The Diary of Lily Andrist: Entry 4

I sit on the wooden bench, damp with yesterday’s raindrops. I feel it soak through my skirt, but I don’t get up. The Girl with the Fierce Eyes is waving her hands jerkily. She is angry with the Boy on the Phone.
“Meet my friends...I just you listen...I’m not finished no.... two years…”
I wait for her tears but they don’t come. I don’t understand that. I think about my anger, how it’s a hurricane. How it always begins with storm-cloud-eyes and ends in thrashing, churning, waves of tears. How they collapse the wooden houses and flood the gravel streets that wind their way over the planes of my skin.
I cry almost once a day but it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes other people see but that doesn’t bother me anymore either. It is far better to feel too much and too often than nothing and never at all. Willow Tree Girl sits in my heart and she sings and weeps and dances and laughs and storms and needs and fears and longs. And I listen to her. Her brown eyelashes are mine, and we blink together.
I sit next to her and she reminds me of The Girl who Moved Away.
The sky is so blue. I watch my fingertips dissolve in it. It hides the stars but I know they are there. I hear them telling secrets about what they see from above. I’ll never tell what I hear from the stars in the day, when they are hidden behind their painted curtain.
I call her because I need her voice. I miss the way that the red tea, cold as ice, left a ring on every table I set it on. I miss her mirror image eyes and lips but different nose. She reminds me of the importance of reconciliation. I listen and the grass grows up to my forehead.
“I love you baby.”
“I love you too.”
I eat dumplings with chopsticks and they burst in my mouth and I am delighted. I eat one after the other and remind myself that I am unafraid. Her voice makes music I don’t understand. It’s soft and slippery and sounds like sparkling silver fish racing downstream. Her smile is a rainbow, glittering after rain. She is an island downpour while the sun is still out, coating the palm fronds in glittering dewdrops.
Later, we walk in the dark. His eyes blend with the night and I fall into his chest. I lead him down to the beach. I smell the sour smell of things my mother warned me about and try not to be nervous. Someone is burning leaves. My shadow is fragmented and hurries to catch up. We walk down to the sand and the cliff bends. So do we. My back presses against the crumbling sand and there is nobody around. The ocean curls her long silky white eyelashes and blinks at us. We find our familiarities and it’s so comforting. But I am hesitant and anxious. The owl on my shoulder turns her head in a full circle. My sweater is spotted with beige sand. It’s ok to be in love. It’s ok to feel. Right?
It’s complicated. There’s all this writing on my skin. He tries to read every word but it’s all in Greek. It’s written with no spaces and no punctuation and it goes left to right to left. We crane our necks to try and figure out what is says but we can only make out bits and pieces. I try to ask the ocean what to do. But her wisdom is too vast for me to comprehend.
I watch myself in the mirror. I am jealous of her but I would not trade. I remind myself that our struggles are the same but different. I was too quiet on the phone today. She thought something was wrong. I told her I was hungry. I wasn’t. I tried to ask questions, but all my sugar had run out and there was only pink salt on the bottom of the jar. “He said he loves me and I am so happy.”

A Letter To You

My friends,

I almost disappeared. But then he told me that these words, way back when, helped him realized he loved me. So I decided, something that soul-touching is not worth leaving. This, though, is an ending of an era. Not just on this blog. Of myself. It's an end to long hair (for a while), high school, hiding my face, and waiting for something to happen. So some things might change. Like formats and photos and the level of whimsy. But that's all ok. Change is scary but it's necessary. Lately I've been in the throes of its waves. It's hard to ride them calmly and not thrash about, but I'm doing my best. How about you?

Please tell me how you're doing. You've all been in my thoughts always.



Busy Phone Lines

It’s easy to be
The open envelope
For someone else and i wonder
Why do i bother?
Maybe because when i was
Walking around in
Green converse and
Staying up too late and
Daydreaming all afternoon and
Waking up with
An upside down heart
I kept my sweater zipped
Tight over my
Ribcage and
Nobody called me on
The phone

It’s her first kiss and she was
Waiting for violins that don’t come and i tell her
Do it fifty more times and you’ll
Hear the symphony

I listened to the silence of
Moth wings beating
And went to the computer to learn
How to

And it’s all making me terribly
Heavy on the ride home all the sudden i’m
An empty orange juice carton
Sweet and all gone
I turn up the music as if i could drown out
The belated
But even when i sing as if i’m
Happy the sounds  all come out meaning
What I feel even though the lyrics are about
Lovers not
Letters I mailed
to myself
Because all the phone lines were

Summer Vibes pt. 1: Island

pt. i.

she pulls me like
the waves on the sand
it rushes all
through my fingers
I find myself
in the green
tropical and
dappled with
saltwater she
dances hula by the shore
and we fall asleep
under a sky painted
golden for her by
the sun who
adores her


