swallowing the sword of Damocles

everything that has kept me alive
has also nearly killed me.
the cigarettes that overloaded
my overstimulated synapses.
caffeine giving me the energy
to survive another panic attack.
the knowledge of suicide as a way out,
keeping my options open.
running on the waterfront
until my metatarsals nearly broke.

and poetry, providing a pressure valve
for the things too big
for my mind to hold alone,
even though I struggle
to spit out every word.


the nineteenth wonder of Jersey City

Even my hindsight has astigmatism.
If I don’t look at my past
through the right lenses,
I get a headache.

Sometimes I pretend that my life
could be different than it is.
I let myself slip and do things
some people don’t think twice about
like getting married
or starting school.
I slip and then the ground
crumbles just as I take a breath.
I shoild have known better;
I’ve seen rock bottom
from both sides, now.

Riches to rags, as I say,
and I can’t even claw my way
into uncomfortably middle-class.
Poverty isn’t even a cycle.
It’s a pit.
And it does things to you
that take more than a few paychecks
to heal from.

Hypervigilance causes at least
half of my problems,
but it also fixes at least half.
It evens out.
Sometimes people wonder why
I’ve got plans A through Z,
and then they marvel
when I roll with every sucker punch,
from being late for my own wedding
right up through
my father’s murder.
I shouldn’t have been able to see these things,
but I had.
And I didn’t even need a pack of cards to do it.
Then again, I’ve always been
a bad statistic.

pain olympics

when I tell you about my trauma
I don’t tell you for your pity.
it doesn’t help me to have to comfort you
because you can’t even hear about
what I’ve lived through.
and I understand that others have had it worse;
I’m still here to tell the tale
so clearly it can’t be all that bad.

I tell you because I hope you will understand.
I tell you so you know thay you’re not alone.

still not a love poem

some nights it feels like
it’s just me and the moon
even though I know for a fact
that I’m surrounded by love
if I can just let it in.

when it’s not the love you want
it can feel like a blow instead.
or like someone is speaking
in a language you tried to learn,
and it’s you fumbling the connection.

but I refuse to believe that
you can’t love anyone else
until you love yourself,
or that you only accept the love
you think you deserve.
these days I’m on speaking terms with myself,
which is a lot better than it uaed to be.
but I’ve loved so deeply, indiscriminately,
and I’ve accepted that others love me
even if I think they’re wrong.

a cup of tea

some days it’s all I can do
to keep upright.
even when good news and momentum
assist in the process,
it’s a struggle
to keep going and going and going…
but then I’m not tired.
it’s beyond tired,
a soul-exhaustion that lingers
and underscores the anxiety that rules my life.
so I turn
to a cup of Sleepytime tea.
half the time I’m asleep
before I even drink it.
but it’s comforting to have,
a security blanket in mug,
a familiar bookend to the day.
and then I can rest.