Category Archives: love

you, me and sadness. two or three

elle, can we go out tonight  just the two of us? phoenix asked.

what do you mean it’s always just us, i said.

no. it’s you, me, and sadness.

and what makes you think it’s my sadness?

well, he pauses, it’s simple. i don’t feel sad when i am with you.

photo  by ArminBxl.

his lips burst into the kind of smile that temporarily short circuits the electricity within me; i tilt my lips against his to see if a wave of sparks could rinse between the two of us. my fingers arc to explore the curves of his stillness. they are such traitors. they love to touch him — this six foot five and a half (you must get that exactly right or you will be saltily corrected) almost three hundred pound magnificent man. my fingers don’t touch me that way. they dig and pick in their jittery desire to keep up with my frenetic heart. i’ll have wide-open spaces where my face used to be because of them… and he won’t even care, he’ll just push my fingers away like always and kiss each line in my hand until my anxiety rushes out of my ears and all i hear are the lyrics of his soft breathing.

i’ll just reach for the on off switch i keep in my jean pocket, i say.

you don’t have to.

i squish sadness into my intestines and hope that my digestive system will work like a car wash and scrub all my darkness away. but sadness isn’t water soluble; it always creeps back into my irises to show me pictures of all that i am not.

i am. i am. i am. i flash happy pictures in my mind to make it a war. i am. i am, i tell the sadness. sometimes, i close my eyes when i am with him and do this. i’ve even jumped up and down and done a semi-circle to make my point clear. yeah, i know — completely not sane. how do you explain that other than to laugh and blame it on the wine?

you are sentastic, i finally say.

sentastic? a complete sentence.

no, sensational and fantastic.

ahh. you know i hate when you do that, he says, but of course he doesn’t mean it — the grimace on his face is centimeters away from being a smile. i once told him that i make up words to describe him because normal, regular words don’t do him justice.  i rubbed my thumb against the back of my neck to give myself a thumbs up sign for that one.

we sit in a happy silence until i ask what do you want to do tonight?

i’m not sure, he says, looking around.

i really mean it, i say, about sadness.

i know, he says, but of course he doesn’t really believe me. he thinks i’m in love with sadness. he said it to me once when he thought i was still asleep, followed by i wish-i wish — and then silence. what does he wish for? do i even want to know?

his fingers find my funny spot and some of the water i’m drinking follows my giggles and slips onto my chin. you are the reason they invented the adult bib, he says and the wrinkles by his eyes soften.

thanks a lot, i say in mock hurt, and push him away. we sit in silence for some time watching the flickering colors on the television. i wish we could sneak into the screen. i could be clair and he could be cliff; we would have a team of writers in charge of making us brilliantly funny each day — no sadness allowed. we would sit in the kitchen with our charming children after a long day and make brownies together.

i look over at him, suddenly nervous — he’s said that when i get quiet, that’s when the sadness starts to emanate. where do you go? go somewhere different or stay here with me.


a pumpkin robot (another letter i’ll never send)

dear k:

photo  by wottheduk.
i think i am a robot.

not the shiny high tech kind that a brainy person could build from scratch and program with enough happiness and frivolity to make billions of people happy. or the sexy, intriguing kind that writers like to ponder in their poetry. but a listless, lifeless, often redundant robot with limbs so heavy that sometimes it hurts to walk — if i’m lucky. but i am not lucky or shiny or sexy. i am merely a pumpkin robot. my insides stream out and color the ground a gentle orange; i am so empty that i wonder if i am dead.

i eatsleepwork but all from behind a trusty window. the days are so similar that i forget if it is monday or thursday. have you left me yet or am i still convincing myself that one day you won’t be angry and lash me with it? i could have loved you something wonderful.

i like to press my face against the glass and feel coldness push itself into my cheeks. if i wait long enough maybe my brown cheeks will turn a lush, soft pink like a baby. maybe i could start all over. it’s not like i have anything left.

i write the words save me into the foggy glass. i used to try to save everyone. i dreamed all the world needed was love to heal. people don’t want love though. they want food. they want their amputated leg to stop hurting. they want to erase the images of  gun shots and bombs that stripped their family, country apart. what can you and your stupid love do for me, they shout. i whimper and flatten myself against the ground — my pumpkin iron arms the only thing holding me together.

sometimes, i think there’s another pumpkin robot out there (maybe even you). i talk to him or her rather than to god — my soul is damned anyway. i know you’re out there, i whisper to her. the words you have to be float into the thick quiet.  roam the world with me. i know a perfect spot for dreaming where it never grows cold, the air smells like vanilla and honey, and you don’t have to wear shoes. the grass tickles your feet and you’re happy. you’re happy and it’s not a war to stay that way — it’s intermingled in each breath in and each laugh out.

come with me. we can paint our dreams in bright yellow and purple hues and string them together with band aids and the little bit of love we can muster from our rusty parts. we can fly away on them and never look back.

