Day 145 – Dangerous

If your heart were a piece of crystal torn from your body
I would keep it in my pocket, tuck it under my pillow
I would horde it for myself in Gollum’s cave

If you were a star resting high in the evening sky
I would wish on you, share my hopes with you
I would love you from a safe distance

But you are standing here before me
not a star but just a man
you are still the things you’ve done
and you are loud, you are thunder
you are dangerous

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Day 132 – Dorothy

Dorothy landed and was dizzy and I
refused to help I finally took
a bus to Atlanta and realized
why not

I was not so great and powerful I
was small and very frightened but
I wished with all
my heart
I wanted to help but I
have no
pow
er
s

I walked along the dogwood trees in bloom she
would’ve loved them I knew my
jig was up she had to go I had
to let her go
she wouldn’t find those
dogwood trees
if she stayed with me

she found Glinda

Glinda has magic

but if Glinda goes I
hope she knows
she never needed magic never
needed anybody never needed
me at all

wish I could help
I always
wished I
could

Day 131 – For Doreen

I forgot to put on sunscreen for the funeral. I didn’t even change out my sneakers for the heels I had packed the night before, so worried about being respectful. I thought those things would matter but death has a way of mocking the little formalities we observe. The dead don’t care what you’re wearing.

But you would’ve reminded me about the sunscreen. The two of us, forever indoors and longing for the beach, our weekends filled with texting screenshots of art projects and Amazon purchases, were so looking forward to the summer we’ve earned. You took your vitamins and your Claritin and paid extra for the UV protection in your sunglasses. I skid in daily on four hours of sleep and haven’t eaten a real vegetable in weeks. Something in the great cosmic milieu tells me there’s something unfair in you being the one who had to go, and me being the one who got to stay. I can’t even remember to put on sunscreen.

Your funeral was filled with the sort of people who would not, and did not, care if I showed up in sneakers. They did not mind that I obviously have the self-preservation instincts of a small child, as evidenced by my beet-red arrival to the memorial. They didn’t judge because you didn’t judge.

You were so well-loved by everyone. It took me by surprise how much I had come to love you, not because of who you are but because of who I am. It may be self-centered to think about it, but I’m not sure I could scrounge up more than a handful of people if my funeral was tomorrow. I burn too many bridges. But you never did; even those who managed to offend you were treated with your signature grace. You left this world with no enemies, and you left it far better than you found it.

So perhaps, in the great cosmic milieu, there’s something fair after all about you being the one who earned that endless summer vacation, and me being the one who has to keep struggling on without you. Where you are you don’t need sunscreen; I’ll try to remember mine from now on.

Day 109 – Nonpartisan

You don’t have to pick a side, kid-
everyone’s out to get you.
You don’t have to pledge your life,
your faith or your trust.
Just keep your healthy cynicism,
look for the ones who stand to profit,
eye them all up and down,
friend and foe alike.
Everyone has allegiances,
everyone has closets;
pick and choose but remember-
never pick a side.

Day 101 – Take Two

She said take two
when you’re stressed
and let me know
how that works

But I get so down
that I take three
or four or five

One time I took
the whole bottle
and I showed up at her door
in a panic-

“What’ll happen to me now?”

So she gave me gin and tonic
and she told me not to worry-
“It’ll all be over soon anyhow”

She peeled back the label-
they were candy after all!
and I haven’t worried much
ever since.

Day 38 – The Treetops Were Listening

The treetops were listening
that night when you promised
you were finally getting out
of Dodge

The day the small crack
in your heart
split open
and you bellowed-
the stars heard then, too

Every long night
when you argued with yourself
down long empty streets
with the windows rolled down,
the cosmos
and everything in it
turned ear
and took note
of the fire in your soul

You stare at blank pages now,
you think it’s lost-
the passion you had,
the importance you felt-
but through every moment
of struggle and doubt

the universe waits for you

On Friendship (2013)

You don’t make friends- you find them. I’ve only ever had a few in my life, but when I found them I knew immediately. There’s a sort of intimacy, a comfort which is felt like a blanket around two strangers who automatically fall in step- they can speak without fear and find joy in discovering all the ways that humans can understand one another. It ends up feeling as if you’ve already known the person for a very long time.

It’s a rare and wonderful thing to find a friend- someone whose intellect, maturity, and decency you can trust. Someone who gets you in all the best ways. Once you find them, there’s no going back: their company becomes indispensable to your own happiness as the more experiences you share, the more you are bonded together. And gradually, their happiness becomes indispensable to yours, like an extension of your own well-being. Protecting their heart becomes your responsibility, because it’s part of your heart now, too.

But like all good things humans are ever blessed enough to blindly stumble upon, we don’t know how to keep a friendship once we’ve got it. We grow complacent and expect that it always will thrive, maybe because we didn’t do anything to earn it in the first place. We underestimate how much we’d suffer if we lost it, because we just don’t think it could happen. But perhaps worst of all, we get selfish.

Humans have an odd tendency towards ownership- we see something we like and, instead of appreciating it for its beauty, we like to slap stickers on things and say “Mine.” This tendency is extended to our friends: we want to be best friends, we want to know that you like us the most, we want your word that you’ll always be there, we want labels, we want assurance. The funny thing is, the best part about friendship is the sublime level of trust that can be achieved, but there’s no chance for that when you’re holding on too tight. I have been guilty of this far too many times not to know the devastating consequences of squeezing the life out of someone you care about.

Miraculously, true friendships seem to have a tremendous bounce-back rate.