poems from a monday night #2

two miles past the diner we broke down again,

that fall-apart car

and me.

for ashley rose

 

two miles past the diner we broke down again,

that fall-apart car

and me.

 

our smoke hid inside forestfire sky,

so we’d laughed

our way down

unseen swirls,

busted-radiator gray.

 

when we pulled over

and the truth spiraled out

i stared at the smoke,

and you stared

at me.

 

with jokes on your lips

you held me together

more mechanic than gas-station men

with sentences and cigarettes

and yesterdays.

 

in the end we only made it to the roadside casino,

stashed our things

left the car

and hitched home.

 

i had keys in my pocket

to leave the next day

but i slept in your bed that night

and the rest

waiting for my car

and

waiting

to

stay.

 

-h

 

poems from a monday night #1

hush, please
and youll hear the wind
blow away summers
hot.
heavy.
air.

shh

hush, please

and you’ll hear the wind

blow away summers

hot.

heavy.

air.

 

forget for a moment

the click of computers, the buzz of these lightbulbs, the unstoppable tick of that clock

listen please

to the sound

of the rain

on the sidewalk

 

to the plants drooping downwards,

to the drip of the dew on the dirt,

to the wetness of raindrops on summerdry concrete,

to the swish of the grass underfoot

 

set down your pencils and papers and planners

and let yourself breathe wild air

do you notice the leaves are all brown on that one branch

do you see that theyll soon be bare

 

hush, please

or join in the chorus

of birds crying out to the sky

 

of latenight bugs humming and little mice running and the rush of the clouds as they cry

 

as the winds rattle branches

and join grasses in dances

 

they breathe summer out

 

with a

 

sigh.

 

-h

a poem

Sometimes I let myself get carried away. I forget to silence those most critical voices that tell me I won’t be worthy until. Until being the operative word because it’s just that. Untils that are further than the moon.

But you kept me in the now. The now that reminds me that now might even be better than the until. A now where you’re here to keep the most mundane aspects of my life feeling magical.

Now I’m just treading water until, until you’re here again.

Clawing Your Way Out of Your Own Head

I’m going to be perfectly frank here. I could not write this post when I was at my lowest because, no matter what I tried, nothing worked. I did not believe I could feel better. And the more I wallowed in self pity, I more I self-isolated.

In a letter I wrote to a friend back in 2013, I said something to the tune of, “It worries me how much I crave isolation. I seek it every chance I get.” At the time, I was in college and living in a house of 7 people. I shared, not only a room, but a bed. In the mornings, I got dressed in the dark to accommodate someone else’s sleep schedule. This was living in the city, always accompanied by the sounds of the train or friendly people playing instruments in the street. It’s hard to be alone in a city.

I think about that letter a lot, as if I should have been more “careful what I wished for” because I got it. I got to be alone.

I’m going to be perfectly frank here. I could not write this post when I was at my lowest because, no matter what I tried, nothing worked. I did not believe I could feel better. And the more I wallowed in self pity, I more I self-isolated convincing myself that, “You’re not going to get better, and these people don’t want to hear you complain about it anymore. They want to hear you say that you’re feeling better, but you won’t. So stop reaching out.” This is how I spoke to myself.

I followed my own set guides to “being alone” but misery seemed to follow me like a shadow. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on any one cohesive thought. It was all I could do to pull myself out of hourly panic attacks. I was experiencing resurfacing repressed memories of past traumas and I started, not only fearing these memories, but fearing what else might resurface. I was wracked with fear over things that haven’t been prevalent for years. I felt like a traumatized pup that no one wants to adopt because it’s been “ruined.” Because it snips at reaching hands out of fear, remembering hands that once weren’t so kind. I felt ruined.

Then, two things happened. One (and I’m cautious to put this because it’s important to remember that any kind of medication is never a catch-all solution) I started taking medicine again for anxiety after running into (more than) a few medical insurance road blocks. Two, I realized that my panic rarely followed me to my place of work. And I really dwelled on that for a couple of days because according to, well, everything.. stress from work is one of the leading causes of anxiety in adults in the US. But I found myself staying late and coming in early just to sit a little longer in the embrace of safety. So what was that about? I surely worried that I wasn’t performing well enough, I had an extremely heavy workload, dead lines to meet, what have you. But I felt SAFE there. Safe being a key word for me because my anxiety is largely panic based with no obvious causation.

