a collection of poems scribbled in a notebook over the year twenty-twenty three

october twenty eighth- proclamation of the white onion

under the black mid-October sky

over the rumble of Dad's white SUV

our shared brown eyes

peek through the sun roof

my big brother

of year 2000

of tight cotton tees

of clean hair gel

of thin gold chains

squints at the glowing sliver

"that's called a white onion"

despite years

and hair gel

and gold chains

he is still 

cobalt blue braces

after school robotics club

and basketball shorts

he is still my big brother

september twenty first- squeeze

our heart beats:

happy chattering clams aside laborious breaths

sweet telling of gospel through choked sobs and hugs

the world cradles us in its tilt

pouring sirens, deep bass, heavy chorus

a hissing growing higher and higher 

like a rocket for takeoff


an inquisitive piano tune

an image of a bright light

your uncarved face, 

eyes squinting 

with a toothless smile


all good someday

september fourteenth- roadside memorial 

when we're walking along a deep street under moonlight

and lightning wipes the dark sky with daylight

i see our train ride home and our untangled brains

outstretched like paper skeletons

i hear second harmonies of a voice without sound

i see blind nothingness behind my eyes

and we're enveloped by metal-buttoned thermal jackets

let's take the train home to a city velvet with nighttime rain

let's hold on tight and share this dance

in a brand new house with so many doors

and let's make a synergetic kitchen broth 

of the best damn poetry in the world

september seventh- bleach 

so the sick rinses your nose with ginger ale 

and sucks your breath like a dark blue plunge

and there's no going back now

and your head screams video nasties

and the inner corners of your eyes are syrup-red

and you're thinking buzzcuts and bleach 

and everything drips with everything

august thirteenth- in dreams/a woman is a wolf

I've cut my hair to the ends of my ears 

somehow my heart doesn't tremble anymore 

at the wind beating needles into my neck

I am a mandala of wholeness

I am the flesh of alchemy; I am a silk matrix 

I lie in a sparkly bed of sin counting under

hanging hearts wrapped in bone-white rope 

I am the consequence of bladed risks and sharp teeth

a woman is a wolf; a woman is a wound

and she will devour for the rest of her life.

july twenty third- twin mattresses, river boats, and other games

i'm chewing bruised peaches 

and listening to your songs

and i miss you oh so dearly

someday can we get together

and dye our hair strange colors

i crave reinvention and company/

i wanna tattoo poems 

on all of our bodies 

so you can feel the ink 

the way i feel the ache 

that lines my stomach 

and stretches for your heart/

our fingertips are calloused and quarter-scented

and the buzz between them fills seven swimming pools exactly/

we've burned under the savannah sun enough

so i'll close my empty sketchbook

we'll put dinosaur stickers on our faces

and i'll take prehistoric polaroids with you/

we'll dream of driving past state lines

to cut our hair and hug/

can we syncopate the summer

and take one more picture/

lets go to bed before

you're a ghost again/

but i have to let you know

there's an animal inside me 

and there's dandelions 

growing from its jaws

please take care of them for me

take one last picture/

june twenty eighth- one day, space exploded and left you hidden in the sand

if the veins in your hands sprout and stretch like the branches in trees, do you both breathe life the same way?

if you throw a punch with your fist balled up and bones tight like a rams horn, are you equally stubborn or did you evolve that way?

they say when you raise a conch to your face and listen, you don't really hear the ocean, but the fluid inside your ear rattling about

but if the swirls of a shell and the spiral of your cartilage are the same shape, are you both deep blue?

