A Spa for the Tortured
Instead of cucumbers
I place pickles over my eyes
because I prefer to think that self-induced agony
makes me stronger and more resilient.
I am a glutton for punishment,
so, I lay back and let the brine work its way in.
Never wincing—Never offering a single reaction to its burn,
but my retinas are on fire.
The cohesion of pickle juice and natural saline
works its way toward my brain
like a starving parasite eating its last meal.
I welcome this torture
because I find comfort in pain
and already know the sting will fade away in time,
or, I’ll just become too numb to feel it.
After all, pain is more familiar than love,
which for me is like love,
because it’s always there for me even when I never need it.
I deeply appreciate its loyalty and commitment,
and though it’s not reciprocated, it’s unconditional.
I light a candle to unwind.
A flickering flame soothes my unrest.
Lavender releases from the wax prison it was held in,
but still, I prefer the Sulphur of a match
over a deceased flower’s final excrement
because the aroma of hell is how I relax.
Dead Flowers and hell. They’re both the same anyways, right?
Everything revolves around death and ends in death.
Even while the oil bleeds out of an unsuspecting aromatic herb,
its beautiful aroma is squeezed from its last breath.
So, everything is resolved in death.
There is only one place for us in the end. For me, it’s hell.
So, I decided to get there sooner by living in one.
I wonder if they can make a candle that smells like hell.
Do you think they can extract the essence of a decaying body
and place it in a wax jar like they did that Lavandula?
I flip on a tune,
to set the mood with my favorite soundscape—
A waterfall crashing into a rainforest.
Now that’s a sound I can drown myself in.
It spills down from three thousand feet above
and smothers me like I'm being waterboarded by nature.
How interesting that water gives life, yet can so easily take it away.
Angel Falls is not my guardian protector,
but it is a fallen angel I must protect and guard
because she lifts me up closer to heaven than I’ve ever been,
then drops me back down to earth where I guess I belong. For now.
I place a warm rag over my face to simulate the Amazonian climate,
Then turn on the faucet to full blast
so, I can practice how to breathe.
No gills mean there is a struggle,
but a struggle is what I crave.
With every gulp of oxygen I lose, my existence fades,
and I start to appreciate all the small things a little more.
Who knew being closer to death,
helps you love life a little better?
Why can’t I just get there on my own instead of forcing it?
Am I fucked up for living this way,
or is living this way how I fuck?
The timer blares a turbulent cry,
and my deprivation is complete.
While the tank opens to birth me back into reality,
I can’t help but wonder,
If I am reflecting on thoughts of death because I want it,
or if it’s how I cope with knowing the fate of humanity.
The salty bath I floated in slides off me like water repels oil,
like cheaters repel love.
and like humans repel humans.
I rinse off my secret thoughts in the shower,
dry off self-hatred with a towel,
then put on a costume of lies so I may enter the world,
and on the way out I schedule another visit
to my torture spa.
I can’t wait to live again,
Am I happy?
The simple answer is “no”
But I should elaborate
So I guess here I go
Waking up every morning
Hating that I woke up
Isn’t happiness at all
If I ever knew what it was
Keeping it to myself
Because I already said
I don’t need any help
It seems so far away
And I can't help it
Hope is gone, and so am I
I stay in my shell like a shellfish
But I push away the love
I so desperately beg for
Then take what I can like an addict to drugs
I’m scared to vent
I don’t want to be a burden
So nobody gets to know
When I am hurting
Because my problems are my own
Locked myself in this house
I chose alone
So, am I happy?
The simple answer is “no”
Because I hate myself
And that is all that I know
A Mom Bottle For Betty Draper
There's a picture of Betty Draper online that shows her closing her eyes, head slightly tilted down, with a cigarette dangling from her lips. Her expression is one of complete defeat, complete frustration, complete disdain. Maybe you know what I'm talking about, and maybe you don't. But we've all left work, or a family event, and wished we had a cigarette.
I identify with Betty Draper. I've been the white girl with everything in the world. We might seem lucky, privileged, but one word does not come to mind. Happiness does not go along with white picket fences, cookie cutter suburban homes, dogs named Buddy. It's a glass cage, with everyone looking in. And somehow, and speaking for Betty Draper, or maybe just myself - it's impossible to see who, at your core, you are inside the glass castle.
I think being happy means having some self-awareness. I'm not sure I have it. What does polite company say? "I'm comfortable" enough to have my needs met. I can buy my needs, and my comforts. But there's a reason they call large bottles of wine "mom bottles." Sometimes - and this is either because of perhaps actually having self-awareness, or maybe just because being privileged comes with a certain monotonous boredom - I find myself staring at the bottom of yet another bottle of red wine, wondering where it, and time, has gone.
The other day I was checking out my items at the grocery store, one of which was a "mom bottle" of wine. The cashier said, "I like this kind of wine! And really, it's only boxed wine where you know you're desperate." What? I thought back to all the money I spend trying to obliterate consciousness, and decide that this cashier, while harsh, is definitely reading the room correctly.
