what do you do when you wake up one day and everything is different?
when you know you know,
and there’s no not knowing,
so you must dive deeper and deeper,
examining your feelings,
all the small steps that lead you to where you are in this less than desirable existence?
what do you do when you know that process will lead to a monumental upheaval?
when, having witnessed this once camouflaged knowledge,
you know you either have to make massive changes,
or slay your spirit with some hardcore cognitive dissonance?
what will be the knife in your back,
pushing you forward with all of your might?
I don’t know what the knife is exactly,
but I hear it;
I’ve always heard it,
first a whisper,
then a roar that’s impossible to ignore,
a knowing from a sacred depth that is both fiercely mine and part of something much greater than myself
something that aches for its processes to be set to ink
I hear the constant prattling of the voice, but I cannot hear my own thoughts.
When you speak, I watch your lips move, grasp their graceful forming of the words.
I watch your eyes speak louder than your voice, notice your face animate with conviction.
I read as I listen.
The voice incessantly clacks its triage like keys on an old typewriter, always placing feeling before logic.
Your feelings before mine.
I have done that for so long, I can hear your thoughts, even when your lips do not move.
In the mirror, I try like hell to read my own lips, but the keys are eerily silent.
you hug her with flippant arms,
kiss her with lips pursed with words lying in wait,
listen with ears that scramble her station unrecognizable;
it may as well be static
and she looks at you with knowing eyes,
her lungs crackling with the laughter of too many ghosts,
your name a promise beaconed by her light and slipped into the glass bottle that is her heart,
knowing there’s a chance it might break
even though she wishes she did not;
you love her with a squeaky, newborn heart,
with words that are too large to fit through the close-knit threading of your ego,
protecting a past that fear keeps you from seeing through a microscopic lens,
so the words bury themselves in infertile soil,
never to bloom
maybe she could sacrifice,
maybe she could stay;
you ask her to,
you say you’ll change
maybe I could give up parts of myself for him,
maybe I could go without,
maybe he will really change
but who would she be if she lived her life fishing empty glass bottles from a perpetually low tide?
life was Dorothy Hamill haircuts and bright white roller skates with colorful wheels,
dimples and batted eyelashes and 25c ginger ale in returnable bottles
before it became grocery store boxes of hair color and the embarrassment of paper food stamps,
30 pounds of extra weight and fingernails bit to the quick and too many crushed cans of Milwaukee’s Best Lite littering the shitty apartment
life was bruises no one could see and tear-soaked pillow cases,
reduced priced school lunches and ketchup sandwiches at home and too many unasked questions by too many people who were supposed to be doing the asking
before it became her own hands swinging and her mouth repeating and too many more tears on another generation of pillow cases,
expired milk and bare cupboards and needle tracks up arms that have hugged all the wrong people
the rains come again,
tap-tapping at the window panes,
a symphony out-of-sync,
not unlike the fearful beating of her own heart
a familiar, creeping terror rises from a place beyond thoughts,
some innermost trap door flying open,
her instinct to leap upon and lean against it with all her might,
to padlock it shut,
but that energy has long ago evaporated
so she murmurs in a rhythm,
uttering age-old phrases that spin-cycle in her mind,
an attempt at talking herself off an unrevealed ledge,
fear pumping off her in virulent, toxic fumes
she isn’t herself,
hasn’t been for a long while;
her very smell like that of imminent winter,
brittle and airless with the heavy inertia of time
the cool morning air overtaking,
waking her lungs,
her feet slapping a predictable rhythm on the uneven concrete,
its percussive resonance a an engulfing metronome clearing all the clutter away,
and she began noticing things
she noticed the numerous lawns and landscapes in various conditions,
the lamenting of the brown patches declaring their unwanted stagnancy,
the vibrant shouting of greens and purples,
the yellows opening their faces to the sun in triumphant hello,
the bright whites in such sharp contrast to it all,
as if unable to conceal their joy
she noticed all the houses she passed,
the worn spots on the front doors from years of seeking entry into something familiar,
all the lives that lived within the many colored walls,
the stories she’d never know
she noticed the moments that passed,
the hands on her watch ticking them by as the world moved past in tiny fragments like a viewfinder,
realizing that so many moments aren’t just moments,
and life is a thing to celebrate
I watch her move through the motions,
real emotion wearing a half-mask,
her eyes telling a story that’s never been spoken,
and probably never will,
seventy plus years of doing the next easiest thing,
not necessarily the next right one
it’s such a long road,
pebbles from our shared path littering my own,
and sometimes I feel guilty as hell for just being able to live my life;
there should be a word for this,
the way it feels to steal something that’s already yours