a handwritten sympathy card, delivered to her front door. her slender hands are flaky because the sadness has aged her, not the years. the phrase “she will never be the same” is crude, but she has no desire to break the surface. she’d rather take a knife to her own brain, creating bite-sized pieces of the torment, especially for us to taste.
yesterday has remembered its weight. it stands tall, bloody and broken, but brilliantly beautiful. the strength of sorrow is remarkable, she thinks to herself. she is drunk from melancholy and stubbornness and she only drinks more, devoted to the sickness.
she cannot carry tomorrow. her only reflection is you.
you ever been to paradise?
it blew my mind
sent smoke from my ears
we laid between sand and nowhere
no one asked questions
because in paradise, we knew we wouldn’t be able to stand answers
i sank to the bottom of an ocean
off the coast of beirut
and my paradise murmured:
i remember what it was like to lose you
to love you
but mostly, what it was like when i started to dream again.
and we knew nobody’s name
i felt like a young starlet
my first taste of sweet earth
licking the fog from tomorrow,
we floated into what became peace
only to be haunted by paradise.
we lay trouble down on beds of thorns
and we chant fuck paradise
our bellies are swollen with useless phrases
we leap from mountaintops searching for a slice
and our mothers tell us we’ve eaten it all
they tell us we’re hopeless
and i reply:
and i belong to no one
but the idealist
the grown child that has learned to see
i don’t belong to you
little insect wing that grew from my backbone
purple and brittle
when you flutter,
all the children of the world sleep
and i belong to no one
but the queen of swords
in the virgin red dress
comfortably guiding me away
one by one
she shows me the way
i belong to no one
not to the love or the hate
not to the pain
but to the freedom of the sweating new york city day
not to the restless mind
or your troubles
because i can’t even belong to mine
i rather the simplicity
or maybe the simplicity rathers me
because i can write this poem
or smoke a cigarette
make a cup of tea for my very dear friend
then learn to love again
Michelle Moore grew up in New Orleans East. Her grandfather, who wrote and recorded poetry, passed away when she was eight years old and has been visiting her dreams ever since. Michelle enjoys exploring caves, covered bridges, European metro systems and abbeys. After a few wild years in Brooklyn, Michelle is back in New Orleans. She lives with a musician, drinks blanc de blancs and listens to a lot of Michael McDonald. Selected by David Ishaya Osu.
Image © Natasha Marin “Tuol Sleng, Cambodia”