Accepting the Facts

by Julia Alexander

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about

This is Julia Alexander's first full length album of spoken word poetry. It took half a year to write and record in its entirety.

credits

released November 1, 2013

This album would never have been finished without the help of a bundle of cutie pies.

This album was recorded by Ryan Higgins (in our basements and at our dining room tables in Longmeadow MA and Somers CT and also in Browne Hall at RIC). He really did all the hard stuff. I just rambled for a few hours a day. None of this would have ever been finished without him and I am very grateful for all his help and cuddles.

The majority of this album was written in my dorm room at Rhode Island College in Providence while I was skipping class.

Thank you to Spoken at RIC for giving me feedback on Voluntary Burdens and On Realizing the Leaves Will Change Regardless. (It was very nice meeting all of you and I am very selfish for dropping out at the end of the semester. I will miss you all very much.)

The album art is a picture of Caroline Alexander sitting under Kayla's car. We were playing hide and seek. She won.

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about

Julia Alexander Connecticut

I'm a part time poet and a full time cry baby. If you get too close to me, I'll write a really emotionally confusing poem about you. It'll be exhausting for both of us.

To contact Julia for inquires of all sorts e-mail juliaalexanderpoetry@gmail.com
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Track Name: Oxygenate
On the day I was born,
I was lined up with all the other broken matchsticks.
My parents waited for them to mend their shifty handiwork.
They convinced each other that they deserved every breath
they pushed into each other’s lungs.
The silence fogged the windows of our matchbox hospital.
It was only broken by the noises
of beeping machine and rushing bodies as
they lit my flame.
They shocked my tiny frame back to life.
The day I started burning my stars spelled out
that I’d always be afraid of burning to my end.
I was given a name that means youth.
How fitting for me to fear all other options.

Sometimes I still feel like a broken matchstick in that hospital
because my lungs are too small for the rest of me.
I can never suck in enough air to blow up these
popped balloons laying limp in my chest.
My body works like a compass.
It has always pointed me in the direction of the cleanest air.
It pulls me,
guiding me only to places where I can expand my lungs fully.
I hope the needle never breaks
because it has been sending me straight into your arms.
With our hands intertwined I take breaths as wide as oceans.
When you’re not here, I can still taste saltwater.
I still pull pieces of you out of my every thought.

I have electricity pulsing through my fingertips
reminding me that my heart is still beating.
I shock myself, having resurrections in your arms every night.
You always know how to light my broken matches.
You’re here to blow air into my lungs.
When I’m with you I realize that my heart is still beating.
I understand that I am just a machine full of pieces
that have never worked quite right.
I’m grateful to know good mechanics.

I breathe in your arms, expanding my lungs.
Rhythmic and calm, pulsing waves onto your chest.
When I breathe freely enough to remember,
I will tell you
my fingers wait to pull poems out of the goose bumps lining your pale skin,
I feel my heart pound heavy against my bird cage ribs when you touch me,
and I fall more in love with you with each shallow breath.
Track Name: House of Cards
We sit on the floor of your basement
and stack cards into mansions.
Carefully building them up,
we are meticulous architects
until the sweeping of an arm or a heavy breath
sends them fluttering back to the carpet.
We mourn our losses quickly.
We do not focus on the dead for too long
before setting construction sites on their graves.

But, I am not always sure we can keep building.
On the night I told you to go to hell
a part of me expected you to say
you were already there.
I braced for impact in the passenger seat of your car.
My knuckles turned white while I waited
for a careless hand to brush against us too hard.
My mind was made up that we ought to cut our losses
and make an amputation before the infection
is given a chance to spread.
You are silent.
You will not waste your breath.
You will not waste your breath.
You will not waste your breath trying to change
prophecies I carved into stone.
You become a broken record.
You will not waste your breath.
You will not waste your breath.
Broken record, broken record, broken prophesies I carved records into stone.
I will not waste broken prophecies.
You will breathe carved into stone.
I am a waste of your breath.

When you turned to leave that night
I realized that every word I’ve ever written has been about you.
Even before we met, every line was screaming your name.
They were just speaking a language I didn’t yet understand.

That night I dreamt your breath was a rosary
and I prayed on every bead for forgiveness
for a crime I never would commit
to a god I do not believe in.
I still cannot decide if this was a nightmare.
I woke up alone, but for some reason
a part of me expected you to be there.
This makes me wonder what it would feel like
to wake up knowing you would never be back.
I still cannot if this was a nightmare.

