My siblings text each other,
A net to catch and diffuse the grief.
Three years ago? Is that all?
Is that a long time, or a short time?
I can’t tell.
When I first started this blog, all of my poems were about you.
Now I have moved on to lesser things.
But once in a while
The wound reopens, raw to the air.
I swore to learn to cry.
I’ve gotten better.
But this winter and the holidays
They make me think of you
a dull inner ache
and I keep smiling.
The difference is
I write, too.
You wouldn’t want us to hurt.
You wouldn’t want any pain for us.
You did all you could to spare us.
We were happy.
We are happy.
But life isn’t just smiles, is it?
Sometimes life is scraped fingers
Bruised knees, twisted ankles
High fevers and learning to stand up for yourself.
You knew this too.
This time of year I wear your long jacket.
It keeps my legs warm.
It’s very dignified.
I still see you wearing it
Helping you over the curb with your walker
to the Chinese restaurant
for Orange Chicken. Always Orange Chicken.
Orange Chicken for life.
The waitress took it kindly
When you told her you loved her
And gave her a hug.
She could tell something was wrong.
I smiled at her discomfiture
And apologized with my eyes
But deep down
I wanted to be you right then.
This chocolate shake is for you.
Happy birthday mom.
Mantra is to empty self
Pull your feelings off the shelf
And pour them down the drain.
Nobody needs that shit in their life.
Nobody needs the nasty voices
The gut punch of insecurity
The sharp ream of loathing
Nobody needs that mean little chewing creature
In their heads.
Some people don’t have mean little creatures in their heads.
Instead they have burning skyscrapers.
Some people are trapped in a crashing plane,
Or whole self sunk deep under quicksand, waiting for a breath.
Some people have something inside them so damaging,
They can’t even bear to look inward.
Runs rolls rumbles tumbles tosses
Yesterday it was just a creek
The rains have swelled it
This is why
The banks are so broad
The usual pebbly islands sunk
Redrawn rewritten redrafted
Underneath the water
Beneath the roiling muck
The river rewrites itself
With every passing rain cloud
It changes who it is
It carries garbage further away
It carries new garbage in
It fills new puddles
To fill with new frogs
And new adventures
Because it chose
To flow where the water wants.
It allows life
To alter its bones.
It doesn’t resist.
It relaxes into chaos,
Falls in, falls out.
It dries to emptiness,
Floods to new paths.
That is why
The river is forever.
I’m not an expert blah blah blah.
When you first stop yourself from doing the bad thing
(Disassociation, denial, self-harm, drinking, addiction, etc.)
You think you’re going to explode and scream and have an aneurysm.
You cry and shake and wonder if this is what it’s like, riding it out
And if so, how the fuck do normal people do it every day?
You’ll go through three months to three years of instability
Where you snap at your friends and perplex them with your choices
As you desperately seek an outlet
Trying every possible vent that might give some release
(Art, talking, exercise, diet, therapy, meds, religion)
It doesn’t happen quickly
Not in most cases.
You have to heal
And healing takes time.
Once your bad coping mechanism is, not gone (never gone),
But under control
You find you need to make some major life changes
(New spouse, new job, new gender, new friends, etc).
As your current situation is intolerable
And was only rendered tolerable by your overwhelming self-distraction.
The desperation fades.
The world comes into focus.
The people you once despised
Become people you respect.
Every once in a while
You’ll run into remnants of your old self.
You’ll know them through but they’ll look like strangers
And you’ll see right through their bullshit.
I have tools at my disposal
To keep my house happy
Good for trimming overgrowth that presses against the house
Or repairing damage from the environment.
That one is good for sawing down trees that might work their roots under.
This one helps me patch holes in the walls.
This glue prevents things from falling to pieces.
This paint keeps it cheerful and waterproof.
If I spray the house often, I keep the bugs out.
Moisture is inevitable, but it shouldn’t damage,
And it’s most important to keep the bugs out.