I sat there on the back porch
watching the clouds turn to
an eerie shade of grey
as the sun retired beneath the Earth.
The stick of cancer balanced
between my trembling fingers
and I swallowed mouthfuls of smoke
while I rehearsed my thoughts
over and over in my blurry mind.
I wish I remembered when it
all went so wrong, the exact
moment when the distance
between us grew out of control,
and only silence and resentment remained.
I’ve always had a way with words
but with you, I couldn’t find letters
that fit together to effectively
express my unhappiness.
And I knew you felt the same,
I could see the blank in your stare
I tasted the cold emptiness on your lips.
I had this poetic speech in my mind,
but when you walked outside to share
the cancerous air, I never uttered a sound.
I fear I’ll never get the courage
to tell you my heart’s tragic secret,
and walk out that door, but I know you won’t
leave either, the thought of being alone
scares us both into wallowing in misery together.
There was life before you,
I was happy once, beautiful even,
and now I feel I’ll never be that girl again.
I sat there on the back porch
We sat there on the park bench
making bets, pinky swears, and dares.
The air was cold, and I watched
my breath before me as if it were
a cloud of smoke escaping my lungs
and dissipating to reside with the clouds.
He packed a picnic of my favorite foods
and a bottle of vodka into a warm basket,
the grass was moist from last night’s snow
so we sat on the bench, and used the table cloth as
a blanket, draping it over our shoulders,
what a wonderful excuse to feel his
warm bones so close to mine.
I felt safe there, with his heavy arm
perfectly positioned over my back,
holding onto me, and pulling me close.
We stared out across the park into the city,
he took my trembling fingers into his,
and blew into our tight fists.
I could smell the sharp scent of vodka
escaping the cracks between my curled hand,
and felt his weathered and rough palms
as they scraped against mine.
I pinky swore that I would write a poem
just for him, one of sweet words, and
a hint of humor, just as he wanted.
But it was my turn to dare him into
an embarrassing stunt, I silently wished
he had chosen, Truth, so I could make
him confess his heart’s true feelings,
those secret dreams of me.
I dare you to be different,
I dare you to believe in magic,
strange and distant lands that only
exist in the far off corners of our
wild imagination, I dare you to sing
in the shower, and dance in the rain,
I dare you to dream, wish on shooting stars,
but most of all,
I dare you to love.
He was something unattainable,
like the concept of beauty or perfection,
you tried to hold it, embrace it, but
somehow his skin was made of smoke,
and each time I tried to hold him tightly
in my hands, he slipped through the
spaces between my fingers.
And all the girls spoke of him,
as if he was a mystery hiding
behind those autumn colored bangs
that cascaded over his gentle emerald eyes.
I said he was an anomaly, though
they didn’t understand what I meant.
The thought of him opening his chest
and exposing that heart of his, well,
that was unheard of.
Until he met me.
I challenged him, never falling for
those sweet words that were like a
record on repeat, no, he knew that
I was different from those other girls.
The flowers, kisses on the cheek, and
songs sung over worn strings worked
on other girls, but I made him search deeper.
Deep down into his soul, he searched
for words that he wanted to whisper,
not the words he imagined I wanted to hear.
He spoke from his heart, which I found out
was tired, injured, but beating sweet rhythms
just to continue searching for the most perfect
words imaginable, that would be worthy
of gracing my ears.
He became more of a solid entity,
while he stood there holding my face
in his warm and calloused palms,
whispering, warming my heart with such
genuine and gentle words,
“Please, don’t give up on me.”
There are so many wonderful
words, dreams, and thoughts
swimming through the turbulent
waters of my mind,
but sadly, the gripping fingers
of my depression are beginning
to take a tight hold on my life.
Sometimes I sleep for days,
tossing and turning, tangled
in the cold and lonely linens.
But most nights I stay awake
until the burning sun rises again,
bringing another empty day,
just one more strand of miserable
hours without you here.
