eventually even the hypochondriac will be right

odd for the child

to fear drowning

when his life now is so long

stretching like taut ribbon in sun

he imagines like plain moths who drown themselves

in light emanating from dark

his own lifeless body buoyant on chlorinated pool

why he thinks of his death is anyone’s guess

perhaps the morbid humor of an intelligent mind

or the broken mosaic of life, beginning its downward cycle

once he asked his father, if the river levies bust

will I know I am dead before I am drowned or

will I wake in heaven first?

His father, a man who only worried about

whether his mistress was going to leave him for a younger man

did not spend time assuaging the boys fears

and he grew into a frightened soul who possessed

no mistress to sooth his night terrors

eventually even the hypochondriac will be right

maybe not this year

as she palpitates her breast for the forth time

crossing nervous fingers over heart, half prayer half search

malignancy her code red, flashing with every terrorizing headline

who invented social media? she mumbles beneath her breath

it was so much easier when we didn’t have access to all the maladies, we’ll one day die from!

Her hands cramp in late Winter cold, immediately she thinks

MS, MD, Fibromyalgia, the beginnings of CJD, maybe Parkinson’s

isn’t that a tremor? Or just too much coffee?

Her jittering nerves remind her, we are unable to compute

the exact day, hour, minute of expiry

all we know is our eventual death is an assured event

it’s the torment of those who are self-aware yet still ignorant

spinning in place, every migraine a brain tumor, every

sudden sharp pain a sign of pancreatic cancer, when a friend

discovers he has Multiple Myeloma (and he never touched asbestos his wife decries!)

she flicks through medical journals online searching for similarity

it’s not her wish to die, but a desire to live, control fate

keeping her on false tender hooks like owl without prey.

His life has been one of quiet dread, each day he inspects

the parts of him most likely to give out, checking his irregular heartbeat

the soft pounding of worry causing it to skip, feeling for swollen glands

skin cancers, lumps and bumps different from the day before

he knows his is an obsessive ritual, even as it soothes imagined

terrors, he sees the absurdity of living in fear bound to a wheel

perpetuated by hours spent researching ways of expiring

did you know you can develop throat cancer from invisible HPV

who knew love was such a sentence? He tells his eye-rolling neighbor.

If he counted the hours he took from his life

contemplating how he will die, when, what it will resemble

it’s quite mad

yet when he is lying in his childhood bed alone

impending dread crawling up his flannel spine

all he can hear are the waves calling

and then, a strange longing in him occurs

urging him to be done with bloody charades

join the onslaught and be carried out to sea

along with every child’s nightmare

and the stifled hiss of adults pressing their knuckles

closely to anguished mouths

for the pale mint waiting room seems

entirely too silent

an earie unsettled fog about it

waiting …

Les terreurs d’une nuit

In the dark when you cannot see well

and squint futile

shadows take on recollection

you are, again, that child

wide-eyed and awake in night

seeing monsters configure themselves

at the foot of your bed

and maybe

climb on in.

Time is definitely female

a circle and not a line

she curves backward

like a hungry snake

devouring her tail

she dives forward

impulsively, unknowingly

as if she too

is unseeing.

Though decades pass

we speak still in the dark

in the voice of a child

surging from within us

bile, relief, sweet, salty, sticky fingers

eating the last of childhood

forbidden to those who

no longer grow upward

only inward, if they are

lucky.

I have lain in many beds

with lovers, sometimes alone

standing in, for absent friends

memory like a scar, whispers

near and far, recollection a drumbeat

solace in stillness, the cliff you walk to

without seeing its drop.

It always scared me to hear

the sounds of night dance around me

in abandonment

though more than anything I wished

to join in

their unseeing merriment

as if by releasing my fear I could

inhabit a deeper rest.

Submit your work to these two anthologies


BUT YOU DON’T LOOK SICK: THE REAL LIFE ADVENTURES OF FIBRO BITCHES, LUPUS WARRIORS, AND OTHER SUPER HEROES BATTLING INVISIBLE ILLNESS

AND

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: REFLECTING ON MADNESS AND CHAOS WITHIN

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is thrilled to announce that we will be starting off 2021 with sister anthologies, But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness AND Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within.

The focus of But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness will be on writing and art from those living with a chronic but invisible physical illness or disability, such as fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, migraine headache, dysautonomia, etc.

