these walls do have a heart.
If I could, I would tell you all the parts I remember about you;
how the smaller details helped shape exactly who you were,
and much more importantly,
who you almost could have been.
I would tell you how much I miss you each and every day.
It is a very empty feeling, the one I have without you.
Everything is...cold. Even more so than before.
It's not as if you brought much warmth right as you arrived.
Your blood had been drained, your organs disposed of as donations
or...well, sorry to say it, biohazardous waste.
You know, the usual morbid schematics and mechanics.
As usual, I saw people coming in and out--
prepping you, cleaning you,
whispering and...singing to you.
I'm used to the sponges and needles and eventual tears.
The singing was new.
They didn't mention much about you.
They didn't do much other than stroke your face and sing.
Each stroke highlighted something different
as I observed from all around in utmost curiosity.
Their finger gently traced the blonde tips of your eyelashes,
(your eyes were closed and I couldn't help but wonder...
just what color did they use to be?)
the half-smirk indents on the right side of your lips,
(you must've looked glorious when you smiled,
from what I could catch in the echoes of your grins)
your eyebrows from beginning to end,
(you must've furrowed them constantly,
perhaps when you talked about something you had read)
Were you a reader? Was your eyesight strained?
Is that why they traced your forehead, the lines connecting and
leading down to the tip of your nose?
How often were you kissed?
How often did you let them hold your hand?
How often did they pause to see you standing right in front of the sun,
their hearts almost stopping as you practically...glowed?
They may not have said it before.
They may not have had the courage.
But I hope you know, just as they felt, just as they were singing songs
while secretly thinking about your name,
that they loved you.
And I love you now and forever,
i want to hold your hand.
The cat had run away from the door leading to the basement. Her fur stank of fear.
I decided, with mistaken curiosity, to explore. I went one, two, thirteen steep steps down. Musty, powdery air. A single faded blue-white lightbulb flickering behind me. Shadows stretching all around. But that's all they were-- shadows. Of course.
I was surrounded by boxes of stored belongings. A broken porcelain doll. Unworn baby shoes. The lightbulb burst into a shower of sparks. A blink of complete darkness, until it wasn't. Until I saw her. Until I felt her shredded, pale arms around my neck.
songs in 3/4 time from that one controversial band.
It comes in flashes. Precise, echoing pieces.
Just enough to know what the puzzle looks like:
making a garbled mess out of a happy birthday song,
choking on swollen tears while laying on the bathroom floor,
repeatedly asking the question, "Why do you even love me at all?"
at no one in particular, because the world is spinning
and you've already done all your spilling
of your own and everybody else's
unusually well-kept secrets.
You remember going past the point of no return;
the one point where you blur your own lines
because you actually reward yourself with another shot
after admiring your own oh-so-self-restrained good behavior.
And half a bottle later you find yourself thinking
of things you soberly try your best to forget,
so you drink more, repeatedly licking your lips and trying to
remove any trace of having touched the bottle again
when you thought no one was looking.
But they were. They did. They do.
They could see it in your face.
They could see it in the slurred words you spoke,
in the series of calls left unanswered, messages left unread,
in the loss of trust when you apparently somehow crawled
into bed and fell asleep without giving any sort of response.
You wake up the next day with the kind of headache
that makes lights much too bright, and the world go in
sticky, nauseating slow motion.
So you promise yourself you will not do it again,
after all, it was a fluke, you'll be better.
In fact, you did great this week,
and you know it was stressful--
so, why not reward yourself
for your stellar
her name was isabel.
The shaking won't stop.
Gets worse the closer I get to it. To her.
My fingers won't cooperate, won't close. My teeth don't stop rattling.
I clench my jaw so tightly it hurts.
She's hiding in the nook beneath the sink.
A shadow, glowing darker than the lightless room.
A small figure, her knees curled up to her chest.
Black liquid eyes streaming down her pointed face.
A dry voice. Barely more than a whisper.
The hair on the back of my neck rises.
I want to hear her. I don't want to hear her. I want it all to stop.
I want to get closer.
So I do.
I stretch out a hand towards her, "Who are you?"
She shows me those moments.
Hands around her neck.
Mud on her face; her body. God, no.
"I just want to be remembered.
this is why i don’t open that particular pandora’s box.
One time, I read this brilliant short story about a beautiful tightrope walker,
a sad and hopeful clown, and a seemingly confident lion tamer.
It became one of my favorites from the very first sentence.
I often think about the story, even if I can't remember the exact words.
You know, I must say,
I find this situation laughably ironic; the better people feel,
the less they book sessions,
the better and crappier I feel.
Better because it is one less burden to carry on my shoulders and my psyche.
Crappier because of the other burdens that appear from a lack of cash.
You see, you may not know this, so I will fill in the blanks:
my "career" thrives and feeds on futile attempts to assuage human misery.