i can't stop thinking about how your nerves are lightning and rivers at the same time

how the air quivers under your voice and you sing sand dunes right in front of you 

how life curls up, bones exposed like an isopod

how when you whisper to me, i hear the ocean

and somehow i know we're all the same

june twenty eighth- wisdom teeth

my jaws are dormant for the rest of june

the drugs wore off but i'm still asleep

if i swirl the atlantic in these bones i'll heal

hunger scrapes the bottom of my gut 

like the concrete pool floor did my lover's foot in april

i fear both leaving scars 

before my stomach conjures an ocean of its own

i must cook up poems soft enough for me to eat

spit out blood like a shadow boxer 

and swallow triptychs of big fat pills

if my kick drum heart beats too fast a rhythm

my mouth may spill joy;

i may flood with a sucker-punch red

i must succumb to a well of bitter black tea 

wake up soon

wake up soon

wake up soon and eat well

june fourteenth- red forty/mancala

i.  i cut my friends hair today. she wanted to even out the sides of her bangs because they were too blunt for her liking. i snipped away the excess right by her smile, ginger flecks adorning the tile. 

ii. she sits on the end of my bed in the clothes she’s gone out in, i don’t tell her i have a thing about that. 

iii. we talk and talk, occasional bursts of connections occurring; a creation of adam, a buzzing nerve spark; understanding the tumbling life of a teenage girlfriend bored in summer, not ready for anything ever at all. 

iv. we go to the store and buy gobs of cheap, sugary candy with my parents money. we shoveled handfuls of sweets into our mouths, the stuff consisting of more colors and numbers than anything. we eat over a film, despite not really caring for either. we casually speak about true love and joy between bites of swedish fish. we speak about first jobs, driving tests, and boyfriends. 

v. later this night i am typing on my too-bright phone screen, scraping any goodness that hasn’t been sucked away by hours of tv-watching and stomach pains. 

vi. i close my eyes to a rapid whirlpool of laundry. a flashing turbulence! sign. a run on sentence.  i take a gulp of fresh air. i’ll hold and cradle it in my chest, but it just fizzles back into a bubbly mess in my lungs, choking my throat and spilling into my stomach again. no matter how deep i draw in, i collapse and wake up mad again; i drop clear raindrop marbles into every passing wooden pit until my turn is over. 

vii. i am drowning in the summer. i must press the off button, buckle my seatbelt, and punctuate. i must stop my sense swirling down the drain, in a great red forty mess.


may twenty third- will you look down at the stars with me?

the ocean muscle tips herself over like a pitcher of milk; the tides tuck back in

you lie down on the ground and imagine yourself on the green earth’s underbelly/

looking down at the sky

and not falling/

feeling yourself cling to the earth 

the pressing force of gravity/

realizing you’re not going anywhere/


may twenty third- cosmic mud 

crop circles

dog yawns


coffee cup stains

eye irises

ink blot tests 


april twenty seventh- good china

suddenly there’s a crack in the glass

it’s okay

it’s okay

it’s okay

this is the good china 

each painted flower in its place 

sculpted to perfection

safe with me

i ran my hands under white-hot water for weeks

but nothing could scrub you away


i mourn a young, bright-eyed me

dreaming of a sparkling fairytale 

growing up to dream of forgetting september 

i stare at my shattered perfection

shame stains my cheek

it’s broken 

it’s broken 

it’s broken 

it’s okay

it’s okay

it’s okay 

i flinch at brown buzzcuts 

i look twice at green eyes

i hold my breath in your neighborhood

and simply pray i faint 

i relentlessly repeat my rituals to make bad things right 

but you still felt so wrong 

nothing could rid the heart-sick nerves swirling in my chest 

the blue and white cranes dancing on the china 

the good china 

the perfect and still ceramic

it’s a mosaic

you said maybe we loved each other 

if you “loved” me, why did it

hurt so bad

hurt so bad

hurt so—

you still leave tangles in my hair

you still leave holes in my sweaters 

you still leave me praying 

it’s okay 

it’s okay 

it’s okay

april twenty seventh- title: cut

you're a sunbeam smudged on my brow

you’re peach pits; old gashes

artificial perfection

papercuts and breaking things

and keeping souls safe and

i am not a winner

i feel the buzz

the unbrushed dust

i praise you again

i praise you again

i praise you again


april twenty sixth- subject line: could i ever win at anything? (tldr; winners and fireflies and good china)

i’m not a winner but somehow you love me

somehow you’re the big teddy bear at the carnival

somehow you’re the gold star 

somehow you’re the shiny medal

finally! not bronze or silver, but pure shining gold!

