I take a lot of selfies and post a lot of shit on Facebook and Instagram because I crave connection and some days, well fuck, I do want attention. I want to know that my presence was felt in the world. No one takes pictures of you when you’re alone, so you do it yourself and say “hey world, still fucking here” or “hey guys, shit sucks actually” or whatever it is you need to share. For as much as social media fucks with connection, it’s also a way to break up some of that loneliness. So if you’re out there posting selfies and looking for someone to see you, you’re not alone. You are brave and you are fierce.
here’s the thing,
and i know it’s kind of fucked up,
but sometimes i pretend,
like i’m coming home to you,
and i pretend my grandma’s not dead,
and that it’s still two thousand something,
i can’t settle on a year though,
because i’m not sure when things
completely went to shit.
in my make believe world,
i like to pretend that veterans
live in two story homes
with white picket fences
with dogs and barbeques
and families that make them laugh;
fast cars and trucks,
farms and peace,
the kind Dick Winters spoke of.
in my make believe world,
i pretend they don’t sacrifice
their sanity for
xanax pills and vodka,
beer and smokes,
PTSD and walmart,
living on the fucking streets.
i pretend they come home
and it was just as they left it.
friends are still friends,
high fives, tailgate nights
such a world, where war
wasn’t fucking easier
than living and coming home.
i pretend they don’t come home
and blow their brains out
in the lobby of a va hospital.
i pretend 22 is just the number
that comes after 21,
not the number of lives ended.
for the ones not existing
in my perfect world,
press 1 to talk to someone.
they’d be so surprised,
if i answered the door with
blood dripping down both my hands
and bloody handprints on the fucking walls.
they’d be so suprised,
really they would.
they’d say, but we didn’t see this coming.
i’d lie, you know.
oops, haha, silly me,
just an accident with a kitchen knife,
you see, i was a cooking a big pot
of what-the-fuck and god-this-sucks
and what do you know,
slit both my fucking wrists,
totally an accident.
they’d believe me.
because pain is something we hide
in the closet underneath last years swim suit
and the pictures from our fucked up high school
i’ll chug a bottle of some cheap shitty wine,
the whole thing if it doesn’t slip
out of bloody fingertips.
but if it does, we’ll pretend it didn’t even happen
white wine, what wine?
look at the time,
you sure you’re okay,
that’s their favorite line.
clearly, i’m not fucking okay.
clearly, i need help because
this blood is never gonna come off the walls
and they’re white,
so obviously it’s going to stain,
oh, you got that other thing,
i think i can get these stains out
if i cry fucking hard enough after you leave.
i think i’ve got more bandaids,
underneath the bathing suits.
she was gone by the time i was four,
then there were others,
that came and said, i will be your mother
but they forgot me when they put
their mother-daughter outings on the calendar.
almost good enough, but not quite enough
to get an invitation to the beach
or the shopping or coffee to talk about the day.
good enough for advice, but
not quite good enough for time.
this should have faded by now,
this feeling of being forgotten,
you’d think by thirty you’d be finished”
with childish things like belonging
and motherly love and girls nights.
but here i am, writing some shitty poem
about what it feels like to see your
sister and her mother travel to the beach
and share jokes and shopping and time,
while you sit on a couch, wishing you had a mother.
she was gone by the time i was four.
don’t bother to sew yourself shut,
just stand there, hold yourself open
let them see your beating heart
vulnerable doesn’t mean broken.
change the narrative of sorrow
as it turns out, happiness is something
that you can borrow.
you can share it.
like a candle and a flame,
your light doesn’t need to be extinguished
share it, no shame.
you’re beautiful even when you’re bleeding.
Your words burn my soul like bright flame to a lone sheet of paper, mottled with eraser marks and pencil hearts. It is as though you have reached bare-handed through my skin, taken my heart between your fingers, and opened it to my very being. Inch by inch, your words unravel it with the same finesse as an angry sea with a sailboat. I would beg you to be kinder if I thought you would hear it, but I know that my words would fall far short of truly reaching you. You would sooner rip my soul to pieces and leave the pieces to the Devil rather than see that you are no better than the others. You speak of peace and love and truth, but you would sooner have me drown in the ocean rather than believe in peace, or give love, or search for truth in anything other than what you already have found.
when you wake up from a nap
only to discover that somehow
you’ve been buried in sadness.
even the chaos doesn’t distract me enough,
a hundred thousand questions can’t stop me
from torturing myself.
i wanted you.
i wanted you in the way that an addict
wants that hit of whatever gets them
the heaven they think they want.
i wanted to bury myself inside of you,
burrow right into your soul.
i wanted to see what made you,
the good, the bad, the things you hide.
in a way,
i did see all that shit.
the light, the dark, the depth,
just, that’s all i could get.
just a view in from the outside,
i hope you are well,
and i hope that you really are as beautiful
as i made you out to be,
inevitably, i’ll think of you,
this isn’t goodbye,
it’s not a see you later,
it’s a graveyard epitaph,
for a living ghost.