You eventually come back.
We cut our losses and try to not forget them
as we set up blueprints for new houses.
We are coming to accept that building
on bad foundations has gotten us nowhere.
Track Name: Poem for Readers
Poem for Readers (Past, Present, and Future)
I am lace and I am cotton,
Soft and waiting to drape myself
over you again.
I am a gap-toothed girl
Grown in rose beds with dirt
Crusted under my chewed-bloody fingernails.
I am girl raised of houses
that never stopped dripping blood.
I am a heart thick with tear drops and
even thicker with molasses laughter.
I am the heavy pounding of feet on the sidewalk
getting home on time
but just barely.
I was sitting on the shoreline praying
for full moons to take me away, and
I was lost in the thicket until
you pulled me out,
scraped knees and all,
thank you.
I am waiting and yet I am still
Running. I am a captured moment
Somewhere between barefooted hot
pavement hopscotch routines and
dancing across cool tile floors tangled in your arms,
Tangled in my own rat’s nest thoughts.
I will die and be born again
before you a hundred times on this day.
I am sitting bare-breasted, chest cracked open
words a flutter.
I am a bag of lazy bones,
presented in ribbons and high heels.
I am a sacrifice to you.
I cannot say where I am now.
I cannot say who I am now.
But I am lace and I am cotton,
Soft and waiting to drape myself
Over you
Again.
Track Name: Voluntary Burdens
“You’ll never change anyway,” you say
confident in our defeat.
You are wind blowing on a stone.
It would take too long for you to make any difference.
I do not understand why you’re still trying.
You tell me that you have grown tired
of watching me spend days curled up
turning my insides into dust.
I will never change anyway.

I am the absentee parent you were never forced to have.
I am a pill you keep trying to swallow. I keep coming back up.
I am an empty stomach closing in on herself.
I am the abandoned building collapsing in on her own foundation.
I am the wild animal who chews off her own limbs,
when she is not even trapped.
I am hands gripping tighter around my own neck.
I know you cannot fix me.
I have been waiting for you to realize it.

I am the shoes you out grew but couldn’t bring yourself to throw away,
I am the used toothbrush of an ex-lover collecting dust on your bathroom sink,
and I am skin too tight stretched across protruding bone.
My insides are trying to escape me.
Everything tries to escape me.
I am an anchor. I will pull you down
because you tied me to your own legs.
I am never going to change.

Our bodies are machines.
We are nothing more than gears and levers cranking away.
I trick myself into believing that there is nothing wrong with me,
while I am rusting from the inside out.
When I am on fire, I can only convince my skin
to stop burning.
I have been pumping my body full of poisons for too long
to even remember what it feels like when I am in working order.
I wonder what I feel like when I am put together.
I wonder if I already am.
I wonder if this is as good as it gets.

I make myself small. I try to take up as little space as I can.
I am not worthy of the air around me.
You run hungry fingers through my hair and
watch as my eyes turn into pin holes.
I become glossed over magazine pages,
you try to touch me and feel nothing.
I blow in and out of consciousness like laundry on the line.
And you say something in desperation that I decide to not remember.
I look down at empty hands
and use them to snap the necks of the last fluttering promises
I cannot keep.
My body is a prayer
a tongue tied whisper
to a god I never believed in.
I am becoming your wasted breath.
I know this and do nothing.

Eventually, you will leave.
You will realize that you have done nothing to deserve this.
You can relieve yourself of this voluntary burden.
I am still wishing I could too.
I will feel a subtle gnawing in my chest
every time I hear your name.
But, this changes nothing.
Track Name: Punk Rock Realizations
Sixteen:
I have heavy eyeliner and a borrowed bad attitude.
I have nothing to be angry at, yet I am still fighting.
My combat boots could stomp out anyone
who looks at me sideways, but they wouldn’t dare do that.
We drive for hours to our own place of worship,
a dimly lit open room, no stage, and a crowd of people all waiting for the music to start.
As the final band sets up their gear,
I am in awe of how close we are.
He is a god with a guitar, setting up a mic stand with ease, with a snarky half smile.
I am not worthy.
I reach out, trying to get a hold of his perfection.
My hands are out stretched, and he is light
slipping through my fingertips.
I cannot grasp this.
I smell alcohol sweet on his breath
as I scream back the words to every song
never thinking about what they meant.
I never think of the people these songs are really about
because tonight they are all written in my name.
I marvel at how cool everyone else is here.
They are smoking outside and showing off new tattoos.
I am gawking without shame.
I buy t shirts. I sew on patches. I buy ticket after ticket after ticket.
I would get my hand stamped every weekend if I could.
But, I avoid the crowd. I don’t see the point in getting pushed around by strangers.
Driving home I am dizzy.
My head is pounding from the new intoxication.