Some other Time- ViVii
Oxygen- Dirty Heads
Seabirds- Pizzagirl
These are the Days- Omi
Mind Eraser- Cruisr
Monsoon-Amber Mark


packing list
mango juice
hawaiian sundress
book/magazine to read on the beach
floaty ring
pineapple slices
book about tropical fish/birds/plants

A Love Poem About Someone Else That's Really About You

I realized you were
My river boy
Sitting in those
Stiff, round, sunday-morning-brown
Old fashioned
Wooden chairs
I saw you in the poems he
From the podium
The mic wasn’t working
I only really
He read them aloud to all of us but
Only she
Had them sung to her
I watched her in front of me
And knew he loved
Her freckled shoulders and the way she wore that shirt that left them bare for his and the suns kisses
And the green-blue ink staining her skin and the stories the x and o and the lilacs and the starry sky told
Her beaming smile as she watched
And filmed him murmuring about
His mom and the beach boys and how she fills their room with houseplants and how her kisses make him see all the wonder in the world
He may not
Straight at her
As he reads us
Love letters to her but
I know she is
The only one he really wants
The only one he really cares
To hear what he says
He returned quiet to his chair
The the gentle applause of ‘I only half got that but you’re beautiful’
And he
Kisses her quick
And I see he loves
How easy his hand fits on her thigh and
How her glasses tilt a little when they kiss and
Her big bright smile for him
She hasn’t shaved
Underneath her arms in a while and
He loves the soft
Hair and he thinks it’s kind of
In a really
Human way
And her face without
Is the very face of
Aphrodite to him
I know because
He writes her poetry

And I write poetry
About you
My river boy so
I know
How he loves her because
A poet loves
In their bones and shows it
In their words and that’s just how
I love

Dinner By Myself

It’s easier and harder to be
I watched the pasta puff up like
Noodle balloons and found that
I sat on my chair
With my legs tucked under me because
That’s really how it’s
Meant to go
I used some
Olive oil this time and it
Added more than I thought it would
I asked for music with
Harpsichord because that is my favorite
It was so
Easy and quiet with only
As a guest
Even though the
Broccoli was cold I was
I listened with both ears and
Thought about how
All stories are really
One hundred percent true
Some way or another
I thought about her birthday parties
And how nice her brother was
And how easy it was to feel
Happy there
I tried to think about
How to write a book and I had
One of those moments where
Everything I think feels like it belongs on
A page and I just
Don’t know how to connect them
So I wrote a poem instead because there’s no rules
So you don’t have to
I thought about how
Things feel ok when
You’re eating ravioli alone and
Listening to harpsichord and
Your hair is washed and your
Bathrobe fluffy
You already washed all the dishes
You finished a book this afternoon and you know
Where you’re going to college and that
You might even get a bird someday and
That in 72 hours you’ll be
Slow dancing in the prettiest dress
You ever saw
You might still be
Lonely sometimes but
Even though you don’t forget you start to become
At least a little
Ok with it
I get some
Bread out of the fridge and
Eat it plain because
It’s always tasted best like that
And I ask to hear
Because it’s Charlie’s favorite song but
When I start to listen I decide not to
Think about Charlie
Just to think about
I don’t think about
What it means I just think about
How it’s meant to be played
When you’re driving away from saying goodbye to someone you love
Or when you’re laying on an unfamiliar carpet halfway across the world and everyone else is having a good time but you just feel like you miss familiarity
Or falling asleep beside your best friend
All these times would be
Appropriate but it’s also
Nice for
A dinner by yourself
A quarter into
Rolling hills’ voice
Swaying like
Autumn leaves in the wind
The lights all
Dim because
My dad put them on a timer
And it’s somehow
I sit perfectly still
Perfectly alone

How to Read Poetry like You're In a YA Novel


Let's all be real about it for a second.

If you've been following this blog then you know I write poetry. Sometimes, I think I speak poetry better then normal dialogue. It's my soul-language, and possibly the art from I derive the most joy from.

But also, culturally, in the age group most likely reading this (millennials/gen Z), poetry has become somewhat of an aesthetic. And by that I mean this: we like to frame it on canvas and take photos of our doc martens and pretty socks and Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey, we read quotes by Virginia Woolf and tattoo T.S. Eliot on our arms, but, at least partially, I feel like it's all somewhat of a facade. Has anyone else noticed that YA characters typically read about 3000% more poetry than the average teen? And you wonder, how do all these kids my age know to quote Dickinson off the top of their heads? How many sixteen year old boys read Leaves of Grass on a whim? I don't know what sorts of high schools you go to, but I don't believe I've ever met a single teenage boy who read Leaves of Grass without any prompting and for the sheer fun of it. In fact, I don't know that I know a single teenager who's read Leaves of Grass in general, and that includes me (sorry Walt, Whitman, I promise I will as soon as I can).

