you wouldn’t like me – tegan and sara
up the wolves – the mountain goats
violet – hole
all your favorite bands – dawes
swan dive – waxahatchee
something bad – julia nunes
atoms – nana grizol
if you’re feeling sinister – belle and sebastian
me and you again – kelsey waldon
blowin’ in the wind – bob dylan
chinatown – girlpool
fast car – tracy chapman
the sound of settling – death cab for cutie
anywhere but here – chumped
gypsy – suzanne vega
fuck was i – jenny owen youngs
running on empty – jackson browne
i have been trying to pray, as an act of comedy and desperation, which are the same. i cannot bear myself so i make my mind a telephone and all the thoughts for someone else who is listening who does not exist who does not care about me who loves my soul because it’s criminal who will deliver me (deliver me!!) who lives above my grandmother’s piano on a glossy piece of woodwork, a maudlin t between the picture frames. at mass on all saints day in black jeans i was ruined already i said, have me, anybody, any of you. take these pieces. i have been trying to pray.
when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i think of pink bubbled fingertips burnt on ironed hair like pretty fake five dollar fried silk disgusting on the floor and chair and bed sheets after the rain messy soft and broken smooth. i was trying. and so many dressed like boys and moved like cats and more smelled like sugar. sugar on fire and sticky prom palms. when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i see my new white sneakers stolen at the mall, from a display of sweaters, from a plastic bag. and i cried because i had known exactly what i was when i walked circles in those shoes across the speckled carpet and the loss seemed unsurmountable and the loss was an attack and i think maybe they cost forty dollars and i cried. i was nine they were nikes they were like my best friend’s. she ran faster than me. i didn’t know her anymore in middle school i let my hair grow out in middle school i found denim skirts in middle school. when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i am playing redbutt on the blacktop and it is important not to wince when the ball hits you and it is important to wish it came harder to show no tears when you turn to taller boys who understand you as a creature that should be embarrassed all the time it is important to splay your fragile fingers without fear and i put my face right on the bricks. when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i am thirteen and i put my ponytail up higher and i run and i run and i know the sound of so many pairs of purple cleats in the same dirt and i shave away the untouched weakness on my thighs so they won’t see it in the sun and we sit in spandex laps later and we smell like sweat if sugar sweat we smell sweet when we’re tired we taste like when something is ending already at the very start. the flipbook fast heartbreak of something almost like ease.
when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i get religious i get religion i get god from their discarded t-shirts like fallen soldiers from the sun through pink curtains part where they saw me over their shoulders saw me saw me i say the rosary and every bead is a noise of barely choked exuberance when she made a mean joke is a mangled pinky finger from a preschool break is a lie to spare my feelings that i caught and pretended not to is thick & full biotin & collagen shampoo and only blue m&ms. i see the slant of their handwriting badly imitated on my own papers and i think everyone who has ever died knows now exactly how afraid i am of living. when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i am dressed as a football player for fourth grade halloween i am abandoning soccer for field hockey and girls with glossed mouths i am buying rap music i am running until i am sick and sick and as happy as i’ve ever been there to fall over helpless take me i’m yours. when i think of all the girls i have ever tried to be i am giving back their secrets i am braiding them with my own unspoken songs i am in a small dark room somewhere forever writing each of them a book of love poems that read like an apology. all of yours that was golden turned green against my skin, i say, and i am sorry that i took it. i was trying.
when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i see them as their parts i feel their old jeans i smell their skin taste crooked nailbeds and fine points of fraying baby hair at the base of so many necks. smiles full of teeth a doctor fixed and purple under beige under eyes and all the soap. every scar and cruel impulse i detected i devoured and it made them only more the magic it made me lean my head in closer yes tell me you are the monster i’ve been waiting for i need someone to fear. it wasn’t like that. it’s not that way. i look inside my closet all the time still, won’t someone eat me alive? when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i’m counting up my own pieces to see what can be saved. can i salvage the new electric bodily animation of being in love? swallow the want back into me til my tired stomach lining says no more, revolts, my insides are asleep out of self-preservation. you’ve fucked us up bad. weak ankles and swollen eyes and spite like spoiled red wine i carry i keep in new costumes with new faces. if i laugh in a booth with my friends, their vibrating builds and shaking hands, if i pretend i am a person does the small death at my center feel betrayed? eating breakfast seems inconsiderate when your minor organs are at war. when i think of all the girls i have tried to be i’m naked at the grocery store waiting for a sign in warbled fingerprint writing on the frozen aisle glass. what will you be?
i like confession, keep a Mary candle at my bedside i tell her hey girl please. please. cross myself until my arms ache i pull my hair out still I’m grown. first penance is a ceremony and i wore red shoes. first penance gave permission from god to be sorry all the time and i took it i was thirsty. O my god i am sorry for having offended you and I detest all my sins. O my god because of Your just punishments. Just punishments. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good i have sinned against you i am seven years old please strike me down so that i can be born again with ashley’s fine bones and worth loving i am sixteen years old please whip the skin he ever touched my mouth and other open spots stained with whiskey and doritos i am trying O my god. i am twenty three years old and i only believe in my horoscope and no indoor heating before thanksgiving please cleanse me of the foolish notion that i know anything of love. in choosing to do wrong and failing to do good i made my heart into a new age smoothie my god have mercy.