Seventeen:
I have gotten my eyeliner in check. I still have the same bad attitude.
I am still fighting for no reason.
My combat boots still shine like new. I have yet to use them.
There is a cute boy with a crooked half smile,
and every time I see him I only think in poetry.
He makes flowers bloom under my fingernails.
We go to shows together.
I sacrifice myself to the crowd.
I let music and all the friends I haven’t met yet
push me to the ground, over and over again.
I fall over hard and I am picked back up.
I fall over hard and I am picked back up.
I put my hands out, people climb my body to get on top of the wave of the crowd.
I smell alcohol on the breath of the girl standing next to me,
and I help her to her feet, when she stumbles and falls.
There is justice in this crowd.
When I trip over my own limbs, she pulls me up too.
I turn the music up in my friends’ cars.
We play hookey.
We found a way to put ourselves above those who have wronged us.
They don’t seem to matter as much anymore.
We drive around and I feel us waking up again with the coming of a new summer.
I fall in love with a boy while our favorite songs play.
I fall in love like the pushing of bodies. I am out of control.
I am not in control.
I am still being pushed around. I still love it.
I buy t shirts. I sew on patches. I buy ticket after ticket after ticket.
I can’t seem to spend enough time with my friends.
There aren’t enough days in the week to do everything we need to do.
We are racing through this summer as if there will never be another season after it.

Eighteen
Eyeliner is no longer a priority, but I have tattoos lining places I can hide from my parents.
I have an even worse attitude.
I have even actually used my combat boots to get someone out of my face.
Most of my friends are away at school.
I should be away at school. I should not have skipped class to be here.
But, we are all together again.
We grab food before the show and get there halfway through a set.
I roll my eyes at girls swooning over every boy to walk on stage.
They do not realize yet that those boys do nothing that they could not do themselves.
As the final band at last is making their way on stage,
I am tired.
There are too many people here who are shoving me when there is no music playing yet.
Every time someone bumps into me,
I am pushed closer to the edge of losing it.
There are too many people here who don’t care about the bands.
They are only here to stare up at guitar players.
He walks on stage and basks in a floodlight and his own ego.
The smell of alcohol is thick on his breath.
He fumbles with his equipment without acknowledging we exist.
The music finally starts and some high school boy
kicks me in the back of the head.
I push my way through the crowd.
My head is spinning as I sit alone outside,
itching my new tattoos.
I buy t-shirts. I sew on patches. I buy ticket after ticker after ticket.
Eventually, I go back inside to listen,
but all I hear is noise.
Track Name: On Giving Up On Myself
I am a paper doll, an easy target.
Nothing about me has substance.
I am all broken promises and empty hands.
I am a wound with nothing to show for it.
People take swings at me in the dark because I let them.
I do not fight back anymore.
I have no strength left to block blows.

Fists collide hard against my jaw, shattering all my teeth.
I spit them out into my open palms.
I used to take them with pride,
I cleaned them off, and
I displayed them for the world to see.
I framed every rejection letter, but
now I am running out of space to hang them up on my wall.

I was taught to accept my failures.
I put my shortcomings on stage and
watched them squirm under spotlights like toddler ballerinas
clunky and awkward
trying to make their bodies flow the way the other girls do,
trying to be swans but amounting to nothing but ugly ducklings.

I am an ugly duckling.
I am the mangled body they pulled out of the wreckage.
I am handfuls of broken bones and bruised skin,
and I am not ashamed of it.
My body has become a canvas for all the low blows of the universe.
Color is spattered over me, sunsets of orange fading into black and blue.
I am an empty casket.
Only the shell remains of something you may have once loved.
The rest has already rotted away.
I am gone

I have learned to accept these facts.
I am nothing of substance.
I tried to storm.
I tried to make myself into something meaningful
even if it meant destruction.
But I am just drizzle.
I am a speed bump on someone else’s road to significance.
I am everything you are afraid of becoming:
small and empty.
Quiet and meaningless:
I am a notebook full of poems that no one will read.

