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Monday, November 28, 2016

Anxiety - CoWritten by Ariel Sobel & Susan Lin

this is where it starts-
right before
i think about getting out of bed-
with sylvia plath’s voice
will start saying in my head:

“your room isn’t your prison, you are”

i am a 5 foot prison
anxiety my warden
prison girl
with voices,

like the voices are too loud,
everybody going in for the kill,
and the kill - that’s me-
when there’s a person who says they love
they love me
and i just want to say that
i'm too anxious to even
know what that means
cause all of a sudden
i'm too busy looking
in my backpack
for my purple pencil
all of a sudden
my god if i don't find that pencil  
i don’t know what will happen if i don’t find that pencil
maybe my legs or my lungs will stop working
maybe my heart
will stop beating -

my anxiety has me on speed dial
greets me
in parking lots
or movie theaters
or fucking staircases
this bitch isn’t just a double text-er
she’s a three times a row
2 am hey
9 pm what u up to
random ass poop emoji fucker

you know when you stop dating someone
they start getting really hot
yeah my anxiety
she got really hot
modeling low cut blouses stitched with abandonment
she wears lipstick in the shade of memory loss
a kiss from her tastes like amnesia
tastes like eating my own voice every day
like silence is a room i can be in without
taking up too much space
where i'm yelling at myself to SPEAK
but i’m afraid my tongue is only fluent in crazy

but self who started writing this poem
so concerned about holding your pencil
you forgot how to outline yourself in metaphors
you are not crazy

you are lucky

lucky for a hand to hold,
whispers, rocking you to sleep in the back of a car
times you knew you were safe
lucky for people taking you back home
to where you were a kid again,
staring at the night sky
through the moonroof,
smiling like maybe this was a dream
maybe this was just a stuttering dial tone
when anxiety seems to be the only person who has your number
remember to call your strength
call your therapist
call your sister
remember to pour trembles into voicemails
remember you have horse shoes inside your throat
a tongue clanging with imagery
you hand out pieces of vulnerability
and people translate it into hatchets for their lonely
remember anxiety calls because she's lonely
can’t stand how small her hands look
when they’re not around your throat
wear her fingers like a necklace
holding your chin up
use her nails to dig deeper

the scratches are not scars
they are seam lines to your growing fabric
bless the curses in your ouija board cranium
and change the voices in my head.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I washed off seventeen
Crumbled in the haze of apologies
Scrubbed off the soot of insecurity
And found my scars were temporary tattoos

I felt woman
Held a cat against my chest as I walked through TSA
No makeup
Sports bra
and full lesbian haircut
and radioactivated the sun
with the solar systems
 crawling out of my smile

I will not discover my beauty
in a dictionary
or a magazine
but G-d refused to show Moses his face
to remind him the holiest is yet to be seen

And tonight I am holy
Tonight I compared myself to G-d
With the first poem that is not about
hating myself
Or surviving myself
Or swallowing myself

I am not a setting sun 
begging for another thirty pages
I am an Alaskan summer
the first southern fried northern light

I compared myself to G-d
Because I stole some wind
Crafted its flares into a razor
And shaved off all this seventeen
All this too sinkhole of makeup
All this long hair 
because he said 
he would sleep with me that way
All this silence 
because he said 
he could sleep better that way
All this hating other girls who were like me
Who didn’t acquire 
a taste for wordless faster 
than the ability to sip warm beer
Tonight I compared myself to G-d
Because when she was seventeen
she probably sipped warm beer
She probably got lost in all that darkness
And in all that eternity

When she realized 
all it takes is a hug 
in a crowded terminal
When moms cries she’s proud of you
To forgive yourself 
for all the bulimic tornadoes you’ve been

When you reconstruct destiny
Using chewed pencils 
and knee-high converse
Contracting memories 
and blooming tomorrows

When little you is large enough
To be everything 
they never told you to be

seventeen bellyflopped teardrops of opportunity
It doesn’t matter how it ended up in your bloodstream
It is 92% percent water
And we are 97% clean
You will become your own prophet
You will drunk text the lighting
At the diving board of 21
Your breath still bathes in rose petals

I’m feeling myself
Hugging the men who bleached me 
and women I fumigated
Finger dust all the souls 
napping in my skin

And I’m feeling better

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

To the people who ruined spoken word for me—

To the people who ruined spoken word for me—
Fuck you.
Fuck your scream-cries,
the conversational beginning with splattered jokes
dragging letters into cracked voice endings
Fuck the shut eyelids
head down
three minute character preludes
Fuck your poorly developed metaphors
devouring highly complex issues
Picking prejudice up
like a weekend daddy who never wanted custody

Fuck the times it wasn’t about poetry
it wasn’t about empowerment
or snatching a voice out of the tunnel of shattered yesterdays

When we listened to a performer instead of a person
Fuck performing
Fuck enunciation and word choice
Articulating each line into calculated in construction
Sealing bodies of work in sidewalks
stirring letters into cement blocks to build a narrative
An injured, helpless, socially relevant narrative

