Unsolicited Advice to Questioning Teenage Girls

When your friends go on about their crushes
do not feign interest in a boy just to blend in
tell them you would rather kiss girls even though that scares you
tell them you’re confused but
do not lie

When your uncle asks if you prefer Gail or Peta
explain to him that you like Katniss
that her female form strikes you more
than any teenage boy could

And when a girl comes up to you and offers to tell you a secret
listen to her
she will become the first love of your life

When a priest tells you that the way you feel is wrong
spit in his face
who you are is not a sin
and his cross is the biggest lie of all

When you start getting feelings for your best friend
do not ignore them
contemplate what it means to feel
and how friendship differs from love

When you can only imagine kissing her every time you see her
do not feel ashamed
your feelings are healthy and valid
and you deserve the same in return

And when you cry so much your eyes swell up
do not cry for her

Cigarette Houses

Cigarette houses in concrete jungles wait patiently for 9:15,

when the caffeine surges through the dark veins of civilians

desperately searching for a pick-me-up.

Baristas brew dark roast coffee,

its texture as clear as mud,

its flavor bold and vivacious,

its taste as homey and hearty as Peet’s

served in an oversized cup in the afternoon on an Autumn day.

Citizens trudge through Ashtray Road,

their faces lined with sleepless hours,

their capillaries purple and black from withdrawal,

their hands violently shaking.

The need overcomes the inhabiters,

their stomachs twisting, acidic,

filled with rancid ingredients shoved down their digestive  tracts.

Smoke fills their lungs with a reason to stop,

a reason to breathe free air

and sing without a rasp and a constant guttural tone.

They realize their flaws.

They notice their deadly imperfections,

their own death traps,

and yet they stop not for themselves

or their cigarette houses.

Still, they trudge on down the valley of ashes,

searching for their jolt,

the one simple pleasure that makes them feel alive,

they makes them feel real.

They prick their veins with caffeine needles

and feel the rush,

feel the power,

feel the warning signs.