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.

what a difference

three days ago
I thought I had something
to tell you. it seemed
very important
to my sleep-deprived brain.
now I think
maybe it doesn’t matter.
it won’t change
a thing, and you don’t
care. I’ve gotten
some sleep, and my
blood has cooled, and
I’ve seen some things
that made me think.

why do I bother
to torture myself
over things that don’t matter
to anyone but me?

if I knew the answer
to that, maybe I’d know
what a difference
those three days
made.