I am something astounding and embattled,

Someone impassioned, volatile, gooey, and beloved.

My being is a brazen and polarizing force struggling to live inside one human body and who sometimes struggles for other humans to face the bonfire I am.

I wonder if Im a celestial experiment,

One where a few ingredients overpower the intention.

after all, I am acquired taste.

Even if the whole world spits me out,

Id still choose to be this.

Even if there were a choice, I am my own every time.


The clock struck midnight,

and the silent hurts I’d carried across all of 2022’s ancestors shook from my back.

The hurt was an armor— something between and ghosts of wrongs past.

My bruised and heavy heart quakes behind it all. Sometimes, the wound has to breath to heal.

The clock hit midnight, and we met a new year.

Resentment and righteousness decided that they didn’t need to join 2022. They left my body, and Im grieving and celebrating their absence.

New year, new canyon between my lungs open for something less heavy.


Its the end of a year that did to me what mallets do to slabs of steak.

365 days/ count them in bruises on my body and spirit. The annual mallet beat me until I was tender.

I’m so soft from trauma and feeling and reeling on the brink of 2021’s epilogue.
i meet this new year willing to let someone deserving peak into all my heart’s hiding places. Its not an open invitation. Rather, a willingness, an option reserved when I see enough green flags as they sail in my direction.

Pain is my birthplace, what I thought was my birthright. When given the option for a lover to hurt me, I chose solitude. Alone was a fortress until it became a prison. Only then did I understand how pain seizes all of us, but some of it isn’t as lonely. some pain bears fruit nourishing our lives long after their nightstand is empty.

I stumble into 2022 blindfolded and bruised. I come with every worst woman I’ve been in 300 days because she brought me here. I’d pick being my worst me over being anyone else. Just like I gamble with romance knowing that it might hurt me. The heart decays inside preservatives. It’s meant to be shared. It’s meant to be seen bruised, bloody—proof that its brave.

This is where I leave the mallet but not my bruises. This is how I meet a whole year Ive never met before. This is me tempting fate by daring to hope, to bandage, and say that my heart is a swing door that opens easily for those who understand its inner workings. Do with it what you will, 2022.

This is Where I Leave You

This is where I leave you

Nestled in a soft piece of earth

No words hung in the air between us.

I leave you soft,

Departure without much sound.

Im always bursting with words,

But this doesn’t need any.

Your words were what you meant,

I just couldn’t hear it in action.

No reason needs to be hung across the suspended words without interlocking verbs.

I chose my own.

My unbridled hopes for you never choreographed how I moved.

I carried hollow wishes that made my feet heavy as I still trekked forward.

Hope stopped feeling like iron boots a while ago.

Now, its almost nothing.

some gossamer I lay beside you.

I’m not sure if its leaving when I was never claimed,

Just that this is the spot,

a tender spot,

where you become a permanent past tense.

We are an epilogue now,

no longer bound by the same spine.

I’ve sewn a new one,

A strong one.

It’s all mine.


Someone’s hometown is my lonely city—

An assembly of digits assigned to an arrangement of streets

Lets some lungs release in relief.

The same place is where another body sinks at the sight of it.

I didn’t know that life wasn’t just a ride inside a sinking body until my dashboard met the skyline of where I belonged,

Until my lungs relaxed

Even my insides understood belonging when it arrived.

The Way I Remember informs my capacity to dream

I never remembered it all as that bad.

Rummaging through intrusive thoughts piled so high they form a skyline in my brain

is the last thing I want to do,

but the words find their thought— separated at birth and now reuinited.

My interiority oscillates between relieved and an identity crisis. Disorganization is the only permanent state of affairs.

Eyelids sinking like a curtain call on my frazzled brain,

this unexpected labor drains hours out of every day lately.

But in feeling, knowing, naming all the ways life wasn’t good to me for a really long time,

Being able to take only the blame of what I did and not what was done to me—

Im learning how good life can be,

how good I deserve life to be for me.


Ive never hated insects. Relate to them— to see value in something past ripe, to build from dirt and find the good, to always move toward the light. No matter what.


It’s one thing to talk about what you’ve seen someone else live— It’s another to exist inside the same peril you’re witnessing.  Where you voyeured and called yourself a good person for it, I call home.  

I’ve heard stories like mine recited by witnesses where they’re the hero in someone else’s survival.  Nice, white women from upper middle class and higher know that I don’t belong, but they don’t know why. Nearly 30 and still proud of their pale faces around brown kids, they have “such a big heart”— and the resources to provide trips like that. Others to Paris and Milan.  Their teens spun in white debutante dresses while I smelled like subway sandwiches long after my shift ended.  Your grandfather founded a titan business. Mine arrived here on a boat with no education past age 11 or 12.  We didn’t travel different roads to share this room. We existed on separate galaxies. I am life on Mars to these women— alike enough to validate my existence but dissimilar enough to make me alien, an extraterrestrial.  To know me would be to question if I’m capable of surviving your family’s native planet. 

I want to tell these women, “I’ve seen how your eyes sink with pity at my first mention of unwanted hands.  In an instant, I’m no longer Marisa but a charity case inhabiting a body so similar to yours. You can’t detect any dialect of suffering on my tongue. We sit inches apart in the same overpriced Nikes as you call me brave. What you mean is a sympathy admission. What you mean is a whole pathology around my upbringing. What you mean is that what I say can’t be true because I wouldn’t be here if it were, but here I am and here’s how I arrived. You call me brave as we exit in the same foot ware protecting very different soles.”