I want to write,
I romanticize each day
where I can crawl out of bed,
escape these cotton monsters,
and feel the warmth of these
autumn days on my painted skin.
But to be honest, the furthest
I ever make it is the front porch, to
smoke the sadness from my lungs
with the cancer turning my fingers
a sickly shade of yellow.
Or maybe to the kitchen to pour
another glass of that Tennessee poison
to drown the empty void
from my tired and rotted heart.
I’ve become numb,
absent from my own body and soul.
I know you can see me,
but I’ve disappeared to the
darkest corner of my own tortured mind.
It’s too late,
you can’t save me now.
My heart was ignited weeks ago,
set ablaze, this burning
beast raging deep within my chest.
The smoke filled my lungs,
but I’ve conditioned them,
coated them with tar over the years,
so that didn’t quiet the
screams and sobs escaping
my dry lips.
The thick grey fog began to
steam from my ears,
and the burning started to
run it’s course through my
crimson veins, blending sweetly
with my warm, pumping blood.
I could feel the embers of my
beating heart slow,
tasted charcoal on my tongue,
coughed and spurted ashes
and reached out for you,
but you were no where to be found,
what an unfamiliar surprise.
The blazing fire that has
engulfed my heart has
slowly burnt out,
leaving me with the
stale taste of fire hanging
in my mouth, and an empty,
smokey void where
you and my heart once shared a home.
Smoked, drank, counted
the minutes away,
drew shapes in the air with my finger
bled lines of poetry into my moleskin.
I dreamt the hours by,
counted all the stars in the sky,
I smashed the clocks on the floor
bent the arms to watch
the days flash by.
My breath was heat on the glass,
that’s when I knew I was still alive.
Until I forgot what I was waiting for.
This isn’t happiness.
I was in love once,
mark my words.
It was strange how
easily it happened,
the way that he was
able to shatter the
walls I had built up,
and how he defeated
the guards I had
assigned to keep
my heart safe, almost
as if it was something sacred.
He gave me a sensation
that I had never felt before,
it was a warmth to my
cold heart, a meaning
behind this coy grin.
I felt content with the
nights we spent in doors,
spilling our hearts onto
blank pages and confessing
our deepest secrets
between hiccups and
beautifully slurred words.
I kept him to myself,
oh, how selfish I had grown.
But he was almost too good
to be true, it was almost
like I had dreamt about this before.
I struggled to remember how
I ever lived without him before,
until one day I took a risk,
introducing him to my sister,
it had been years since we spoke.
But it didn’t turn out like I had hoped.
She couldn’t see him,
but he was standing right there,
that magnificently beautiful boy,
with eyes that told a story.
She couldn’t see him,
and neither could the therapist
I was sent to, they told me
he was never real, that my
troubled mind had created him
as a way of coping with life, and
I had to let him go.
After a few handfuls of pills,
I searched for him through
my blurry vision, felt the warmth
of tears trickling down my cheeks,
“You’re not real,”
I whispered to him.
As I watched him fade away,
dissipating into smoke, he
whispered back to me,
“But neither are you.”
I pray for sleep,
for dreams of beauty,
inspiration, and the
most perfect words
that will explain the
screaming in my mind.
But I’m as empty as this
heavy handle of whiskey,
sucked dry like this
smoking filter balancing
between my yellow fingers.
I want to cut these veins
and cross my fingers that
words will flow instead
of that crimson liquid.
I want to put these thoughts,
so crowded and chaotic
trapped in my mind, into
words so you can feel
the weight of my pain,
feel the moisture of the
tears I refuse to release,
the pressure of hurt, stacking
like cement bricks over
these past miserable years.
I wish these words, those
so distant and alien, would
visit me when I drink myself
away from reality each night.
But I no longer dream, only
find myself trapped in a
nightmare that’s become my life.
That’s what he calls me,
knowing how easily I can
poison men with my sweet
words, delicately constructed
with my southern tongue, those
spoken through a plastic smile.
