You are strong palms, tired bones, you are good foundations out of stone.

You are asphalt and where you grew up, you are the swingset and the night sky. You are the smell of toast and your mother’s coffee.

You are forge, you come with bellows and fire and bronze. You are granite. You come with hard history, witches in your hair and sickness in your heartbeat. They made you death. They made you dying.

She is clockwork systems, she is malfunction, you can see her strum her own funeral aria. She is crying over her tiny lily headache, she is trying to explain why she’s always coupled with a misty cloud of complete self-hatred.

You hold her hand. You breathe life. You know how cold space is, you disintegrate it. You bring her body against yours until her trembling stops. Her arms are a shaky circle around you. She murmurs a thanks you don’t feel you deserve.

She is shadows, you are light. Without her, you are not defined.

She is static, but you are radio. Wherever she is, you find yourself home.

Magnesium: black, part 9/9 in the rainbow series // r.i.d 

when you find her, she is curved-spine crumpled in a bathtub, broken song trapped under her tongue, face a crumpled mascara run.

you get her home. you tuck her under the covers your grandmother knit. they smell like lilacs. you don’t sleep here. you curl up in the corner of a public library. you are nocturnal tenancies, you are twilight awakening. your afternoon comes at three in the morning.

you come back and gentle-help her, quiet hands offering first bar of soap and then thick towel and then small breakfast she won’t eat.

you are simple ways. you do not give her your phone number, you are steady-get-to-know-her. the months pass and you do not pressure. you are lightweight, you are heather.

the bags under your eyes get thicker. you are so tired but you know nothing of rest.

on a broken-glass night too loud for your silence, she kisses you while she’s too drunk to talk herself out of it. you politely decline, you leave the room, you go to a cold rocky beach, you sit there while the water laps at your feet.

it is raining and she is happy and she is curled up in your lap and this time when she kisses you, you are royalty, you are crown, you are thick coats and desperate voices, the two of you are scrambling for purchase in each other’s skin, you are leaving happy bruises, you are soft moans and laughter and every time you touch her, you marvel at her.

later when you curl up beside her and breathe in the smell of her hair, you are floating, you are iris petal. she has cracked you open and found the only beautiful parts of you left. she makes you feel as if you are complete.

you lie there, listening to her breathe. for the first time in forever, you finally drift off to sleep.

Hematite Iron Oxide: Part 8/9 in a series // r.i.d

that moment in your writing where you just sigh because you know you’re about to google something totally odd and you’re like “s/o to the NSA i hope you get a kick outta this one”

you want to be
bold ink, ripped jeans,
tell-all diary,
you want to be someone different,
someone new
but
everyone always
forgets about you.

you’re a mixture of everyone you want to be
but you fall short:
you are bleeding lips, bruised knees.

you tried to write your own definition once
and just gave
up.

just who are you,
my love?

and will you ever
be enough?

C16H10N2O2: Part 7/9 in a series // r.i.d

BIG WAVE COMING: bold face font, you are curves and you are not afraid to flaunt.

You are sick of bullies, of bad memories, of flinching. You have already been rolled over and ran over and left empty.

No more of this. You are stormcloud lungs and selkie hands and proud as hell of shark-sharp teeth. You had to be scarred to get here. This treasure should be yours to keep.

To hell with small-boat boys and shallow-water girls. You are the unexplored, you are cold, and you will no longer be moved by their words.

She is a small fish and you are entire-ocean and you know she would become another’s lunch. You are protector dragon, you are center-of-the-fire, you are bruised knuckles and bright nights, you will not let her become leftover whiskey and somebody’s wet dream.

You try to teach her how to be less shadow and more the warmth you find hidden in her bloodstream. You show her the veins in your arm and how they’re still pulsing. You could be death, could be end, could be mourning.

You are instead berries and smooth jazz and jaybird, you have finally taught yourself to have so much to live for. You want to spill over your edges with hugs and with passion, you want to bring joy, you want to grasp moon and turn tides and bring change to this earth: a flooding of intense and glorious self-worth.

You fought demons to be where you are, you will not simply hand over the key to your heart. You are hard gemstone, and darling, you glow. You don’t need to be told that you’re beautiful. You already know.

You’ve spent your whole life fighting for your soul. You were the only one who saw castle where others saw hole.

Mercury: part 6/9 in a series /// r.i.d

your heart is too soft, and she is setting herself on fire. she calls you her treehouse. the way you feel about her is too small for the building of your body.

your bruised arms are not the branches she perceives. you
are not forest, you are quiet weak.

ivy nerve endings, cities where other people have laid you bare.
you are kept up at night by your father’s foghorn voice and you
are not loud singing, you are blades of grass meeting a ribcage. you shush. you are afraid of long nights, you are
afraid of car doors slamming,
you are afraid that if she looks at your wrapping
she will see that the gift
comes empty.

she is good wine, fireworks, she is picnic blanket and
watermelon, she is a robin and you are flat plains
and too boring for someone who seems so
good at living

she tells you she will come apart like a grenade:
with no warning,

you promise her you’ll stay.

how do you explain that it isn’t a difficult choice?
for so long you’ve been silent
and she is your voice.

