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.


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 me 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.


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.


I’d like to be what keeps you warm
instead of the coat
that hangs over your chair
but my arms aren’t permitted
to be wrapped around you.
I leave
and hope you miss me too.
I think you know
that I want to love you.
That this isn’t so fleeting.
At least, not as far as I can tell.
But I’ll keep wishing
for anyone else
to trade places with you.
To be within reach
because you and I together
is just a daydream.
Something that happens
only when I close my eyes.
A flower that hides its petals
until it’s the right time to bloom.


Your eyes today,
in the sun,
from the window in your office…
they brought me in
and I was too shy
to keep looking
so I turned away
like I always do.
The floor,
the wall,
anything not beautiful
to keep me grounded.
You are cracking my ribs
with all of the space you occupy
but I don’t mind the noise or the pain.
This feeling
won’t be caged by bones.
I am lying in bed
wondering how to put it all back together
and how it all broke in the first place.


The international symbol for being fragile
is a broken martini glass on the side of a cardboard box.
It’s never been anatomical hearts,
fractured bones,
crooked spines,
bruised self-esteems,
or anything else you shouldn’t bend
for fear of breaking.
How else would sense of self
even be illustrated?
Too many times
we have quantified fragility in things
forgetting that we, too, are just as easily broken.