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.

by any other name

well, I tried to hold out. early
in the new year I thought
to myself that it was remarkable
that I had not yet written a single
poem this month. it would be
a funny, fun challenge to hold out
until February. a little test
and trick to play
upon myself, since certainly
no one else was noticing. and
it wasn’t as if I had anything
to say for myself anyway,
so abstaining from blathering
about nonsense

was no big hardship. but
I simply could not do it. this month
seems fucking endless and
it turns out that eternity

by any other name
feels every bit as long. at this rate
we shall never reach the promised land
of the shortest month, let alone
get any closer to summer.
may whoever have mercy
on our shivering souls.

existential

I am a girl
of sand and fire.
I am a voodoo doll
held together by my
pins. I am a sentient collection
of ants. I am a girl-shaped
form made out of ashes;
pour me through
a sieve and watch me
disappear. I am a gingerbread
woman; bite my head off
to put me out of my misery. I am
the Wicked Witch
of the West, melting in the rain.

I am a ghost, a breath
of hot air from your mouth;
I am steam, condensing into
being and then dispersing
as fast as I appeared.
I’m the last dying ember
of a dead star. I’m a whirlwind
of sand inside a sirocco.

I’m only real
as long as your eyes
can see me.

the veil, lifted

I see it now: I was never
the one. she was always
the bright-eyed doll, the queen,
the evanescent moon around which
you orbited. I almost can’t
blame you. she’s blonde, she’s
pretty enough. she fills out
her clothes nicely. she plays
a mean guitar, and wields
her voice like a weapon.
no, it’s myself that I’m mad at
as usual, for daring to think
that your dark weirdness
was directed my way. I
could not know, but I
should have known.
it’s never me.

imposter syndrome

I don’t deserve
to take myself seriously.
I’m a fraud, a fool, a dilettante, a dumbass.
taking yourself seriously
is for winners.
that’s why I make sure
to make lots of faces
after I play a song.
just in case anyone thought
I was sincerely hoping
to deserve your serious
attention. I’m just anticipating
the critique that has long since
stopped coming. it now resounds
only in my own head. if I admit
all the flaws first, will I escape
the put-down?

no. there’s no point.
might as well pretend
that I don’t hate myself.
maybe if I do it long enough,
I’ll finally start
to believe it.

cold and grey

it’s too cold. the sky is
crying. all is damp
and hopeless.
I’m sick of this
bullshit. when will it
get warm enough
to stop the aching
in my bones? when
will this empty void
in my soul be filled?

the tiny voice
inside my head
that’s used to
dealing with this
whinging sounds like
a Magic 8-ball. it says only,
“try again
tomorrow.”

the headache

the headache is
your best friend. it’s
with you in the morning
when you fall into an exhausted
uneasy slumber; it’s with you
when you wake in the late
afternoon filled with self-loathing
and guilt. every time
you move your head, the headache
reminds you that your
body is unhappy with you
and your choices. the headache
thinks you need
to try something different,
perhaps. it says
maybe alcohol and
cigarettes and constant,
constant cat hair and
spring pollen and lack
of exercise and very few
green vegetables are all
bad choices if you want
your body to like you
and to give you another friend
besides the neverending
headache.