can i force it if i need it? or am i held hostage by my own heart?
i think about this a lot sitting on the stone, empty floor of a cage i don’t remember entering. there’s this voice, rattling around inside my head, bouncing off the walls.
i keep thinking it’s you. i guess i’m wrong.
i used to believe i could find the key to let myself out. if only i fought hard enough, kept my head down, paid my dues.
i used to believe in a lot of things. a lot of people.
i used to look in the mirror and see hope. i didn’t notice the hard, shiny collar, slicing into my oxygen supply. do i hold the leash? does anyone? or am i hallucinating, crumpled in the corner on the bathroom floor, trying to soak up the cold from the tiles like it’ll cure all my ills? i don’t know anymore.
i’m knocking on my ribs, calling out for help, “can you hear me?” i guess not. maybe my heart decided it would hurt less if i didn’t feel as much. you can’t break what you can’t find, right? boy was that fairy tale wrong.
i am a broken mask, crumpled and muddied by others’ boots. i am a forgotten newspaper ad, empty rooms never viewed. i am the only cry you cannot hear in the dead of night. a howl so lonely you’d almost prefer fear.
because nothing hurts more nothing soothes less than lonely love letters from death.
And every time I wake up, look in the mirror, take a breath, the hinges around my tear ducts start to break. Someone keeps crying at night, leaving breadcrumbs from within my soul. There are demons and memories and pains eating them before I can see.
There’s a voice farther down that path, you’ll hear.
Yeah You’ve heard.
It coils about your ankles, holding you in place. The silly putty of your heart jumps to please it’s palms. Betraying any nonsense your mind or soul offer. They hide then, small and childlike, alone and bleeding, in the recesses, far behind the grove of trees you used to play within. No more sunrises. Sunsets. Instead you cower within the confines of your castles, diamonds. Porcelain masks that keep the chains at your throat from noticement.
It’s an empty promise, that path, you know.
Yeah You know.
All the petty words, empty shells, carcasses ripped out and left to dry in the noonday sun. Don’t worry. The tide will come in, wash away all the signs, all the proof. Wash away their footprints, but their words never leave the space in between bruises on your back. Pockets filled with safe numbers, tongues lashing at your drop in armor, accidental glimpse behind the paper mache curtain. Mustn’t let them know. You’re human. Your banquet room filled to the brim with their laughter and guests who watch you when you head to your room. Lock the door. (Sometimes that doesn’t help though, does it. The cracks in the walls of your spine let them in just the same.)
You didn’t choose this path, I know.
Someone picked you up, Sat you down, Pointed. Slid their fingers inside your brain and switched it off. Gouged your eyes out and clicked ‘play’.
Did you notice? Those weren’t fingers. They were claws. Leaking with the blood of another.
Do you want to know a secret? There’s a fork in the road. Crossroads inside the darkness.
A pair of scissors, lying on the ground below. Pick it up. Cut the strings. And then you’ll know.
You left the breadcrumbs, a maddened wild thing inside your chest. All that time kneeling, taking the knife, only made a monster of your heart. They didn’t think about that. How fragile a child. How horrific, how unstoppable a monster. And you know all their shadow puppets. All their truths. You are the keeper of secrets when you’re weak. But when you wake. When you wake, hands dirty with the yeast of your memories, demons, and pains on your side, when the silly putty is long dead and dried, when the voice is booming inside your chest louder and louder than theirs about your feet, when the need for a sunset is greater than their diamonds, your hands become stronger than their chains.
You are welcome, then, wild creature, to breathe through your own lungs. Off their path and into the forest, find yourself. Then Then come find us. The wild souls, broken and rebuilt by the master’s hands. Our own.
Sunken into the fresh fallen cold, it cannot touch the soles of my feet, though they’ve been swallowed by now. Snowflakes dust eyelashes, a sullen caress in the barren of night. Every breath is a knife down my throat, a bite to my skin. But you touch me.
In this void, in this valley, no sounds to bring me back. The rushing of blood inside a body I can’t quite feel. Only slices of agony down my naked arms, my toe tag going numb at this point.
Forest hedging me in, looming in self-righteous magnitude, the only movement in this wasteland. Leaves dusted with crimson, everything smells of copper.
