against the beat
pull against the music like
against the beat
pull against the music like
how did I go from:
flinching at his touch to:
because I finally made tears fall. I can see now
it is possible to comfort someone who has hurt
you and feel numb. to bring the hammer
down and instantly shush the wreckage back
into a whole; I have never seen him
as this: open mouth, desperate
eyes to the sky through monochrome
night — I take it back, I take it back —
you rock, squeeze, rock, breathe
squeeze your eyes, bury your face
into the tremble until it is absorbed
back into you and it is
better, it is
this being: this ball of serotonin, the swaying
laugh: you’ll be ok. the next morning had
good lighting. it was sunny.
crying is manipulative, I say.
honestly just keeping this here for my academic benefit
[excerpt from heidi hartmann’s “the unhappy marriage of marxism and feminism: towards a more progressive union” (1979)]
The mirror asks: how can this be, this bloom that became pity?
Stifle, the exhale.
This bloom became worry. This bloom became:
yield. Willful denial of self,
a smidge. Tuck the smile
behind the ear
clutches of soil. Thyme. Quiet.
EDIT: After noticing that reading my journals seriously affects my state of mind, for the purposes of future me’s mental health, it’s necessary to preclude this with a note: this is NOT healthy. This is NOT ok. Furthermore, this poem is wallowing in self-pity, self-hatred, and is furthermore self-absorbed, and is perhaps even more damaging because it’s self-aware of itself: self-critical does not mean valid. Acknowledging and teasing out flaws and unhealthy thoughts just to let them sit there is not justification. Read this as a snapshot of a state of mind, not one to ever let yourself empathize with again, or maybe: read this as a warning flag, if you ever empathize with it. Remember: empathy. Have empathy.
sorry not sorry, but really actually I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry that I turn every conversation into systemic discourse.
I’m sorry that I can’t see a movie without talking
about the depiction of poc and whatever else
shit that poops the party when
your white friends try to connect with me
by bringing up the tale of genji after I say the word
I don’t have the guts
to let a silence hang.
often I forget who I am
often forgetting is utterly impossible
you are everything I
couldn’t be 5 years ago and somehow
I like you
I love you
I might loathe
loave — shh, that’s an inside joke —
how public is this supposed to be?
who do I write for anyway?
these are the questions I don’t want the answer to:
this is the place I choose to publish because I know you won’t ever read it.
this is where I go to hide from you
because after trying to pull you in I’m realizing that some places,
as I’ve always known, are inaccessible
I didn’t know they could be inaccessible to you
I’m glad I have something that is inaccessible to you
— shh, that’s the disgusting part of me —
— oops, did I just write that? —
but this place is on sale, discounted; that’s
the difference; my places
are always at a markdown; don’t tell me
otherwise, I won’t believe it. safe spaces are for
people who need to retreat, because
you never need to retreat —
— oh god, see what I do to you? what I make you? —
here’s what I can’t stand: that I have the ability to project infinite
privilege onto another human being. who cares
if I’m right some of the time?
who cares if I’m backed systemically,
theoretically, epistemologically, who
cares if I can rehearse the critique
and anti-critiques of in
until I’m blue, yellow, black, red, white,
white, white, Oops
I gave it away didn’t you know that you fell in love
with me only because I’ve spent my entire life trying to fade to white,
does that conflict with my daily ramblings, Oh Shit
this is something I never ever want
to think about: one-way internalized racism
can generate two-way love
that’s shockingly, beautifully, terrifyingly
real, well let’s be honest here
deep down I hope it comes out to white
I still hope I come out to white
of course I think about this every day
the only thing I ever wanted was to write
my experience as beauty and not pity
As I’ve always done with beautiful people, I’ve long only noticed Harry Styles from afar. I never fully allow myself to love things that I feel are too bright and too clean for me, and if One Direction was the pack of popular boys in school, then Harry had prettiest face of them all. He’s the handsome boy you’ve never talked to because you run in different crowds, but who everyone says is very nice, even though he’s never seemed to experience that awkward phase that you thought was a necessary evil, a journey you must undergo to become a better adult. You don’t pine for him; he will always be too far from where you are for you to reach him. You don’t really have anything in common with him, anyway.
Listening to this album has made me think of Harry Styles’s schoolboy persona a bit differently—but not too differently. It’s like looking up to find him right beside you at the bus stop. He’s started to dress a little differently this year—a little shaggier, maybe—and as you observe this, he turns and asks if you know the Beatles. You respond, “Uh, yeah?” He explains that he’s recently gotten really into them. You miraculously get to talking while you wait for the bus, only to find that this beautiful, distant boy from school sometimes says stupid things like, “You’re cool, no one else knows who the Beatles are,” or is awkward and nervous sometimes, like you. You realize he’s been raised by the same media and culture as you, so he’s been deifying a beautiful girl from school the same way you’ve deified him, but none of that lessens his charm. You simply begin to project a more down-to-earth and relatable ideal of a boy onto him, and perhaps he is beginning to form his idea of you in his mind, as well.
I have asked for three days of space, and in the aftermath of the request — an unfussy affair, a quick text and only a few minutes of heart pounding, conceived of and solidified during my evening shower, Nujabes echoing on the tile — a strange combination of blithe, anxious, dreading, and then nothing at all.
Here’s what he said: I’m not jazzed about it.
Here’s what I responded: You’re the best.
And I suppose really I mean that. But I’ve been thinking a lot about something a poet I saw said, that they were a needy person, and that they would keep being needy and would surround themself with equally needy people, and they would all be needy together.
I think I have denied myself that neediness for a while now. I think I was raised and convinced through whatever cool-girl portrayals I saw that being needy was uniformly negative, and that there was some invisible inverse relationship between neediness and quality of person. I think I’m tired of that. I think I’ve been craving neediness — receiving, giving, the works — and I know, I know, that I need neediness, and I shall have neediness, and I shall be needy. I want the cool gals and the cool guys to leave, be scared away by my whirlwind of neediness, until I have no one but the real ones left as the dust settles.
That’s not true, of course. I want people, I want quantity. Really, I am terrified. I am terrified of pruning, because I have also been pruning quite recently, and of course: what if there is no one left? There is almost no one left. I am scared of being alone. I am scared of being alone.
For three days, I will be alone. I will read, and think about everything but the one thing, and I will live, perhaps hollowly, better hollowly than anxiously, better nothing than that. For three days. It will be good for me.