fixations of childhood, obsessions of adulthood

Do you remember when I was in middle school and so obsessed with John that I created an imaginary friend named Jay who looked just like him? He was like my mind’s replacement. I think I said he was twenty-three (much older than I was at the time but still tame, although inwardly I wished he were older) and had blond hair and green eyes, but I could never keep track of the eye color, so sometimes they were blue instead. I imagined he walked with me when I went out, and he slept beside me with one arm draped around me. I never thought I was starving for romantic affection, but I was, and desperate for a man to accept my obsession. I don’t know why. I don’t know when it started. Back when I was eight years old, I fell in love with a forty-year-old singer from American Idol, and I don’t think that was the first time. I loved the Doctor because he was nine hundred years old. I loved Motorcycle Man, the 33-year-old from my church. I was absolutely dumbstruck by every single male pastor and teacher and counselor I ever had, so I kept up with ten-page journal entries about every single one of them and I gazed at them, chest aching, from across the campfires of youth group retreats. I ought to burn all the journals I kept before ninth grade. At least after ninth grade I began to learn to hide my obsession.
At high school graduation, I proceeded down the line of teachers with outstretched hands to shake, and instead, I hugged all the ones I loved the most, and the one I’m too scared to name said “thank you for everything, Emily” and when I sat down I realized they could not see me the same way after this. In adulthood, everyone is the same. But the way I love men is divisive.


I was a man in the beginning.
That’s how God should have made me.
I seduced another man, a man who saw my crimes and forgave them.
But when I met the other man,
The one with a shaved head,
I was a woman again.
And his crimes were worse than mine.
He fed me the meat of a human,
Cooked well and cut into cubes
With the consistency of pork.
I felt God run his gentle hands along
The top of my shoulders, and reach
Into my chest to squeeze my heart.
“You are damned. You always know
When you sin, and you do it anyway.”
Strange how conviction feels so cold,
Like He has finally abandoned you.
I was submissive to the man. I loved him.
Out of the mouth of my mind, a voice
Says everybody has unspeakable desires.
If one is a cannibal, isn’t he at least
Somewhat deserving of respect for his bravery?
He commits atrocities in the name of artistry.
That is worthy of admiration.
He faces damnation with no fear at all.
He turned on me, stole away my life,
And told me that if I left he would kill me.
I thought I could escape, but everything began
To drain away so quickly and I thought
That I loved him until he asked for my freedom of thought.
This is the hidden thought.
The goodness in anyone is worthless
Without corruption.


“If you could pick any superpower, what would it be?”

When I was a kid, I had so many good reasons
to become invisible.
First and foremost, I could sneak
into anywhere I wanted,
i.e. Disneyland, without paying.
That doesn’t seem so important anymore.

If I could be invisible now,
I wouldn’t go to Disneyland.
I’d crawl into the backseat of your car
and examine the tiny, thin hairs
sprouting from the back
of your neck.

I know what Romeo would pick.
He’d be a shapeshifter.
I remember reading the line
during freshman year
that everybody in class laughed at;
the line in which Romeo
wishes he were a glove
upon Juliet’s hand.
If I could shapeshift,
I wonder how it would feel
to shift into the wind
and let my vaporous form
sift through the dead leaves
resting on your front porch.

Often, it seems that my
physical presence slaughters
the artistry of observation.
Isn’t it true that humans can
never truly observe?
Scientific studies are impure
because we make an omnipresent
impact on the world around us.
If I weren’t really here,
perhaps my fantasies
would evolve into something
that made more sense.

You ask what my superpower would be.
Such a question
remained meaningless until it
emerged from your mouth.
You ask, and, briefly, I consider
the possibility of mind-reading.
And I chastise myself.
How perverse am I
to consider ever escaping the pure
and human cage of ignorance?
You are not meant
to be read so easily.

Could I shape-shift?
And if I could,
could I be reduced to a pencil on paper
that does nothing but
draw you, erase you, draw you,
and erase you, and draw you,
until you disappear?


look. I know I matter to you in some way. it glows a little in the back of your neck when I talk to you. and you smile. a lot. so much that it burns my tongue. and I can’t look at you. because I don’t want you to know. so I’ll just tell my memory card.

when I’m not thinking about running my fingernails along the skin of your back, I replay the image of you telling me your dreams. not expecting me to interpret them. just allowing me to glimpse through the keyhole and into your mind. I think of you, in the solitary wasteland of your subconscious, sand stuck in the soles of your boots, saltwater spray drying on your eyelashes, standing wordless with open thoughts before the great unknown beast of the sea. it’s beached. there’s no one but you and the gelatinous shell of a once living creature.

when I’m not thinking about getting stuck between you and a hard place, I think maybe I should draw you again. maybe this time, I can really memorize you. maybe this time, I’ll become a little more like you. and maybe you’ll remember me.

I am so fucking fascinated by you. by how God could have managed to piece so much wisdom and wonder into a puzzle so seemingly ordinary as you.

I want you to grind into me and burn me out from both ends.

I imagine how it would feel to sit in your lap and trace my finger along every visible vein and artery in your arm, press my thumb into your wrist and find where our hearts drum the same. you exist, and that’s what’s intoxicating to me — that’s why I wish I could count your heartbeat and let your stubble scratch my palm, why I wish we could lie naked in the desert and wait for the sun to find its way back to the morning. you are at once grounding and overwhelming. just imagining the bones in your fingers, the tendons in your neck sets my blood panting for air. just because you have a body. because you exist at the same time as I do. because our timelines merged for a moment in eternity flung in the air and you, for whatever reason, let me see a little bit of who you are.


“I love you,” he told me, and

the crystalline structures of my mind

twisted into amorphous emotion.

I merely let myself dull

at the edges, knowing

his affection would align with my groundless need.

I may be a nearly perfect, if metaphorical, 90-degree angle,

but the two of us have considerable potential

to take the form of a square.

Take It Back

I forgot the way such an intense crush feels like sharks circling the base of my stomach. This is poison, and I don’t want it, I didn’t ask for it, our energies are like hot water and I’m not okay by myself anymore. I don’t want to count the hours before you’re next to me again. I did this years ago and I guess I didn’t realize how much better it feels to live in cold water.

Toss Me Under


can’t I just get you to

pinch the tips of my hair and

tap your fingertips against my braces and

scratch along the insides of my wrists and

tell me I’m lovely and

kiss me through the darkness and

unravel me

and don’t even let me speak because

I’m sick of hearing my own voice


the way it felt in Arizona in June, floating face up in the pool, when all the colors blended into light blue and it all felt right, and easy, and breathing wasn’t a chore and the chlorine turned my hair the same shade as the water and it all felt right, and I was a part of everything —

why can’t I float like that

just beneath the surface of your skin

meet you there and

kiss us congruent