It’s not that I lost my flame.
I never had a light at the start.
I am accepting these facts.
I have accepted my fate as a tribute to mediocrity.
I will achieve nothing
because it is not worth trying.
It is not worth failing anymore.
It is not worth the bruising.

I accept that I am nothing.
I accept that I can be nothing.
No one ever told me that this was an option,
but it must be.
It must be
because when I stick out open palms
I only ever come back with broken fingers.
This must be an option.
I am not failing.
I just refuse to give anyone the satisfaction
of watching me try
and then surrender.
Track Name: Chain Reacting
We blew smoke back and forth
on your porch all the way to the end of June.
One night you quietly ran your cold fingertips
down the length of my hair and across my shoulder blade.
With your cracked hand still resting on my freckled back,
I heard you pull in a deep breath
as if you were about to say something
dripping with significance.
Instead you leaned your head backwards and
blew smoke rings up at the flickering porch light
surrounded by moth wings beating hard towards the brightness.
Their shadows danced quickly across the
rotting wooden floorboards of our decaying bodies.

I folded myself carefully on the steps of the only house
I ever felt truly at home in.
I was hiding my sharp edges
for the moment at least.
I listened to your deep, heavy laughter.
It was as thick as the smoke
you blew at me for fifty years.
That laughter still bounces off
the walls of your now empty house.

That summer we were sprawling words thick with good intentions
across each other’s sidewalk-hearts. They were erased
by the sweat and thunderstorms that came with the passing of time.
They do not last until the leaves fall.
You do not last until the leaves fall.

A month later you finally let go.
I had become familiar with the clean tile floors of a small hospital.
I had counted the fifty-four paces it took to run
to your bedside from the elevator.
And I had grown to hate the smell of flowers mixed with formaldehyde.

When I got back home,
I broke an ashtray filled with dried moth wings
in your kitchen sink.
Track Name: We'll Never Learn
Some point after falling out of love
and admitting that I did.
He said, “I hate this song.”
And I said nothing because I do not hear the music yet.
But then he dropped the needle
and set my record spinning
and I heard it.
I heard it.
He and I sat on my bedroom floor. We listened to a song
I was so familiar with, I could have written it myself.
The sound pulsed through my veins,
and I closed my eyes to feel music course through my body.
We both left the needle down and watched the record spin
long after the album was over, and just listened to the crackling at the end.

When he stopped calling,
I left messages on his machine
he just never heard them I guess.
He just never listened right.
He came back around spinning records in my bedroom,
but we both knew it wasn’t the same.
It seemed like we only ever listened to the crackling at the end.
He asked questions I didn’t want to answer.
The answers were never the reasons he was asking anyway.

I said I loved him
because I did not know how to be alone.
I did not know how to live my life
without him in it.
I was saying I loved him
because I thought it would fix everything.
It was a rope I could grab on to,
when I was dangling off cliff.
I loved him like an apology. I never did anything right.
I loved him, and it ruined both of us
because that was not love.
That was injustice.
I poured everything into him and
got nothing back.
I wallpapered my heart with his picture.
I never asked for anything back.
There are pieces of me that would be better off
taking deep breaths at the bottom of a swimming pool,
and he found them.
He found them, and he brought them back to life
all the things I thought I drowned
came back to spit water in my face.

I can’t let it go.
Years later, I cannot let it go because
I’m still here spinning records on my own,
and he is not,
and that has to mean either something gigantic
or nothing at all.
I am still here.
He is not.
I cannot let it go.
I cannot let it go.
I cannot let him go.
Please don’t make me let him go.

We grew to hate the same songs.
I sing them alone in my bedroom.
I still leave voicemails.
I’m still sure he has not heard them.
Track Name: The Day After
The next day I wake up in the afternoon
in the house I am still growing up in.
I run my fingers across my tired face
as a reflection stares back, emotionless.
There is violet lipstick smeared across my cheek.
I do not remember whose mouth put it there.
It stays like a bruise I cannot wash off,
a simple reminder of the night before.
I try to think of ways to explain to you
that I let you down.
I think of all the ways I could cut the wires
that hold us together.
I think of drowning myself.
I let you down.
I let it all go.
I let it all go down,
down into my throat then it dripped into my stomach.
I swallowed all my regret,
and let a warm ache radiate through me.
I sit in the shower and let water burn my skin.
I think of drowning myself.
I cannot wash his touch off me.
His fingerprints still line my jaw.
His lips cut across my throat like a surgeon
flaying my skin open,
leaving us both breathless
as I choked on my own blood.

