my ring

I’ve been wearing this
ruby ring a lot lately. not
that you’ve asked,
but I’ll tell you why.
it reminds me
of an engagement ring, but
it was not given
to me by a man.
my mother bought it for me
when I was 17 and
we were visiting Thailand.
gems are cheaper
there. (probably bought
with the blood of men
digging them from the ground,
but this was 1990 and no one knew
about blood diamonds back then.)

I wear it now
to remind myself
that I don’t need a man
to be happy. I am married
to myself.

so if you see me
wearing this ring, know
that I’m trying
to be strong.

the battle

almost every day I fight this
pitched battle
inside my head. one part
of me says I’m worthless
I’m dying
fuck my life
kill me now
why bother to get out of bed
no one will ever love me anyway
what is there to live for

and another part yells at the first part
for being lazy and useless and privileged
and a garbage human
and still another part says hey, what if
we pretended to act like a person
who doesn’t hate herself today?
what would this mythical creature do?

and so the eternal war
between my selves goes on,
and sometimes one part says
he didn’t write back, he must hate you,
what’d you do this time, you idiot
and most of the other parts tend
to want to believe whatever narrative
makes me feel the worst
about myself at any given time
and so you see, I’m hardly ever really fighting
with you. sometimes you get caught
in the crossfire between my selves,
that’s all.

to my good friend whose salad I laughed at

I’m so sorry that I laughed
until I cried and was
rendered incapable of speech
at what appeared to be
your food order. It was not
the fact that you were served
a very large kale salad
that came with some kind of bread (pita?)
that made me convulse,
though in the Stygian gloom
of the back room
at my favorite venue,
that dish did look like
some Lovecraftian concoction,
all dark strangling seaweeds
and mysterious white monoliths,
that I did not know existed
in the universe, let alone was
something from the menu
at this establishment
where I consider myself to be
pretty familiar with all the offerings
available. I’m sure it was
delicious, but that salad seriously
looked like it was
about to rise up from your plate
and claim all our souls
in Cthulhu’s name.

but that alone still wasn’t what
made me laugh so hard.
it was the way
that my exact first reaction
of mingled shock and horror
was reflected so perfectly
on the face of my friend to the right
when I glanced at him. for some reason
that flipped a switch
in my brain that made the whole thing
unbearably hilarious.

I know it might have looked like
I was laughing at you, and for that
I am very sorry.

So, how was it?

little Lost Boys

why do I find you
so very attractive? is it because
I wish someone would notice
how very lost I am
and try to rescue me?
or is it because I hope that in
helping you – not fixing you,
not changing you to meet
some ideal you in my mind, I hope
(though often I see your potential
going so sadly unrealized) but by being
there for you, supporting you,
loving you – I can make myself
useful, needed, and valuable?
because I don’t believe that I
have value in and of myself –
always always always times infinity
not good enough –
so it’s help or die?
or maybe because
your childlike enthusiasm
makes me long to
join your games long enough
to forget my own sorrows?

Wendy eventually
grew up. she even married
a Lost Boy. but she loved Peter
and he refused to grow up,
so he came back many years later
and her daughter became
his new mother figure.
maybe every girl needs her
lost boy phase. but lost boys
don’t hold you tight, they’re too busy
having adventures and asking
for bedtime stories.

I don’t know what the answer is.
I wish I did. and it’s not like I want
to grow up either. just somewhere
in between childhood and adult,
some teenage Never Never Land where
no one talks about boring things like mortgages or politics,
but they still get to kiss sometimes.
does it exist? how about if I clap
my hands and wish real hard?


when things seem to be
looking up, that’s when I become
intensely fearful. it can’t last, it’s too good
to be true, when’s the other shoe
going to drop? the wheels
are turning so smoothly
right now, the gears are going
like gangbusters and it’s too
scary and I can’t bear
the suspense and so
I feel compelled to stick
a spanner in the works.
this tactic has backfired on me
a million times and yet, I still
do it. it’s the waiting
I can’t stand. the not knowing
just how my world is going
to crumble, from whence the blow
is going to come.

I put an end to the uncertainty
of waiting for life to fuck me
over, by breaking it myself first.

the consolation of philosophy

really, Boethius? just how much
consolation was philosophy
when you were waiting to be
executed? did it help?
did it stop you from
dying, or just make you feel
more philosophical
about your inevitable death?
it waits for us all, but for you
I imagine it was a bit more

if you figured out any secrets
about how to be okay
with the fact that I’m dying,
please let me know. send me
a dream, or something. or I
could just read your book.


I’m sorry that I’m the way
I am. I tend to get a feeling
of free-floating anxiety, like
something is horribly
wrong, but I don’t know what,
so then I try to find the ways
that I fucked up, the things I did
wrong, the reasons and the proof
that someone hates me.

I think part of it
is that I assume
that everyone will hate me
eventually, that I’m an awful
person who drives everyone away
so it’s just a matter of time
until it happens with you. I’m
probably conditioned by
having parents who lied
and said everything was fine
when it clearly wasn’t
and then got divorced.

I take all the little things
that by themselves are meaningless
and may well have nothing to do
with me, but in my mind
they add up to being
a big bad picture,
like detectives in a movie
when they’re trying to catch
a serial killer, like the Zodiac
or whatever, and then I assume
and make an ass out of u and me,
but mostly me. so anyway I’m sorry,
and it will probably happen

the things I didn’t know

I didn’t know
that when you asked me
that question, you were reading
far more into my answer
than I intended.

I didn’t know
that when I lied
and said those two
things were not related,
you actually cared so much
about my answer.

I didn’t know
that you were angry
at me last night. I wondered
why you were behaving
the way you were, and I felt
like something was wrong
but I couldn’t figure out

you’re not the only one
who sometimes realizes things
way after the fact.

and really, given the extremely mixed
and lack of communication
going on here, can you
blame me? oh wait. I guess
you can.

should you ever
care to forgive me,
I’ll be in the corner
wearing my dunce cap,
wondering if I’ll ever
get out of the doghouse.