Growing Up

If I could choose,
I would remember
white fences with green grass
penned behind it
and warm sun rays
heating my skin
to the beet red of summer.

If I could choose,
I would remember
family vacations
and long stretches of highway,
Madonna blasting in my headphones
and dozens of tiny chipmunks
scurrying up my dad’s legs.

If I could choose,
I would remember
Disneyland and Santa Cruz
and crawdads in the creek
behind my house.

If I could choose,
that is what I would remember.

But I can’t choose,
can I?

I can’t choose
to forget
the yelling,
the words ripped from raw throats
as I hid beneath my blankets
wishing for the ending.

I can’t choose
to forget
the RV where I spent a whole summer
in sweltering heat,
a migraine pulsing through my body
like a demon begging to get out
while my mother laughed like I was faking.

I can’t choose
to forget
watching her drive away
as I held all of our belongings
in one hand and my sister’s fingers
clutched in the other.

I can’t choose
to forget
the forgetting,
the abandoning,
the starving,
the crying.

But I can choose
to remember
the striving,
the thriving,
the living,
and the persisting

that comes with
all the pain of
growing.

~Patience

***

I gave my freshmen an assignment to write a poem about their childhood and their memories and their maturity. I told them I’d write one too. It had to have repetition and imagery. This is my poem.

She Is A Hurricane

She is a hurricane,
spiraling winds
wrapped up
in waterfalls
of rain,

and she can’t stop falling,
pouring herself out onto
streets and cars and houses.

She winds up her thoughts
with gale force facts
and spews them at whoever won’t listen
because no one really does.

Her eyes bleed invisible tears
that plummet onto
people’s faces,
their backs,
their feet,

yet she’s the one
on her knees
begging for someone
to speak,
to see,
to listen
to all the thunderous words
swirling around in her storm,

the pain she craves to let out,
the desire consuming her
piece by piece,
drop by drop,

but all she does is watch
as the upper air flow pulls the clouds away,
watch as the rain dries up again

because there’s nothing
she can really do anyway.

~Patience

Someone

I guess I got what I wanted.

I just didn’t realize
it wouldn’t be enough.
That I would open my eyes
and see your face
and know this was where I belonged.

I didn’t know that just being
someone
wouldn’t be enough.

I thought I needed
someone.
To hold me
and smile at me
and make me feel.

But I didn’t realize
I didn’t need

someone.

I needed you.

It was only
your hands,
your eyes,
your mouth,
lying next to you in that room,
under that white down blanket,
my fingers walking around your tattoos
as I listened to your warm words
float into my ears,
wander around my head,
hearing your secrets,
the worries behind your eyes.

I miss you like I miss
a home I never had,
a life I never lived,

and I keep wondering
if your arms are where
I’m supposed to be.

~Patience

***

I began this in 2018 and decided to edit it today. Who knows if it’s any good or if I still feel this way. I can’t tell anymore.

Cinders and Trees

Strange,
this feeling of nostalgia
pouring over me,
bathing me in memories
of times I’ll never forget,
of moments I’d somehow misplaced,
and emotions I’d like to relive.

Yet we can’t go back.
No one can.

That road has gone,
drifted into ash and cinder,
and this path is the only one that exists.

We can’t go back
because I’ve tried.
I’ve closed my eyes,
clenched them tight
until they burned
behind my lids,
and begged to go back

to that beach
with his hand holding mine,
wished for those lips on my neck
and an imaginary future I’d hoped to be real.

But I can’t go back.
No one can.

And now I’m tangled up
in older memories,
the ones that helped make me this person
before I ever stepped
onto that sand,
before I ever scratched my way
across the country
just to feel his skin next to mine.

And those images keep pelting me
with old things that are new again,
ancient fingers brushing my hair
from my face,
lost pieces of life
I’d forgotten existed.

~Patience

The First

Suddenly,
old is new again,
and I’m not sure how
it happened.

Like fate
or kismet
or some kind of coincidence
that can’t be coincidental.

I remember his strong hands,
the arms that held me up,
that pushed me down
and made me feel alive
when I seemed underwater,
when I seemed lost
in trying to learn who I was.

He was the first.

The first man I loved,
the first man I needed,
the first man I lost,

and it’s been so long,
so vastly far between
then and now

yet

it’s as if
there were
no years,
no hours
spent apart
as we speak,
remember,
be
again.

And I can still
smell your skin,
taste your mouth
against mine
even though
the years should have
wiped us clean,
swept us beneath carpets
overrun
with life
and memories
and time,

and yet
here we are
soaking
in the pools of recollection
so vivid it hurts.

~Patience

Rain

Our passion painted the windows
with our breath,
our steam,
our release
after so much wanting,
so much heat
that the rain outside
felt warm instead of pinpricks of ice
on my skin.

Feeling your flesh
flat against mine,
it was as if the summer sun
pounded against my body
instead of the dark drops
falling like flood gates
around us.

And I was yours.

For a brief moment
in this swirling world of
wishes and wantings,
I was yours
under the black sky
and storm cloudy night.

For a minute,
we were one tumbling,
earth-moving jumble
of limbs and hands and mouths
searching for that finite moment
we’d been waiting for
all along.

~Patience

That Kind of Love

My parents used to slow dance
in the living room.

I remember
watching them
and wishing
for that kind of love

because when they danced,

the room filled with magic.

It was like the roof opened up
and light beamed down on them.

He looked in her eyes
and he kissed her
and it was beautiful.

I want to dance in the living room
and I want you to hold me close,
look at me like I’m magic.

Like my dad looked at her.

~Patience

On Fire

It’s not about
commitment or
love or even
attraction.

It’s about simply
feeling something.

When he puts his hands on me,
his mouth against my skin,
he makes me feel
because I don’t anymore.

I feel
anxious and
sad and
scared,
but that’s it.

I walk around
in those three modes
and exist.

But when he touches me,
I’m fire
and he is the oxygen.

I burn because he fuels me,
and I feel again,
like I used to
before life
extinguished my flames.

He makes me feel
something,
anything
other than pain,

and I crave it,
yearn to feel.

So how do I give that up?
How do I say goodbye to it…again?

~Patience

Belief

Pain ripples off your skin
but you still walk,
still speak,
still move even
when the world wants
to stop you,

and all I want to do is hold you,
feel your heart beat,
help you know you’re alive.
Help you see the beauty
in your strength,
the love inside your pain.

And see what phenomenal could be.

You have stars in your eyes
blinding you,
breaking you,
bilking you
into believing
you don’t deserve more,

but those stars are wrong.

They don’t want to lose your spark
so they suffocate it
until you only see the darkness,
but look for the light.
It’s there,
hiding amongst the frauds,
falling through the cracks.

Dive after it.
Don’t lose your fire
amongst someone else’s ashes.

~Patience

Words

Write something.
Anything.
Just get the thoughts out.

Spill them onto these blank screens
and plaster the world with
your faulty words,
your flawed ideas
that hold together each breath,
each step because without them,
you are empty.

Without them,
you are lost among forests of stories
sprouting up through dirty lines
of mishmashed text,
of broken verses
winding their way up your walls
and tearing cracks in the foundation
you crafted so carefully.

Just write something
so that it all goes back inside.

Let it out so that it’s gone
instead of trapped,
so that your voice isn’t
scarred or silent.

So that the world can
relish your aching
the way you savor
your suffering.

Just write. Something.

~Patience