At the beginning of my 18 day trip, I decided I wanted to write at least one poem every day. And so I did… well, almost. If I missed a day, I wrote a poem the next day about the previous day. And sometimes, there was just too much to write about for one poem, so I wrote two. These poems are mostly unedited, unlimited, uncensored, just as they ended up on the page. Many were scrawled in the nonsensical moments right before sleep. And yes, that’s a lot of words. But here they are.

journey, the world keeps on spinning

train lurching past
one two one two
train lurching softly
whisking me away from here

winter brown fields
hawk spread in air
alighting in an edge tree
a nest belonging to someone

ice, clean, ice, innocence
white blue ice
frosted mirror spreading
half frozen precarious beauty

trees, tall bare trunks
regal pine dark, close
thin snow gracing ground
bitter cold, glistening embrace

crisp sky, litter beneath bridge
bright splash of graffiti
primary colors bubble blocky
black outlined, playful

rowhouses, horizontal stacked
faded shades
tired, regal
sagging grey shingles

crying woman on her cell
blues and greens, scarf tied ‘round her head
tears, past caring who may hear
a daughter lost in childbirth
prayer, Jesus, please be here

quiet heartbreak
dark sharp deep
pang, something I know
I can be a hand to hold

my heart cries
with you, eyes water
a pain not my own
yet mine

leaving the familiar
chest aches with step into unknown
excitement, yes, swirls, small
but lonely, oh so lonely

empty seat next to mine
memories of your word and touch
as others’ homes
blow me by.

It’s snowing in Prospects Park.
Quiet bootsteps on semi-packed snow
The trees, the white path
The stillness
Remind me of the time
Perhaps a year ago exactly
When the three of us walked
Through forest snow
Fresh and full of awe
Hushed beauty.
I ache for you
Feeling quite alone in this new world.
But the Tigger onesies
Orange and yellow
Bright and odd
Two people skiing complete with tails
With their dog across the field
Make me stop,
And smile.

I tap her on the shoulder
she’s so glad to see me
I wonder if she’s seeing
the same person I think she is
can’t help it—
a grin splits my face too
and I laugh as her arms
wrap around me
and tighten like they’ll never let go
she says something to B.
about me being amazing
just for existing
how could she know
that’s just what I needed
to hear
just needed to see
someone’s face light up
just because I’m there.

I have always felt
that beautiful things
are meant to be touched
perhaps this is why
the branch of an evergreen
the veins in your forearm
and the thick painted pages
of this sketchbook
seem an infinite universe
at my fingertips
meant to be reveled in
with lit eyes
and a quiet smile
perhaps this is why
when I behold the moon
and the two people watching
below it
or the green, red, blue tree
and its treehouse
I can only think of you.

leaving home
always hurts
this messy apartment
the creaking wood floors
the leak in the ceiling
his warm, fuzzy hug
walking into the dark
causes a pull hard deep
but I’m too tired to cry
home is people
home is souls in connection
home is love
and that’s why missing you
is the greatest void
I can never fill

snow on green metal roof
black rock of wet mountain
swathed in mist
and white air
rain pattering down
making wide window ledges
cozy spaces
I want to crawl into
and disappear
I belong here
yet I don’t
it is beautiful
and yet I ache

you’re the musician!
the girl at the counter exclaims
I guess I am—
I’m just a girl
who likes to play her guitar
and sing
but when I pluck my courage
with the strings and vocal chords
and let the last note
of the first song fade
people clap.
soon, there’s a tip in my jar.
I’m getting into the music.
the night is dark and snowy
and bitter cold
I trudge back up the hill
feeling the knot by my shoulder blades
tighten and ache
from carrying the heavy case.
but when I open the door
my whole class erupts
in cheers.
why didn’t you tell us?
they say, like I’ve done
something big.
and for a moment,
I wonder if I have.

