Sometimes I feel like everything’s wrong
Like someone snuck into my house at night
And moved the couches one inch to the right
Or took the commas out of everything I write
Or put a minor greyscale filter on my sight
Sometimes I feel like my sense of direction is gone.

Other days, I wonder if I have a fever
Like I’m too cold, but my skin is too hot
And my head is buzzing with nonsense thoughts
Or my tendons might snap, they’re so taut
Or I look in the mirror and see someone I’m not
Other days, I wonder if I’m about to meet the reaper.

On good days, my mind is strangely clear
Like I can count past one hundred without stumbling
And a steady step will never send me tumbling
Or I can catch a ball without fumbling
Or remove a brick without the walls crumbling
On good days, I don’t feel underwater when I hear.

Every day, it’s a guessing game
Like Russian roulette in my brain
But I know that living tomorrow is the only way
To find out what the next day will be.

Rest In Peace

Clara had been happy with her life for nearly seventy years. She’d spent her time doing good things, doing all of the right things, and now, suddenly, there was a world of missed opportunities before her. She would never, ever, get the chance to know them now. Clara’s skin ached for the feel of a sea that she’d never touched, her eyes strained to know the sunsets that she’d been to busy for, and her tongue watered suddenly at the unfamiliar idea of authentic escargot.
Even as her breath came more quickly, less satisfyingly, a gust of air filtered in.
“Mom,” Clara’s mind registered that there should be face attached to that voice, but she wasn’t surprised that she couldn’t see it. Instead, she closed her useless eyes and remembered.
Tiny pink hands reached up to grab her greasy new-mother hair, brown and messy, not grey and wispy like Clara felt it should be.
Watery green eyes stared into her own, begging not to be forced onto the school bus. Clara watched young, strong, hands pass her daughter off to the bus driver, and she wondered if she would be able to lift a child like that now.
A dry voice informed Clara that her daughter was in jail for shoplifting, and the deepest disappointment of her life weighed heavily in her chest again.
“I love you, Mom,” she was choking on her own throat, by the sound of it.
A lifetime ago, Clara filled up on the irreplaceable scent of her mother’s neck. “I love you, Clara.”
Three quarters of a life ago, Clara stared into lying eyes and believed every word that came out of the matching mouth. “I love you, Clara.”
Half of a life ago, Howard’s smooth voice sang along to the song that had played as she walked down the aisle, just moments after the night of concentrated passion that had followed, and he switched out the last words with, “I love you, Clara.”
“Stay strong, mama,” her daughter’s voice sounded alien, and Clara wondered how long it would last.
Clara could barely see her mother’s floating face through her tears, but when she looked down, she could clearly see the red splattering on the sidewalk from her knee. “Stay strong, Clara.”
Clara should’ve known better than to put her faith in someone so untrustworthy, and it was her fault that she was sobbing on the couch now, but her sister didn’t seem to care. “Stay strong, Clara.”
Everything was black and frosted thick with pity; Howard’s glassy eyes stared past her for the last time, and the hand on her shoulder was all that kept her up. “Stay strong, Clara.”
“I’ll see you soon, mom,” Her daughter tells her, and Clara wants so badly to tell her that that had better not be true. Instead, she wheezes and spit clings to her chin. She settled for opening her heavy eyelids to give the illusion of staring into her daughter eyes. She wonders if she’s looking in the right direction, but she knows she is when a warm hand encases her papery fingers.
“Goodbye, mama.”
Clara forfeits her last breath in favor of pressing all of the love in her life into her daughter’s palm. Her skin is so young, so soft, that it absorbs all of the Looks and Smells and Feelings and I Love Yous and the Stay Strongs with little effort.
She didn’t need ocean water, or scenic nature, or expensive food. Without any of that, she rests in peace.

Sidney Times Two

I live two very different lives
Sunday through Wednesday
And Thursday through Saturday

I live my lives in two very different houses
And they look different, and they smell different
But I get to come home twice a week

I have three whole families
Two little ones and a big one
And all three are different shapes and sizes

I have two different schedules
And two different senses of humor
And two different personalities
And two different beds, and dressers, and toothbrushes

I have three families, two houses, and two very different lives
And I’m the luckiest person on Earth times two
Because some love might look and smell different
But it all feels the same.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Applause rings through the room like gunshots, ricocheting off of the invisible but indubitably solid walls, hitting arms and chests and heads. People scream, but they laugh, too, and there are even a few people crying. And nearly every person in the darkness, if they were asked, would say that they want to be there, and nearly every person in this room tonight is willing to become a liar. Behind every clap is a clap of proverbial thunder, and it’s common knowledge what accompanies thunder.
The applause dies down and the people are waiting,
Finally, the poet speaks, asks the question that they’ve all been dreading.
“Are we all having fun tonight?”
The people aren’t poets, and they can’t speak, so again, they scream and cry laugh and clap, clap, clap.
“Fantastic,” the voice is velvet rubbed the wrong way, scraping people’s ears.
“Alice,” Alice is the crier, somewhere near the back right corner,
“Dad’s not home,
But neither are you,
And you’re mom,
You’re made to live for two,
Dad tells you it’s your job,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Screams, laughter, gunshot applause, and wrenching sobs.
“Marty,” Marty’s laughing, but his tears look just like Alice’s,
“Your roommate’s dead,
You almost are, too,
And you can’t stop,
Your world is crushing you,
Trust me, you’re not on top,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Screams, wrenching sobs, gunshot applause, and hysterical laughter.
“Sophie,” Sophie screams,
“Your parents aren’t home,
They haven’t texted,
And they promised they would,
Especially when you get arrested,
You haven’t called them, you know you should,
Are you having fun tonight?”
Wrenching sobs, hysterical laughter, gunshot applause, and sickening screams.
“This cacophony of noise is agony by choice,
And you’re all cowards,” the poet’s mouth is too close to the microphone,
“Go home,
Or as close as you can get,
You’re like dogs with cones,
Like you’ve just been snipped.
I don’t recognize one face in this crowd,
Though, ladies and gentlemen, I can see in the dark.
You’re all too loud,
Too ready to spark,
Ladies and gentlemen,” the poet pauses, but nobody claps, there’s more, and the tension builds,
“Wake up.”