Words Fail

It was wrong for so long,
how can I say sorry
when all we did was try?

I’ve been silent so long,
how could I say thanks
for giving me part of your life?

There’s a letter buried somewhere–
I never sent it for fear
it’d sound like lies–
just so many conflicting things
and all of them true.

There was something I hoped
in time you’d see
when you found someone
much better suited than me–
how I couldn’t keep the faith
once I understood.

There was plenty I hoped
you’d forgive me for,
though once you saw it
there’d be no need,
and mostly now I just hope
you don’t think about me.

It was wrong for so long,
how can I convey thanks
for walking me all this way?

I’ve been silent too long
to send letters anymore
since words fail, anyway.

Eggshells

The things I forget in my 30’s are things
I just learned a couple of weeks ago–
would you believe nobody ever told me
how to keep myself?

I’m always waking up one day
to find me slipping, to find me gone
and a big mess of everyone else
standing in my place.

And the only way to get me back
is to stop and get very selfish,
to pluck and pull me back out of
the hands I put myself into

because I shrank to save my sanity
I kept doing it to keep the peace
and now the ground feels foreign
when the eggshells are swept away.

It’s late but I am learning how
to tidy up my floors–
it’s more like medicine now
to keep me alive without a war

but the things I forget in my 30’s are things
some people never know
so I’m composting all those eggshells
and watching my garden grow.

Questions

How many songs did Elliott write in the moment
knowing they’d be old news in the morning?

Did he wake up embarrassed about
the demons he was letting out?

And how many songs about pain will I write
knowing I can’t heal as fast as I’d like?

Do I disregard all prudent advice
each time I continue to roll the dice?

How many times can you listen to this story
covering the same familiar territory?

How long am I going to be this way,
longing for love and then pushing it away?

Am I what they warn young people of
when they caution against those who cannot love?

How can I write a poem and then take it back,
enjoying the sun ’til it all turns black?

And just who am I when the clouds descend?
What is it that controls when the storm will end?

How old was I when they threw me in
to a life-long war that I’ll never win?

Am I going to die like a falling star
or trapped like an ant inside the bell jar?

How many songs did Elliott write in the moment
knowing they wouldn’t hold up in the morning?

And how many poems about pain will I write
before I wake out of these fitful nights?

Aquarium

This reflex lives in me
it crowds me out when I try to speak–
brute words erupt
only they’re seldom what I mean

I promise thoughts are swimming,
always, always through my head
in a water tower without the ladder
so they sink to the bottom instead

up floats disgust, I get so embarrassed
I give up, I cannot kick,
I cannot breathe, I can’t make words
I can’t tell you,
I don’t know myself

’til it’s too late and the moment has passed
and I just said, “ew”
and hoped you could see
through my porthole eyes
this entire aquarium
complex and alive

History

I never believed in soulmates
until I got drunk at a wedding
and did what comes to us freely
despite how often we try to stop–

you were 2,500 miles away
you weren’t my man
you weren’t even my friend
but yours was the voice I wanted
most to hear

and you told me you had a secret
something you figured out
about soulmates–
you said you believe they exist
and you said that I was yours

well I thought you were crazy,
I laughed and told my old man
such a funny joke–
you were always playing,
always raving at the moon

but it didn’t leave me,
that planted seed just slept
in a crevice of my worn heart
and I should’ve remembered
your knack for watering seeds

I guess he could blame you for that
but I never will– I pushed so hard
against that truth, I didn’t want
to believe you were right
but maybe you were

so many things I know
still I never understood at all
what they meant in songs
when they sang about love
when they said it was peaceful

but maybe you were right,
whatever that means–
maybe all this time they were
talking about the way
you and I have always been

maybe getting drunk at a wedding
was the best thing I ever did
because what comes to me freely
always leads me back to you

waste

no more money lunches
plus-one on a yacht
full of nobody good
stuffed shirts and big mouths
i never wanted any part
of the truffle oil world
it was nice i guess
for a bit of change
but i never saw any
pass to empty hands
i saw big live lobster tails
get cracked
over minimal tips
nothing meant anything
when we had enough
to waste

You Will Feel Safe Again Soon

Look back on these times when you get there
and you will, honey–
you will feel safe again soon

Remember these moments and those from
before you knew
you would feel safe someday, too

you’re used to letting go of
what’s not meant for you
but oh, what about when it is?

you’re not used to sitting with
all the things that you fear
but oh, what if this time you did?

Hold on to that hand reaching out
in the dark, don’t let go–
soon the light will break through

and you will understand
why it took so long, and then
you will feel safe again soon

Your Heart is a Language

Your heart is a language
I’ve always known how to speak–
words are our playthings
but we really talk in beats–

I know your rhythms
I’ve followed them for so long
I hear your reasons
pounding in your chest

You owe no explanations–
I trusted you first
before you were mine
and some things won’t change

There’s an art to letting go
and I’ve learned it well
you can only add,
not subtract

and I know you need to fly far
but you always come back

Wait for Me, Sisters

wait for me, sisters–
i’m coming up behind
got a fist of crushed love
i’m here to join the line

take communion with a cup of salty tears
sing hymns about our realized fears

i got nowhere left to go
will you kindly take me in
i’ll be quiet as the grave
while i’m atoning for my sins

write a letter to the past to warn myself
put it with the other lessons left unopened on the shelf

wait up for me, sisters–
i have so much more to learn
take my fist of crushed love
give me a candle to burn