Quite literally, the more miserable a person is and the more tears they have,
the more they want to talk to us.
I've heard more prayers, wishes, sins,
confessions, than mosts priests will hear inside their cold church walls.
I was told once that during more difficult sessions, my voice sounds
like that of a person who wants to calm a frightened horse;
soothing, quiet, bringing comfort where I can. But little do they know
my hands shake nonstop with frustration
as I take on these people's prayers, wishes, sins,
and endlessly repetitive confessions as my own.
And every time I crack a joke to make them laugh, it is because I spend
an hour every day running as fast as I can until my lungs hurt just so I
don't think about their voices on a loop by the time the night falls.
You see, so and so, your feelings are valid. Your (or their) behavior is not.
Yes, you have the right to feel like you (sure as Hell) deserve more.
No, I do not believe that any kind of (Christian) God
made this happen in order to test your faith.
You've got nothing to prove by not letting go.
But they don't believe it. For many obvious reasons, they rarely do.
You see, they smile, they nod, they say they've understood, they've learned,
they're now changed men and women, they now know exactly how not to be fooled
by the shitloads of social and emotional predators they "formerly" chose to indulge.
And the next time they book a session with me,
it is nine times out of ten because they have fallen back
into the same patterns we struggled to untangle the time before that.
And the time before that--
it was more or less the same thing.
And I end it thinking to myself,
"I don't care. I really do could not care less by this point."
But I don't believe it. For obvious reasons, I do not.
You see, I smile. I nod. I say I've understood, I've learned,
and I'm now a changed me, and now I know exactly how to cope,
how to not over-invest in or care about these bleeding hearts more than I should.
And the next time they book a session with me,
nine times out of ten I will repeat myself. I will listen.
(If appropriate) I'll try to make them laugh.
I will give them much-needed tough love.
And after all that, I will stare at the screen,
wishing I could stand up, walk through that door,
and travel for miles on end carrying just the one story in my head
about the beautiful and maddening tightrope walker,
the well-intended but pathetic clown,
and the overcompensating
who knew caterpillar forums were actually a thing.
Wake up. Roll over.
Fail to recognize an endlessly blue sky.
Linger for a moment or two. Or maybe until another hour passes by.
The gleaming alarm clock reads, "Fifteen minutes to go."
Always fifteen. Always on the go. Always rushing nowhere to be on time
as you wade through the molasses and the cold.
Get up. Brush teeth, wash face, comb hair.
Take daily showers, try to rinse yourself away;
try to get some sense of feeling back into your skin.
But you don't. Because you can't.
Because every day it's getting harder and harder to keep up with the mask.
You haven't been outside in so long. Does it matter?
The air beyond these four walls is just as stale as the one in your chest.
Breathe in, breathe out, eat, sleep, wake up,
brush teeth, wash face, comb hair,
stand in front of the mirror, stretch your face into an unrehearsed smile.
It looks unnatural. It hurts the corners of your lips.
Suddenly, one day, you see Something.
On your balcony there is a potted mint plant.
In the mint plant, there is a caterpillar.
It is...fuzzy? Get closer. It is.
It is black, with reddish tips, a row of petite boot-like feet.
When was the last time you referred to something as cute?
When was the last time you felt genuinely curious about anything?
A voice in the back of your head says you should leave the caterpillar alone.
But really, how much of a chance does it stand against any kind of bird,
against the pelting rain, against this suffocating molasses?
It is there, all alone, with nowhere else to go. Just like you.
So, you grab a proper container, cut open holes into a lid,
reach into the mint, carefully placing
Bonifacio the Caterpillar into his brand new home.
Bonifacio munches through the leaves with remarkable speed--
Hungry hungry caterpillar, indeed!
You still struggle to pick up the pieces, to take care of yourself,
but it gets easier as you care for something that needs you to keep it alive.
When Bonifacio needs a bigger home, you make him one.
When Bonifacio needs fresh food, you go outside on the hunt for different
And you actually chuckle for the first time in months as he eats a leaf
while sitting peacefully in the nook of your hands.
And suddenly, it stops.
Bonifacio buries himself in the earth.
He is either hibernating
before he morphs into an agreeable tiger moth,
or he is on the other percentage leaning towards 'probably gone.'
You nervously observe for the longest month.
And just as you think, "I should've never interfered.
I should've left well enough alone."
You see him again, from the corner of your eye.
Fuzzy. Pearl-white, tiny black legs,
He flutters and stares.
When he is ready, you release him,
and you finally remember the names
of your gleaming, bright stars,
as you look up
at the sky.
from one great lover of mankind to another.
Looking out these glass windows, I'd dream
of a place where it'd just be you, it'd just be me.
We'd abandon all human language, and treacly
gratifying human self-pity.
All forms of human troubles, magazines,
pulling all forms of scandalous heartstrings.
