1. Advice for ghosts
Stop putting it off by flossing your teeth.
Press your bare shoulder against your cheek.
Feel it’s warmth and remember that you’re alive.
Most days, you are nothing but a mirror.
But for now there is solid (not quaking) ground beneath your feet
and you reflect the most honest of missteps.
you are more than eraser shavings.
Probably not, but the thought gives you butterflies.
Maybe you’re in love.
This is how you shuffle down hallways:
like the victim of a natural disaster.
Of tsunami’s and of acid rain.
You conjugate your verbs, decline your nouns,
and forget to clip your finger nails so
you leave them on the doorstep or in a basket by the river.
Most days, you remember your dreams
like flash floods or flash backs of suppressed memories.
There is no one to tell them to so
they die and melt and burn;
sizzle and dissolve in stomach acid or joint fluid.
2. Broken Umbrellas
They speak of memories, progress, and calculations but
you’d rather think of art in it’s purest form.
Heads down on desks, we are
up and around in clumps, maybe, or on number lines,
looking like mice and trying to hide.
Charismatic only in the smallest of spaces.
Wrap me up in sheets and sheets
because I keep on having dreams where
I mistake you for strangers and broken umbrellas.
3. For you, who doesn’t talk.
Little deaths of pointers and pinkies that fit in your pocket. That moment when you realize that shoes don’t have anything to do with feet and you need a ruler, a straightedge, to keep your shoulders in line because you’re a hoarder of minutes and of hours when you felt like you existed and when you stretch them out over days to keep from disappearing you are a tightrope walker but most days you are trapped within the pulpy skin of milk cartons. Most days your vision is gripped by sheets of lined paper and you lose yourself in the contours of their faces. You find pieces of yourself in their trash (empty paper bags like featureless puppets) and, in the nervous fidgeting of pens and fingers, you find repose.
4. Friday nights
I like to watch them drink their drinks:
Vodka poured from glass to aluminum.
Don’t throw stones,
don’t fold up your bones.
At least not yet, not now
when winter’s pulse is much too hard to find
and our throats are peeling
and our toenails have grown dim and blue.
Now that I’ve forgotten the cats cradle
and how to braid my fingers through
those shredded shoe laces,and
stretch myself out and into
the arms of somebody warm.
“Jumping tastes so good,”
they tell me with muddled eyes and
lucid smiles and
beads around their wrists.
I hug myself hug myself hug myself.
People look into her
eyes like chopping down trees.
She tries to find a comfortable skin to crawl into
(freckles and kneecaps),
the husk of a familiar longing.
Daylight savings has her fidgeting,
painting gluttony on the walls because
she never feels more herself than
when the water is trickling
(rainy days she spends in space).
But for the most part
she’s an amputee
never trusting her own lips or ears.
Her body betrays her and she strings
sacrifices and sympathy into necklaces,
Jewelry she sells like
or saltines to settle her stomach
(on ferries and trains and after panic attacks.)
The only way she knows how to love people is with her eyes
as if there are ghosts
inside her that
have something to say.
If you looked close enough
perhaps you’d see her
mantra tugging at
the corners of her lips:
you are here you are here you are here.
Age 15, Grade 10
Bard High School Early College