All posts by Jessica Sahlstrom

"When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is the choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other" -bell hooks.


why do we use 100

as the biggest number

like I could write 100 poems about

losing you

and I’d still of lost you.

Like it’s just a number

Lots of people live longer than 100 now.

100 years doesn’t seem like a long time

But 26 months without you is longer than 100 years.


Fear and Love.

Things that I am afraid of:

Romantic love.


My dad.

Eating duck eggs.

The point on Finlayson Mountain when the rock is exposed and there are no trees.

Getting pregnant; engaging in unprotected heterosexual sex.

The word “free” from the mouths of White Nationalists.

Creating equality at the expense of loving difference.

Unexamined power– where does it come from and what is it doing and at the expense of what?

Things I love:




Best friends

Sisters and Mom and Kiddos



Books about space


Listening to people’s stories, passions and dreams

Animals, except silverfish

(But maybe even silverfish?)

(Snail and Spider by Caleb Kotcherofski, age 2.)

Unfeeling memories

I dance with Santogold’s music

But I am not cool like Santogold

(my arms move chaotic, out of time).

The cops arrested my dad three nights ago

They ask me why, what for?

Because he’s a bad man.

Because I can’t say what for,

What for—does it matter?

Santogold’s music is playing in the background

As I write this poem

Trying to write out his eyes and his blood and his facial hair

And his glasses that shield everything bad

I remember standing in Costco waiting for his new lenses


It’s the cheapest place for prescriptions, too, he said.


I mistake your disinterest

As someone who will never use your words and body to take up all my space

As someone who will give me distance and time away

I mistake your disinterest

As love because you meet all my needs,

Which are all about being free

I mistake your disinterest

As safe

As I keep myself and you strange.

I cannot get far enough away from you to love myself more;


Maya Angelou wrote of the free bird and the caged bird,

And so I learned to see those with keys hidden beneath their nails

Holding onto my body at night to keep me;

To keep me kept–

I can see these keys glitter and glint, slip to reveal a hope that I might fit inside

Inside whatever breed of cage

they’ve constructed for someone just like me,

As if I should feel freed and seen and heard when I learn that I walk right into the cut-out copy human woman you yearn for; unlike anyone else before.


I choose your disinterest every time.

This is how you feel.

This is how you feel:

You sit, lay, stand– still.

You cross your arms over your chest and squeeze your shoulders.

You say, what happened to you was wrong.

What happened to him was wrong.

You breathe in as much love as you possibly can.

You breathe out everything you are afraid of.

Then you scan your body for pain.

And you send oxygen to that pain until you release it through breath and tears.

Trust that when you breathe into your pain, and release, you are moving through it– trust that everything that hurts you so much right now will hurt you less with tears and time.

Trust that you deserve to feel this, and move through it, and live better because of it; one day at a time, until one week at a time, until one month at a time, until one year at a time (L).


For S, J, E & C.

That hollow part in your chest will one day make you so strong that fleets of white men armed with things far worse than guns and grenades will be stopped—

You will yell, be still like Max from where the wild thing are and no one will hurt you like they hurt us.

Onward and out.


Get on with it

This is where I stop. I don’t move my feet a step further. I ground down, deep. Deep into the earth because if I step closer toward any direction, I risk never being able to reroute myself.

This is where vines emerge from the earth. Stunned, I watch as they move between my toes, in line with my feet’s tiny bones, knotting around my ankles, applying pressure at my knees, knocking me down.

This is where, if I don’t move, regardless of the outcome, I will stop being able to feed myself. I will try to eat the vine. And the vine will keep me alive, but not living.

This is where no one shows up to cut me free.

This is where I wait until my nails grow long, long enough to cut through that which is holding me down.

This is where I dig into the dirt with my hands and pull out the roots.

I leave them behind me on the road in the hot sun, with nothing left to nurture the diseased parts.

No one is coming to rescue you from the circumstances of your life. You are your greatest resource; your energetic system holds all you need to get on with things.

So get on with things.