I rest my head on the tile floor
and imagine myself explaining
the boys who were wearing lipstick,
and bumming smokes off of strangers,
and a cold basement,
and walking with a boy to find my friends,
and wishing he was you.
He wasn’t you.
I think of drowning myself.
He wasn’t you.

I pick up my phone and
try to work up the courage to call.
I work up the courage to explain
the loneliness on my breath mixing with the beer on his,
to explain his hands tangled up in my hair,
my hands running up and down his spine,
pulling him further between us.
I put the phone down.
I chew my fingernails bloody,
I wait twelve more hours
to finally call.
Track Name: Prelude (Quick Confession)
As I roll over and realize
you are still curled up only a breath away
my roommates get up and go to class.
But I learn more watching your eyes
dart back and forth behind their lids
than I ever did in a lecture.
It’s a good thing I withdrew.
It’s a good thing I like spending Tuesday mornings with you,
walking my fingertips up and down the length of your spine
as you sleep through a day we could be having.
My roommates all make new friends,
while I am watching you sleep
and I realize I never want to
see anyone else do anything else ever again.

When my parents find out
that I don’t really go to college,
I’m pretty sure they’ll kick me out.
And, when my college finds out
that I don’t really go to college
I’m pretty sure they’ll kick me out.
But for now none of them know,
so for now I’m skipping classes,
and pulling your arms around me all day
in a bed we hardly fit in
I’m trying to believe that the world will spin slower
the longer we stay in my room.
It is still spinning.
It is still spinning.
I am watching you sleep.
Everything is still spinning.
My roommates come home in the afternoon.
The world is still spinning,
and I am still watching you sleep.

At night when we finally have woken up
we drive around aimlessly in a city
neither of us have grown into yet. We will never grow into it.
And we spend my parents money
living a life we couldn’t afford on our own.
You play music in bars we can’t drink in
about things we don’t really talk about.
And I take pictures on my camera
on rolls of film I may never get developed.
I capture 32 moments then stuff them in my sock drawer.
And my roommates get drunk at parties and stumble back
to get sick in our shared bathroom.
At least I think they might do that. I am never there to see it.

As the sun rises we get back to our temporary home.
We take our clothes off, but leave the lights on.
I work up the courage to show you every scar and every birthmark that line my skin.
You trace constellations in the freckles on my back
and I see every star reflected in your eyes.
My roommates want us to be quiet. They are all trying to sleep.
They all have class in a few hours.
They can’t lay in bed and wait for the world to stop spinning.
Track Name: Long Distance (The First Poem I Wrote In College)
I walk back upstairs to my dorm,
and I wonder how long it will take you to stop thinking of me
as you drive home alone.
We are pioneering this new planet.
We are two explorers paddling through the stardust.
But, you drive home. You get to land back on Earth every night.
You drive home, while I float through the empty space
running low on oxygen.
You drive home, and I sit up awaiting your return.
I sit up wondering if I still take up space in your mind.

I cry like a child in your arms every time one of us is going to leave.
I am sure that you think it is because I am going to miss you.
But I am sure that these tears are for something
so much bigger than that.
I am not crying because you are leaving.
I am crying because I am already gone.
I feel the world melting around me
as I shoot further into the stratosphere.

When you’re here I try to convince myself
that distance is just the static on the other end of the phone.
I tell myself when I hang up it will be gone.
But when you leave it’s still here hanging off my bones
like a baggy t-shirt I cannot take off.
And with very passing moment my pulse screams out
“go-home,” “go-home,” “go-home.”
I’m not sure where that place is now.
I am convinced it only exists in the breaths you take between the thoughts
you whisper to me late at night.
But maybe it never existed at all.

I let hot water rush over my skin
for a little too long that night.
I hear your voice in the droplets running down my spine.
I hear your voice everywhere I go.
I dry off with a towel that still smells like you,
and I let myself feel the empty slots in my ribcage
where your hands used to sit.
Eventually, I allow myself to drift off, succumbing to sleep.
I dream that you are in every car that passes under my window.
I dream that you are every face in the crowd.
I love you when I am asleep yet I still wake up alone.
I wake up only to remember you are not here anymore.
It feels like this is all a dream.
When I dream of kissing other men who have lips like Jupiter,
his thunder pulses through my bones,
and we crack our skulls hard against each other
both trying to knock some sense into my mind.
I wake up sore in the spots I tried
to crawl out of my skin while I was sleeping.
One day I might wake up and not be here.
I might wake up and be gone.

