empty

you cook for yourself, and
eat what you make. you used
to finish it even if
you had to force yourself
past the point of fullness
or risk gifting the fridge
with yet another container
of instantly suspicious leftovers.

but yesterday when
the French Toast had been made,
and mostly eaten, and you
realized you had stopped
eating because
you were no longer hungry,
you didn’t eat the rest.
you got up and threw
the rest away, despite the
voices in your head saying
wasteful
children are starving in China
you spent good money
for those eggs, that bread,
those sausages.

you remember sitting
at the dining room table
as a child, for hours upon
hours, stubbornly refusing
to eat the food your mother
had slaved over a hot stove
to prepare. you don’t
remember if you actually
ended up eating it,
or if she gave in and sent you
to bed without any other supper
than what you had
already eaten.

you probably drank the milk.
(there was always milk.)

you wonder at the expression
about eyes being bigger than
the stomach. first of all,
how is that even possible.
your stomach is quite
sizable. secondly, after all
these years of cooking
and eating, wouldn’t you know
by now how much is enough,
and how much is far
too much? it’s as if
those years of being forced
to eat food that was not
what you wanted, being shamed
and mocked for the food
you wanted, taught you that
there’s never enough, that
only too much is correct.
just in case. better than
not enough.

it doesn’t stop you from
feeling empty.

manifesto

don’t tell me it doesn’t matter
if this person understands me.

as a poet, all my writing
is a constant attempt at
self-defense before the
uncaring judges of eternity,
I’m always arguing my case
in Anubis’s eternal court –
THIS is why
I am the way I am
this is why
I did that thing I did –
I do this even
(maybe especially)
when
the only person I’m trying
to convince
is myself.

so this is why
I did the most recent thing I did:
there was a little girl
whose father left
when she was seven years old.

she didn’t understand
why
she didn’t understand
that her mother did
the best she could
in an impossible situation.

she was told
her father loved her
but still he left.

her mother smothered her
and told her lies
about her nature, trained her
to abuse, invaded her sovereignty
so that she had no space
to be herself.

is it any wonder
she grew up thinking
the ones who really care
are the ones that
walk away? and the
ones that stay
can’t be trusted?

is it any wonder that
she doesn’t know how
to take care of herself?
she only has two models:
never there, or always.
so she ricochets between
extremes, craving togetherness
until it gets to be too much,
and then needing more space
than exists in the entire
universe.

weigh my heart
against your feather, and see
which one comes up
guilty.

existential

I am a girl
of sand and fire.
I am a voodoo doll
held together by my
pins. I am a sentient collection
of ants. I am a girl-shaped
form made out of ashes;
pour me through
a sieve and watch me
disappear. I am a gingerbread
woman; bite my head off
to put me out of my misery. I am
the Wicked Witch
of the West, melting in the rain.

I am a ghost, a breath
of hot air from your mouth;
I am steam, condensing into
being and then dispersing
as fast as I appeared.
I’m the last dying ember
of a dead star. I’m a whirlwind
of sand inside a sirocco.

I’m only real
as long as your eyes
can see me.

how I lost without even playing

that goddamn scorecard has been up
in the back room
for months on end now, if not
a full year. I fucking hate it.
every time I see it I am reminded
of how I didn’t go
to the games night and instead
went to a women producers meet up
because there I could share
my latest work, an outlet for
the other side of my art
that I can’t get out at
the open mics – and I remember
how when I finally arrived
when the game was almost over
and gave my wack excuse,
saying “it only happens
once a month”, the game creator
snapped back “this only happens
every six months!” and I was
duly chastened. I haven’t
been back to the women
producers meet up
since. and now this scorecard mocks
my pitiful excuses and
how I’m always trying
to have my cake
and eat it too.

solipsism

the world doesn’t really
revolve around me,
and mostly I’m glad.
that way lies madness,
something out of a sci-fi
movie when you turn on
the TV and the anchorperson
is saying your name, but only you
can hear it, and tinfoil hats,
and on the other end of that is
Kanye West.

all jokes aside,
he’s quite obnoxious and
if I were to be as egotistical
it would really be quite boring.
the world is actually far more
interesting when it’s not
all about me, I tell myself.

yes, there is a certain appeal
to the idea
of getting everyone else
to sing my praises so I can look
modest and outwardly deny
while inwardly urging them on.
the problem with that is
there are only really two ways
to make it happen: pay them,
or just become so undeniably
fabulous that they are compelled
to acknowledge my genius.
both seem like a hard row to hoe
with no guarantee of success.
I guess I’ll just carry on
being a tiny speck
in a vast uncaring universe.

what’s that? it’s not
all or nothing? I’m neither
God Empress of Dune, nor
a sandworm’s leavings?
well that doesn’t sound
nearly dramatic enough.
I’ll be both. just try
and stop me.

imposter syndrome

I don’t deserve
to take myself seriously.
I’m a fraud, a fool, a dilettante, a dumbass.
taking yourself seriously
is for winners.
that’s why I make sure
to make lots of faces
after I play a song.
just in case anyone thought
I was sincerely hoping
to deserve your serious
attention. I’m just anticipating
the critique that has long since
stopped coming. it now resounds
only in my own head. if I admit
all the flaws first, will I escape
the put-down?

no. there’s no point.
might as well pretend
that I don’t hate myself.
maybe if I do it long enough,
I’ll finally start
to believe it.