One of the most enriching, forward-thinking, fastest-growing online creative communities flourishing right now is the Poetry community, especially in those scenes that center on marginalized voices — Women, POC, Neurodivergent, and LGBTQ. Poetry Spotlight is a feature aiming to showcase the work of some of the most talented creators we’ve discovered making waves on the Internet literary circles, inside or outside the mainstream. On this sixth installment, we look at the work of Caitlin Conlon.
Caitlin is a young poet based out of Grand Island, New York. Currently an English Major at the University at Buffalo, Caitlin isn’t exactly sure where she’s going yet, but she’s writing about it regardless. She enjoys used bookstores, sunflowers, and the smell of clean laundry. She’s currently the Social Media Manager for the independent publishing house Half Mystic Press and has a horoscopes column on Thought Catalog. She recently published Cavity, a 40 page, hand-bound chapbook of poems about coming to terms with heartbreak, which is available to purchase here.
in the attic of my adolescence
pigeons never stop cooing. baby
blankets and cotton candy are used
for insulation. I whisper your name into
the dark and it never thinks to come back.
The Richter scale of emotional intensity
something is missing, small but noticeable. it’s like the first time you ever lose a tooth and you find yourself absentmindedly gliding your tongue over the empty space trying, as you always have, to define loss. or, comparably, the first time your dentist asks about how much soda you drink as he peers into your wretched mouth. your fingers clutching the hand-rest as he informs you in a monotone voice that too much sugar can rot away your bones. you don’t want to get a cavity, now do you?
the words said, or unsaid, migrate to the center of your chest and burrow down like leeches to a bruise or bricks to your shoulders. it’s painful, the realization that what you ignore can become nearly tangible in its immediacy: capable of taking the doubts out of your fingertips, of stuffing them cleanly down your throat. “what do you see when you close your eyes?” becomes a burning enough question that you need to down a glass of water after swallowing it. is it me? don’t answer, but is it me?
you’re sitting with him but he isn’t sitting with you. he’s somewhere in the mountains with a compass in his hand and you’re trudging through a tundra kicking ice off of your boots. maybe. or maybe not. you run your tongue over your incisors and force your palm flat against your torso. you almost wish you’d pass out, or become violently ill, so that there would be a reason for him to touch you. once, you kissed him senseless despite the bronchitis in his lungs. why haven’t you learned yet that you can’t fix everything with affection?
last month’s rainfall leaks confidently from the corners of your eyes. you’re just so livid and upended and everything is too much and you don’t know why he keeps happening to you anyways, why you keep letting him happen when you knew from the second date that he feels just as bewildered over the tenacity of ache as you do. now your body trembles and your breath flees and it crosses your mind that this could be what it feels like to shatter. the pressure on your chest becomes unbearable and you stick gum in the place where your tooth was. do you think it could possibly get any worse?
it can. you two are finally in the same room but this time, just this time, you wish you weren’t. because he’s talking but it isn’t so much talking as it is yelling and it isn’t even that he’s actually yelling but you want him to yell – you need him to yell – because right now he’s so calm. how can he be so collected when everything is coming down around you? this kind of catastrophe deserves screaming and fighting and red faces to match red fists but that isn’t what you have. he’s talking like he’d talk to a cashier at the grocery store and all you can do is hold out your hands and show him the teeth you’re clutching. what do you call it when somebody that you care about walks away without looking back? is there even a word for a moment like that?
devastation looks something like this: a closed mouth. too much of not enough. an empty sugar bowl, once full, falling onto concrete.
what’s still left?
there isn’t much that scares me more than my own heart
I have an irrational fear that one day I’ll wake to find it perched at the foot of my bed,
begging to be torn apart and consumed in the name of compassion.
that’s incredibly terrifying for a few different reasons, but mainly because I’d do it.
I’ve never needed an excuse to sacrifice myself for love.
I’m a martyr for everything soft.
I confess to you: I’d bleed for anything if it held me the right way.
I confess: I have