Four Tortured Ponderings
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
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
If you know how to expunge yourself of feeling
I only know how to contain before
And I open up
like he used to open my car door
But then the door shuts
And no one gets in with me.
Space and time aren’t real
I know this because I have
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
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…
Must be a new record
For if space and time aren’t real
Everything is a new record
Everything is new
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.