once more, with feelings.

January 24, 2013

when i was a boy i had a crush on a girl named juliana

and we passed notes through her best friend

and it was as close to love as my third-grade brain

could comprehend.

i was too afraid to hold her hand during the

movie show at the church one sunday night,

too bashful to dare something so outrageous

(no matter how much i secretly wanted to,

and for weeks regretted saying no)

but i wrote notes bursting with elementary-aged eloquence, and

i gave her gifts, as much as my meager allowance could afford.

one day, i heard that her feelings may have waned,

so I declared (via note) as bravely as I could,

“if you like my friend more than me, just let me know, it’s okay.”

a folded sheet of notebook paper returned,

inked in careful little lines:

“i don’t like you as much as you like me.”

third-grade heartbreak at its worst.


twenty-five years later, i’m still that boy

feeling too much, investing too much,

letting my heart run much too freely,

living too much in the realms of could-be,

forgetting that love takes time to grow

and always withers under the glare of

too much constant warm attention.

yet now i confess i don’t even have

the courage to put on a brave face and

say “just let me know, it’s okay.”


January 22, 2013

he writes in notebooks
because his words are loud and carry weight
gusts of wind and thunder
they echo and echo and echo
so when he speaks, sometimes he shakes
because a stumbling phrase or ill-measured thought
could come back and back and back
and when he wants to open up
unpack the compartmentalized frustrations
he writes in notebooks
safely caging lions in their cardstock covers.

to hear my mother talk, you’d think that she was still 16.
“when i met your father, i didn’t want to leave his side.
if you and this girl don’t feel that way, what’s the point?”
i want to argue that things are more complicated
when you’re a decade and a half past sixteen.
you think about things like compatibility and shared mission
and how you need to break your hard-set habits that leave no
room for another person to invade your world.
and sometimes people are skittish, and sometimes simply cautious,
navigating histories and insecurities like rocks and reefs
surrounding friendly ports.
and i want to say, “you just don’t understand the way things are in the real world,” which sounds alarmingly like the speech
my parents gave me when i was sixteen and certain of everything.
but i say nothing, because my parents, greyer and softer and
less idealistic are still those two love-struck teenagers,
30 years hence. so what do i know.

Noah sailed across the sea
completely without irony.
He never understood his fame,
much less the origin of his name.
His bark, a vessel all hand-hewn,
his cost of transport, picayune.
He braved the surf, the wind, the tide,
Until a shark ate him, and he died.

(Not exactly “Richard Cory,” is it.)