So why was I calmed in an environment made to be stressful, but panicking at home. Work was the only place I could go where I could truly get out of my own head and just be for a while. The thing about my mental illness is that I am obsessed with it. It occupies every pocket of my brain like smoke, always present in everything I do, which made my life feel like a constant to-do list. Maybe if I eat, I’ll feel less anxious. Maybe if I go for a walk, I’ll be okay. I didn’t do anything without the purpose of “feeling better” or “recovering” behind it. Nothing was for pure joy anymore. “If I play this video game, maybe it’s something I can grind until I’m so good and then.. and then.. and then..” I made myself into a project, instead of a person.

But I’m not a project. Self improvement is important, sure, but it’s equally important to do the things that you do because you genuinely enjoy them. Without concern where it’s going to take you in the future. Without obsessing over how it’ll impact my mental illness.

But changing the way your brain functions isn’t easy, which is why I’ve started looking for ways to get out of my own head. Like any other habit, it takes time to ingrain into my daily routine. For anyone who also struggles with feeling trapped inside their own mind, I’d love to hear what you do to shut yourself up. What do you do that is PURELY for the joy of it? What helps? Reach out to me and let me know.

A list of ways I escape my own head:

  1. First and most importantly, schedule time to let yourself really feel. This was recommended to me by a therapist a while back, but at the time I felt certain that I couldn’t “schedule my feelings.” But, turns out, you totally can. For me, I used to find time to sit by the water and check in with myself. Often, I cried or screamed or stomped. This was my designated time to FEEL. Once I started this process, it felt less like these emotions were just sitting under the surface. It’s okay to feel. It’s good to feel.
  2. Do things that appeal to your senses. Touch the things around you. Leaves on low hanging branches, hot pavement, chipped paint. Yes, you’re going to look like a weirdo rubbing against a tree trunk by yourself. Who cares. Be a weirdo. They don’t know.
  3. Go swimming in cold water. It’s really hard to think about how paranoid you are that everyone actually hates you when you’re swimming in cold water.
  4. Go on scavenger hunts and make art out of what you find. A collection of fabrics or odd knick-knacks. Take pictures of unique shadows on your skin. Hang it above your bed. Fuck Warhol, you’re a real artist.
  5. Listen to podcasts. And not just pretentious educational podcasts, listening to meaningless comedy hours or spooky stories. Laugh out loud at the funny parts. Create a happy energy within yourself. I hear this all the time: Other people are attracted to happy people. But don’t do it for the sake of others. Be attracted to your own happy self. (I also use podcasts when I’m having trouble sleeping. If you have someone else’s voice right in your ear, it’s hard to pay attention to your own racing thoughts.)
  6. Clean your sheets, do your dishes, wash your bathroom sink.
  7. If you have the funds, keep food around. Buy a cook book and work your way through it. Have you ever noticed how good it feels to really take care of yourself? You started to feel like someone worth being taken care of.
  8. Try not to rely on social media for validation.
  9. Try not to associate other people’s popularity on social media as them being more worthy than you. Everyone is fake on the internet. Consider someone you know very well. A best friend or a family member. Then consider how you would feel about them if you only saw them through their Instagram, twitter, what-have-you. Entirely different story, right?
  10. With the last two in mind, share things online! Our usage of the internet isn’t black and white, it doesn’t have to be either poison or antidote. There are plenty of communities to be found online. Find a site with people who also like your strangest niche interests and explore them.
  11. Take yourself dancing. (I’m still working on this one. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. In the mean time, maybe just dance alone in your room like a teenager in a movie. It feels stupidly good.)
  12. Interact with strangers. When I used to work retail, something I would notice is how other employees would complain about elderly customers coming in and wanting to chat for long lengths of time. But I never understood the annoyance. Social skills are like a muscle that needs to be exercised less it become weak and you forget how to use it. More likely than not, you’ll be surprised who will chat with you. (I’m still working on this step, as well.)
  13. Create art that is just for you. Draw in your sketchbook without the intent of sharing it with anyone. Write a terrible poem. Paint. Do these things because they are fun, not because you want to “be better” at them.
  14. Listen to music all the time. Stupid, meaningless pop music, EDM, whatever. Stop wearing about if you’re listening to “”GOOD”” music.

