Recalculating

I recalculate
convince myself
I am cotton candy
sugar and air

but sooner or later
in the inevitable heat
I become a damp wad
of weeping pinky-red

Somewhere Else

as we sit in the quiet,
I wonder,
is enough of me still located here?

I lead a pretty normal life:
I work, I have conversations,
I make grocery lists and cook dinners,
I parent my children,
I am a wife;
I am not always stuck inside my selves

but it feels so often that part of myself is in this place,
while, at the same time,
the most important parts are in a different place,
a place that can’t be accessed in the mundane,
a place so deep I need to be alone to open,
be alone to sift through and allow to be free

you gently break the quiet;
you speak to me in your raspy voice and I can hear you,
I can talk and follow along the well worn paths we’ve created in our many years together,
but my most important parts are somewhere else,
and I can’t seem to locate them

Time

I have been wake-walking in a worn-out tired that’s perpetually nauseous,
ravenous for something, but not hungry, exactly,
raw in a way that takes me by surprise and frustrates me;
the most trivial things are the last straw,
and there seem to be so many lasts

I have learned it’s not possible to wake up on the wrong side of the bed when you never really slept,
when there was no restful sleep,
just the tiny spaces between the cyclical blips of a never-ending SOS

and no matter what face I put on,
I am not greener on the other side,
I cannot find the sweet, restorative spot,
and too many days it feels like life is a zero sum game –
you only win until you lose again

I have been here before,
in a place that was a slow slide into conscious unconsciousness,
and the difference this time is that I know where I am,
I know who I am as I rest my head on the warm side of the pillow,
because I don’t have the energy to flip it,
and the flipping is never fast enough, anyway,
is it?

time isn’t on my side, which is funny,
because time is the only thing that matters,
isn’t it?

and I just keep asking myself:
what would be the point of living,
if we didn’t allow time to change us?
if we didn’t realize that time is the purest form of love on this earth?

What If?

I’ve been stuck in a sinister roundabout,
involuntary traveling in circles,
swallowing so many words

but there is devastation in silence,
and my tongue in not well-trained in sitting still for very long,
so, sometimes, when I do speak, it sparks,
the words rippling and licking at our bridges to burn

I don’t know what to do, then,
because it’s so strange to want so badly to talk and wish for silence at the same time,
to feel so uprooted and stuck,
so lost

so my idle hands rip and crinkle and unwrap,
and I gnaw and choke and chew,
trying like hell to drown the flames,
seeking for and feeding the source in the deepest pit of my stomach,
but it only manages to metastasize into rolls and folds,
unable to stifle the unbearable heat

and when I do manage to let it all bubble and rumble it’s way to the surface,
I shiver, despite the swelter,
because all I can do is wonder:
what if, even though we see that all our mistakes are forgivable,
when we hold hands and lay time flat,
silencing the maelstrom into white noise,
we find that nothing we had hoped and expected to evolve actually changes?
what if this is as good as it gets?

Prison

papering over the cracks doesn’t make them disappear,
but life is prettier when you do,
isn’t it?

but pretty is temporary;
paper is thin,
the sun goes down

I often wonder where other people go when they turn off the lights

are they peaceful?
do they drift and dream?

or, are there some, like me,
who often wander into the crevices within themselves,
digging around inside the shadows of their blackness,
clawing away at the dirt of memories they wish they could forget,
running from maybes and what ifs,
grasping at illusions,
hoping like hell no one else can see this fitfully desperate place?

daylight ignorance isn’t bliss,
it’s only fear postponed to a later date,
and control is an illusion that can only really be felt in the letting go

denial is the most destructive form of self harm,
isnt it?

it’s such an exhausting work,
and the truth is always there,
lurking in the shadows,
refusing to be silenced,
demanding to be seen when the lights go out

it’s a self-inflicted,
ruinous prison

I built my prison meticulously,
with solid walls made from bricks of guilt and obligation,
walls that seem to have no doors

but the way out is always there,
I just can’t always see it –
I have learned I just have to be willing to watch myself crumble

Headlights

all around me, the world seems to move on,
people whirling in a constant spiral toward something else, and something else,
objects in motion drawing lines around my standing body

here I am, chronically nestled into the shadows,
a racing heart chasing the gleaming trail of lurid headlights that periodically cross the ceiling,
all the time wondering,
do you see what I see?

