instead


i never think about the minutes
between every time i smile at you,
or the seconds between
every time you cross my mind

instead i think about the violent waves
when the sky was gray and
we went to the beach.
how we dragged the sand from
our feet to the street to the car
to the telly to the sheets

i never think about how every breath
i get to take is in the same room as you,
or how lonely never feels so good
when you’re rustling around

instead i think about how we got
high as fuck in the car
and you were popping my pimples
at the Galleria mall

i think i saw your eyes for the first time

i never think about how you’re the
only one i can be myself with.
i’m selfish, i want to be the only one
you can be yourself with

instead i think about how we
ran around Manhattan
with my best friend,
and how we ate the worst pizza
of my life

i’d eat that shit for every meal
if i could re-live the night

i never think about
how you were there on the
best night of my life

instead i think about myself
and our heartbeats

“instead”
©Steven Cuenca

knocking back


love is leaning back
lean and lax
listening and speaking back
smoke n packed
drinking that
which leadeth men
to re-enact
the best they’ve been
and all the crap
they think might mask
the bleeding fact
that they are two sips
two steps back
from being dad
stumbled drunk
with heavy hands
heavy, heaven, every
chance i get to trap
the sickened craft
of knocking back
and knocking out
and knocking doors
to scream and shout

we all have ways
we let the
demons out

love is late
it makes me wait
it knows i can’t
i sweat and shake
i try to take
the easy way
and easy never
won the day

i won today
i loved today
it somehow, almost
feels the same
as crushing cans
the bitter taste
of watching me
waste away

“knocking back”
©Steven Cuenca

crackhead


he said i was a crackhead
told all of his new friends
i guess it’s how i’ve acted
all my crazy nonsense

it should have been a funny
the way he laughed right at me
i must have lost my cunning
when did i get so sappy

the word just cut right through me
still feel it in my stomach
i tried to smile and keep my cool
i didn’t see it coming

he said i was a crackhead
never been an addict
never been a fiend and
i know he didn’t mean it

people see what people see
can’t fix how they look at me
i’m high risk, rewardless
spinning like a vortex

it’s funny, 20-20
trigger words
i can think of his
i can think of hers
how it stings, how it hurts

crack house, crack spot, crackhead
cracked out, crack pipe, Kraken
back stiff, cracked it

mapped out my life
this is the most stable i’ve been
i’ve been able to live
without asking for shit

i couldn’t say a word
i think i lost my breath
confronted him like a coward
i sent a thoughtful text
he said he’s really sorry
this is me getting over it

i wonder what he calls our brothers
this is me getting over it

“crackhead”
©Steven Cuenca

 

new new

pumpum 6


new car, big windshield crack
my arms are sculpted fat
my home has problems that
i can fix  by stepping out

new phone, a hand-me-down
dark eyes, a shitty brown
good jobs, they’re all around
i picked the one that stuck

new clothes, i dress too young
my teeth, the holy ones
computer had its run
dust bunnies turned to rabbits

new mood, i’m full of love
my liver hates my guts
live by the phrase, “so what?”
it’s gotten me this far

“new new”
©Steven Cuenca

Ritalin

donut 1.JPG


the doctors told my mother
i needed to take Ritalin.
the boy was born with restless legs
and thoughts that ran a million
miles per second.

my mother, she rejected
all their counsel,
she was grieving ,
needing every ounce of Steven
to distract her.

i could have been a doctor,
or maybe an actor,
maybe a lawyer
or a science boy.
could have been the president
off the medicine.

could have grown up with thoughts like:
“mermermer and blahblahblah,”
and laughed at all the right times.
wouldn’t be such a mess
on the in and outside.

maybe i’d be in therapy,
talk about my father
instead of writing poetry.

i’d do all the doctor visits,
and i would trust the system,
find and label all my problems,
pop some pills just to solve ’em.

oh my god, i could have had thoughts
that sound just like the tv news:
“mermermer and blahblahblah,”
and watched as all your pupils grew.

who would knew
who would know
how i’d be
how i’d grow.

the doctors told my mother
i needed to take Ritalin,
but ma-ma-ma-ma-mama knows best,
i’ll stay a pyramid.
the tip is what i could be,
the bottom is where i have been,
the crawl is what i live for,
i’ll never be a has-been.

i have been looking forward,
my legs, they bring me elsewhere,
i’ve learned to love the beauty
of trading time for self-care.

i’ve learned the value of distraction,
it saved my mother’s life.
my legs continue shaking,
don’t think about it twice.
i think about it ten times,
distracted by the third.

the doctors told my mother:
“blahblahblah and mermermer.”