we name our heater Harold
Harold the Angry Heater
because he makes clanking
banging, crescendoing noises
that keep us up at night
although the room is icy cold
ice on the windowpanes
a cinderblock refrigerator.
the maintenance girl comes
and I go to lunch.
A. approaches me—
‘so she found a little alligator!’
she says, ‘with a hammer.
they’re going to rehome him
at 1:30.’
oh, Harold is an alligator.
not a heater.
perhaps he was just
trying to get out.
we talk to another student.
his heater is making noises too.
it must be an armadillo,
we say.
pushing along a little ball
with her nose.
plip-plopping quickly along
on little legs.
‘oh,’ he says. ‘I’ll leave her treats
and she’ll come out and play cards with me.’
we nod. that is the only
obvious solution.

neon tutus
tights, legwarmers
side ponytails
red laser lights
floating across floor
arms moving
in silly beat—
I do not belong here.
not because
I wasn’t alive in the 80s.
not because
I’m too young to drink.
not because
I don’t have a costume.
not because
I’m awkward at dances anyway.
I am not happy.
and this is why
I do not belong.

sometimes hiding away
is the best thing you can do
for yourself
open the inner window pane
swing it wide
feel the freed layer of cold
seeping quietly in
see the almost silent snow
kids tracking sleds far below
pillow behind back
lean against window ledge edge
pay attention to your heart
comfort in familiar shows
hug stuffed animal close
and let yourself just be
whatever that may be

really good poetry
is like breathing
like someone’s pouring starlight
into my lungs
I just sit with lips parted
like I’m waiting for a kiss
as goosebumps take me
in waves
and something burns a little
inside my veins
and yet, it cannot satisfy
when I walk into the night
bitter cold, the kind that bites,
icy grey slush under boots
I speak to you through the stars
and wish for an answer
to fill me.

I look into the mirror
straight into my eyes
and try to see
the girl that you saw
the girl I was then
the girl deep inside
the girl that’s the best me
the girl that’s whole.
it’s meant to be a good thing
but I fast realize
it’s too painful
way, way too painful
shattered chest blaring
‘extraction should not be attempted.’
oh yes, she’s still in there
she’s quite real
she did indeed exist
and it was wonderful
alive in color and movement
connected existence
but without you
she cannot come out.
I do not blame her
for her innocent refusal
her inability.
she shakes her head, shrugs
I cannot.
I nod.
I let her be.

snow sifts down
floating in a silver
misty sky
wet, large flakes
frosting every delicate tree
I stick my tongue out
to catch the falling cold
‘lazy snow,’ A. calls it
and she is right
the beauty surrounds me
I am walking in it
I wish to be of it
watching world through
flaking window pane
peeling white paint
fogging glass looking out
at magical shrouded evergreens
and down at children
dragging sleds
tracking through smooth field
stories swirl around me
the air is full of them
good and bright, dark and lonely
I cannot escape them
the voices murmur
asking me to feel
asking me to connect
asking me to remember
asking me to dig deep
to bring out handfuls
of the rich dirt inside
I am like a piece of pottery
thin and brittle clay
ready to shatter
from this aching
a string pulled taught
straight to you

she says
‘your story idea
reminds me of The Little Prince’
and all of a sudden
I’m all choked up
I remember
magical music from the credits rolling
dark bedroom
you next to me
I remember
last residency
walking to the bookstore
buying a copy of The Little Prince
(and Mary Oliver’s Felicity)
reading them aloud to myself
the isolation of my bedroom
crying all the way through
a tear sneaks onto the page
a permanent warped puddle
I remember
placing it on my college shelf
unable to open it since
I remember
drawing baobab trees
taken over my scribbled black planet
no rose
no rose
no rose
I remember
dreaming up a story
of two kids looking for home
and finding it in each other
I remember
‘it reminds me of The Little Prince’
she says
my hands go to my face
my eyes fill up
‘thank you’
I say
‘that means so much to me’

all around
he says cupcakes
I think cream cheese icing
she says
we had a tree of apple fritters
at our wedding
no cake
and I think of sneaking
a bite of yours
I am always
at war with myself
hammering at boarded up
I wish I could just
let them all in
but I can’t.

