For the missed opportunities
   
The shadow that raced
Across your feet
Was a missed opportunity
A person to meet

The breeze that brushed
Right through your hair
Came from a smiling stranger
But you didn't meet his stare

The brightness that made
You squint your eyes
Came from the sun shining
Through clouds in an orange-pink sky

The pencil that fell
And rolled into your path
Was the only one
That student had left for class

But you didn't flinch
Didn't bat an eye
To pick up that pencil
To give it back or say hi

How often do we see things
Looking at us from the ground
That should make us look up
Just a second, instead of down

But the screen in front of us
Is more important than interaction
It is merely a wall
A saving distraction

From what's really there
In front of us
People to talk to
To listen to, to trust
What's the point in words
When you can't hear them pronounced
When the screen you're talking to
Can't even amount

To the ones who are there
Passing you in the street
The missed opportunities
The ones you won't ever meet

Why do we insist
On staring at a phone
When so many should-have-beens
Are now too far gone

So instead of looking up just once
To find a silhouette in the abyss
Never look down again and regret
All the things you've missed

You can stay in the comfort
Of a rectangular world
But to open your eyes
To truly be heard

Is better than any
Useless text or like
So turn it off for a second
And you just might

See a world out there
Full of people like you
Don't make them missed opportunities
Smile at someone new

For the missed opportunities
M.J.

    
For the deep thinkers
   
She wants to be
Alone
When the memories
Rise in waves

She wants to sit
In the sand
And watch them tumble
Without being saved

She wants to feel the warmth
Of her tears
As they grow closer
To the shore

And as the water
Reaches her toes
She wants to
Remember even more

She misses being
Able to
Feel every ounce
Of love

She wants to drown
In the happiness
Her heart is
Reminded of


She wants to become
A part of the place
Where the ocean meets
The sand

So her mind
Can come and go
As it pleases while her heart
Stays safe on land

For the deep thinkers
M.J.

    
For the sunset
   
She tried
To blink away
The memory
Of the sun
Across her pages

As the wind
Made them dance
The words became
Ballerinas
On stages

She breathed
In the moment
Surrounded
By the pink
And blue

The soft feel
Of the grass
The scene
Mesmerizing
Through and through

It only
Took a second
To glance
Down
At her book

But she
Decided it was
Time
To give it one
Last look

To her dismay
She found
In awe
The trees standing
Alone

Before she
Could
Take it all in
The sun was
Too far gone

For the sunset
M.J.

For my family

In the place
Where I
Grew up
You can see
How things wear out

How moss
Falls from
The trees
How some still
Sways about

How rust
Has taken over
And turned
Metal
Into red

How wood
Has turned
From brown to gray
And cracks
Began to spread

In the place
Where I grew up
You can see
That time
Has passed

You can see
That though
We’ve all grown up
Some things
Always last

The memories of
Our bare feet
Skipping
Down
The road

To Maw-Maw’s
Where
We could smell
Hot gumbo
On the stove


    
The sound of
Rusty chains
Swings swaying
With
The wind

Voices drifting
To and fro
Telling stories
Of where
We’ve been

Purple flowers
That grow
Like weeds
At the start
Of every spring

I’d pick them
All and
Put them
In my pockets
As I’d sing

We left
Our marks
On all of it
The road, the grass
The wood

But it
Seems as if
These old keepsakes
Have done us all
Some good

These materials
And these places
These objects
Left
To dust

Are full
Of all
Our memories
But have left their mark
On us

    
The things
My family
Built
Must have
Built us too

Because they’ve
Stayed strong
So long
After everything
We’ve put them through

Things will
Wither
Away with time
Some things don’t last
Forever

But this family
Who built
My home
Also put my heart
Together

So whatever
Comes and goes
I know
I’ll always
Return

To this place
Where I
Grew up
To this place
In which I learned

That family
Is the one thing
That doesn’t
Ever
Go away

So no matter
Where
I go
My heart is here
To stay

For my family
M.J.