I can’t stay here or winter will take me, with its blue lips and frozen tears, sliding tendrils of false-heat inside, threading its fingers through my rib cage until the frost of rage ignites within an empty concert hall.
Moonlight slips through vast limbs, reaching for the heavens with scent of pine and flaking leaves. They cannot block her sway. But I cannot feel her. Only the cold touches me.
I am carved of the most sincere marble. I am stonework left from eons before, deserted by hands no one remembers. I am time worn and raw with pink, exposed newborn flesh. I am the decay intertwined within the rubble of war-ravaged homes. I am the empty pyre, filled to the brim with ashes of souls who knew better but could not outrun their own hearts. I am the first breath in the silence of night, soaked in salt and blood, a cry of conquering that never left fingertips. I am the empty bonfire, skulls stacked high in the center. I am the empty bed with a note carved in tears. I am the swelling within your chest when your eyes smile back at me.
I stand alone. Snow falling heavy in the dark cover of unknown. I am here. With empty hands and a swelling need. I am.
how can i speak? when my tongue is in the bedside table, where i left the salt and took the gun…
and every time i walk down the stairs in these heels, i feel your rules, cutting into my soul, stealing every inch of light i have left. two ways in, two ways out. i forgot to mention.
if i don’t like it, i can break it, re-shape it, re-make it. you don’t have to be here.
with all your height, all your size, my monsters are towering over your head, watching you sleep and eat and breathe, chains dangling round their throats, begging me to let them go. maybe i am my own armor. but i left it under the bed, beside my skin, and i took the knife you wanted to put in my back.
when you hit my spine with your heel, my words came tumbling out. the beside table burst and the boogeyman under my mattress rushed up and out and now i know why my shoes never fit right before. its like the dust in me turned to stone, all those years of kneeling morphed to fire, my skin remembered it’s own savor and now
i’m not putting the barrel in my own mouth. i am my own gatekeeper. i forgot to mention. the hinge swings when i say and once i’ve opened i’ve decided. are you the weapon or the meat?
your daggers i collect as roses in a vase made of bone-carved trophies, my darkness pacing in the background, holding all their tally marks until the rage spills into my sight and sometimes i let them off the chains, digging about in my own shadows, where they wait, just inside my gates. i will wait you out. your grave will serve as my foundation, the length of rope about your neck a gift you spat in the face of, all the way to your feet dangling.
I stared at the words written on the wall for hours without ever seeing them.
The warmth of the day bloomed in me until all I knew were the leaves above in their muted dance.
And my lips recognized the lyrics before my thoughts did. Paint splashing against the wall of my heart. Your voice reverberating through the hollows of my dreams.
You follow me into the empty. Crushing colored glass under my toes in paradise, some sense of you leading me forward.
I can feel you breathing beneath my skin, I see you speak every time I close my eyes.
And there’s this buzz, deep in my flesh. Past the marrow and into the atomic darkness, hidden where the dancing lights of misery and joy fight. It puts a gun in my mouth one second. A love letter the next. Because I remember.
i can feel it, swarming just beneath the surface of everything i am and everything i am not. it lurks in a non-committal tone, hazy and misdirecting. there isn’t much to say about it.
it hasn’t yet decided syllables or meaning. context or form.
but it watches. it swims closer as if to break the surface, only to dip back down in a meandering swirl, nothing but the vague tail end brushing up against the topside, sending ripples of possibilities down my spine. sitting on the tip of my tongue, in the curve of my lips.
it won’t leave me alone, yet i cannot name it. it slips through my fingers like so much smoke, a dizzying tease that drifts into
sometimes i realize i’m the one staring up, up, up at the sun’s dance as it shimmers atop the waves above my head. waving frantically for my attention, choking on lost words and hopes, dreams i’ve forgotten and silly little stories i can’t quite let go of.
other times i find out too late what it was trying to tell me, only to be sucked into the depths of an unfathomable creature, ten times the size of myself. smothered in the debris of what could have been.
and yet, there are times…
there are times that we meet in the middle and i can begin to make it out, my eyes opened, the ever shifting shape coming into focus. i reach my hand out and