-sculpture by Kumi Yamashita

Versions

Sometimes I cannot sleep; my mind is busy noticing things, things that were hidden (buried) in the peripheral throughout the purposeful rigor of the day.
The backs of my eyelids are vivid nightlights, magnifying glasses for the razor-edged Rolodex of things I have meticulously filed away.
I notice all the things I did do and wish I had not, the things I did not do and wish I had.
In the unwanted illumination, my heart reveals a measuring stick that is rigged in someone else’s favor. I notice how I often fall short.
I notice time’s mnemonic remnants: the faint ridges of forgotten fingerprints, the oily glow of haphazard handprints, the glossy shine of a forehead once rested in daydream.
I notice the scattering of chalk outlines, evidence of the versions I had worked so diligently to scour away.

-imagie via Pinterest

Rinse and Repeat

every day I paint it over,
calling red rover,
one stroke, death grip,
then another

cover stick, first,
masquerading bags,
the jet lag,
life at light speed,
so many green flags

then, lining the lids,
tallying bids,
gotta be strong for the kids,
keep up appearances in the social grids

now, time for the mascara,
lengthening lashes,
hiding ashes,
gotta hold back tears,
don’t want to trash it

next, brushing blush on high-boned cheeks,
erasing weeks,
turning pain to rosy peaks

can’t forget the smokey shadow,
shrouding eyes,
masking lies,
for, behind these lids,
the well runs dry

last, bold color on pouty lips,
dripping quips,
blood red smile oozing script

mask complete,
a battle to beat,
costume in place,
emotions to eat

rinse and repeat

-image via Pixabay; older poem given a slight revision

Absence

they say the pines a’whisper,
a rustling lullaby song,
as the breeze plucks at treetops,
and cool nights grow dark and long

but their sound does not lull, no,
it sings harshly of a ‘bye,
disappearing in shadow,
and cruel whispering of lies

there’s no bogeyman hiding,
in the darkest nooks of night;
it’s absence that’s a’haunting,
hollow howls in the moonlight

-image via Pexels; revision of older poem as part of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads’ prompt, hollow

Reality

the funeral goes by in a slow waltz of shiny cars,
perfectly pressed black suits,
and choreographed tears,
and I think to myself –
is it all bitter, in the end?

because, in my experience,
that’s the way smoke always speaks as it rises,
the way others’ eyes painfully prophesize,
the way the mirror constantly fogs

history has planted seeds of pain so deep,
so bitter it taints everything I savor,
but the painful truth is –
my story is stale;
I can’t let go of it,
because if I did,
I wouldn’t be a victim anymore

who would I be, then,
without the luxury of living in the past,
without the invisibility of living in my head,
without the decaying wall that so carefully keeps it all in?

I have always wanted to do something that matters,
something important,
something that leaves a precious piece of myself behind,
but I constantly deceive myself –
in order to do that,
I have to do the dirty work

but I sometimes pretend to do the work,
when, in reality,
I’m making shiny the excuses I’ve disguised as dirty work;
I’m a foggy mirror,
a faulty cog,
an enabler

tired is just an excuse;
I’m afraid,
I have always been afraid

I’m afraid I’ll never be able to stand on stage alone,
baring my fucking soul,
taking the risk of not knowing if I’ll be applauded or booed,
and the crazy thing is –
I think I’m most afraid of being applauded

the funeral goes by in a slow waltz of shiny cars,
perfectly pressed black suits,
and choreographed tears

mine among them

-image via Pexels