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 she hurt you

Especially when he hurt me too


But then we found the ground together

Painted the fuller picture

Called 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

 

this ground

this ground

feels like shifting sands

like shaky hands

like a scribbly line drawn

on a piece of paper

like when they measure

an earthquake

i hope i have a way

of seeing the magnitude of

the lessons I’m learning


this ground

feels like farmer's land

like rich soil

like it's letting my soul

breathe

through the soles of my feet

and i know that it's teaching

me something

--that I'm growing

For Frank

my ears are open
and i study the sound of your voice
          running through them

like water
like sky
like clouds
and now
i am        floating
both feet on the ground

a dance from left to right
the airwaves play
with melodies
unexpected and soothing

and my lungs
my lungs are full of
e x h a l e s
keeping time
the way your voice
echoes
"breathe here"
and "here"
and "here if you want to"
and "here if you'd like"

nothing touches me
and yet everything moves me
a world of possibility
expands between
the drums of my ears--
left and right and back again
and all around the inside
of my head

words paint the sky
scales of colors
vibrations that the eyes
cannot see
so i lean in
look with my ears
peeled

and you carry--
transport--me.

It's Like

i know what it’s like to hold on
like at six—when you clenched a fist
full of rocks from the playground
wrapping your sweaty fingers around
fool's gold
and it made no sense to anyone else
except to you and the dirt
that held them
before you found them
these diamonds in the rough
glittering pieces of nothing
now mean something
because you discovered them

i know what it’s like to let go
like when the ribbon of a balloon
tickles your hand
dances across your palm
and you release it
to test the patience of your mom
as you walk the short distance from the store
to the minivan
and she tells you to get a grip
but you cannot
because you are too curious
about what it looks like when a balloon
disappears into the sky
how far before your eyes
can’t see it anymore

i know what it’s like to have loved and lost
and also to have never loved at all
and also to have loved and found
and also to know that there’s more love out there
than the whole scope of us can wrap around
fourteen billion arms
like the black space between the stars
and the stars themselves
and the rings of jupiter
and the volatility of the sun
that god decided to put close enough
to us to keep us alive
but also far enough away
to keep us in time
with the seasons
all four of them
and there’s probably more of them, to be honest
or less, if you live in south florida
but i’ve learned that there’s love for all seasons
and then there’s love that doesn’t belong in seasons at all
but it shows up anyway
covers the world like global warming
walks right through your ozone layer
melting your glaciers
and makes the roaring ocean in your body
a sight to be seen—
believe me—
a flood of serotonin
makes the deserts of your mind
reel with mirages like movies
with temperatures hotter than last summer
you’re certain

i know what it’s like to say f*ck the haters
and then cry into your pillow because the haters were your friends and your heroes
what it’s like to be mute
and for their words to become dictators
to your emotions
napoleons taking over your motherland
throwing your motherboard overboard
and for your emotions to reject
the new member of the Good Intentions Club:
“i don’t care what other people think"
and for you to care so much
that you cry in public places
or leave them for fear of crying

i know what it’s like for no one to understand your story
and for everyone to tell it
boredom-born story-tellers
what it’s like to wear the scarlet letter
like a patch on your cool jean jacket
alongside metal pins that say “i tried my best”
and also “never give up”
all of that to say, i know
what it’s like to be a contradiction
to be so ashamed that you fight yourself
and the screaming minds of silent strangers
by yelling “i’m a good person! i’m! a! good! person!”
but never out loud
always very quiet
always in your heart
and never in your head

i know what it’s like for your heart to break
for your spirit and your bones to ache
what it’s like to inhale
the mistakes you’ve made
and radiate
like you swallowed the moon
like you took what life threw at you
and you threw it back
and you lay in the grass
and you stare at the night
with specks in your eyes
and you know that there’s love in those spaces between
and you exhale the song the stars sing