I live in the future

Cambodia and Thailand are 11 hours ahead of home. I live the whole day before the people I love have even woken up. So I wrote this poem about the way I feel here in the future.

I live in the future
And in the future
I lean out of windows
Gazing into the heat
Letting my hair cascade into the past
For my friends to use
As a ladder into my mind

In the future
I go fast
Kicking up the dust in my lungs
And the tuk tuk drivers
Make me feel safer
Than my last love ever could

In the future
My heart is steady
It doesn’t get dressed
Or put on makeup
It simply is fully loved as herself
Warm and beating
Basking in the sun

 

In the future
I am so free
And the whole wide world
Will watch the sunrise alongside me
And the sunrise
For all her heat and struggle
Will let me through the clouds of doubt
And she will hold me close
Letting me love her
In my broken way

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Reconciliation to self.

My sister wrote this poem and sent it to me the other day, and it was so exactly right, so exactly how I am feeling. I haven’t had the will or the strength to come up with my own words lately, but hers have filled my heart and spoken for me. I am learning how to hold the good and the bad, the light and the dark, because as long as we are in this world we will have both. We will live through both. Life is learning how to live in the tension. Learning how to choose good, to choose the light, and learning to forgive ourselves when we don’t. Learning to forgive the people we love when they don’t. And learning through all of it to remain rooted and grounded in love.

 

I promise to go away

I promise we will travel and see all the places we said we would

And we won’t wait, we’ll do it now.

I’m sorry we failed, I’m sorry we feel

Like it is not enough

To just lie on the couch and think about life

Because life doesn’t look like something we planned on

We will drink more cups of tea and less alcohol

We will hug more friends

And less boys who say they like to be with us

I like to be with us

I like to be at home

All alone,

Because I never feel lonely when I am at peace with what I choose to be.

I am sorry to my stomach for treating it like steel and

Sorry to my heart for pretending it was immune from feeling

And I’m sorry to my friends for the lies I’ve told them about where I’ve been

It is so isolating to hurt on the inside

Without being able to get the true words out from inside my mouth.

In my head I am trapped

But it will not be forever

I believe there is forgiveness and a bridge to walk over

To a field where there is peace

And freedom for the past

I have a friend there

He doesn’t need me to speak

He knows

And he felt the ache in my stomach

And the cold bathroom floor

I can feel he is with me

And I will meet him there

 

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It’s going to be alright

For young love that’s not so young anymore.

And for my 26th birthday.

We used to write 7 poems a day about falling in love. Now we can hardly form the thought. Our words used to spill out of us flooded, overflowing. Now we have grown comfortable with silence and when we speak it comes with a sob or two. We used to revel in the loneliness of the empty space next to us. Now we can’t remember what it felt like to not know how it felt.

We really don’t know what we’re doing anymore. But did we ever? I think some of us did. Some us found what we wanted or what we thought we wanted and then settled down with it just like we were taught to do. But even those of us whose lives came together are still waiting for our lives to come together.

And so here we are in our late-twenties, late for everything, late for our own lives. Or at least late for the lives we planned for ourselves at 16. Because even if it looks just like we dreamed it would, it doesn’t feel that way. No, it feels raw. It feels too realistic. It feels terrifying and boring and too much and not enough.

We waited so long for what, we don’t know. We waited for anything at all, for anyone who would listen. We waited for the timing to be right. We waited for a sign. But the timing is never right. Not really. And signs are not for us. Signs are for those who believe in fate and we know better than that. So we pick up and move trusting our own feet to do the work for us.

We are so tired, but there is so much more to do on this earth. So look back, but just for a moment. Look at all those adventures, flip through the snapshots of pain, reflect on the goodbyes and the change they brought. And then look forward. Remember that your earth shattering heartbreak and your sweetest love have the same name. Trust in your heart. Trust in your hands.

We are not as young, but we are still young. We know less now than we did, but that makes us so much more open to learning from the world. We love more carefully than before, but that makes our love all the more precious. Our lives are built from a scattered collection of things we picked up along the way. But we have built lives that are worth living, and isn’t that it? Isn’t that so much more than enough? We are enough. Look at all the good we’ve done. Look at all we still can do.