The focus of Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within will be on writing and art from those who are living, or have struggled with, mental illness such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychotic Disorders.

Writers and artists are welcome to submit to either, or both, of these anthologies as applicable to your lived experience.

Given the high volume of submissions that we are expecting, we ask you to follow the submission guidelines as closely.  If you are submitting to both anthologies, please send your submission in two separate emails.  We will begin to review all submissions after January 1, 2021.

Please note that we are not able to offer monetary compensation or free print copies to contributors to these anthologies; however, all contributors will receive a PDF copy of the anthology they are published in. Indie Blu(e) Publishing has prioritized the accessibility of our titles and providing an outlet for artists and writers who might not otherwise get published over profits since we first launched in the fall of 2018.  Keeping 400 and 500 page anthologies affordable globally in a pandemic is challenging.


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But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness

Anthology Submission Guidelines

SUBMISSIONS ACCEPTED: December 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020

SUBMIT TO: IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com

SUBJECT LINE:  But You Don’t Look Sick Submission

SUBMISSION FORMATTING GUIDELINES 

  • The maximum number of pieces for submission per writer/artist is six (6).
  • Writing may include poetry, prose, short fiction, essay, and/or creative nonfiction
  • Individual pieces of writing should not exceed 1,000 words
  • Writing should be submitted as a single Word attachment to your submission email.  PDFs are the acceptable alternative if you do not have access to Word.  
    • Please use either 12 point Arial or Times Roman font with 1.15 line spacing.
    • Individual pieces of writing in your Word document should be titled, and separated by Page Breaks (not hard returns). A page break is achieved by using Control+Enter.
    • Special formatting is strongly discouraged.  Bold, italic, and multiple font sizes in a single piece are acceptable.
    • Please title all attachments starting with your first name,last name.  
  • The exception to this is if you design your submission as a ‘camera ready’ JPG or PNG image that we can import into our publication as we would a photo. In that case, you may use any formatting you wish, but the image must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white. If in doubt, please contact us at IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com before submitting.  Your ‘camera ready’ writing must be accompanied by the text in a Word (or PDF) version.
  • Artwork submitted for the Anthology must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white
  • You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider non- acceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.
  • All contributors to the anthology will receive a PDF copy of the finished book

BIOGRAPHY: All submissions must include a professional biography and cannot be adjusted once submitted. Bios should be 75 words or less long and may include your social media links.

You will be contacted directly through your email when your work is safely received for submission.  If your work is accepted for the anthology, you will receive an agreement letter that you need to complete fully, sign and return to us within 10 days. 

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED WORK We will accept previously published work but must have written permission by the previous publisher attached with your submission if they retain rights to your work.

If you own the copyright, your permission and the date and title of the previous publisher must be included at the bottom of your submission. 


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Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within

Anthology Submission Guidelines

SUBMISSIONS ACCEPTED: December 15, 2020 through January 15, 2021

SUBMIT TO: IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com

SUBJECT LINE:  Through The Looking Glass Submission

SUBMISSION FORMATTING GUIDELINES 

  • The maximum number of pieces for submission per writer/artist is four (4).
  • Writing may include poetry, prose, short fiction, essay, and/or creative nonfiction
  • Individual pieces of writing should not exceed 1,000 words
  • Writing should be submitted as a single Word attachment to your submission email.  PDFs are the acceptable alternative if you do not have access to Word.  
    • Please use either 12 point Arial or Times Roman font with 1.15 line spacing.
    • Individual pieces of writing in your Word document should be titled, and separated by Page Breaks (not hard returns). A page break is achieved by using Control+Enter.
    • Special formatting is strongly discouraged.  Bold, italic, and multiple font sizes in a single piece are acceptable.
    • Please title all attachments starting with your first name, last name.  
  • The exception to this is if you design your submission as a ‘camera ready’ JPG or PNG image that we can import into our publication as we would a photo. In that case, you may use any formatting you wish, but the image must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white. If in doubt, please contact us at IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com before submitting.  Your ‘camera ready’ writing must be accompanied by the text in a Word (or PDF) version.
  • Artwork submitted for the Anthology must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white
  • You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider non- acceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.
  • All contributors to the anthology will receive a PDF copy of the finished book

BIOGRAPHY: All submissions must include a professional biography and cannot be adjusted once submitted. Bios should be 75 words or less long and may include your social media links.

