Happiness is Poetry: Trista Mateer

Happiness is Poetry: Trista Mateer

01Tonight, upon the recommendation of Ashe Vernon, I bring you the poetry of Trista Mateer.  All of the poetry I really like is fairly raw, it’s the way I write and what I like to read.  Cut open your chest let your heart spill out on the table and you have my attention.  Her work is very raw and wonderful, I’ve written parallel’s to her Instead of Writing Our Breakup Poem and I absolutely love hers, it flows through all of the raw emotions you dance through at the end.  I just bought her first book, Honeybee: Poems About Letting Go and her other book The Dogs I Have Kissed.  Giver her a read and check out her blog, it’s wonderful and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane


You have run off and taken my anger with you.
Zeus drawing lines in the sand
with his lightning bolts
because he cannot find a reason to throw them;
I think you are a coward.
I think other poets have written this poem.
I think other men have run off the same way
but it never really feels the same;
each new absence a fresh burn.
A grazed knee. A paper cut. A plane crash.


Part 1

Instead of writing our breakup poem.
I teach myself to make every kind of peach-themed
baked good possible. I buy four new books of poetry and
black out the poems that remind me of you.
I start feeding my Neopets again. I keep notes
on how long it takes for my succulents to die without water.
I look up the price of plane tickets from BWI
to every major city in the US. I practice packing
and unpacking suitcases.
I stop masturbating because it makes me cry.
I make bad art and keep it to myself. I make bad art and
share it with the internet.

Part 2

Instead of writing our breakup poem
I book tickets to every place in the world
that I have a friend in because I need somebody
to lean on; and so I sleep on a couch in London
a couch in Glasgow, a futon in Minneapolis,
a hotel bed in Edinburgh, a double bed in Atlanta
where I have two big windows that face the woods
and make me want to write the poem I’m trying
not to write.
I live out of a suitcase for a month and a half.
I only cry on a train once, but I cry in an Uber twice.
I tell my mother everything is fine because
everything is mostly fine.
I keep waiting for you to call me.

Part 3

Instead of writing our breakup poem
I compose different emails to you one after another and delete them all without sending anything. They’re all some variation of “I hate this and I miss you.”

S– I won an award for the poems I wrote about coffee and peaches and wanting you. I don’t know how to feel about it. I want to throw up thinking about all the new people running their hands over our love letters.

S– This is going to be the first Christmas since I was eighteen years old that I didn’t make some corny joke about waking up to find you sprawled out naked under my tree. Does it count if I make the joke early? Does it count if you never read this? I keep thinking about that year I undressed and twirled myself up in gold ribbon, put a bow on my head the same color as my lipstick, sent you photos of the unwrapping.

S– I used to have all these dreams about being pregnant in a hospital bed with you slipping your fingers through my hair and kissing the side of my face. For the last week, I’ve had this repeating dream where you’re in the hospital and they won’t let me into the room. And when I wake up, I can’t even tell myself that it’s just a dream. We both know I should be there. I should be there. I should BE there.


Part 4

Instead of writing our breakup poem.
I throw out the things that remind me of you:

my green duvet cover,
that pumpkin t-shirt you used to make fun of,
four sets of lingerie.

I stare a lot at my ceiling thinking about how
I could change cities
and the ghost of your hands would still follow me

I change cities anyway.

Part 5

Instead of writing our breakup poem
I think a lot about absence and the heart. I test the weight of words like “foolishness” and “devotion” on my tongue. I talk too much about The One and the myth of predetermined soulmates. I yell at the stars. I play devil’s advocate with myself. I clip coupons and daydream about decorating an apartment you’ve never set foot in.

I daydream about you setting foot in it. I talk about your voice like it was my last home. Like I moved to Atlanta from YOU and not from Baltimore. Like the last house I lived in was constructed of pet names and euphemisms for sex.

In one version of this story, I think about you all the time. In another version of this story, I am already thinking about the hands of other people. Every day I have one foot in both truths.


Writer’s Relief

Listen, you have to pull it together.
There’s no use agonizing over mouths
that don’t want to open around your
name. Stop mourning the doors you left
locked and bolted. Put on the red dress.
Empty out your purse. Chase the anxiety
meds with gin. Leave your pens at home.

Taxi Cab Confession

It is always just before you close the trunk and reach for the door, that I find the right words—and then swallow them.
We’re all moving around like clock hands and I have no business asking anyone to stand still for me.
I don’t think I will ever have the nerve to ask another person to stay.

To Myself: On the Plane

You kiss boys like you practiced on juice boxes,
always reaching for one last drop.
You kiss girls like you really believe
slow and steady is the way to win a race.
You don’t kiss your family anymore,
not even on the cheek.
The last time someone took your face in their palms,
you wanted to move into their night stand.
You wanted to curl up with your head between your legs.
You wanted to do cartwheels down the street
and never come back.
You went back; but only twice.
He talked too much about Canada in his sleep.
You thought for a while he might just have a thing
for cold weather,
but she wasn’t a country; she was a girl.
When you left, you texted him from the airport
because you’re bad at goodbyes,
and what he said made you cry your way onto the plane.
I know that it’s hard to be hard,
but you’re stronger for this.


Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness is Poetry: Ashe Vernon

Happiness is Poetry: Warsan Shire

Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

Happiness is Poetry: Sapphire


About Michael Kane

Michael Kane is a writer, photographer, educator, speaker, adventurer and a general sampler of life. His books on hiking and poetry are available in soft cover and Kindle on Amazon.
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