downward spiral (conversations from my junior year of high school)

  1. On a Zoom call, my Psych teacher tells me

“You’re so mature for seventeen”

Sixteen, I say quietly

And I think Jesus Christ that’s young

Maybe I let it get to my head

  1. “With these grades, you’ll have no trouble

in university,” the counsellor 

Reassures me, and I nod for her sake

Promise, I’m not gonna take an opportunity like this

and throw it back in your face

Hope that it’s true

  1. My grandpa says that “music stopped getting better after Elvis”

But we both know 

That it’s not really about the music

It’s about who he was

A zest for life you lose and can’t replace

And I think what if my good old days are already behind me?

What if it doesn’t get better than this?

He says “You’re going to do well in the world”

And I think what if he’s wrong?

What if my downward spiral has only just begun?

  1. I tell Granny about the courses I’m taking

Against my better judgment 

And she says, “That’s good, that’s really good”

Calls me a “smart cookie”

And holds my hand with trembling, bony fingers

I hug her and laugh, say goodbye 

and pretend it’s okay

  1. I’m in someone’s office

He’s tenting his fingers like a steeple as light streams through the blinds

 “All right. What grade are you in?”

Eleven

“You’ve got nothing to be worried about”

Off the top of my head: student loans, scholarships, letting down everyone who loves me, climate change, housing instability

I could get to the front of the line to pay

And lose my wallet at the bottom of my bag

The bus could run early

The plane going by just a little too low could be the one that drops a bomb

People could be cruel, and unfair

They could be absolutely right in their critique

I take the piecemeal

Thank him for his time, and go

  1. “I can’t wait ‘til I get my license

I’m gonna drive to your place, pick you guys up and go”

my best friend tells me on the phone, while I’m sitting outside

Racking up long-distance fees under the outdoor light

And I say I just wish you were here

I wish I could see you more than twice a year

I wish it could feel like it used to, before everything

Got harder; before we grew up under fire

And they say “Ugh, I know”

  1. “I mean, if we’re all just gonna be stardust, it’d be nice to just know”

I’m sitting at my desk, trying to stop scrolling through my phone

And I say something about

How you’re overreacting to an uncertain situation

Putting the cart before the horse

But really what the fuck do I know

  1. You’re lying in my arms and we’re shivering

Lying on your trampoline and watching the sky get dark over the trees

I feel like all of this has aged me

It feels good to tell the truth to you, 

And I wish I never had to leave

As I watch the clouds turn pink in the sky

  1. “There’s so much I’ve missed the past two years

I’m just trying to cram it all in, and now I’m exhausted”

It’s pouring rain, and my fingers slip over the keypad

On the bank machine, and for a moment I forget to put my cash in the slot

God, I know

I am tired, like a quiet ache

And I don’t have the energy to do anything but watch

Time slipping out through the cracks between my fingers

Making a mess on the floor

Counting down to the moment I just crack and say

That I can’t fucking do this anymore

  1. “It’ll come with practise

It just takes time

Just keep trying, and you’ll get there, all right?”

But it’s so hard to imagine

A view at the end of the climb

Whatever you want to call it

But I’m tired, and fed up

After only two weeks

I don’t think that I’m cut out for this

It all goes faster in my head

I’m running on a treadmill

In search of a finish line

Then get off, broken and exhausted

And curse myself for not moving an inch

i’m doing okay

it’s a non-event / a temperary-permanent state of mind / i’m lying on the water, and i’m staring at the sky, and i don’t feel half-bad at all / i’m sitting on the phone with the doctor or the therapist, and i don’t have much to say at all

i’m lying in bed, and i’m tired from my day / i don’t know if it’s me, or if it’s you /  but i’ve got nothing to bitch about beyond the ordinary / work and school and the weather / and  my dreams, they’re just as absurd as ever, but that’s okay

i went to see you last night and we sat out by the stars and talked / and i wish i’d taken pictures, but i didn’t, and already i can feel how it’ll slip from my mind / i’m so scared of forgetting, but i guess that makes sense / and i think that it’ll all come in time

we walked until our feet were sore, ogled at pretty things / i went home, a little tired / and i thought about how much i am loved / and how much i love these people too

