unsent voice mail

if i wanted to hear that you were fine, i would’ve unblocked you.

if i wanted someone to control my life again, i’d come back to town.

if i wanted things to be the way they were, i’d let my old demons take control.

if i wanted to be hurt again, i would take your hand.

if i wanted to hurt you, i would drown you in words.

if i wanted revenge i would’ve sought it out the day it all went up in flames.

if i wanted peace i would’ve deleted all your contact info.

if i wanted my life back i would’ve left things the way they ended.

if i wanted you to care about me, i wouldn’t do anything because that was never in the equation.

i don’t know what i want.

i don’t know who you are.

but i know i don’t want you.

~jo~

roof

 

I am a monster of my own choosing. I let the cracks split open and show. I am the one who caused the ruins. I raised my hands to poison my soul.

“Now that’s cheery,” a thin, slippery voice murmurs in the darkness.

The sound of a notebook dropping is immediately followed by surprised cursing, some stumbling upon the cold cement, and the shaky attempts of a terrified child to stand up.

It is night on the rooftop and two shadows lie on the ground.

“W-who are you?” she whispers. Whether she is hyperventilating or not remains to be seen. Her hands dust off on ripped jeans and brush against matted hair, trembling.

The source of the longer shadow stands in the brightness of the moon, face unseen, cane in hand, hat on head. As if this was a quintessential noir film, he drawls his words and walks forward, propping his weight on the balls of his shiny leather clad feet and his arms on his knees.

“Shouldn’t be up so late sweetheart, it’s bad for your body,” he says gently, grasping a shaking wrist. “Shouldn’t be writing such drastic words, it’s bad for your soul.”

In a swift motion he tugs her to his feet, tucking some stray hairs behind her ear. She doesn’t flinch, but she does step back, hands tightening around notebook.

“Do I know you?”

“You should.” He nods at the book. “That holds a ton of powerful words. You’d wanna be more careful with what you will into existence. Maybe try something like the weather, eh doll?”

The girl takes a good look at him— what she can of the darkened figure before her— and furrows her eyebrows.

Will into existence?

Her hands think for themselves and flip the pages of her book to an earlier list of words, just as disastrously written as the latest. The wind turns a chill as the light shines brighter on an old piece of work written long ago. Where, the memories refuse to say.

If I could will into existence. A friend with whom to live with. I would hardly care what they are. The devil seems a good place to start.

The.

What.

“Babe you gotta stop speaking your thoughts aloud so often,” He chuckles, watching the words make little pangs of realization pop on her tired, worn out face. “You okay there?”

She takes an eternity to respond.

“I’m going mental. This is schizophrenia. Or- or something. I’m hearing voices. They seem so real.”

Her words run over themselves and run them flat, shallow breaths working themselves out of her system as she claps her hands to her forehead, the night seeming to swallow her alive. Perhaps it already has.

Another pair of hands wrap around her own. “Now, could a voice look this good in eighty degree heat and a suit to match?” The moon was bright enough for a wink to appear.

“But you’re not actually the…”
“No.”
“Thank God.”
“And you’re not actually a monster.” He places the smaller girl on the ground, sitting as casually beside her, enveloped in darkness.

“What are you then?” She doesn’t address the last sentence. Probably too shocked to believe it.

His coat ruffles in the wind. “Have you heard of guardian angels?”
“Uhm…”


“That, but evil.”

sitting crosslegged on holy ground

if you ask God “ ‘sup” is it a case of situational irony or modern irreverence or both or neither?

i think about this sprawled on a kitchen chair at four am. a candy clock pendant is waiting to be demolished on the kitchen table. a bunch of flights got cancelled. a kid left this earth on sunday. depression rests on more than one lonely soul. last night’s dinner was pizza with salad. life is messy like that.

i’ve stared at these walls for 306 days with almost precisely the same kind of absurd thoughts bouncing about in my head and honestly, i’m surprised i’ve made it this far.

when does it end?

when does life stop being suspended from midair?

am i gonna start freefalling anytime soon?

need some confirmations out here, God, anything at all would be great. maybe one miracle.

as a treat.

