A love letter written to survival and community.

I have been living with this broken-toothed grin for fifteen years as of this morning.

I had just locked up my bike outside of the Villa Kula house to cook Wednesday Food Not Bombs. I was probably looking forward to baking vegan banana bread or something. I always enjoyed to the sense of connected purpose that Wednesday mornings brought.

Nobody was awake at the house yet, so I decided to walk up to Auraria Campus and check my email. Remember what it was like before we all voluntarily started carrying these nightmare boxes that allow us to stay connected to absolutely everything much to the detriment of our mental health, all while they monitor our every move and we had to go places to check our email?

I don’t remember what I was so distracted by when I stepped off the curb onto Colfax Avenue, but I remember hearing a woman standing behind me scream “No!” and feeling the truck hit me. The last thing I remember before blacking out is a passing thought of “shouldn’t getting hit by a car hurt worse than this?” I met that woman later and she told me how after the car hit me I sat up and tried to pull myself off the ground before I passed back out. I’ve always thought trying to walk off a broken pelvis and two lacerated internal organs while basically blacked out tops the list of ridiculous shit I’ve done to prove to everyone I’m the toughest tiny person they know. She told me how when she went to work that day and the first thing she said to her co-workers was “I think I just watched some kid die.”⠀⁣

I came to on the street with that woman holding a napkin to my bloody face, doing her best to assure me that I would be okay. I immediately got this sinking feeling that I’ve thankfully only had a few times in my life. There’s probably a concise word for it in another language, but it’s the feeling that comes immediately after doing something as innocuous as crossing the street, something that seemed so innocuous and normal, and your life changes forever. There was your life before that thing, and now there is your life after.

I wiggled my toes inside my boots and felt a sense of relief at knowing my spine wasn’t broken. After that i became aware of a pain in my mouth and stuck my tongue out to check on my teeth. They weren’t entirely gone yet, but they were mangled. Doctors told me later that the impact of hitting the street face first broke my teeth, ramming what was left of them into my jaw, necessitating their complete removal. They also told me my teeth absorbing the shock of my hitting the street saved me from death or a traumatic brain injury, for which I have always been so thankful. I remember that gratitude on the days when my back hurts, or my shoulder won’t sit right riding my bike.

The weeks after that day, the crew of punks I ran with in Denver, and all around showed up harder than I ever could have imagined. I remember yelling at the doctors before they would let anyone see me that I was so scared and I just wanted my fucking friends. You can imagine the relief that rushed in when I finally got to see familiar faces in the ICU. I remember feeling so thankful to be alive and to be surrounded by the love that pulled me through the scariest day of my life.

I endeavor to carry that love with me always, to carry all the love living through that accident allowed me to experience and share over the last fifteen years, on days where life on this planet leaves me so drained and demoralized, that it’s all I can do to keep living on it. I wish I could say those days have been few and far between, but they have not been, and I’ve always had a problem with being dishonest. I endeavor to offer that love back to everyone in my life, and I’m not afraid to admit that I fall short in that more often than I wish I did. I think of how many of our friends are gone, and I’m grateful for not having joined them in the hereafter, regardless of the ache their absence leaves.

If you’re reading this, I love you. Thank you. For all of our friends who are gone, I’m glad you aren’t one of them. Thank you for the privilege of our crossing paths. Thank you for the love and light you have shared, that you bring to your people. Thanks for hanging in. All we have is each other and that’s really not the worst thing in the world.