You will be contacted directly through your email when your work is safely received for submission.  If your work is accepted for the anthology, you will receive an agreement letter that you need to complete fully, sign and return to us within 10 days. 

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED WORK We will accept previously published work but must have written permission by the previous publisher attached with your submission if they retain rights to your work.

If you own the copyright, your permission and the date and title of the previous publisher must be included at the bottom of your submission. 

Defacto

And the big ball in the sky and the slit eye of Un Chien Andalou and the upturned chin wielding the knife and the rinsing sink pouring sacred wine said:

Why don’t you believe in yourself?

Others who are fair to middling to pithy served over weak tea (don’t you just hate tepid and the nudity of wearing clothes?).

The result of waiting in your head, as others stream out and strap their wings, the consequence of exile, invariably madness, the quiet kind most likely, sometimes the type they label histrionic

which is really a way of saying get it out, your woman-hood and your messy gore, leave us nothing of who you were, be gone feelings, welcome the sunshine state of not giving a good god damn

They believe. They over believe. They sit fat and grand with crown and chips and mushy peas and rosacea and secret leak-proof underwear

they preen and fetishize their dusty heads with nothing special inside the sagging tent. So why not you?

You who are marvelous, hideous, magnificent, repulsive, malodorous from not washing (did Simone Mareuil wash underneath her arm-pits before committing suicide by self-immolation, dousing herself with gas-lit-fire in a public square somewhere) 

when the rot and the unplanted bulb decays in damp corners and still produces no birth. You who are broken in the long arm of fracture and making an art of surviving by licked many times, thin string, waking to the caw of crows and their beady-eyed-scream. Why not you?

You who succumbed to the Piper and didn’t wake up, not once, somnambulist, you write behind your wafer-thin eye-lids, ink streaming like borrowed tears, nobody reads, water or divination, they simply don’t believe that crap anymore (I don’t even believe in YOU anymore)

We wouldn’t lie to you would we? (whisper whisper whisper) we tell the truth (oh surely, we do, we do) we venerate you on Monday and poach your blue eggs badly on Thursday. Liar liar liar! You let the cat out and she was run over by the hill you never walk UP.

That’s why. That’s why. That’s why.

Ooohhhh that’s why
It fits like a glove (big hands, black heart) not your glove, your glove is velvet and lost, your glove didn’t ever feel right when it was on

fits like a mussel in your mouth, squirming. A muscle unused (you don’t desire me, I have lived too long and too short, I don’t drink enough to blot it out, I am a thing of dust that isn’t touched or fucked or run-over) cold mussels in brussels (overcooked always worse than raw)

I tried to be frank (all cold thumbs, warm brain, brain on fire, leaving debris of a life badly lived, in little love bites around her neck, praying mantis wearing jewels)

you turned me down for the jingle jangle and fizz and pop (old hat, large gloves, ashen feet, holes in the middle of you like whiteout) one pierced ear, Queen of Hearts. Black nave of Diamonds burrowed deep in fecund rib.

I would if I could (believe) but your exquisite lie is a third eye in my fever dream, it pulses like Soho

It tells me not to swallow.

(Inspired by Un Chien Andalou, 1929,  Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí).

Perhaps you dreamed of me

kissingA few people said / write something succinct / shorter than your usual / elaborated rhetoric / don’t you know how to / edit and be precise in your / measurement of words / good writers don’t need / verbal diarrhea / they can mold meaning / certain as bending copper / to light.

She thought it over

Knowing it was possible

After all she’d written some very

Shaved and glutted poems

Once.

 

(It wasn’t her way and if you are not true to your way

then you may as well be another lemming / willing to leap / from cliffs edge

of course this precludes learning which is / a value immeasurable

sometimes you can learn everything and still / go back to drawing unrealistically).

 

Finding something – – – perhaps it’s not a poem or a form but a short story

In the elongation and manipulation of reality and precision. Imprecise then. Deliberately.

 

Long ago she had no words because she couldn’t spell well enough to write. So she drew. For hours. Reels of paper. Stories by picture. Things she needed to say. To no one listening.

When she saw Woman In A Red Armchair hanging in a burgundy room / the silence palpable aside / rain hammering outside / mercilessly / like a hundred mouths clamoring

she tried not to stare at the line that made the woman / female

but was drawn to it as she might have been / a real breathing woman

something exquisite and desirable / she longed to see a live flesh and blood girl

to touch her with her empty hands and run them over her / quivering flesh

until those colors swelled up / and she cried out / for the sheer torment and beauty

but

no girls existed / save those who / liked boys / there were plenty of them

why were they all heterosexual?

why wasn’t she?

