The small words
Lost in a paragraph
As you’re told your feelings
Are as valid and real
As your experiences.
A theme repeated
From one mouth to the next
While all you can manage
Is a simple “thank you”
When you are lost in a sea
Of inescapable emotion
You can do nothing about
Until the waves pass.
I used to sleep with the window open.
The washed out yellow street light
Standing sentinel at the corner next to my driveway
Throws wild shadows on my shelves and walls
That are occasionally stretched into thin waving lines
As the bright pale blue light of the patrolling cop’s
Fluorescent headlights roll past my yard.
The silent murmur of the woods holds sway
Broken by a passing car on a distant highway,
The echoing sirens of a police car needed somewhere quick,
Or the mournful blare of a train lost somewhere in the hills.
On my worst days I am a point
Like every fevered dream
Of being too small to move
Nightmarishly trapped in place
As the world grows large around me
I am dimensionless and still
Present in space
But concerned only with the space I occupy
And the work of continuing to be
It happens slowly at first.
Days drag on for weeks
And months pass with the glacial pace
Of time spent in waiting rooms
With hands folded in thoughtless prayer
For something even your heart couldn’t put to words.
“I turned off that part of my brain”
I say, trying to not sound proud
“I just write words and put them up.
I say, planning my next post.
“Good job. Mission accomplished.”
I say, checking the stats page again.
“I haven’t missed a day in over a year.”
I say, searching for affirmation.
“I’m no hypocrite.”
I say, facing the mirror
As I look for reassurance
In a face that doesn’t believe
The words on my lips.
I nod, clumsy hands sweating
As they hold a phone to my ear,
But I cannot find words to answer
Beyond “mhmm” or “yeah” as my thoughts,
Tangled like my hand in my hair,
Lie in knots on the ground around me.
Knots I tied myself because this
Is harder for you than me.
You need to relay information
And I need to hold it together
So you can make another call after this one.
I press my forehead against the cold brick
Of the bathroom I’ve locked myself away in
So you don’t have to compete with the noise around me.
So you don’t have to repeat this more than you need to.
There is a window that ends just below
The brick I’ve put my head against
And I stare out it, eyes unfocused
As I gaze into the space between
The window and the world outside it.
I lose myself there, in the middle distance,
Until decisions are made and I have details
To focus my unspooled thoughts on.
When I emerge, I stay in that middle distance.
The people I was with know something is wrong
And they move from far to near to help,
But I’m stuck in the middle distance.
I am still stuck there,
Trapped between the news I received
And the future I can’t bear to see
As I focus on lists and plans,
Losing myself in the things I need to do
Even though I know there is only so much time
Until the middle distance has been eaten
By feet that, even now, still carry me forward.
The world comes back like musicians
Tuning instruments as the crowd quiets
And the conductor takes a stand
So the concert can begin with a noise,
A cacophony of sound that solidifies
Into a single note as a part of you protests
That everything is out of order.
Eyes blink and the room swims,
A discordant melody played in tune
To a song from the house next door,
As attention builds long enough to
Note that the alarm is going off
Before the hand slapping snooze
Breaks it all to pieces and you fall
Back into the abyss for one minute more.
Enough alarms later, the discord falls away
To be replaced by soft darkness
Welcoming you back to the world
With the admonishment that you must rise
And begin the day laid out for you.
Slowly, like a symphony builds
From the percussion in the back
To the brass and strings in crescendo,
You build yourself into a person
Who can stand for the day
And decide your alarm has done its duty.
Moments later, the world drifts back together
Like music from headphones
Left sitting on your desk
And you discover an hour has passed.
With the passion and harmony
Of a garage band playing borrowed instruments,
You throw yourself together and bolt
For an uncertain future you can only roll with,
A day of discord and low fidelity
That still manages to carry you away
By force of spirit alone.
Some days will be symphonies
But most are improvised songs played
With fumbling fingers that know only
The importance of this moment.
Like a mountain reaching for the sky,
Pushed up by unseen plates in an embrace
It will never know or feel,
She waits for a call
To hear a voice she knows
She may have already heard
For the last time.
She waits for comfort,
A desert cactus counting days
Since the last rain,
Pinning hope on each passing cloud
As the little water it has slowly drains.
Breathing deeply, fighting anxiety
As each buzz of her phone,
Each ping on her computer
Resurrects hope she abandoned
When it pulled out her hair
And chewed her nails to the quick.
All I can do is stand by and watch
While she waits,
Useless words weigh down my tongue,
Empty gestures tie my arms,
And the knowledge I cannot fill
The hole she feels bows my head.
Knowing what might be lost
Cannot be replaced,
Like a dried up river
Leaves a furrow in the earth
That will linger on until
The entire world has changed.
So she waits,
Living the best she can
With one ear cocked for a sound
And one eye watching for a face,
And a smile to hide them both.
I often ask
I really am
but maybe that
is the wrong
I am a thousand
the same face
though the face
to reflect which one
I am trying to be
maybe I should
be more concerned
going to be
I have a thousand
in my collection
their own purpose
inside the frozen
expression I wore
when I took
the first time
capturing who I was
and what I felt
so I could become
that again later.
so I could be
and move on
with my life
I have a few
more than the rest,
but they are no different
from the others
a certain way
or to play
a certain role
so that other people
can see me
in a way
I can understand
they are masks
all the same
even if they
feel so real
I am transformed
maybe the question
I should be asking
is if there’s
who doesn’t wear
is there a person
beneath it all
from one moment
to the next
or am I
my entire collection
and I just
to make it easier
a person people understand
Dawn in Fall is my favorite time of day.
The soft, warm colors paint the sky
As I clear the sleep stains from my mind
And my eyes gradually adjust
To take in the waking world.
The crisp chill air fills me as wind blows
The orange and pink splattered clouds
From one horizon to another.
Dusk in Fall is my favorite time of day.
The bright colors of late afternoon
Drain from the sky as my work worn eyes
Slowly adjust to the fading light
And my exhausted mind stirs anew.
The smoke scented air hangs heavy and cool
While heavy cold blues appear, descending
Until day has stilled and night reigns above.
The start of Fall is my favorite time of year.
The memory of heat and humidity lingers
Like a sheen of sweat on your forearms
And even the heavy frost of frozen mornings
Is a welcome reprieve from the cloying summer.
The quiet skitter of leaves on breeze
As the world begins to fall asleep
Lets me know that I can finally find peace.
The end of Fall is my favorite time of year.
The advent of snow and blistering cold
Wakes my mind like a dip in a frozen lake
Because there’s something in the failing fall
That tells me it is time to start moving.
The heavy weather gives me something
To push against as my mind roars a challenge
At the quietly dying world,
As if to say “Not me.”