Poem for the Week of the 17th

Cause and Affection

So we drive
to Mary’s home, get stoned,
vow to never go out alone,
howl at the moon and ask her parents for subaru loans
all for a good cause
all for the good taste of young problems

And the man I love sleeps upstairs,
thinking I love less him
and more splitting hairs,
but eye contact is what I want, to know he cares
and that it’s more the weed
and less that he’s scared—
all for a good cause
all for the sweet print he pressed on to me

Still I stupidly worry
the roads will crumble under our feet,
leave all of us bewildered with nothing to eat,
no one to cook for, no common talk
to remind and to greet,
no thickly built homestead to shelter
from snow, rain, or sleet—
all for no cause
all for the old ache of worry I’ve learned to grow myself

We are home again, listening,
loving through walls,
reminiscing about old jobs and cleaning out stalls,
and despite the routine
I still feel enthralled
all for this cause
all for the life we are lifting from stone
all for the farm, the future, the unknown

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Poem for the Week of August 10th

In Guardian’s Stead

I want to say I learned to fold laundry like this from my mother
but she always screamed at inside-out shirts
and mismatched outfits
so maybe folding laundry like this
is something I learned
from love
instead

I learned to labor like this from my father
who taught me about circuits and resistors
but my heart doesn’t turn to ash in my mouth
if I’m confronted by something outside of work
and so maybe my toiling, 
the cooking and cleaning,
clipping and boiling,
is the toiling of love
instead

I learned to settle into this body
to touch yours with soft paw, warm palm
Something reciprocal awoke within me,
a hunger to be met, recognized, and fulfilled
I think this time the skill came from you
and from being treated like love
instead of left alone
with stripped wires and dirty laundry

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Poem for the Week of August 3rd

Making Hay

Tuesday gets overcast before 3pm
but I will have the floors swept
and the cigarette butts will be neatly gathered from the alley
before nightfall

My good attitude never rests 
though sometimes she grumbles

Maybe my goodness
was never that great

But when I come home starving
ready to howl and snap like gale force winds
and thick maple branches in storms
I feel great

because I can reign in the lightning
and with only a little brassy ozone
in my tone
I can ask you

If you are hungry, too,
if you are crumbling, too,
and when you smile
and say yes
like I can fix you

the clouds are more transparent
if only for a moment
if only for a Tuesday afternoon

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Poem for the Week of July 27th

Visiting Hours

These are the darkest hours, not from weeping
or lack of sunlight, or even sadness
just the empty red sun setting
on cat fur and hollow water glasses

These are the darkest hours, between pills
and no pills, magic in my head
or in my bloodstream

When does the sun set on coping mechanisms,
on serotonin and inhibitors, on semi-starvation
and slim hips? 

I’ve never had an illness that tied me
to hospital beds and get-well-soon cards, but maybe
I should have

Maybe I would have learned some generosity
of spirit, some perseverance in my work ethic,
some better medical analogies and genetics
fraught with something more tangible, 
less tragic

I’m not envious of broken bodies
just the heartbeat that would so easily prove
I am well

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Poem for the Week of July 20th

Born Indoors on a Wednesday

This willful child between my ears is throwing a tantrum again
and while I love her
and seek to treat her like she erupted
from my own womb
it’s not that easy— 
because she constantly erupts into headaches,
and piercings and scars and haircuts

I just want to tell her, sweetheart,
please stop crying,
there is no such thing as closure
and therefore no possible way
that you are missing out

And there is no such thing as perfection
so stop counting your pores,
sebaceous filaments,
keloids, tiny pimples, puckering piercing holes,
because they are innumerable
like stars
like spots on tiger lillies
like pebbles on the beach
like the freckles you love so much
on fashion models and your best friend

Just because our bodies have been chopped
and photoshopped
doesn’t mean nature has given in
to a powder-pressed reality just yet

Sweet child, spend some time with a tiger
and you’ll realize that your emotions
are the least fearful thing in this world:
all bark, no bite; all paw, no claw

And you’ll realize that stripes
are not just for scars,
prison jumpsuits,
stretch marks, cut lines,
underwear, endings:
they are horizons,
they are river mouths,
they are careful lines on a map to paradise

Poem for the Week of July 13th

Story For the Child Who is Old Enough

When your mother was young and very explosive,
she was ripped into pieces by the force
of her life under compression
She was still alive, but she kept breaking
and breaking, just sewing herself
back together

Now, momma wasn’t always this good
with a needle and thread
and sometimes the pieces missing were so big
that a doctor had to help her
put herself together
and sometimes the pieces would open up again
and sometimes the seams would heal
but they would be uneven and thick

One day, your mother’s mother
saw that she was having trouble
knitting her skin back together,
and she saw the lumpy seams 
of your mother’s inexperienced stitches
and she said, “Someday, we will file down your arms
and your legs and we will fix you, like new”

But your momma had worked hard
on her seams and her new skin
and her explosions always happened for a reason
so what was the point of pretending
that her cherry bombs had never been detonated?
Of pretending like she’d never seen
a firework before?

So she ignored her mother and went back to playing with fire
which was bad
but she learned to be safe with it
which was good
and now that same fire
keeps her heart warm
and sometimes hot when she needs it
but never hot enough to burn you, dear one,
when she holds you
in her spread out, quilt-like arms

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Poem for the Week of July 6th

Crystals, Insects

We met like fireflies meet over fields, vaguely
attracted by lights in the night without eyes

We met in some kind of make-believe oasis,
like there might be poetry flowing through the veins
of our neighbors (it’s always nice to think
your house is not the only one on fire)
but you turned out to be real water

And I turned out to be real ice, a cave of crystals
on the inside, but goodness
I glow green tonight

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Poem for the Week of June 29th

Lines of Best Fit (Convenience)

I’ve lived cramped in a small space like the barrel of a pill
with all my good intentions and kind inventions amplified
where I thought the electricity
of my own body might kill me

This might have been around the time I thought
about how living so cramped isn’t living at all,
about how a pill could be a shotgun if you could get your toes
around the trigger,
and you flew out west with a woman I never heard of
It wasn’t anything to do with me
but I still noticed you were gone

I’ve always wanted to live on top of mountains
Have you beaten me there yet?
What’s it like to have the sky
as your patio?
The desert as your deck?

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Poem for the Week of June 22nd

Delta

I am only in love with myself in a sea of darkness
but keeping track of numbers is not the same as drowning
this time

This time, it’s not about the blood on my hands
or trapped inside my body, it’s about the blood
pumped through my body by the power of longing

This time, it’s about the longing

Who hasn’t been a tiny girl, raising hands up to ask,
What is that? Why is it so small? When will I be a tree?
And the yearning for a sweet-mouthed reflection
bragging on long gams doesn’t go away
but this time, it’s about the yearning
and not the mirror’s image of the girl who yearns

Wanting is enough, baby girl, wanting is magic
It is through wanting you will find what you need
You will learn to be your own river,
holy water flowing from your fertile mouth

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