I wake up the day after you leave.
I rush to get to class on time,
and in my hurry I forget that I miss you.
A New England morning reminds me that fall is your favorite time of year.
I remember you breathing those words into my neck
and my bones creek.
I am falling into the realization that filling my emptiness with another person
has only made all my holes deeper.
The open space is my mind has only expanded since you’ve been here.
But now that you aren’t I still can’t untangle you from all my thoughts.

I let you float around in my mind
as I try to find ways to breathe without you.
But I am learning carefully that
I no longer only want you in my life
I only want to have a life with you.
Maybe one day I will wake up from this
and float gently back down to Earth.
Maybe one day I will wake up to this
and swim through galaxies
sailing smoothly back into your arms.
Track Name: I Swear I Used to Know What I Was Doing
“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar 1963

Drown me in the lake behind out old rental house.
Watch as my last breath trickles out of my throat.
I’ll lay still in a white dress as a tribute to my run away naivety.
Hair dripping cold water I am nothing more than a lump on the edge
of the water, nothing more than fish food.

I watched my future dangle in front of me like
pieces of ripening fruit
always just out of reach,
always rotting too quickly.
I am always too afraid to put my hands out toward them.
But I used to have plans.
Before I realized how many things are impossible.
I had plans.
Before I watched every piece of fruit on every tree
shrivel up and fall to the ground, I had plans.
I’ve learned to not expect anything of myself.
I will never be let down again.

Everything drifts off,
floats up into the sky,
then dissipates like smoke out of my lungs.
I try to hold it in.
I try to suffocate myself by my own intentions.
I try to let my own design take me over.
I can hold them for only a moment.
I can hardly touch them.
I can never hold them.
I just watch them float away.

Drown me in the lake behind out old rental house.
Watch as my last breath trickles out of my throat.
I’ll lay still in a white dress as a tribute to my run away naivety.
Hair dripping cold water I am nothing more than a lump on the edge
of the water, nothing more than fish food.
Track Name: On Realizing Leaves Will Change Regardless
I still hear the rusting swing set in our backyard
creaking through the fall wind.
But I only have vague memories of the chalk drawings
on the asphalt at the house we never finished unpacking.
When I try to remember that stepping stone between real homes,
between old and new normals,
I only catch glimpses through the telescopes pointed at my mind.
Leaves changed and died that year like every other.
They cluttered our front porch giving the pain chips some company,
and they broke and crumbled into dust underfoot
as we ran to catch the bus.
We spent our afternoons chasing the sunlight on our bikes
and we hid in our bedroom every night
waiting for the alarms to stop sounding
waiting for it to all be over.
Our parents in the kitchen tried to explain to us
that they were people. Just people,
and they never knew any better than we did,
and they weren’t cut out for this.
They were never given directions
on how to fall out of love gracefully,
on how to unravel a family gently
But, we didn’t understand.
We could not comprehend how two people could
point north and teach us to run towards it,
then admit that they were wrong about the orientation of the compass.

Years later, I felt my needle break
under almost no pressure.
I dug up my own roots and let weeks grow in their place.
I let darkness consume me
as I watched people untangle themselves from my veins.
Leaves changed and died that year like every other.
I ignored my friends as they became strangers
just like I ignored piles of dead leaves in the front yard of our new house.

Last October, I watched an entire town of people
unbecome themselves in the wake of a loss
I have yet to find the words to describe.
The sterility of cold classrooms contrasted embraces
and a quiet longing to wrap myself in people
who were unraveling in my arms.
I grasped on to all the wrong people
and expected them to map everything out of me. They never did.
Leaves changed and died that year like every other.
I wondered if his passing would always loom over me.
I wondered if I would always count away from that day
like a backwards time bomb.
“1-day since destruction, 1-week since destruction, 1-month since destruction, 1-year since
destruction.”
I am still counting.
1-year since destruction
I am still counting.
1-year, 2-weeks, 3-days since destruction.
I am still counting.
I will always be counting.
I wonder if the changing of leaves will always
remind me of the way his fingers swelled around rings
and enclosed them within his skin until it rotted away.
I think about him rotting away

Leaves will change and die this year like every other.
I am still thinking about him unbecoming himself.
I still think about his body exploding into star dust.
I still can’t tell which way is north,
and I am not sure that I really need to know.
I point my compass whichever way I please,
hoping for the best.
We are still trying to weave ourselves back together.
I am still trying to orient my maps correctly.