The Universe Sent A Memo

This morning, my ex-husband came to pick up the kids. Ever the hospitable host, I mentioned I had one croissant left. Would he like a breakfast sandwich? Never mind that I had not eaten myself. Of course, he said yes. There I went, off to the kitchen as he sat at the dining table with the boys. And as I idly tended to the cooking and plating, I felt the strongest sadness in myself. 

This is who I am. This will always be who I am. It doesn't matter how shitty someone will treat you, you will never complain. Never fight. You will always care. You will always err on the side of kindness and consideration, like a chump. And I hated myself for that moment. I wished with every molecule in my body that I could be the spiteful and vindictive type, but I couldn't.

I can't.

I fed him. Made small talk. Hugged and kissed my kids goodbye. Felt the emptiness set in. I thought of all my exes right up to the most recent.

All the men I've loved more than they ever loved me... you're fucking pathetic. You will never be enough.

I buried myself under blankets and tried to hide from my own self.

I didn't succeed.

I went into work later that day, devoid of spirit. A fraying husk of a person. The whole evening, nothing but a handful of people. One regular, going through his own relationship woes offered commiseration. I was on autopilot. I smiled and responded with the most generic platitude I had at the ready. 

"Oh, you know. There's somebody for everybody. I just wasn't his somebody."

I was ... blank.

At some point, I realized I hadn't eaten the whole day. It was going on 9 pm. I forced myself to have a slice of pizza knowing that if I didn't, I'd get sick. The cook was rightly worried - I wasn't eating. I was always eating. Why wasn't I eating? I think I ate that one piece more to appease him than to put something in my belly.

Another regular asked if I would do a shot with him. I usually don't. Drinking behind the bar isn't my gig. But I said yes. Out of spite for myself.

I messaged a friend two short sentences. I am losing my defiance. I am losing my will.
"You are stronger than that."
I am not.
"You. Are. Sure you're allowing yourself a moment of weakness, but you are."

I didn't feel that to be true. But I knew arguing would lead nowhere and didn't bother to message back.

Then, I once again stewed. I ran through all the times I had met adversity with my chin up. Shoulders squared. The countless instances I turned the other cheek. The ridiculous amount of pain and heartache I had suffered through thinking that in the end, it would be okay. As long as I continued to put good out into the world, I would be okay.

What a fucking crock of bullshit. I felt the war within myself. The battle against becoming who I once was, who I strived to never be again. Cold, cruel, indifferent, unfeeling. 


By this point, everyone had left. It was just me and Johnny. Not everyone cares for him. He's a talker. In the grand scheme of things, he's not an angry drunk, he's almost always polite, and despite his tendency to have an opinion about everything under the sun, he has a good heart. There are far worse customers. I am not bothered by him. 

He called to me as I was cleaning, said he wanted to gift me something. He pulled that something out of his wallet and from where I was standing, it was square and shiny. For a second, I thought, There is no way this dude is trying to give me a f**king condom.

Still, I was curious and walked over. It was a flattened chocolate wrapper. It had obviously been sitting in his wallet for quite some time.

"Now," he started, still holding it gently in front of me. "it's not what it is, it's what's written on it. I'm going to show it to you and I'll leave it up to you if you want to take it. You can tell me 'No thanks, keep it' or you can have it. No pressure."

He laid it down on the bar, some cheesy inspirational quote. On a tiny piece of foil that he had been carrying with him for who knows how long. 

And in that moment, I felt my eyes welling. I swallowed to clear the lump from my throat. Quietly, "I needed this. Thank you."

He gave me a hug. Through a muffled sob, I managed to mumble, "It's been one hell of a week."

There it was. The good grace of the Universe reminding me that kindness is necessary. Compassion is key. 

I remain soft. With no intent on changing.

Always the Bridesmaid

the world is small
and people talk
it is the nature
of the social beast
the want
the feeling
to be
a part of 

that being said
it came as no surprise
when the idle
neighborhood gossip
the game of telephone
reached me
almost immediately

it didn't take you long
did it...
going back to the one
you wanted in the first place

what can i say?
except that 
i cannot find
my shocked face

because there isn't 

Keeping Time

I would once become 
so angry
fits of rage
manic phone calls
hours upon hours
of making myself
clinically insane
I would 
show up drunk
on a doorstep
at 4 a.m.
tiny mascara rivers
painting my cheeks
snot bubbles
above a snarl
no sense
only scorn

I could feel
my heart
twisted and contorted
burning in agony
from its mangled
A particular kind of torment
one never forgets
or hopes to endure

and I recall
the panicked
and confused stares
eyes darting 
left right
making sure
the neighbors weren't witness
to my 
psychotic scene

I only wanted

Why wasn't I worth the effort?
What made me 
Less Than?
Why was I bending like the reed
and there they stood,
unyielding oaks?


