the mess of imperfection.

the sexiness of order

may be appealing to the eyes

organized, and structural

straightforward, no surprise 

but stripped down to its core 

it’s easy, safe, relaxed 

i like my puzzles all fucked up 

a complexity, climaxed

the mess of imperfection 

chaotic, yet endearing 

i like my blues and reds combined 

predictability unhearing 

the answers are all out there

but it’s more fun to guess

limitless, yet limited

a sign of tried conquest 

attempts to fix your puzzle 

to dress you up real nice 

solvable, but as we know

permanency is not your vice 

the ego’s plea, forsaking  

i do it all to win 

but once you’re solved, i’m gonna let  

the mess undress again. 

the Ghost of a good thing, here

i sense the Ghost of a good thing, here–

Who lends its ears,

but has lost the gift of touch–

a privilege for the living–

who never invite the repetitiveness of things 

abandon the Past

the chasing alone is a task–

a long and winding road in singularity–

deemed useless in time 

but what is life and death? 

the Presence lives, unlike a breath– 

Whose heart cannot beat, yet can be felt

let It muster here, forever if It may–

’til time has served to disarray–

’til indecisiveness lends to tears–

’til loneliness begs for the company of–

the Ghost of a good thing, here

in september, when it snows 

Trapped in a blizzard in my brain,

I’ve been here for forty something days.

The darkest winter of my soul,
Amidst the hills of powdery snow. 
Within my heart, the beats, they go, go, go,

A clock that ticks the highest note. 

You were the warmth I wore so well,

Perhaps it morning, I cannot tell.

Empathy & Twilight Excerpt

“You were trying to do what?!” Principal Hazeltine shouted. She didn’t have to be so loud; there was only four of us in Mr. Holliday’s hobbit-sized office. Mr. Holliday was the school counselor who mostly handled the upper level students. I mean, he didn’t handle anyone, but he dealt with us. He’d only started dealing with me since a year ago when my urge to crime fight descended off the pages of the comic books I liked the draw and into the real world.

 It had been three days since the false alarm shooting, and I had been summoned to Mr. Holiday’s office at the start of first period. When they called my name on the loud speaker, a couple of girls–I’d never bothered to learn their names– in my Government class laughed under their breaths amongst themselves. 

So I was sitting in the hard plastic chair with the metal legs that I’d sat in many times before, and Mr. Holliday was sitting across from me with his hand on his desk, playing with a pencil absentmindedly. His wild hair was especially curly today, I noticed, like he had conditioned it in this new way that made it all luscious and bouncy. I wish there had been an opportune moment to compliment him on this. 

“Daniella?” Principal Hazeltine said, her hands on her hips, awaiting my reply. 

Mr. Isaac stood beside her, leaning against Mr. Holliday’s cluttered bookshelf that was so stacked with books it looked like it would collapse at any minute. 

I looked at Hazeltine, my eyes peaking up at her. It felt like death was calling to me. 

“Well?” she said. 

I cleared my throat. “I was trying to stop the shooter.”

Mr. Isaac exhaled and all this air came out his body like he had monster-sized lungs.

“How were you expecting to stop a person with a gun?” Hazeltine clenched her fists 

I shrugged. “By tackling them when they weren’t looking?” It wasn’t meant to be a question, but that’s how it came out.

“Is everything fine at home?” 

I rolled my eyes. I wouldn’t ever say things were fine at home. I was an orphan. I lived with a bunch of orphan girls. Everything was…tolerable. “Yes,” I said. I wasn’t a good liar, and this moment was no exception. 

“How are your feelings?” Mr. Holliday finally spoke, his head leaning to the side a little bit. He always talked like you were a kid, no matter how old you were. It was surprisingly comforting. 

“My feelings are okay,” I said, and crossed my arms. 

“Are you not being challenged enough academically?” Mr. Isaac said, his bony shoulders making his head look too narrow. “Should we load you up with tougher assignments?”

“Trust me, high school is challenging enough as is,” I said. “I don’t need more homework. Homework isn’t how I want to spend my days.” 

“Well,” Mr. Holliday said to me. I was the kid in the room to him. “How do you want to spend your days?”

“Fighting crime.” 

Mr. Isaac’s eyes widened, then he shook his head.. “Calculus is a far safer assignment for a sixteen-year-old.” 

“I’m calling Miss Rosa.” Hazeltine reached for the landline that was hardly visible on top of Mr. Holliday’s messy desk. It was an endless collection of things he never threw out.

No!” I threw my hands out. I almost knocked the phone out or Hazeltine’s hands, but refrained. “Please, she’ll kill me. I mean, not literally, but she’ll ground me for the rest of my life for this.” 

Hazeltine kept the phone pressed against her ear but didn’t dial a number or anything. After staring me down for several seconds, she set the phone back down on the desk. “Detention. This afternoon. You can explain everything to Miss Rosa yourself. And if you don’t, I will.” 

I nodded. Detention wasn’t so bad. It was just sitting silently in a desk in Mr. De Luca’s history class for an hour. It reminded me of Quiet Time, the designated hour that Miss Amarosa, the woman who used to run the Dresden House (the orphanage I live in) with Miss Rosa before she left because supposedly we all drove her crazy and made her cry all the time, would enforce whenever we would get too rowdy. It happened a lot over the summers. 

