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Published April 8, 2019 by April Fox

They like to tell you

on TV

about their grief:

dramatic renderings

of their reactions

a symphony of self-indulgence

“I heard the news and I screamed

I cried

I just broke down sobbing

I was screaming

so loud, I was




I am standing in the grocery store


I lost that part of my voice and I am


to keep my legs and I can’t


because the cereal he ate

when I was small is gone

They don’t have it anymore,

this artifact of him

and I see him in the Special K, the Lucky Charms, the Froot Loops

I see him lying there with no heartbeat and no teeth

I see the vacancy like a spotlight and there is no air left

for screaming sobbing crying

for walking past the void

and into life.


Published October 29, 2018 by April Fox

This is what it feels like

(I don’t know)

to be kept out, sent to the back,

inked with numbers like cattle

(I bought my ink with dollar bills

you sold your soul to make)

This is what it feels like, one tenth of a percent

to send my child out, brown eyes

thick lips, pants sagged and face

inked like you don’t know

he never pulled the trigger

White as I am

you can’t tell,

arms scabbed and ribs shining

like blades in the street light

You can’t tell

I held that belly, sunken now

in the palm of my hand when he came home

small as life

You can’t tell

I wear my whiteness like armor

(you don’t know)

protect me when I walk at night, keep me in the car

when I get pulled

my brake lights shot like Walter Scott’s but I’m alright

It’s just a warning

        Careful now,

                don’t get hurt.

I know this

My breasts

        (no matter how small)

my ass is a beacon, shining out

spotlights on the fact that I am there

to be taken

that you can have the thing that I have never

until right now

given up one hundred percent voluntarily because I know

from the time I was 14 years old

that if you want it

you’re going to take it


This is how it feels

(I don’t know)

to be safe in the world

This is how it feels

(I don’t know)

to be safe

This is how it feels

(I know this, now)

to be helpless, to lie flat still frozen

in the dark to wait

for the things that gobbled up the blacks the Jews the

mouthy women the men crawling on the street with needles in their veins

the infants pulled to term and shit out on the sidewalk

screaming with addiction while the pro-life movement dangles formula and warmth

above their heads, the cost of daring to be born

to be sacrificed to hungry priests to be grown up

cut and bleeding

on the bathroom floor

This is what it feels like

(I don’t know)

to be quiet, watching, waiting

until they come for us.


Published October 11, 2018 by April Fox

Here are some things that I’ve forgotten:

the formula for pi

the recipe for chocolate chip cookies

the capital of Minnesota (perhaps I never knew, or cared)

the middle name of Paul McCartney

the way it felt to come down and stop and wait and hope my heart

would seize

in the split second that rested between my fingers hitting the door latch

and starting to pull

the smell of paper in the fire

how to take a word and lay it down

stack them, rushed and messy

fan them out like cards and give them voice

that hits your ears and fills your head

like rain that begs

to someday

be the flood.

Quiet Down

Published July 30, 2018 by April Fox

I wish that I could set this down

and walk away, rest it on

the table near the front door

and turn the lock behind me and

forget about it by the time I hit the button

to unlock the car door

by the time the music starts

and my foot is on the gas

I’ll have forgotten

its existence

I wish that I could

take it

to the landfill and bury it beneath the piles of moldy sofa cushions and

dryer lint and rent receipts and watch it

settle down into the sludge before a rat

takes notice of the smell

and carries it away,

a treasure found

to be devoured.

I wish that I could burn it on the gas stove, beer in one hand,

pitcher full of water in the other, watching as the ashes dance and fly

before they fade.

I wish that I could simply turn it off

turn it off, tell it to


let the decades do their job of making it

at the very least

shrink into something manageable

I wish that I could quiet down the noise

that keeps me up.


On Compassion and the Taking of Children

Published June 18, 2018 by April Fox

Note: I originally posted this on my personal facebook page. I’m reposting it here at my mother’s request, with some insignificant personal details removed. My mom helped teach me to be kind and to be fierce, and most importantly, that the two do not always have to be shown in conjunction. We are living in a time when we are encouraged to always respond with love and attempted understanding, no matter what the circumstances are; the reality is that things have reached a point where gentleness can be a detriment. We are not dealing with simple political differences, issues on which we can choose to disagree. We are dealing with the blatant and horrific abuse of our fellow human beings: people of color, the LGBT community, children. These are hardly new offenses, but our awareness of them is growing thanks to new technology that allows us to click and share anything in an instant. What is new is this sense of empowerment by those committing the abuse. As those in power show how truly vile they can be, those below who feel the same way feel justified in coming out and spewing their ugliness on the world. All of a sudden, it’s okay to be prejudiced again. It’s okay to be cruel, because the guy at the top said so. And the guy at the top, that pathetic excuse for a man sitting up there humping his golf clubs and shellacking his hairpiece, that guy draws strength from the numbers of people who support him because he shares their despicable mindset. These folks are not the majority, but they are loud and obnoxious and while we don’t have to be obnoxious we can certainly be loud and when we see someone acting like these government atrocities are justified, we HAVE to shut them down, hard.


