Day to Day Poetry, Day to Day Writing, poetry

#11 Lugubrious

I spend my days folding into myself,
shoulders caving in to keep my heart hidden
further and further I go deeper within
so I can disappear
in this chaotic numbness residing
in every inch of my being.

I am no longer whole,
eternally carved;
I can’t stop un-clenching my fists,
I can’t look anybody in the eye.

Advertisements
Standard
Character Portraits

#10 Mary Sue

Here he sits, the sunlight reflecting off the blonde strands of his hair. He is sipping coffee (very black). He talk, talk, talk, sips, and then talks. He is sitting with a brunette: she is thin and proper. Her lips are red, her legs doesn’t end. He tells her about how a gram of cocaine in Panama will set you back 2 bucks. 2 measly fucking bucks. Can you believe it? About the war in Palestine, missiles in Russia. Hackers called Anonymous. Snowden.

She nods and she listens.

She has very clean fingernails, cut to the proper lengths, they are not chipped nor they are stained. Her legs are crossed, and she doesn’t wear heels. She’s wearing shorts and a white v-cut top: she is showing just enough skin to keep him at the edge of his seat–please note:

She isn’t me, but I imagine her quite well.

On her back is a tattoo of a swan, about to take flight, its wings stretched to the edges of her shoulder blades – if you look close enough, the black ink against her skin can be substituted for her wings.

This tattoo is complete. It’s elegant and well-thought out, not rushed, nor typical. Everyone who sees it stare in bewilderment, and doesn’t use it as an excuse to touch her body. It also goes well with the edelweiss tattoo on his shoulder. On lazy days, they like to lay together in bed and watch each other’s tattoo rise and fall with the rhythm of their breathing.

Her back is straight, her eyes strong: she is listening to every word he is saying, she completely understands, she doesn’t ask questions. She doesn’t know anything about heroin, or cocaine, but she knows a lot about marijuana. She probably likes hash. She probably only smokes purple cush. She can recite all the countries at war in alphabetical order. She has monitored every move Trump has made after winning the election. She participates in rallies and is the head of an anonymous anarchist group. Her favourite band, above all, is Portishead. But she can tolerate The Smashing Pumpkins on a really good day.

She drives. She’s lived in one place her whole life but she can dream about going to Cuba from time to time. Probably to volunteer. She replies to every text he sends, to emails within a day. SHE IS RELIABLE.

She has her own magazine. It’s online and independent but it’s a start. She is on the editorial team of two magazines, a financial journalist for some investor’s blog and an occasional contributor to the Toronto Star. He can call her and she knows the rights words to make him happy – because she believes in every word he says. That’s key, I think. She also tells lies: it keeps him entertained. It keeps them together for four years. It is what she tells him, what he tells her, on nights when they smoke joints on the roof of their university. It is what brings him to her after a shift at Second Cup, his heart boiling with unhappiness and distaste for his co-workers: it is what she sees on his face when he showed up at her door bruised and broken, having just spent a night in jail for sitting in Queen Street with a backpack full of European maps, protesting G20. It is what keeps him hard when he fucks her, it is what gets her to moan and clench a fistful of his skin from his thighs—

It is what’s in the letters, passed back and forth, from Berlin to Toronto: marked by dates and clumsily drawn hearts and I love you’s and I miss you’s and when are you coming back to me?

She isn’t me.

And she sits, her back straight, calm and serene. She sits, confident and aloof, hands on top of her lap.

She sits, and she is still, and she does not doubt.

She sits, and she smiles.

She sits, and does not weep.

Standard
Day to Day Writing, Epiphanies

#9 Candid

It’s been two years since I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder  and I’m not sure what I’ve done with it, except dance through a cacophony of doctor and therapist’s appointments with only various prescription bottles to mark the success of the event. They line the dresser in my bedroom like a parade. On good days I take them religiously and keep them in my pocket. On most days, I throw them away.

If I am doing well, I accept the diagnosis with intense conviction, the same one I held on so firmly to that made me end up in the hospital in the first place. This forces me into self-analysis – reflecting about the flaw inside of me that keeps me from having the confidence to do anything with 100% certainty because I don’t know which side of me is in the driver’s seat: Mania or Depression. Before I absolutely do anything, if I’m well, I have to ask if it’s sustainable in the long run. Can I actually work three jobs whether or not I’m well? Probably not. This seems like a simple answer in moments of lucidity but those moments for me are few and far between. It’s either, Yes, I ABSOLUTELY CAN WORK THREE JOBS, I CAN DO ANYTHING vs. Who are you kidding? You can’t do anything. Finding the mid is a battle I constantly have to fight. Jumping from one extreme to the next is incredibly exhausting.

