Middle Ground


Caught between one life and the next,

the ground cracks beneath my feet, singing.

Throw yourself, it croons, ageless volcanoes

humming up through jagged earth.

My heart breaks, tugging me forward,

reaching out of my ribcage to pull the stars closer.

Humans, diamonds, they cut me every time:

my eyes stare back, through skull and memory, 

to the dusty town, the fireworks, to my

soul expanding until all it could do was hurt,

hurt, hurt.


I revolve around the dark, always wrapping

it in my arms, never letting it wrap its arms

around me. The car, like a bullet, down a half-dirt road,

crashes straight through my stomach. So do

their eyes, personal planets, drawing me back like a magnet

to a history so heavy that I taste it on my tongue

no matter where I am.


It wants to know about my loud mouth, about my open lips looking forward to confrontation,

thinking that both are recent developments.

The past crawls back up the vocal chords to my teeth,

gathering on the crowns: an audience curious about the present.

The flavor is blood, dirt, and music,

a tension between belonging and unbelonging,

like a lullaby written for one.

I left behind a religion-drenched suburbia and now I know

1. that god is me

2. what girls taste like

3. how to vote contrary to family politics

but my sternum still hurts when I pass my exit. 


Eris’ axis, half tilted,

laughs at my indecision. Softly,

using her hands to bring stars colliding together,

she coos that no one recovers from their home town,

not even you. So I lift chaos in my own hands,

blowing it like glittering dust back to space,

back to the beginning.


As a child: the taste of fall, the leaves,

looking at the sky upside down to see it again.

Carrying six books to bed: flashlight, open windows, impossible stellar beauty.

Snow falling softly outside the window.

The constellations mapped out,

on the ceiling above me,

and I believed in them.


As a child: my hands tracing them, in the dark,

my hands, now, tracing them in the dark,

me, laughing,

telling Eris to fuck off because

I still do.


Running across the blacktop, running across the rooftops.

Fear subtle enough to slice you open.

There are dysfunctional stitches all over my lungs,

unseeable red coloring a split lip,

canines dipped in intoxicating scarlet.

Love is bloodsport, and I think I miss bruising.


I set the bat down and Eris rolls her eyes,

a you’ll-be-back grin showing incisors that looked just like mine did

before I forgave my mother. Miss them? she blinks,

slowly, baring both sets sharp and pretty. A gift.

I sit down, quietly, searching for an answer that isn’t a lie. 

Every supernova she creates burns.


Riding bicycles to garage sales. The neighbor,

screaming. Lying in the grass, head and hearts together, 

driving at night without fear straight into the black.

Humans, diamonds: they cut me every time.

The middle ground hurts like hell,

so I breathe long and deep,

let my soul split open - the only way to keep

all sides in my hands, 

close to me.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community


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