As I Wait for Wisdom to Pass Me By

​’We are young, we are young!‘ they said,

the eyeless faces screaming in youth’s stead,

Come one, come all, for you live just once,

come one, come all, and spare not a care.

Not a moment’s waste on things

which you can’t slather on a price, 

not a devil’s roll for people

who can’t throw you the dice.
I sit, my pen laid to rest on my lap,

as I watch them burn everything in sight.

We burn, we burn!’ they loudly proclaim,

their paintings, their easles encasing their pride.

And yet I see no strand of hair on fire.

I see not a single pair of eyes waking from slumber.

This might be the way to live,

but it sure as hell is not the way to be alive.
I wait for the words to see me through,

my own special lens with which I use 

to see the world clearer.

But no words come to me.

I am but a humble poet not a seer –

I smith the words on paper and taint them with ink

but no, I don’t see the future anymore than I can the present,

I only see the past and its careless patterns.
So I wait for wisdom,

I wear the years on my sleeve.

I watch the world turn

while the men with golden tongue

preach about the state affairs,

the women continue to count by the wrinkles,

the men calculate by the stares.

This is what we have become.
I wait for the knowledge, the word, the proclamation, the shout;

It will be the undying of the youth

the fountain of life for the old, the revival of the dead.

Tear my heart open, let it be seared by the salt of my tears.

I don’t want to keep my eyes shut.

I don’t want to sleep.

I’ll shake hands with wisdom the moment he passes by.

I’ll set us all on fire.

A love letter to women

Photo by Rose Renolla

I’m sorry they made you believe 

you didn’t deserve that little, black dress

because of the shape of your body.

I’m sorry they made you cover up

to protect their delicate sensibilities.

I’m sorry because you had to stiffle your spirit,

you couldn’t shout,

you couldn’t curse,

you couldn’t get mad

without being accused that your guts are spilling

from your mouth.

I’m sorry you were silenced.

I’m sorry your body is like a caged bird – 

however hard you try to spread your wings,

the bars keep holding you in.

And I’m sorry they always confuse you –

I’m sorry they tell you you don’t need the accents on your lids

but they don’t care enough to tell you

that you are beautiful

without your war paint on – 

and so you keep skipping back and forth

the line between 

basking in your natural glow

and needing your layered masks and bloodied lips.

I’m sorry they insist on measuring your worth

by your plumage,

or the weight of your body,

or thickness of your legs,

or the pitch of your voice.

I’m sorry you were made to feel like your worth had to be measured,

when in fact you are weightless and capable of defying gravity

when you fly.

I’m sorry they said your wings aren’t strong enough

to endure the flight towards the sky,

that you were robbed the freedom

to feel the wind beneath your wings.

And I’m sorry there aren’t enough people speaking for you

when you find your voice trapped by your gilded cage.

I’m sorry there aren’t enough people 

fighting for you to be free.

I’m sorry you’ve been designated as prey

or pet,

or decoration,

or property.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

And it’s probably hard for you to believe

that you are free,

when you’ve been living with all the restrictions

that’s been weighing down your wings.

And I’m sorry for that too.

But you should know,

that once a bird, always a bird.

They can put you in a cage

but that won’t mean 

you’ll forget how to use your wings.

Gather your strength

and bid your time.

And when it arrives,

fly.

Fly and never look back.

Go back to the wild

where you can screech and claw and hunt

spread your wings

go wherever you want to go.

No one owns you.

You were never meant to be caged.

Ten Candles #throwback

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Photo by Rose Renolla

One. You asked me if I’m happy. The truth is, I don’t even know what that means. If by happy you mean being able to spend an entire day not haunted by you, then I guess I am happy. I wake up to different dreams now. I started liking new songs. I started working out. I can run up to three miles now without gasping for air. Everything feels different… even my definition of happy. It’s not the same as the happy I felt when you were here but I think this happy could work. This happy doesn’t come with the same hangups you did.

Two. I have spent so many sleepless nights wondering why things ended the way they did. Until I finally decided that I don’t want to ask that question anymore. I’ve come to accept that knowing why would not change anything. You’d still be you and I’d still be me. So we still won’t work. I guess we’re meant to be one of those stories about unfulfilled love. I guess we’re destined to be romantic.

Three. God, I hope that I’ve changed. Being the person I was and wanting the things I did put me in an endless cycle of internal battles I was delusional enough to think I could win. I kept deciding to logic my way through my feelings thinking if I played a game of elimination on all the reasons why I should take a leap of faith and cross them off one by one, I could find a loophole… a foolproof way to get what I want without having to gamble my heart. They did define insanity as doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. I was insane that way. I was insane that way, with you. And I’m hoping I’m different now because I don’t want to make mistake I did… with you.