    
For this generation
   
I literally can’t even
Begin to describe
Mostly because
Descriptive words have died

Literally all of them
But literally itself
Have been erased from our vocabulary
And set on a shelf

They’ve been replaced
With abbreviations
Such as “v-“ and “totes adorbs”
As if saying the entire word is a bore

I mean, really guys
V- is missing only three letters
Without the e, r and y
Does it sound all that better

And what about all
Those weird phrases we use
Like this poem is “lit” and you’re “lowkey”
Amused

Why can’t you just admit
That this poem made you laugh
Or maybe it’s just me
And my poem is what you’d call “trash”

In all honesty
I think it’s “savage”
Even if you might think it’s only –
What’s the abbreviation for average?

These shorted words
And strange phrases are totes “on fleek”
Because “WYD”
If this isn’t how you speak

Maybe it’s too “basic”
To use descriptive words
I apologize, “fam”
If this poem seems absurd

I literally can’t even
Can’t even what?
Begin to like seriously
I forgot the rhyme, guys

What I’m trying to say is
And please forgive me
For being too “extra”
Too “woke” or “high key”

I miss the days
Where we said what we meant
In full complete sentences
And not just small hints

So whenever you see something
That’s “literally you”
Tell us why and explain
Is this something you do?

I hope I shed some light
And no bad vibes
I don’t care how you talk
But sometimes just try

To tell a story with words
So a point can be made
I’m just trying to help
I’m not “throwing shade”

It’s important to speak
With a voice strong and clear
In a world such as this one
Where not many hear

Other peoples’ thoughts
Their “low key” opinions
So speak with conviction
Be your own politician.

For this generation
M.J.
    
The Flood
It crept slowly
Over streets
Under cars
Up driveways

Silently selecting
Which lives
It wanted
To change forever

It didn't come
From one side
Or another
But from all sides

Wrapping its
Fingers
Around our homes
Choking them

Killing them

All it needed
Was a place to
Settle 
Spilling the guts

Of our homes
Into the streets

Now all we
Need
Is a place
To settle

The Flood
M.J.
For the sailboats
Some people are like the ocean
When it comes to their place in your heart
They come and go so endlessly
But they always leave their mark

Sometimes you're like a sailboat
Drifting carelessly away
Into dangerous seas as you
Try and get them to stay

But it's better to be the sailboat
To try and never stop
Than to be reaching out but never moving
To be the stubborn dock

Because what defines bravery in love
Is the final effort that you make
Not staring boldly out to sea
While your loved ones drift away

For the sailboats
M.J.
For the mindless loves
The best type of love
Is mindless.
You don't have to wonder
How the other person feels;
You don't have to question the way you feel.
You simply
Feel
With every part 
Of your being
That you are right where you're supposed to
Be.
They say it's effort, double effort
That keeps a relationship strong.
But to me, it should all be easy.
It should not be forced.
Effort should be
Effortless.
It should be effortless in that you 
Cannot control
The beating of your heart 
When that person is around.
It should be effortless in that you
Cannot help but stare or smile or 
Think of the future.
The words "I love you"
Should slip
Right off of your tongue
As if you had no choice but to say them
Or stop breathing 
Entirely.
Love someone mindlessly.
Take in those moments
In which you are overcome 
By peace and happiness,
The simple feeling of being
Right next to a person.
Mindless.
Effortless.
Simple.
Unconditional. 
A love as habitual as breathing.

For the mindless loves
M.J.

The Ballad of Lies and Truth

The rhythm behind lies
Is the whisper of truth
The face behind the mask
Might be the real you
The deception that you 
Have taught me to fear
Is drowned out by the music
That I've learned to hear
I listen closely now
To the words they say
I read between the lines
I don't let them get away
With filling my heart
And my mind with their lies
Hiding behind their
Sincere, honest eyes
You will keep on making
The same mistakes
While I learn from mine
And realize what's fake
People say so much
That they don't mean
To make you think and believe
But have you truly seen
The way some people love
Without meaningless words
Because though they say nothing
Their truth is heard
I know what you're wondering
How can this be
So instead of just listening
Open your eyes and see
The truth is always dancing
To the melody of lies
Because it is free
And will not be disguised
So hear the soft whisper
Of graceful, steady movements
And see honesty twirling 
With a smile of amusement
What is so funny 
To honesty you ask
In the face of a lie
Integrity laughs
Because while she's dancing
To the music of sins
She knows in her heart
The truth always wins.

The Ballad of Lies and Truth
M.J.