Here’s, 11 things I can tell strangers in a poem,
Or at least whatever you call this,
but not my mother in a conversation.

Or, 11 things about my life I need to fix,
but can’t even get out of bed,
Or, that to-do bucket list from childhood that rotted,
to the point of the the rats not even nibbling on it anymore,
As I left myself to rot away,
hoping the rancid stench of failure and not showering for a week,
would draw them to eat me away instead,
because they’d probably be the only thing eating that night anyway,
Not that there was even more than one person in the apartment,
Just my mother, and just a thing in my bedroom.

But most simply known as, 8 things about me…whatever that is.

I sometimes would pretend that the poems I hear talking about struggles,
With binging and anorexia and anxiety and depression,
And every single disease you get yelled at on the internet for self-diagnosing,
That they don’t describe me, even in a small way.
And that I shouldn’t be self diagnosis, even without WebMD.
That I’m not able to eat obsessively for hours on end,
But that because I’m afraid to puke, it’s not true.
That I don’t go for days surviving on water and crackers,
And I’m convinced that it’s not because,
I feel that being away from the brink of underweight isn’t good enough anymore.
And it’s just my mom’s paycheck didn’t go through and she needs it more.
And I can’t say that, because she does the same thing for like,
Like only a mother would do,
Only to yell at me when the food she found on sale that she knew was my favorite had gone bad again-

At times at night,
When I talk to the strangers I like,
Through this glowing blue screen,
The ones that call me friend,
I want to throw myself to the rats.
Not because they’re unkind,
But because,
Sometimes it feels like they ask me if I’m feeling okay more than she does,
But I know, as a teenager,
I’m supposed to be inexperienced and rebellious and stupid,
But I can’t help but excuse her behavior,
And think I’m the bad one for questioning her love,
Because her occasional reassurances should be enough,
Because she yells at me so much,
Because I deserve it.

When I’m talking to my friends and they make me laugh,
Not a light one,
But the laughs that give you the warm feelings all over,
Like the joke itself hugged me tighter than I’ve felt in years,
The deep bellied-laugh of a platonic love that cannot be stopped,
Screen or no screen, I feel a fire lit in me.
Not a fire meant to destroy,
But a light. A beacon ready to transform a mangled mess into the ashes of a new phoenix,
Ready to be reborn into something it’s actually capable of.
It’s hopeful really.
Until she screams.
Yells at me to go be alone in my room again,
And she doesn’t think the way I do.
Her thinking is better, and she’s just tired from work,
And I’m interrupting her sleep,
But I can’t help but wonder, when she complains to her boyfriend,
Did she mention she yelled at me for laughing,
When I never do that anymore without dull eyes and a mouth tired of faking grins,
Or did she just say I’m interrupting her beauty sleep like a stupid teen-

Writing this poem, I keep feeling like I’m writing too much,
That like a greedy rat, I’m going too deep,
And at some point, should I look into another’s eyes,
And let these words spill from my lips,
They’ll chomp down on me like a rat trap,
After giving me a smile yellow as cheese to lure me in,
Only to cut me down, snap me in half and tell me I should shut up already.

Sometimes, I cry when my mom tells me to shut up already.
To stop talking about what I wrote that day because she has a headache.
But as unsympathetic as ever,
I can’t bring myself to cry along with her,
When she tells me about how her dreams died-

My mom asked to hear my poems, but I wouldn’t let her,
Because they all turned out about her,
And not one has a splash of love towards her,
And I can’t stop thinking about her,
And it sounds like a bad crush, but that’s not like me or her,
And every time the last word is her,
Because the one with the last word is always her,
And the idol of truth is her,
And it’s all about her,
Except she always buys me what I want, then takes it away when I go against her,
Because I can’t have an opinion if it disagrees with her,
And I forgot the difference between right and parenting when it comes to her-

When I was 7.
I used to use my parent’s shot glasses to take shots of chocolate syrup,
That I used to make my chocolate milk in the morning.
She never found out until I mentioned it at 10,
because I always assumed she knew,
Because she seems to know everything about me,
Except me,
She knows when I’m about to cry,
And makes fun of me for it,
Whenever I don’t understand her feelings,
She reminds me of how unempathetic I am,
How pathetic I am,
But if I can’t feel for others,
Why does every poem send a pang through my long-still hears,
Though I can’t tell if it stopped beating,
Or my ears are just clogged by her words from hearing-

Why does every tear. Dropped onto every page.
Make me want to shed one too,
Whether it was a from a friend I knew,
For years previous and for years to come,
Or someone I met through a random internet site 20 minutes ago,
Why does every piece of anger she sends at me,
Make me want to redirect punches against the wall,
Against her face,
Only to bandage her up,
Kiss her cheek,
And beg for forgiveness-

I’ve been grounded for saying sorry too much,
And was subsequently was yelled at for not apologizing-

I sometimes would pretend.
That the poems I hear talking about happiness,
Of comfortable living,
And fathers that stay,
And mothers that love,
And families that protect,
And every privilege the internet yells at you for having,
That they describe me, even if in only one way,
I asked my mother if she loved me, she said yes.
She said I could always talk to her whenever something was wrong,
I tried to do that and within five minutes,
She looked at me crazy because I brought up that I might not believe in God,
I expected to be smacked with a bible,
for not believing in a deity I didn’t know existed until I was 7,
For not believing in her bible tales the 7 years after that,
Yet now I’m signed up for another 7 of praying to something I don’t even fully get-
Another time, she wouldn’t let me bring up a chance to organize a schedule,
Because she hates that I’m forgetful, yet never lets me do much to counteract it,
Because the adult’s word is law,
Afterwards, she wouldn’t explain to me why she made the decisions,
When she wasn’t the only one in the apartment,
She said that it’s because she’s the only one making money,
As if I didn’t spend majority of my summer begging every store to hire me,
And trying to write something to save us.

Every time.
She always tells me the household is a dictatorship,
Not a democracy,
And I fear what I learned in history class,
That in many dictatorships,
There’s a genocide,
Because the censorship already happened,
And even now I’m not sure I washed away all of the censor out my mouth,
I chased it down with pills,
Yet here I am still standing.

…I’ve wanted to throw myself to the rats.
And be nibbled away like an old childhood bucket list.
Yet every time I pick the paper up.
I still see ‘Grow up and be like mommy’ on the first line.


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