Sometimes the break in your heart is like the hole in the flute. Sometimes it’s the place where the music comes through. — Andrea Gibson “Gospel Salt” (via ohandreagibson)
I imagine heaven is a sad place because I imagine it’s full of people like you, with hearts so big they can’t help but be heavy. — Andrea Gibson (via ohandreagibson) “Letter to Kelsey, Who loves Jesus”
You tilt your head back. You breathe. When your heart is broken, you plant seeds in the cracks and you pray for rain. — Andrea Gibson, “Dive”
Love insists well intentioned white people officially stop calling themselves color blind.
Insists hope lace its fucking boots.
Always calls out the misogynist, racist, homophobic joke refuses to be a welcome mat where hate wipes its feet.
— Andrea Gibson “Etiquette Leash”
Hallelujah to making everyone uncomfortable
To the terrible manners of truth
— Andrea Gibson, “Etiquette Leash”
Emergency Contact
It’s not that I think I am your type I think I’m the exact font you have been searching for your entire life I can tell by the way your fingers hover above the A key That’s me: Awkward So what?

I’ve been loving you eleven years
Eleven years standing outside your window
Throw down your hair
I’m talking about the hair you pulled from the drain when you were cleaning your tub
I want everything
You have ever tried to wash away
The first time you were teased in junior high
The last time you blushed from a compliment
Every fever that is not yet broken
It is true, I have never made a love potion that hasn’t blow up,
But your mouth is the sexist beaker
Bend me over your periodic table
Then try to tell me we don’t have chemistry

Of course
I am poly
As in polygraph machine
As in I can tell you are lying when you tell me you don’t want me
In a cheerleading outfit spelling only your name with pompoms
I will faithfully put anything on for you

Name the time period
Jazz age? I’ll wear a pocket watch beneath my flapper dress while fist fighting Hemingway for a seat beside you at the bullfight
I’ll grab your hand and we’ll run straight for the bull
What is love if it’s not running straight for the bull?
Then carrying him into an animal sanctuary in Massachusetts
Where he’ll forever be best friends with a pig named George

Love is a downpour of shelter
I want to wrap you in blankets until you are so dry you’re wet
I want to come clean in our dirtiest bed
Fuck playing the field
Do you have any idea how wild I could grow in the flowerpot beside your desk?
Baby, all of your petals are welcome here
In every ounce of your drought I will never ask you to weed your fear

When I say I want all of you I mean that chair jammed under the doorknob
I am a master at holding my ear to the wall and knowing when the coast is clear
The coast is most clear when there are lovers making love in the lighthouse
Telling one truth is a years worth of lamp oil
I will tell you the truth until every ship has come home to harbor
I will tuck you in every night beneath the quilt of sails

I will hire a stubborn mechanic
Someone willing to lay on his back beneath a ton of steel
Have him whisper to every valve of your heavy heart
Nothing can be fixed
Everything can be healed
That’s why my gravel throat keeps calling through this canyon
That’s why I keep lighting this torch after so many years
I promise to be so careful with the bird’s nest in the chimney

Give me one night One date
I have plenty of patience to wait
But what I know of eventually is that it rarely arrives without an escort of spill your guts
You can have all of my pipe organs
You can make an opera of my throat
You told me years ago I should start writing the poems I am terrified to write
Well here you go

It’s not that I’m not terrified
You’re going to break my heart in half
But when you do I want to have written your name as my emergency contact
I want God to call you and say if the door frame that saves you from the earthquake is part of love’s ribcage
Then the falling roof of your fear is love’s lung pulling you closer towards the truce
That final truce where even your terror becomes an open field
Love, this is the place where the wounded started calling the wounds on their knees ‘strawberries’

I will meet you by the maple tree
That will be my jacket thrown across the mud puddle
Waiting to dry your pretty feet “

— Andrea Gibson, “Emergency Contact”
This is me running straight into your arms to tell you my skyscraper heart might still be afraid of heights.
Your dark side might still be searching for its stars but the acoustics are still amazing in our meteor showers.
The light will never be out of your league.
You were the first one picked for your own team.
Our underdog hearts are winning this game even when we are doing it all wrong,
even when we are falling apart.
— Andrea Gibson “Truce”


I was little.
My mother was a bank teller.
I called her a fortune teller.
She nick-named me Pangee.
Not Pangea. I was never in one piece.

