TATE OLLIVER New York, New York

// Love II//

"I want to get closer,"
she breathed with a sigh.
"But my skin is a barrier
and my bones are a cage.
My heart,
it seeps
nothing but rage.”

// Love I//

We planted seeds in wet cement
and hoped for daffodils like small children
at the break of winter.
What no one ever told us,
was that this is how love works.
If the mind is too strong a sun or
the heart is too sandy a soil,
the only thing that will grow
is disappointment.

Your name, three syllables
and mine, one.
I remember,
I learned to cross
my two ‘t’s’
as you learned
to cross the street alone.
I envied you.
You hid your fears
in the rhythm of your name
and tucked your flaws
between the letters
scratched across the page.
I never had anywhere to hide;
you’ve always been able to see me.

// Distance//

If bridges are the drawstrings of the earth,

and aeroplanes are the needles pulling our threads,

tell me,

why are you still miles away?

Today, Dr. Bohnett asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted an A, a small signifier that I had not failed, that I was still worth something. She looked me in the eye and she shook her head at me. She turned back to her computer. I waited. She looked at me again and handed me a piece of paper. Write it down, she said. I took the paper and left.

The paper is now in an incinerator somewhere, guilty of having taken the life of a tree in Montana. I didn’t write on it. I enjoy being spiteful sometimes. But Dr. Bohnett has a way of knowing. She will ask me tomorrow if I wrote. I do not enjoy lying.

I don’t know why I couldn’t write this down and I don’t know why I still feel ashamed when the thought comes seeping through the cracks in my mind. All I want is a hand to hold mine, without having to be asked.


I don’t know
what I am
searching for.

// Hands//

Your hands are not maps.
They are atlases
detailing the finite expanse
of a lifetime that winds
in between the valleys and peaks
of your skin.
Do your hands still love?
Does touching her face
soften your chapped palms
like the sun warms
the face of a mountain?
I have noticed
your hands.
They are weathered and cracked
but they do not
bleed.

every part of you is just another part of me

// Condolences//

Both of my parents have died.
Of natural causes,
my brother said to the neighbors.
I still hear my father’s footsteps.
I still see my mother’s frown.

How is school going?
My father asks at dinner.
Can you believe what Mrs. Latouna said!
My mother exclaims after church.

I help them clear the table.
I am an orphan.


(Source: tateolliver)

They all write of a “you”,
with your blue eyes,
or your calloused hands,
or your affinity for running
alongside bodies of water.
I have learned that a great deal of
"you" exist.
People tell me “you”
make their hearts heavy,
make their lips bite,
make their stomachs jump
a little, a lot, without fail.
I read about “you”,
more often than I care to admit
but I haven’t the slightest idea
who “you” might be.


(Source: tateolliver)

// Solipist//

I have been writing for a long time. Dig under my bed and you’ll find colonies of (friendly) dustbunnies, old gum wrappers, a 15 lb dumbbell, and countless notebooks. I have always wanted to be a writer, based off of my diary entry on July 16, 1998. But as I flip through transitions of unsteady script to bubbly print with hearts replacing the dots over the letter “i” to my current lanky scrawl, I begin to see a pattern. It is as if I had placed my glasses over the watery blue lines on each page and said “Here! Look! See as I see! Colors! Emotion! Focus now! No, not over there. Here. Narrate what I feel. Describe what I smell.” Even as I write this, I am subconsciously calculating the number of times I have employed a first person pronoun (15 so far) in a feeble attempt to redeem myself. I will begin to rewrite here. I want to mute, to the farthest extent possible, the unending monologue in my head and in turn, prevent its transcription onto the page. Some might say this is an ironic, if not counterproductive start, but all beginnings have to happen somewhere.

Waiting for the bus made him sad about a girl. A girl who had an irksome habit of biting her nails and talking out of turn. Maybe she would wear a red coat and have an affinity for swearing about nothing in particular. She wouldn’t smoke because she thought it more useful to set money ablaze and she wouldn’t drink because she believed in being naturally genuine. Yes, he wanted to be sad about this girl. He wanted to miss her. He wished that the ache of losing her drove him to shove memories of her in between the cracks and fault lines of his mind, to keep out the cold. But she wasn’t real and he wasn’t honest with himself, so he lit a cigarette, flicked the ash onto the pavement, and went back to his newspaper, waiting to his bus to arrive.

(Source: tateolliver)

My name is Tate. Always has been, always will be.