“Ritalin”
©Steven Cuenca

 

these are the days

gate 6

these are the days
of documented depression,
when we find
we move forward to get away
and any hesitation
is a step back

**

these are the days
we all become one color
just different shades
and it’s all so boring,
so we scratch ourselves red
and punch ourselves blue
until we’re the right color purple

**

these are the days
we can change our face
a million ways,
but we’ll never escape
from the sickness

**

these are the days
we forgive our transgressors,
because our minds
move faster than our body do,
and we figure out
we only hurt in familiar ways
and everything else
is a story told

**

these are the days
the angels arrive
and their light
ignites our flesh,
and the ones who survive
are the ones who dive
into the deepest, darkest pit

**

these are the days
we become alchemists
and we find a way
to create happiness,
but nothing comes without cost;
the high before the loss

“these are the days”
©Steven Cuenca

used to give


used to give more
when i had a lot less.
now i have a bit more
and give a lot less

i still help out sometimes,
but it’s like a Loch Ness
Monster sighting,
rare, unfocused, with shit lighting

think i need another tragedy
to get myself on my feet.
tragedy turned charity,
is that not the recipe?

now i just rest in peace,
got the world set up
to meet my needs.

i’ve turned into the boy that feeds,
shoulda been the giving tree

pity me, it’s the silly me
that wants to be
all the things
that imprison me

spent my whole life
trying to be comfortable,
and now i am,
thanks to the love
of helping hands

i should help back,
feel the sweat drip off my back,
or maybe i’ll just write about it;
duck the people in need,
quack quack

“used to give”
©Steven Cuenca

same songs


i listen to the same songs,
hope i hear ’em different

doesn’t matter what musician,
put myself in their position
and rock the fuck out

grab the mic and sing the same shit,
lookin’ out at my family and friends,
they’re screamin’.

every word that i say
reflects the mood of the day,
beat beat beating different meanin’

i be aggressive like,
grip the mic, scan the crowd,
“if you’re not dancing,
then get the fuck out”

they’d be impressed,
like, “this kid is the best”

encore encore,
open my car door,
drop the mic,
curtains close,
concert ends,
flowers thrown

listen to the same songs,
throwin’ different shows.
listen to the same songs,
hope i hear ’em grow.
listen to the same songs,
watch me sing the same shit,
same kid, same trip, same whip
same script

“same songs”
©Steven Cuenca

 

 

happy poems

mp 7


i need to get better
at writing happy poems
like when my cheeks
meet the bottom of my eyelids

like when i laugh so hard
it’s embarrassing
and i lose control
of my limbs

like when i can finally lay down
without a thought in my head,
because my body is elated
for no reason

like when i’m around the people i love
and it shuts me the fuck up,
that’s the happiest i think
that i’ve been

like when i’m so happy
my body wants to self-destruct,
“we’ve made it,” the goosebumps cry

like when i’m so happy
my body wants to self-destruct,
my body just wants to die

like when i’m so happy
my body wants to self-destruct,
and the demons bring
me back to one

like when i’m so happy
my body wants to self-destruct,
’til the happiness comes undone

“happy poems”
©Steven Cuenca

una cara triste


my mother was born
con una cara triste,
and i’m the same way.

doesn’t matter how i feel or think,
my mood reflects my face.

guess i gotta face it
like a mirror do,
but i’m always smiling at the mirror view.
(always lying at the mirror view)

i don’t smile on sunny days,
i’ve tested it,
i don’t smile on snowy days,
i’ve tested it.
the world has tried to cheer me up,
i’ve bested it.

tryna stay in a happy state,
but there’s no happy hour
in the Utah state.
no shade on Utah, literally;
Utah’s been great.

i absorb all the love that’s thrown at me,
but it’s a puddle to a lake.

i’m fake, i’m phony,
to take a line from Tio Tony:

“chuuuuuuuso,”

is my spirit sound;
the sound of stress from a real man.

i don’t get real mad anymore,
it’s medicated.

the sadness, i laugh about it;
wear it like white paints
and a red nose with the big shoes.

fuck it, it’s the sadness i use
to navigate this pretty place.

my mother was born
con una cara triste,
but it’s a pretty face.

“una cara triste”
©Steven Cuenca