To My Sister

Who carries the anger for the people who branded me with this trauma

The same anger I once had


There are weeks where it is all just a hazy memory yet I’m still stuck looking over my shoulder

My mind has never left fight or flight and this is just a reflex now

Words for what they did never sit quite right

All of them taste sour on my tongue but I am told not to sugar coat the pain

The first stage of grief is denial and I have been grieving who I should have grown to become

At 13 I wanted to be a surgeon, a year later I wanted to have left this earth

Parts of me still believe who I was at 13 is still there in all her naive brilliance but I cannot unearth her

Maybe my 14 year old wish did come true but denial is a strong drug

Actions speak louder than anything and I thought all the kindness and forgiveness I had for them would help them change

The sun and stars were stripped from my sky in return

I could not forge the light at the end of the tunnel of my suffering

My suicide note was whispered in each minute action

I ended up bottling up my anger and throwing it out to sea

It would be no use anywhere else

Maybe you should too



My name is hand-me-down re-purposed by my own hands

My maternal grandmother was born to a family of artists in 1931

Weaving yarn together with needles on the couch is how I remember her through my childhood

I started crocheting 2 years after her death because my hands didn’t know how to sit still

I have been told neither could hers

Painting was one of my first loves in life, always being the one in class to have paint on my face, my clothes, in my hair

Throughout the house her paintings hang like a warm reminder that I’ll carry her not just in my name but in 14 years of memories I try so hard to not let go of

The name I wear as a locket around my neck, paint dotting my clothes as the photograph inside

Some days I wonder if she would be proud of me now

But I am also very much my father’s daughter

Unapologetic in brute honesty, I am not a lady like she was raised to be

I talk with the rhythm of my ancestors, too fast, too loud, too uneducated

Maybe she beams proudly that I fight tooth and nail to get where I need to be and I can’t see through the stubborn eyes my father gave me

I still wear her name proudly, not giving anyone the satisfaction of claiming it doesn’t fit in their mouth, so I should find a new one easier for them to pronounce

It’s been five years since you left and all I can hope is that between books, you see my laughter returning, voice booming, and succeeding


For Ainslie Sr., from Lil’ Ainslie

Daily Prompt: Fortune

The fortune left in my inheritance includes the ability to act as though everything is perfect when the world is crumbling in our fingers

With each generation we break until there is nothing left of us but the wind whispering our secrets to the world

We are weaved into epidemics no one wants to talk about until they are personally affected

Pretending families like mine aren’t completely killed off by these silent killers

The world faded to nothing in my father’s hands and all he has to show for it are the ghosts living behind his blue-grey eyes

In my fingers the world melted and I have yet to rebuild it

Nights I spend awake mania keeps me company, her energy driving me to do what I normally would steer clear of

Days I spend in a haze, depression turns my body into a winter wonderland with her arctic freeze occupying my bones

Tears stopped flowing down my cheeks the first months trying to solve this puzzle, scars are the only remnants of what I once was able to manage

Epiphanies come when I’m floating above the clouds but once my feet meet the gravel again I forget those discoveries I thought would be waiting for me

I still have yet to make sense of the fortune gifted between generations of hushed conversations

via Daily Prompt: Fortune

Daily Prompt: Bespoke

Fragments of things that once were but no longer are but in what they left behind:

1.) My bare hips are only known to a lover’s hand

Mangled by ghostly remnants of a hurting that only stings anymore, but some weeks burns to remind me it is still living here

2.) The person you loved is no longer living in this body

I was my own savior picking up the pieces of me you crushed in the gentle cupping of my face

I am still damaged goods to some but treasure to others who have the patience to handle me gently

I still can’t say your name

3.) It’s been nearly 5 years and you only live in photographs and memories

My name is a testament to your impact on 3 generations while you were still here

4.) I burned all the notes

Goodbye notes would do nothing to console a grieving family if I did walk away from this life

5.) Within the confine of the forest I am home, with the licking of the ocean on my bare feet I am home

I know that where I am from may change drastically and this is how I keep the memory of the peace the trees bring me, the console the freezing salt water still brings me

6.) Moody blue grey eyes, freckled skin, and stubborn passed along in folded notes so we wouldn’t forget where we came from

Diaspora has not been kind to the Irish like us but we are making it now

Accents still hide until we are comforatably together just in case


via Daily Prompt: Bespoke

Daily Prompt: Flee

Fleeing my problems runs in my veins

I come from a long line of runners

Five years ago the only way our I saw was letting go of my physical being and they would not let me go

Not long after my cousin found his son trying to leave the same way I was going to

The darkness swallowed us whole, there is no light in a world like that no matter how many times you try to turn it on yourself

My uncle fled to the wilderness of Northern Canada for a year because he could not bear the memories of war unless he faced them himself

At one point my father was more alcohol  than he was human, not sleeping for days on end The only way he could cope with that same war was pouring himself into his work and another drink

Two cousins both fled the real world by injecting until they would wake up dopesick aching for another hit

My grandfather kissed the bottle more than he kissed his wife

My father was the only of the 5 to forgive even if he was the one who trudged through hell longer than the rest for the sake of his own father

Fleeing reality is my greatest hobby and I will be lucky to not end up in a casket

My friends and I dance with the devil every time we reach the clouds but where we are from you are lucky if you make it out of that town without making a hobby of smoking enough pot to solve unemployment