Years have come and gone
ticks on a metronome
keeping time
for no one listening
except myself

I'm older 
so very

I no longer
pitch fits
dramatic displays
are beneath me
and more importantly
take up far too much energy
of which I have 
less and less

One thing...
the years have done nothing
to diminish the corrosiveness
of lost love's affliction
The ache of my heart's suffering
isn't reduced
It all still hurts the same
It is only
more familiar
An unwelcome 
I am forced to entertain
every so often

The difference now
I am much more aware
of my worth
despite the accompanying
emotional injury
and no amount of
impassioned pleas
deranged theatrics
any and all

will make a dent 
in someone else's 
minimal perception
of my value

It doesn't lead me
to madness
not anymore
I am only burdened by sorrow
for what the other person 
failed to grasp
refused to see

what could have been


I mend what has been
Allow myself the solitude
to heal
And in the quietude
of another long night
the metronome

scrolling through

a photo of him
grinning with a friend
interrupted her afternoon
of apathetic
time wasting
doom scrolling
political soundbites
status updates
announcing mostly
the mundane

and nestled between
all of 
the nonsense
there he was
a snapshot
next to a gorgeous gal
strands of his hair
catching the wind
eyes squinted against the sun
smiling for the selfie

and she was 
given the unwelcome
the lost friendship 
the absence of
being seen
to the depths 
of her core
by someone
once considered
Real and

making her 
also feel
Real and 

she didn't linger long
the disconnect
the indifference
made this
an easy

good for him,
living life...
she thought
remembering all the things 
she had wanted to do
to explore
to discover
to talk over
to dream about
with him

she kept swiping
they only loved
the idealized
versions they had created
of each other
and that
made it 
not so bad

but damn
if losing his companionship
as a confidante
didn't still 
something Fierce


my love
has always been

paw prints
left new
on freshly fallen
shadowed cutouts
the gauzy glittered mat

the chill waft
of the 
incoming storm-soaked wind
cooling the beads
of summer sweat
on the shoulders
of the worn

the sizzle of the
feeding the 
small fire
constant and
the gift
yet generous

this is why
i am flummoxed

meets peace...
and the world
turns upside 

the passion ensuing
the blizzard 
brilliant and dangerous
phenomenally blanketing
all in crystalline 
paw prints lost
tenderly forgotten
during kisses
and soft

the warmth of hearts colliding
thunderous crackles
the branches shaking 
to keep from roots
as torrents
the peasant ground
we splash in muddied puddles
in hysterics
why not

your hand in mine
flames flickering
upward and 
silver slivers
tinted white
golden blue sparks
splintering the darkness

a blaze

and we are 
the old
the dying
curling into
burning to ash

my love
has always
been quiet

until with you

July 3rd and I can’t sleep

I miss them all

despite the tears
broken words spilling out 
into the vacuum of indifference
guttural cries
in the dark

the cat dismayed
at such overly dramatic displays
of the 
Once Again
coupled with the
I'll Never Learn

i do miss them

not with the longing
of what is lost forever
nor the sentimentality
of all the previous love's 
hazy rosy eyed gazes

i miss the moments
that were brand new
gleaming like chrome
before familiarity
before we disappointed
one another
when we were
not of this realm
this mortal plane
we were
celestial beings
odd outsiders
crazy puzzle pieces
fitting in a way
quite unlike
the others
i miss the stars
in our smiles
i miss the way
a small touch could set
our skin on fire
i miss the quiet breathing
of sleep
next to my awake
the songs we hummed to
the conversations 
long rainy afternoons
i miss
the hops in our laughter
every day being a better day
because we were in it


i find i miss them most
during the quiet nights
my solitude,
my haven
the silence
reminds me
that i am alone

i miss them
those who took my time,
my space, 
my love,
and nurtured it
until it was no longer
worth the effort
i am made only that 
much more aware

i miss the Me
i always was
in the beginning
the most

Don’t Forget

"Don’t forget where you came from"
I haven’t
I won’t.
Every time my boys cry
I remember
My little brother 
Not even 7 
Quickly wiping away tears
Because he was being called a faggot
A sissy boy.
A “little girl”
Those last two words hurled with a sneer
Because we all knew, having feelings was relegated to the card carrying vagina members
And that was shameful
Uncles and his own mother
MY mother
Drug addled and bitter
Insults as poisonous darts
Piercing my gentle younger sibling’s soul.
I don’t forget where I came from
When I call them to me
My weeping children
Feelings are everything and sometimes can only be expressed through tears.
I hold them close. 
I ask them to use their words.
Sometimes I am just as frustrated as they are.
But I’ll not shame them.

"Don’t forget where you came from."
I fucking remember.
I learned how to swallow the torrents of pain which threatened to
Break through the dam of my lids
I’m tough
I’m untouchable
Crying is for the weak
You’ll never break me.
I am Stronger Than All Of You.
When my mother called me a whore after I had been raped at 12.
When my grandmother told me I “shouldn’t have been out that late” after being assaulted and almost gang raped at 16.
When anyone I had ever put trust in proved to be unworthy of that privilege.
Yes. I remember where I came from.

I came from The Vicious Cycle.
I came from the Women Who Accepted The Very Least And Counted It As The Best,
I came from the Long Line of Toxic Masculinity Disguised As The Norm
I came from the Over and Over and Over 
And Over AGAIN
Because That’s JUST HOW IT IS.

