Four Tortured Ponderings

September 29, 2020
green necklace on purple background with multiple striped shirts
Art by Kim Salac

I have trapped myself in a maze by often saying, “I can only write sad poetry.” However, it rings as true to me as the sound of silverware being tapped against a wine glass. Negative words will flow out of my brain, into my fingers, and onto my Google Doc — I just know it, before I even write. Still, it’s comforting to be able to rely on something, even if it’s negative, even if it’s sad. I may get stuck in a sad-poetry maze, but I find freedom there, too, in the homey, familiar space I’ve come to expect.


It becomes easy to sort through my emotions when I can write them all down and then categorize them — okay, one for happy, two for confused, three for dumbfounded, four for… what was that word again? Bemused. 


What do I do to care for myself? I write. It becomes easy to sort through my emotions when I can write them all down and then categorize them — okay, one for happy, two for confused, three for dumbfounded, four for… what was that word again? Bemused. Reading poetry offers me self-care, too, because I can always apply the poem I am reading to my current situation, and that is my hope with these poems. That you, yes you, will be able to grasp a phrase and let it hold you. Let it comfort you. Let it help you, let me help you. 



Tangible Green, Intangible Person


A deep emerald green

Not fake like the jewelry I used to buy at Goodwill

With hints of golden brown around the edges

Like a green sea in a far-off land. 

Really, not that far 

But far enough from me 

As you are

And that’s a whole ocean.

Brown pine trees around the edges of the lake,

Where I used to hide and show my true self,

Are now dead, but it is not winter.


Is this a disease that can be cured?


They say time will tell, 

but time has only shown me its grip on what tears at my greatest insecurities. 

It listens to me when I fall asleep and as I run through every bad thing I have ever done.


But at least it listens.




16 Karat Gold


One necklace

Dangling in the middle of all of my other jewelry

Not worn or admired until the end


I hated the single stone

Not my style

Not my taste

But I loved the gift


A present, from you

A promise, to love me


And when forever came to my doorstep


Clothed in a blue and white striped polo

And blue jeans

The shoes I bought you for your birthday

The socks, too


It told me that forever was over.


I had been wearing that necklace

Since I knew forever was at stake

Clinging onto every broken branch I could find in a nearly barren wood


I reached behind my neck

Undid the clasp

And handed the necklace to it 

Sadness entered its voice


The last time I’d hear it call me an endearing name

And then forever was broken. 

A promise no longer




Grounded In Air



Is not hard in and of itself

And you don’t get to choose

When it happens



Is soul-crushingly hard

Not only on your body

But especially on your heart



Is not scary because you know

You’re going to hit the ground

The freefall is scary

Because you don’t know

If you can handle the thousands of cuts from the leaves

Floating through the air


You don’t know

If you’ll hit something 

Before you hit the ground



Is easy

If you know how to expunge yourself of feeling


But I,

I only know how to contain before

the freefall

And I open up

like he used to open my car door


With love,

But then the door shuts

And no one gets in with me.




Lies Told


Space and time aren’t real

I know this because I have

Transcended them

My mornings have four extra hours


One to think

One to discompose

One to cry

One to ponder


I know space and time aren’t real

Because my space and time

Feel halted and sped up

How can they feel halted and sped up

At once? 


My evenings have twenty minute blocks

That show up when they want to

And they coax me into crying

Even when I haven’t in…

Four hours?


Must be a new record

For if space and time aren’t real

Everything is a new record

Everything is new


Except me.

I don’t know how to re-enter

Space and time

If space and time don’t allow me

To be in your space and time


Space and time

Must not like me

Because when I asked for more hours in my day

They gave me sadness


I can’t use those hours. 



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