We forgot to talk about it

But remember – things come together too

We tore it down and left

the foundations sticking out painfully,

left bits of the broken walls that could no longer house memories –

never mind lives


We tore it down and forgot to talk about it

We thought it was enough to have in our minds

the image of the home

of its open mouth screaming and its crooked teeth

We thought it was enough to bear the

violence of the ruins


We did not know that it was something that needed forgiveness,

that we were still steeped in the decay that wrecked our old lives

We did not know that when we touched our new walls,

we were smearing that old destruction onto them

We did not know that pain cannot be painted over

We did not know

We forgot to talk about it



Baby on the brain


to be cocooned in the arms of a cooing parent half the day

and asleep the rest

while your face flickers

registering the something lovely that

you are dreaming


so that I laugh when you scrunch your face together and holler

your skin young and shy of melanin

– letting the red peak through –

still precious but ugly now, too


you look like a reality TV star:

hankering, grabby

your face a soon to be meme

your life one gaudy performance after another


your requests are met in seconds

a warm mouth to your cheek, hands smoothing your yet

to be kinky hair

the honey that spills from the breast or the bottle

for you, hungry bear


months later, you are plump and a little more coherent

but I will never forget all that anguish

the not knowing how to control your body

the not knowing that it is yours

your confusion at being an assemblage of limbs and pangs

at having an identity that sleep could not do away with


Sweet-thing, you knew what I know only now:

that despite what the world suggests later on

you do not own your self

you never quite will

An English student tries to explain to her lecturer why she liked the poem

books are better than people

something in her voice called to me

and I went and I went and I went

it was an infinite going,

an inexplicable love


there was response before reason,

a holiness in the liking

a divinity so sharp that it tears through whatever paper

I try to put my justification down on


this is why I can only hand you this shredded explanation,

inadequate still

inadequate always

I know what it is like to have the sea for a lover



before I realised how too-much her love was,

I went in willingly and my body was my own

she soon grew tired of that

it bored her to share me with the wind and sun

then I felt the weight of it, of her too-much love,

realised too late that I could not stomach it

I fought my way back to the sun, back to the

caring wind, writhed like a woman stung –

she was laughing at me, I think


her hand made its way down my throat

she wanted to squeeze my heart flat, I think,

to envelope me in her liquid love until I went limp with it

she was winning and she knew it

soon I lay still

I let her carry me in her formidable arms,

a bride bloated with her loving


I can credit her with this

though she is crueller than she looks,

she has kept me better than past lovers have

Not your own

STFU Donald Trump

Most of human history is one great expedition to

an elusive home

my grandfather made his own

determined sole sunk into sand

until he reached someone else’s land


I know pain but not the kind of strife

that could compel me to walk my way

into a new life

onto land I do not own

so that I can make a home


when I hear that he and his kind are ‘foreigner’ and ‘makwerekwere’ and ‘leach’

I cannot help but think of dead feet

knees sinking onto soft grass

a bursting heart

and eyes stinging

my own life, my own beginning

Letter to my first love

Even if I now saw you
only once,
I would long for you
through worlds,

  • Izumi Shikibu

So this is how it’s going to go down:

ten years from now you’ll call me

we’ll laugh throughout the conversation

no more tears

the time for tears has gone

we’ll make dinner plans and I’ll be flattered because you’ve found a way to make room for me

a way that doesn’t hurt

no more hurt

the time for that has gone, too


dinner will be incredible

I’ll tease you about your success

you’ll whip out my first novel in response and make me sign it for you

a cloud will come over my face – I am struggling to get through the second one

you’ll coax that anxiety out of me

you were always good at that

I could never hide from you


to distract me

you’ll show me your family

and my heart will burst

you are all so, so beautiful together


I’ll tell you about my travels, all the places I’ve left my heart behind

notably, it’s no longer in your hands

you’ll bristle, just a little, at the fact that I don’t write about you anymore

and I’ll tease you for your conceit


at the end, you will kiss my cheek and squeeze my hand

our hearts will tighten in unison

so will other things

but no


I’ll go home and three thousand words into the novel that did not want to be

I’ll send you a message thanking you

for everything



do not be mistaken

I love you still

(and always, probably)

I do not begrudge you your happiness

I ask you only one thing:

do not begrudge me my sanity



yours through worlds



the sad ones are pretty too

he told me that the prettiest girls are the happy ones

that all that smiling made him think of rainbows curling the right side up

I told him to find my smile in my feet

in the curl of my toes housed in boots not thick enough to keep out the cold

in the curl of the skin that sags under my eyes

in the curl of my tired body hugging itself

in the curl of my reaching hand

reaching for caffeine, my bag, phone

reaching for reasons to get out of bed