i am a social worker.
i work in a shelter.
i have learned the language
of boundaries and tough love
but what they do not teach you
is how to pack up the left behinds.
the clothes and the shoes and the papers,
shells of people who have come and left.
the dress that someone wore when
they finally found a job.
the broken sneakers,
shoved in a corner
that have seen more feet
than a podiatrist on wednesday.
the packets of ibuprofen,
that never take away the ache
of children in dss custody.
hair ties, tank tops, journals,
underwear, calendars, ripped pages
with dates and phone numbers
scattered, here and there,
smudged with fingerprints
made from dirt and hope and coffee.
garbage bags and name tags,
shoved into a hallway
that goes nowhere.


This is not a poem;;

Before you read this, just know that you’re probably going to leave angry. You’re probably going to feel your face flush and rage shoot through your brain. You’re probably going to go “who the fuck are you?” and “what kind of bullshit is this?” and that’s okay. I can live with that. So if you can read this open minded, that’d be great. If not, that’s okay. I get it. Some things are just too heavy and too raw for people to lift up and look inside.

To the parent who forgot their kid in the car today, or maybe it was last week, or maybe it was that time you’ve never told anyone about…I am so sorry that happened to you. I imagine you wild-eyed with panic. Maybe you dropped the groceries. Maybe you got back in your car and your heart dropped to the floor when you realized what you’d done. I hope your kid was okay and just know that someone knows that you love that kid so. damn. much. The thing about forgetting is that we never intend to forget and that’s the thing about forgetting. We can’t control what we forget. If you could, we wouldn’t forget the important things.



shampoo on a sunburn,
hawaiian shirts, $2.75,
a latte midight coffee,
conquering the world
1062 steps at a time.
through mud, over mountains,
downpours, rainstorms,
salsa dancing on a boardwalk,
piggyback rides for socks,
smiles and giggles,
bad lip synching,
roadtrips to nowhere,
and everywhere.
eggs and bakey,
breakfast in new places,

you’re the clean space
on my muddy shirt.
we’re the story behind
ugly 50 cent ties
mailed for no reason.
fireworks and hotdogs
and onions and honey mustard
and johnny cash
singing about something.
beaches and sand and sunsets
and dogs and snapchats
cheeseburgers and coffee
and secrets and dates
here we are,
at the close of it,
tan lines fading,
memories bright,
it was beautiful,
it was summer.



I think the thing that gets me the most is that people have this inability to look past laws and borders and cultures and skin and see another human being – and I don’t get that. I don’t get how you can look an innocent child in the eye and say “you don’t belong here.” I don’t get how you can be so wrapped up in political lines and invisible fences that you lose the ability to see another human being as just that – another human being. Someone with fears and insecurities and hopes and dreams – just like you.
I don’t get how you can look someone in the eye and essentially say that they only have value as a human being if they follow the rules you think they should follow. We break the rules every day when we think other people aren’t looking. Maybe we were texting and driving. Maybe we had a little too much to drink. Maybe we didn’t scan that one item in the bottom of the cart. Maybe we blurred the lines on our taxes. So many rules that we break every day – and somehow, without an ounce of guilt, we can look at another human being and value them less because they don’t live up to our expectations.
I don’t get how we can expect compassion and yet we give none. We want leniency in our own lives, but we give none. I don’t understand how you can go through life surrounded by so many people with so many stories and you simply don’t care because it doesn’t concern you. Maybe I’m just overly curious.
Because I want to know why. I want to know why someone crosses the border to come to a country where they could be deported any minute. I want to know how someone got to the point that they’re posting videos on Youtube and you know they need help and yet here we sit – watching with pity or laughter – but still watching. I want to know why people would rather go to war than be educated. How did we get to be so callous?
How is it that we put more value on working hard than we do laughter and family, when at the end of the day we’re all dying. Why do we say “I don’t come to work to make friends” when those are the people you see everyday. Who wants to go to work and be miserable everyday? Why is working hard and being exhausted and broken and miserable a commendable characteristic? Calvinism?