it’s funny, how old habits always die hard. by which i mean, that i know logically the voice in my head is full of shit. but i still do exactly as it says, just to be safe about it.

let it rest its greasy hands on my shoulders. tell me what to say, and do. because it’s kept me safe so far. it loves me, really. just like you. it slips inside my throat, and pulls the strings, ever-so-quietly.

and half of what it says isn’t based in reality so i’m sorry, if i’ve got my head in the clouds, it’s just sometimes i think my mind is one big cobweb, and i am the fly. if i could disappear into the floorboards, i would do it in a heartbeat, and i still don’t understand why.

but sometimes, it feels like i’m walking through a dream. sometimes i collapse on my bed, and let its warmth sing me placid, and safe. wouldn’t that be better? if i just stayed in this room for the rest of my life, where everything is okay?

and i still don’t know why i let you strip away the layers of me, calloused armour built up over years, only to shatter like ceramic as you strike me to the core. i’m sorry, my dearest love, but i can’t do this anymore.

and yet, as i stare into your eyes, i still can’t cut the fucking cords.

cloud nine

so, i’m fine. i’m all right, really. back on my feet again, after so long spent struggling to get my ass in gear. i’m doing this, and it’s good, really. stitching up the holes i tore in my skin, with band-aids and polysporin.

with wishes in wells and gambler’s logic. it’ll be better next time, won’t it? if i just try a little bit harder to will the world perfect. and then, when i look into the night, i’ll think of rainbows and ice cream and limitless possibilities, not the crushing fear of failure, and the buckling knees below me. i’ll say positive affirmations into the mirror, i’ll wash my face twice a day.

but when the wifi goes out, i won’t miss it at all. so find me laughing off my problems over text message at 12am, with so much work ahead of me.

wrapped up in denial like a blanket, soft and warm and loving, in that way i’ve always craved. halfhearted workouts in flannel shirts and jeans, because there’s always more to do, always someone ten steps ahead, and if they did it, why can’t i do it too?

’cause i can work hard, i can give you whatever you need. except sometimes, when the slightest thing goes wrong, it takes all my self-control not to cry like a baby on the worn-out carpet. but i’ll keep it together for you, i promise.

i’ll do anything for the good life, like lukewarm bathwater in my palms. its clean-cut crystal catching the morning light. but maybe that’s not a good thing. maybe it’s all pointless, because we are cosmic and insignificant, and i think maybe i shouldn’t watch so much tv.

as i float mindless above cloud nine, slowly losing touch with reality.

third person

i narrate my life in third person, sometimes, when i need to get away. i paint myself a hero, a protagonist, maybe the villain on a bad day. and when it gets bad, at least it’s only ever in a controllable way. where i can watch from the sidelines, and think to myself wow, that was some compelling characterization, all right.

because if someone’s always watching, at least i’m not alone. and when i’m lost at sea, at least i know there’s always gonna be the three-act story structure to guide me home. to hold me tight, and love me to the bone.

so i close my eyes, and pretend this isn’t really my body, on the bad nights. when i can’t help but feel like the sky is falling down. i shiver, and i shake, and i pinch my wrists, waiting for the tornado to dissipate and leave me shattered on the ground.

i take one step back, and then another, until nothing makes sense anymore. and i’m a kid on the swingset, i’m strangled tongues and rusty verbs. i’m a picasso painting, but only the ugly parts. and maybe it’s avant garde, or maybe we’re just stupid. and we take ourselves too seriously, and we never call home.

we go mad for an abstract concept. for a chance to be remembered. and so here i am, staring down my demons the runaway. and maybe this is what destroys me, but goddamn, if they’re not something to describe. i make myself mangled limbs and traffic accidents, and i know that i’m not really fine.

but i am not going down with this plane tonight. i won’t let the cancer spread to me, along broken, dilapidated limbs of this family tree. i’ve come too far to give up this early. and god, it sounds pretty, doesn’t it?

like the first page of a brand-new story.

silver lining

if someone were to follow me home, i hope they’d like what they found, at the very least. and maybe, just maybe, i could unclench their tight fists, could soften their bitter ways, for just a moment, because isn’t that what i’m supposed to do?

talk you down with my sugar-spun adjectives and verbs, on magical occasions such as these, where the sun glows bright in our eyes, and blinds us to uncertainty, and i just start laughing when it shatters, because it’s all so fucking funny.

just these little chemical impulses in my brain. which is a chunk of matter i’ve convinced myself i control, as we spin around and around in circles on this space rock we call home, which is in a galaxy, which is in a universe, and i’m so fucking infinitesimal that none of it matters in the end, not really–

and yet i still see my life flash before my eyes, every time you forget to shower me in a constant stream of validation and courtesy. i’m like a needy little kid, because maybe i never stopped being one.

just learned to stuff my childhood in a jar, and keep it on a shelf. maybe i’ll put a little dash of it in this story, or that poem, who knows–take a pinch of powdered nostalgia with my tea. is that normal? is it really?

is it okay to compare your brain to a half-dead charging cable that still works in a pinch, you just have to move it around a bit, but i can’t fucking stand the idea of falling behind. of being second-best.

and i’m trying to look for the silver lining here. i’m getting pretty good at it–shifting the lightning, and wracking my mind for a pretty turn of phrase. but i’ve got nothing today.

i call myself a narcissist

i spent most of my childhood narrating my life in third person. waiting for the portal to open, and take me away to some fantasy realm, which i would save someday. ’cause i was gonna charge into battle like a knight in shining armour, with my mentor behind me. i’d make lots and lots of friends, and call them my new family, so i’d never miss home. i’d go on lots of adventures, and maybe even get a movie, so bunch of grown-ups could make millions off my fate. and in the back of my mind, i’m still waiting.

still walking through lonely forests and opening up musty cupboard doors, just in case, and talking to the girl in the mirror like she knows what to do. because it’d be nice to run away. and finally see that land i take myself too when reality gets too loud to face; some weird self-soothing mechanism, or maybe i really was just born this way.

and when i fill out application forms, and talk to the guidance counsellor, i see the whole world stretched out before me. it is plastic, and glistening, and suddenly: i am ten years old: at the shopping mall with no money, running hands over fifty-dollar coats and dreaming of someday.

and in my head, there are a thousand different voices, competing for attention. in my head, i am clawing my way up a wall of rankings with my bare hands. i am constantly keeping score. even when no one asked, even when i’m the only person who gives a shit about this anymore.

in my head, i am flawless and beautiful. in my head, i am the worst person alive. and i don’t know which one of those is true, but just to be safe, i fade quietly to the background. i wear big t-shirts, and the same fucking pair of jeans for three days. i don’t say anything at all.

i shatter at the slightest critique, avoid conflict like the plague. and i know i can be wrong, i know the world is not always out to get me. but in my head, it’s a war zone; every last inch of it. so i’ll put on my armour, and i’ll rush into the fray, knowing full well that the only person i hurt was myself today.