I remember where I came from.
My great-grandmother doing her best to shield me from the Bad Touch Uncles. Failing. Begging me to not anger my grandmother because she could not stand to hear her beat me. Shamed because it was a mirror of her past behaviors.
My grandmother crying in silence when she got the news her mother had passed. Becoming stoic in less than a second of being noticed. After all, she had to be “strong”. More guilt than grief for she hadn’t been kind to her ailing mother. 
My mother nursing wounds in private which occurred decades ago because trust wasn’t her strong suit. Self-medicating in the worst way; escapism was easier than the thorny shit reality left to face. Homeless, drug addict, write off.

I remember where I came from.
I came from a great great grandmother who was married to a 27 year old man at the age of 12. A woman who had her first living child of a dozen at the age of 14. A woman married to a man who liked his little girls a little too much, which did not exclude his own daughters. A woman who never knew an easy day the way we know easy days.
I came from a great grandmother who took her 3 little girls, left her husband and the boxcar they were living in to search for something better. A woman who started fresh in Chicago, working several jobs, never taking a husband until her girls had married on their own for fear of what they would suffer at the hands of a strange man. A woman who worked hard her entire life to leave something of substance for her girls. A woman who failed at being kind to her daughters, whose love and desire to protect became unyielding suffocation and unnecessarily harsh discipline.
I came from a grandmother dedicated to never being as cruel in punishment as her own mother was, yet failing because she unfortunately had her mother's temper. A woman who decided that after all the heartbreak, she would rather spend the rest of her days alone. No one could hurt her if she didn't allow them into her life. A woman who raised her grandchildren in hopes to fix the past mistakes she made with her own. A woman who was sorry, but had not any inkling on how to apologize.
I came from a mother with a heart so huge and compassionate, you’d never see it past her stony exterior. A woman with enough demons to stock a second hell. A woman who has not yet forgiven herself for things everyone else has already forgotten. A woman who could have been a good mother, had anyone ever given her the chance and  belief. 

"Don’t Forget Where You Came From."
People toss that around like it means money. Stature. Material Bullshit.
I remember where I came from.
A long line of women
Who could have been 
Were they not women.
Who were weak when they should have been strong, mistaking what it was to be either.
Who loved and were never loved back
Who woke up every day… wondering… Is This Fucking It.
Women who tried. 
Who stopped trying because it just didn't seem worth it.
Women fierce and soft
kind and cruel
quiet and loud
Women who have taught me
albeit inadvertently
just how important it is
to live life with
compassion and forgiveness.
How important it is
to know my worth.

I carry a piece of each
In random memories of their grimaces, frown lines creasing foreheads.
Black & white photos of forced smiles.
Candid polaroids of true joy.
Spontaneous thoughts and ideas of how to be better.
Song lyrics out of the blue which they would hum during the 
few moments when they were happy
(a character trait of which I am happy has been passed down through the generations)

I'll never forget.
I am well aware 
Who I am.
Where I came from.


my fingers twitch
an itching under the tips
a nervous searching
for the smooth feel
of the skin
across your cheekbone

they tap
impatient and out of sync
a restless dance of
unable to sit

my mouth
a continuous
phantom tingle
my lips
so i keep them
pressed tight
to dismiss
them missing you
they are not kissing you

the memory
of that
the faint brush
tender touch
of lips
lingering soft
but urgent
against yours
sharply inhaling
the exhale
your breath

the days
slowly yawn on
i yearn
for that
blessed moment
we were one


after all this time
have you ever known me
the answer is saddening
but not surprising
for it is

but how could you
even if
i am whom i’ve always been
a quick scribble
the key half broken in the lock
soft drizzle through sunlit clouds against the blur of blue
a platypus

i speak
words tumble out faster than thoughts can catch
a picture taken in the dark
without flash

i have attempted conformity
resigned myself to abnormality

(what a misnomer)

unapologetically and with zero malice

i am who i am
whom i’ve always been
fine wine and cheeto dust covered fingertips
technicolor costumes
against grayscale scenery
loud, unafraid
quiet, guarded
polka dots on plaid
silk sheets

mostly nonsense

and you’ll not be the one
to make heads or tails
of me

the rain

it’s raining and i miss you.
i wish you knew how extraordinary a thing that is.

the rain talks to me
softest pit-pat of drops against the glass pane
a gang of cats jogging across hot summer pavement
too quick to count
slightly silent
save for the rhythm
a staccato in unison
what a paradox

but it’s singing to me
and i think of you
your voice
(sweet songs kissing my ears)
your words
(drowsy mumbled love notes late at night)
and echos of
your laughter
(the happiest of dreams)

it’s raining and my arms feel empty
(where are you)
my hands restless
(i need to touch you)
the gnawing ache in my stomach
(i am empty)

my body is in a frenzied disparate hunger
one which cannot be easily sated


i listen to the wind
whipping water
at my window
it’s you next to me
speaking to me
singing to me
whispering to me
instead of
the rain