coffee grounds

I remember the first time someone told me
to just throw my coffee grounds in the yard
I didn’t know what that meant
hovering over the trash can
my landlord asked for the french press
added some water
with a hearty swish and a toss
he launched it
onto the lawn

it was the first time
I really realized
that not everything I touch
is as dangerous
as me


I’m scared as hell to write this
because that would be me
admitting that you might not be around
and that there would be a need
for someone to tell your story

I don’t know
if I know your story well enough to tell

sometimes I blame you
for not giving me all of the details
filling the air instead with what today held
when I need to know what it looked like in 1950
but most times
I blame myself
for never asking
and instead filling the air
with what today held

it doesn’t seem fair that I’m only now old enough
to realize that I should have realized things sooner
that I missed opportunities
before I could have known what they meant
but a 7 year old girl can’t know
that her dad won’t be able to run with her when she’s 30
so she runs down the sand dunes towards lake michigan
and her dad
knowing it will always be that way

a 9 year old girl tries to hold onto a story about your childhood
a 14 year old girl tries to put words in your mouth
a 19 year old girl forgets to talk to you
a 24 year old girl moves 1500 miles away
and a 29 year old girl wants you to move 1500 miles closer

I don’t really know if you had a paper route before
or after your father died
and I don’t know if your mom remarried
or just dated bad guys
I can’t remember where Louise was
or Corky
but I remember that Judy could walk through gravel
like it was nothing
And that your dad hired a black kid to work at the office supply store
even when the city said he shouldn’t
that he wouldn’t eat in restaurants if Leon couldn’t eat with him
I remember that you partied in college
and loved the navy
but came back from Vietnam
to make soap and be a dad
a transition so stark and so permanent
that on the night of my graduation
you told me to take every chance
that you never got to take
I don’t know how long your first marriage lasted
or how long it took you to be okay again
but I know you met mom when you were 41
and she was 30
and you had to convince her to date you
because teenage kids aren’t the easiest sell
I remember how you always smiled when you looked at me
with the tiniest glimmer
of tears held back
I remember valentines dances at the YMCA

I know that you love
so much
and that you always have
and that
that is your story

colorado area code

today I found the phone numbers for the offices of the representative for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district
there was the number for the DC office
and the one for here
it felt a little strange to know he lived where I did
not some distant city
I wondered if we’d already met and had no idea
at the grocery store or the downtown tree lighting
maybe he was my neighbor
it rang 3 times
then a woman named George answered the phone
and I hung up
I wanted to say something
so I dialed
but I had no idea what
so I was silent
I feel like saying something isn’t enough these days
the world is so loud with somethings
I didn’t want to say just anything
I wanted to say the right thing

I wanted to say how people should be people
not robots
masking emotion and denying human stories
counting numbers like they weren’t bodies
counting bodies like they weren’t people

I wanted to say that I didn’t want a baseball player as a representative
no one needs a shortstop who stops at nothing to win
whose only goal is to pick off the other team one by one
and ensure that only his own team
gets to go home
I want an umpire
who sits behind it all and watches for fair play
who makes sure that everyone has the same chance
to do well
and come home

I wanted to say
isn’t it amazing
this place we both live
you should come to the coffee shop I work at
we roast our own beans in house
it’s really good coffee
I’ll buy you a cup

I wanted to say that being different is what makes this whole thing work
that no change can happen
without an exchange of heat

I wanted to ask if he knew my next door neighbors
they voted yes on prop whatever and I voted no
and despite our conflicting yard signs
they always bring us their leftovers
invite us to cookouts
and leave crock-pots of soup in our kitchen
because they know we’re young
and we don’t always have everything we need
and I am so grateful that the house we found
found them

I wanted to ask if he remembered 3D movies
and the glasses they handed out before the show
one red lens
one blue
and how when you looked through both at the same time
the movie was a lot easier to see

