no,

no, I didn’t want to give you this

so I won’t

instead I’ll let the words fall on the page

as they may

with heights outstretched and unpunctuated

standing still in white space

waiting for a grasp

I’m thinking.. you’ll remember this pause

 
it’s not what you thought,

is it?

 

– sheila c.

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train car

there’s a saying that goes

you’re not really from here

until a train car of people

collectively ignores your sobs

    

I am peeking out

from under a vegan fur parka.

I am confirmed.

there is no acknowledgement in sight,

not for two transfers

and a 2 minute walk.

    

I glance down at my hands

tears are a welcome moisture in the winter

    

I was once dead

an overzealous ER

(albeit heroic, sure)

brought me back from an enveloping warmth

I told myself that anything

from that day forward

was a gift

    

the gods have since tested this gift

    

some days, I wake up to a cattle prod

in my lungs

and I am out of breath

and I am terrified

And.. I don’t think I can blame you

or this city

    

– sheila c.

2010

if I’m being honest

I haven’t felt pain in nearly a decade

 

it is still January 31, 2010

and I’m sitting on Louis’s bed

the sun is blaring into his room

lighting up my fingertips

I am staring at a text message

I am trying to swallow it

trying to gulp down the words

 

I read it in your voice

but it can’t be your voice

she says that you are gone

and that she is “sorry-

so sorry, that

I couldn’t bring myself

to your room again”

 

she leaves out the death in your eyes

you deserved better than death in your eyes

they were hazel

I always wished for pretty eyes like yours

but you said I had better ones

ones like the darkest part of the ocean

I hadn’t seen it but I believed you

 

I thought of you sailing to the end of the world

to prove your point

“aha!” you would say, “mi negrita”

I thought of the life you would never know I had

 

I cried so much and so deep

that my tears became acid

and that acid burned

the nerve endings

and god, I’m almost certain

I could feel my soul tearing

and leaving this earth with you

and today, I’m almost certain

the only thing that will not die

is my grief.

– sheila c.

For Grandpa, until we meet again

how?

it’s like the sound

of a memory

playing in the background

like you’ve walked

into a room,

10 years ago

and upset the equilibrium

you can’t hear it

if you turn your head

slightly,

but you can feel it in your gut

pulsating from inside of you

ready to burst

I would reach out

if I could

but calls are so far gone

and messages can’t convey

what nervousness

and thought will not

let through,

..come through..

how do I say?

– Sheila C.

top 40 in an uber, November 2018

there is something cathartic

about crying hysterically

in the back of an uber

while the driver glances over

at the rear view and nervously

digs through the top 40

attempting to ignore you

while Mariah Carey tell us

all she wants for christmas

and it’s “you”

John is not a great driver

but he’s a good companion

he knows that I am not okay

and he doesn’t need to ask

he lands on a song

about moving on

and ISNT IT IRONIC

i thought i had emerged

burial shroud

in hand

ready for the WHOLE world

but tonight I am liable to dig

a hole and shove my face

in first

John glances back and says finally

“Hey, I’m sorry to… uh.. interrupt but I just wanted to say.. maybe take a breath??”

that’s very sweet but

breathing in is hard

with a mouth full of

dirt, John.

-Sheila C.

low lights

I’m not sure I’m homesick
so much as starved for a place
that I’ve never known
I’m cherub faced like them
I guess
but not so much stone
too much blood and guts
and hair and muck
In CVS yesterday a lady
followed me around the store
I had a book bag on
and an apple watch
but I still looked “ready to
stole”
at work I’m always smiling
always grinning
tongue pressed up against
the ceiling
weird muscle to flex
but that’s all I know
at night I grind my teeth
and clench my fist inside
my thighs and
I think about Prague a lot
the bridge and the absinthe
and the cartwheels on the Petřín
that might’ve been real freedom
I think.
I watch my movie in a loop
and think of the low-lights
in the storms
the islands made me
this loud
you know
too much sun
and salt water
swallowed and up
my nose
– Sheila C.