When I arrived at Mr. De Luca’s room, there were already a couple of students sitting in desks scattered across the room so no one would talk to each other. And they all watched me, like mute people who had their voices stolen from them. So much was being screamed at me with their eyes, but the words didn’t come out. 

“Daniella Sinclair,” I said in my lowest voice to Mr. De Luca, who sat at his desk with an issue of The New Yorker open in his hands. He nodded and pointed for me to sit in this seat toward the back of the classroom. 

I sat down, and I could feel the boy behind me watching me. 

I peaked behind me to see that it was Wren Wilder, a boy a grade above me who I’d never really spoken to. He and I were the only two people who were seated so closely we were practically neighbors.

Wren never ceased staring at me with his head tilted to the side; his big brown eyes rich with curiosity. A part of me wanted to yell that he could just ask me what I was doing here. It’s clear that that was the motive he was sleeping on. I just glanced at him through the corner of my eye every minute or so. It wasn’t really a warning or an invitation, but more of an awkward acknowledgement that I could see what he was doing. 

“Hey,” he said, softest whisper. Because after at least three minutes of straight staring, a simple greeting in a sing-song voice that was all uphill at the end of his sentences was all he could muster up. 

“Hi.” I raised my brows and nodded.

Wren: “You’re the girl who tackled Cheryl, right?” 

Me: “It was an accident.” 

Wren: “Were you really trying to catch the shooter?” 

Me: “Maybe.” 

Wren: “Why on earth would you do such a thing?”

Me: “I don’t know.” 

Wren squinted his eyes to figure me out. “Are you suicidal?” 

I huffed. “No.”  

“Are you crazy?” 

“How so?”

“Like…” his voice trailed off, and he looked toward the whiteboard, his hands gripping the far end of his tiny desk. “Harley Quinn Crazy.”

“Definitely not.” I turned my head away and opened my binder to pretend to do homework for the remainder of detention. I didn’t think it sustainable to feign an assignment for forty-five minutes, so I took out an Adventures of Empathy digest I’d had since I was a kid. The cover had tears and missing corners and the pages were rusty. It was the digest that I kept in my backpack and took out when I needed to run away.

“My guess is that you’re Harley Quinn Crazy.” 

“I’m not,” I said, nose shoved into the digest. 

“There’s always one weirdo in school that everyone remembers,” Wren said. “Why can’t it be you?”  

“Because that’s abstract.” 

Wren laughed to himself, then leaned forward over his desk so his face was closer to me. “Well, when you drop words like abstract…” 

“Why are you here?” I said, a tad ruder than I meant to be. Obviously I wasn’t trying to be rude at all, but Wren was being super irritating. 

“I like to do stupid things for attention,” Wren said, and he almost sounded disappointed in himself if it wasn’t for the smirk he was trying to hide. “According to Hazeltine, at least.” 

His leg was shaking uncontrollably under his desk. Miss Rosa always told us Dresden girls that shaking your leg like that meant you were iron deficient. I was compelled to tell this to Wren, but didn’t think he would care much. 

“What’s your name?” he asked. 


“Is that short for Danielle?” 


Wren smiled, and his face lit up like there was a lightbulb inside of his head that had just gone off. 

The next forty minutes couldn’t go by any slower. 

forgettable. boring. and plain. 

I wiped a tear away from your faceand although it settled in the darkest spot just below your bottom lashes

my thumb was surprised by the chill. 
And when I asked you what the matter was, you sat in my creaky rocking chair and said: 

“I am forgettable 

I am boring

I am plain.” 

And I laughed because I thought it sweet 

that a girl, who is so many, many things 

Everything but 



and plain 

could find no quality within herself worth redeeming.

I quite like to see you cry 

because so many people choose to hide their weaknesses 

but you embrace yours like several long lost loves

always accepting and never afraid 

And when you bear all your nakedness before me

your soul so brittle it could snap at any moment 

and you share with me your troubles 

I cannot think of anyone more queer

I could kneel beside you and watch you exhaust all of your tears 

until there’s no pain left inside of you to be freed.

Your colorless face finally turns to me, vacantly,

waiting approvingly. 

But what can I do to show you 

that you are everything but 



and plain

aside from greatly assuring you that you are not?

I take your dampened hands in mine

and thank you 

not only for the coldness of your old tears 

nor the flush of your skin

nor the wetness of your hands 

Thank you for letting me see everything

and for being everything but 



and plain.

I Know Exactly Who You Are

“I know exactly who you are,”I say, our bodies entangled in the bed I make each morning. 

“I step into that steel grey room quite often in my brain, 

With the hope that I can recall 

everything about the instant our souls met, without a need for introduction. 

But all I have is the idea that

It might have been you.

And you,

Your mind so aloof with thoughts of the next big thing

That you cannot recollect yourself.

I know exactly who you are,

You are the one who looks at me 

Like I am a unicorn,

The prettiest of all the creatures that your eyes have ever touched 

And I’ve spent many days since

In search of that feeling to catch

Of you, curiously agape  

And my questioning why,

Someone can fill my heart with every ounce of selfless joy inside the earth.

I’d rob the universe to give it all to you.” 

“I know exactly who you are,”

He says, and kisses my forehead in the middle.

“You are the universe, with all its love it gives so freely,

Asking for nothing in return. 

I study from a distance,

Not because I am afraid.

But because you are the prettiest of all the universes,

And my eyes, they yearn to take you in in your entirety. 

The infinity of existence, 

Pale beside you.”