When I was younger, I developed what I imagined to be some sort of obscene fantasy. I would meet the love of my life while traveling via some means of public transportation: on a bus, on a ferry, on a plane, on a train.

The concept of meeting my soul mate while en route to separate, final destinations (presented then with the immediate decision of choosing a final destination together or risking it all and saying goodbye) was romantic. At one point in time, I would seek out situations where I hoped to meet him. I would travel awkwardly, would choose my seat assignments based on whether or not the seat next to me had already been reserved. I would sit on the bus in the seat closest to the window, attentive always of the level of welcome emitted by my body language.

In my lap would rest my sketchbook and fine tipped pen. Quietly streaming through my headphones would be lyrics of love and desperation and hope.

I eventually married a man I met in a bar.

While the piecing together of that sentence seems assumptive on my levels of a lacking earth-shattering love, I cannot deny the magic there. We met and married within two years. I’d always been a planner; on the to-do list of my life, he checked off many of the boxes. Fall in love. Get married. Buy a house. Have children. My life became a series of boxes, and my happiness relied on checking them off. By the age of 23, I had checked off nearly all of my life goals, and when I looked ahead five years, I feared my life growing stale, developing habits and routines that revolved not around striving towards fantasies unlikely to happen, but instead around a life laid out logically in stone.

In time, I realized that I had lived for a very long time based on the shoulds that I grew up believing were mine for the keeping. I did exactly everything that I thought I should do.

On a wintery morning in March, thunder accompanied the falling snow.

On the train into work, sitting a handful of aisles away from but still facing me was a man who I believed - yes, even upon the first time I saw him - to be the love of my life. I had not planned this.

I can say now that I am a bad person for having caused so much pain.

I was married. He was married. Destruction was imminent.

For a year following the first time we saw each other, we discovered a love I believe each of us had imagined since our youths. Time slowed down and seemed to come to a halt. The world changed forever. In the quiet stillness we whispered of our shoulds, and we knew our every kiss to be their contradiction.

In September, our world ended again. It was an end we had discussed while trying both to resist and prepare for. It had been slowly breaking through the surface of our world for months, but with a quick and unalterable jolt of tectonic plates, the world - again - would never be the same.

Underneath the shade of a maple tree, his phone rang between sips of coffee. I heard as his wife asked who I was. He told her I was the woman he fell in love with. I forgot my lungs needed air.

That night, I told my husband.

Ten months after we met, I moved out of the house that checked off one of my series of boxes. Unforgivably, I broke the heart of a man who’d promised exactly that to me: his heart. I moved in with my parents, stacked my childhood bedroom with boxes, and attempted reconstruction, which felt much like pulling, from between my fingers, slivers that extended far past my elbows.

A year after we met, he too moved into an apartment removed from his shoulds.

I wrote him a poem about new beginnings.

In the following weeks - both of us a combination of battered and hurting but hopeful and ready, after a year of waiting, to finally begin us - we began. On some days, rainfall patterned the windows and we feared drowning as the water rose. One other days, we played records and danced barefoot on the hardwood floors. We filled the bathtub and drank wine. We cocooned ourselves into bed. We watched the morning news and sipped coffee. We built shelves for our books and framed a photo of us.

Six months later, the water - though less frequently - still rises. We have learned to better navigate its rapids.

Every morning, we take the train into work together. We board at the stop where he first came into my life, unplanned and world-altering.

I stopped seeing my life as a series of boxes.

Instead, I see it as a spiderweb of train lines and rivers, of a thousand paths connected to one another, leading eventually to Central Station or the Pacific Ocean, from where we can finally choose together any number of destinations across the globe.

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.

Mandy Hale (via onlinecounsellingcollege)

(via a-peapod)


i learned today
that the average
human being
has 34 to 48
thoughts per minute.

i think of speed.
i think of .56 to .80
thoughts per second.

i think of mental health
and those constantly
at war with themselves.

i think of the a.d.d.
embedded in society,
with smart phones
and wifi
and billboards
and wrapped buses
and video games
and notifications
on facebook
and twitter
and tumblr
and instagram.

i think of over emphasis
on excess.

i wonder if humans
have always been capable
of speeds like this
or if, at some point
in time, we were skilled enough
to think of the petals
of a flower
for an hour, to think
of the clouds
passing overhead
for five full minutes,
or to feel the wind
in our hair
or the kiss
of a lover,
to be present enough
to memorize
every whispered
i love you,

or if,
like in so many facets
of life,
we are conditioned
to take all
that we have
for granted.

i think of you as

i tried to write a poem
about the way and the why
of my loving you
and what i came up with is:

your confident current of words
makes me
think of you as a river
through which
so many thoughts travel
and how, on their journey
through you, they must become
everything they need
to enter the world.
every time you speak,
i imagine it as your ideas
being birthed into the world
you’ve decided
is ready for them.

i came up with the way
your hands move,
how they are so present,
how they seem
an extension of you.
to think otherwise of them
would be to think of you
like a tree without branches,
and your branches,
on the contrary,
are fruitful,
and they beg me
to climb them.

i thought then of maple syrup,
of the potential for sweetness
hiding deep inside the heartwood
of so many maple trees,
and how your belief
in potential
is like the process
for turning bitter sap
into sweet syrup,
and how its difficulty
must be embraced
and even encouraged.

i later thought of the way
we might kiss,
embraced in the arms
of a maple tree,
the bubbling and whoosh
of a confident river underfoot,

and i knew then
that however i might try
to tell you
of the way and the why
of my love,
that all you need to know is:

i think of your arms
as the branches of a maple tree
in which i’d like to sit
for the rest of my life
to enjoy the voice
of the river
and to see where it leads.