Boric Acid: part 5/9 in a series // r.i.d

hello bone marrow and chicken stew and tummy tuck and laxative and clutching your skin as if it was poison hello rocky inner teeth
hello breaking

flight-or-flight and strung wire, you are
coughing up the lunch your mother made you and
somehow not
crying

you’re champagne drunk and posing in pictures with absolute control, hand on hip, arms at wide angles, smile as if you are a tuned harp instead of an accident waiting to happen, smile as if you’ve only ever tasted good food and warm stomachs

teeter-heels, small dress, hands that fumble for the lightswitch before they get to his pants.

you are sick nights, weak moonlight, you are counting how many bridges you can set alight in one fell swoop, you are jaundice nobody seems to notice even if they can see right through you

you are small notes at the bottom of your paper: don’t eat, you will
hate yourself later

liquor bottle clutched in little fist. you are the plague horse. your breath gives it away.
inside you are rotting.
everybody knows and no one says anything.

bad voices, bad night, bad life. bad brain allergic to back fat. you want to dig worm fingers into clay skin, come up with ugly roots, you want to let the desert sand erase you.

but your waver-heart still beats, however weak. some part of you holds on. some part of you still dreams.

you could be firefly, you could be midnight star, you could fight this whole thing off.

hello, unbroken stalactite crystals of a body like a cave. hello visions of mother’s sugar cookies and cupcake icing, hello shaky hands folding in prayer, hello soft haybales and full breath and daisy chains

no you may not be okay,
but for what it’s worth,
tonight, you will stay.

Arsenic: part 4/9 in a series // r.i.d

you are outside friend, second-best. a phone with internet
and not a single person you could chat with.

she brings you over to her bonfire, you are shaky hand
holding too-thin punch. everyone sits so close to each other
that their breathing matches pace. you stand
rather than get in the way.

you see her and feel sunrise but you know you are
melting creamsicle creation, you only mess her up

but she says she can see autumn in you, she can see
oversized sweaters and halloween

you have always been unsure sand underfoot and
she made your childhood into candy corn
and sweet-smelling candles and
ticker tape parades

you should have been warning-sign,
danger lights and she doesn’t even know
about the life that she saved

she holds your hand tight, begs you to come with,
you stand awkwardly outside her circle of friends
and watch her deep-sky smile. you think the only reason
people know you is because she makes you
the happiest you’ve ever been

but goddamn did you fuck up hard
when you fell for your best friend.

Sodium Borate: part 3/9 in a series // r.i.d

he is grass underfoot, you are
mistake.

god but when his hands connect with your skin
you see constellations and how come one person
can taste so much like both morning cereal and
morning sex you are bright dawn around him,
you are firecracker, fire engine, you are
match and kindling, you are both
going down in history for causing
the highest heartbeats

and you are completely wrong for him because
he’s warm ocean wave and you’re the single tired eye
of a cigarette, he’s thick forest and you’re
desert planet

you build bricks around your body, you
beg him not come in but he is creeping ivy
and determined to wend and
he somehow always lets the sunlight in

you are anxiety’s grandchild, you are always
too-much too-much too-much, too loud, too
angry, too soft to turn away the hands of
lovers who only wanted your stain
on their lips
and all the time you hear
“you’d be fine if you just stopped trying
so hard at it” but careening out of control is
literally the only way you know how to live
so you constantly apologize for
just being terrible enough to
exist

and lately you’ve been feeling that
unattached hatred of your own condition
you are big flashing self-destruct button

but he is storm-breaker, gift-wrap,
good earth and when you ask why he doesn’t
just leave why he doesn’t just spare himself the trouble
of your explosions and headrush-heat and
spur-of-the-moment words you spit
and he takes your hand and promises

you are not burdensome. you are only
worth it.

Antimony: Part 2/9 in a series //  r.i.d

she asks why your chest is
a belfry of doves, all
weeping,

she is star-child, good-future,
you are too old to know better but
too young to do good, you are
the scrape of a knee,
you are broken teeth

she asks why you’re the sound of seven thousand seams,
all splitting infinitely, why good lord but your laughter
sounds an awful lot
like screams

but when you were eight your mama told you
that bodies are always rotting and only the clean ones see god
and you’ve been trying to distill yourself ever since
trying to scrub out all this earth and solvent
maybe somewhere in all that frantic
you accidentally lost your way maybe
somewhere in all that tragic
you accidentally forgot your name

see the truth you are suffocating under the stagelights
of everyone else’s eyes
because goddamn but they want everything from you
and not a single word of complaint but
how are you supposed to be
both the canvas
and the paint

you want to rip yourself up and hold out your
frozen tundra soul
beg them all ‘is this good enough is
this perfect enough is this
whole?”

Monotomic Gold: Part 1/9 in a series // r.i.d