Plant Nanny

i have this app called Plant Nanny –

basically, you have a virtual plant in your phone.
every time you drink a glass of water,

you tell your phone,
& your little plant is watered too.

you can water it
let it grow

foster it
or you can watch it wilt.

of course, being a responsible,
competent college student, i

let it die within the first week.
i have learned a lot from this plant app,

like when you see a virtual plant
die in front of you

it does not motivate you to drink more
water but it does motivate you

to feel really fucking guilty about yourself.

i have this thing called my mind –

basically, you have this analog brain in your head.
every time you do something healthy,

your brain senses it,
& your mind lights up too.

you can water it
let it grow

foster it
or you can watch it die.

of course, being a responsible,
competent college student,

i have long felt
depression’s parched, calloused grip

around my throat.
dehydrated hands

& desert lips.
i have learned a lot from my diagnosis –

like when you see your own body
evaporate in front of you

it does not motivate you to drink more
water but it does motivate you

to feel really fucking guilty about yourself.

mental health is like a garden.
you can water it

let it grow
foster it

or you can neglect it
watch it wilt

watch it wither
sometimes

it’s the small things –
pruning the split ends

from my hair
like dead branches.

avoiding the shower
for a week, then

running my fingers
dry along my scalp,

dandruff drifting
in the air

like a swarm of dandelion
seeds in the sizzling summer breeze.

my brother
telling me

to just go outside,
that if only

you had a little more sunlight
or just drank some more water

you would be fine.
sometimes

i wonder if i should
just die. like

i only thought about this plant
once i saw it had already wilted.

why is watering myself
the hardest thing i’ve ever done?

like
again, i’m lying awake

at night – rose-petal ribs
& poison-ivy palms –

petrified of my own
drought.

isn’t it funny
how the moon

always turns a firefly
into a phoenix? like

my own mind
is an invasive species

i can’t fight off.
what is this pain

if not perennial?
every year

on my birthday,
i awake to a new

red-ring scar engraved
on my tree-trunk limbs.

i’ve spent years
dealing with self harm.

sometimes,
i saturate my skin

& germinate
my guts,

my spine
a nursery of dread.

if i could mutate my mouth,
i would.

if i could fertilize my fear,
i would.

if i could drink fucking water
without exhausting myself,

i would.
self-care is like a garden –

you can water it
let it grow

foster it
or

you can neglect it
watch it wilt

watch it bleed
sometimes

i cut myself open
& rip out each vein

like a weed.
i am always thirsty,

but i am too busy
baptizing my bones in blood

to get a glass of water.
i can’t keep a

virtual plant alive
– not even

the fucking cactus –
because i

am too crazy
to remember

that if i don’t drink water,
it will die before i do.

when my brother asks
if i am feeling any better

after his advice,
i tell him that,

truthfully,
every night i imagine myself –

somewhere –
beneath six feet of dirt.

Gravity

at a maximum height of 746 feet, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular suicide destination in the world. accounting for gravity, it took six seconds to reach the water from the place you jumped.

6.

& with a warm kiss,
you’re gone. six months
after you left
to study physics,

i sift for clues
in research articles
published long before
your death.

5.

as if endlessly grasping
for god’s arm, it
is impossible for two
atoms to touch.

sharing the same charge,
electrons on the outside
of atoms repel each
other. technically speaking,

the closest one gets
to touching something
is hovering just
above it.

4.

i could write
a metaphor for water,
compare the ocean
to god –

say
in the seconds
before impact, you found
yourself in its image,

your arm
outstretched
& shivering in the
kinetic midnight air.

to do so, however,
would imply
that you actually
touched it.

3.

the night you jumped,
it was cold enough
for the sea
to almost

freeze. there,
the current slows with
each moment, as if
each molecule

were an interlude
in your own death.
as your palms hover
just above

the water, i imagine
them, still warm,
cradling a birthday candle
between your lips.

then,
a soft breeze.
your breath melting
in the air forever.

2.

of course,
time never really
freezes. only,
the larger an object grows,

the longer each second lasts.
in this space,
i have time to ask you why.
i have time to find your mother.

i have time to write this poem. and
another. and another.
what comes from smoke
is more smoke.

what comes from heat is more heat.
in six seconds,
i have spent years
waiting for your return.

1.

despite centuries of research,
physicists are woefully unable
to explain gravity.
although undocumented,

it’s believed that gravity
has an equal and opposite force
somewhere in the universe.
in this way,

we are never truly apart.
somewhere, a place exists
where the air
does not heat

& the sea does
not thaw &
you are still
there

as you were once,
wings endlessly spread.
truthfully, Luka,
my pen

is the only force
keeping gravity from
killing you
a second time.

i don’t fight
for extra seconds;
i just write the clock
differently. each day,

i close my eyes &
count down
until, again,
you are right here.

sometimes,
i swear
if i reached out at night
i could graze your arm,

wet with longing, as if
each finger
were a passing wave
on your skin. but just

as i remember
atoms can’t touch,
my hand slips
& again

there is nothing
but moist air and darkness.
even though
i am always disappointed,

i still hope
the ink dries
before tomorrow,
or at least –

0.