I was reading about how far
The Milky Way is from Andromeda
But we collide toward one another at
over 100 kilometres with every second. 

In four billion years we will merge and
mostly everything will miss everything else,
except the black holes will merge together and
I think that maybe this means there is hope for us. 

abstract art

i love
the slowing down of time
when he presses his lips
to mine,
the swollen magic
of our surroundings
blurring into abstraction
as we kiss
and then taking their time
to come back
into focus.

when you are a reason to avoid making a decision

financially and for stability,
he says it would make sense
to move
into the house
that he and his ex-wife
and their two kids
and a number of their pets
lived in
for more than 10 years.

she is moving out,
and the house,
if he wants it,
is his.

for the last six months,
we’ve been planning
that i would move
into the apartment
he is living in now,
as soon as his son
feels adjusted to me.

at that point
in the conversation,
moving into his old house
was not even an idea.

because this
was the reality
we were working towards,
i have put sweat
into our tiny beginnings.

with him, i have chosen
where to hang
the painting of don quixote.

we have decided
where to keep the cereal.

we have hung shelves
for our books
and have a designated junk drawer
and a cabinet
for the sex toys
and a place for the notebook
where we write down
the places we’ll visit together.

and now,

i am a non-sensical kink
in an otherwise
logically based
and easy-to-arrive-at solution.

i have said no,
i do not see myself
living there with you.

i do not see myself
wanting even
to spend time there.

as the idea takes root,
i feel it feeding
on my stomach acid
and making me nauseous,

and a very big part of me
just wants to curl up,
in the bed
that is solely my own,
and go to sleep.

in preparation for your first family reunion after the divorce

over the next few hours,
distant relatives
will mistake the boyfriend
you have been with
for a year
for your ex-husband,
because the grapevine
of telephone lines
and facebook connections
and e-mail groups
did not lead to them.

you will correct them politely
and say it’s okay
as flushed embarrassment
reddens their cheeks.

you will subdue
the quiet fury as
(after you introduce
the man you love)
you see them lean over
to your grandmother
and whisper
tell me what happened.

you are right;
the intricacies of your life
are not theirs
to live vicariously through.

do not let
the immediate reaction
of discomfort
impede the gracefulness
of your smile.

do not let
their nosiness
build up bitterness
in you.

do not question
why you didn’t
inform all the world
of the romantic destruction
in your life
and the later reconstruction
and discovery
of a love
you could only have dreamed.

a few things to remember are:
1) some decisions
you make for you.
2) the divorce
was for you.
3) the man whose hand
you’re holding
will curl up
in bed with you tonight
and will kiss your shoulder,
and finally,
4) the love you share
is a world
for the two of you.

under the weight of quilts

i cut my chaos
into quilt squares
that i tuck
under my bed.

i’ve kept them
from escaping,
chained by needle
and by thread.

at night i hear
the floor boards shivering,
and my fear,
oh, what i dread,

is my chaos
found the seam ripper
and up my bedposts
has begun to tread.

cave diving

i am a triumphant echo
of success,
a light in the darkness;

i am fingers
curled around hope
when all others
have lost their grip;

i am not
the status quo;
i am not
what you expect;

i may not be sure
of where i’m going,
but fear
will not keep me
from getting there;

i will not keep my light
under a bushel;
i will not
allow myself
to live a precautionary life;
i will not
seek approval;

my dreams
and my feelings
do not require

i am capable;
i am strong;

i will conquer it all.


wanderlust is in the air
I will follow everywhere
from sea to forest back again
to see what lies on paths I’ve been
and places I’ve not gone before
along the north Alaska shore
through parks and on to mountain top
this wind began and will not stop
until the day when nothings left
or the load I cannot heft
upon my back with legs so frail
letting then my soul set sail
upon aurora to the stars
exploring all, no place to far

Anonymous said: In the absence of conversation between us, I check this blog for updates every few days and find reading your poetry such a wonderful pinhole insight into your life. I'm willing to wager that few people since Neruda have written so tenaciously about love as you do. I would just like you to know that venturing here feels magic, and I think of you fondly and often. Let's talk soon. Your friend, CJO.

I am so blessed to have such great, lifelong friends. I read through this not noticing the sign off until it came naturally. Thank you Chris.

the first time i saw you

sitting across from me
on the train,
your eyes meet mine —
my heart forgets to beat —
i catch my breath.

my inner dialogue
look casual,
glance out the window,
fuck he is stunning,
don’t stare,
i’m staring.

we are the collision
of trains on tracks,
beautiful disaster impending.

we are the aftermath
and the digging
through the rubble
and the sharp inhale
of surprise,

we are love
orchestrated by the stars;

we both know it,
and we’ve yet
to say hello.

rock climbing: learning to make love

i am halved
the undeniable pull
of gravity,
of repeating
past mistakes,
and wanting,
with all my heart,
to fall again.

i know not
the means by which
to navigate
this so-familiar path
and not slip
on the same
unstable rock.

i am terrified
of falling deeper
into the same
i recently crawled out of —
so terrified
that i have pocketed
extra carabiners.

in nervous anticipation,
i have buckled
and unbuckled my harness
for the last six months.

i have powdered
my own chalk.

i see ropes ahead
cascaded down
what i once knew
to be
the most treacherous spots.

i look further
for a crook
where i’ll be able
to catch my breath,
and oh, my love,
i see you there.

how to fail in a battle against your demons

i have tried
so hard
to fill the keyhole
that allows light
to seep in.
i have pulled off
and pushed into it
gauze from my wounds.
i have breathed into it
i let no one else hear.
but my gauze
and my questions fail me,
fall free.
i have learned now
that to bask
in the darkness
i crave,
i must pull pieces
from my barely beating heart
and maneuver them,
still bloody,
into the only place
light knows
to find me.