demons, stigma, pills

I. the couple afar
you must admit, you do not
possibly know of
the tyrannical screaming
that has brought their walls to sand.

II. and you still persist
in these monologues, postgrads
bringing you to shame
for causes you can’t place one
thumb upon; likely, a sketch.

III. girl from that first job,
the one who dated your first,
a reed-like ideal
you had long sought to fulfill
with Vitamin C tablets.

IV. an odd fixation
your friend attributes to the
per-pin-dick-you-lar
cycles of rage, blind rainstorms
emergency lights shone through.

V. he has left you, then
so surely the effort was
a waste in methods,
years snuck away, and never
did you grace Vogue’s bold pages.

VI. medias rojas.
I wear these to look pretty.
my mother slaps me
though unlike Claudio, she
peddles my song, not my rose.

VII. fantastic Lauren
has been the blessed, to earn
four years of study
while Mother will always break
what liberal arts relieves.

VIII. my shaking, my throat
the pipe where toads so madly
screech, an anthem to
critics and teachers alike,
tests I could fail for decades.

IX. gardenias fly,
reminders of your placid
ambitions asleep,
a vegetative movie
lacking captions to explain.

X. I rid myself of
mediums that aggravate,
infect this bandaged
open wound where gangrene speaks
slowly, nothing true to say.

XI. he turns to face me
and asks with authority,
“What if all you’ve told
yourself are Benjamins, fake?”
well, I guess I won’t spend them.

XII. but the illusion,
I suppose, can tempt young girls
into keeping them.
fragilities, in the end,
moan cautiously—dreams unchanged.

Forever, the Little Girl

In 2015, I originally wrote a 750-word draft of a piece that is now quite dear to me. It is titled, “Forever, the Little Girl,” and after several rounds of additions and subtractions, this story has found its home in Burning House Press. Prolific poet Bola Opaleke serves as January’s editor, compiling works that illustrate faith, faithlessness, and/or divinity. Immense thanks goes to Bola for his consideration and acceptance of my work.

You can read the piece here. Thanks to BHP, I’ve grown more acquainted with experimental writers, and I’ve enjoyed encountering all sorts of life that sprout from the journal’s monthly themes. Give the journal a look, and have as good a time as the relaxing walnut photographed above.

-Kristine

milk for the cereal, and vice versa

say hello to the girl at the
grocery store.

she grabs the brand of milk
you use :: all-time favorite
frosted wheaties soaking in
a chilled bowl of soy.

you are the boy, avoided.

the aisle persists in its
wide declaration – your
footprints following sighs
and the ragged breathing
one only hears when
the other has stumbled.

she never truly forgot
and regulars could attest
to loud discontent
locked in bent cans
rolling down, down –
further down.

metal rods clanging
against vineyards
on new glass.

the lids disappeared.

regardless, you both
spend every Friday
racing to the corner, a
lopsided box with
creased flaps, eyelids
reproached for looking
ahead and away.

shopping carts collide
and curse in light rainfall.

Cat No. 121 of the 500 Cats Project

letters from North Texas

you promised me letters and yes,
they were delivered.

so much meaning to a girl who
never had a birthday party, as
birthdays near Christmas bring
enough cheer as they come to
recover snowflakes’ edges so
rounded and spliced within life.

you had a point when you said
I could use a spine, and not the
kind between glossy covers with
cherry blossoms, peaches, the
hope that graced my evenings
before you came home to speak
of yet another disappointment
that could only emerge from my
off-white inexperience, marred
further by old crayons I still hide
beneath my almost-bed, these
almost-goals refusing to say they
are done with me, my failures in
following through with plans that
look so pretty on the porous face
of “Thank You” cards I wanted to
send, and for some reason, I did
feel that I owed you one, as well
as the signature that no one could
read in high school; they told me
to re-write it, or simply provide my
initials because we weren’t signing
anything the President reads, just
like I would be folding your grayed
boxers dusting every inch of some
up-to-date gadgetry you felt you
were entitled to, as entitled as men
should be to that perfect woman
I was, wasn’t, but could be if I only
took it easy on that small bright pint
of cookie dough ice cream, and all
the sugar I thought would stay, atop
my tongue that welcomed and asked
you to stay because you said I was
different, and I thought that this alone
was enough to fall asleep, a grin so
wide and hands enjoying the calm
of two admired breasts, awaiting an
admission of your follies and a pledge
to be yourself, to do away with deeds
you’d only distrust as an obligation.

I tore up each and every letter today,
realizing I’ve had enough time.

some dehydrated thought

there was once a time when I thought hazelnut
truffles fell from the sky, and I asked in the
middle of downtown morning traffic.

who am I to even mention traffic? I haven’t
had a car in years.

it’s an ethics thing for me, like not wearing
wooden square-bead bracelets showcasing
saints striking ten different poses.           don’t
press the gas if you can’t turn the wheel.

and don’t start conversations about certain
people who’ve received the same amount of
confidence you’ve placed in your sad self.

I watched a documentary on husbands who
can’t feel.           They mumbled their vows as
their mothers cried, like the brides would in
several months. occasionally, I stare at the
ceiling, crumpling napkins in colorless fists.

I wonder if I’m anything like these men, if
I’ve ever really wanted anyone.

undoubtedly, I’ve always envied the act of
being, but I’ve never met someone who
taught this.           pedagogy is a loaded word
long hallowed by some who can’t order fries
without leaving behind some slap-worthy smirk.

the hazelnut truffles rest on my countertop
that begs for Clorox, just as my eyelids
calmly give up their strained resolve.

clumsily, in taste

she ate crème brûlée with the bluntest fork.
this afternoon, her first time.

she wanted to tell the world and its
mother that she finally knew what
she had missed, what she had feared,
and all she could only read about
between walls so thin like the red worn
by crisp, dainty apples washed with joy.

morning is rarely missed, returning too soon
with birds in the middle of gossip’s fifth round
piercing the lightest blue, and she’ll learn to
make some for herself, plastic spoons aplenty
as the clock does stand oh so wonderfully still.

it was never too late for the girl
who shook and cried after an unbroken fall.

Cat No. 109 of the 500 Cats Project