Here’s what I can’t stop thinking about: For the past several years, taking children from their parents has been part of my job. Whether it’s the start of a new school year or a child is just having a hard time that morning, there are times when a parent has to hand their child to me so that all of us can start the next phase of the day.


This often means transferring a child from their parent’s arms to mine, detangling the child one limb at a time while they do their best to hang on. Sometimes we walk to the window to wave goodbye; other times it’s best to move straight to circle time or to the peace corner for a story. There is plenty of reassurance that they’re safe at school, that their friends are here, there’s new play-doh on the shelf and we have carrots for the guinea pigs and I heard Mom say you have strawberries in your lunch and those are your favorite, and you know that Mom or Dad or Nanny will be back to get you at the end of the day, just like always.


I don’t mind the tears. I tell the kids it’s ok, I’m old and I still want my mommy too sometimes. We send hugs out and feel them coming back.


My point is, these are children coming into a place that’s warm and inviting. They have their toys and nap things. They have their teachers who love them. Their parents trust us to care for them until they can come back, and the children know this. They know what to expect and still the separation can feel excruciating sometimes. It’s hard on the parents too, you can see it.


I cannot imagine the terror that some children and parents are feeling at our borders. I don’t understand how anyone could feel good about doing this to families. There’s no justification for this; humanity and compassion aren’t stopped at the border like a dog behind an invisible fence. These are families trying to escape from horrific conditions at home and if you think they’re less than and deserve to be treated like farm animals simply because their home of origin is on a different patch of dirt than yours, I don’t want to know you.


I don’t want to try to reach out to you with love or to try and understand your point of view. I don’t want to “agree to disagree” so that we can keep up a facade of peace and getting along. I want to tell you with no ambiguity that you are nasty and cruel and wrong. I will not respond with love and compassion to someone who refuses to show the same to an innocent child, running with his family toward safety. If, in your mind, the children don’t deserve your grace, you sure as hell don’t deserve mine.

On Acknowledging the Reality of Suicidal Depression

Published June 9, 2018 by April Fox

Can I add one thing to the really good discussions happening around suicide and depression right now? I love that I’m seeing more acknowledgment of the fact that “please reach out and talk to someone” is well-meaning but not always helpful advice. (When it takes half an hour to convince yourself that you are in fact capable of putting on your pants without triggering a domino-effect catastrophic event and listening to a voicemail feels like the mental equivalent of climbing an active volcano, calling someone up like “Yo, kinda wanna die again, talk me out of it” is a bit of a stretch.)
I like the acknowledgment that depression can hit anyone (although it’s a bit amusing to hear the “It doesn’t matter how little you have and how rough things are right now, that’s not what joy is about/Wow, it’s crazy that people can be that depressed even with all that wealth and success!” juxtaposition.)
I like the acknowledgment that folks can seem super happy and chill and together right up until the last moments, and still succumb to suicidal depression. 
That’s all super helpful, but please can we also acknowledge the validity of those darkest feelings? “You don’t have to feel that way; it will get better” is often only half true. Sometimes you DO have to feel that way, and having others try to talk you out of it can feel demeaning and overpowering. 
There are times when folks get sick of keeping on the company smile, of letting down those they love by not keeping up the facade that’s so clearly expected every day. As someone who has lived there and frankly, still visits frequently, I’m asking you to please also acknowledge your friends’ reality in those darkest times. Sometimes the most helpful thing, the ONLY helpful thing, is to have someone say “This fucking sucks so hard, I hear you, hey scoot over and let me share the dark with you for a minute.”
Gracias. 💕

*I wrote this on the fly, waiting for the oil to heat for the pancakes this morning, so it’s kinda incomplete… I want to add that it’s really really important to remember that sometimes that darkness is simply part of a person, as is the intense aversion to seeking connection for the sake of connection. So when people try to talk that darkness out of you or force you into conversations you don’t want to have, it can have the opposite of the intended effect. Rather than making us feel better, it reminds us of one more thing that we’re doing wrong. It confirms our idea that we don’t belong in this place. It’s not that we want to fit in where everyone else is, but that we want to feel like where we are is valid too. 

“Hello, this is your grandfather, Perry.”

Published May 15, 2018 by April Fox

There is no evidence that life continues past the point when the heart stops and the brain shuts down. The best we can hope for is that in the millisecond between here and not — if there is such a time — the mind mercifully conjures an ideal reality, whether it be constructed of memory or fantasy or some combination thereof, and as the light clicks off this becomes forever, by default.

They are not peering down at us from some cloudsoft perch, making us unwilling participants in the reality show of our lives, tracking us as we burn the eggs and check the bank balance and linger too long in the shower trying to wash away the pain of their nonexistence. There are no harps, no pitchforks, no rinsing out and recycling of the soul, as if that were even a thing… there is nothing, anywhere.

There is a space left, though, and the space is vast.

A few weeks ago when I visited my grandfather, he tried to sit up in bed. He struggled, and when it was clear that he needed more than just a hand to grip as he pulled himself up, I took him in my arms and lifted him. I struggle sometimes with the weight of the preschoolers in my care, but my grandfather seemed weightless then. His bones felt bird hollow and fragile, and his chest was paper thin rising with his breath against my heart. I remembered him lifting my daughter up to the window, admiring her red hair in the sun, red like his, and it was effortless then. In my arms he was as light as an infant and this is not the way it was supposed to be, lifting my grandfather. He carried me.

