The nutritionist said I should eat root vegetables
Said if I could get down 13 turnips a day
I would be grounded,
Said my head would not keep flying away to where the darkness is.
The psychic told me my heart carries too much weight
Said for 20 dollars she’d tell me what to do
I handed her the twenty,
she said “stop worrying darling, you will find a good man soon.”
The first psychotherapist said I should spend 3 hours a day sitting in a dark closet with my eyes closed, with my ears plugged
I tried once but couldn’t stop thinking about how gay it was to be sitting in the closet
The yogi told me to stretch everything but truth,
said focus on the outbreaths,
everyone finds happiness when they can care more about what they can give than what they get
The pharmacist said klonopin, lamictil, lithium, Xanax
The doctor said an antipsychotic might help me forget what the trauma said
The trauma said don’t write this poem
Nobody wants to hear you cry about the grief inside your bones
My bones said “Tyler Clementi dove into the Hudson River convinced he was entirely alone.”
My bones said “write the poem.”
Considering the river bed.
To the chandelier of your fate hanging by a thread.
To everyday you could not get out of bed.
To the bulls eye on your wrist
To anyone who has ever wanted to die.
I have been told, sometimes, the most healing thing to do-
Is remind ourselves over and over and over
Other people feel this too
The tomorrow that has come and gone
And it has not gotten better
When you are half finished writing that letter to your mother that says “I swear to God I tried”
But when I thought I hit bottom, it started hitting back
There is no bruise like the bruise of loneliness kicks into your spine
So let me tell you I know there are days it looks like the whole world is dancing in the streets when you break down like the doors of the looted buildings
You are not alone and wondering who will be convicted of the crime of insisting you keep loading your grief into the chamber of your shame
You are not weak just because your heart feels so heavy
I have never met a heavy heart that wasn’t a phone booth with a red cape inside
Some people will never understand the kind of superpower it takes for some people to just walk outside
Some days I know my smile looks like the gutter of a falling house
But my hands are always holding tight to the ripchord of believing
A life can be rich like the soil
Can make food of decay
Can turn wound into highway
Pick me up in a truck with that bumper sticker that says
“it is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society”
I have never trusted anyone with the pulled back bow of my spine the way I trusted ones who come undone at the throat
Screaming for their pulses to find the fight to pound
Four nights before Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington bridge I was sitting in a hotel room in my own town
Calculating exactly what I had to swallow to keep a bottle of sleeping pills down
What I know about living is the pain is never just ours
Every time I hurt I know the wound is an echo
So I keep a listening to the moment the grief becomes a window
When I can see what I couldn’t see before,
through the glass of my most battered dream, I watched a dandelion lose its mind in the wind
and when it did, it scattered a thousand seeds.
So the next time I tell you how easily I come out of my skin, don’t try to put me back in
just say here we are together at the window aching for it to all get better
but knowing as bad as it hurts our hearts, made of only just skin, knowing there is a chance the worst day might still be coming
let me say right now for the record, I’m still gonna be here
asking this world to dance, even if it keeps stepping on my holy feet
you- you stay here with me, okay?
You stay here with me.
Raising your bright against the bitter dark
Your bright longing
Your brilliant fists of loss
if the only thing we have to gain in staying is each other,
my god that’s plenty
my god that’s enough
my god that is so so much for the light to give
each of us at each other’s backs whispering over and over and over
are our bodies made to protect our souls… our minds… our hearts? should we build them up like walls to ward off the bad? would that rid us from all the good, too?
do we feel the need to destroy this protective layer of physical existence in order to destroy our inner selves?
or is it to break down that protection so we can truly get to ourselves?
what happens when our bodies are no longer a suit of armour, but rather a bare skeleton where our minds, hearts, and souls are so easily accessible that we have no means of protecting ourselves?
does this make us broken? an open casket?
which of these ways of being is more vivacious? how can we remain alive— truly alive— and protect ourselves at the same time?
is it possible? or must you be so incredibly vulnerable in order to truly feel— to truly be?
and when that vulnerability results in distress… heartbreak… regret… loss, how do you grow your muscle, your skin, back again?
how do you keep the blood flowing through your veins if there’s nothing to protect them from getting ripped from you?
even if you live your entire life within yourself, there will be one who tears down every wall you’ve ever built.
and if you’re able to build yourself up again, your walls may never again collapse because you’ve stuck yourself in an emotionless but painful existence.
so maybe we should tear the skin away and leave the muscle for it serves us better to accept pain all together and move on, not from it, but with it, allowing the pain the struggle to help you grow, strong.
use it to find whatever it is we are yearning for— peace… happiness… understanding— within ourselves for that will build our muscle,
that will make us truly strong.
we will not have a layer of protection, but it will put us in control, able to be ourselves, fight for ourselves.
open your eyes and observe everything. open your ears and listen to everyone. at night, listen to the silence. open your heart and leave it open. open your mind and think. then open your mouth and say what you will. - EJM.