*stares a little too hard at the sky for five minutes*

aw come on, man, we really need someone to pull through right now.

i suppose i shouldn’t refer to the maker of the universe as a man, but my mind is too distraught to use the correct terms and i will hate myself for the hypocritical behavior later, another time, when everything has calmed down, in happier days.

will there be happier days? when? any answers?

anyone out there?

huh.

i guess it can’t be too bad to ask ‘sup as long as you have the right intent. as long as it’s meant respectfully. maybe? is it crazy that we make discrepancies on how to address an all powerful, all knowing, all present being and we barely check in that we can… just do that? no go between, no fill out form, no nothing?

just

‘sup, how’s it hanging? also please make this work because a lot of people are gonna be hurt if it doesn’t happen and bless my aunt’s cat who’s sick with a cold and also this mental stress really do be hitting hard tho send help

and

that counts as a prayer?

what even.

to be heard regardless of what we come with and how we come.

whaaat even.

that probably doesn’t excuse how i barge into God’s office and slam my problems on his desk like it is the end of the world (i mean you never know am i right) and go “ay, you mean what you said, right?”

silence.

“right?”

silence.

“bro i got nobody else out here. literally, nobody else. what do i have to do?”

the crickets are chirping.

and then the painfully true realization bonks me on the head:

who the heck am i to bargain with God?

God, who does what he pleases. God, who literally let his son die instead of a world of tiny selfish humans. God, the creator of the cosmos. God, whose sole concept alone has been the object of so many different religions in the world since humans gained sentience?

bonk, tiny human. you’ve got nothing to even deserve this audience. and yet it is given.

i have not come to bargain. i’ve come to ask. beg. plead. for the universe. for the world. for the country. for the district. for the block.

for myself.

hypothetically speaking, perhaps God’s office has carpet, but hardwood works for collapsing on too.

i wonder what he sees from his seat in this heavenly place. a rough small kid with choppy hair and stolen clothes sitting on the floor waiting for an answer with more stunned silence respect than they previously displayed coming in. is he ashamed? is this old hat? does it maybe bemuse him to watch one of his own re-realize the undeniable truth that they seem to forget all the time?

does he still care?

but he finally answers.

trust

trust.

that’s it?

man.

that’s it.

i lean against the walls of a God’s office that is really just a kitchen in the middle of nowhere because he’s everywhere and chew on a crumbly candy pendant.

‘s cool.

‘sup God.

and thanks.

~that’s a made up word/all words are made up, jo~

step into the black and white

my brain has a failsafe mode during times of extreme stress.

like when good people die and war spreads and so many scary things are happening at the same time, and everything hurts and is broken and nothing seems right and are we going home yet?

the failsafe means not having answers or words. just songs.

so uh. here are some of them.

go in peace, kind people.


Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners
And the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall
And we break
And we make our mistakes
And if there’s a reason I’m still alive
When everyone who loves me has died
I’m willing to wait for it
I’m willing to wait for it

Pain and joy and suffering
Failing but recovering
I’ll tell you another thing
Everyone here is alone
So if you are breathing
Go home

Once upon another time
Before I knew which life was mine
Before I left the child behind me
I saw myself in summer nights
And stars lit up like candle light
I make my wish but mostly I believed

In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you now
I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around
In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you the truth
I’m everything that I am because of you

Pick a star on the dark horizon
And follow the light
You’ll come back
When it’s over
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back
When it’s over
No need to say goodbye

There’s beauty in the pain
Just look deeper
No longer the sower but the reaper
It struggles like the devil in the heat of day
I want to live again so I can stay
Before I wilt away
Before the carving and decay

Long talks and cups of coffee
Waking up and saying sorry
Love is right in front of you
We can finally see each other if we
Stop

I am a shapeshifter, too
All of my colors can change if I want them to, Suited for you
All of my roots, help me choose who to be
I don’t have control of my past, and even though
I know that I still feel at fault for the things I’ve been through,
I still would be sorry, if it wasn’t for you Please don’t hold me, I wouldn’t know how to let go

Some birds sing when the sun shines bright
Our praise is not for them
But the ones who sing in the dead of night
We raise our cups to them

It’s coming to America first
The cradle of the best, of the worst
It’s here they’ve got the range
And the machinery for change
And it’s here they’ve got the spiritual thirst
It’s here the family’s broken
And it’s here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A