In America she heard / there are entire schools / devoted or a byproduct perhaps / lesbians / and only-girls-schools / well don’t start on them …

living in the city / you’d think but you’d be wrong / a few pinches / mostly shorn / forlorn

empty eyed / emulating men / less female than / those who wanted to lie beneath them.

Where existed that / judge not / beauty / with /dark eyes

the missing / beat / savor / prosper / sail

to her / soul.

If she could have / found her all along / not searching years but moments / glimpsed

sight and immediately / both knew / this bond before / words spoken

even at 13

even before she were born

perhaps you dreamed of me

created in the stillness of your loneliness / that which you did not have / filling emptiness with yearning / I am born to be / the wet ink on your skin / a permanence / no longer waiting / arms outstretched / for dreams unnecessary / now we / are.

Never quite together / torn asunder / this year the blackcurrents come later / as if they knew / what wonders and nightmares / store / waiting behind the pitch / to come rushing / we tried / we failed / the frailty of emotion / it bleeds easily / like thin skin / gone a-blackberrying / on a listless day / no clouds nor movement / sky dim / with unspent rain / the longing stored up / causing pain.

Perhaps you dreamed of me.

I stood — uncertain — proud backed —

against the light

where shape can be outlined

most acutely

if then you’d looked — ephemeral — something unstated

in muted expression

what we do not say — what we hold inside — contains the greatest

message.

Return to me. Though you are gone. Through the shroud. Time be gentle. Time be cruel.

Different and the same. Recollecting nothing. There is the proof. Stained on our table. Where you cut yourself. On a sharp knife of desire. And I opened to you. Ballet within music. Rapture closed us together. Forgotten. How do you not remember.

That long night we ran barefoot?

Flowers close their drowsy heads. Against night. Sleep. An eternity. Wakening. We are

strangers. Again.

Loss. A pressed red petal against Italian paper. Seeking its watering. I am so thirsty for your return. My love.

Bed springs digging, grappling metal fingers

Gouging in iron shreak

His weight a slender man of unfastening belt buckles

More metal

My skin, when velvet is brushed the wrong direction

No longer feels smooth

Disturbed

Yellow dishes, the smell of cheap heaters chuffing their exhaust

He is covering the air in kerosene

A tang of Chinese takeout, disguarded in the corner

Where potted plants and molding curtain tips go to die

Light doesn’t get in

His eyes eat hope as day is vanquished

A shadow crawling in my DNA

If I had grown fat with his child

I’d have cut it out with my own teeth

Her shape in the darkness is a star

Piercing my gloom

Streetlights flirt with fog outside

Stray dogs without homes howl

She says; I am the future, hold on

To this place ahead

Waiting for you to catch up

It may take twenty years or one

Slothing his stink off you with each Advent

Till he’s a puppet left in the cupboard of fear

Limp and collecting dust

Give it no power

Over you

And the twilight of your journey

Lain before you like molten lava

The pulse of something surging from within the earth

He turns, metal in his false smile, as you run out the room

Cold bathrooms with mildewed flannel towels damp in sympathy

His limp face and erect impotence, shared with shadows

He cannot catch you, this kerosene man, he is all char and ash

Whilst you, you have been reminded why you want to live

Barefoot, you run, you run until you cannot feel the hard ground beneath you.

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For Halo

My debt rests in your fur

as they light it

and it burns

and your form shrinks

from this world

your black and white paw limp against my clutching

fingers wishing you here

those images are cookie cut into my mind

called intrusive thoughts and flash-backs

I know them well

they are not my friend as you were my friend

I imagine what you feel and then recall

you no longer feel anything

though that does not seem right

without religion I am left unknowing

where you land next or if you will

awaken in paradise or remain slumbering

whether sleep or a void, if we can truly leave

and have nothing of ourselves remain

but ash and debris

it seems impossible that you were once

jumping onto the table and making me laugh

with your antics

only to be nowhere and gone eternal

I may not possess sufficient faith

to build castles in the sky but

your energy stays like stillness in

this empty house and from the corner of my eye

I still see your shadow slink just as

my grandmother’s voice is pitch perfect in my head

is that imagination or wishful?