Under the blanket he was only a wrinkle with someone else’s old man face perched on the pillow, not the right color, not the right shape, not the right thing which was alive and he was not, he was someone else there and this could not be my grandfather in the box in the ground with the gravedigger leaning on his shovel waiting for us to leave while the red-haired baby’s red-haired baby finished her bottle and waved her chubby feet at the sun.

He was weightless, disappeared, but the space he left is so huge that it’s taken all the air away and the mask is on all day, eating chicken and salad, changing clothes, going to work, multitasking sending emails scheduling appointments making plans and on the way home when the sun hits the water on the window the space opens up and there is nothing else to breathe and I cannot.

“How are you?”

“Fine, and you? Let’s change the subject here.”

He used to call and leave me messages that all began the same: “Hello, this is your grandfather, Perry.”

When I left him there the last time, it ended the same as always.

“I love you, Grandpa.”

“Okay, thank you.”

He didn’t remember, most of the time, that he was my grandfather, Perry.

It takes two bulldozer buckets full of dirt to cover the thing that holds the thing that left the space behind. One man with a shovel to smooth it over. Six men to carry the box. 92 years to create a life that leaves the world devoid.

Hello, this is my grandfather, Perry. I miss him like you would not fucking believe.



Published February 12, 2018 by April Fox

Hey now, can you keep me

under the radar, in that spot where the rain falls


Can you be the cloud that rushes me


Hey can you keep me

tucked in your pocket, deep in the dark where your

heartbeat hides

Can you dance with me to the same tune

under the glow

of the dome light, box step back bend you lead

I’ll wait.

Breathe, can you stop my breath

for a second

Can you keep your shit together when I

falter, can you

keep your shit


while the fear leaks out your eyes

and pulls me back

Hey now, can you keep me

for a while

Can I have some of that blanket, can I tuck my head

into the pillow of your shoulder, can I press my


against the bony knob

of your wrist and can you read my mind and tell me

what I mean

Can you keep me under the radar, in the corner of this planet

you inhabit, that you built

can you keep me under the radar, sifting through your fingers

like the sun.


2017: Depression Ate My Brain

Published December 30, 2017 by April Fox

In 2017, depression ate my brain.

I wish the years were neatly separate, distinct like they are on paper

segmented like an earthworm you can tear apart and watch the old parts writhe and bleed

while a new one generates —

starting over, over, over

hard reset, the days would have an expiration date

live through this, and then you get to start again

with vocal cords that work and a mind that doesn’t will itself

into oblivion, just for the hell of it.

Social media’s a hopeful place, full of photographs of bubbly glasses, gold leaf and fireworks:

“Here’s to a better year, next time!” A dumpster fire, they call it, as if the ticking of the clock will put it out and we will Come Together To Make Things Better! and Make 2018 Awesome! and start fresh, resolution-bound and hungover in the morning

Happy New Year

but it’s not, when depression eats your brain.

I spent my days in the company of children, and the ones who cared for them also cared for me. I tied the shoes and bandaged the scrapes and explained a hundred times that cottage cheese is cheese, but not the kind you slice. I sat criss-cross applesauce on the big rug and read stories written by other people’s brains, the brains that worked. Shoes on, coats on, water bottles, line up: The routines that shaped their days helped stitch together mine.

I stayed put together and the year went on and it ate away a little more each day, and when people say Reach Out I don’t think they understand that all the things you’ll say, we already understand.

I know I’m not alone. My stuff happened alongside your stuff and her stuff and their stuff and it devoured us from the outside while we were battling the inside. The world was burning down, our heroes were dying left and right and everything seemed darker than it should. In the dark, it’s hard to see the things you should create. We are not alone, but that doesn’t make the aloneness any less.

I lost my voice, and my muscles atrophied; there was no reaching out because I know: The solid marriage, loving family, stable friendships, roof overhead wheels underneath woodstove fired up warm quilt wrapped around babies thriving sunsets starry nights and all of those things are real but the list is punctuated with the knowledge, too, that it’s all there in spite of me and there is nothing relevant

living in my bones.

Depression eats your brain and you can’t sleep or you can’t

wake up or you can’t

eat or you can’t

shower or smile or think

or hold a conversation past the canned fake plastic words you spit out on Facebook so that nobody

suspects there’s something wrong (because there’s not; it’s just your bootstraps wearing out)

You can’t do much of anything but follow the same old script but you can sure as shit argue

with the idea that there is something valuable

in you.

I lost my voice and people didn’t think I could, they wanted me to make them laugh, to mock the president, to say something sweetly vulgar because saying FUCK is trendy now and hey, what’s behind this song and hey, tell me stories that the music men told you and I just


The words were stagnant water in my mouth. Nothing new could live there, nothing would come out; I lost the words and then I lost the chance to say

I’m sorry

Depression ate my brain

in 2017.

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