if I’m going to be honest-
(and I’ve started to think that honest is the only thing I know how to be)
(and I’ve started to think that I’ve never been honest with myself)
(and I’m starting to wonder if anybody can be honest with themselves)
I can’t see where I’m going
I can hardly see where I’ve been
I haven’t read enough books
I don’t know any good music and I haven’t seen any good films
if I’m going to talk out my ass-
(and I will)
- I am sick of myself.
- You know how you’re sick of me? You know how I talk too much and say too little? You know how I have low expectations of myself and how sometimes I cry to myself in bed for no reason? You know how I’m too soft and even more transparent?
- And you know how I hate it too?
- And that makes it all worse, doesn’t it.
And I can’t tell if maybe you’re still hiding from me or if maybe you’re just very good at lying or if maybe I never stopped being the child who cried every time I got pushed into the lake.
(because the water was so cold and empty)
(because my cheeks were round and red)
(because I never learned to swim and I’ve never been so scared)
But I can’t stop thinking about you and the way you laugh. And how your hair falls on your face in the morning when you’re still asleep and I’m leaving for the day and all I want to do is crawl back between the white covers of the white room and fit my skeleton into your skin- and my god, if you would turn and wrap your arms around me like you used to- when you didn’t want me to leave- my god- I remember when I’d put my shoes on at the edge of the bed and you’d press against my back and hold me low and loose and put your legs on either side of me.
I guess if I were a bear, I’d have some kind of courage- at least to protect the things that are mine and the life that I live. I guess I would know that I’m a bear in a forest with claws and a good coat of fur.
And I guess if I were a lion, I wouldn’t really care who came and went because I’d be a motherfucking lion and I would know that as long as there were others, I would never go hungry.
But I guess I’m a dog and I’ve always been a dog and all I can do is run run run run run and sometimes my fur gets matted behind my ears and I have to scratch it with my foot like a fucking idiot.
I can’t stop thinking about a boy I never met
and the girl I know he loved.
and the summer’s so far away.
Blankets are all I have now, and two hungry cats at home who just want to look at me with eyes expecting some kind of a glorious production.
And I guess I want to feel better.
And I guess I’ve felt so much worse.
And I guess this is what happiness feels like, because I’m sick of thinking there’s something better out there-
because I’d rather think about my doodles and all the Vonnegut books I haven’t read and the first time we had sex-
(which I’m pretty sure she doesn’t remember.)
(Which is okay with me.)
But I’ve still got some things to admit.
I feel like a better person the more I masturbate and
the more gin I drink.
the more smoke I sip.
the more meat I eat.
I don’t want to live here anymore either
with the men on the bus who touch themselves
with the woman who stares out her window every night
with the kids who ride the train to Howard and back
with every eye on a screen and everyone’s fist in their mouth
So instead I’m listening to his favorite music and letting him remind me how little time I have.
And I’m thinking about a teenage boy riding his bike down the streets of his hometown late on a summer night after drinking his parent’s whiskey with his best friend at the beach. And I feel the thick air brush his cheeks. And I feel his smile to himself.
Yesterday, I decided that I was done being embarrassed of loving the people in my life.
We’ve all got stories to tell-
that being said, they are just that- stories. And these stories of our lives are just a series of verbs and nouns. Actions enacted by things upon other things. They are really nothing more. Yet we add these adjectives and with those adjectives come tones and pre-conceived notions and colors and detail, which adds what we pretend is some “meaning”.
And we are all humans, after all, and if we don’t act like what we’re saying means something, then what have we got to separate us from the animals?
you are a wonder to me,
you all are-
wondrous and detailed; like the most beautiful carving ever made, the smallest castle ever built,
like the inside of a woman’s wrist watch.
And the awareness of wonder is wonderful in itself- or maybe the awareness is simply a lack of matter-
whether you are wondrous or not.
To me it matters, because I think this wonder may be all I have.
Your wonder, that is.
I worry that the reason you all are so wonderful to me.
(I worry) the reason you all are so wonderful…
(I worry) …is because I lack that wonder.
But I wonder about you all, very much. I wonder when your hands learned to tell the time and who carved your freckles out of birch. I wonder constantly. Where you learned your wanderlust and what makes your stomach weak.
I wonder where you were the last time you were a child.
I wonder what worlds you would show me if you could.
I wonder which you wouldn’t.
And all the while I wonder
whether I am too translucent to solicite such wonder
from you all.
There’s a pile of styrofoam on the stove, a pile of bottles and boxes spilling over the trashcan. The sink, as always, is talking to itself.
Every light outside is orange and my eyes are drowning in white paint.
Today I bought myself a notebook and two pens. I bought them from a store that specially sells things like notebooks and pens and spent too much money on all of it.
