twisted

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.

swim

when i was a kid, i loved swimming

going fasterfasterfaster, feeling the water part around me

like a god

a good daughter

a proper lady

.

so i learned frontstroke, and backcrawl

and even tried to pick up butterfly

but i couldn’t

my tissue paper body ripping at the seams

i still try it sometimes, out of habit

’cause you would have been so happy

.

when i was a kid, i realized

there was no warning sign i could not dismiss

false confidence and forced bravado

i was born for this

.

to cry on camera

’cause i can make misery look gorgeous

straighten my hair

and shatter my life like stained glass

and get drunk on my own tragedy

.

so i swum down to rock bottom

and stayed there ’til my lungs burned

i remember how i learned to worship the pain

and grab bricks from the bottom

drag them up with feeble kicks

of little feet

.

remember thinking to myself, on a bad day

that if i could just stay under the water

i’d be happy

with the tin-foil silence

that always felt like home

.

and i stopped swimming years ago

but sometimes, that feeling still slams into me

’cause i’m drowning

in the 40-hour workweek

the thrumming pressure

of it all

building up in my throat

.

i rinse off the chlorine

in an echoey changing room

and i don’t let my fears show

refresh my notifications

grab my backpack, and go home

goosebumps

you trace your fingers down the lines of old scars and long-held grudges, because i guess paranoia always did die hard. count them out quietly in your fingers, but i guess i can’t judge you too harshly, because i know i’ll be doing the same with yours. it’s so fucking awful. i know, i know, i know.

and some days, i’m a hopeless romantic, but most of the time i’m the most cynical person you’ve ever met. and i can’t be your princess, with her smiles and sunbeams and starlight filtering through her hair. a whole universe inside just one person. and i guess that’s all well and good in theory, but in practice, i don’t have a clue.

’cause i’m young, and naive, and inexperienced at most things. and it’s equal parts joy and torture, remaking myself each september. trying on different costumes in the hopes that maybe someday, i’ll find one that fits.

and i’m still learning silence from the burnt-out trees, raised up to worship the pain coursing through my bloodstream, to search day after day for its mythic beauty, only to realize, eleven years old, that maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do. but i still find myself following its footprints, on the bad days.

staying up too late on purpose, and letting my chapped lips start to burn. because if i’m just miserable for long enough, won’t you love me all the more? won’t you raise me up, and salute me, mount me like a trophy on your wall? would you tell me you’re proud of me, when i’ve done nothing at all?

would you plug the holes in my heart with drywall, paint me magenta and sky blue? would you run away with me one afternoon, even if it’s only in our dreams, and build me a cityscape of promises we’ll try our best to keep, but who knows?

because people change. and people mess up. but right now, i mean it, and maybe that’s enough.

romanticize

sometimes i think i’ve spent my whole life mastering the art of silence. learning how to shut my mouth, and fold up other people’s feelings like t-shirts, warm and fresh out of the dryer, and sort them out on my bed. i like to think i’m pretty good at it. so i play therapist. i listen, and i hold your feelings like bathwater, watching them drip-drop onto the floor.

i’m sorry i can’t save you. i’m sorry it sucks, and you’re all alone, and everything’s just a little bit fucked up right now. there’s no way to romanticize that, i think. no soundtrack to make it better. it just kinda sucks, you know? and you’ve got every right to be pissed off about it.

but you can’t be pissed off about it. because being pissed off about it means accepting it wasn’t your fault, and accepting it wasn’t your fault means it’s out of your control. so stand by and watch, as the monsters under the bed go in for the kill. there’s only so much anger one body can hold, and it eats you up inside. i know, i know, i know.

i remember that day, we went to the lake last summer, and walked on gravel with bare feet. closed our eyes, let the summer heat turn everything to a dizzy blur. i remember watching the people down below, and the ripples in the water. that feels like a century ago.

but i still don’t know how to tell my friends i love them, or let anyone hold me close. i haven’t really had a lot of practise, you know? so i’m sorry if i see a church in your eyes, and the words come out all wrong sometimes.

but for now, we will linger, in that comfortable silence, right before dawn, when the light hits the trees, and i’ll rip off bits of moss from the ground, and think that this is what family feels like. take a picture of this moment in my mind: quiet, and holy, in its own right.

developments

an ode to my hometown

there’s a distinct way, that this place manages to stay the same for years only to quietly reshape itself all while you’re lulled into a false sense of security, one monday morning on the way to school. and suddenly: there’s a new grocery store, or another lot that’ll sit empty.

until another liquor store moves in. maybe a yoga studio, or a gift shop, i don’t know. but as we stop at the light, i stare out the window, the insidious heat burning my cheeks, and melting my brain to putty. it’s another scorching summer day, mr. blue sky painting a mirage down the swooping highway.

and just like always, i watch tourists descend like vultures, picking clean the remains of clearance racks and grocery store displays, only to disappear along with burnt-yellow lawns and congested traffic each fall, leaving their souvenirs and marshmallows behind, or whatever it is tourists come here to buy.

but… there are also endless roads, forests stretching out for eternity. little creeks under highways, or half-empty bus rides, houses i’ve driven past my whole life, making up stories in my head for the people who must have lived inside. with their broken costco trampolines and hammock chairs.

and someday, i’ll leave this place. look back with nostalgia, and hatred, and god knows what else. wonder how i lived like this, and make myself anew. break promises, and hopefully keep some too. and oh, you beautiful disaster: i cannot wait to miss you.