Some of my closest friends romanticize my mania, and it’s disheartening. I only hang out with most of the people I know when I’m manic. Mania is a fickle mistress; it is the burst of energy I need to survive my day to day. It keeps me employed, keeps me social. When I’m manic, parties become so easy; I just sit back and she does the talking for me. My creativity flows out of me in a deluge of half-finished stories and beginnings to novels that never end. A sprinkle of uncontrollable brilliance that keeps me painting and writing until the early morning. My boyfriend sleeps while I write, read, paint and repeat. When he wakes, I show him what I’ve created, and he says he’s proud of me.

But one step over the edge and I lose all control. The mask slips and she completely takes over me. I start forgetting. I don’t remember what I did last night, the week before – I start to miss days until days become months I can’t recall no matter how hard I try to piece it together, gaps in my memory I have no control over. My friendships end with that look on their face that I have come to know so well. I can pinpoint the exact second that look takes over – that moment of sudden, dawning realization that even after x amount of time, there is a side of me that up until that moment, they have not seen. One that is unforgivable – as if all of who I was before up until that moment was just pretense. And inside, I’m fuming. An insurmountable amount of rage tripled by my manic heart and a voice screaming inside me – I told you, I told you this is who I am, you JUST didn’t listen.

One time, in group, I asked,”How can we seek new relationships without feeling like we’re scamming them? Do I just say, hey, before we get to know each other, you should know that I’m crazy, insane, neurotic? How much time is an acceptable amount of time where admitting that you’re insane isn’t a social faux pas anymore?  For every person that you meet, if I don’t say I’m insane, does that mean I’m lying?”

The answer they gave me was that we are all trying our best, every single time.

That seems like a lie.

I can’t exactly tell that to the person/friend/lover I pounced on because I couldn’t control my rage, because I hadn’t slept for a month, because I woke up standing in the middle of my job not knowing who I was, or where I had been for the past couple of hours. Seems like, to any other person outside looking in, seems like I’m not trying at all.

I still have not been able to develop the language I need when people tell me the things we did that I can’t remember. People I don’t know come up to me like we’re old friends except I don’t know what name I gave them, or when we met.

At the hospital, I spent most of my time walking other patients down Spadina avenue, especially those who weren’t allowed to walk by themselves, or those who were just afraid. I learn about their lives, listen to the story of how they ended up here with me. One beautiful girl whose sole mission in life was to look like Mariah Carey and spent hours upon hours in front of the computer looking at her pictures, once told me that she had long accepted she would never be married. I asked why.

She looked at me, and as if breaking some terrible news to a child for the first time, said, “I think you’ll find – people like us – we’re never going to have normal relationships. People will either pretend to understand, or won’t even try. Sooner or later, they’ll get tired.” Then, as if it was an afterthought, continued with forced optimism –  “But maybe you’ll get lucky – maybe you’ll find someone normal, and they’ll still get it… you know?”

Accepting your diagnosis is accepting the terror that your mind can betray you, any minute, any second. That every day you are in control is a race against time – build as much as you can now so that you don’t lose everything when it happens. It’s all about timing. And damage control.

But most of the time, it feels like my life is an old, beaten book I am desperately clinging to with furiously clenched fists.

I know the story, it’s so familiar to me, but it’s written in a language I can no longer understand.

Standard
Day to Day Poetry, poetry

#8 Dust

Every time we fight I get just a little bit smaller,
every word you say becomes a question mark
carved inside of me – an incision of doubt made permanently.
My voice, once explosive and strong, has been reduced to
a desperate whisper in a world full of noise;
and when zoomed in to our private universe, I am just static –
a snow of blurry, white dots against a background of black
that you don’t pay attention to.

I am frantic and pervasive, against your calm and apathy,
fantastical and furious, against your logic and invariability.
I don’t know how to love you. This battle has hardened me.
The ground we used to stand on is shaking;
the earth beneath us has become the jagged, yellow teeth of
a monster designed to swallow me whole,
while you sit on the precipice of what has become broken,
rigid and unchanged, stable and unhindered,
as if the chaos of the apocalypse isn’t enough
to make a dent in that armour of yours.