Fuck every time you told me to peddle my trauma for points
Told me to capitalize on my identities
as if they were the beginning of a life sentence
To showcase my oppression
peel off my seared skin
so people would throw bandaids on my battle scars
Fuck the unscathed fingertips that quivered harpoon
and told me to be
The queer
The woman
The rips on a punching bag
Told me to emphasize the ruptures in my battered swing

Fuck every time we put up a rape poem because those swing well
or didn’t put up a race poem because maybe it wouldn’t

Fuck calling them race poems
and painting the people of color on our team as only one shade

Fuck your over the top hand motions
The normal sentences you made sound like questions
Or screamed for effect

Fuck the trembling pupils you watered like cactus flowers
so bystanders would drink up the undigested pain

Fuck every time you disenfranchised my joy
Because it wasn’t compelling enough
Because happy poems don’t win rounds
Because it’s better to drunkenly drive your life
so the audience can enjoy the skid marks you leave behind

Fuck every minute I thought that if I could explain
I hated myself
lyrically enough
maybe you would listen
maybe you would care

Fuck you.

Fuck every time we wrote to win a poetry slam instead of a voice

And fuck me
for writing this

For forgetting that poems forcefed me courage
pulsed truth that sips tea underneath my fingernails and nightmares
for believing in strategies instead of myself

Fuck every time I listened to the score instead of the poet’s face
or the last clap instead of the last line
Forgetting when it mattered what I had to say,
not how rehearsed I could say it
When it could never satisfy a room of strangers
Because when you drip poetry
frosted lavender
tangerine sunrise
we are damn alive
and still breathing

There is not a stranger in the room

When did we become audiences instead of families?
When did we find the time to judge between listening?
To exploit atoms of devastation into playdough?

Every word is a vibrating chick passing through silky palms
Your forgiving thumbs
That cannot crumble a pulse
cannot rehearse a raw soul into submission
Poetry can’t be trampled into a political agenda
Because there is nothing political about survival
It pirouettes through reincarnated hope

Leaves of spoken word refuse to wrinkle in the sunlight
Refuse to plummet into dust
Stanzas will not decay
they are god rising from a sea of tomorrows
and maybe I can I only find colorless miracles at my doorstep
maybe you ruined them for me
But you will never ruin them for good.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Losing My Artistic License | TEDxTrousdale

"There are cowriters in our life-stories, and the reserve the right to keep some pages private."

Please check out my official TED Talk, addressing creative entitlement and ethical storytelling. It's a deeply personal journey on humility, self discovery, and it includes some spoken word!

Friday, July 29, 2016

A letter to the Stanford rapist, from his mother:


I keep repeating your name
afraid the headline shutters
will erase it

Afraid history will madlib you
into actions instead of nouns
To attack instead of boy
To clench instead of student
To rape instead of son

I let Brock echo across my tongue
like swallowing early Alzheimer's
and shoving it down my esophagus
I wish I could sip memory carnivores
in my morning coffee
could peel off my last name
like dried sunburn

But this peach shame lives past skin
past the ridges on my sahara elbows
In the howls in my bedroom
After I've checked three times I'm alone

Brock, I always wanted a daughter.

There was a chance
That in the twenty minutes of action
That your DNA collided to make you human
That your chromosomes
could've sat cross legged
identical twins with auburn braids

You could have been woman
Could have been curved hip
and stuttering thigh
stirred precious panic into your Cheerios

I thought of naming you
Or Ruth
Or Willow

But you belly flopped out of me
All Brock
All American
The kind of boy
We sell our souls
to keep whispering

But sometimes I think about
If I had Cleo
Or Ruth
Or Willow

If I had a daughter
I would teach her
stay away from boys like you
Teach her
there are monsters in men's clothing
be a wolf under sheepskin
I would have liked the
Brock Turner for Prison 2016 Facebook page
Splashed our last name across petitions
to moth zap you off dim streets
I would have reconsidered sending her to Stanford this fall
Or Amherst
Or Harvard

I would have trembled
in my Honda Civic
in the JFK senior high school parking lot
as she took her SATS
You see, for us girls
filling out a college application
is submitting your name for the draft
The UN has declared rape an act of torture
and when 1/4 are sexually assaulted
for fighting for an education
People still have the audacity to claim
There isn't a war on women

But I did not have a girl
I had a boy
That I was not woman enough
To raise into a man

You dove through no Ganges
There were no sacred marigolds
Just too many space bars
where I should have entered conversations
I thought I'd have to teach you how to swim
I never thought I'd have to teach you
That an unconscious girl
does not belong on the ground
You do not belong
on her bare goosebump body
Pine needles
And dust
And your harpoon fingers
Do not belong inside her

I used to tell people you were my greatest achievement.
Your father says you do not belong in jail.
Agreement now puckers my tongue like gasoline
Like licking drunk pavement
Like the back of a dumpster

And maybe if I said
If I sketched my bones with enough wind
If I didn't nod every time
he slammed my insides into porcelain riots
I could've given NO some meaning
Maybe I could've slipped you some too

But instead of NO
I know
I didn't pack enough humanity into your lunch box
Or floaties
that could rise about a culture that eats women
like fast food
teach you
kiss a girl like ripples
only she can open her gates
like platinum waves

We learn to drown before we walk

I should've bought you googles
So you could see
You must say sorry for even the things you can't apologize for.
Your father says you don't belong in jail.
And he's right.