— lissa.

maybe love and fear are just streams of consciousness.

some people can’t love at all because of fear. i’ve met most of them and foolishly loved them all. this piece isn’t about that but that would make for an interesting line to some other story i may write some day.


photo by garry.


i am scared.

it keeps me awake some nights. my heart beats so fast i have to let it loose. i breathe tiny baby breaths that don’t go anywhere and stare at the ceiling wondering if this will be the night that i lose my mind. some times i’m flooded with fear.  other times i magically disconnect; i am all alone in a tiny box and i can see fear on the other side waiting for me. if each fear is attached to a thought, if i don’t feed them, if i could just stop thinking, would they go away and let me live a lovingly zombielike existence? i would love to be a zombie for a few years.

is fear something inherently part of being a human that keeps things from being too easy? maybe some people don’t get scared at all. they label fear as stress and thrive from it.

maybe i should love fear. i should make it chocolate chip pancakes and sing it lullabies. we should do things i always wanted to do like sleep in a dirt field with nothing but stars and crickets everywhere, think about the future and not drown in the vastness of it, be myself, confront my childhood, move across country, and read my poems aloud to strangers.

the poetry reading — it wouldn’t have to be a performance. i could read despite my shaking limbs and sweaty armpits. it won’t matter if my voice quivers or if i look at the floor for half of the reading. there will be that moment when i leave my body and enter the spirit of the piece when they see the essence of me in poem form. i will touch them. i will breathe the gentle fire that burns inside of me and dare them not to feel me. then, i will walk back to my seat, take a deep breath, and feel the self-love spread through me and chase away the fear.



photo by meg greer.


“i put your pancreas in the blender,” oliver said. “it spurted red colors so dark, they almost seemed blueish brown.”

“how could you do something so important without me?” i asked. “you’re not an artist. you’re nearly color blind. you never see what i see.”

it was an impossible conversation. “you have to see it,” he said.

he walked me to the kitchen like you would walk someone who had only just learned to walk. each step was uncertain like i was carrying the weight of an elephant in my calf. wasn’t this how being with him felt — heavy, inescapable? i swayed against him in the doorway, afraid to look, gentle back and forth whispers against the wall of his chest. for a moment, i lost myself in the movement and imagined for a moment that i was a young tree flirting with the wind instead of a middle-aged woman in a hospital talking to her dead lover.

forget i told you that part. i don’t need your pity. you don’t want to hear about the cells in my pancreas. i know i don’t. the sneaky little creeps that keep growing and spreading so silently that you would think they were the perfect house guests. you would invite them over for tea and sit and laugh with them until you realized they never left. they were the ones you felt beside you at night who stole your sleep as they dug their heels into your stomach and back.

oliver died of cancer too. damnit. i said too. “you’re still alive,” i whisper to myself, wrapping my arms around my body in the biggest hug i can muster. despite the years and miles between our diagnoses, the doctors used the same words to describe our cancer: unexplainable and unfortunate. did they all meet in a conference once a year that taught them words to use to convey compassion? why didn’t the words reach the blank look in their eyes? why is a woman who treated her body like a temple in the same situation as a man who smoked for twenty years?

oliver smelled like bubble gum and tobacco. can you believe that there was a time when i used to try to drown myself in that smell? when i thought i wouldn’t be able to live without being able to bury my face into his chest so deep that i all i could breathe was him. every single part of me loved him so much. if my toes could have clung to him, they would have.

somehow though my life got better without him. having my own air to breathe, my own scent to create, my own days to plan, built steps towards an inner peace that blossomed into a warm fire inside me that made me whole.

why is it then that now when the end is almost near, oliver is back crowding my every thought? instead of hearing the man coughing in the room next to mine, i’m with oliver again and we’re in our tiny brick kitchen in brooklyn.

