"Any dream, as long as it begins with treacherous." (a poem for you)

Days have been good, recently, but nights hard. My mind sings songs of want & ruin, the dark cruel even to its own desperate ghosts. When the sun comes up things are all right again—impromptu lunch dates, poems scrawled on coffee shop napkins, monsoon season outside the window with the birds sleeping like saints—but the nights. The nights always catch me by the throat.

Today’s poem is from one of those more frantic nights, penned in a bit of a fever dream. I haven’t been acutely suicidal in a little while but on one of the nights it did happen, this piece sprung from the ashes. So grateful that it’s found a home in an absolute dream journal, Sundog Litas well as chosen as first place in the LGBTQIA+ category of the 2018 Ellis Awards.

Infinitely kind words from judge Erin O’Malley: “‘War Story With My Father’ is luminous in the honesty its narrator speaks with. Lines like ‘If I'm lying / through my teeth, at least I still / have the long way home’ remind us of our own reasoning between who we are and who our families want us to be. Much like how the speaker refers to home as ‘not my father's hands, but / rather, the light they reflect / when burning,’ this poem is the burning and the light.”

Thank you for listening, dear friends. I hope you, too, find some light through the darkness in this piece. xx

War Story With My Father

Any dream, as long as it begins
            with treacherous. With mercy
                        borne back & aching from the
            fingertips inward. If I’m lying
through my teeth, at least I still
            have the long way home. If this
                        is where my father ends, at least
            I still have his hands for ransom.
I say you are every reason I cannot
            blink anymore
 & he says you can’t
                        blame me for all of this gasoline. 
It’s
            enough for the knife & the
tongue. After him there are no
            ways to make dusk small again.
                        No method to serenade grief
            soft enough for the streets to
swallow. You can’t undo glory.
            You can’t force a home to
                        unwind & fix itself. My mother
            tells me that my father only yells
because he is afraid. Finally,
            something we have in common.
                        I see the hurt in his eyes when
            I flinch as he tries to hug me &
I want to say it’s not your fault but
            all that comes out is I swear there
                        was a time when I didn’t starve in
            this language.
 Dislocation in car
window & my father spins
            creation on the rooftops. All
                        my little achings with no sleep
            to dampen. So many things I
invent to avoid rescue. My
            father comes from a long
                        time ago, sings hemorrhage of
            black & human. His eyes like
a night helpless in forgetting.
            I say these are dangerous times to
                        be a daughter. 
He says enough
            with the metaphors, you’re making
your mother sad.
 I speak these
            vowels without oxygen to
                        spark a murder. Fury is just
            as human as fear & every girl
I’ve ever brought home tells
            me I smile in the same way
                        as my father. I’m beginning
            to understand why, even in
sleep, all hospital parking lots
remain full of hope: home is
                        not my father’s hands, but
            rather, the light they reflect
when burning.