I could see the fear in his eyes,
but with each adverted glance
there was a sense of hope
lingering, he was trying to push
it back, out of his sight and mind,
he knew better.
We spoke for hours, laughing
at procrastination, smoking until
our cancer date was rained out.
His compliments were endless,
and his eyes were a shade of
blue I’d only seen in my dreams.
He was falling in love with me,
in that moment I could sense it,
the way he created a life for us,
a happy ending in his mind.
He wouldn’t listen to my warnings,
and I begged him to save those
poetic, romanticized words for
someone who isn’t as empty as I am.
You called me a Maneater, and
darling, I’ll eat you alive.
I said, Kill me, I can’t take
this pain much longer, my
insides are bleeding, and I’m
on the verge of complete failure.
But you refused to take my life
from me, said, just give it time.
But we are all dying slowly,
and I don’t have the patience to
wait a day longer, I asked him
to please spill my blood, empty
this shell of body, skin I’ve painted
and made unique to stand out.
I can feel this burning inside of
my chest, right between my ribs
as if I swallowed a stick of dynamite
and it keeps me awake at night,
knowing I could explode at any second.
But you fed me that burning
sizzling snack, the lies and cold
stares, empty promises, the screams.
I said, You’ve already caused so
much pain, I’m about to self-destruct,
why can’t you just finish what you started?
All I’ve ever asked of you is this
one simple favor: put me out of my misery.
But you turned and walked away,
suddenly the wick ignited, smoke began
to escape from my ears, my mouth tasted
like charcoal, so I lit my last cigarette, took a
swig from this bottle and said my goodbyes.
Inspiration is a strange
concept, isn’t it?
Like an illusive lover that
walks in and out of your
life, your heart, without
a kiss goodbye.
It’s nothing tangible, but
almost like trying to hold
smoke in your hands,
watching the wisps of grey
air escape the spaces
between your fingers.
I find inspiration in the most
random situations, it’s not
always the moments of love or
heartache that drive me to
bleed ink all over these pages.
Sometimes it’s the simple things,
a smile from a stranger, watching
a little boy hold his Father’s hand,
finding an old picture, proof of a
memory that has been captured
and stored away as to erase
it from my mind and heart.
I used to search for inspiration
waiting for an emotion to
embody, but then I realized
I don’t need to wait for inspiration
from you or anything in the world.
I find inspiration in myself, and with that,
I inspire the world.
It’s mornings like this,
where the sun shines as
it normally does.
The afternoons stay the
same, humid and miserable
in this sinking state.
And the nights are no
different, where the smoke
lingers around my pale face.
All I want to do is write,
produce something that
touches me somehow
gripping me with
ink stained fingertips
and words that become
trapped in the bottle
that has replaced the
empty space between
my tired lungs.
The absent words, feel
distant as a dream I have
struggled to remember,
a lover I’ve only created
in my wandering mind.
I search, explore, medicate,
poison, open and then close
my mind, as the seconds
drag, pause, and almost
seem to rewind all day.
And here I sit, convincing
myself that I’m the poet
that I merely pretend to be,
searching for the most
beautiful words that
do not yet exist.
I found myself in this familiar
blurry state, I can’t say I
remember being here before
but the warmth on my cheeks
and the whiskey on my
breath tells a different tale.
I spoke in smoke signals
and recited the most
beautiful words that I
memorized and pretended
were mine, I pity your
foolish heart and the way
that I deceived you so.
But this is the manner of
my heart, and the way
things must go.
I dream of love
a life where the suffering
has all but vanished.
Where my soul drifts
with the smoke from
my lungs to reside
in the clouds moist
with dreams and rays
of sunlight it has caught.
I dream of hate
a burning sensation
of fire and malice trapped
in the dark void where
my heart used to beat.
I dream of nothingness
a black confusion where
there is no sound or
thoughts to be had in
such a barren wasteland.
I dream of no love,
no hatred, not even the
sense of nothingness,
and these still
are my dreams.