Empty Pockets & Sinking Feelings


Thank you, for keeping the waters as calm as you could, 
while we sank to the bottom of each other to find ourselves…

—Rafael Casal


We were poetry before we even made it onto paper. 
You didn’t give me a chance to reach for my pen. 
You were too busy etching words into my bones,
weaving verses with ticket stubs, locks of hair, 
sunflower petals and mismatched socks.

We made dreams, 
little plans and schemes, 
things we wanted to share, 
things we wanted to see.

We exchanged awkward glances in the dark. 
I squinted and counted your empty parts 
and saw how well they fit with mine.

We cracked open our worn down suitcases 
and spread our clothes all over the table. 
We mixed and matched the scraps we got, 
passed down from our parents, from their parents, from their parents.

I looked at you across the table; 
you smiled.
Ordered some pancakes.

We let the pieces fall where they may, 
trusting you would know what to do 
with all my dirty laundry 
and I would stitch and fix your tattered clothes.

We kissed with eyes open. 
Said “I love you”, with eyes closed.

Your poetry bled through my paper-white, 
paper-thin skin. 
It bled over the words I had already hidden there. 
Carefully traced where only I could find.


Your poetry bloomed in deep shades of red; 
you said I was beautiful. 
I was a flower you painted yourself.

Our hands reached out and found each other; 
fingers interlocking with melodic ease.

I tore the pockets from my dresses; 
used the fabric to patch up your old jeans.

You said it was nice 
being in a relationship where you didn't think 
"I can't wait to drown." 
That I didn't make you want to swallow 
nine inch nails.

I liked that you liked me, 
even when I made an ugly face. 
You'd laugh 
make the same face 
and kiss my teeth.


Ioffered you the contents of my pockets; 
I no longer had a place to keep my things, 
but you agreed to carry my weight, 
and we skipped pebbles on the sea.

Our emptiness opened up to light, 

Because I had nothing holding me down, 
you tied a red string around me and called it fate 


You pulled me closer and I felt something 
sharp, something didn’t quite fit, but we shrugged it off, 
nobody’s perfect, anyway.

I looked at myself in the mirror, 
but could only see my hair; 
wild dark locks that belonged to nobody 
and you loved as your own. 
The rest was red. 
I couldn’t find my words. 
Tiny reminders I wrote for myself, 
of myself covered by you.

I can’t see what's wrapped under my hair, 
in my hair
under you.

Could you ever see me? 
Or did you just want a blank paper 
you could write on 
and paint on,
spread yourself all over, 
so you could admire your work afterwards?

I can still feel myself, even if I can’t see myself 
or my words, 
or my skin.

When the rain started pouring 
you sat in the bathtub 
with a bottle of red rum:
"I just want to drown here."

I looked at you through the mirror. 
You could never see me.



My pockets feel heavy again. 
The water’s reaching my neck 
and my bones are cracking under pressure. 
I don’t remember warmth. 
Not even your arms could bring me back, 
if they tried 
(you didn’t even try). 
I’m back to writing about women who could only find the right words 
at the bottom of the ocean, 

Your socks don’t match 
and mine are wet once more. 
My hands feel bone dry.

I like things that take my breath away, 
and so far this seems to be working 
in small, thieving, burglarizing bubbles.

You’re steering this boat into an iceberg, 
as I drill holes on the floor. 
I wonder why you’re doing this, 
but you did say you hated boats.

The water covers my head and my hair floats everywhere; 
my dark curls swirling in that way you love so much. 
They stick to my face and I can’t breathe, 
but they paint such a pretty picture. 
These red strings won’t let me swim.

I realize we were never the right pieces of the puzzle, 
but we still tried to jam ourselves together. 
In the end, you cut out the parts of me you need,
the ones you lack. 
You kiss my head 
and float away.

You reach the surface, 
bubbles stealing my air in small doses. 
I am a red oil spill in the middle of the ocean. 
A disaster caused by your indifference.

I write a lot about drowning, 
but you can’t blame me for this one. 
You can see the red swirling in the salt and the water.

I once was a pebble skipping over what used to kill me, 
floating carelessly, 
But you gave those pebbles back 
one by one. 
So I had to sew my pockets back on; 
I needed a place to keep them.

You tied rocks at the end of these strings 
and it looks like a bloody galaxy blooms 
in this place where I’m sinking.

Sometimes sinking is all we can do, 
but that doesn’t matter (it’s not about you). 
These women understood. 
I keep their words in my head. 
I’m here, in this oven, 

And I know that, 
no matter who you saw in me 
(whoever that was) 
my paper-white 
thin skin is finally clean, 
rid of bits yous.

I can finally see my words, 
reach my pen, 
write new ones.

The tide rolls in, 
you're gone.
I am, je suisyo soy.


Thank you for keeping the waters calm 
and not blaming me when I couldn’t swim. 
I misjudged the waters,
thought they would be kinder.

I was in deep, 
but you watched me from the shore 
ready to dive in and save me.

You threw me a line 
when I was too proud to ask it.

Thank you for waiting for me to breathe. 
Understanding I couldn’t do it right away.

I say your names into the ocean, 
so you’ll always come back. 
All of you, 
one by one, 
take my pebbles.

I whisper his name into the sand, 
so when the tide comes 
he’ll be erased 
and his name will never caress my ears 
or my lips 

You’re all I have and all I need. 
He is nothing. 
You are my sun.

Lista de imágenes:

1-4. Dara Scully 
5-6. Jerry Uelsmann, Surreal Landscapes