Four. I don’t think I’ll love anyone the way I loved you. I will do better. I spent the whole duration of us loving you with silence. But I learned that there are things that should be said out loud. I refused to say them because I thought you understood… I thought I didn’t have to tell you. I wish you told me you wanted my words said out loud. I was never good at loving people in a loud way. For you, I would have tried. But that ship has sailed so you know what, the next time I fall in love, I will definitely do it better. I will scream it from my rooftop until my lungs burst. I will not be silent about it.

Five. After you, I thought about finding a nice boy who could give me everything I could possibly want. But then I realized that I don’t really want for much. The only thing left that I really want… is to just be a girl. I have tried everything… being a fighter, a victim, a sinner, a saint, a dragon, a sheep, an artist, a poet… but the one thing I haven’t tried yet was to be a girl. And because of that, I decided that I can never settle for anything less than the boy who can make me feel like a girl.

Six. A few weeks ago I noticed that I stopped thinking about what we could have been. That was the exact same time I noticed that I stopped missing you. I miss how it felt… belonging to someone, having someone who could feel like home. But I don’t miss you or your potential anymore.

Seven. I think if I look back, I could pin down the moments where we just didn’t make sense. Yes, with an s because there were too many of them. I think one of my tragic flaws is believing the best in people because there were red flags all over the place. That, or I like to pretend I’m color blind and I don’t see red.

Eight. I’ve heard somewhere that regret tastes good with Bourbon. Here is what I can promise you: Bourbon will feel like fire spreading into my bloodstream. I’d rather burn than say you taste like regret. 

Nine. If I had to pick a favorite among the things I should have done differently, it would be that I could be willing to love myself less. I think I loved myself too much I could be a poster child for self-love. The more I fell in love with you, the more I pulled away. I got scared of losing myself… in you and because of you. So when it came down to a choice, I decided I’d rather lose you. I know hearing this from me won’t bring you comfort. I’m sorry. I guess we now know why you still haunt me.

Ten. You were the very person who would have made me believe in destiny again.

Ten. I think of stab wounds whenever I hear your name.

Ten. Because of you I skip through my old favorite songs.

Ten. I hope you tell not just her, but also your children about me. I hope I ruined you that way.

Ten. Can we skip the whole friendship thing?

Ten. If you ever come to my wedding, make sure you watch my face while I look at him. Count my tears. Notice the way I smile and the way I couldn’t wait to be his wife. Know that because of you, I honestly believed I would never be that happy.

Ten. Maybe it was you. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was us. Maybe it’s no one’s fault. At this point, does it still matter?

Ten. I used to hug my heart to my ribcage worried I will lose it after I lost you. I used to stare back at the shell of who I used to be in front of my mirror after the sparks in my eyes died. I used to wonder if the hollow laughter I could hear from my voicebox really belonged to me. A part of me died the day we put an end to us. But I’d go through it again. And again. And again. Not because that’s how much I love you. I’d go through it again just to squeeze every last drop of lesson I have to learn out of a failed something. I’ll look at the signs until I know them by heart.

Ten. I don’t want to love someone like you.

I hide to seek.

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I would like nothing more
than to hide you
in my poetry
where I keep the things
I wish to be safe.
For you to linger
at the tips of my vowels
especially the O
where all the things I left unspoken
are dangling and hanging on for dear life.

I would like to hide you in my poetry
for them to see
the things I silently marvel at,
which I never verbalize –
the soft tips of your hair,
the mild crease on your forehead,
the glimmer of excitement
in your eyes
that promises a taste of what
your childhood left behind.
I would like the world to see you
as I see you;
not nearly perfect as you make it seem
but still perfectly fine.

I would like to hide you in my poetry
so I could show you off;
show how rapidly my heart beats in anticipation
just at the sound of your name.
I would like to hide you
so I can wear you –
the poet adorned by her lovely words,
her emotions resting on her hair
as her lovely crown.

And maybe,
I would like to hide you in my poetry
so you can live forever.
Immortalized by my own hands,
a gift I know I’m the only one
who thought to bestow.

Photo by Rose Renolla

Political Correctness

 

My mother taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, I should just keep my thoughts to myself. The lesson never stuck.

I went through life with my foot permanently shoved down my throat – always grabbing the least perfect moments to say the wrong things. It got me into all sorts of trouble, which I didn’t mind, for it’s something you get used to when you can’t hold your tongue.

