The Lies We Tell Ourselves

time

Do you hear the ticking?

Count the seconds,

the minute,

the days,

the years.

Wish them away.

Push it off to tomorrow.

Rain check, reschedule.

Plan like you have time.

Promise forever to him. All the time you have and beyond.

 

Grey snakes through your hair.

Lines mark your skin.

The aching starts.

 

Memories slip away.

Where did you put them?

 

The stress,

bad decisions,

sadness

all become apparent in your body.

 

“Time heals all wounds”

No.

The wounds become scars;

the pain dulls.

They mark you always.

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Perfectly Fake

Fake families play out scripted dramas across your screen.

The over-the-top reactions should be disorienting. The lack of clutter in

all the rooms should pull you out of the story, but you’ve become used to it.

You watch their lives with varying

levels of

interest.

You want to know what happens next.

You want to see the humor. You want to see the painful things happen to someone else.

Maybe it makes it easier.

When you aren’t engrossed in your show (or even when you are)

you scroll social media,

mindlessly following pictures and statuses about other people’s lives.

You want to be happy like them. Go places like them. Take happy, smiling, perfect pictures like them.

And maybe you would, if you did anything interesting.

Instead you resign yourself to watching through your screens.

Because watching is easier.

Because you’re convinced that you don’t have time to do more.

Because you’re tired.

Hair Loss

hair loss
Image via Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Dark brown clumps of hair paint the shower walls.

They slide down

to clog the drain.

Stress. Stress can do this.

But so can disease and genes.

Stress. I stress too much.

Maybe it’s all in my head, each hair clinging

to my skin, snaking around my arms and legs.

I ignore it.

 

More hair wraps around my fingers as I slip conditioner through the tangles.

This is real.

I swap out my shampoo.

I take up yoga.

 

My friends notice.

They stop telling me that it’s stress.

Scalp peeks through no matter where I flip the part,

no matter how carefully I pull the strands back.

I see the doctor,

receive a diagnosis,

pop pills.

 

Strands keep falling from the follicle;

they break in half.

I count each individual hair,

measure the circumference of my ponytail,

measure my worth.

 

Type “bald” into Google.

Find men or cancer.

Type “beauty” into Google.

Find hair.

Voluntary Purgatory

grave, purgatory
 

We wait:

staring at laminated infographics plastered around the doctor’s offices;

staring at our phones, holding our breath and hoping to receive a text.

We wait:

rereading the inspirational poster stuck to the ceiling, hoping the dentist’s drilling will end soon;

counting down the days to the next holiday, the next vacation, the next party.

We wait

for that person we like to say something first.

We wait

til the alcohol kicks in before we admit to our feelings.

We wait

until they’re gone to tell them how we feel.

Better to wait for the right time,

wouldn’t want to look stupid.

Three Places

St. Louis, places, location

Bustle of the District

where people rush around in suits.

So much to do, work hard, play hard, focus and accomplish a lot.

 

Calm Kentucky

with rolling hills

and space to hear yourself think.

Where the focus is family

and marriage

and hospitality.

 

St. Louis, the island, the small town city mutation.

Comfortable, but not safe downtown.

Diverse, but not progressive.

 

The distance is difficult.

Far from family and friends.

An adjustment.

But it’s freedom.

Freedom from memories that hold like quicksand.

Freedom from that box of other peoples’ expectations.

A new perspective, a chance to find me outside of them.

Losing Reality

Staring at the mirror and knowing

that she could

so easily

slip.

She likes the letting go

and the bravery

and the party.

She likes people wanting her

(who doesn’t)

but she likes the jolt before

the touching hands

and the way the girls

just grab hers,

rest their heads like it’s nothing.

Flirt like it’s nothing.

Kiss like it’s nothing.

And maybe it is.

Can’t it just be playing?

 

She feels the pull,

the dangerous addiction to excitement and numbness and nothing.

Things We Hide

hide, secret

“I am a      .”

“I am a witch.”

She wrote

over and over

as if she would

forget.

 

These words were          .

DANGER

She could be persecuted,

be treated differently.

 

The words stood

dark blue

against the smooth, white background.

The paper was flimsy,

could disintegrate in the rain.

She was tired of hiding,

pretending to be

something else.

 

Pretending is easy when

people would never assume.

But she tired of holding

back words,

of censoring

herself.

Her Happy Poem

notebook, poem, poetry

She wants to write a happy poem about love

and success and hope.

She wants to write about moving

and her world changing.

She’s stronger now,

more herself,

even though she’s terrified and misses home.

 

Writing it is difficult.

The words fly, then dip

down under the water

where she can’t breathe.

Because getting here means

losing there.

 

This poem is happy.

In the end, she is happy.

She had to do this happy.

_____________________

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Red as Blood

grave, death

Silk fabric of the deepest red

swaths the baby,

the symbol of a stillborn.

Baby is placed into the casket

with care.

The top closes.

Into the ground

goes Baby.

 

Rock-a-bye baby

all the way

down.

 

Mother, almost Mother,

leaves the baby room untouched.

The pale yellow walls mock her.

Baby shower gifts gather dust

in the closet.

 

Try again? Again?

_____________________

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Flying Away

hummingbird, past, fly

When you stand alone

and understand that you can be on your own,

when you transform

from the kid

to the protector,

when you find

your voice,

that is when you fly.

 

We begin as the kid

nursing the bird back to health

and letting go of it,

of our past.

But what we didn’t know

was that we become the bird.

And we have to leave that kid.

_______________________________________

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