had lifted them to.
(Though in the sweat of my conviction, nothing could touch me.)
And then I opened my mouth and let my tongue flap across the race-track of conversations, let it slip and jump
and hurl and hurdle and sprint and walk
and jog – and there is not an end to the oval race-track,
and no end to circuitous thought processes.
So as the night is dark and the day is long, the thought
spins on its axis and my words distribute a revolution across the spaces of breath. And people ask, why do you never stop talking? And they do not know that inside there are is an arena
already silent as the surviving gladiators of cognition battle it out.
There is an audience, I must realize. Shhh, shhh.
(And I never stop, I do not let up – keep on pushing the metaphors, keep on stretching the muscle-sentences, keep on lifting the weight of critiques, training and training my words and my sentences and my beliefs and my metaphors
until I bulge with the weight and size of them,
until I am an athlete of cognition.
I keep on training until I am well enough to compete with silence, the ever-vigilant rival, until I can keep up with the rest of the world’s noise.)
I do not ever win, but I also do not ever stop; the moment of stillness is the moment of surrender.
In the meantime, I tell myself to keep talking –
and the words spill out, spill out as tirelessly
as sweat and fatigue and blood.
There is always a rush, rush, rush of them.


15 Oct

i remember a lot about childhood:
but one of the oddest things i
remember now,
in the lucid mid-twenties processing of it
is how i was first taught how to hold a knife;
the grown-ups allowed me to hold it
just so: the grip on the handle
tight, the pointed, dangerous side
angled away.
this knife is smooth and plastic but
watch out, dear,
your skin is so much softer
and you are but a child —
look how the pointed end is rounded
but it can take your eye out.
and here, look out for its small,
serrated teeth.
they are meant to saw a surface open,
if you were so inclined.
just a gentle back and forth
until you break skin.
and here, why don’t you practice on
this mango?
it could have grown up to be a tree,
isn’t that marvelous?
it is a child, just like you,
but when it was at its ripest
we plucked it away.
and now here it is,
the tree’s sun-warmed

go on, child. cut it open.