I don't think I'm happy. Do you, after reading this, think I'm happy?
Betty Draper is no hero, but she's not a villain. And maybe she was happy, maybe she wasn't. Is that vague enough? But ultimately, I think, again, that happiness comes down to self-awareness, and with her cigarette dangling from her lips, irritated, I can say for certain that she was aware of her situation, her lot in life.
i feel tragic in a way that exceeds emotion
it's the kind that's religious and terrible
the eyes in roman paintings and wild animals
the fire on the altar and the ecstasy in the burn
i have turned myself into art by accident
found something to believe in the pull of my throat
the dry retching of beautiful pain that gathers there
i've turned into a sort of greek tragedy
to acknowledge the undeniable heat in my chest
which contrasts with my miserably icy skin
i found myself in the margin of a tragedy
the kind where the lovers tear themselves apart
because they can't bare feeling whole and loveable
i am happy often to my very own shock
i feel i shouldn't be and it doesn't make sense
but i feel content and peaceful in the way i assume
the lovers felt when everything burned down around them
if i have one thing i have everything
joy and tragedy have never competed
they've been the lovers tearing themselves apart
trying to mend one another before tearing open their own wounds
allow me tragic happiness as it always ends and rebirths
allow me messy thoughts with bad explanation
as i will never have the right words
but life will move on anyway in it's tragic manner
and i will feel happy in autumn
I'll play you're silly game. What do you want to hear--that I've discovered the key to happiness and here's what you need to do; that I'm tragically broken and even if you could help I wouldn't accept it; that I've found Jesus and everything's going to be alright... as soon as I die; or maybe that I'm climbing toward forgiveness on a escalator going down into regret? Well, the short answer is yes--they're all true.
We aren't so one-dimensional that any single emotion, or lack thereof, can encompass our entire state of being. Am I happy? Sure, sometimes. Sometimes not so much. Sometimes it's the furthest thing from my mind. Sometimes I'm freakin' ecstatic. Right now, my feet hurt, my fingers are a bit raw, my back is sore, and I've got some chafing that's pissing me off. I'm also sitting in air conditioning, in a nice office chair, and I've got the ability to play chess with one guy in Australia and another in Hawaii, I can read bootleg poetry from people around the globe, research the value of a C.M. Russell painting, execute trades in the stock market without a broker, learn about the Heian Period of 8th and 9th century Japan, and watch endless silly cat videos until I forget about what happened in the stock market. How can I not be happy with all of that? And that's all right her at my desk. Imagine what wonders await if I were to leave the room!
There's a girl who kind of likes me somewhere around here. She's probably thinking about some clever new way to remind to do something for the eighth time without seeming like she's nagging. I can't afford the truck I want, but I can afford to eat pretty damn well. I can hold my own in a conversation with very intelligent people, and I still forget stuff when I go shopping if I don't have a list. I was at Ace Hardware today. Paradise by the Dashboard Light was playing. I was singing along and dancing in the aisles. I cannot sing or dance. I enjoy studying history, but I see it repeating itself. I relocate rattlesnakes for cash and glory, and I cannot stand when I get a rogue hair in my mouth. Life is multi-dimensional.
Happiness is really just a matter of perspective, as are all things. Without an intimate awareness of cold, you can't fully appreciate hot. Without having experienced awesome, you can't fully grasp the depth of true suck. It's easy to get lost in the rabbit hole of self-loathing and despair. Eventually you become sick of it, tired of it; and when you're sick and tired of being sick and tired... then you change.
Happiness is just around the corner. It's in the lost dog you reunite with its owner, in the old man with his walker when you challenge him to a foot race, in the scowling stranger when you compliment his shirt, in a spotless windshield, in a memory of a deceased friend, in an insect whose life you spared, in freshly washed towels right out of the dryer, in a perfectly timed photo-bomb, a phone call to a sibling, a twenty-foot putt that barely misses, a kid carrying her favorite cereal toward mom's shopping cart, a really, really long funeral procession, a proud new father holding his baby, opening a jar without having to use that stupid grippy thing, Old Glory waving perfectly in the wind, an unreasonably large tip for a waiter/waitress. The only place where happiness cannot be found, in fact, is on the other side of the bed. It may look strangely appealing, but trust me, you will not be happy there.
The definition of happy is "feeling or showing pleasure or contentment"
I think I am broke because although I have its aesthetic
I can smile and say I feel joy
But I only feel bored and apathetic
I am not happy
Most times I just stand there all idle
But sometimes I feel something dark
I think they said "homicidal"
I'm too in my head, never quite stepping out and seeing reality as it plays out in real time. it's like watching the world pass by in recorded documents, of words and scenes, photos; a snapshot of moments past too busy, too preoccupied with insecurities and anxieties about things yet to come to enjoy the present moment. happiness feels elusive because I'm constantly on a spiral to reach the bottom, grasping at wisps of air with the scent long gone, half lived life, moments gone. wasted.