and there are things i can’t say, things i can’t write / there are gods i haven’t prayed to, and things i haven’t chased in quite some time / so i sit here, and i figure my shit out piece by piece / and i try to give it time

there are long, dreary, lazy days where i don’t feel much at all / and i miss writing poetry, i miss having something of much importance to say / i miss the frenetic typing, the feeling of it all just setting into place / but at least i haven’t got so much to write about / at least my shadow keeps a steady pace 

i’m doing okay, really / i’m trucking along through the dust, through the tired days / and when my therapist calls me, for a moment i can’t figure out what to say

frostbite

i thought it was frostbite, but it’s not, i’m just standing there, heart-racing, waist-deep in the snow. there’ snothing you can do to help me, but the wolves won’t hurt me. i’ve been here before. the frost clumps to my eyelashes, and i wince at the path less taken. i’ve done that before, too. but the blizzard is too thick, and i can’t see the forest for the trees. that’s been said before, a million times–you know what it means. i thought it was drowning, but i think it’s just osmosis. i think i’m just falling asleep. i think my fingers don’t belong to me, and my lonesome heart has really known it all along. i’ve been staring down at the water, and wondering what lurked that deep. i thought it was heatstroke, thought it was something i could treat. thought it would go away with time or place or a change of mind. but i think it might just be me. me, and my stubbornness, me and my pride. i hope i never lose it, ‘cause you need it to survive. i thought i was losing my mind, but i think i’m just seeing things clearly for the very first time.

knife

i sharpened my tongue on flint / and i practiced on myself at least a little bit / don’t wanna say it, but it’s true / i carved my eyes out of marble and jade and i looked out on the world in a rose-tinted shade / i fashioned myself hands and fingertips out of driftwood, of mahogany / and i scribbled on my arms with free business pens / searched for something i was supposed to be feeling, a warmth or a sunrise that just doesn’t come / you can stop, you can rest now / that’s what i’m told, but if i set down roots i’m never going to leave / if i bow my head, and go to sleep, they’ll wake me up centuries later, when my friends are dead / so i practised asking for what i want with my head held high / i practiced watching like a hawk, and now it’s just what i do / the knife cuts both ways, this has always been true.

i studied the moviements of my face in the mirror, of my trembling shoulders and my tired thighs / and i watched the light shift before my eyes / have you ever noticed how the world changes upon observation? how there’s a fault in everything if you only look / it’s in my blood to be this way, which is really just to tell you that i am tired / the door is shut and i want to lie awake, staring up at the ceiling, thinking of all the things i’ll do / and i’ll dig the knife a little deeper, i’ll find some way to be bitter about something or other / marinating in fury on the bathroom floor / the knife cuts both ways / and i know how to hold it in-between my palms, sifting through words to let go, and words to leave to rot on the back of my tongue / things i’ll never tell you, ‘cause what’s done / i’ve already forgot

on a good day

i’ve been getting up early

just to waste time, and run

all the way to work, and i’ll get there

just two minutes late

i’ll feel like shit about it anyway

i miss you like a dagger, straight to the heart

i miss you sharp and strong and good

i miss you like an art, like the long

silence like the things lost in text

a picture says a thousand words, or so i’ve been told

and i don’t know if that true, but what i know 

is that i’m tired, these days and i have all the time in the world

that i still choose to waste

yeah, i’ve been curling into myself

these days

and letting it all go

but on a good day, it’s not gonna cross my mind

on a good day, i’m half-asleep and still all right

and i’m bright and early and i’m good

i bring you tea and i run the laundry

and i sit with my thoughts, dip my toes into murky saltwater

yeah, on a good day, someday

i’m gonna take it with a smile and walk along the shore

and everything that bothers me is hardly

an issue anymore

on a good day i’m gonna swallow 

every drop of cough syrup, i’m gonna be healthy

real good

you know how it goes

i’m gonna get up, and run as far as my legs can go

come home with energy to spare

just you wait and see 

how good it’ll be, just come next week

how i’ll be brave and i’ll be mature 

and i’ll do the work without a word

we’ll read side by side

i’ll talk with you for hours, i’ll feel perfectly fine

from the top of my head to the tips of my toes

and i’ll stay that way in the morning sun

for quite some time