you make me live; in tears i reach through sharp grass blades and search for the sky

somehow the clouds seem closer to me every day 

i saw your face so precious and glimmering i just wanted to hold it and keep it safe like a sparkly firefly in a thick glass jar 

we were so awkward maybe one day it’ll feel so awkward we don’t have to think that far back anymore and

and maybe i didn’t drop this precious gem and it’s still my favorite and not bound by cheap rubber bands and maybe it wasn’t just a plain quartz and it really was the finest crystal adorning my young self

maybe i don’t think about all the cracks in the glass and maybe it’s a perfect window and there’s no scratches here 

and this is good china it’s all good china 

no heart-sick nerves swirling in my stomach like the blue and white flowers on the ceramic 

it’s not broken 

it’s not broken 

it’s not broken

do i feel again? or have i just forgotten how?


march twentieth- grand indian california wedding 

when you see the juice and flesh of the sweet sliced fruits of your mothers favorite shade of red and gold/

when you hear the jingling of gold bangles that adorn the women and the clinking of the metal pots they hold in henna stained hands; you hear the shining chatter of sisters in the kitchen/

when you smell the ginger sparks and the thick flour naan and you taste the good chana your mother makes for you because it’s tame enough for your shy tongue/

when you feel the vibrations in your chest as your numerous aunties and uncles joyfully revel/

when you are squeezed into chairs and benches and hammocks; you feel the world filled with our grand bursts of people/

your auntie (with the ink-tar hair and the hooked nose) asks what you’ve painted since you last saw her/

your uncle (who shares the hairpin smile of your father) wants to see your writing/

they want to know who you are, really/

when you feel the itchy fabric of your loose marigold clothes as you cling to your mother so you don’t get lost at sea/

sit down

let your henna dry 

enjoy your food/

observe the pieces of your mosaic as the dal-yellow sun shines through them 

see who sewed each patterned square of the big, soft quilt 


march twentieth- heaven does not meet you

the jarring experience of plunging deep into culture only to return to modernity; diving into the deep end of an ocean, a body abundant with life and color, and shooting back up to greet chlorine in your nostrils 

you notice the foam fruits, the plastic everythings, the clean-whiteness of it all

heaven does not meet you with sterile overhead lights 


march nineteenth- hollow shells of madness

why, as we revel in our carnal bacchanal, we think of you!

we sing: 

o’! all hail the mountain trees

the angels wings have fallen

all hail the mountain trees 

we’ll be there in the morn! 

as we dance we kick the stardust beneath our boots!


march seventeenth- st. theiamania and her martyrdom

constantina and her heartstring band/

i suffer some sort of hamartia; 

a lack of martyrdom; 

a lack of following through/

marching to the edges of death

to turn on my feels and hum a birdsong

let alone lead a grand heartstring band to rose-crush crescendos/


march twelfth- is this why birds sing?

i hum my love for you/ i hum and play with your hair when you lay on my chest because that is my soul’s way of sewing a sweet song into yours/ i whisper to you/ is this why birds sing?/ some sort of solid and natural way of the delicate thing we’ve contrived?/ is this why birds sing?/