You’re lucky if you make it out without dabbling in the most controversial drug of our time

And with my family history I am lucky it is just that

via Daily Prompt: Flee

Daily Prompt: Abide

I was born into a long line of artists – we create in many different means

You see years of hardship and worry worn into our frames

Our hands bear our love of colors and shapes that make this world

We document it in any means we can convey adequately

Many of us push it to the side because we have seen the lives of our flesh trying to live off what makes the world go round

Doing what we love in the free moments and publishing it to the world to consume in moments

Touching them in ways they could never be touched otherwise

We change lives but can only do so when no one is watching

Secrets held in pencil sketches and paint stained clothing

I paint, my mother photographs, her brother sculpts, my grandmother painted, her brother painted, they came from a long line of jewelers

My cousins set up a gallery in an art museum of their own work earning themselves a lifetime ban yet also earning spots on NYC’s most notable artists under 35

But we all have had to take day jobs to live by the standards of a society we shed light on

Our love is poured out not in what our daily pay defines but how we define everything else

We have to abide by rules set up by people who look down on creators like us

But we still find time for what our hands were designated to do

Being born into this family is being born into a line of the world’s movers and shakers doing it all unconventionally

I am honored to be one of them

via Daily Prompt: Abide

Short Letters

Dear mom,

I shattered

You still regret not hearing my cries

Some days the anger crawls back up my throat

I’m not fully repaired yet but I’m still working

Dear dad,

Addiction may swallow me whole

Before it does, thank you for being the shore I swam to

Thank you for pushing me forward even when I desperately wanted to stay where I was

No matter how much I kicked and screamed

Dear my little sister,

Now that you’re old enough to understand

I hope you don’t succumb either

At a young age you saw the light drain from me

But I kept living long enough for the sun shine again

I hope you learned from watching

Dear a love lost,

Let me help you get back up

I’m here to build you up

My love is yours to keep this time around

I could never bear to say my heart was buried with the man who was 6 feet below

I was sick when I left and now you are too

Dear mom,

I know, you’re trying to fix it

I shut you out for so long

Just know there are things you won’t understand about this kind of sick

I am my parents

Which is to say I am all the broken people who came before them

My father and I act so alike sometimes you cannot tell the difference

Both too arrogant to admit so we keep it to one is copying the other

I inherited my mother’s face and the simple forgetful that follows her

Thus writing everything down, making arbitrary sound beautiful

The volume control in my lungs came broken just like my father’s and both of us refuse to fix them

Art came from my mother’s inheritance

She photographs

I do anything to stop my hands shaking even fore a little while

Capturing moments I am sure I will forget in the palms of my hand

Transferring them to any medium that will listen

I was given addiction I thought I was too smart to recieve

Neither parent is to blame but one knows firsthand better than the other

My father, his father, his siblings, my cousins all taste something sweet in the  bitter destruction of livers, lungs, and hearts

The distance I put between my mother and I for everything I saw, everything I felt

In hopes it would hurt her a little less

Will sting me after she’s left us

As I look in the mirror to see her reflection staring back at me

My Honest Poem

After Rudy Francisco


I was born July 21st

That makes me a cancer

Meaning my emotions are as controlled as the ocean my sign takes after

I’m 5 foot 6

I’m 14o lbs

And changing my hair transforms me into a person I wish I was


Also – I’m stubborn as the people I come from

The stubbornness hangs off me like a locket of all the family who no longer linger on this planet

Just like paint on clothes is a reminder of who came before me

People tell me they can find me by my laughter drifting down hallways


My mother’s water broke at 3 am

The power was out and my parents had to pack by the dim candlelight

What an indicator of how my life would be written


I like iced coffee

A lot

I have this odd fascination with clouds and sunsets

The way pinks and purples and oranges melt into each other

How no two clouds are the same

Mixing with the moods of the sky

I guess that’s why I tried to blend in when I was meant to stand out

Until I wanted to melt into the earth to no longer be


Hi –

My name is Ainslie

I’m still learning the curve of my own smile

I’m still learning the curve of my own smile

My voice doesn’t know the appropriate volume to create itself

Making people laugh with a certain clumsy is my specialty

Even days I can’t fish out my own smile


My hobbies include:

Collecting pens to scratch and mold words into a world you don’t care to visit

Creating myself into someone I wish I had become

And convincing myself there is something about me the dark couldn’t take

The Woods, An Origin Story

My father watched his father drink their money away throughout his childhood and adolescence

While his mother worked double shifts as a phone operator

And he spent 4am working milk trucks, bread trucks, anything to help make ends meet

His knuckles bled red and his nose contorted unrecognizably with punches

He had to protect

His father smoked his lungs to dust

They never had enough money to stay one place long

Tenement, apartments, homeless they went through it all

My father went home with bruised knuckles night after night until they had to send him to a Catholic high school to straighten him out

But they never spoke of the bruises that came within the walls of their living room

Because my grandfather was sure to leave them with more in a drunken haze

Some days I wonder if my father wishes his mother became a Catholic nun like she wanted to be before

Rather than marrying his father after being swept off her feet

A stubbornness has been passed down like a language

In place of one we once harbored

My father’s family came during the famine and it was never easy

Maybe that’s why we are filled with a fire that will never be put out


Before my grandmother lost it, after the divorce

My father took her out for drinks

She told him “I started out with a piece of Wood and got 5 splinters”

If only she could see what her grandkids are stirring up now