I couldn’t be politically correct even if I tried my hardest. Which is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that when I fell in love with you, all the things that made my brain buzz with excitement added to the mounting pressure I could feel pushing against the walls, the ridges, the fissures inside my mouth.

And I tried. I tried to hold it all in, like a dam preventing the water from flooding and drowning an open field.

But you know what they say about habit – you can only fight against it for as long as it takes for it to kick in, take you by surprise.

I said I love you – putting everything I am at stake in just three words. You looked at me like it was an assault, like you’ve been victimized, brutalized, like I grabbed my pen but instead of writing on paper, I stabbed you with my words. No one saw it coming even if it was in plain sight – not you… certainly not me.

I always thought it would take a storm to make a ship capsize, I’ve seen all the movies. I didn’t know three words were enough to make every crew jump ship, leave the wheel unattended until the ship sinks or crashes into sea boulders. But what the hell was I thinking trusting all those pirate movies when I knew that just like fairy tales they’re just products from someone’s imagination, they’re fiction. Just like this thing we have, it’s all in my head and apparently it’s a sin.

Well, I refuse to apologize. What I feel isn’t a bloody curse word I swallow inside the church and sing as a fucking hymn of praise. I refuse to be politically correct about my feelings. I refuse to treat my emotions as if they’re so disgusting and offensive. My love cannot be a crime – not when it finally feels like I’m starting to do everything right. Not when loving you feels so good.

When I was young, my mother always threatened to wash my mouth with soap if she ever heard me utter a curse word. The insides of my mouth have never felt so clean but the soap couldn’t wash away the stain the bad words left behind, I can still taste them sometimes. The memory of every bad word that passed through my lips left a tinge of unpleasantness I couldn’t wash away, even with wine.

I love you – I thought the words would taste sweet even if they were wrong.

I love you – it tastes like vomit.

I love you – it makes me want to wash you away from my insides violently with soap.

I love you – I wonder why the kiss of death had to be served in mouthfuls.

I love you. Let me savor it one last time – that fraction of a second where the words are almost sweet, that moment before the bitter takes over.

I love you.

You think I should learn to be just a tiny bit politically correct. But I will expire by spontaneous combustion if I don’t let my guts spill. My love isn’t a sin. It’s not a filthy profanity. I refuse to let you make me feel guilty.

The temple for which you should offer your prayers:

Love, you’ve been worrying again.
I see from the look in your eyes
you’re about to wage war on yourself again.

But why
do you have to be
your own
enemy?

You let the men tell you
you should be soft.
You let them mold your curves
so you can finally define yourself
a woman.

You let other women show you
that you should be hard,
choose to be predator not the prey,
lest your heart
be unguarded.

You let other people
talk you into fighting their causes
while you remain deaf to your own.

Can’t you tell
your soul is asking
to be excused
to not be accused
to be given more breathing room
to touch base with itself?

Why must you set your real self aside
for the woman they tell you
you should be?

You are soft
as you are hard,
you are gentle
as you are strong,
you can be as much rough
as you can choose to be silky smooth.

Don’t be the temple
listening to prayers
that aren’t yours to hear.
You are as much
of a woman
as you hold yourself to be.

You matter.
You matter as much
as everybody else,
never too much,
never less,
always just enough.
All you have to do
is spread your arms
and hug your real self.

You exist.

In case you ever doubt
who you are,
look at yourself
in front of the mirror
and see:
you exist.
Skin and bones,
subdued and powerful –
just how a woman should be.

The Modern Fairy Tale

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“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
who is the fairest of them all?”

Like the evil, stepmother queen,
voices teach us
we don’t need to look within.

Now Snow White, with her doe-eyes,
grace the magazines,
eyes reflecting only bright lights.

Cinderella wears only
beaded gowns
she’s always pretty
walking around town.

Ariel loves her legs
and hates her tail –
she forgot she was birthed
by the sea.
She thinks not being herself
is what will set her free.

Rapunzel still lives in the tower,
waiting for the man
who has the power.

Mulan commands an army
but to do so
she must always prove she’s hardy.

No, the fairy tales
aren’t to blame –
we fell deep into society’s game.

We tell girls
they are just little princesses
to be more would be an excess.

But princesses
can wield swords too
while wearing high-heeled shoes.

If we teach our daughters
to look within
they will value more than the color of their skin.

This is the modern fairy tale
we teach them to ride the tide
we don’t tuck them in
with drawing pins.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
little princess, don’t settle for fair –
when you can have it all.”