Sadness is a strange drug
intoxicating as any pill,
prescription,
poison.

Sadness is a bed
into which you can sink and sink,
drown so deliciously
in softness
and melancholy
and sad, slow guitar chords
strummed with bloody fingertips.

Sadness is feathers
with cinderblock stems,
the exquisite beauty of moonlight
reigning in the wild sea.
Sadness is the song that makes you cry
and the lyrics which make you ache
yet you play it over and over
for the strange beauty
in the elegant shudder
of your sobs.
It’s why we find lovely
in the heartbroken folk songs.
It’s why I find gorgeous
in trampled flowers
and crippled butterflies,
thin streams of blood
and weather-beaten book covers;
yet what were they to me
before they were broken?
Sadness is falling asleep in the snow;
it is always dusk,
it is the end of electricity,
it is unused tires
and objects drifting in outer space.
It is floating
and it is sinking
in one fluid motion;
far be it from me to divine the difference.

Past Selves

Each moment of you past
becomes another ghost
haunting school hallways
woodland paths
summer cabins
your childhood bedroom,
every incarnation
a shade less innocent
than the first.

Every passing second
is assassination.
Every blow carved out
by fists
by hard falls
by edged words
leaves scar after scar
imprinted on your body
and if you lined up all of you in a row
the devolution might be enough
to bring your six-year-old self to tears,
your twelve-year-old self to sighs,
your four-year-old self might not even recognize
you under those layers of dust
and scratches.

A child is so unaware
of endings impending,
that every moment is metamorphosis
and she is constantly scraping away
pieces of a person that is moving on
to better things,
or older things,
attractive things
that glint like pyrite.

The girl in the yellow dress
in your childhood pictures
though she may look familiar
is an entity passed on,
stamped out,
extinguished,
and you are that which consumed her.
May you bring wisdom into the world
in exchange for the innocence you have displaced.

Lost Balloons

There is nothing more lonely than a lost balloon.
I once let go of my balloon
in my mother’s favorite shoe store,
and I cried and I cried
until a man brought out a ladder
and he carried it back down to me
and tied it around my wrist
and told me gently,
“Now don’t let it fly off again.”

I didn’t cry because I loved the balloon,
although we’d been together many hours now
and I had grown quite fond.
It was blue, made of latex,
filled with helium so it soared
and not the cast-off breath
of exhaling human lungs.
I cried because it was wedged
up in the department store rafters,
unloved and alone,
doomed to shrivel down to nothing
in a small, unseen corner of the world.

When I see balloons flying up into the sky
my heart breaks,
a porcelain sliver,
to see something so light and carefree
hurtling towards something so
infinite and terrifying,
without anything to tether it back down to earth
and without hope of return.

We try so hard to hold tight to their strings
but at every carnival or fair
in a moment of rapture or distraction,
you’ll witness one plucked from a child’s hand
by a cruel, thoughtless breeze,
and tossed up to a place from which
no ladder can return it.

It hurts to let such a fragile thing go.

Lana Turner

I don’t speak tongues
or teeth
or intertwined fingers
or gently parted lips.

I don’t speak swaying hips
and fluttered lashes
or the gentle dip of a knee
or the half-lowering of eyelids.

I don’t speak slinky dress
and I don’t speak knees turned inward
glass held outward
head inclined
or neck curved.

I don’t speak the divots and slopes
of the human anatomy
and I can’t read the pages
of hidden looks through dusky glances
or the messages delivered through silence.

Some girls have Lana Turner smoke
and 1940’s filters
and the incline of the head is no different
than a neon sign,

but I have none of these
at my disposal.

I have chortles
and windmill arms
and a nervous disposition
and words that hover between
hate and indifference
so none might ever suspect love.

Scripts are safety nets
and improv was never my forte
so I excel in
expository hovering
because I can’t read the next lines
you’re trying to whisper to me
through your lean in, lean aways
and your heavy silences
and the tousle of your hair
in the manufactured breeze
and the fall of blue lights
on one pale, made-up cheek.

These words might as well be empty pages.