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Teenage Poet

As I write YA and Middle Grade stories, I try to remember how I felt then and go back to the records I kept of my younger self. I had no sunshiny-happy words for anyone. No nostalgia for my school days. I would NEVER (and I repeat NEVER) want to turn back time on myself.

Writing from my early 20's and late teens tended to be a bit, well...dark. Needless to say with hormones, dating, and academics piled on, it was a tumultuous time in my life. I attended no less than six funerals for people I knew and cared about, I had been diagnosed with some sort of anxiety disorder (OCD? Generalized anxiety? Social anxiety? No one really knew. They let a dermatologist prescribe me SRIs for self-harming my skin) and I was coming to terms with all the -isms and phobias that come attached to being me (sexism, racism, homophobia, colorism, internalized misogyny etc).

I'd like to think that I handle things better than I did then, but I'm not certain I do. My younger self managed herself with as much strength as she could muster, and I'll follow her example.

I'm still here.

Trigger warnings: self harm, sexual violence, withdrawal, medication, breakups, death


Circa 2008


I am shaking out my skin.

The itching and the crawling

and the burning and the anger

nearly ices me over.

The limbs cannot move to slap at the wrists

of the snatchers, catchers, biters.

I sent letters

I sent pages and pages

I sent still more pages

The words rattle and rattle inside of me

and I spew them to mother, father, brother.

These word float right back

from mouths and burrow inside me.


There is not enough of me

There is too much of me

Of course they cannot hold it all

Of course they try.

Hissing, burning, biting, popping, bleeding

I’ll scratch and burn my own skin.


Don’t you miss your medication now?


Circa 2009


I think his slamming of the desk startled the tears out of me,

The flood that was always coming.


Italicized and bold.


Shaking the teeth loose.


Squeeze my eyes shut tight.

Tears still come.


I need to choose a side and I chose it.

I chose hers.


An ending and a beginning.

Doors closed. Windows open.


Of him. For me. For her.

For what lust makes men do.


August 2012

Grandmother Redbird

That dry and brown summer

morning the cardinal called.

I twisted in my chair

to see red on evergreen.

Can’t you see me? she

asks from the shivering body of feathers.

I left a trail for you to follow.

Indeed she did. I remember

red birds on the windowsill,

mother and two children,

tails shining orange in burnished light.

Four yellow chickadees in a row.

Two doves, wings spread.

Blue parakeet on a perch,

cocking her head as she listens

to the sound of your laughing,

dancing voice.

I remember

Grampie’s hands painting

woodpecker and squirrel,

cockatiel with chubby cheeks,

cardinal and her mate,

fat cawing bird in blue.

And the final, the last,

the morning you went,

you sang in your dancing,

laughing voice.

The red bird said,

Good bye, granddaughter,

you are loved.


May 2013

One Year and One Week, Today.

Water running down the side of an overfilled cup,

just one drop too many.

There must be some way to sink it

throw it down and distance.

There must be some way to drown it,

bury it into the cold ground.

My still hair falls in my eyes

when my head tips,

and somehow the girls at work still giggle.

The bunny still cuddles close to my face and,

somehow there’s still something thumping between my ribs.

Can you remember the glue and safety pins?

You removed one stitch too many

and the bond between us fragmented.

“Poor you,” I said.

“Poor relationship,” I added.

You replied, “What’s wrong with us?”

Can you remember duct tape and candle wax?

Hot glue and paper clips?

I needed those things to fix the cracks in the wall

and the warped floorboards.

Water damage.

We brought in the first New Year with tears

and bloodshed. Hormones and leukocytes.

Carry me forward, toes curled into sand.

We’ve been stopped in time since six months,


No words on the page. No love in my arms.

Our story suspended, yanked out of plot line

despite trying to add a few more words to this chapter.

I’ve never written this story alone before.

I’ll rip out the pages and start completely fresh

if you don’t show me

why I belong with you.

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