Memoirs of a Helium Balloon

sweet, sweet vengeance



Change swallowed you up into her softish bellyvoid

Dressed you up like a boy dressed as a girl dressed as

A wound but

Saliva heals infections

Some days the sun will peek out of your smile and others your Xanax with look oddly like candy and

Boy, don’t you have sweet tooth and

Change holds out her hand

Full of litter and laughter and

Vomit cleanses the palette but rots your teeth

A cookie tastes like gold but fills in your waist and sometimes colors outside the lines,

A body painted on the pavement.

You can’t wait in traffic anymore and

Even though the red light keeps you from killing

You would kill to watch redlight drip from your temples.

Change clamped down hard and won’t let go –

How it hurts how it hurts how it hurts

How it

Doesn’t want to let go

Like a crab

Like a fishing hook

Like tearing flesh away from bone (ha, and you thought DYING hurt) and sews on patches

You are a framework of sheepskin and wire and moth-chewed blankets and burnt photographs

Would you leave the house with this ragged quilt you call a body?

Change, she made you ugly but

She will dress you up as a girl dressed as a boy in a pretty dress for prom

Hair coiled back like a snake,

Medusa head buried between a pair of legs or a belt but

Change has a sharp pair of scissors. Scissors!

Your legs are scissors

Snip Snip Snip

Change carves a smile into your cheeks (with scissors)

Bones exposed to your dusty hairline fracture


Ice the swelling with a cool steak (plastic steak)

She will not tell you but

Change likes the way the sweeping rises and injects rubbing alcohol and saliva into your veins then

Change will dress your wound as a girl dressed as a boy dressed as a

Spiffy new haircut.



on cleaning out my closet

the wardrobe cannot contain the garden she planted on her body –

each cactus hair the result of kind words and a gently buried seedling,

forested on impulse.

i comb through the things she used to love – those daisy dresses, the herbal robes –

i realize now i am allergic to pollen, or thyme,

and i think that’s why she ate benadryl like candy,

and I think that’s why i am a dentist clutching a mouth full of rotting teeth,

the mouth of someone who chewed too much benadryl and forgot to brush,

the mouth of someone too afraid to smile

(and so had never noticed).

and once i remove the ones too full of holes to be of use to anybody,

the rest are too big to fit,

too crooked for such a polite mouth,

too clumsy,

too full of quiet cancer.

and now i have no mask to wear besides her corpse,

heavy and bloated,



too full of holes to be of use to anybody.


i will smoke my first cigarette

when it gets warm enough.

i will watch grey wisps make circles around my fingers

when it gets warm enough.

and you will take a train into the city

when it gets warm enough.

you will buy a large cone of soft-serve

and lick vanilla ice cream dribbling down your chin,

laughing all the while –

when it gets warm enough.

and when it gets warm enough

you will love me.

and when it gets warm enough

you will cup my face in your palms and dig emotion out of my throat with your tongue.

and when it gets warm enough

you will walk me to the playground and push me on the swing.

and when it gets warm enough

we’ll stop crushing pills on my desk

we’ll open the shades and let hungry light consume this stagnant repulsion,

licking it up like vanilla ice cream.

and when it gets warm enough,

i will sleep at midnight, curled under a top sheet,

your arm draped over me,

and i will not beg you to leave.

and when it gets warm enough,

darling, i will stop treading water and swim to shore –

(but i do not remember the last time summer showed herself around these parts)


you, a lover

when you fall in love with me

I will start breathing nicotine breaths and

dreading undrugged wakefulness.

you, smoking life through a thick pipe

and I, desperately grasping for fumes.

you speak too quickly for my tired brain.

maybe if i inhaled something other than bruises and broken jaws I would understand the language you use to tuck me in at night,

you, softly plucked guitar strings and scrambled-egg voice,

I, a broken amp spitting out static.

you dream of me suffocating you

with spindle fingers or plastic bags or

the razors you used to spell out our initials.

you. you, you, you, a vegetarian who aches, oh how you ache for my blood.

I, a masochist, a corpse.

when you fall in love with me

I will contemplate how best to die under your calloused fingertips

how best to make this massive body invisible.

you, with X-ray glasses and a soft hand,

I, a half-finished book abandoned near the windowsill.


we could love like soft like woman like

painted toenails


hair balled up in fists


bouquets of wet flowers


dresses collecting dust in my closet

do you dream of an in between like me like

smack in the middle of a book


almost warm but still cold


a boy who doesnt look like one

would you still love me if I became a real boy


trading my legs for forests


swallowing apples whole


growling out giggles


dry and harsh and heavy


but im not a real boy with my painted nails and dogeared pages and dresses too ghost for wearing and too human for the donation box

the roast beef on your hoagie

do you crave beef, you vegetarian?

we could love like two men holding hands holding my naked head in your chest


a woman’s eyes are looking back at you



and when you said you needed a red pen

i said

don’t worry I’ll unzip my veins and give you mine.

and when you said you forgot your notebook

i let you etch notes into the skin of my back with a blade wrenched from a pencil sharpener.

i wondered how late you stayed up studying notes on other boys’ bodies

when their bare backs peeked out from beneath your blankets –

how meticulously you memorized the map of their muscles, their veins,

how many of theirs matched my north-star crater

and if you even remembered it,

as if it had never guided you to my sweet, gaping vulva,

as if you didn’t dream of the valleys along my spine in biology class.

this morning

i watched you scribble out my tearstained name with red ink

on another boy’s back.


say i’m a gun

say my gentle words are bullets;

say i’m a gun.

say i chew men up like bubblegum, blow them, and stick them to the underside of this bus seat.

say men use me to hurt themselves.

say, “lift up your skirt, girl;”

watch me oblige.

watch me blow a bubble the size of jupiter.

watch me tug on your zipper,

castrate you the modern way,

leave you choking out the word “gun”

mixed with blood and spittle.



My brain wakes me up cause I have something to say.
So in the morning can eat my poetry with milk
So I don’t skip a single eat.
Sudoku puzzles are a lot like poetry.
The numbers have a place
Just like the words’ purpose is to carve out my skin
Arranged in an eleven-by-eight box.
I dreamt in color for the first time in weeks
But waking up sick so I can’t eat my poetry with milk in the morning
(or at all)
So I guess I’ll do Sudoku puzzles instead.


It’s OK to put a name to the pain
It’s safe to say I’m going insane
Those people who say I can never change
Everything I do is an act onstage
I am enraged.
One page out of line,
But I’m trying to find a way to get out of this cage –
I am not caged at all.
I am too free to fly free
Restrained in motion by my own emotions
A locomotive in the rain
Shave my skin of needles and pins
It’s strange to say I’m going insane
Insanity scribbles freedom on the page

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