adrian (ONE ACT PLAY)


ADRIAN is sitting alone down stage left, playing with a toy truck. MOM is pacing center stage, arguing with her husband, who is not physically present.


Okay, I understand. Being different is okay. She’s clearly different. But there’s a difference between being different and being…

Don’t put words in my mouth, Michael. You know I wasn’t going to say that.

What I was saying is there’s a difference between being different and being so different that I start getting calls from her teacher for “questionable behavior”.

… No, of course she’s not doing anything wrong, but getting a call from administration during her second week of kindergarten is a red flag to any parent.

Different is having a secret talent in math, Michael, different is learning to read early. Different isn’t that.

Gestures to ADRIAN.

Maybe we should call someone…

I don’t know, a therapist? A psychologist?

There are doctors out there that could help us, help her. I’m telling you, I did some research the other week, and read a bunch of articles that laid out her situation to the T.

Apparently it’s a condition, a mental condition, and a couple of therapy sessions could straighten her out… People have sworn by it, Michael, I think we should give it a try.

Anyway, she’s still in her developmental period, right?

Nothing is set in stone.



ADRIAN is sitting cross-legged down stage right, reading a Goosebumps novel. MOM stands directly behind ADRIAN, holding a periwinkle skirt behind her back. ADRIAN does not look up when MOM talks.


Amy, honey, I have a surprise for you…

You have to close your eyes first: you’re going to love it.

Good, good. Are you ready? Okay… now, OPEN!

Say something, honey! What do you think?… Well I think the material is gorgeous, and the color matches your eyes beautifully. And it would pair wonderfully with that white silk blouse I got you the other week!… And you know what I think? I think you should wear this to your formal coming up.

Don’t be ridiculous, of course you’re going to go. It’s your eighth grade formal! Your last big event before graduation! I remember my formal, gosh, it was ages ago. I remember, your grandmother took me to a wonderful little boutique down in Maywood. It’s closed now, but it had the most adorable dresses and jackets and shoes… And she told me, “Pick whatever outfit you want, darling, and I’ll buy it for you. Happy graduation.” I couldn’t remember ever being happier than I was that day. We spent hours flipping through rails of dresses, trying on different combinations of skirts and heels… Until I found the most gorgeous purple gown somewhere in the mess. It had a bodice that hugged my waist and a skirt that flowed beautifully down my legs to my ankles. I had never felt more beautiful.

We should go shopping sometime, don’t you think, honey? Get you out of those awful slacks and into something meant for a figure like yours. People will start thinking you’re a boy with the clothes that you wear.

ADRIAN looks up to the audience.



ADRIAN sits in a chair. Throughout the scene, ADRIAN begins masturbating. MOM is pacing, fuming.

Disgusting. Disgusting!

And to think, I wondered why you never mentioned a boy, why you never answered when I asked you about crushes at school. Because you’ve been sneaking around with a girl?

ADRIAN moans.

So what, you’re a… I can’t even say it. I think I’m going to be sick.

ADRIAN moans.

My daughter. My beautiful little girl. I don’t know where I went wrong… Was it the divorce? Was that it? I know your father and I were a bit shaky, distant sometimes, but we were always there for you. We always supported you. And now, this?  

ADRIAN moans.

I knew we should have stuck with the therapy. It’s your father’s fault. He said it was making you unhappy, but we should have just stuck through it. Maybe you wouldn’t have ended up like this.

Maybe it’s not too late. You’re still young, you’re only a teenager, maybe I should call Dr. Napoli and see if he has any availability this week. He can help us.

ADRIAN moans.

What do you mean? You don’t know what you’re saying, Amy. You’re going through something, and it may seem right right now, but it’s only a stage, and Dr. Napoli can help you get through it.

You don’t know what you’re saying. Don’t you want to be normal? Do you really want to be a freak for the rest of your life?

MOM raises her voice. ADRIAN moans louder.

Well, you know what Amy? If you don’t want to get better, I won’t help you. I’m done helping you. I tried everything with you, bought you the nicest clothes, took you to the nicest stores, took you to the best psychologist around, I tried talking to you about boys, I told Haley’s mom to try to get Haley to talk to you about boys. I tried everything! But you still decide to sleep with that disgusting lesbian. And you know what? That makes you exactly like her.

ADRIAN climaxes.


Whispering as ADRIAN climaxes.



A disgusting lesbian.



ADRIAN is miming excited conversation with fiance downstage right, discussing details for their wedding. They are putting invitations in envelopes, blissfully in love. MOM is upstage left, with a phone to her ear.

ADRIAN’s voicemail plays.



Hey there, you’ve reached Adrian and Olivia! Sorry we can’t come to the phone right now, but leave us a message and we’ll be sure to get back to you. Thanks!


Hi Amy… Adrian. Sorry.

It’s your mom.

If you’re there… pick up, honey!

Well, that’s alright. You must be out with Olivia.

Well, anyway. I wanted to tell you that I heard the fantastic news from your father. I’m very happy for you both!

I was going to drive up when I heard, I even started baking your favorite cake. Carrot ginger, remember? I used to make it for you after school sometimes… you’d open the door and you could tell by the scent that I had made it, and your face would just light up… I was going to bake it for you, but it got super hectic at work and I couldn’t afford to miss a day… But I’m going to drive up for the weekend, with cake, you better believe it!

Anyway, honey. I just wanted to tell you that I love you and I’m just very –

Voicemail ends with a BEEP.

… very happy for you.



ADRIAN is sitting alone, finally center stage, staring out into the audience. ADRIAN addresses MOM, who is not present.