The first time I called someone “ugly”
my heart had an ice-cream headache for three weeks.
Tell that to my future.
Say, “The moon doesn’t care to be a bully when it’s full.”
I was running from myself on empty.

Not much made sense, like the Russians didn’t like us
because they couldn’t afford blue jeans?
What I knew
is that I wasn’t killing spiders cause I was scared of them
I was killing them
because they were scared of me.
You can have a cold war with yourself
even in the summertime.

I watched the rocks get slapped by the sea.
I knew the sea was made of the same stuff as tears.
That meant if you were hurting you could understand the sharks.
Maybe carry them between your ears.
Maybe hear the word ‘love’ and start running from the teeth.

I was running around with a panic in my chest.
The teacher said, “Silence is golden.”
I wanted to say, “Silence is bronze at best,”
but I had already time capsuled my voice box
hoping someday I would be either brave or scared enough to dig it out and open it all the way up.

That’s how I got here.
In this old rocking chair
typing with my grandma’s thimbles on my fingers.
Every poem is something being sown.
Every poem is me asking “are we there yet?”
“Are we there yet?”
“Are we there yet?”

Years after they told me I was already home.
My love’s feet were still not welcome on the welcome mat,
but you’ve never seen bridges that could arch like that.
So we crossed the river to where the echo took us in.
That’s where I learned bouncing back is about being honest with the canyon.

That’s how I got this see-through skin, this glow-in-the-dark fear.
This here is my shame on a silver plate.
I know it is the one meal that all of us share.

I know how much time we spend sleeping beneath our beds ‘cause somebody told us that’s where the monsters should hide.
Y’all everyone is going to pick a side on
whether they are good or bad,
whether you are kind or cruel.
But what if the quickest root to loving ourselves is deciding its all true.
Every bit of it.

I was not a child the last time I threw a full tantrum fit in the grocery store.
I was not poor the last time I stole
someone’s heart
like it wasn’t worth my change.
I do not need air traffic control to tell me there have not been enough flights for me to lose all of my baggage.
I am learning to claim it at the same carousel where I am learning beating yourself up is never a fair fight
only knocks the wind out of our chances to come clean through that canyon.
To be exactly who we are
so we might become exactly who we want to be.
So if our baggage is to run we will one day learn to run like we sing
like someone took apart a cello to build our hamstrings.

This is me running straight into your arms to tell you my skyscraper heart might still be afraid of heights.
Your dark side might still be searching for its stars but the acoustics are still amazing in our meteor showers.
The light will never be out of your league.
You were the first one picked for your own team.
Our underdog hearts are winning this game even when we are doing it all wrong,
even when we are falling apart.

Sometimes it takes a storm for the whole sea to start doing the wave.
I know it took a storm for the message in the bottle to finally reach my shore.
To teach me how to write my entire life using only the shift key to mess up, to bounce back, to let myself be
the hinge that keeps opening the door
to look you straight in the eye and tell you
I didn’t come here to write my heart out
I came here to write it in.

— Andrea Gibson “Truce”

An Insider’s Guide on How to be Sick

Never say the words ‘this is not my life’

This pain that wakes you screaming in the muzzle of the night

This pain that woke your lover, chased her to another room

to another life

This fevered fainting

This tremorring chest
This mangled kite

This panic like a cave of bats

This nurse drawing blood wearing doubled gloves

This insurance doesn’t cover that

This hurried paycheck of doctor after doctor after doctor

This stethoscope that never hears your heart

This hospital bed

This florescent dark

This save your prescription with side effects worse than the disease

This please let me have one month where I read more poems than warning labels

This not knowing what the test will say

This pray pray pray

This airplane’s medical emergency landing

This shame when you can’t walk

Shame when you can’t fuck

Shame when you’re home alone sobbing on another friday night

Say ‘This is my life

This is my precious life

This is how badly I want to live’

Say Sometimes you have to keep pulling yourself up by the whip

Take punch after punch to the face forward

To the head up

And still uncurl the fist of your grief like a warm blanket on the cool earth of your faith

Say every waiting room is the clime where you will finally take shape to fit into the keyhole of your own gritty heart

