This Isn’t What I Planned to Write

THE ONLY LOVE I KNOW

Your silence is the only love I know.
I hold my breath; I mustn’t speak your name.
A whisper breaks the spell. I watch you go.

Now empty, life will never feel the same.
Each heartbeat echoes words we never spoke.
I hold my breath; I mustn’t speak your name.

Go back to sleep, young longings love awoke.
This waking is the dream, a hollow lie.
Each heartbeat echoes words we never spoke.

I fool myself by never asking why
You hide behind this silent mask in pain.
This waking is the dream, a hollow lie

That fools us both. A lie we can’t explain.
If only I had spoken when I could.
You hide behind this silent mask in pain,

And I believe the silence means we’re good.
If only I had spoken when I could.
Your silence is the only love I know.
A whisper breaks the spell. I watch you go.

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I’m Either Stubborn or Desperate

INKY PUDDLES ON BARE GROUND

Why write these verses no one wants to read?
My soul bleeds ink; when wounded, it must flow.
Writing’s not a choice—it is a need,

A reaching for the sky, while trapped below.
No depth, just inky puddles on bare ground.
My soul bleeds ink; when wounded, it must flow.

This hint of life, the only proof I’ve found
Here I exist. In ink, I am made real.
No depth, just inky puddles on bare ground,

A splattering of what I think and feel.
Each word, each breath, the tiny pause between,
Here I exist. In ink, I am made real.

In words I dare to let myself be seen.
These letters rearranged tell different tales—
Each word, each breath, the tiny pause between.

And so I’ll write until my courage fails.
These letters rearranged tell different tales.
Why write these verses no one wants to read?
Writing’s not a choice, it is a need.

Just Because I Post It, Doesn’t Mean I Like It

WAKE AND GREET THE MORNING UNAFRAID

Wake and greet the morning unafraid.
Breathe in the light, welcoming the day.
Release the dreamworld; let the nightmares fade.

Call your soul to leave the masquerade;
Another dance will soon be underway.
Wake and greet the morning unafraid.

The darkness lies, its love a cruel charade.
Don’t be seduced; don’t give your heart away.
Release the dreamworld, let the nightmares fade.

You’re free to go—your karmic debts are paid.
No demons intercept the prayers you pray.
Wake and greet the morning unafraid.

Another day, another death delayed.
You’ve promised to yourself that you will stay.
Release the dreamworld, let the nightmares fade.

Light celebrates the choices that you’ve made.
Let night scream on; there’s nothing left to say.
Wake and greet the morning unafraid.
Release the dreamworld; let the nightmares fade.

Ugh. I spent far too long on this to feel this down now that it’s done. It quickly became a battle of wills between the part of me that wanted to post something (anything!) and the part of me that wants to like what I write (and is more than happy to walk away and clean the house instead of sitting here for hours wrestling with words when things aren’t flowing).

Was it worth the effort? I won’t know anytime soon. I might read this in a few weeks and feel fine about it. I might look at it in a few days and feel inspired to rewrite it. I might just forget about it and move on.

I Bought Spoons

I didn’t need to go to Walmart this morning. We’re not completely out of cereal; I just bought underwear; we have enough small bowls. But maybe the cereal that was sold out has been restocked; more underwear wouldn’t hurt; I use those bowls for everything. I had to go.

I had to go, because I had been obsessing about getting a double-chocolate donut at the Dunkin’ Donuts just inside the main door. No big deal, right? Not exactly. I have celiac disease, and for the past ten years I’ve stuck strictly to the gluten-free diet that I need to stay well. Until last month, when I bought a donut on my way out of Walmart and ate it in my parked car, there in the parking lot where no one I know would see me. Feeling like a criminal.

Since then, I’ve had three more donuts, counting today’s. I confessed the first to my husband, but have kept the rest secret. I sneak the bags into the trash when I get home. There’s no one to notice. Just me. I don’t complain about the stomach aches I have afterwards. I blame the migraines solely on the weather. And the deep depression? Well, that’s always been mine alone.

I know that I’ve gotten myself into a horrible cycle. Depression makes the sugar cravings worse. The gluten cravings too. The donut is everything. Nothing about my behavior is fooling me: I’m harming myself. On purpose.

