Smile like a torn sail, 
bravado can be a
current before ever

just brave,

children hesitate or
tremble, my

own hands, too.

A father’s photograph
on the shelf,
my mother’s plane
she made her symbol, too

though he was first the pilot-

I can hold
without a sound.

I listen to music
when I’m afraid,
place headphones over
what I held onto

of things known before
I became this version
of me, to calm

the old panic
that doesn’t come
too often anymore.

It’s not that I don’t
know how bad it could be,
only that the fear

doesn’t matter, only
joy at the end,
love and

what remains of
your self that fear
would try to


The fragile cord
hand over hand

that holds me to grief

I say, ‘quiet’
as it tries to

same way the ocean
waves lull into peace
or acceptance, I
tap out


And have so little tolerance
for any pretense,
though I care

a person hurts
maybe because pretense
and lies take energy.

Same old gravity
I’ve always been,
even when John left

because the world was too
hard for him, or my friend
dragged me down the stairs
that night after slipping

something in my drink,
and much later

pounding my feet against
a bathroom door to
keep it closed,

same old gravity
of knowing

what shouldn’t be known,

and I am lighter
than seems right
because of it.

I remember how my mom
was beautiful, but I knew
her haunted words-

she gave me a script
I’ve spent half a lifetime


So let the night be night

slow down and watch
the hummingbirds’
quick hover

their lovely,
brief life,

the dog’s paw casually
upon my knee as
she sleeps means

I am her safety, now,
how I needed for so long;

I want to not be the one
left behind, but I really
think it’s just the way

of life,

and when I ran before,
I became abstract/

blurred around the
edges until

I could stop to build
what was needed of myself,

I think it was necessary,
because where I started
wanted to stay an
endless night

and I had so little
to stand on.

Hand that touches petals that
could be violent, hand
that holds instead-

my love will never involve
death of self for me
to stay,


I hold the truths that
seemed more complicated
than they are

where I had to keep
some truths separate
from others like,

a person can have goodness
and be terrible, and
I may love them
though they’re too hurt
to not hurt others:

if looking hard enough
even the people we call evil
or just say, have done
terrible things

have good qualities,

but it doesn’t mean
they are redeemable,

it doesn’t mean you
should not protect
your self as if

you were told
your life meant less
than their own

from too young an age
to know the truth
without pain,

we are encouraged to forgive
before we understand what it means
from people who don't know forgiveness

and we skip over the fact
that love of self comes first,
acknowledging pain comes first.

After mom is gone, I can love
the best parts of her
and the best of

all she gave me

and hold her truth
for her, hold her leaving
before she left even
and unanswerable
her need to run far
and run often

to persist/ I
hold her

I think I’m a little proud
of my softness after
it all, of my anger

that bakes beneath
and makes me
quietly relentless
in things

and glad to have been
the daughter of a
philosopher of sorts

and lucky,
I had him, too
along with the quickness
she gave me, and her
heart like a butterfly,

never needing
any one thing

so I could become all the ways
needed to survive, or at least
to know what I needed to do
before I could know them
reading all the words

that came before me

like what the Stoics strived for
and the very old living in
the cave of a mountain

but my own way
and most definitely not,

I could never just trust
what someone said

and asked endless
questions, which
I guess is what happens

when the reality you grow in
is unreliable, and you learn
to trust out of loyalty alone
is dangerous.

The old thoughts
like jagged rocks
tumbling year
over year


as much as a tumbling
stone can become
until ready to sit

at the water’s edge to
let the waves do
the rest

is more than enough-
to see then a torn sail
like the possibility it is,

incredibly beautiful

and questions ever simpler
than they could be before,
like is a boat on the ocean
ever truly lost.