Posts in POEMS
hearth

that first hush of cool air falls over my skin

and i’m falling again


if nostalgia were a tree—

this one is red and green and bare in places

where the leaves have no desire to cling anymore


(i don’t miss you like i did before)


and all of it comes in slow

i hardly noticed the temperature lower itself

ten degrees last night while i was sleeping

and there it is, again, in my memory

rotating with the seasons

and for all that the sun melted away,

this is still frozen here


and i remember:

making three miles out of three blocks,

colors vibrating around us—

branches caught fire as we watched

the beginning of their dying


one of my favorite things about fall is when it gets so cold that the warmth of the hearth is almost impossible to walk away from.

you

and you:

you wipe the slate clean

you’re not afraid to say things

that scare the hell out of the self-righteous

you right my wrongs and all the other ones

that people like use as weapons

you shake the defenses


i love the way you

look me in the eye,

reassure me i don’t have to hide myself

around you or anyone else

by the way you most certainly don’t hide yourself


i think we’ve found a balance

i think we’ve managed

to love our in-betweens

you’re the island i need in a sea of emotions

(i know good-and-well you like walking by the shore,

but i promise not to tell your friends)


and i:

i’ve never been more sure—

looking back or looking forward—

that the person that i was before

and the person that you’re holding

is lucky to be yours

 

i’m lucky to be yours

kaleidoscope

and i don’t want to tell you

how now i relate to the restless

the reckless

the back-row sitters

the marriage-quitters

those bankrupt on friendship

with blood on their hands 

and knives in their backs 

Is this what growing up is?

place an ad for my innocence

lost

missing

last seen on

what i’ll tell you is

the way that it 

looks from where I’m standing kneeling—

through a hundred, a thousand more eyes—

feels a little more like

a kaleidoscope 

and for all the deferred hope

i wouldn’t change this view for the world 

so help me space God

i’m a sleepy baby

wearing crooked shirts

and my hair looked

okay in the front

but apparently could house some

rats in the back

and why do they call it a “rats nest”

i wore lipstick 'cause it’s monday

and i’m conflicted about recovering

from the weekend or diving into work

half-assed, full moons 

have their way with me

it’s not like my body’s a match for the mass

or the speed with which the spinning globe i’m standing on

and the night light circling it

waltz around each other

so i’m caught up in this space-dance

my cadence a little frantic

my mind a little lethargic

my body a little like a puddle, but with blue jeans on

so help me space God

cozy

i want air that’s hardly cold

blowing on my face

the kind of cold that feels warm every few seconds

i want to roll the windows down while it’s raining

let tiny goosebumps dance with droplets on my skin

i want the green on the trees to look blue

and for everything else to look grey

i want to play music that sounds like they’ve felt their heart break

and snuggle up under a light, soft blanket of sad

on a perfectly happy day

take-off from tokyo

ascending

listening to frank sing

white ferrari

drinking jasmine tea,

watching


the ocean expands beneath me—

more blue than i’ve ever seen—

catches the light in my eyes,

turns them to soul-deep wellsprings

and my eyes—glistening—

surprise-blink feelings out of them,

streaming liquid gratitude


a tear

for existence


a tear

for the mystery of it


a tear

for the way i lack importance—

a weight lifted, perspective given

a “stick your head-in-the-clouds” prescription

we. are. so. insignificant. from up here


a tear

a truth:

i matter so much to a few of

those tiny specks on the ground

who likely aren’t thinking of me at this 4am hour

(but maybe dreaming)

30,000 feet below

where one touch of the hand is enough

to make your world explode

back into the stardust we’re made of


and so it’s here—

forehead smushed against the window of seat J, aisle 54—

that i think-whisper a new promise to myself:


carry your life with a lightness,

but give it permission


to fly

IMG_1057.JPG
elasticity

elasticity isn't a thing

i paid attention to when i was four

maybe in Play-Doh

but in my face? who wants a stretchy face?

my wounds don't heal as quickly as they used to

and i have a nervous habit of picking

that i think i'm going to have to quit

because concealer isn't cutting it

and bleeding in public is far less acceptible

when you're almost thirty

i think i'll try to moisturize

some buoyancy back into my brow--

mom always said that was important

that i'd "understand one day"--

what i understand at this point is that

in the battle between sky and land,

the ground surely has the upper hand

and is all this lotion really a match for gravity?

no degree of hyaluronic acid is going to change the fact that

i am a person stuck inside of a skin

dependent on this body to draw a picture of who i am

each decade spent circling the sun

will likely pencil a few lines across

this degenerating canvas

this morning in st. augustine

 

the cicadas orchestrate

a song buried in my throat

vibrates in my chest

my brow sweats

my hands

my thighs

and i

inhale as their violins swell

exhale as they come to a whisper

you belong here 

the earth, heaving

flowing

spinning

the sky’s never light, you know

it’s just the sun hitting it

we’re sitting by the ocean

embraced by the morning

the air sticking to our skin

salt and dew

i watch the tide step away from us— 

moonwalk—

get lost in thought wondering

how my body of water— 

70% they say— 

might be ebbing and flowing on the inside too

and everything is alive 

crepe myrtle
haleysheffield.com

i love the way the crepe myrtles

confetti our cars

our trashcans

the part of the sidewalk i've never paid much attention to

i could sit in the rain for hours

i love when you've been sweating all day and it's evening in early august and you're walking to nowhere and it starts sprinkling out of nowhere and you feel this sensation that truly can't be compared to anything else but i wrote "like" a few times to give it a try

i love when you make me laugh

i love when the chiropractor tells me i'll need to sit up so she can crack my neck back into shape

she said sometimes it makes you feel high and it totally did

isn't life full of the beautiful, the unexpected?