“here,” he says, showing me the blender with a boyish grin. his eyes look sunken, his cheeks so thin, and his teeth are a stained dark brown. do we die frozen in our essence? this was the way oliver would have looked if you had turned him inside out. why had i lost so much of myself in this lifeless man?

and what about you, pancreas, i thought, staring into the blender. it didn’t look like the indomitable villain i had imagined. it seemed harmless torn apart into tiny little shreds. i felt a crazy impulse to kiss each strip and spread forgiveness with the warmth of my lips.

my blood was just as disappointing as my pancreas. it didn’t look bluebrown. it was a very dull red. i expected vivid ketchup colors just yearning to be scattered onto a canvas. i expected to feel different, lighter. shouldn’t the voids have raced out of my body without the vampire organ there to chase away the moments of hope each deep breath in and out brought?

“aren’t you happy?” oliver asked, stirring me out of my thoughts.

“yes, baby. thank you,” i said and brushed a kiss against his temple. “i have to do this alone though.” slowly, i walk away and my steps don’t feel like elephants at all, more like breathless butterfly flutters. my bed doesn’t feel like a hospital bed but like a hammock swaying in each breath of life. i don’t feel unexplainable or unfortunate. i feel alive, even if it’s just for each moment and i’m okay with that because each moment is all we ever really have.


breathe love

the question isn’t will you love me, why don’t you love me anymore, or why has love forgotten about me? love cannot be given or taken. it is everywhere. i am love. you are love.

let me breathe love towards you like a fire breathing dragon. do you feel its incessant heat against your face, the way it dares to life places inside of you that you have long ago mourned and buried? don’t turn away and cover your face. you don’t need to fear love, say it won’t last, or pretend it doesn’t exist. it will never leave you.

the only question worth asking is why are you still waiting for something that is everywhere?

my heart leaped out of my chest like a small wrinkled frog. it opened its mouth, tongue dangling, panting as it ingested the contents of the room. a cycle of life transpired with each exchange: pale orange mist during inhalation and bright red sun during exhalation.

it sat on the white and pink patterned dresser in the corner of my room and stared at me. i watched it beat without me and  lost myself  in the beauty of silence filling the room. i  pet  it over and over amazed by its satin texture.

it grew plumper with each caress until suddenly it burst apart like twenty bullets had ricocheted its inner fibers. my cheeks seemed wet but i couldn’t feel the tears. how do you perform resuscitation on a heart? i gathered the pieces and attempted to mold them into one. it resisted; it wasn’t clay nor was it broken. instead of one, it was now twenty vesicles of love.

i pressed slivers of my heart to the space beneath my tongue, the inside of my eye lids, the narrow pads of my fingertips, and every spare inch of skin i could find. my heart intertwined the thread of its veins into my flesh. soon each breath, kiss, word, step, and touch i gave became more than just a habitual act; they were love. i was love, a love that didn’t fear, hide, or need — a love that only loved.

— lissa

postsecret photo uploaded by iceblink240.

make believe treehouse


animal’s strokefists cannot permeate the small treehouse in my mind where poppa’s smell of crushed sage and honey decorate the walls with warmth. i climb the heavy branches and press my feet against the grooves in the bark until i enter the soft cushion of his smell. it whispers love and i release my broken self and gently place it on the floor. i shrink into gingerbread size and enclose myself here.

soon i hear the sound of daddy coming home from work. i tip toe rush into his arms and he swings me around like a paper doll. he ruffles my hair and calls me sunshine. animal, daddy, and i sit at a tiny table stump. we eat banana nut bread together as daddy teaches animal the boundaries of touch. animal’s docile here and wags his head back and forth in awe of daddy. he helps me clear the table and then i put him in his pink cage. i give him a treat and pat his head and he smiles up at me.

we are only a family here — in the confines of these branches, the only place i can make sure daddy takes his lithium pills. daddy doesn’t beatbeatbeat animal (and animal, in turn, doesn’t beattouch me) because he can control the jazz in his mind before it becomes too frenzied, too intense, like it is about to ooze his brain cells out of his ear. he doesn’t slip so far below the bottom that he cannot get out of bed, loses his sixth job in the past three months, and leaves animal and i to find a way to keep the bill hunters away. he is our lion daddy here and finally he protects us.


an extension of the characters in jasmine.

closing the flood gates of sorrow

photo by mrtriggerfinger.


