we talk about serenity
but I’m not sure what we mean
there have been times
I was serene
but it’s few and far between
I want it to be a permanent state
an emotion that stretches into
the future, forever
but that’s impossible
like asking to control the weather
so, as days go by
& I grow older
I hope I grow wiser, too
settle for serene moments
instead of reaching for something
that’s beyond my feeble grip
(Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash)
There are ghosts in my family –
I realize this as my mother tells tales
of a biological grandfather I never knew
who blew smoke in my face
when I was two
of years my father spent in jail
of anxiety that permeates
the family tree, which is
diseased & hollowed
about to crumple & topple
into grayish dirt
(Photo by Dikaseva on Unsplash)
I didn’t realize I was sinking
‘til I ended up in the psych ward –
red stitches on a woman’s neck
she looks like a scarecrow
she sliced her own throat
to make the torment end
I was sinking
(Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash)
Cindy parked her work truck in the shade by a McDonald’s and took a big bite out of her Quarter Pounder. Her lunch breaks were always interrupted by phone calls — the endless calls from dispatchers. Today was no different.
When her phone rang, she turned down the Brad Paisely song on her radio.
“Hey, sunshine,” said Marcus, the dispatcher. “Feel like catching any more dogs today?”
It wasn’t the call Cindy wanted to get. But at least it wasn’t the call, the one she constantly feared getting.
Alcoholics like to talk about rock bottom –
the moment they recognized the bottle is filled with lies
the moment when they open their eyes
+ know they don’t have to drink anymore
I hit bottom in a rehab far from home after unkind words
from a social worker who told me
I was running from life – but that’s in the past
I’m still running, I know not why
the sky is falling, fireballs shooting like comets
+ I think this recovery thing is never over –
it’s a life-long process that can’t be defined
by our constant categorizing.
(Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash)
I recently got some bad news that a friend of mine from recovery suddenly passed away. He was only 32 years old. As these dark pandemic days drag on, I felt I needed to write this post to process my emotions.
I was a mess in college.
Two years before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was enrolled at a university in New York with somewhat of a life trajectory, a moral compass, and many good qualities.
The woman asks me for ten dollars – she demands it
I’m reluctant, standing in a pock-marked city,
but feeling pity for her, as she frantically talks
her eyes yellow like harvest moons
her voice shrieks like an urban banshee –
the realities of poverty and addiction,
the rich getting fatter off broken backs.
I reach into my wallet, hand her a ten-dollar bill
she hugs me + hurries away, vanishing into the night,
and as I walk home, I wonder if I’ll ever need to
ask for my ten dollars back
(Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash)
We are damnifacados: homeless, junkies,
people deem us less than human.
When you pass us on a hectic street, we’re resting with
backs to the wall asking for mercy, spare change –
you look away from our weathered faces,
we feel disgrace, in our soiled clothes, our tired eyes.