4-7-8

today i feel big

or like there’s something big inside me

expansive—

reverse gravity is what Neil deGrasse

Tyson called it— 

but somehow I’m still

held together by

the regular kind—

curves formed by distance to the moon

or something like that

i must have tossed around just right in that ocean

before i arrived

rubbed smooth like pebbles

gathered parts like coral

the plot thickens

the tide taught me it’s rhythm

pace yourself

the air in my lungs finds a way out

exhale, "whooshing sound"

inhale quietly through the nose

count to four

hold for seven

let it go for eight

 

this is one breath.

 

lime green angels

i drove past

three angels sporting

lime green t-shirts

floating down the sidewalk 

in my peripheral

back-to-back against  

a grey, almost-rain-sky, so i

couldn't help but notice the

sweet (or i assumed) old lady with

a fanny pack and glasses

the second one I don't remember

just a flash of green

and the third--because how in the world were there three?--

a tall slender man

with shoulders slouched

and little to no facial expression at all

and i think of

Frank Ocean's Blonde album

and the potential martians I read about in the New York Time's app this morning

and melons

I think of Iris Apfel and imagine a festival

like Bonaroo but with elderly people

absolutely raging

meanwhile, a song is playing

the speakers in my car sing it and it spills out of my windows

"my mind's a ship that's going down"

and I wonder, in that moment, if we all relate

the lime green angels floating on the sidewalk

and me in a grey shirt

i never wear

make-believe in boundaries

don’t get too close

i might love you too much

take some time to get to know you

ask the questions no one else would

the truth being: 

i’m perfectly happy supporting

your dreams—the wild ones

and saying all the things ‘cause

i mean them

 

you see, despite my history,

i’m still struggling

to make-believe in boundaries

as if i believe in anything

that feels like withholding

love

or who I am

or who you might be

or what we might have in common

it’d be like knowing the exact turns required

to get to the treasure

x on a map

we could draw it together

 

so before we get started,

proceed with caution,

i’m still lost on

how to talk with half the energy,

close the valve on my inquiring,

tread the water, avoid the deep end—

the only game of pretend

i’ve ever succeeded in

was thinking

two people could agree to go all-in

without risking

e v e r y t h i n g 

so talk to me about this new diet

my body will betray me

or the chances are high at least

one of these parts— 

maybe the skin  

or a less thought of organ— 

will turn oatmeal cream pies

into diabetes

or aluminum cans

into cancer

or maybe my mind will slip

or maybe my feet will

at twenty-nine i’m still

acting like i’m invincible

while invisible

forces make their way through, take

the codes that are written and re-write them

and i feel helpless

with so much in the balance

but the older i get, the more it seems

it is more me betraying my body

and less my body betraying me

△°

i have triangles for teeth

they stick out from the side

and maybe two times

out of ten

this feels like a gift

of imperfection

a gentle reminder

that no quota of selfies met

changes the fact

that i was not born to be a model for

Crest Toothpaste™ campaigns

that i was made

to use my smile for much more

than camera gazes

to use my lips for much more

than glossy pictures in magazine pages

that i was made

to use this mouth for much more than

surface value—

what i mean is

i was made to use this mouth

for the sounds that might come out of it

through the cracks between

these crooked teeth

these ivory triangles

like prisms

maybe they’re twisted just right

so that the light inside

can sneak out the sides of them

make its way into eardrums—


i have circles for eardrums

and they shake their buns

at the sound of the songs

that come out of your smile

so keep smiling

keep shining

keep reminding yourself

that no matter the shape of these

visible bones

no matter their whiteish or yellowish tone

they are a token

when the corners of your lips

reach for the edges of your cheeks

be at ease

you’re making it that much clearer to see:

we’re all the same underneath

BFFs

our friendship is a memory

a rug pulled out from under me

a light brown rectangle

on a dark wooden floor

unprotected and exposed


and it serves

as a reminder

of vibrant colors

the two of us stood on together

rainbow fibers woven

just below

our shoes

caught the dirt as we shuffled through

held it like the best kind do


and i thought no one else could know

just how it felt to be so close

just how it felt to love you most


i never felt you letting go

i’ll always miss your

“Welcome Home”

to be human

To feel the heartbreak in the longing

To hope when you're a fool believing

To try when nothing will be easy


To trust the dreams found deep inside you

To sing the melodies that move you

To love the life that's running through you

To love the life that's running through you

A love letter to physical books.

so I sat and diddled— 

distracted— 

until my devices died

and I, overdosed, had no choice

but to dive

into my book  

the poetry, the pen

all sitting patiently

beside racing screens

 

i know what it feels like

to share my words and wait for

them to be read, to be “liked” 

or “swiped”

the anticipation of which has become

no doubt

like a drug—

two taps on a screen,

digital endorphins—

but i have no clue what it feels like

for these inked words

to find themselves tapping their fingers

waiting

on pages on shelves in arms and bags

waiting

for eyes to dance

for mouths to let out sighs like

”wow”

for their paper-thin skin  

to jump right off the page

and into the brain

of someone who, for a moment,

remembers 

we are not machines. 

Paradox

We let each other shit talk

Especially when that shit dropped

Especially when he hurt you

Especially when she hurt me too


But then we find the ground together

Then we paint the fuller picture

Call out where the truth is missing

In the other’s recollection of things


You help me float

By letting go

Plant me

By holding on

You understand the value

Of both


We are a x b

a-to-the-b-squared

the square root of a + b

What I’m trying to say is that—

Together—

We are the fabric of complicated equations

We are the lines and curves

That make up letters and numbers and languages


We are paradox in human form

Equal parts plugged into this life-formula

Unearthing deeper understanding

By our differences

 

(Marriage.)