Or do ghosts haunt us willing supplicants?

A bouquet of delusion to soothe our empty

arms or

will you live forever within me? And when I take

my turn at the Ferris wheel

our nothingness will reside near one another

I like the idea, all I have loved will

mingle as returned starlight in the ether

and touch one another with reminder

for being alone or worm food is

a cold dinner companion I wish not

to believe in

even if God turns his head from me and always has

for his man-made lack of female

and my rib is long and sticks into my gut

reminding me I am ever every man’s equal

and will never lay down to those dull prescriptions

of what constitutes truth from a man’s tongue.

Your fur was thicker than all the cats here

who grew up hot and listless on porches

you came with me in a pink plastic box

obscene in its garishness we laughed

putting it through customs

the harried lady at flight desk remarked

well there he goes as you were taken

hand delivered, to the pit of the plane

and I worried because I wanted you to be

on my knee but no madam, I’m afraid for long haul

he has to ride in cargo and don’t worry

few of them get upset, as if she were crouched among you knowing this

this seemed false as so many things do

when big decisions linger like absent friends

at the periphery of moments

too quick, too big, for staying still

briefly I wondered; Should I really be moving?

to this strange country I do not yet know and

burning this bridge indefinitely

it felt as wrong as right ever was and I stood

in the airport watching the thin man take you

behind a curtain and then as you were on your way

so was I.

You see …

I took my cue from you

quite often

and of the two of us when we landed

I think you looked less bedraggled

whilst I fought with immigration because one of my papers

was not ‘just so’ and they called and fussed because

immigrants are not very welcome in any country

and annoy those whose jobs it is to ensure

smooth sailing

and when we reunited

on different soil with the sound of cicadas or crickets

I was not sure in those days

you were hot against my grandmothers blanket

and had peed because they don’t let animals

out to the bathroom at 30,000 feet

which was exactly how I felt, hot and wet and stinking

at the same time, in this odd place where

people were outgoing and spurned shyness or other

attributes we both possessed

with aplom

following our dreams or maybe just mine

as your dreams were about mice or pigeons and later

lizards and snakes

as you learned the ways of the desert

and perhaps the tenor of your meow changed

to reflect the inflection of your adopted country.

It may seem easier but it is not easy for any of us

who come by boat, plane or smuggle, to

lands not our own, we each bring with us

that belly full of ache

and you were always able to

soothe mine with your purr and ever

reminder of our start beneath colder skies and

smaller streets with littler houses and narrow

rooms where we knew our place and here

we could only speculate or clumsily test

our sea legs against

the strangeness of being

with mistake and estrangement

our sole friends quite a while.

Unable even to drive I walked you down the road

for your first vet check and people gaped

from their large cars at the floundering Europeans

walking where no-one walks and everyone uses

big trucks to go one mile and purchase a giant

sippy cup and some Ding Dongs, things with

names that sound fun and 40 additives

my kind of humor and banter lost against

surge of habit, the vet seemed surprised I

had carried you rather than driven and tut-tutted

at your lack of dental hygiene

but remarked how beautiful your thick fur was

and how cats in these parts tend to have

snake skin, we all laughed at that, even you

cast a fish eye his direction like you

possessed the real secrets.

I remember those exploits and driving to Canada on another

exodus when stateless we began again

another groove in our fitful recording

the deep snow and your paw prints leading

me nearer and further

like ice fish we swam in our odd circumstance

always together, staring out stranger windows like

spectators at our own fair ground

in cold you slept beside me and purred

in your sleep to the sound of icicles

warming and falling into snow the

sky a heavy weight holding its breath

eventually we returned to the place of infernal heat

and sizzling side walks where no one but us

and straggly weeds dared to step and the years wound like

lost yarn beneath our odd foray

until you were old and fragile

and I barely noticing because I did not want to

believe you could quit being the little cat

in the pink plastic box glad to see me at the

first airport in our new world.

It was naive or immature of me to forget

cats lives do not echo ours and mine seemed

suddenly far too long and yours bitterly short

a terrible echo of inequality I did not

have the strength to imagine losing you

when together we always were.

