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shells.

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.

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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.

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summer

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.