Now, if you're like me, you don't want to admit that the reality is, poetry is more accessible as an aesthetic than as reading material. Poetry is confusing. It's hard to understand. It's written in a million different ways, and, although beautiful, often quite difficult to read with understanding. Why don't you want to admit this? Because you want to read it. You want to be the person who can quote Robert Frost and know that The Road Not Taken is actually not about choosing the right path, its about the absoluteness of choices. You don't just want to read Milk and Honey, you want to feel it, you want to call Rupi Kaur on the phone and ask her just how she so beautifully translated her soul onto these black and white pages. You want to be that YA poetry kid!! You want to be a cookie-cutter John Green character who reads Edna St. Vincent Millay and listens to music from Woodstock on your vintage vinyl record-player and goes on crazy adventures to understand just what poets mean when they write about dark woods and open skies and heartbreak and fleas and what do they mean?? How do we, as young-people, as what some people might call the brain-washed generation but I'd rather call the curious generation, who are full of advertising and report cards and soundbites, how do we rediscover history, and rediscover art, and find ourselves in poetry? How do we learn to read?

I'm learning too. But here's my tips, from one novice poetic adventurer to another:

Buy a poetry book. Go second hand. Take your best friend or your neighbor or nobody at all. Go to the used book store or the goodwill or the library sale. Or, even, Amazon. Just buy it. You don't have to understand it to buy it. Admit you don't understand it, don't pretend like you do, and buy it anyways!! Embrace the unknown!

personally, I recommend starting with: Dickinson, Frost, Kaur, Millay, Eliot, Williams, or any other that strikes your fancy. You could also consider getting a poetry book that includes a compilation of many poems. I'm thoroughly enjoying The Seagull Reader: Poems, which was a book I purchased for school but is easy to read and holds many prominent poets and poems with convenient biographies.

Read over once. Mark the text if you want (I am getting really into marking up poems). But, here's the most important one: if you don't get it, don't get mad at yourself. Don't consider yourself a fake fan of poetry. Don't stop! Admit you don't understand it! Be proud because you are one of the few people who doesn't have to pretend to be good at something right off the bat in order to enjoy it, and can be happy in the learning process! Remember, you don't have to read in order (unless the books is written to be read in order- if it's more of a collection of poems you're allowed to skip around).

it's your best friend
After you've read the poem once, search the poet. Read up on their life. I always find it super fascinating to read about poets (they live crazy art-filled lives). Reading about the artists always helps give insight into the art. Remember, poetry is, often, personal. It's not always meant to be understood on the first go. It takes some research sometimes.

Google: analysis of Robert Frost's "After Apple-Picking"
This isn't cheating. I promise. This is learning. Read as many analysis's as you can stomach. See if you agree. Often, finding your footing with the help of a few outside experts can help you to form your own opinions and interpretations of the poem.

Read again. Now that you have some interpretations of the poem under your belt, reading it will come so much easier and you will see all the beauty of the language. Mark it up again if you want. Find the metaphors! Make connections! Get excited because it's exciting to understand, to really, fully, read poetry. It's wonderful actually. I don't know if I've ever felt a joy quite the same as untangling another artist's meaning. As a poet myself, I always find it most meaningful to read with the poet in mind. Think back to the Wikipedia page and imagine how the poet themselves would've wanted you to read it (starting with the title? while listening to sad songs from junior high? on a beach chair in Hawaii?). More importantly, what message did the poet want you to take away from this? What emotion? What meaning?

Take your poetry with you. Wear your book pages thin and leave markings all over. Take the aesthetic photos of you and your Walt Whitman (because you finally read it! and you understood it!) laying in a field of grass with poppies braided in your hair or in the shoelaces of your sneakers. Tattoo your favorite lines on your skin (with sharpie or with needles, your choice). Go on grand adventures to the duck pond and to the beach and bring your poetry with you. Practice memorizing it if you want, so you can whip out your lines when you most need them for that aesthetic, poetic, romantic moment. Most importantly, remember art is not a competition. It's not a race. It's not a chart that you have to fill with gold stars. It's art. Let it be just that, and revel in it.

And you didn't even need to be a John Green character after all, did you?
(to be honest, I like you better than any John Green character I've ever read. sorry John Green)

If you're already a seventeen year old poetry protege, please forgive me for underestimating you. You are truly an inspiration to us all. Give us your recommendations and tell us how you came to possess such astounding poetic genius! We are your students. The comments are your classroom.

Everyone else:
Thank you for embarking on this post with me. Please tell me your favorite poets. And let me know if this post helped you/ inspired you/ encouraged you to read poetry.

lots of love <3