You belong in prison.

I'm waiting

Sunday, May 29, 2016


how is it
that you
have decayed more beautifully
without me

i want to taste
your breath
i fell/feel
in love
with the black holes
between our pulses

the brand of black holes
that devour the space bars
repurposed light

my empty
curls up in
the baby bottle of you
and you
should drink it
like fresh

it would clean
the scars sleeping
in your stomach

when you
stuff a man/
into memory
he crawls back out
a ghost
from an oven

his charred lips
asks you 

why short are lines tastier
but long stories stuffed belly

maybe our lives
were meant
to be

you glisten
slammed against
my dusty window


Sunday, May 1, 2016

They Say (After KiNG & Simply Kat)

They say  I bellyflopped out of a commitment-phones’ nightmare
I say  I'm still the girl of your dreams
They call me clingy,
        too sensitive,
     say my feet wear clumsy more than shoes
     plummet into blackhole hearts
I say  God attached my organs so 
     I could give you the whole galaxy inside me
They say  you’re too put together 
     try too hard to be something
I say  I'm tired of being called nothing 
     you haven’t been checking the voicemails from my anxiety
     Don't know that when my heartbeat is a dialtone
     a clean shirt means another morning
They say  the alarm is my only call out of bed each morning
I say  someone has to radio activate the sun
They say  I'm a sunny side up egg spilling out its yolk 
     Tell me to tuck my dick in  
     I don't have enough cock to be this cocky
I say  I've never had enough self-control to suffocate my tongue
They say  staple your mouth
     conceal your atria
     stop putting your private shit out there
I say  I can’t let it live in here
     my body won’t be another cage
They say  Someone will love you in spite of your body
     Say I’m thick
     1-800 hotline bling fat
I say  I am hard to cut through
     ripple like radiowaves 
     that Drake is my kind of nice Jewish boy
They say  Brown boys like a little extra
     you’re something they could grab onto

They say it like an insult

I say I’m not defined by who wants to fuck me
     And maybe I don’t want white boys to fuck me
     Because we’ve been fucked over by them for way too long
     that snowmen melt into fishbowl hammerheads
     smash mothers into dinner      
     father tastes like a kitchen knife chasing me into memory
They say  if I want a guy to stay, 
     I should stop bringing up my daddy issues
I say  I’m looking for a man
They say  no man wants a girl with a voice
I say  every girl has a voice
They say  but yours is too loud
I say  silence is what you feed a genocide

They make a Holocaust joke
I don’t let them dig up the family graveyard

They say  You make everything about being Jewish
I say  too many people have died for me to be here
     Too many people have died for all of us to be here
     we are ricocheted bullets 
     out of ashes
     I write above a graveyard, guilty I’m not buried beneath
They say  I’m dying to be noticed

Call me obnoxious
the attention whore
the drama queen
the flaming cunt

I say  you shouldn’t have fed me matches
     If you were afraid of fire

Call me slut
call me prude
call me fucked up

I say  It really fucked you that up that I wouldn’t fuck you?
They say  fuck you
I say  I have beheaded ghosts you’ll never have to see
They say  we don’t see you
I say  listen
They say no
I say  listen
They say no
I say  I am an earthquake’s footprint stabbing a tsunami
     autotune my hiccups to hurricanes
     Paper clip my voicebox, 
     but I will never be your silent statistic
=They say  I’m always tossing in dead babies
I say  you’re just mad my anchors still cry
They ask  why are you crying?
I say  because I’m brave enough to still feel
They ask  How do you feel?
I say  my toes tremble on six inch heels of empowerment
     I’m always walking on eggshells
They say  They’re just eggshells
I say  we are ruptured nests
     we are pulsed from the cracks
     the rippled sum of broken sea
     we should be closer to our salty bloodlines
     but I can’t figure out how to swim

They ask  That why you dance like you are drowning?
I answer  difficult women never breathe easy

They ask  Why do you think everyone hates you?

     They wouldn’t if I knew the answer.

They say  ask a therapist
I say  I have an appointment with a empty page
They say  shed ink until you're naked starlight
I say  my veins are only glowsticks

They say you can swallow this darkness

I try to believe them
I try to believe myself
I try to believe in myself
I try to believe

They say  You have such a big personality
I say  I never dreamt of being this small.


Ariel is available and interested in anything creative!
For spoken word performances & workshops, web & graphic design, or other writing/film projects please contact via email at
New York & Los Angeles work preferred!