his sadness is the kind that clings, fills oceans, and causes floods in your desire to help make him whole.

i want to infuse him with love. i want to be the heat that recedes the depth of his need. i’m not the first; perhaps the number of people who have felt the same could fill a small country. when he allows it, his charm hides his infinite voids, and he makes you laugh in places that feel like they were created by him. he awakens dead tissue in your love organ.

the chambers of my heart swell for him. i wrap my body around him and try to immerse love into his pores, try to let touch be a filter for my feelings.

he is the master of his own destiny though. i cannot drift to the dreamland he goes to with tall five-eyed monsters who tell him he’s not good enough so many times that he starts to foam at the mouth and shake.

i place cold wash cloths against his temple when he’s stilled. i press my lips against his and breathe warm, giant gulps of life into the depths of his lungs. you will never drown me like the others, i whisper when his breathing still hasn’t become regular. let it out.

he hides his face in my chest and softly cries the monsters out from his soul. i love you, he says, the vibration of his words stroking the middle of my chest. there’s a brief moment before he falls back to sleep where i see a sliver of darkness, a portion of his ocean of sadness, dissipate. it closes the flood gates another inch; it keeps me swimming.


dark chocolate candy land

photo by jessi.


i sat beside his chair every night for as long as he would let me
his eyes stayed so still it didn’t seem like he ever blinked
the air slowly squeezed in and out of his chest like his body
was in a constant struggle with life his cheek leaned against his hand
so loosely that it seemed like his head might droop onto the mahogany table
the grooves so thick in the wood that the table could split into two
splintering slowly like the mind of a person longing for love

he would stare at the ceiling for hours his arms clenched around his body
so tightly that i think he forgot i was there watching him
he whispered her name softly his eyes racing back and forth
across the ceiling as though they were chasing after something

i stroked my hand against his cheek and he stared at me
the wild haunted glaze in his eyes disappearing behind dark chocolate walls
his lips slowly curved into a mechanical grin
like we were strangers meeting for the first time in a fantasy world
where people and pain stayed behind their assigned walls
as he ran his fingers through my hair and told me to go to bed


our only sunshine

photo by threelittlebirds (Mindy J).



i reach for him
my body already numb
from too much pinot noir
and anticipate his rejection.

i know he doesn’t mean it but god does
it hurt that he’s left me with only
the shell of his body, his inner core
on retreat in the world of sorrow.

i deal with life for the both of us.
i repaint the pink walls white.
i donate the little dresses to charity.
i put the picture books into boxes
unable to keep from reading each one.
my fingers caress the brightness
on the pages. i hold the hard covers
against my face, nudging the word
love that always seems to be in
the title with my cheek.
leap into me love
never let me go.

tonight the boundary
between our worlds finally collide.
when i reach for him
he lets me hold him.
he lets his body relax into mine
and i feel a piece of darkness
slip out from under us.

you are my sunshine
my only sunshine i say
rubbing his back
kissing the tears away.

we were supposed to sing it to her
i say as our bodies rock back and forth
finally wading through the pain together.


inspired by a readwritepoem prompt about light

what if i only existed when you read me?

reader, i’m on the opposite side of your screen. can you feel me?

reach your hand through the page and stroke the nape of my neck. there’s a brief moment where you can slip your hand through the pixellated colors of your monitor and feel the wires of the machine wrap against your wrist as you get deeper and deeper into the computer and closer and closer to my neck.

reach for me and i’ll instinctively lean my head towards your fingers and feel the ripples in the ocean of our love as your hand runs up and down my skin. when your arm starts to weaken from the incredible stress involved in being in so many worlds at once, i’ll let out a soft whimper as i start to feel you pull away.

i can’t make my own ripples or contain enough love to fill a puddle of water. i’m not really an animal; i can’t sustain myself. i belong in the plant kingdom. i’m mostly broken. i could break and scatter the rest of myself into a small patch of soil and become something beautiful that you could keep in your sunroom and water each day. i would learn to grow tall, leaning towards the direction of your voice. i could live for you.

when we’re once again on opposite sides of the computer screen and you don’t know what to say to me because of course i can’t be your plant and you really are tired of my sad poems weighing you down, i’ll type “don’t worry. this is fiction.” you can breathe a big sigh of relief as you turn off your computer and decide on what you’re going to make yourself for dinner, completely unaware that without you, i am darkness.