To open mercy

To open your siren throat

Say every fever is a love note to remind you that there better things to be than cool

Fuck cool

Fuck every pair of skinny jeans

From the month your muscles started atrophying to a size two

Say fuck you to anyone who asks you if you eat enough

Say how do you not know that is so fucking rude

Remember you never have an obligation to quiet the hurricane inside your chest

Especially on a day when another healthy person suggests ‘you would feel so much better if you would just focus your breath into a Buddha beam of light”

Like that light is going to miraculously dissolve the knife that’s been churning in your kidneys for the last six fucking months

Say Sunshine, please go back to your job at the aroma therapy aisle at Whole Foods and leave me alone

I know how to talk to God

and God does not expect me to use my inside voice

God knows how goddamn hard I am working to become a smooth stone

So I can skip on my back across this red red sea

So I can trust deep in my screaming bones

Everything is a lesson

Lesson #1 through infinity

You will never have a greater opportunity to learn to love your enemy than when your enemy is your own red blood

Truce is a word made of velvet

Truce is a word made of velvet

Wear it everywhere you go

— Andrea Gibson “How to be Sick”

Etiquette Leash

I want a good heart
I want it to be made of good stuff
I want the stain glass window builder to be my drinking buddy
I want to drink only the punch of a million gender queer school kids taking free martial arts lessons to survive recess
I stopped calling myself a pacifist when I heard Gandhi told women they should not physically fight off their rapists
I believe there is such a thing as a non violent fist

I believe the earth is a woman muzzled, beaten, tied to the cold slinging tracks
I believe the muzzled have every right to rip off the Bible Belt and take it to the patriarchy’s ass
I know these words are going to get me in trouble

It is never polite to throw back the tear gas
Just like its never polite to bring enough life rafts
They crowd the balconies where the wealthy shine their jewels
But sometimes love
Sometimes real love
Is fucking rude
Is interrupting a wedding mid vow just as the congregation is about to cry
To stand up in your pew to say “is everyone here clear on how diamonds are mined?”

Hallelujah to every drag queen at Stonewall who made weapons out of her stiletto shoes
Hallelujah to the blues keeping the neighborhood awake
To the activist standing in the snow outside of the circus holding a ten foot photograph of a baby elephant in chains when it’s probably some little kid’s birthday
Hallelujah to making everyone uncomfortable
To the terrible manners of truth
To refusing to clean the blood off the plate

Bend this spine into a bow I can pull across the cello of my speak up
Love readies its heart’s teeth
Chews through the etiquette lease
Takes down the cellphone tower after millions of people die in wars in the Congo fighting for the minerals that make our cellphones
Love blows up the dam
Chains itself to the redwood tree
To the capital building when a trailer of Mexican immigrants are found dead on the south Texas roadside
Love insists well intentioned white people officially stop calling themselves color blind
Insists hope lace it’s fucking boots
Always calls out the misogynist, racist, homophobic joke refuses to be a welcome mat where hate wipes its feet
Love asks questions at the most inappropriate times
Overturns the defense of marriage act then walks a pride parade asking when the plight of poor single mothers will ignite our hearts into action like that
Love is not polite
deadlocks our rush hour traffic with a hundred stubborn screaming bikes
Hallelujah to every suffrage movement hunger strike
Hallelujah to insisting they get your pronouns right
Hallelujah to tact never winning our spines
To taking our power all the way back to that first glacier that had to learn how to swim
To not turning our heads from a single ugly truth
To knowing we live in a time when beauty recruits its models outside the doors of eating disorder clients
That is not a metaphor
This is not a line to a poem
An Indian farmer walks into a crowd of people and stab himself in his chest to protest the poisoning of his land
A Buddhist monk burns himself alive on the streets of Saigon
A US soldier hangs himself wearing his enemy’s dog tags around his holy neck
May my heart be as heavy as a tuba in the front row of the Mardi Gras parade five months after Katrina
May it weigh the weight of the world so it might anchor the sun so it might hold me to my own light till I am willing to sweat as much as I cry
Till I am willing to press into the clay of our precious lives
A window
Might our grace riot the walls down
May the drought howl us awake
May we rush into the streets to do the work of opening each other’s eyes
May our good hearts forever be too loud to let the neighbors sleep

— Andrea Gibson “Etiquette Leash”