grey fur
white splashes
velvet nose
so much less soft
than when you held him
so much more time
spent in my arms
a small soothing comfort
as I missed you
I said, I hurt so much
I will hold you close
I said, I remember too much
I will hide you in my closet
I said, I cannot breathe
I will hold you just for tonight
and tonight turned into weeks
tucked under my chin
clutched close to the hollow
of my chest
some thing inside begins
to unclench
just a little
just enough
a vulnerable kind of relief
a release of tension
I remember how
you kept him for two nights
when we were staying away
from each other
I remember how I took him along
on nights beautiful and hard
there’s still traces of pine sap
on his left bottom paw
it’s funny how something
can become so much more
than anything I thought
it would ever

today the graduates
said goodbye to a place
and people
that had been their dearest home.
I felt with them but knew
it is not mine.
it is hard to find home
in a place
when mine lives in memory
pancake parties
in a faerie lit room.
it is hard to find home
in people
when my heart still rests
where I left it
in your hands.
and anyway
even if I’d never been there
even if I’d never met you
this would not
be my home.
and so tomorrow
I move on from here
and I am ready.

I pop the latches on my guitar case
one, two, three, four
sit cross-legged on the cold sidewalk
pull the strap over my head
begin to strum
push my voice to reach out
stretch over the streets
my hat is my tip jar
and I am surprised when
dollar bills tumble in
strum till fingers numb
warm them, a moment
then strum again
strangers stop
strangers smile
strangers say, you have a beautiful voice!
strangers say, aren’t you cold?
strangers say, do you write your own music?
I laugh, and answer
more comfortable with the strangers
than people I know
or feel like I should.
strangers owe me nothing
and I owe nothing to them
but somehow
we meet in the middle.
time trickles on
legs protest
as I finally stand
guitar back in its home
snap, snap, snap
and I wait for the bus
ready to be just another person
who was here
and then was gone.

I wonder if I could be
happier as a wanderer—
freed from feeling like
I’m ‘supposed to’ belong
somewhere in particular
with someones in particular
perhaps people would put fewer
‘supposed to’s on me
perhaps I would but fewer
‘supposed to’s on myself
perhaps I could just let myself
be me
perhaps I could more constantly
find this in-between
the compromise
of living and wanting
because on this day
in this unrooted world
I am content to be in motion
I am content to ache a little
I am content with being
with my joys and sadnesses
I am okay with just me
just for today
to be with friends
and be alone
to explore this city
that doesn’t know me
to let my feelings
do what they will
but not drown me
to feel both light and dark—
to accept myself.
and I want to hold on to this
this okay-ness
for more than just

last night we sat on the couch
two almost strangers
and became friends
sipping thick red port
I found I kind of liked—
sweet at first
although later it burns a bit
going down.
we talk honestly
words flowing naturally,
never forced.
we talk about holes.
about how sometimes a loss
leaves a hole you will feel
for the rest of your life,
and how it’s so easy to be
with people when they can’t
fill the holes in the way
that one person did and yet
we expect them to—
no, not quite right,
we just want them to.
we speak of how
we should embrace many people,
many people who each help fill
one of the many facets
of who we are,
wondrous, complex
they can’t fill the whole hole.
I should stop
being disappointed, feeling
let down.
we should notice how
their many spirits
fill up our many different places,
and who knows,
she says,
maybe we’ll find people
who fill up something
we look at each other
with smiles that speak of more
than just happiness
finding truth, and safety,
in each other’s hearts.

the unrelenting rain, downpour
floods the streets
sheets of water
whooshing up to get me
as tires sush through
indifferent to my walking there.
I find refuge in Turkish coffee shop,
used bookstore, Raven,
the museum where I read poetry,
where I step inside
the huge stained-glass globe
the world mapped out in light and color
frozen in the moment
of its making.
I am mesmerized,
the wond’ring inner child and
fierce knowing girl inside me
both stand together beneath the North Star
listen to the acoustics like a microphone
look at where you and I are, and have been,
and will be
and whisper,
those three words,
always those three words,
hoping the magical globe will catch them
and whisk them away to you.