When the broken glass of life
Scrapes dead weight from parts of you
You still treasure, gathering the slivers
Is a short path to hypersensitivity
As opposed to applauding the poetry
Of how long you’ve had your head down
Letting the unfairness nestle
Into the corners of your smile
And bloom into the tender sweetness of a heart
Whose open arms proved insufficient
The music in your hips newly sprung by bae’s absence
Her face in every woman’s face regardless of age
Stop trying to stop seeing her everywhere
Stop beating yourself up for finding yourself asking
What do you mean what do I mean by love?
Years into thinking the answer was set in stone
Just steep in it and get familiar with how you are
Too much food to finish for basically everyone
Until someone comes along happy to wrap you up
And save you for delectable exploratory unravelling
Which, for the record, is the opposite of cutting back
To compromise on the tenant between your eyes
—Liked what you read? Grab a book.
Everyone has something substantially wrong with them
At brunch, overcast, maybe you decide to say yes
To the adventurous and inadvisable
Further feeding your little infatuation problem
Superimposing your imaginings of things onto real things
Hoping to chisel your vision into actuality
Unmodulated by platitudes and spared the need for gurgled battle cries
Then there they are, in your bed
Having just ridden the subway together
From that show with the description that read good enough to attend
They say, I watch the news for my safety
You say, I’ve been told goals should be small
Numerous and directionless
To still have life left in them when you run
Out of original mid-life crises
You both hold beliefs that would scare the other
Into a different person
But your limbs and ideologies bend
In the same agreeable way
Which is close enough
When what is absent is a game
Whether you memorize an ending
Or you’re your own accomplice
And call it a new beginning
You say, so long as I get to flex my perspective
In seemingly insignificant ways, like
How I stock the fridge for midnight ruminations
Gash ice cream with a melon scoop
Knife a pillow to keep certain memories intact
They say, I don’t need confirmation of your desire
To exercise your right to know yourself
If it involves damaging me
I’m prepared for it to happen
Leading myself on’s got the old animal instincts shot
But ruminating til your stomach turns inside out
Not really knowing where you’re going is what R&D is
This is why sugar generates sense when shit goes to hell
And death and mindlessness fess up to being family
When Wipeout or Floor is Lava is on
My latest chance at self-expansion, tarnished
By a lack of dabbling in evil, disguised
As fun that wouldn’t have been any fun
It helps me heal to think
On a path with space that means I’m independent
Or afraid of refreshing my email every 10 minutes
To see if I get what I want
Playing clairvoyant only if I think I know what you believe
Whether or not you hinge on it to stand out from your chosen throng
To suggest purpose + minimal reverence for inevitabilities
That can’t be made to wait for rest
Digging without treasure doesn’t make sense
There is no moment between yesterday and today
It just keeps going
When I said I hated the incense
And you still let me smoke a cigarette inside because it was cold
I didn’t have the lenses to intuit the presence of preciousness
When you quit drinking and neglected to call me for a month
And I didn’t give you any shit about it
You mistook my devotion for a sign of low self-esteem
Despite the park sunburns, laundromat ruminations
Elaborate budget-salad meal prep
And diminishing shame for the buoyancy
Of Burgundy and brie on brioche afternoons
The universe still failed to smarten up to us
To how we stood against going TV test-patterned
Late at night to clean ourselves of the gunk of the day
Because it gave us something to control and accumulate
When $11.25 an hour felt like a blessing
Even though it made us unfathomable in our critical awareness
As if we were owed interest on our anguish
When that’s just not how fixed income works
It’s common sense writerly wisdom that one’s best work comes from the darkest places. It’s easier to believe in, of course, when everything is fine. When life sticks its foot out and makes you fall on your face, good literature or whichever artistic pursuits get you going don’t seem that important.
So when the love of my life walked out on the world we’d built over the last five years, unannounced, as these things happen, having decided on her own that our ways of being in the world were too different to stay, I was well aware as the darkness crept in and I started to lose my bearings.
Beyond doing everything I could to keep depression and anxiety at bay—reaching out to friends and loved ones, meditating, reading, sleeping and eating well, rediscovering self-worth and self-love as a newly single person—there was still an excess of grief in my chest, enough to not want to accept that an open mind, a shared home, a half decade of shared experiences, a whole lotta love, and an undying willingness to work things out are not enough to salvage things with someone who found a way to be happier and decided they were no longer willing to meet you halfway.
As the days crawled on, and I learned the feelings wouldn’t so much leave as evolve into something bearable, I stopped beating myself up and ugly crying enough to assemble into my office chair to see what words came out.
The Breakup Suite is a breakup album in book of poetry form.
It’s poetry for the dumped, or anyone drawn to that wallowing headspace.
It’s also my best effort at letting my former partner go, and unlearning the plans I had to never leave, by channeling leftover sweetness and unwanted nastiness into art that does justice to our time together.
