Before You Tell Me That I’m Strong

Before you tell me that I’m strong

Know that I hide when I am weak

It’s not because I don’t want comfort

It’s not because I want to look like I’m strong

I hide because I’m scared

And I am weak because I’m scared

And I hide when I am weak

Before you tell me that I’m strong

Please understand that I have blood on me

That I am bleeding, and huddled in my bed

That I have carved that brave expression in my skin

Because my real eyes keep on crying

And I cry when I’m frightened 

And I am frightened all the fucking time

And so I cut new eyes that wouldn’t cry

Before you tell me that I’m strong

Take a look – I beg of you –

You’ll see that I am bruised, and bent

My body heaves around a silent scream

Which I find inconvenient to voice to you

And that I flinch when hear people laugh

And hide my eyes when people smile

Before you tell me that I’m strong

I need you to rethink what ‘strong’ looks like

Because you might be wrong or blind

1: “Having the power to move heavy weights

Or perform other physically demanding tasks”

2: “Able to withstand great force or pressure”

And you think that must be me

But I am bowed, and buckling, and afraid

Before you tell me I am strong

Please hear the things I’m telling you

I’m telling you that I have a chance to be strong

And that that chance is very frail

It’s fragile like a moth in the wind

And I am not sure I can make it in the rain this way

And I’m not strong enough to be ’The Strong One’

Before you tell me that I’m strong

Look once at what I really am

A kid who grew up almost all the way

And who is trying to be strong

And who is almost washed off her feet

By the weight of being strong alone

When all you wanted was to be able to rest

Before you tell me that I’m strong

Think what you do when you think I am strong

Do you pity me? Treat me gently?

Do you let me lean on you? 

Or do you lean on me… Push more…

Wonder why I can’t do what a strong person would do…

You don’t account for weaknesses in me

Before you tell me that I’m strong

Comprehend this sentence 

Sentencing me

Being seen as strong

Takes more strength

Than anything else

In my fucking life


Red Moon

You wonder why you only hear

me saying these cruel words…

How can I explain?

The moon is red sometimes

When it rises

It shine in the sky like a wound

Like a curse

Like a bloody tear

Or a bloody tear 

A luminous red pearl

Too frightening to afford

As a child I wondered why 

The moon would sometimes 

Stare at me with such a red 

And raging eye

And so my father told me

“Between you and the moon

There are many things.

Though you can’t see them, they are strong.

Walls of air, and hot, and cold, and space…

And all of them distort the moon

And make it hard to see.

And so,” he said, “Each moon beam 

Has to fight to reach your eye.
The blue moon beams are calm and proud

And make it almost to your eyes.

But the sky slows them down with it’s tricks and its lies

So the moon is not blue when it rises.

Green moonbeams are shy, and just want to stay home

And for that reason, moons very rarely look green.

Yellow moonbeams are sprightly 

and fearless

And wise

And they are careful and light-footed 

So they arrive the most surely but also the faintest

So the moon is not yellow when it rises.

The pink moonbeams are soft, and brave, and afraid

And they wink in and out as they fall 

Like petals

To the ground many star-lengths below…

And the moon has to get its courage up 

For that color to show

So the moon may is not pink when it rises.

But the red booms

The big, frightening red moonbeams

They are fierce, fearsome fighters

Who hurtle away

Past the star and the clouds

Through the hot, cold, air, space…

They are all that is strong enough

Fast enough,

Cruel enough

To pass through the distorting layers

Of walls

And interpreted misconceptions

Through the stop signs and clouds

That were blocking your eyes.

And on those nights when walls were blocking the skies

On those nights the moon will be red when to rises”

So when you ask why my words

Are too cold

Are too cruel

Consider that I’m speaking more than you know

That my loudest of shouts

Sound like whispers to you

So no matter my love

Or my kindness

You hear only the strongest and angriest things

And my voice is red when it rises

Chasing Friendship

“You feel sick” he asks me

And I do

only ice cream and water seem safe to me

but I tell him I’ll be fine

to go bring the chicken and sides

i make a note to pay him back

such a sweet man

I’ve missed him

wish I felt better and could talk more

He heads out with the others

they promise they’ll return with food

I wait at home

listen to cheerful music as it passes my window

When they return he isn’t with them

“He ran to chase the ice cream truck”

they tell me

and smile like he’s silly

And I cry because I know

He doesn’t eat ice cream.