~there are monsters and there are men
there are monsters that live in your head
it is the monsters who shall live in dread, jo~

musicals as aesthetically described points of my life

because why not

sound of music

tape rewinders, dust settling on scruffy green carpet, playing with the colored cables connecting the tape player to the tv, scratchy couches, pillows with dents from leaning against them too long, sleeping bags spread out on the floor, running, singalongs in the car, going north, hour long road trips, heat touching metal, almost expired snacks, dead clocks pointing at 12.

once

billboards along the highway, giant cursive, displays lit up by city lights, previews during dinner time, kitchen chairs, scraping wooden floors, mangled earphones, old tablets on frozen laps, soft blizzard, power outs, darkness, studio headphones, piano keys, lamps a second after they’ve been turned off.

come from away

red lines streaming across youtube videos, laptops left on auto play, costco parking lots, thins brushing against old metal, sharp winds, winter coats, falling asleep in the winter sun, hiding music players in pockets and bags, recreation centers, worn tires, cold fake leather boots, miles of endlessly stretching roads.

his story the musical

five hour skype calls, headphones, screens glitching, synth machines at the music store, back alleys, overcast skies, left side bus seat, scenery blurring past the window, rosaries, thrown away bulletins, sitting on the hallway floor, spring, out of tune guitars, microphone stands, coat racks.

newsies

sneakers on tiptoe, jumping, paper, locked bedroom doors, hitting repeat for the hundredth time, giant glass windows, ballet studios, harmonies, half finished crackers, tired arm rests, battery at one percent, crowded parties, balcony railings, pigeons flying around in flocks, hair ties on wrist.

hamilton

messy spotify playlists, hunching over on folding chairs, ink pens, crumpled up paper balls, furiously typing, crossed-legged sitting in the street, summer heat rising on old apartments, terrifying search histories, tabs reloading, scribbled over notebooks, running out of breath, velvet seats, craning upwards, hours spent disappearing.

dear evan hansen

ice rinks, jogging through the park, giant hill by the highway, growing leaves, quiet morning at the library computers, stairs, empty schools, neighborhood basketball hoops. giant tree roots, running through the woods, sunlight filtering through the leaves, tinted glass, recovery rooms.

in the heights

neighborhood plaza, backroads, driving past the racing track, volume button clicking upwards, eyes closing in the heat, tank tops, old houses, rain on cement, almost closed dollar stores, sitting directly next to the air conditioning, hugging giant blocks of ice, tossing yogurt cups in the freezer, isolation rooms, hospital hallways, bright lights, mental wards.

~while i’ve been preparing for the apocalypse, i’ve also been… writing my own musical *dramatic leg sweep*, jo~

to those who reside as aliens

and then i started sobbing.

not even the dramatically beautiful-yet-so-despondently-tragic tears trailing down cheeks sobbing,

like snot and plugged sinuses i can’t breathe because my chest is shaking violently red faced and absolutely ghastly sobbing.

to those who reside as aliens.

oh, God.

i told my sister that i felt like i plateaued in my faith on the phone a few hours ago, which is a little weird even for me to say as a self proclaimed romantic nihilist, because for me to have faith would mean to accept that something and someone matters, and that’s a black hole of words i don’t have right now.

the truth is of course, yes, they do. someone does.

i just…

i have been an alien for a very long time.

residing as one for a couple years give or take. living and feeling, reluctantly accepting for… what feels like my whole life.

alien.

i joke about it and it sears itself into my soul so much that i forget anything else.

alien. don’t belong, don’t belong, don’t belong.

i guess i just assumed this was universally accepted so i… didn’t bother checking with God about it? or? you know?

dude i haven’t been to church without zoning out in a year, this is rough even on my ears.

but like, at some point in this freakishly hot night i’d decided to read through the bible app.

because totally, that’s what you do in 100 degree heat when you’ve been half-religiously avoiding the social distant services starting back up because you know, you know, you know, that you’ll just sit there and you may as well sit anywhere else.

so

you sit in your hot room with two fans running and then you decide to read a bit of the bible.

t-to pass the time.

how the heck does God not give up on my pathetic self, i don’t know.

but i turned to 1 peter and boom

there

to those who reside as aliens.

and then, in that second of reading and rereading in disbelief i think some wall of casual apathy and suppressed fears broke.

it was like he was speaking to me.

to those who reside as aliens.