Even people who wrote said; ‘Dear Candy, Dear Halo’

as if they could see the join of your fur and my

burning skin against the other

I told myself I would be there when they

sent you to that place I could not follow

despite knowing in my mind the terrible pictures

would roam long and unbidden for many years

to look into your eyes and remind you how much you mean

to me and always how I will look for you

until we are reunited and then I expect

all this will be mere bad dreams and

again we can go forward, or side ways or

whatever direction the after world takes us

but please together, is all I want

for with you gone, I wait without watch

an absence greater than anguish

for you were my best friend in this lonely world

assuaging the hard edges and frayed corners

we came here together and still I am

more lost without you than when I arrived

for your bright eyes and happy tail

gave me courage Halo and ever shall I

look for you coming into the kitchen in

the morning with your half howl of greeting

starting my day and ending it with

putting you to your bed

never once thinking there could be a time

when you were not and I still went on.

Aristotle said it best; a relationship is

two bodies one soul

that is real love

and we are floundering when absent from one another

like the ice fish when it warms up

and water is all but gone.

Possess no place

ghost_on_stairs_lg-57c74ae55f9b5829f47ec990

a day may show itself

long or near from now

where pain and fear possess no place

their greedy place at your table outstayed

uninvited guests

came into your life, wrecking balls

fathomless of the despair they could put

as wicked times will have us ensnared

forgetful of former peace

hostages to the ease with which

sickness makes strangers of us.

Who inhabits this body of pain?

when did normalcy include such horror?

what lurks behind the shell of our discontent?

masking the urge to cry out with futile restraint

who do we hide our agonies from? Or is it that obscene need to appear

while and strong? While behind public doors we collapse in mock

no succor for the actor of their own wellness

Give me hope we clamoring souls sing in our flung prayer and rage

let me believe

believe again

find the keys, the healer, the drug, the end of

this

or I think I wish

I never existed

a thought I’ve had many times before

though none are without regret

some of us excel at impoverished thought.

I do not remember the me before

mornings of hurt, nights of pain

was she a creature capable of delight and desire?

did I feel alive?

Sometimes it’s hard to know

the fall is long down rabbit hole

make me

myself again

whomever she was

a better dream

than this

slow living just above not existing

hardly realized

quiet in accepted

thirst

for another grasp at hope

for any

recourse

where fear and pain

possess no place

The Lesson

Many friends of mine are highly intelligent.

they talk of having to ‘hide’ their intelligence as children, to avoid scaring others

I did not fit in either, but for much different reasons

a contradiction, most who spoke to me believed me to be very bright

but the lore of the highly verbal is just that. An ability to talk circles around people

sometimes the brain is empty behind the Rocky Horror Picture Show mouth.

Unlike my very smart friends, who excelled and won prizes

and knew uncannily how to do things before being taught, even welding, and that was

hard

unlike my first boyfriend who made all A’s whilst watching The Incredible Hulk

unlike my second boyfriend who made all A’s whilst masturbating to Farrah Fawcett

the only way I was ever on top was if I climbed, brick by brick.

I learned early on, not to compete

why would you compete if you NEVER win? If you’re always the slow poke, the last picked on a team, the one who has to ask again and again, the friend who can’t

get the gist of it and stays home reading comics.

Usually the most competitive are those who are naturally good at something and thus, recognize the taste of success

I learned slowly and badly, I couldn’t; knit, use chopsticks, play Atari well, do wheelies, skateboard or boogieboard, or vault over the box without

often falling

I had more ‘not good at that’ checked boxes than ‘excels’ and that never changed.

Some say, if you fail, keep trying, but eventually, if you fail enough sometimes you turn into

something else

a kid who is angry for other reasons too and has found a home in building that anger into a straw man

a kid who is fed up of coming last, of repeated failures and shame in sometimes still wetting the bed

being told you are an idiot over and over again tends to sink in

so I became a rebel.

If someone said; You failed that. I would laugh. Literally take joy in it.

FUCK YOU I would shout and run to the park and drink from whatever bottle was handy or climb whatever tree was nearest

I learned, you could get more positive attention from dancing and putting your hands down boys pants than

making an effort to fail.

Part of me knew it was wrong, I didn’t like boys, so why was I spending any time with them?

They didn’t like me over much either, I was; too short, too flat chested, not enough flippin enthusiasm

damn right.