The People Like Me

You were older and thinner and wiser than me 

You sang without instrument or friend 

You spoke frankly and excitedly, and 

You listened before speaking again 

You wore laughable names 

You did laughable things, but  

You were so serious, too 

You said “We have always walked among 

You” and I knew I’d walk with 

You again 

You had a round face 

Your freckles stood out on 

Your sweet rosy cheeks 

You had uneven teeth in 

Your sweetly bowed smile, and 

You cried when said I would always love 


You were fourteen and  

You thought  

Your parents’ god hated 


You struck me when I first laid eyes on 


Your voice mesmerizing and sweet 

You sang along when I was singing to 


You told stories to children and me 

You called me to your side and 

You showed me a chain 

You had made for the people like me 

You held out your hand and 

You said “I’m like you” 

You don’t know what those words meant to me 

I walk among all these people like 


I hear their voices and stories 

I catch my breath feeling like  

I’m not alone and 

I smile when they call me by name 

I say  

“I’m like you” and 

I call them by name 

I sit, stand, walk, smile, cry, hurt, love beside them 

I am happier knowing they’re happy like  

Me and 

I promise myself to live truly 

I feel less alone as they walk next to 

Me and  

I love them 

I love the people like  


Ocean Eyes

He smiles at me, the sailor I once knew

His oceanic eyes alight

“There’s a familiar face!” he cries

And points his hand to me

And soon we’re talking easily

Our conversation churning, swirling

Pulling me in deep, deep, deep

He smiles at me, the sailor I once knew

A professor, now, he tells me

Proud of his accomplishments 

He has always seemed wise to me

Pirate or professor makes no difference

But he smiles, he smiles,

His oceanic eyes alight

He smiles at me, the sailor I once knew

His bright teeth, and his uneven smile

The corners of his eyes are creased

Crinkled like the ripple of waves

And in the ocean colors

Blue and green and brown and grey

I see the light that shines across the sea

The brightness and the glitter

Reflected back from those dark eyes

He smiles at me, the sailor I once knew

His speaking and his listening ebb and flow

In turn we tell our stories

Back and forth, back and forth

He tells not of adventures out at sea

But of adventures in a library

Of men he’s met only through their words 

Who died and left only their books behind

Wave after wave, thought after thought

And I learn, and I listen, and I watch

He smiles at me, the sailor I once knew

And his ocean eyes alight

He takes me sailing in the sky

And uses words, and thoughts, and memories

So those men never die

And like a child loves the sea

I love those oceanic eyes

My Hidden Creed

My words are repeating – a chant a prayer rises to the surface – hidden words form
Yet I can’t make them coalesce, cant make them ring like the sound in my skin

How can I bring this fire to the surface of the water? Make the. sounds ring out like
In my dreams, and the beating of my heart, and the pulsing in my head?
Doesn’t it seem to be more than coincidence? Doesn’t it seem to live under my skin?
Don’t these vowels and consonants, these silent letters, seem to form words?
Each of us seem to have these words, these pictures, these melodies, which we are
Not able to free, not able to voice, but they burn our skin and urge us on: “try again”

Can they rise to the surface through purification, repetition, distillation?
Refining them like gold: burning over, and over, and over again? And
Each time they’re brighter, they’re stronger, they’re more clear
Every poem and song, every square of cloth, every sermon and painting
Digs deeper delivering those burning words out of skin and water and into the light

In Your Eyes

When I look in your eyes, I cannot fathom what I see
How you look back at me with whole-hearted want
Even when I am annoying, or broken, or distracted 
Never once have I seen your eyes without that shine

Your face is transformed when you lay eyes
On me: a certainty, a hopeful hopelessness burns 
Under the surface, hypnotizing me

Like sunlight piercing darkness it
Opens in the dark depths 
Of your ebony eyes, the sunbeams
Kissing the glassy surface

I cannot grow tired of the sight of you
Never have I, never will I

My heart pounds in my chest and I
Yearn to reach out and touch that light

Each time I murmur how lovely it is
You respond that I look the same way
Endlessly adoring, and lost, and gone on you
Still all that I did was to look in your eyes…

Sunflower Thoughts – 01

It’s true I couldn’t always follow you.

I didn’t always stand next to you, or speak to you,

as you traveled a path so far out of my reach.

Rather, like a young sunflower on a cloudy day,

I turned my face to where I knew you would be,

so that if for a moment the clouds parted,

I would be sure to catch the light that you gave.