God wrote a letter to an alien and invited them home. he got it. he crossed space and time and technological difficulties to let me know.

dude.

i still can’t stop crying.

i don’t plan on writing any enlightened christian gospel living posts anytime soon, and to be honest, i’m aware how often i toe the grey area of agnosticism.

but in this space and time, in this lonely messed up ugly weird strange insert words your parents would not want me to say, the fact that i am seen and loved and accepted in totality by God has captured my full attention and left me speechless. (well, speechless enough to write about it. what a hypocrite.) and maybe that is enough.

to those who reside as aliens.

i asked God for proof that existence mattered, and he didn’t just follow through, he whacked me personally and said that i did.

wipe your tears, they say, you will start to heal.

i know not everyone reading this looks to faith for the peace they seek, that there are many many places that offer what we all search for, and it’s not my place to insist on any specific way or attitude or time. that’s not what this is.

this is to those who reside as aliens.

i hope you find it, like how i accidentally stumbled on it at an ungodly hour of the day.

(that’s hilarious, the ungodly hour bit. it would seem that i met God at this time. amazing.)

~but God i want to feel again, jo~

7. 18

next year, where will you be?

next year, will you get everything you were working so hard for?

next year, will you be lonely and hurt and sad again?

next year, will you suffer from going mad?

next year, would you be stronger?

next year, would you be alone?

next year, will you be wandering an empty hall with nobody to hear you scream?

next year, will you be singing and dancing?

next year, will you be awaiting the next semester?

next year, will you even be anywhere with a semester?

next year, will you be happy?

next year, will you have anyone?

next year, will you be okay?

next year, will there be a next year?

if we pull out all these causes to fight for

when do we stop fighting?

where do we draw the line?

how do we not lose our minds?

i’ve been thinking– about the way we obssess

over squares on a grid on a screen in our hands

and reshares and likes and opinions

that are worthy of attention but not of this division

like how can we save the children

when you spend your time fighting

over which ones first need saving?

the kid at apartment 128

and the kid being forced to work too late

are still trying to survive as you argue and wait

how can you ethically expect all babies to be born

without suffering in this toxic atmosphere; what was your arguing for?

it goes so much deeper than your 280 word caption

it’s not just an instagram story calling people to action

it’s the person behind the words

it’s the community trying to stop the hurt

it’s a movement crying for a moment of silence

it’s saying that we deserve to have peace and quiet

without fearing for our lives

without wondering if our kids will make it home in the night

is that a problem you worry about as well

that you’ll be grabbed out of your car

and pushed down with your hands

tied behind your back,

pleading for someone to understand

but do you?

can you?

should you?

we are not the same, our problems are unique

yet our pushing against them should make us united, not weak

over trying to fight an online comment

over generalizing a whole group of people

because they aren’t what you thought of

when you hear the word “justice”

when you see the word “lives”

they are seeking the same thing you are

only they have realized

that it is better to be a warrior in a garden

than a gardener in a war

we have lost too much already

we do not need more blood

please think about what makes you feel justified

what you support and what you deny

at the end of the day, we shouldn’t be in this rut

these issues shouldn’t have to

be divided into “me” and “you”

when it can be “us”.

to dance

group of people dancing

is to revolt.

to dance

is to be aware of the people staring

and choosing not to care.

moreso, to shift your care into the wave of your hands

the jump in your feet

the toss of your hair

the freedom that runs through your soul

and bursts from your skin.

to dance

is to listen to a beat that you can hear

loud and clear

even if it goes unheard by anyone else.

to dance

is to smile at frowning people

staying still on the ground

whose eyes roam over your body

and attempt to make it still itself

and to move on, anyway.

to dance

is to refuse to be weaponized

by a system that demands rigor mortis

by the fear that has always controlled us

to raise your head and laugh.

to dance

is being willing to go it alone

to trust another person

to join a group

united in individual movement.

to dance

is a love letter

encased in melanin

and tendons

and stretch marks

and beauty.

to dance

is a fist extended into open palms

knowing directed force

has more power when applied to certain points.

to dance

is freeing, joyous,

when you can learn to dance for yourself

that’s where it starts.

to dance

is to let go

of the positions you have known

afraid of moving on

but ready to do so at all costs.

to dance

is a protest

is a performance

is perfect

in its own way.

to dance

in whatever shape or form

whoever your feet move for

may in every little way

you find your dance

today.