One year ago I was admitted to Columbia University
but money is so real
that I feel it slipping from my hip bones.
Feel my hands reaching for bottles I don’t remember buying.
to keep my spirits up but
my lungs are so tired
that I’m having trouble sleeping.
Poems well up beneath my skin
then dry and shed in places unintended,
job applications and non-profit cover letters.
I am so sick of playing nice
that I feel insults sliding across my teeth.
Riding my back home in the rain
because these days
safety is a currency.
Because math tests and technicalities
keep me from decent salaries.
Because my pay checks are life lines.
And I fetch after them like a dog
Because poverty is the closet we’ll ever get to our own heartbeats.
And I know my heart so well that she has her own twitter account.
140 characters of magnificent poetry.
I keep thinking my art is something I’ll grown into.
Keep thinking it won’t be so loose in the shoulders
like my mouth will become big enough to say all the words I have always been scared to.
I’m so embarrassed by the paper.
So embarrassed by the keyboard.
She beckons me forth.
And little ole me shuffling out of the light
with a cup of whiskey because I can’t approach her any other way.
by these blanks pages.
These acceptance letters.
This visa bill.
This empty bank account.
I am so terrified of not becoming who I am
that all I can think of to do is move.
All I can think of to do is write.
All I can think of to do is submit.
Like it’s my last pay check.
Like it’s my last hope.
I place myself into every corner.
There is no room anywhere else.
I am crowded by my own voice.
Crowded by my own potential.
Every day I wake up with such urgency
and I don’t know when the switch happened.
I don’t know when winter started.
But when it’s raining outside I just think of the sun.
I just think of its touch against my back.
I think when you are at the bottom it is easy to pack up.
It is easy to drive South
to adopt a dog
and call yourself free.
I think I have to stop drinking now.
I think this bottle has wound its way to dust bow and it will make a very nice display on my mantel.
I think I have not stopped writing since the day I was born.
I have not stopped writing since the day my mind matched sounds to sentences.
These sentences that shimmer like gold.
They are the only currency I have left.
They are the only language I know how to speak.
They touch against my back
like anyone out there.
Like if anyone is out there,
I can’t afford Columbia