the first myth to undo & two other poems by stephanie marie altimari


the first myth to undo


the first myth to undo
is that you can’t lead
if you cry at night
if you stay awake

feeling the weight
of the people on your shoulders

and that you can’t lead

if you sometimes feel like dying
and occasionally throw something
across the room

and that you can’t lead

if your nerves make you sick
or if you drink a little too much

because the truth is

there isn’t any sort of glory
n this

the truth is

you’re merely human
just like everyone else
and it’s good for the people to know it
because they’ll see in themselves
what they saw in you

an epic poem to my long-dead muse


i have a few small things of yours
some comics, some books,
some handwritten copies of things you wrote
i have some videos of you laughing
and lots of memories

of you being drunk and driving
and calling me out on my cowardice
that halloween we tried to explore
an abandoned house
in the middle of the night
and a deer spooked me
after we drank a bottle of jagermeister
at the playground

the one of us driving through the back roads

listening to the passenger,
and smoking cigarettes
the headlights only lit a few trees at a time
and we were driving into the unknown

when you would drive to my apartment

when i wasn’t home
and fall asleep in that crown vic
because you were to drunk to go home
and i’d bang on the windows to wake you up
and invite you inside

there was the time we slept in my living room

with all the windows open
and the fan going
because it was too damn hot
and you told me you couldn’t sleep
because you kept imagining the fan falling on me
and cutting apart my face

there was the time

you almost fell down the front lawn
holding our friend’s newborn
and we shared a look that said
neither of us would tell

and the night we watched rocky horror

space odyssey and dawn of the dead
we fell asleep on the couches
when we woke up we had coffee and beer and
cigarette butts all over the floor

at your funeral

they had a list hanging up
of your ten best memories
that you wrote for school
one of them was
“walking towards the sunrise with steph”

the time you said

“stephanie lets everyone sleep in her bed but me”
and the time you asked me to cuddle you
because you were lonely
but i wasn’t, and it haunts me,
like a friendly cuddle would have made a difference
and the time you explained
to a confused lover of mine
that “stephanie tends to treat her men like furniture”

graffitiing baldi with you

is my fondest memory
and the way you saved us
from the fire marshall
and would chase squirrels with your car

when you’d go through the drive through
and buy everyone’s food

i still regret not listening to leftover crack
and the way i threw up when i found out you died
and that i’ll never know

how the play you were writing ended
which girl was it that you really loved?

but what is the saddest
is the memories we’ll never have

you graduating from college

you having the litter of children
you always dreamed of

and your absence at my brothers’ graduations
went unspoken but not unnoticed
and the memories after your death

the way your mom carried a framed portrait of you

for months
dan’s face when he got off the bus
how he said,“he was teaching me how to drive!”
because in death
it is these little things that matter the most

so many sleepless nights

gripped with terror
that all lives must eventually end

and a pile of hair at the foot of the bed

thats when i really stopped eating
and i withered away for three years.

and everyday i think

of how you passed on some knowledge
that was shared with you at a greyhound stop
“it’s better to give
than to receive”

and i can only hope
that you’re proud of me now
i carry you with me always

in your life you were my biggest muse
in your death, you still are.

the grief comes in waves.

i’ve never really stopped.
in every moment of the day
it is there

you were one of the best men i ever knew

the same one


it suddenly hit me that the body i said
goodbye to my friend in
is the same body i was born in
the same body that learned how to ride a bike
and how to climb trees
the same one that my mom would beat regularly
the same body she tried to kill

the same one that hugged my brothers when they were scared.
the same one that i made throw up after meals
the same one whose skin i used to carve words into
the same one that i trained to be a swimmer
the same one my dad taught how to play basketball
the same one that boys used to call fat
it was the same lips i used for my first kiss,
the same body i’ve used for cuddling
and for making love
the same one that i used to defend my friends.
the same one i starved until sickness,
the same one that stood in front of crowds and fought for justice,
the same one i’ll wake up in tomorrow
and it’s the same eyes that look at me everyday,
that have looked at me everyday forever.
the same one i’ll be buried in
and the same skin i once carved in will rot away
with the same liver i’ve abused
with the lips i used to kiss
with the same hair that was always complimented
and nothing will remain
but a stone
that will wear away as well

Stephanie Altimari was born in Philadelphia, PA. They have been writing poetry since the tender age of eight. Thus far their writing career has consisted of a series of ”almosts:” almost was accepted into governor’s school, almost finished a novel, almost sent their dad a sad poem for Father’s Day one year. Having given up on their secret dream to become a pretentious novelist who wears berets and all black clothing who chain smokes elegantly, they have settled for engaging in political activism and studying for a paralegal degree.