You know what I thought of when Olivia and I took Cameron to buy her prom dress today? I thought of that time you dragged me out into the city to find an outfit for my high school graduation. It was very strange, very sudden; you had already known I was gay, it was finally sinking in that I wasn’t the girl you always dreamed I would be. You had stopped taking me to boutiques and buying me clothes, years before. And you knew I was borrowing dad’s tux for graduation; that was already settled. But that day, I got home from school, wasn’t even off the bus before you grabbed my wrist and dragged me to your car. You were smiling so hard, you seemed almost manic. And you wouldn’t even tell me where we were going. “It’s a surprise,” you kept saying, “it’s a surprise.” Honestly, I was more petrified you were having a stroke than I was disappointed when you parked in front of that little boutique.

The windows were draped with such a bright shade of pink. And it sunk in, what you were trying to do again. You sat there and you screamed, “Surprise!” and you looked at me with such hope, the guilt almost resurfaced.

And you know what? I humored you. I walked in with you, and nodded when you asked me if I thought something was pretty, but the whole time, you were draining me of everything we had let grow together, all of the trust and love and acceptance. Drip by drip, with every dress you snatched from the rack and swung in my face. Every dress, you took something else out of me.

But, you know, looking back, you showed me exactly what not to do with my own kids, kids I knew I would have one day with the woman I loved. I guess I have that to thank you for.

Cameron tells me she’s in love with the boy who asked her to prom. And I couldn’t be happier for her. I’m watching that boy like a hawk, don’t get me wrong, but I’m letting her love. And I really pray that one day she finds the kind of love that I found with Olivia. And you know what, mom? I hope you find that love too.




porcelain woman

when the woman in my music box

dances me to sleep on soundless nights,

my dreams stand stretched in arabesque.


long, slender stories, alabaster

lulled into being by a ballerina’s song

– balanced and balancing –

but when the jingle slows,

softens to match the soundlessness of my bedroom,

my dreams lose their footing

and stumble to one side.


and i feel sorry for

the woman in my music box

in such a stationary stance

with and unchanging soundtrack

and such little room to dance.


and now i feel as how i felt

before words on record players

lassoed the air between our lips,

lifted from the disc and strung our breaths together –

this was months ago.


and I am just as confused

just as lost

perhaps not as ready to open my mouth again,

because this record has a faint crack

running jagged down my rings,

and it seems I can’t make music

when the needle pokes fun at my imperfections.



petty excuses have piled up

over overuse,

they made sense at the time,

ringing around

and bound into this wooden crutch

held tight under my armpit.

it’s splintering under my weight

it has been


i hadn’t measured

how much,

and now my shoulder is

beginning to bruise a nasty brownish blue-

even my body knows

i need to trust my legs

and just


Bottled Gardens

imagine the elegant suffocation

the poignancy in crouched limbs,


stemmed necks intertwining

in curious proximity,


where personal space is

a feature of political correctness


deemed unnecessary and exhaustive

in such a progressive flower pot.


greens curls around greens,

and flowers lie lazily across each other’s petals


because in such an overpopulated bottle

they are one in the same


breathing each other’s air

sharing their share of communal sunlight

growing off of each other

growing bigger but they learn to live


life, it seems, learns to thrive

better in a glass bottle


than in open air outside



i nestle my toes beneath a quilt of powdered rock

and i am remembering;

feel a cool breeze rustle the hairs on my burnt neck

and remembering;

arch my back and bathe my ears in the wind, this pregnant silence,

minutes and years in labor, but silence played while the clock was made,

and the silence helps me remember;


this patch of land is virgin to Apple –

at least the apple which i’ve grown to prefer –

bears no hut stocked with Starbucks cups

no Netflix to latch onto my gaze and drain my attention

no books to teleport, no telephones or televisions

just the memory


what I thought had mattered



that sculpts the age into my eyes, art

organizes my thoughts into poetry

ascribes meaning to my scars –

talia, definitely talia, stranded, remembering;


and if i can remember my fourth grade school play

and trace my mother’s smile in the sand

then i can stand being stranded without most other things


To Realize I Don’t Write About Love

and then test my skepticism with a Love poem

like Shahid’s refugee tasting debris of Belief on his tongue


if Love, /ləv/, is anything

other than

a cultural object systematically sculpted by a social world

to sell Twilight alongside Faulkner,

if Love precedes Hallmark and candied almonds

and a false motive for growing old,

if Love does more than romanticize Senior Prom

I promise I will write about Love.


let me try it.


if I get those tingly fingertips

and the swarm of butterflies in my crotch

if it stays for more than a week

I will write about Love.


writing a poem

We shake hands in accordance of priority, you and I,

(academic, professional, of relative importance)

and time slips into an ellipsis

as we paint words between us.


priorities seem irrelevant

as emotion befriends word

(allow one to define the other),

innovation sculpted in the throat

and hung in rows of blank sheets under the shade cast by


the roof of our mouths.

They rip by our words,

and cough colors,

splattered into space around our lips,

art crouches to fit between artists…


the music does not pacify my shaking hands,
the tea does not sooth the tremors in my chest,
moving in opposition to silent thoughts –
the metallic taste of loss,
pool beside the walls of my mouth,
form waves against a silent tongue.

your screenplay lays

coffined in its purple folder

on my bookshelf


art forms

a painting glaring

with animated hatred

from your side of the room




it’s been a couple centuries

and a handful of seconds

since we’ve seen daylight




when three tiny lines

are not nearly enough to

sculpt you into words