I share it because my deal is creating things, putting them out into the world, and hoping they make at least one person who isn’t me feel less alone. Beyond that, I have no other expectations.
Your copy is complimentary if you’re committed to reviewing the book for your website or any other publication. Use my contact form to let me know if you’re interested.
From the introduction,
“There is only one way to describe this tiny but mighty book of poems: the messy reassembling of a broken heart. If you’re reeling from grief after losing your beloved, and are looking for a little help unleashing pent up emotions, this one’s for you.
Does that mean the poems are merely weepy therapy and free of artistic merit? That’s not for me to decide. All I know is that the vast majority of these lines are about a psyche-crushing breakup, the painfully sudden occurrence and aftermath of which I am better able to live with simply because I have written it all down. My hope is that this reaction from extreme distress to moving on without being haunted by a partner’s memory is somehow transferrable through the poems here contained.
Listen, I know this might sound overly sentimental to anyone who isn’t currently consumed by post-separation emptiness, which is why I’m happy to say that this book isn’t for you. And I hope the time never comes when you need it to help you let the ugly feelings out and let a partner go. What follows is the saddest, angriest, achiest, all-up-in-my-feelingsest set of poems I have ever put together, every one of them dedicated to the romantic who mistook someone for their person only to watch that person leave all of a sudden after years without a chance for negotiation having come to the decision slowly and deliberately on their own weeks or months ago.”
As I trace a finger down my warped pages
And my schedule’s specks of glass hidden on the tile
Not bothering looks less like tidiness
And more like deferred contentment
Gotta do it like it’s meant to happen
Watch for feeling good just past ill will
Or persistence, once it gets going
And starts to make things seem smaller
And more manageable than being a brick wall
As a self-preservation tactic
Blocking all exits and entrances
With generic Powerpoint as-you-can-see
Sometimes commitment is afraid of getting back
On its laissez faire bs
What if it works out? the operative question
To see as I dream
The first time I fell asleep to a television
I was self-medicating for my fear of the dark.
Now I’m more interested in the voices than the light,
The unexplained aches and pains of getting older having begun:
Now I find humility in how bad Earth looks from the outside;
Kinesio tape is something I prefer to keep magical rather than learn about;
Would rather look saturated than nourish another and enjoy my own consumption.
The suggestion of church organ fuzz in the buses’ revs on my morning walks
Kneading away the desire to produce a well-written thing nobody can understand.
I meditate by breaking down boxes to podcasts in a cramped office now,
To quiet the ripples in my flavoured water tracing back
To copyright documents for the first Jurassic Park movie.
I usually box people between vitamins and kinesio tape,
It’s the molecular configuration of my personal raincloud,
Eroding me til all I really want
Is a newspaper dispenser I can rest my coffee on,
My cut of the sentimental appeal of certain pouty 90s sedans.
You are aware of my sense of wasting away.
Looking for what I want in what I don’t have.
Setting aside all the beliefs I hold because I was told to
Wasn’t as good a look for me as I had hoped.
I asked you for regular alone time after our time
My anxiety needed it to properly relax after work
I didn’t have the foresight to factor in how that meant
We’d have less nights to lose track of time together
I was thinking about what I needed to feel rested
I wasn’t worried about you no longer making room for my loner self
About each of us winding down the night alone
Birthing a little emptiness in you, slowly spreading
I mistook you not mentioning it for contentment
You may have wanted me to seek you out more on my own
I’m sorry we weren’t more careful about solitude and socializing
Our opposing energy sources
How I’d ask you more if I could make you happier
If I had the chance
Which would have probably led us to break up sooner
Knowing I can’t rewire myself to share you and be happy
It would have been for the best
Be ready to let them go.
While you’re OK with them being your whole world, their happiness is based on exploration.
Remember, they’ll be at their most defensive when they feel trapped while you’re too blissed out on having nailed down a commitment for forever to notice that you’re likely to confuse it with a guarantee and rarely revisit to refortify.
Pay attention to that feeling of dread you get about having to be social for an extended period of time. Now think about them feeling your absence each time you’re not at an outing exploring with them. Internalize the compromise implied here. To stay together, you will have to be uncomfortable for them a lot of the time.
You will have to be that dashing romantic Casanova person more often than you think you need to. Giving each other space is all well and good, but you need to let your person know what they mean to you in more spontaneous ways.
Palm the small of their back and gently pull them into you when you get home, even though your slushy boots are messing up the foyer floor.
Touch and profess without formality, breath in their ear, peck on the neck. Let them feel you instead of merely knowing you are there. Make unexpected plans,
But don’t neglect the need for a backup, a support network that is wide enough for them not to fall into the illusion that they’re almost exclusively responsible for your sanity.
Regularly imagine ways your lives can truly resemble interlaced fingers knowing they get their energy from other people while you get yours from being alone.