On the plane from San Francisco to Philadelphia


I made the choice last night 
under the light of an Italian restaurant. 
Last night, after the rain 
on Columbus Street in San Francisco.

I made you a list 
of all the things 
I wanted to give you, 
all the things you never gave me, 
all the things we never shared, 
and the ones we did, 
and had to give back.

The fights we had 
over the phone, 
the times I almost 
broke it off 
           (1, 2, 3, 7?) 
-every couple of weeks
-every couple of days 
-every single day.

The poems you wrote for me, 
about yourself. 
The poems you wrote about me, 
for everyone else. 
The poems you wrote about you 
in love with me, 
in love with yourself in love. 
The poems you wrote, 
about the poet in love, 
about you, 
because it was always about you.


You told me early on 
that you were a giver of gifts. 
But you only give gifts 
when you can admire the way 
they look in your hands.

My hands 
and your hands 
are not the same.

The gifts you gave me; 
tiny mirrors 
always reflecting back to you. 
Nothing that could speak to me. 
I could never see my face.

Give your things to someone else, 
they’ll mean the same thing to you. 
Because it doesn’t matter if their hands are big 
-or small 
-or their fingers are long 
-or short 
-or thin 
-or fat 
everything looks the same to you 
when you hold it.

You can always re-gift yourself. 
That’s the beauty.


Bare your soul and offer parts of you 
no one really asked for. 
Bare your soul,
but only show 
the parts you want to 
show off. 
The parts you think make you noble 
-or great 
-or kind 
-or generous.

The parts of you that will make the other person 
worship you. 
Who are you if nobody 
worships you?

I wish I still had your jacket just so I could return it. 
I no longer carry your name on my breast 
like a badge 
or a brand. 
I never needed it to keep me warm 
and you couldn't handle that, 
could you?

And now these words will just get rolled up 
into one long straw 
that you can add to your (ever growing) pile.

The pile you carry 
that weight 
so unjust. 
Parade it so everyone can see 
how other people’s suffering 
is still about you.


How my suffocation,
-my exhaustion, 
-my exasperation 
is still about you.

Tell everyone about the tragedy 
of the man who couldn’t bring himself to care. 
Who called women goddesses 
and then couldn’t engage. 
Tell them your sob story, 
your emotional damage. 
Tell them of all the hearts you broke, 
but didn’t know 
because it’s not your fault 
you’re so attractive.

Pile on the wounds 
until you find a girl 
who wants to heal them 
(don't tell her you poke them with a stick, when she's not looking). 
Add this poem to your pile.

This is just another straw. 
For me, 
it’s the last one.

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1-4. Anna O. Photography