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April Poems

April is poetry month and I (along with lots of other writers) have decided to write one poem a day for the entire month. So far my poems are mostly terrible and I assume they will continue to be terrible as the month goes on. However, I wrote this poem the other day when I was sitting in a cafe and thought it wasn’t the worst, so I’m sharing it now. I hope it makes you feel something.

 

In a pastry shop

a man with a beard and a walking stick

s l o w l y

sat down next to me

his beard was grey

it was raining outside

and everything rearranged itself

s l o w l y

as the lunch crowd came in.

The man ordered coffee

and a cinnamon roll.

He placed gently

the cinnamon roll

in front of the empty seat

across from him

once twice

a dozen times

he glanced towards the door

expectantly

waiting

once twice

a dozen times

he picked up his phone

anxiously

waiting

eventually slowly

he took a sip of the coffee

eventually slowly

he stopped looking towards the door

and I felt my heart

pound

once twice

a dozen times

I have waited for something

that doesn’t come

eventually slowly

I stop waiting

eventually slowly

the man reached across the table

picked up the cinnamon roll

and took a bite

once twice

a dozen times

I have given up too soon

and eventually

s  l  o  w  l  y

being alone

is all we know

 

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A Moment

My life is quite full at the moment, but here is part of poem from Thich Nhat Hanh that spoke to me this morning. Take a moment to breathe and be and meditate on love and compassion.

 

The only thing worthy of you is compassion-

invincible, limitless, unconditional.

Hatred will never let you face

the beast in man.

 

One day, when you face this beast alone,

with your courage intact,

your eyes kind,

untroubled

(even as no one sees them)

out of your smile

will bloom a flower.

And those who love you

will behold you

across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.

 

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2016

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I can’t remember what words I’m supposed to use to talk about the past. I can’t remember words about my heart. I can’t remember words about how I feel when I go somewhere new. But let’s try for a moment to remember. This year was more than I ever thought a year could be. I didn’t know I could fit so many different moments inside my body. I live in New York now, but really I could be anywhere. I feel like I am everywhere. Because this year I went everywhere, always always always waiting to come home, and that’s when I found home in my own skin.

The first day of the year started in London with old magic that was wearing out, but the second day I went to Paris for the first time where I found new magic and I moved forward. For real this time. And the year went on like that tired and awake and always moving forward.

I turned 25 and my 25th country was a mountain

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I told no one

I got angry in the most righteous way

I burned bridges in the way I do, smiling and praying and filled with peace

I ended a whole life, an entire version of myself ceased to exist

I was brave in the exact way I wanted to be and it broke my heart

I fell in love with the sweetest regret

I didn’t regret it, not a single thing

I moved so many times, carrying everything on my back

I ended up in a city I never wanted to be in but it is exactly where I want to be

I lost people to the wind and I breathe them in every second of every day

I fell to pieces on the bathroom floor on Monday and picked myself up again on Tuesday

I carried on that way for several weeks

I blew over the last cardboard walls of false belief

I turned into love, more and more I turned into love

I held more secrets than usual

I opened my heart more than usual

I was brave and broken and brave again

I am in awe of my heart. How much it let in. How much it let go. How much it changed. This year was hard, ok? And next year will be hard. But it will also be good.

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Photos by my magic friend, Crystal Anne

A moment

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago:

Things are never the way you expect them to be. Nothing looks the way you painted it in your mind. In my picture of Beirut, I didn’t imagine a Syrian refugee next to an American Eagle next to a Lebanese restaurant next to a grocery store that sells Kroger brand peanut butter and Labneh. I didn’t expect taxis to be louder than bombs. This isn’t a place you fall in love with, this is a place you give your mind to. You let the city run through the grooves of your brain and you overthink it. There may or may not be answers here, but there are definitely pathways. So grab the handles of you bicycle and pick a road. Maybe you’ll end up somewhere new, or maybe the road is a circle back to where you started, but don’t let your busy mind build any walls. Your hands are your own. Let them search and don’t be scared of what they find. But know it won’t be what you expect. Love will come, but it won’t come easily.

 

think

“You can bury your past in the garden by the tulips

water it till it is so alive it lets you go,

and you belong to yourself again.

When you belong to yourself again

remember forgiveness is not a tidy grave.

It is a ready loyal knight kneeling before your royal heart.

Call in your royal heart.

Tell it bravery can never be measured by a lack of fear.

It takes guts to tremble.

It takes so much tremble to love.”

-A Gibson