3AM lights up my corner of the room,
and I blame the coffee I had
too late,
but I know it’s the buzz of my mind—
My obsession
about grad school,
the programs that I could fit
my soul into,
like clowns cramming into
their car.
I close my eyes and
“MFA” on Google’s search
flashes across my blank slate.
I see a wall of red,
like I looked into the sun.
And I feel unreachable.

I am searching for
a better writer inside
But I am afraid
of what I want the most—
to show you that I am
more than words.

Surrounded by crumpled paper,
she holds a drawing
she is proud of.
It could win contests,
be in that art show
she talked about for months.
It could be framed,
filed in her portfolio.
It would be enough
to get her into art school.
It would be enough
to call herself
an artist.

But it wasn’t until
someone picked up the discarded
surrounding her,
that she felt vulnerable.
They would see
faces that looked alien,
animals without the right shading,
bridges that didn’t look like
you could walk across them.
All the stages that proved
to the girl
she could never make it.
The drawing she held
was just an accident.
She could never draw this way

But nothing was said about
the drawing she was holding.
He loved her disproportionate horse
on attempt number 5,
and her house that leaned
to the left
on attempt 33.
He wanted to see another
lake without the right shadows
and a garage without
a three-dimensional look.

“You’re a natural artist,”
he promised her.
And then she felt alive.

Past the Limit

For weeks I stared
at the same three paintings
on my wall.
Cherry Blossom tree,
Never got sick of them,
but I got sick of myself—
Heart sunk in my bed sheets,
numb from what I can’t control.
How fast the unknown is
catching up to me,
as though my own shadow is
a stranger.


I think about if I will ever see
my name on a bookshelf.
A knot in my throat tightens
and the rope frays.
How much can someone
want something?
I think I past the limit.


The day comes, and my reflection
is wearing
a cap and gown,
the speeches given,
the names,
the heartbeats exchanged with
knowing looks and pride
from a professor who became
more like family,
the gold sticker
on my diploma,
and newfound closure.
I walk forward and
shake many hands.


I feel the smooth keys on my laptop,
the rows on my typewriter,
the spirals
of my new notebooks.
I smell new novels,
and feel the rough wood of my pencils.
I write before I can think
and I realize I never want
to think again.
I want to create.

I care about your face
more than my own face,
and your flat feet,
wide eyes,
veiny hands—
Where are you working?

I want to know how you handle
your letters.
I wonder if you nearly rip
the entire envelope
in half when you struggle to pull
a strip straight across.
And how much do your rejection letters
Can they fill the mass of your body?

I want to know your buoyancy
better than your name—
more than memorized—

I take comfort in knowing
you will love the same people,
because I already feel
more than the normal,
like there is this set bar
And I feel you ahead of me.

My last day of class is
in 11 days.
That doesn’t make you flinch.
But it makes me pace around
my room
and plot my future
like it’s some crime.

When I visited this school,
I was having a life crisis—
My boyfriend and I had
Breakup #1, and I couldn’t
care less about the fountains,
the greener than green grass,
and the beach across the street.
“Is this the one?” my mom asked.
I just nodded.

When the same professors
pass me in the hall as I sit here
on this bench,
I want to stand up,
introduce myself and say,
“Hey, I know you don’t know me,
but you see me all the time
and stare. So I thought I’d let you know,
this is my office.”
I want to see their expression.

I never questioned being
a commuter student.
But many question me.
I learned that if I say money
is the reason,
they leave me alone

I won’t miss
the lack of parking,
or the people who serve my food
and ask why I don’t want
But I will miss you,
dead hornet.


You are someone that I’ll miss fast,
before the door shuts.
You have always made me feel like
I have something to say.

You are the inside of a typewriter–
has to be open
for the ink to be changed.
But after,
tucked away and private–
cat-like and half loner.

Your drawers and pockets are filled
with conversation starters
and you collect abandoned hammers
on the side of the road
like they are lost people,
or pieces of yourself.

To me you are not someone who
rides a bike or writes or paints,
teaches, loves life.
The reality of you is not that

Fingers, keys, and ink make a deal
to find meaning.
Even with all the noise and mistakes
and quirks
you never stopped.

So I will never

You forced me to love Lord of the Flies.
You had a conch shell in the back
of the classroom—top shelf.
You’d take it out whenever
it was mentioned.

You were loud.
Woke some up, pissed some off.
But it made me remember your class
six years later.
You were really loud.

I hated you
when you told me that
my short stories were
children’s stories.
Are you saying my writing
is juvenile?
I whispered to myself,
staring at the red ink.

You saw me in the hallway
after my boyfriend
told me that we should
take a break.
My best friend had her arm
around my shoulder.
You told her to
make me smile.

I didn’t get an A
in your English class.
You made me want to
try harder.
I told you I would take
your honors English class.
I don’t remember when
I started to like you.

You made me laugh
when you imitated characters
in the books we read.
You had voices
for everyone.

You talked to the giant plant
in your classroom.
You named her Penelope
and treated her like a pet.
She became family.

I was at a carnival
when my best friend
texted me
and told me that
you died.

Prom was the day before.
I was with my boyfriend.
We were going to get
cotton candy.
But I just wanted to go home.

The skin on my face
was raw
and my eyes were swollen
from sobbing.
Your heart stopped,
but so did mine.

I’m still here.

I love children’s literature.
I want to write novels
for teenagers.
I love Lord of the Flies
and To Kill a Mocking Bird
and any book
I can hear your voice in.

I love books that aren’t
written yet
that I can picture you

And I smile.


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