poem: picture day

Dear Diary,
The alarm clock loves to wake me up
just as she’s taking her shirt off.
This sets the tone for my entire day.
This in itself is not the tragedy.
The problem, dear diary, is this morning,
I still have the dumbest little sister a vagina can spit.
I still love a girl that will never want to say my name,
and today I’m still thirteen years old, and it’s Picture Day.

Dear Fucking Diary,
Why does Mom always know when I’m not really sick?
Maybe she looked at the calendar,
must have noticed I catch syphilis at the same time every year.
But she fails to catch the hint,
always asks why she spends money on pictures where smiles don’t exist.
But it’s a little hard to grin after being kicked in the face by Darren Walker,
conveniently just before picture time, my mouth a reluctant
advertisement for fake teeth and Nike.

This morning Mom is shaking her head while reading an
article about a bombing in Bosnia.
With heart-bleeding eyes,
she asks me why I never seem to care.
I tell her that I haven’t punched my little sister in over a month
and I’ve yet to win a Peace Prize.
And yeah, train bombings suck,
but they’ve got nothing on seventh hour.

Please, take me to a war zone that doesn’t smell like Mr. Wilson.
I would swallow an improvised explosive
before getting pantsed in gym and nailed in the balls.
People freak about crumbling economies,
but I’m a little more focused on pubic hair implosion,
on remembering the hard way why I can’t wear sweatpants in class.

And then there’s today, Picture Day,
where everybody can hop in front of a camera and pretend to be happy,
so parents can look back on these years and not wonder how many nights
their kids tried to die, so that one day we can look at our middle school days
and smile as our lives got so much better.
But even the camera guy is depressing. He looks like the post-rehab pre-divorce
version of me. His eyes are glazed, his voice catatonic.
The high point of his day was probably checking out the science teacher.
He’s a walking reminder: it doesn’t get any better. It doesn’t get any better.

When I plop in front of his camera he’s gonna tell me to smile,
but what I should really do is raise my shirt for snapshots of the footprints.
I can duplicate every tear I saved for the shower,
because Darren Walker loves it when I cry,
and he loves it when I see the girl he likes and I’m afraid to compliment her hair,
because boys aren’t supposed to talk about hair, and people already think I’m gay
and I don’t even have a Myspace,

and I slink past her hoping this time she won’t be so pretty,
her every breath sings the wind from Darren’s fist,
so I crumple like every note that I will never give her.

I’ll go to sleep dreaming that she stops me in the hall, one corner
from the camera’s chalk line.
She’ll say “You’re smiling. You never smile.”
I’ll tell her, “yeah. It’s picture day.”

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2 thoughts on “poem: picture day

  1. Wow. You just keep getting better.

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