I ask myself why, and the only answer I get is, “Why not?” Two words, six letters—that’s all it takes to sum up what feels like a lifetime of anguish. Why not? No one will notice. Why not? Your health doesn’t matter. Why not? There’s no one to stop you. Why not? You need to feel something.

Or to feel nothing. To replace the bad feelings with a rush of sugar and fat and flour. Because all those justifications come down to the same problem—I feel alone. Entirely alone, even though I’m not. I have a husband, children, siblings. But I don’t feel close to any of them. I’m the drowning swimmer in a crowded pool. No one notices, because the drowning don’t actually thrash around, making noise, calling attention to ourselves. We sink quietly. We go under and never come up. Sometimes I wish there were a lifeguard on duty for my life. Other times I wish I could get out of the pool. And then there are days like today, when I load myself up with rocks to see if whether I’ll sink faster.

I’m not sneaking donuts because I love donuts. I could eat sugar or chocolate in safer forms. They’re not good for me, but they’re not as actively harmful as gluten. And I’m not acting out so others will see and stop me. I know this isn’t their fight. I’m unhappy with myself for failing myself. I’m not taking good care of me. Wanting someone else to swoop in, and care more than I do, is one of the big themes in my life. The struggle is with myself, with choosing to love myself the way I want someone else to love me. The donuts are an expression of self-loathing. I’m unhappy with who I am, what I’m doing with my life. Who I’ve become.

Why act out like that? I’m not sure. I used to write more, journal my feelings. I haven’t been lately. I haven’t been happy with any of my writing. Instead of stopping altogether, I’ve been playing with forms. But that leaves me writing from my head more than my heart. It’s a fun exercise, but it’s not helping steady me in this world.

I don’t know how to free myself from this trap. I know that exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep would help. I just can’t seem to push through the feeling that it’s not worth the bother. I’m not worth the bother.

So I make my lists, and pretend I need to shop. For some reason, I can do that. They were still out of cereal; I didn’t see any underwear I liked; and they didn’t have my bowls. I can try again next week.

I Return to My Childhood Home Every Night

HOW MANY DREAMS UNTIL I AM MADE WHOLE?

I wander nightly searching for my soul,
Gathering the pieces left behind.
How many dreams until I am made whole?

What names must I recall? How many roles
Must I replay? Untethered from my mind,
I wander nightly, searching for my soul.

My heart aches, waking. Daylight can’t console
This grieving spirit. Morning feels unkind.
How many dreams until I am made whole?

This endless search exacts a heavy toll,
Yet I will gladly pay for all I find.
I wander nightly, searching for my soul

Among the ruined memories time stole.
My past and present lives now recombined.
How many dreams until I am made whole?

Each nightmare brings me closer to my goal,
Exposing fears and demons still aligned.
I wander nightly, searching for my soul.
How many dreams until I am made whole?

I Bruise Easily

I HIDE MYSELF

I don’t know how to win this fight.
How can I step into the ring?
I hide myself. I dim my light,

Afraid that if I face the night,
I’ll break and forfeit everything.
I don’t know how to win this fight.

I want for strength; I lack the might.
Life calls me, taunts me, bullying.
I hide myself; I dim my light.

Alone with nothing left but fright
To hold my hand, I’m vanishing.
I don’t know how to win this fight.

Once I was brave; my eyes shone bright.
My voice, unused now, used to sing.
I hide myself; I dim my light.

I wish that I could make things right,
Not throw the match, stop punishing.
I don’t know how to win this fight.
I hide myself; I dim my light.

Let’s Give the Villanelle a Try

AN INDIFFERENT ROBIN

An indifferent robin stands his ground
At snow’s edge; spring lies buried there.
Feathers ruffled, he makes no sound

To claim the barren spot he’s found—
A tiny patch, still cold, but bare.
An indifferent robin stands his ground.

On the maple, tender buds abound;
He counts them, while he’s standing there.
Feathers ruffled, he makes no sound,

Closely guarding what he’s found.
Snow hides the worms; he doesn’t care.
An indifferent robin stands his ground.

Let spring with winter run around,
play tag-you’re-it. He’ll take the dare.
Feathers ruffled, he makes no sound.

One bare spot near the icy mounds
Is all he needs. No room to spare.
An indifferent robin stands his ground,
Feathers ruffled. He makes no sound.