I still haven’t used any of it because I’m kind of scared.
I’m afraid of starting something new when I can’t remember what I did last year. Or the year before that, or the year before that.
I’ve started clearing space in the storage closet, throwing boxes away, leaving pieces of furniture in alleyways and the laundry room in the basement of my apartment building. The room is filled with things left behind
things not worth taking
things that were too heavy to move
things that didn’t work anymore.
The sink, as always, is talking to itself.
At some point, I’ll find something to write down. But not until the brain in my stomach calls the brain in my head and the two decide who’s turn it is to take out the trash and who owes who money for what food that who paid for with what money.
And I never remember this kind of beating in my chest. A different, hollow noise; like a crackling log.
like a bag of bottles
like a sink that’s always talking to itself.
It’s not like when I was ten and I wrote that letter to myself where I said I knew I could get better and I knew I’d stop crying someday because I knew someday I would run out of tears and I would have to stop and I knew that day I’d know how to be happy.
It’s more like thunder rolling in the distance
like some magic clouds crawling up the sky
like something spectacular
like drowning in white paint.
As a 13-year-old, I would walk down a frozen sidewalk. Red fists shoved in green pockets, I kept my eyes to the ground. I knew what the sky looked like. I knew what the trees looked like. I had walked this path too often not to know. I watched my breath escape as each block of concrete passed beneath until I came to a path of dirt. With a quick glance behind, I would turn to the path and jump the small rusted gate. Were it summer, the flickering lights and murmuring buzz of insects would fill the field, but most nights it is cold, the tall grass is long dead and the insects have buried themselves deep in the earth. Some nights, I could hear the coyotes kill a goose. Some nights, I could hear nothing at all. And as I reached the water, I would kneel beside the rocks and pull small fists from pockets, cup my hands to my face and breathe warmth through my fingers. It was here I learned how to pray to nothing, how to praise the sky and how to listen to the never-resting earth.
As a 16-year-old, I would drive a dirty black sedan with one spare tire and a missing tail-light. The car would be named Oscar and have no heat, a bench seat and a floor of empty paper bags. I would drive with the windows down and a fresh pack of reds, to a forest cornered by highways. I would follow a gravel path and park next to the van of the man who lived there. He would be there almost every day, sleeping in a crumpled pile on his steering wheel, a newspaper over his eyes. Through the grass and past the bridge, I would make my way to the top of the wooded hill and find the fire pit beneath the fallen log. As I leaned my crooked back against the stump, I would listen to the squirrels above. They would chatter incessantly: challenging the birds, laughing with each other, waiting for the night. The sun would break through nature’s gobos and leave patterns on the ground. I would close my eyes and feel it flicker to and from. It was here I learned to watch the rabbits and learn from frightened birds; here I came to stare in awe as a doe approached me; a stagnant, silent waltz.
As a 19-year-old, I would walk down crowded streets in brown boots. I would watch the eyes of countless others and weave my way past women in tracksuits and men with small white dogs. I would breathe shallow breaths, with smoke and smog alternating through my frail, half-empty frame. As the buildings began to bow, they turned to churches and ornate offices, slowly shrinking until they meet the grass. And beyond the grass, I would watch the bobbing staffs in the harbor as taxi horns and barking dogs got swept away with the deafening wind from the lake. Once I reached the water, I would stand and face the horizon. I know the lake is small. I know that I am smaller. My grey eyes follow the infinite line between us and the sky. I would sit and dangle lanky legs over the concrete and watch the water fight the rocks. The sky would expose it’s hues of orange and purple and the air would become sharp as the light slipped away. It was here I learned how man can move everything but mountains, how the wind will overcome the steel and the lake will run the river wide, and we will wait for the new ocean.
Thank you! On The Cusp is an awesome zine, I’m flattered you liked my work. I hope you like the stuff on my blog; you have a great day as well!
For some reason, they’ve returned; the night terrors that kept me awake for so many years. I thought I’d outgrown the constant jolting from sleep, in a cold sweat and sobbing. I’ve come to fear death again. I hate feeling it’s hollow hand brush my back.
But waking in gentle arms is a comfort, and having someone to kiss goodbye in the morning before work feels like home and happy people.
Last night, I dreamt of you. We didn’t speak, but my eyes caught yours across the train tracks. I called your name; you looked to the ground and I think I saw you cry. (What a fascinating thing to see: another human distant in their sorrow.) But I don’t believe you weep for me. And when I find myself at the bottom of my well, wading in shallow pools of past, I pray to the trees you love so much. I pray that you will not weep for me as I have wept for you.
Yet, it is strange to see you in my sleep and awake in the arms of another.