Accidental Heart

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The Dust Will Settle

One day,
you will be a memory of someone
who’s catastrophic beauty
no longer fills me with the rage
of wanting to love you.
These feelings will feel
even more ridiculous
than they do right now.
I will cringe at every poem
I’ve ever written about you.
Except this one.
I think this one is progress.

Letter to an Inmate

(I sent this letter I wrote to a friend from one of my treatment groups who recently went to federal prison.)

Dear C.,

The sky is grey today and it will probably rain again. Maybe you already know what the weather is like. Maybe the bars on the windows don’t completely obstruct the outside. Or maybe there are no windows for you to look out of and wish you were on the other side of the glass. My guess is that you don’t even need windows to wish you still had your freedom.

I remember when you first started coming to group. You were shy and barely spoke. It wasn’t hard to tell that you were angry, sad, and scared. Over time, you began to open up and the changes were noticeable. I truly believe that these changes will help guide you and keep you safe during the next 2 years. You have a good heart. Remember to put your hand over it once in a while to feel it beating so you know you’re alive and that your life isn’t over.

I hope you still have the rock that A. gave you. Group isn’t the same without you. I hope you have warmth behind those cold walls.

Take care,

James

Breathe Them In

Growing up,
the other kids always said
that holding your breath
while passing a cemetery
would keep the spirits
from entering through your mouth.
As if a thousand families
would have to visit your house
just to mourn their loved ones.
You’d have to hope
that your gag reflex
could handle so many ghosts,
that your throat wouldn’t get sore,
your heart wouldn’t get heavy.
That you wouldn’t end up
with bleeding lungs
from coughing up the dead.

Office Door

You left your door wide open
but you were already
gone for the day.
Everyone’s secrets
were in the hallway
escaping the darkness
of your office.
They were in a language
all of us can understand.
They wanted to be found
and dissected
like animals
in a high school science class
for the credit
of getting through all the pain.
I asked the front desk
if you meant to leave
everything so vulnerable,
if you needed some space from it all.
The girl working said no
and that she’d go back there
to lock everything that got out back up.
I hope when you get there in the morning
it’s not all too much to handle.
I hope you remember
to lock up next time.

Naked

My bare and restless chest
is lit up from the glow of this screen
and right this second and always,
I am so frustrated
that I can’t send you
every love note
I compose for you.
I am naked
except for socks.
I am naked
except for these words.
You could read
all of the writing on my skin
and ask what it means to me.
I would tell you every story
behind each inked line.
I hope you wouldn’t get bored.
I hope you’d stay.

Garden

Inhale dirt,
exhale flowers.
My lungs are gardens
with roots tangled,
reaching deep
to where the earth sees no light,
where hands find cold mud.
Rows of spring
line my throat,
my heart beats blooms from my chest.
Tulips, daisies, moonflower, and poppies
all collected into bouquets.
I am part of the healing wounded,
knowing softness better than I used to.