There’s a part of you I can’t reach,
no matter how far I stretch myself.
A gulf I keep trying to cross, on my hands and knees,
bruised to the point of collapse –
I scream for you one last time:
and
nothing.

Standard
Day to Day Writing, Flash Fiction, Short Fiction

#7 Revision

Guilt kept our apartments clean.

It was the monster that pushed me into back-breaking labour; the frenzy that possessed me to keep scrubbing until our little cave reeked of bleach and disinfectant. Our cat yowled scathingly, perched on top of my bookshelf, watching me from afar.

It never calmed my guilt – the routine just buried it. My guilt was insurmountable – a Goliath I could never keep quiet. It walked with me every step I took, and sat on my shoulders until the burden kept me from ever being able to look anybody else in the eye, because I was no longer upright. I forgot how to detach myself from it; it is always inside me, at the forefront, right smack in the middle, centre stage, hidden by layers and layers of masks I’ve learned to put on through the years, until  I’ve forgotten where polyester ends, and my skin begins.

I can pinpoint exact moments in the life we once shared together where we made wrong decisions. We wasted so much of our youth. An entire decade of missteps and dead ends.

That one sunny afternoon when I was curled up beside the dormitory phone, legs tucked underneath me, you said, “This is what you wanted, right? It’s better this way, right?” Your yearning for my approval came through more clearly than your voice fighting static over the phone.

Kneeling over you in the hallway of your mother’s house, while you tied your shoes, and you looked up at me and whispered so your family won’t   hear, “You don’t think I feel bad about this? Don’t you realize how bad this makes me feel?”

Waiting for you in a coffee shop in the frozen tundra that was Mississauga, sipping on on watery, tasteless coffee I spent our last $2 on, and everything we ever owned packed inside a single suitcase I kept beside me, everything depending on this one job interview, and you came into the cafe, with a grin on your face, sat down in front of me and said, “Got it,” and I immediately burst into grateful tears.

Lying down in an empty apartment I was so proud of, dazed and confused, looking at my laptop with ever widening eyes and mumbling, “It was today.” “WHAT,” you jumped in from the kitchen, your pupils as wide as the sun – “It was today,” I repeated, sinking, “I missed it. I fucking missed it.”

Rolling a joint while the television blared, and I looked at you and said accusingly, “You haven’t gone home in days.” And you smiled back and said, “That’s because I live here now.” – “About fucking time you admit it.” – “This is what you wanted, right? It’s better this way, right?” “Yes,” I said, my heart in the palm of your hands, “Much better.”

Clutching each other on a single bed, trapped inside a room for days, and half-teasingly, half-threateningly joking about the landlord that was waiting for us outside the apartment for not having paid rent.

“Don’t be like that,” she said, her hand extended, about to reel me in for an embrace, “I’m your neighbour now. You HAVE to say hi. You can’t avoid me forever you know.”

“Where were you?” I hissed from our room. “Upstairs,” you said, avoiding my deathly glare. “It’s our FUCKING anniversary.” – “I know, I know, but you know how they get – it’s hard to get away”. I threw a pillow your way. You dodged it as smoothly as you held my hand on so many of our lazy afternoons – “If you fucking cared enough, you would have come home!”

Leading me through the frozen lake, our skates ripping on ice, stars never shone as bright as they ever did for us in Port Credit, and you said, “We got it all figured out, you know. This kind of thing doesn’t just happen twice.”

You opened your eyes to my worried face towering over you, shaking, our vicious argument forgotten, and you reached out and held on to my shoulder, like a frightened child and said, your voice trembling, “what happened? Oh god, what happened?”

Sitting across from me in the hospital, cradling hands, smiling awkwardly at each other, and you said, “Things are going to work out. It’s going to change. Things will get better. Promise you won’t give up yet.” – “Okay. I promise.”

Standing by the front door, your hand gripping the doorknob, half-facing me, half-turned away, and  you said, “This is all because of you. Because of a stupid decision you made that changed our lives. We had it good, you know, it wasn’t perfect but it was good! Why couldn’t you have just been happy?” – “You said things would change. You’ve been saying the same shit for 10 years! 10 years! I’m not waiting another 10 years just hoping things would change.”

“Well, I would’ve,” you said, opening the door for the last time, “I would’ve waited forever.”

Standard