Angel Rosen

My Therapist Begs Me to Consider the Difference Between
Collecting and Hoarding

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

I own too many things—
forty-five barbie shoes,
a zipperless jacket,
a can of Spaghetti-o’s from 1996,
a box from the Lisa Frank fan club,
every McDonald’s Happy Meal toy from 2003,
a half-used bottle of shampoo from
ten years ago that never actually smelled good,
a Powerpuff Girl doll missing its clothes,
an illegible recipe for a food I will never try,
every report card except that one from fifth grade
from the only time I got a C,
a handwritten letter from someone I loved
whose number is now blocked in my phone,
a dead flower in a sandwich bag,
a frozen cookie that Victor made,
twenty-nine horse figurines which I’ve definitely named,
the first two series of Warriors books,
three forty-five gallon totes holding my SpongeBob collection,
a floral dress in every color,
ashes of my five dead dogs,
a signed picture of Robert Englund,
a used Band-Aid stuck to a lunchbox,
twenty decks of cards, unopened,
text message screenshots from 2012 to present
in case anyone ever forgets that they loved me,
thirty-six lanyards for only three keys,
a dozen blankets to hold me
through all of my disappointments—

Needless to say, I’ve run out of room and
I’ll be taking a lot of trips to the dumpster.

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In Wellness

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

Editor’s Note: “In Wellness” is for Sophie Strand. You can read a review of Sophie’s new book in this issue of Wordgathering.

I want to be alone.
I will take the illness.
I will fetch my dead dog’s buried bones
from the backyard if what you need
to get better is bones.
I will get you the sky in a pail,
fighting God with my bare fists
until he accepts a bribe to lend me the sky, for you.
While you rest, I plant a tree
to keep up my end of this bargain. I wink
at a mushroom-shaped cloud to say
thank you in advance for wellness
and I look in at you while you sleep
and I look in on myself while I worry.

I want to be alone.
I want it all to overlap in a perfect sense,
hold myself tight. I want to care a lot.
In wellness, I want us underneath toadstool roofs,
clinking glasses made of hermit crab shells,
the inhabitants of which may elsewhere be
beautifully naked, courageously in search of fitting,
danger neither accessory nor afterthought.

We all skip to acceptance. I panic beautifully,
and as you recover, I try to put the sky back,
thinking how selfish I must have been in the first place
to think we could house it all.
We are small enough to be forgivable,
but too big to be aimless.
I run toward the utter openness and spill
the sky out of my bucket.
We walk on it now. I look up and only see grass.
You heal, but at what cost.

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We Need to Have a Talk

(listen to the poem, read by the author)

My mother attempts suicide prevention by
offering to play Uno for the first time in my life.
She shuffles the deck badly and hands me
six red cards, one green.
It will be a short game.
It will be a short life, too. She loses every time,
and so do I.

My mother attempts suicide prevention by
stopping at a fast-food drive thru three days a week,
the same order every time.
We like routine, she thinks. My fries are cold,
I think.

My mother attempts suicide prevention by
watching any five episodes with me
and asking questions. I press pause to answer,
then throw the remote to the other side
of the couch just to be inconvenienced
in a way that moves.

This couch is my deathbed no matter
what the screen plays,
who has what cards,
where the ketchup stain is,
or how far I must reach
for any of it.

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About the Author

Angel Rosen (she/her) is a neurodivergent, lesbian poet living near Pittsburgh. She can be found at open mics or local drag shows and getting ice cream with friends. She is passionate about mental health, queer friendship, and Amanda Palmer’s art community. Angel’s poetry, including books, can be found at