When I was 17,
we met at the local coffee shop,
before Starbucks was a thing.
You side-long glanced at me,
over your book.
I noticed instantly
and was unable to be coy.

You were jaded —
freshly burned.
Her name was Noelle.
A few months later,
you showed me a strip of black-and-white
photo booth pictures —
smiling, tongues sticking out,
Noelle nestled comfortably in the frame.
You were looking for a rebound.
I didn’t know how to be someone’s rebound.

I was sharing a condo with roommates.
You moved into the tiny nook
near the stairs.
Rent was cheap.
I was a pawn.
“This doesn’t mean there’s anything
between us,”
you made sure to state.
I brushed it off, like no big deal.
But it was a huge deal.
You ate at me
through the walls.

I had a dream about you recently.
You asked if I knew where Virginia
was on the map,
but you had it covered with your finger.
It seemed like you did it on purpose.
You never wanted me to find you
or discover who you were…
another white mark on my chalkboard.
I woke up chilled,
my teeth chattering uncontrollably.


I’ve learned over the years not to hang out with people I don’t like; people who are cheap, people who aren’t funny, people who are mean or insincere. I’ve learned to say, “NO!” emphatically. I’ve learned who my true friends are. I’ve learned that I don’t have to finish reading a book I start and can’t get into, just because a critic liked it or because someone else deemed it a classic. I’ve learned to listen to music that makes me sing (and to my daughter’s chagrin) might make me want to dance. I’ve learned not to stress as much over things I cannot control. I’ve learned not everyone will like me; I accept it and move on. I’ve learned that having a bit of chocolate after lunch makes me happy. I’ve learned that hot Chai tea soothes me and can alter my mood for the better. I’ve learned to let go a little. I’ve learned that insomnia can be productive, and that a 30-minute afternoon nap works wonders. I’ve learned the fundamentals of a person don’t change too often, so you need to accept them for who they are or walk away if their behavior is off-putting. I’ve learned to make time for the people and things I love the most. I’ve learned there are things I will never understand. I’ve learned I’ve still a lot left to learn.


We are the flowers
of carnality
raised on Wonder Bread
and after thought.

We exist
only because
we’re forced to–
because dying
seems too messy.

We spray paint
prayers to God
on our walls of insanity
then drive back
to the lap of luxury.

We join rallies and unions
but won’t commit
with both feet inside the door.

We smell like perfume
and purchase Prada
and Porches in mass.

We work this
like it will all be gone tomorrow.

Breathing is optional.