Weekly Poem #200

The Talking Door

 

‘Do you need anything?’

Basic, ambiguous, echoing, pleading, and hopeful,

A mantra, repeated countless times through the talking door,

So simple yet asking a hundred thousand questions more.

Can I get you something to eat? Can I bring up some clean sheets?

Can I listen while you talk about how you’ve been feeling today?

Can I reach into the blackness and pull your mind free of it. Can I? Please?

Each conversation, vibrated through a thin layer of lacquered wood,

Each attempt to understand, each desperate grasp at a shred of motivation,

While my insides cramp and twist and my stomach burns volcanic,

Fighting back the desire to kick the door to splinters, rip the curtains down and confiscate the duvet.

To grab you by the arm and pull you out into the morning sunlight. To save you.

But you can’t bully someone into being happy, you can slap a delighted smile across a wounded face,

You can’t take up arms and fight this battle for them, because it’s not a battle, battles end.

Have you ever loved someone who didn’t love themselves? Cared so deeply, while they thought themselves worthless?

Have you ever heard the person who brought you into the world talk about wanting to leave it?

That was my talking door, my daily dialogue with the dark spectre who stalked our home,

Belching clouds of words which scratched their way through my ears and clawed at my mind,

Reminding me that I’m trying to help someone through something I can never really understand.

Standing by that door, listening to that distant, weakened voice, barely audible from the other side,

Telling me that everything is fine, telling me that she doesn’t need anything. Lying to me, day to day.

Every cliche and platitude ever conceived blasts through your mind like you’re cracking a password

A gateway back to some measure of normality you thought you knew before, but was never really there,

Because you were growing up, and she was tangling with monsters, only now they’re stronger.

Even when you feel like you’re doing nothing though, you can’t stop, you can’t ever stop,

Even when every word of comfort you say feels like it’s shattering against a barricade,

You keep on talking, you never stop talking, scratching away like Dufresne with his rock hammer.

Most days it will feel like nothing will ever change, except that they will continue to slip away,

But you can’t ever stop, because even if it takes a million words for one to break through

And remind them that you love them, and you’ll always, always be there for them,

You keep on talking, you reach that million mark, and then you keep going.

My talking door is opening, inch by inch, and I can see light on the other side,

So I take a breath, I stretch myself, I hold my stance, and I ask again:

Do you need anything?

Weekly Poem #174

Anti-Matter

 

Our negative charge is of our own making,

Cloistered in dusted shells deep inside,

Waiting for the brain to rattle them loose

And send them shattering against the skull.

A day spent pondering on your worth,

An innocent word from a friend, twisted, corrupted,

Or a short, excruciating stretch of radio silence.

It’s in all of us, dying, dormant or dominant,

That feeling that you don’t really matter,

Or worse, that you don’t deserve to matter;

That your friends would drop you if you struggled,

Your loved ones are ever scanning for the exit,

And your ambitions will crumble in your grasp.

It paints a dark shade across your sky,

It taints the world you create each day on waking,

And it manifests monstrously in dreams.

It can’t be silenced with any kind of logic,

It spreads out into taunting, taxing hypotheses,

Tickling mercilessly between your ribs

And telling you that you deserve to be alone.

A world, visible through reality’s translucent film,

Seeming like the slightest rip will set it loose,

And in one moment all your joys will morph,

Becoming torments, becoming your undoing.

Fighting it is wearisome, it drains and syphons you,

Makes you want to crawl between the sheets

And simply cease, to be spared this looming pain,

But those around you all face their own struggles,

They fight their own battles every day, as you do,

Some are winning, others are losing, but they fight on,

And they love you, oh how they love you.

For however much you might try to think you matter to people,

You matter so much more, and you’ll never truly know,

That spark of affection you use to keep going,

The one they gave you, well you gave it to them.

You might not have noticed, or intended to,

But you’re someone else’s reason to get up in the morning,

They might have even told you that, and you blocked it out,

Only to twist and shake when they chided you,

Ran out of patience with you, or didn’t have time for you.

Love isn’t about constant affirmation, or reassurance.

Someone could tell you they loved you 10,000 times,

And it wouldn’t be any more true on the last than the first,

So you can surrender to anti-matter, sit in aguish

And convince yourself that it’s all just an act,

Or you can accept that you are surrounded by love,

A heavy, tangible love beyond your comprehension,

And know that you’ll never really understand it,

And realise just how beautiful that notion is.

Weekly Poem #106

The Ugly Side, The Only Side

 

You can coat crystallized sugar around the rim of a shotgun,

You can tie a velvet rope into a noose and hang it around an old oak,

You can take your pills with the finest cognac poured into an heirloom

But you won’t find beauty glimmering in the tar, you won’t find anything.

 

You can tap a hypodermic pen against a blank page header,

You can stain the worked ivory with fingers saturated in regurgitated malbec,

You can hover onto the stage, a phantom haze of pills and powders,

But you won’t find genius at the foot of the fire, you’ll only find ash.

 

You can pray at the altars of the club on twenty-seventh avenue,

You can canvas for answers in the Winehouse, or down Manic Street,

You can fly the banner for Kurt, for Curtis, for Jaco, John and Charlie,

But you won’t find their spirits waiting at the gate, you’ll only find silence.

 

You can seethe with envy for the dwellers of the Void Hozomeen,

You can trace the Rum Diaries and map the road to Mexico City,

You can flap your gums about tortured souls and inspiration born through suffering,

But don’t you dare aspire to it, don’t you dare pretend it’s worth having.

 

That’s not what they died for.

No rite, no passage, no glory, just pain.

Weekly Poem #46

Different Hides

 

A thought slave, shackled to a rash of chronic unemployment.

Clawing at a monkey cage to strive for false enjoyment.

A red 306 lies cushioned on long flat tires outside

And every passing day, more animated memories die.

They tell him that he’s fine, that it’s only a bad spell

But they’ll never understand, he’s beyond them, he’s in hell.

Waking up each morning to dine on aggressive boredom,

Beans on toast and amnesia haze, awaiting further orders.

The parents keep the money trickling in, propping up his carcass.

They still cling on to a faded notion that he’s beyond a hollow, dark husk.

There’s an illness cleaving through his mind that no-one has pinned down

And as the months grow into years, it’s forcing him to the ground.

He’s been circling a solution for the longest time, he’s even prepared a letter.

It states quite clearly that all he needs is a little help getting better.

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