Checkered Past (a sonnet)

To understand for what a person aims
We often try to read them like a book
We turn each page or play these vexing games
For something else to help us move our rook

With you it’s been an endless game of chess
In which we switch between both black and white
If asked about your heart I couldn’t guess
You’ll act the horse’s ass and then the knight

Into our checkered past I often stray
To try and understand our future fate
We seem to always occupy the gray
In agony, so close to that checkmate

Where you see columns, I see rows and rows
What we should be, a genius wouldn’t know

Valentine’s Day

Your sweet burst of laughter made me bubbly and pink and

I stirred in the wooden booth letting my cheek clank against my palm.

I watched your tongue, a shiny Maraschino cherry, and

played with the plastic straw between my teeth as I sipped your story in. 

The table was a dutiful chaperone, forcing distance between us and 

I couldn’t imagine being any further from you,

That was before things went flat and

I had to fathom the mileage between

your Hannover and my Bellingham 

And then I was distracted by your full suit and

How my polka dot dress resembled my heartbeat

Both flouncing as I reached for your hand

Now I can’t wear either thoughtlessly 

And when the waitress nudged me,

she clasped her hands together like a child mimicking her schoolteacher and

her eyes effervesced with a picture perfect plea

           You’re not a bother. Of course you can.

 We froze our grenadine grins and                                                 




Who could blame her for wanting to capture something?

ice melts

smiles fade

people leave


melted shut

faces can be called mechanical

half the time our expressions come on a conveyor belt

your jaw is set and tight

your mouth a thin gap between two hard parts

and your words are the nuts and bolts

that created this idea of you

and your wiry hair

gave me a shock when I smoothed it on your forehead

I spent so much time

trying to put you together

but you’re melted shut

and I’m exhausted

from straining so hard to to pry you open

off you

my fringed dress fanned as I spun and looked like a lion’s mane

especially from my aerial view

but then also, it looked like your hand around a bottle

as it’s softness hugged my body

and I think

whatever brewed inside boiled sweet and fiery

in your hands

and without them

people stare me down for hours on end, hopeful

but there’s not one bubble, not even a hiss

though I try and hate to keep them waiting

I know something’s broken

the heat won’t turn on

when it’s off


the crown i didn’t want

The red-lipped gab and shrill giggles of cat-eyed girls

the ones who spearhead this supposed committee of social niceties 

the ones wearing sequined crowns and smiles laced with artificial sweetener

left me awkard, clumsy, sick—

I was sprawled in that game of 5 finger fillet again

I readied myself for point to pierce flesh

but I removed my hand from their dangerous game

I grabbed handfuls of the sequins, sparkles, buttons instead

and crafted a crown but didn’t wear it

(I didn’t want it)

I just held it and considered

how the heat of the glue gun melted the plastic easily

so easily