duality

there is a fork in the road
you have been staring at it for so long
deliberating, considering, weighing
it doesn’t matter if the sun is shining or the moon is high
no clarity comes from waiting or wishing or wanting
the path is split and so are you

the lack of choice is not for lack of trying
you have poured so much of yourself into this decision
every ounce of available energy
every second of extra time
given it all the focus you could muster
but the right choice eludes you just the same

you have been staring down at the road and nothing else for so long
that the fork in the path became your whole world
you stopped hearing the birds in the trees
and the crickets in the field
you lost the big wide world around you
and all it has to offer

look up.
blink into the sunlight
bathe in the moonlight
wave at the dawn or smile at twilight
this choice is not determined by the road
it is up to you

the illusion of duality is blinding
it blocks out the idea of anything else
so glance ahead but look behind and left and right as well
there are pathways through the trees and tall grasses
whether they exist already
or you have to make them yourself

womanhood

I remember the day I came home in fifth grade
and insisted that my mother
teach me how to shave my legs
She tried to talk me out of it
but I was young and fiercely adamant,
so she sighed and relented,
and I shaved my legs and pits for fifteen years
hating every single stroke
and every bump of angry razor burn
I earned with my demand

What I never told her
was the truth about why
I wanted to be allowed this next step of “womanhood”
when she asked, I replied,
“all the other girls are doing it”
(which was a lie, it was only a few)
The truth is this:
a friend of mine told me after school
that during recess, a few classmates
had been laughing at me
pointing at my dark haired hairy legs
while I sat in peaceful bliss on a jungle gym
at a mere eleven years old.

So I, young and confused and ashamed,
took on a lifelong beauty regimen I hated
until I learned the truth
about why women shave their legs-
greedy men in the early 1900s wanted to sell more fucking razors
so they marketed female hair as unhygienic or undesirable
and this lie persists a hundred years later

Beauty regimens should be a choice
not a requirement of society
Do what you want with your body
and stop letting dead old white men
dictate your one precious life

what should you look for

it took me a decade of trying to find
anything I liked enough
to be worthy of a career,
which I could only see defined as
the devotion of the majority of my adult life,
to decide to reject that idea full stop.
what a disgusting scam
to convince entire generations
that the way to fulfillment and happiness
was to devote your life to capitalism

the only thing that defines you
is your existence
so give most of your time to you
laughing with friends
and sharing great meals
listening to rainfall
and breathing in the smell of petrichor
stunning vistas in far off places
and quiet moments on a cozy couch-
whatever makes your soul sing
and your body feel at peace

there is no such thing as a small life
just an empty one

higher

Sometimes it is easy to pretend
all the things that happened to me
actually happened to someone else,
some other person who lived a different life-
that’s how far removed I feel from it now.
There are days this makes me sad,
and I pity that person and grieve for them,
but most often
I find myself grateful they survived,
that they took all those hits and falls and failures
and broke our shackles so that I could fly;
and for their sake I will never stop trying
to touch the sun

the true beauty of white

I like the color white
not the innocence of white flowers or angels
not the brilliance of wedding dresses or crisp fresh snow

No, I prefer deadly shades of white
bright light that painfully blinds you
white hot rage that fills you up from the inside out
the murderous white of waterfalls and whirlpools
the fur of a polar bear stained with a recent catch
the wall of an impenetrable snowstorm
the dead eyes of a deep sea fish
a familiar flash of white in the corner of your eye
shaped like the whisper of a ghost
I like white that’s beautiful because it’s terrifying
the kind that could caress you one moment
and kill you the next
the kind that reminds us how alive we are

you only get one

go outside and fuck up your yard
dig a hole and fill it with seashells
and scatter wildflower seeds with abandon
build a wall with a door that goes nowhere
create secret trails in the woods that lead to buried treasure
and others that lead to nothing at all
spray paint graffiti on your own house
buy mismatched dinnerware and serve a twelve course meal on it
wear a ballgown to the grocery store
and pajamas to a restaurant
roll down a hill and splash into mud
rub the wet dirt all over your arms and legs
and chase laughing neighborhood children like the bog creature you are
it’s easy to forget that you only get one-
one life, one body, one shot-
a single chance to enjoy this world and everything in it
so go outside and fuck up your yard
propriety was made up for society and it’s all bullshit anyway
keep reminding yourself
you only get one

empty lungs

the cold sea swells behind you
and you can barely take a breath before
it crashes down on you once again
all you can do is let the waves push and pull you
scraping your skin against the rocky bottom
the saltwater stinging fiercely
against your already open wounds
but the blood and pain don’t register
because all that matters is fighting
back to the surface to gasp in as much air as you can
before the next crash of dark water
overpowers and overcomes you