Peeling

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peeling

this is all dripping away.
she’s so pretty
she stands so tall,
but that look in her eye,
it reminds me that
we don’t have much
time left.
that doesn’t bring
the smile or the rush
i expected;
it just brings the cold,
the snow,
the shakes.
she’s got pills for
the shakes.
i taste them,
and their powder
freckles my
nostrils,
her scarf,
our fridays.
maybe even our
mondays, too.

it won’t be long now.
i’m going somewhere
i don’t know,
and i’ve got something
to do, a place to be,
a hand to clasp,
a thought to convey,
a purpose that
i've yet to figure out.
when you draw closer
to the end
they don’t lay it out for you
anymore,
make it easy,
give you a country,
two barrels and
a pulpit to preach from.

we’ve got these
locked doors,
these kids with empty
smiles and brothers
who let them know
they’re out of
cartridges at midnight
on a sunday.
we’ve got
bottles stashed under
the sink,
and all sorts of names
for drinks but no
way of explaining
what they do to us
and how they pull us
together.

we’ve got throats
that are always sore,
fingertips
turning black and numb
and this general notion
that one more sip will
make it all better,
and a bad trip’s
all in your head.
look at the red splotch.
look at it good.
does that look like it’s
going to hurt you?
no.
of course not.

all the soot,
the Ziploc bags and
little scissors and
plastic bottles
and crinkled
paper,
they’re leading me
somewhere.
leading me past
numbers one to six,
maybe even seven
and eight,
and with nine and ten
we label something
we can’t even
fully understand.

i don’t understand.
i really don’t.
and i wish i could for you,
i really do.
but my head’s swimming
in all this,
and all i know how to do
is beat my plastic
couch into submission,
prop my feet up,
and write until my hands
cramp.
i know how to read until
the words all
fit together and
tear me down inside.
i know how to trip
down the lawn and
snort and laugh
and whatever else,
how to pick up
that cordless
phone and throw it right
back.

i know how to tell
when they feel my
heartbeat
and all they’re gauging
is how far to go,
how good
they’re doing.
i know how to tell
when they’re not
looking for the fear
stifled beneath
the hard pounding,
or the need
for someone to
care.
i can tell because
they never
hold themselves
too close,
never look me in the
eye,
and they leave
their wallets on
the dresser where
they can see them.
i’m not stupid,
you know.

i'm so strong.
i'm so strong
i scare myself.
i'm scared because
i'm so strong
i can't stand
how weak it makes me.

that’s the best i can
do you for you, anyway.
maybe next year will
be a different year.
yeah, maybe.
i’m getting tired
of the smells,
tired of the aftertastes,
tired of the stupid
tears and that
dull throb in my throat
that won’t go away.
i don’t let myself cry.
you know that?
not even when i haven’t
slept in four days,
and when i do lay down
there’s all sorts of
monsters climbing
out of the bottle and
under my bed.

i don’t cry.
i refuse.
but maybe this year,
just this once,
i’ll stop telling myself
none of you
mean enough
to hurt me,
and none of this
matters enough
to break me down.
lies.
all lies.
and that’s another
sort of crying
in itself.





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