3:20

things are different,
in the dark. in the middle
of the night when I’m
the only one awake – even
the cats are sleeping, and
the birds not even dreaming
of their stupid little chirps
for hours yet – my mind
starts to play tricks
on itself. thoroughly unfun
little games like “let’s remember
twelve times I was
hideously embarrassed”
one hopscotching to another
reaching back as far
as I can remember;
or “how many moral failings
can I count in the next
hour”; or “let’s analyze
every interaction
I had this week to see
who hates me and what
I’ve done to deserve it”
and nothing stops it because
there’s nothing else
to do.

that’s when
I get up and smoke
yet another cigarette, shivering
in the cold air from the
open doorway, feeling
it’s my just punishment
for still being awake –
if I had gone to sleep
two hours ago
like I was going to, when
I actually felt sleepy,
I wouldn’t feel the need to do this
to myself right now – but
helpless
in the face of the relentless
assault of a mind
brewing up horrors –
like when you go too long
without eating and your stomach
starts digesting itself – I
desperately take the stopgap,
in the hopes that this distraction
will give me a break.

that’s why sometimes
I wait until dawn
to sleep, when at least life
is happening.

because
the darkness breathes
at me. things that are not real
seem dreadfully, hugely
powerful, and only daybreak
robs them of their strength.
I suffer for that choice too
but sometimes
it feels necessary.

I’m sorry. I fear
you daywalkers
will never really
understand.

now that you’ve quit

the sign at the Rite-Aid
asks, “what are you
going to do
now that you’ve quit?”

lately I’ve been feeling like
maybe I don’t want to
smoke cigarettes anymore but
that question haunts me.
what the fuck am I
going to do with myself
when the press of people
around me gets to be
too much, when I need
some air and a few
minutes to think, or
write a poem,
or when I can’t
sleep and I need a reason
to stand in the doorway
with the terrace door open
to the elements
for approximately
three minutes
and forty seconds?

Continue reading now that you’ve quit

confessions

I may have lied
last night. you
were the miller in that
second poem too, the one who
earned his rest by creating.

I don’t know why
I lied. something in me
was very wary, very afraid
to admit it. maybe because
I keep getting burned
whenever I reveal
my heart. so to protect myself
from fire, I buried that secret knowledge
six fathoms under. well, the skeletons
are floating up now!

also in that poem, I seem to have
devalued the lady’s writing poems
because to me it doesn’t
usually feel like work, and also because
I’m the one doing it.
you work at yours, I see it.
anything I do
doesn’t count as work
in my mind. unless I’m
making big bucks and/or
digging ditches. it’s probably a
daddy issue. gee, what a surprise.

and remember your favorite
devices: poetic license, literary
detachment and writing in
characters? the lady is both
me and not-me, not all of me
anyway. she’s a voice in
my head telling me I’m
worthless. she doesn’t know
shit.

the whole analogy
falls apart anyway,
the center cannot hold
because her writing poems
invalidates the entire metaphor.
if she had a mortar and pestle
and secretly ground her own flour
to bake illicit cakes, that would
be in keeping, but it would also
be ridiculous.

plus I didn’t think of it
til now. should I edit?
does the world really need
The Mill 2.0?