Friends suck the clear fuel
from balloons, in fear
that they’ll never be funny.
Hearts look better on paper –
paper: lined, crumpled, ripped.
Hearts – guarded by porcelain gates
we call a ribcage – are never expected to break.
Paper hearts – products in a teenage girl’s assembly
line of doodles – are expected and prepared to be torn,
thrown away, forgotten.
We write about our crushes, box
our obsessions in stanzas, spread
our anxieties out into paragraphs,
just to be told that we are writing cliches.
We are taught to be formal through essays,
when in reality, we are the most “formal” at funerals
(no one can upstage the bride or groom; might as well eat another crab cake).
We shop for identities just to be suited in a certain stereotype.
Stereotypes come fitted with insults: undershirts are collared with cheap comebacks,
sport jackets have busted buttons that aren’t meant to cover bent backbones.
We want to feel, but being deep and isolated is predicted.
Our actions are set in stone before we put on the face.
We gyrate amongst our peers who dress down in drama.
If we complain, others glare, so we’ve conditioned ourselves to listen
because whatever we are going through is nothing compared
to her, him or her. Repressed feelings once plastered on
notebook paper, arise in our children.
Cliches are passed on through the generations,
through everyone’s ancestry.
We all have it worse off than everyone else;
we are all cliches,
we all craft paper hearts.