Then I belonged nowhere

except under the hot lights of the dance floor, shaking out my grief or in a tree house pretending I was anyone but me

I ran so many times away from pain / I began to know the tune and hum it

in a weak moment I would return and feel-up a boy

for 3 minutes of false love

and in that wet, sticky repulsion

hate myself ever more.

sometimes even the child falling off the deep-end can see it coming

but nobody else could; they thought I was just badly behaved / didn’t ask why / didn’t try to intervene

I crashed and burned on the rocks multiple times, like a bad sky diving bird searching for her nest

wanting in one moment to excel, the next to set fire to

everything that rubbed my nose in it.

I absorbed failure like a nicotine patch

I inhaled it like cheap speed on a dirty toilet seat

when I lifted my legs to the ceiling and turned my head away

from the thrashing

the fuck you’s sounded really hollow

drugs weren’t enough to sake

my premature emptiness.

Of course, people are over-fond of

blaming the victim and saying; ‘you have choices’

which is partially true and partially bullshit, as we all know

deep down

it takes a village

or maybe just one person

to lift you to the light and when you’re 14

and saturated in pain without knife sharp enough

to exorcise darkness

it’s hard to grab on and ask someone to intervene.

When you came into my life

my first love, the one I lost everything to

including my shadows and a little cocktail sliver of self-hate

I didn’t know then, what an impact you would make

meteorite girl

I lost my virginity in your hands and

forgot the ammonia of boys and how they’d beg

to go all the way and almost want to pay you if they had

more than a penny and dirty underwear on offer

leaving you feeling worthless and slutty and defiled and violated even if

you kissed while crossing your own legs the entire time.

In your arms I realized my own skin, the honey softness

of your touch, a new language.

You were, the girlfriend of my best friend

you loved him, you loved me (on weekends when he was away)

I was your little secret and you stripped me one by one

of all my petty rebellions

until I stood before you naked and shivering

telling me; Get your shit together, because nobody

is going to do it for you and you don’t want to be

working in High Street Stores at 40 nor do you

want to squander all your talent on

cheap cider and horny empty-eyed souls.

I laughed then, I remember it, day losing light

your face looked older, wiser, molded by shadow

I wanted to press myself to your breasts and find

that special sound you made when I delved deeper.

But you took my chin and forced me to meet your eyes

a deep blue like the bottom of my grandmother’s swimming

pool where I learned to drown

It isn’t fair, you said, it isn’t right, and it isn’t your fault

but it is your responsibility

defy them. Even if you can’t beat them, even if you can’t

ever be as good as them, defy their expectations of you

make something of yourself anyway, and for those who

things come easy, realize you are twice as strong

for matching their ease with your effort.

I admired you more than anyone I’d ever met

not just for the shape of your curls and the way you stood

short and yet louder than anyone in the room

I admired your tenacity and how you had a really dumb side

that you could laugh at and we’d sit in your friends bar

underage (me) barely old enough (you) and I could

never get enough of watching your lips move and wishing

they could be pressed against mine til eternity.

When you left me for the boyfriend you always knew you’d keep

because I was a phase in your life and you were my everything

I didn’t hate you for it. I felt the terrible absence of your

hand in mine and how life without you was colorless and

drab like someone had sucked out all the joy and left only

skeletons of memory.

But I was young, I picked myself up and tried again

the first time in years, putting aside my acting out and anger

the rebellions, resentment at having so many

impediments and not being one of the golden ones for whom

everything came naturally.

I worked so hard I ended up succeeding, but that success

never made me happy the way you hoped it would.

I still felt a fraud

I still knew, if I didn’t work twice as hard as everyone else I would never

be their equal

I knew deep down my short-comings were

who I really was and that being ordinary is never something we aspire to.

It did feel good to fight back

against things people liked to say in cruel moments

about how I would never amount to anything, how I wasn’t half

the intelligent person they’d thought I’d grow up to be

I proved them wrong.

I did not gain confidence in myself because I knew the truth

sometimes you can tap dance so fast, people start to believe

the tune you are humming, but it’s just a magic trick

and you’re as ordinary and bog-standard as

chips in newspaper and clothes on a line.

Did I want to be remarkable? Special? Unique? Gifted?

Hell yeah.

Accepting that you’re ordinary, especially when you were never told

you mattered

is absolutely ego crushing

but I remembered how you laughed at yourself

and didn’t let it stop you

how you might have felt the fear and done it anyway

I took an incomplete leaf out of your book

one that I keep til this day, pressed against my bosom

remembering that people come into your life for a reason

sometimes that’s why they have to leave

for the lesson is rarely learned

without loss.