Constant Chaos

My mother lived

at the bottom of a vodka bottle.

Her lungs crystallized

from years of breathing

tobacco instead of air.

She wasn't always sad,

I'm sure.

But I never saw her smile

quite as often as I saw her

eyes glazed, rats-nest hair,

with slurred words,

clawing at her wrist

saying, "Look at what I did."


My father never lived,

despite the girls in tight dresses

on white, sandy beaches,

with trophies and smiles

in permanent creases.

Despite the photo frames

from tourist shops

in places you've only ever

dreamed of seeing.

But never to love

is to never live.

As far as I'm concerned,

he's always been



My grandma was a solider

in a war against herself.

She fought the tumor,

made entirely of her.

While I wondered if

the thought ever occurred

that she killed herself

to keep from killing herself.

And she apologized

to me.


My sister gave too much of herself

to any boy who gave her

the attention she could never get

from her father's tombstone.

And her mind was more fragile 

than the baby who stopped growing

inside of her.

But not fragile enough

to crack under the weight

of her mother's drunken blows.


And I never touched alcohol

or cigarettes.

I feel too deeply

and love too much.

I take my vitamins like clockwork,

wear my sunblock,

balance my meals.

And scarred upon my wrist

is a list of things to quit.

But despite the constant chaos,

the one constant in my life

was you.


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