I wanted to ask how he was doing
I know it can’t be easy
trying to speak for so many voices

so I called back
George said hello
I gave her my name and she took down my message
I asked him to be objective
because what’s going on isn’t about anyone
it’s about everyone

mushroom grower

my uncle is starting to forget his past
and his future these days
meanwhile my aunt remembers my quirks
and sends me a small log
that shows up on thanksgiving
“grow your own shiitakes” I read
as I submerge it in a 5 gallon bucket

gifts can take so many forms
shiitakes in the backyard
clean sheets on a bed
silence when it’s needed

when my uncle started to forget where he parked his car
he’d raise a racket
but when he forgot
that he even drove to the store in the first place
waiting on a bench for my aunt to get him
he stopped saying anything
always a man beyond his years
it was terrifying
to watch them creep up now
not at all
then all at once

my aunt
she just strapped in
and started driving
the house the dogs the life the years
she keeps all of it in her pockets now
and despite how full
and heavy
those pockets must be
she held a log for me
to grow mushrooms in my backyard
and I
with nearly nothing in my pockets
have somehow forgotten
to pull out a thank you

late night dance party

I’m fine being everyone
all of them
the loud one
the quiet one
the awkward one
the funny one
they each have their time
and I love them all the same
because the loud one comes out at the party
while the sad one waits for a morning alone
they care for me
by being me
when they should

but sometimes
when the awkward one shows up before the funny one
and the two start to vie for the spotlight
we all start to get a little nervous
as we’re hearing an ill timed remark
really, really loudly
then the sad one nudges up
and the quiet one cries in a corner
and now we’re all ready to go
because we’re not the right fit

being genuine
is being everyone
that lives inside you
so I don’t feel fake when my mindset shifts
but I do feel dark
when I blame my parts
for being
just as they are

phone a friend

I was asked to read some poetry at the local bookstore
opening for a pretty well known writer
and I responded as quick as I could to the email
because I didn’t want to lose that chance
but as the reading came closer I started to question everything I had ever written
not sure why it had even been allowed to touch paper
and leave the vacuum of brain space
it suddenly got so loud
where it had been so
the days before the reading
I started getting shorter
every part of me
my words
my reactions
my eye contact
because I wasn’t an expert
there were no citations at the bottom of my word docs
no founding for my statements or form
just some thoughts
pulled from my brain space
that vacuum
where I was the only thing I could hear
but now I was supposed to tell other people
what I heard
and it’s hard to know if any of it was worth telling

I walked in holding the pizzas you asked me to pick up
for everyone to eat before the show
and at the slightest pressure of
“how’s it goin’?”
it all fell out

I have no idea what poetry is

and you said
“if you’re lucky, it’ll always feel that way”

free stuff

you can’t own poems
you can pen them and send them
but you better let them go
being misunderstood
is no longer a fear
it’s a given
and you’ve given your words
to anyone and everyone
so that gift isn’t yours to hold
anymore you’ve put fabric in their hands
and they’ll make whatever they want
so stop yelling about curtains
as they drape it around their necks
a cape of new ideas
that you didn’t intend
but in the end
that’s not your poem anymore
so watch it blow in the wind
and know
that you might be a small piece
in their feats
but then again
maybe not

getting back up

I think the secret thing I learned about love
is that I will always piss you off
and you will always push my buttons
but again and again
I will hit the reset switch
to get the circuit back on track
because that current
when it’s running
is the best thing I’ve ever felt
and maybe we overpowered the system for a minute
maybe we tried to run the blender
and the toaster
and our careers
and our insecurities
all at the same time
and we blew the breaker

so we sat in the dark for a bit
feeling around for the glass we dropped
trying not to cut each other
on the words we said
but it’s just glass
it’s just skin
so we just stood up
and walked to the box
leaving cuts on our feet
and blood on the floor
to flip the breaker

the blood wipes up
and the cuts heal in time
but I don’t know what I’d do
if I hadn’t found you again
somewhere in the dark
if the glass had been enough to stop us
from getting up again

it’s just glass
it’s just skin