Let’s both be thankful
that the drinks you’ve been serving me
don’t have alcohol
because I’m so good
at making things uncomfortably awkward
when I’ve lost my ability to consider logic.
I would have already non-consensually scribbled
embarrassing things about your eyes or smile
on beer-stained receipts,
not remembering what I wrote the next day,
wishing all ink was invisible.
It’s not that I regret learning the alphabet,
it’s that putting letters in order to make words
has rarely worked well for me.
So now I’m using a clear head
and I’m speaking with sober speech
to say thank you for all the lemonade.
February 19, 2017, 1:34am, Olympia, Wa.
The Plum Street Jack in the Box parking lot.
I just wanted an unreasonable amount of tacos
on my way home from the bar.
I just wanted it to be like most other Saturday nights
after writing and drinking hopped inspiration
and waking up the next morning grateful I got home safe.
Officer Michael Peters
came to my driver’s side window
because, in his own words and in a memory I can’t seem to find,
he observed me gently swerving
within the lane I was traveling in.
He smelled the intoxicating odor of alcohol
and asked me for things on paper I fumbled to find.
He had me perform regulation field sobriety tests
which I started too soon
and eventually added to a long list of failures.
According to the police report,
I had a lack of smooth pursuit
which has been the story
I’ve stuck to for too long.
I couldn’t keep my balance
even though I’ve always been good
at balance beams and cul de sac curbsides.
I was then advised that I was being arrested
for driving under the influence of alcohol and bad habits.
I was cuffed in gauged double-lock handcuffs
without incident which means I didn’t try to fight the truth.
Nisqually Towing took custody of my car
while the Olympia police department
took custody of me.
Once back at the precinct,
I was escorted to a room
where I would breathe into a machine
that would expose the not so secret level of how drunk I was.
I blew a .16 which is twice the legal limit.
Twice the legal limit to not be in a state of mind
where I could have killed myself or someone else.
That particular night I drank two 22oz. glasses of a beer
with 7.5% alcohol by volume without having eaten all day.
That’s 15% of regret that I shouldn’t have put in my body.
The boxes checked on the police report stated
that my clothes were orderly,
my attitude cooperative and laughing,
my eyes watery,
my face flushed,
and my speech slurred.
When he asked me if I believed my ability to drive
was affected by my alcohol and/or drug usage
my answer was “yeah”.
Because sitting in an uncomfortable chair
in a police station didn’t warrant a “no”.
I spent president’s day weekend in jail.
It’s isolating and heavy
with doors that close like thunder.
It offers up the perfect opportunity
to get stuck in your own head,
to be in jail and prison at the same time.
And I’m just gonna assume
that the officer who pulled me over
saved a lot of lives that night.
Including my own.
I’m meeting with 3 different types of treatment groups
so we can talk about our nightmares.
I am doing the most difficult work I’ve ever done for myself
instead of drinking myself into a ghost.
And while I’m legally obligated to soul search,
to find the version of me that I actually like,
I’m more than eager for this rescue mission
because no one can do this
without really wanting to stay alive.
She called us survivors.
That word came fervently out of her mouth
and into our ears,
our hearts not quite knowing how to cope
with the possibility of ever feeling worthy again.
We have each other’s stories stuck in our teeth.
Our sorrows, like campfire smoke,
deep in the threads of our clothes.
With unnatural lighting
and a certain kind of eagerness,
we take it all in,
each voice a different wound to tend to.
We are broken but hardly defective,
listening intently to a language
they’ve learned to speak well.
We all watch these fires burn together.
We all watch the falling tears fail to put them out.
And we’re gonna need so much more than saltwater
and so much less than words
to keep the place from burning down.
You already have so many of my secrets
to dissect with a hungry curiosity
but I will keep this certain kind to myself.
I will keep these day dreams,
these moonlight wishes,
this note-in-a-high school-locker crush
in the safest place I know,
where light can’t touch it.
I lit these feelings on fire
and sent them into the universe
as ashes instead of burdens,
hoping some kind of magic exists
because while you are beautiful,
you are still trespassing
in thoughts you’re not welcome in.
At least I can still look you in the eyes
without you noticing how much
I am yelling on the other side of my teeth
that you are the rollercoaster loops
my stomach can barely handle.
That you bring me enough butterflies to fill a house.
And that no matter how loud I get,
I will never let you hear my voice.
will always be the best lullaby
to sing me to sleep.
Play me ocean waves
and I will recite all of the poems
I write in my head
as I lie awake in the dark.
Give me thunderstorms
and I will only remember
how loud my own lightning is.
Tell me to close my eyes,
bring me the smell of lavender,
and I will see every mistake I’ve ever made
play out on a film reel
projecting to the backs of my eyelids.
One the days my heart
spills through my mouth
and into someone else’s ears
are the days I sleep best.
They are the days
I almost burst at the seams.
We poets write with calloused fingers and sore wrists.
We read with trembling hands and vibrant voices,
bleeding ourselves until almost empty,
tracking footprints back to our seats
to shake it all off.
We are always getting used to
being naked in front of an audience.
We have all said things into a microphone
that we’ve barely had the courage to say to ourselves
so that our honesty can exist somewhere with sound.
My grandma died without knowing why or when.
She died without knowing who I’ve become
over the last 9 years of my transition
from one person to another,
an identity I’m still not completely used to.
I thought of her when a midwest-style thunderstorm
recently crashed its way into us,
we who lie among mountains
and a temperate rain forest.
The wind ripped the trees,
their splintered halves reaching through
broken power lines.
The lightning, jagged and bright,
and the rain, heavy on our skylights.
I spent the first 22 years of my life living
in the middle of this country,
in the square footed state of Missouri,
among flat land and humid summers.
We watched the sky turn certain shades of green and black.
We felt the air turn electric
and heard the distant sound of the tornado sirens.
Hearing them back then terrified me,
hearing them now would be music to my ears
because that is how much I miss those storms.
The familiar names of affected counties
would scroll by at the bottom of the tv
during regularly scheduled programming.
The kind of rain we get in this corner rarely brings thunder
but when it does,
I am happily reminded of my first home.
I am happily reminded that between the ages of 10 and 14,
my grandma would come pick me up.
Her calmness calmed me
while we’d watch The Golden Girls.
She kept me safe from the storms she used love so much.
If she were still alive,
she might call me brave.
And I would call her to come pick me up.