 

A

 

firestorm

this is the season of fire after the summer of water and i know now that my flame burns inside strong as ever singing my worth and i have words to spit out into this world, hot heavy and sour

this is the season of fire and how can i explain that to you

this is the season of fire after the summer of water and i know now that my flame burns inside strong as ever singing my worth and i have words to spit out into this world, hot heavy and sour and i don’t have to hold in my passions or self, i don’t have to go with the flow, i don’t have to mold to my surroundings, i get to say this is me! this is now! this is what im going to do! and they have to listen – do you hear that part – they have to listen

because if not, i will burn this place down.

and i am a flame unseen perhaps but so were these wildfires before they were spotted, as they were already burning tree into ash and

i am not unspoken, not anymore.

i have words in my hands and my fingertips and i won’t let you put your melancholy into my skin once again, i cannot agree that life is all hard because isn’t it not about happy or sad or good or bad but rage and emotion and expression and madness and

i don’t know why i feel like the candles in my room speak to me at night but they whisper in conspiracy to me

reach reach reach

and they tell me

higher and onwards and grab what you want and be who you are and let the doubt burn burn away.

words etched in tree branches, dark soot in chimney grates, and theres a heat in myself that feels a bit like anger not quite too late

i was water running smoothly hiding deeply speaking softly and now i wonder

what if i set myself ablaze

if i let out my stories will this world burst into flames

or will i finally let all the pressure escape.


so, my old washing machine would electrocute you slightly, lightly, brightly if you put your hand on the wash button and so instead, we never did laundry

and yet when i tell this story to KC he tells me of sticking the knife into the toaster when he was a child and being shocked over and over again, not understanding why he felt what he felt, not knowing to stop

and

one time i sat on a dock on a lake in montana, watching lightning and storm clouds brood and cover half the sky, shocking the water, as thunder boomed and on the other half of the lake

only sunshine.

if i covered my left eye i saw chaos and firestorm and if i covered my right eye, i saw a summertime lakefront paradise, sunshine and birdsong

do you see

the fire and water dance together

it isnt one or the other

but while the water absorbs your sorrows and holds your chaos and softens the darkness

the fire bursts from the sky and the ground, runs through sockets and toasters and up trees and out mountains and

through my

very

veins.

-h

 

art by Vykky Gamble

 

a quick love poem

when a friend falls down and no one is around

who hears it?

dear a

sometimes I like to imagine you in france

all baugettes and drapey clothing and little coffees in little cups

golden sunlight in little alleys with falling flowers and

a smile on your face

 

and the pink shadows falls on your clothes and you smile to yourself because this is what you have deserved for years – for always – and

 

dear a

youve taught me to look at the moon and the clouds and the noise in my emotions

you’ve taught me to laugh and eat donuts and share myself

you’ve never

hurt

me.

 

so, dear a

I see you take up space and I applaud

I see you take up space and I will you to grow three times in size, a giant, a tower

to shout yourself into this world

 

dear a

you care about people I forget about

you worry for others I don’t even notice

your heart goes out to me and mole and people who don’t deserve it

you wear your compassion on your sleeve and

you love with generosity

 

dear a

you have been many things to me

one of my wisest friends

one of my closest laughers

one of the most important people in my life

 

you have been many things to me

but you have never been

a

burden.

 

-h

If you think this might be for you, it probably is.

if you’re reading this right now, take caution. the middle man is shaking out the sheets from his bed where he’s shed his dragon scales and laying them back down over our eyes. he eats our affection because nothing else satiates. he’s good at unearthing it too, affection from our dry barren gardens, so much so that we have bare none left for ourselves. he says, “your garden has the freshest herbs. you alone have saved me.”

take caution: the middle man LIES. you are not over reacting. do not apologize like i have. the middle man lies.

Listen, I have to tell you this because my biggest fear is hurting people. i exist with a fear inside me like a bomb thats certain to explode, shrapnel tearing through the cheeks of everyone around me. Theyll wear scars for the rest of their lives and say, “how selfish. how fucking selfish.” im suspicious, maybe, you recognize this pain.

and i apologize in advance, for my skin is sharp as swords and my words seer flesh like poison without trying. this means that my hugs end in wounds. and my “i love you”s end in burns. i hope you believe that im taking diligent notes on how to be kind and i watch Good people like lab rats with the intention of learning how to be better by the textbook. but even when im standing completely still, im bending the grass beneath my feet. im sorry, earth that im so heavy without meaning to be.

if you’re reading this right now, know that im so sorry my presence has hurt you. this isnt the first time and believe me when i say i recognize the pain. and i recognize how irrationally angry it makes you feel. but in my version of events, we’d have our own stockpile of meaningless jokes by now. but thats assuming a lot. thats assuming i wasnt predetermined to be the joke long before i arrived.  it really didnt matter who i was, did it. but my mother once told me, “sometimes you have to be the bad guy to protect someone else.” is that whats happening here? do you need to hate me? do you need to scoff at the things you think ive done? because if im not the bad guy, then someone else is. and god would that hurt so much worse, huh?

a very tired and anxious

A