Falling Asleep to 1990’s marketing Extravaganza Dick Tracy

The plot isn’t much to speak of
Scattered and hard to follow, but the colorful and garish
Sets, they just soothe the edges of my soul
Eyes adjusting to the darkness ahead of rest

I might always live like
A faceless wraith stalking my way
Through the avenues and alleyways
And haunted spots of anytown, USA

I liked that about the movie
How those obviously painted hulking
Concrete and steel monstrosities
Static and frozen, yet still somehow in motion

Could be a metaphor for the underbelly
Of any city, the concrete canyons of New York
The cold labyrinthine streets
Carving the wastes of Chicago

Okay, those are actually the only
Two cities that come to mind
When I think about just where
“The City” might have been based on

Not nearly enough sunshine
For the soulless sun soaked streets of LA
But I’ve always been such a sucker
For a hardboiled detective anyway

I love the two-dimensional villains
Out to get theirs at any cost
All physically deformed and amoral
Impeccably dressed in tailored suits all the same

After a day’s worth of eating shit and air pollution
Cutting two wheels across cold pavement
For a hundred bucks and some exercise
Knees that creak and wrists that ache

I think I understand
Just how busted hands
Could reach for a gun
Trading the violence wrought

On aging bones
Through toil and exhaustion
At the end of every workday
For the violence of

Striking out into the cold
Of this heartless world
To take what’s rightfully yours
Instead of what those hogs at the top say you deserve

So meet me tonight at the docks
Underneath a yellow moon peering
Indifferently though the smog
Down at streets seeped in soul and sorrow below

I’m a sultry songstress
Bruised but unbroken, just like you
Always on the same side
With a loaded .45

Pressed against my thigh
Sticking to circles of streetlight
Until the hour arrives
To slink back into the shadows

Of The City and strike
Out at its black heart
Because in this life
There are hard truths they teach us

Before we can even grow
First and foremost
We come to know
That only suckers fight fair

Poem written about a recurring dream.

I hope somewhere you know
How my lips
Still curl into a snarl
All jagged teeth, and dripping venom
At the sight of one who did you so wrong

Yes, the years lost
To silence and bad blood
Have now grown long
With the vastness and sorrow
Of our dead and buried time
Echoing through the dark
And wounded corners of our minds

Walls of silence
And monuments to regret
Built between you and I
Like how sometimes at night
In that house, behind closed doors
I could hear you cry

Or how I described life in the aftermath
And the loss we forged
And the hacking of so many cords
Like waking up with a goddamn kidney stone
Every day for an entire year of my life

And you remember those
Don’t you, my love?
With me crying on the bathroom floor
And writhing in pain
Pissing blood and aching for days

You were there too
Calm and steady
Lying in that grimy bed
Right next to me
Waiting for the painkillers to kick in
And the coming of restless sleep

I still tell the story of that time
Every once and a while
I hope somewhere you know
How when I tell it, I smile
I can never tell it without laughing

“Yeah, you should have seen
The way zie glared at the nurse
When she had the goddamn nerve
To make fun of me for being in pain.
You know them
You know the face they make”

“We all know how wimpy men can be about pain
Don’t we, dear?”
And you glaring and deadpan
“Are we quite finished here?”

Three years, and 2,675 miles
And I wouldn’t even know what to say
If we were ever to meet
In some warm and longing place
In the land beneath the fathomless deep
And misplaced hate
We held for so long

I dream that dream sometimes
I doubt you know
It’s the same scene night after night
You and I
Living some less ruined lives
Meeting in warmer times
With open arms and loving eyes

I’ll say how I loved you
Deeper than blood
Like I loved few before
And in the years that went by
The ache of that loss
Has yet to subside

I’ll say how I hope you finally
Got yourself a good night’s rest
And how I hope your battered body
Finally found a way to be on the mend
I hope somewhere your fingers
Are picking at tender banjo strings
I hope all your bad dreams don’t linger
And I hope your life is filled with beautiful things

I may be feeling all alone out here
Living like an exile
Wandering through the fog
Or a modern day Flying Dutchman
Forever lost
But I’m lifetimes away from
Who I was back
When you and I met for the first time
And how lucky am I for that?

I hope it’s warm where you are
And I hope you’re not alone
I hope wherever the wind takes you
You always find your way safely home

I said it once
Tonight I’ll say it one more time
I can still see the way
Your awkward teeth show when you smile
And I can still hear the sound you make
When you laugh
With our hearts as our shields
And our lights that never went out
But never quite enough
We move on and on

Give holy thanks
To the bliss of busted hearts
And the strength to walk the other way