Instead, we'd chirp, screech, howl, croak
in a place with nothing but the Law of the Jungle,
with birds perched on our arms,
we could live offa the fatta the lan',
and our legs would grow strong
from our trots with wolves and
our trickster fox.
But the dream fades,
when I hear every tick,
and its inevitable
don’t leave us alone.
The porch floor creaks and moans. Old, damp wood, rotting from the inside out.
My mouth is dry, but I know this is it. This is the house.
I force saliva to coat my cracked lips.
The door budges without any effort behind it. One small nudge with both hands.
I step in, leaving the door precariously open.
A barely visible hallway spreads in front of me through the darkness.
My eyes adjust to the complete lack of light as I step deeper into the house, the wooden floorboards suddenly silent in comparison to the porch. The safe porch.
The air is thick. My body starts shaking, and once again I know.
This is it. This is the house.
The shaking gets worse as I go up the stairs. A long staircase, the wallpaper on the surrounding walls yellowing and peeling. The front door slams suddenly. There is no wind. I'm not welcome, and they know it. I know it.
My whole body becomes heavy the further up the stairs I go. Another hallway stands before me at the top. Several rooms with completely closed doors. One of them is open--
That is the trap. Do not step into the open door. Go for the sturdiest one, the one that is completely shut. But it's so tough, because that one completely open door shows me a room full of light. Of warmth. I can see a bonfire crackling away, the scent of melting chocolate, marshmallows, cold pines. Christmas. Warmth. Caramel.
Why can't I just forget all this silliness and go through that door?
Wouldn't it be easier? It's a nice place to rest. To finally let go--
a screaming voice breathes into my ear. I jump, a yelp held back.
The rest can't know I am there.
The shock from the voice is enough to make me realize I was one step away from going into the room. On second glance, the room is not warm. It is not bright. It is darker than the rest of the house. Stains around its walls, its floors. I do not need a light to know their color, their origin story. A rank, putrid scent.
Stop it. Goddamn it. Stop it.
Forcefully, I walk away from the room. Towards the one door that is completely closed off to the rest of the world.
My hands are burning cold. This is it. This is the door. I take a deep breath. I knock.
No one answers.
But the door opens, a draft of wind hitting my face.
Before I know it, a small frozen hand slides into my own. The voice is back.
"Please. Don't leave us."
what we hear more times than we can count.
Trigger Warning: physical and emotional abuse.
- - - - -
So, here's the deal. Here's the sitch.
Here's the big ol' spoon I'll now gently pry between your lips.
Love is meant to be freedom, and love is meant to be kind.
Love is not meant to be difficult. Love is not meant to be pain.
In my particular line of business we see it all.
We see couples who weren't meant to be together
try to give it one final go--
or perhaps 33 more attempts before that one final go.
We see broken hearts who insist on 'making' someone
get back to them, as if there is an invisible leash of light
that they can pull on if they only get those magical words right,
or if they apologize or plead or beg just one more time.
Then there's indignation at the wrong place, and completely out of line
of people who believe they are entitled to being the only love prevailing
in other people's lives.
There's the aggression, the violence, of people who say love is meant to hurt.
There's the denial, the gaslighting, the manipulative brainwashing
of people who believe this is what they rightfully deserve.
Because they think they deserve cruel or sharp-edged words,
they think they deserve cruel thoughts,
they think they deserve backhand insults
and the occasional cigarette burn, slap, choke, push or shove.
They think they deserve all this because perhaps, more often than not,
that is all they have ever see, all they have ever known.
That's the hardest thing about life, as I've seen it, as I've coached it:
trying desperately to reason with the spiraled brains of those
who mistakenly but truly
believe they are deserving
a song for the birds - eisley
"Care for this dance?"
Her laughter fills the air. The streetlights glow above us.
Orange. Yellow. White.
She smiles, and nods, gives a mocking curtsy while I give a half-bow.
I pass her the earbuds usually hanging freely from my phone.
I take one, she takes the other, safely placed now inside our ears.
The cable makes it difficult to do much more than sway,
but we make it work, and it's all we got,
so I go ahead and press play.
Bass drum, snare, the constant high-hat in the background,
definitely not a song that screams 'romance',
but we make it work, and it's all we got,
and it really is all we need.
I bite my lip and smile, guiding her through a fox-trot,
which is ridiculous since all I can really do is
a high-school level of waltz.
But she doesn't care, and she doesn't mind,
so we keep stepping
front then back, then side to side.
She removes the earbud to let me spin her,
then places it right in her ear once again.
The corners of her eyes crinkle,
and I can't tell if what I see is an added burn;
an added question I have no idea how to even phrase,
let alone guess how to answer the way I'm guessing that
she'd prefer to pretend we know how to fox-trot
instead of going for the worn-out steps of a waltz.
But we make it work, since it's all we got,
and I keep telling myself that as the song fades out,
because God knows I'm too much of an idiot
to have picked a song that simply goes on,
and on, and