Take off my clothes
My fingers, my nails
The skin off my arms and legs

Rip the lids off my eyes
The hollow in my cheeks
The gums in between my teeth

Claw the meat off my neck
Gouge out the muscles, the veins
Squeeze the life out of my brain

Strip me of who I am
Strip me of who I need to be
Strip me of who the world needs me to be

Leave me naked
upon the scheme of the universe

Take the world out of me
Let me be free

– “Strip” — for Gianni.

LL.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Show her the fairest of them all

The lady stands
in front of the mirror

Black eyeliner
hair up the highest it can go

The lady stands
in front of herself

Lo, is the truth
Lo, is her

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Show her the fairest of us all

The lady stands
in front of the mirror

Smashes it into pieces
blood and glass

The lady kneels
on the ground

A shard in each hand
Still, she looks back at her

Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Make her understand, she is the fairest of her all

– “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall” — for Val.

LL.

Rumor says,

a little fairy lives
in the old potted plant
by the doorway.

.

For five years I’ve been working,
not once have I seen it watered.

Rumor says,

the little fairy living
in the old potted plant
by the doorway

waters the plant
with her own tears.

For five years I’ve been working,
not once have I seen it as anything but green.

Rumor says,

the little fairy living
in the old potted plant
by the doorway

lives in such grief,
day in, day out,

not one day unwatered
for the old potted plant.

.

For five years I’ve been working,
this once I came in–

said good morning to the old potted plant,
pushed the door open, then walked in.

Rumor says,

the little fairy living
in the old potted plant
by the doorway,

this one day in thousands,
forgot to shed a tear;

this one day in thousands,
let go of a leaf, let it tremble in the air.

.

For six years I’ve been working,
the past year I spent in song–

every morning I said good morning, every afternoon I whistled a tune,
every morning she’d listen, every afternoon she’d sing along.

Rumor says,

there once was
a little fairy

who lived in such grief,
she watered an old potted plant
with her own tears.

But one day, someone listened;
one day, someone heard.

Rumor says,

the potted plant by the doorway wasn’t always plastic,
the old one dried to a crisp;

for the little fairy who once watered the old potted plant with her tears,
she had none left to shed — only happiness now, only bliss.

– “The Little Fairy Living in the Old Potted Plant by the Doorway” — for Jess.

LL.

Everyday,
I come across a lot of
smiles.

My dad, my dog,
myself in the mirror,
my mom as she kisses me
goodbye.

I smile back.

The janitor down the
first floor,

the kid and his mom
on the way to preschool,

the nice old man
who buys his wife flowers
every morning.

I smile back.

But there’s a girl who smiles.

Eight in the morning;
Glasses, a couple of books on one arm;

Strides down the walkway
like the speed of her footsteps
keeps the world in its balance.

Everyday,
I come across a lot of
smiles.

But there’s a girl who smiles.

There’s a girl who smiles
not only for the is,
but for the will be.

The crinkle in her eyes tells me she will be going far.

I smile back,
following behind her.

– “There’s a girl who smiles.” — for Quiana.

LL.

I gave my
rose-tinted glasses
to a blind girl
down the street
thinking
she’d need
to see the world
in a haze
more than
I did;

but maybe
I was wrong,

when I came home
to my mother’s blood
on the kitchen sink.

– “Rose-tinted Glasses” — for Sheila.

LL.

On nights when the questions might overwhelm me–
I find my bare feet dragging me through the shifting sand,
to face the unending sea.

The city lights are too noisy, too loud;
Every person wants to speak, every person wants to be heard.

The city lights have too many answers, I muse.

I find the sea only has one:

peace.

– “The Unending Sea” — for Eeya.

LL.

The king of fire descends once more.

He was so vibrant,
he remembers.

His grass gleamed like crystals.
His trees stood tall, his flowers swayed in the wind.
The dew on his leaves always tasted sweet.

The ash crumbles in the king’s hand.

He was so…. alive.

.

He has always known,
it is a burden of the light to live without knowing the warmth of a touch.

Perhaps,
it is also another burden–

to evermore fall in love, with that he cannot touch.

– “The King of Fire” — for Shy.

LL.