is this why the world turns?/


march twelfth- song for k

i'm sorry i burned down your house, my friend

i’m sorry i stripped the tenderness from your life

i’m sorry your water got dirtied up again

i’m sorry it’s getting too cold in here

and you can’t even strike a match under your shoe

i’m sorry you’re nothing but ash now/

i know it’s pure fire from here/

i crushed the rose petals straight from the stem

ripped them away and let them fall/

i burned down your kitchen

shiny dinner table and warm food

laughing spices 

ceramic plates with lilies painted 

cliché this-is-home signs/

she won’t hug you with a dirty apron anymore 

she won’t cut the onions anymore but i’m still/

hardly anyone deserves my mom

but nobody deserves to lose her/

i know i don’t need to feed you but

you’re starving now and i can’t watch/

i most certainly dread upcoming june

when my mother asks if you’re visiting again

if you’ll paint my nails a sickly teal

if we’ll adorn each other with plastic stars 

if she may sing you happy birthday/

now, i must remember 

i never owed you a meal

you will be just fine

you’re neither tethered to me nor this kitchen table/


march eighth- sinewy dreams

i dreamt i was splitting hairs for a sign

they fell apart just fine and everything would be okay

i dreamt i tested a shiny new nerve x-ray machine

and the wiry blue things clashed and struck hard

and for just one night, I was lightning


march fifth- rouge

you flashed me burning eyes

you laughed dead roses and hornets

when you were small

you stole your mothers rouge

but you took her temper too


march fourth- i am 

blanched almonds 

milk teeth

the trim of your bedroom walls

the corners of your copper-handled cabinets

the peeling heaven-yellow wallpaper

scraped ceramic soup bowls

singing myself to sleep


march fourth- angel hunting 

prairie fire

crop circle

common cattail 

freckled egg

holy crow 

broke-back bible


march third- violent winters

split the apple open with your palms/ trace the core/ count the seeds/ tell me how i am violent winters and crueler summers


february twenty eighth- common violet

you are a fossil

i am bones

rend the meat from my vessel

scrape the dirt from yours

crack me open and discover

the common violet

hungry, fervent, full of flesh

i am but an empty and cobwebbed

set of cracked ribs;

i am but blanched almonds;

i am but pressed and suffocating roseleaf

february twenty eighth-when i wear pretty things

i am a homemade heart

a mother of pearl

i am a fawn in heaven-bright headlights

bejeweled and adorned; chained and hooked


february twenty seventh- the joy of summer fire

firecrackers laughed

electric cicadas sang;

the gods rumbled beneath the dirt


february nineteenth- waves

i told my friend she's like the ocean

and she smiled like its waves.

february second- where the persimmons grow

the persimmons grow where i am thinking of you. they grow where i am packed with effervescence. they grow where i am jumping with gratitude. they grow where i have firecrackers in my chest and lightning in my eyes. the persimmons grow on aisle three. the persimmons grow in the library. they grow in my living room and in your bed. i swallowed a handful of seeds and prayed a garden would start in me.

january thirtieth- winter chemistry

inside my chest is a butter-colored finch

feverishly fluttering

beating against my lungs

fighting to my throat

rapping my harpstring chords

then tumbling to the pit of my stomach

january twenty ninth- do you still squint at the sun?

i once sang a childish song

when you would lie in the grass

adorned with earth’s hair

among dandelion stars

the sun bleached your sweat-slicked curls

you laughed a firecracker laugh

days of april heat, of punch-red berries

of cloud eating, of scarlet crushes

of air rippling like a puddle

days the color of a pigeons back

trembling under summertime 


january twenty fifth- lightning: a holy harvest

drawing wind’s blood into her vessel

scarlet wash stains her cheek

numbness brands her lips

stunned, she’s vintage taxidermy

the raw apple climbs to her throat

she engulfs the white-hot burn

a beacon of electric howls

she ignites the light harvest

she sears coarse, earthly flesh

sore , feverish heart rot

pulp-crushing star death

o’ scorching Seraphim

pleading to the Pleiades

the birth of bestial madness


january twenty fourth- post-mortem précis

divine indulgences, devilish decadence

devouring language and sugar-soaked fruit

carving sweet madness from my vessel 

rending the flesh from my collarbones

becoming bestial perfection 

adoring my starshine, studying my symbols 

mending the sparkling crackle in my bones

learning the art of candor 


january twenty fourth- hedonism

drinking your perfume

like a strawberry spirit

sweetness rots my milk-teeth

passion spills down my bones

i blossom, i die