Monday, December 10, 2012

For "Return Inside" ★★★★

It is like breathing
not in that it is uncontrolled
for in truth
I can manage my inhales and exhales
speed them up or slow them down
or still them completely
for a time.
Breath is so effortless and easy
in comparison.
Rather, it is like
the rise and fall of my diaphragm
as it pulls in life,
this vague crest and dip of ocean waves.
I feel the sense of myself
waxing and waning.
The worst part being,
I think,
the feeling of just regaining self,
whole and complete,
and sensing it being pulled away,
pulled out of me,
until I am left without words,
without movement.
The world dissolves
into shadows and monsters
and my body becomes numb and distant,
until I am floating in some silent sea
behind my eyes.
Whatever part that remains coherent
left floating out in some vast void
sending messages through membranes
and barricades,
dying before they reach my mouth,
wordless and motionless,
child-like and empty.
I cling to this thing I am 
so desperately
and I bite down panic
and the images that bubble up 
as if the filters inside me were failing,
sending me memories,
sending me visions,
the ideas of which become consuming
and frighten and churn and flay me open
I cannot fight back
not this.
I would take all of the pain,
endlessly for all of my days,
If I could surmise a way
to hold my breath.


It always starts out so well
They are so understanding
While I wax erratic and clutch myself
Biting back gasps and shudders
They fetch warm blankets
Hot tea and medicine
And whisper sweet sympathies 

In time they grow used to the ordeal
Sit uneasy as I pull at the skin of my arms
As I drift into rigid silence
As I cry out and churn
They say nothing
It's not uncommon circumstance
This strange melodrama
And they wait for it to pass
While I yearn for soft hands
And soothing whispers 

I see it in their eyes first
The impatient irritation
My body arcs and rebels
And I worry and fret
And they wish it were over
That they were anywhere else
That they could walk away
and not watch me break 

The comments trickle out
You're exaggerating, doing it on purpose
Must you do this now?
Must you?
Outright anger, gritted teeth
This again? Still?
Can't you just stop

And I want to 

More than anything 

And I feel like such a useless burden
The loathing wells up in my throat
I fight my very existence
And like a drowning man
Sink deeper and deeper
Unable to breathe 

Reaching out for a rope, a line
Longing for a string of words


It's a curse
I told him resolutely
And he looked up at me
With his hands still resting
On the abandoned lump of iron
He'd pried up from the earth
His hair an uneven grate
In front of icy pools
There was a quick falter
In his incorrigible smile
How do you mean?
I tore the fronds
From a fallen palm branch
Being so emotional
So all over the place
Every sorrow feels for me
A thousand times more
I want to be whatever it is
That means normal
But instead live knowing
that every morning
I wake under a shadow
For every triumph I have
It costs me more
And I am so tired of people
Always angry for things I can't help
And in turn me being angry at myself
For being who I am
His eyes fell
I know
He said
And of course it was true
He had lived his life
In and out of institutions
And was under the impression that
Of all the people he'd ever met
That my thoughts were most like his
He let the words settle
Into the cool night air
Letting the silence
and sodium lamplight
Move back into the space between us
He turned to me again
So the moonlight bathed his face
But because of those lows
We get to feel all the highs
The joys indescribable
And I think it's worth it
I nodded and wore a wry smile
I felt the ground beneath my feet
Letting myself get lost in the rhythm
That creates itself
When walking the wooden beams
Of railroad tracks
It's the little things isn't it
The sunlight falling through trees
And hot cider
When the cold creeps up under your cuffs
So why do you do it?
He asked
Try so hard I mean
Keep going
I wasn't sure
A hope of things to come
I guessed
That there will be sunsets and chocolates
And that all evil in the world can't last forever
You know
Once I abandoned hope
I told him
No, that's not true
I ran away from feeling anything
I became cynical and distant
Walled myself up
Abandoned my passions for half a year
I stared at the distant pinpoints
Scattered across the inky field of sky
I know what you say is true
I need to be myself
I'm a better person when I am
He grinned
So you keep on because of hope?
I laughed, reaching to take hold of him
More like a bull headed stubbornness
Not to let myself down


I read recently
In the news
That the reason our brains grew so large
Is that our cells resist dying
Deny their natural cycles
Letting our neural pathways flourish

A schism in our make-up
has caused us to become
The tempered beast
The eminent cousin

But because our cells
Linger onto life
They say we are more prone
We humans
To cancer
to this malignant failure to cease

I am broken.

My neural pathology an unknown
I am aware only of the way it shapes me
Some deformation of my make-up
Causing the pain and spasms 
and sleepless night
The bleating days and drifting unaware
Without solace or coherent strands
To hold me in place
As if my mental structures grow unmanaged
Into chaos

The world I see is
sometimes what I think you see
Other times not
Or rather I see the same things
But with shifted interpretation
My mind distorts
Flattening, skewing, implying, eroding
Like being drugged
Or waking from a dream
I feel my own self or soul or person
In abstracted drifting consciousness
So many different selves, myself

This body; this mind

It has brought begrudging understanding
A delight in sensation
A love of experience
And also a fear
So frequently waiting just off stage
Tucked out of sight
Behind the sunshine and sweetness.

It defines me
Has sculpted me
with fine artist hands
Spun me from the aether

I am this.

An error of biology
With open eyes and quick smile
a strong will
And a heavy burden

A bedfellow to Sisyphus

I think there is something tragic
And beautiful
If what they say is true

That what makes us man

Is cancerous.


I remember my father
holding a tiny silver pin
in his broad, full hands.
I watched him
as he drove it through the skin of his leg,
pulling it taut,
not flinching.
He looked up at me
pain is just a sensation.
I was just a child,
with a mind like fresh clay,
and it settled like silt
on the bottom of a riverbed.
For many years it seemed
one of his oddities,
his strange teachings.
But I wonder now his intentions.
Because I also recall
the taut skin of my mother
as I massaged her swollen arms
I remember her
doubled over in pain
and mentally calculating
a shortest path
as every step brought agony.
I watch her fumble for words
this insurmountable woman 
who had faced down
and jury rigged 
the world.
Always with grace and compassion.
The genesis of my being.
And I worry.
Churning knots inside my skin.
Did he suppose?
That his sweet small child
would fail and twist inside?
That when he was gone
she would be left alone with this?
That blood to blood she would carry this burden?
Motives lost to the void.
All that is left
is to lay back in bed
and try to will it away.
Try another trick
another mental exercise
until swept up in shattering pain
I can only curl tightly in the sheets
and worry.