sleeping better maybe

I’ve been

where I’d rather

not be

I’ve been

counting my lost hours

in the shape of

lost sheep

 

I’ve been

tossing

and turning

trying to forget

what hurt me

then

and what hurts me

still

 

and I’ve been trying

to not be alone

anymore

 

alone being a place

I used to live

alone being a sweater

I used to wear

 

a song stuck

inside my head

 

a wrinkle

in my smile

 

the dead look

in my eyes

reflecting the goodbye

in yours

 

and now

I’m closing my eyes

and nodding off

 

much easier

than before

 

How it is with me sometimes

It isn’t just because of loneliness. Lonely is the wrong word to describe the depth of it; lonely makes it sound teenage, tawdry. It’s more like despair. After you’ve earned it, it becomes you. You wear it as skin and other people can smell it on you, enough to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.

Initially, I love the easiness of not having to produce the right words, of not having to appear the right way because I’ve always been the wrong one, the bad one. I’m something you look at to compare how much better you have it, how much better you are.

After a while, it’s more difficult, more like wrenching body parts just to get through the barest human motions; just to be able to say at least I’ve stepped out of my apartment, and then it’s at least I’ve come off the bed.

I make tea in the kitchen, feeling eyes on me, scared of the shadows lurking in the corners of each room. I’m scared, but I’m lusting for the attention too, more sad than anything when nobody answers my calls.

But then I never pick up the phone the few times it rings, even though my skeletal hand starts to develop an itch for it, an itch to touch something connected to a real world somewhere, a voice that I might know, love or remember.

When other voices come out of the shadows to talk to me, I start to feel relief. Some of the voices are the past, and some of them are me.

Then it’s almost easy to think of drowning in the bathtub or just stepping off the roof. But the way for people with an affliction like mine to die is to just stop living. So I stop living, and hope that means I’ll stop breathing too.

My heart aches at every suicide note; I write these love letters to myself, and to people I don’t know.

Dear Mr. Policeman, I’m sorry you have to see this corpse of mine and Dear Landlady, I’m sorry I stopped paying rent and wouldn’t open the door to you, but I had to stop it all, don’t you see? 

Dear Self, I wish you didn’t get like this. I wish you could just get better like other people do. 

his slow suicide

see how he crumbles

into dust, this man made 

of stone

 

see the years erode his face,

wearing away

his show of strength

 

until he is flesh and bone

just like the rest

of us

 

who knew

more bone; flesh having given

way to wine

 

cups and cups of wine; he calls

goblets and guzzles

 

beads of grey sweat 

on his facsimile of skin,

above his quivering lip

beads of wine

 

But he roars still, imagines himself

thunder

when he’s been mouse all along

 

hiding in the holes 

of his childhood memories

 

and then scurrying away from us

Always, this man

running

 

never finding a version

of his life

he can accept

 

and his tears now fall

into the cavity

which used to hold a heart

 

wearing down what is left

until

there’s only chalk outline

 

keeping straight

I wake up

and really want

a high

 

I want to disappear

into the plumes

of smoke I chase

with my mouth

 

I become gills

and breathe

underwater here

 

I become wings

and journey paths

in cloud here

 

I become legs and arms

and human

feeling suddenly

returned

in me

 

suddenly able

to walk again

talk right

again

 

and just numb enough

to begin

the day

if you were to ask

what are you thinking?

said into hair, pressed

against the ridge

of my ear

 

what are you thinking?

urgent curiosity

undertones layered

by practiced nonchalance

 

I’m thinking

the kinds of thoughts

you wouldn’t know what to do

with

 

I’m thinking

melting clock faces

sleepy elephant eyes

drooping

drooping

drifting

Dead

 

smooth skeletal faces

tight around the area

in which eyes usually live

and sparkle

are dark

 

I’m thinking of

me missing

skin much easier

to carve, to paste

to pretend

 

mountain bluffs

and gun barrels

shiny from recent 

cleaning

 

girls looking into 

fenced-in fields

holding dolls

veins white

in near rigor mortis grip

 

I’m thinking

of crawling somewhere safe

safer than your pillow arm

and closed lashes

breath resting in the curve

of my cheek

 

I’m thinking

too much

 

and you don’t really want

to hear all this

anyway

 

losing it

if you’re ill

where do you go to get away?

 

if my head isn’t safe

am I trapped here

with all of you

unable to seek

the comfort

of a hiding place?

 

when you’re ill

do you have to keep

your eyes open

and pretend

you don’t see the way

people try so hard

to not look at you

 

- if you don’t see

it doesn’t exist

right? – 

 

But

hey

my head isn’t safe

 

so where do I go

now?

 

playground diary

I’m scared of girls

I’m scared

of all the ways

in which we are capable

of hurting

each other

 

I’m scared of memories

of me

hiding under the slides

scraping my knees into gravel

practicing a face

that might pass muster

today

 

pressing lips into appropriate

thinness

 

trying to wear down

a body

that will never

be classified

as petite

 

squinting my eyes

so they are less

noticeable

 

scratching at the colour

of my skin

hoping I can bleed

the wrongness

away

 

every day

I try another way

to disappear

 

 

my line drawings

depicting beautiful shapes:

the pretty noses, eyes and lips

of white girls

I will never emulate

never please

 

white girls

who are my friends

 

at least

they say they are

 

even as they cut into me

lead me to dark places

inside my head

where I think only

of dying

 

And dare me even

in those little girl voices

to end myself

 

once

I thought girls were

better than this

but we’re not

 

and I will always

be afraid of us