i grow my hair long, not because i like the way it looks, but because weeds always seem to grow in abandoned gardens.
you will not find roses here in my mind, only thorns on withering bushes and insecurities on overwatered thoughts.
you took all the hope away from me, along with all the seeds, cut the roots to all my dreams then sat and watched them bleed.
and me, you left shattered and afraid in a garden that was never meant to be traveled alone.
the path here is so wide, it was made for two, but my body walks it on its own and my hand is so cold as it rests empty by my side.
do you ever think of me or this garden or the roses that used to be?
or what about this path we used to walk or this tree we used to kiss beneath or do you ever just sit and think of me?
i grow my hair long, not because i like the way it looks, but because it reminds me of the garden we once had together--
the one now consumed by weeds and long hair and dead dreams.
i am choking.
that have not yet occurred.
i see dreams being crushed,
families being lost,
futures remaining unfulfilled.
a paper cut becomes a severed leg
and a sandwich with mustard,
though i specifically asked for no fucking mustard,
hits my week like a hurricane.
i am dramatic,
and regretful for decisions
i have yet to even make.
sometimes i just need to stop
and take a deep breath,
but my lungs don't seem to work
and this air is far too thin
and i can't breathe.
i am choking.
i build expectations higher than any reality could ever live up to. i build them into the stars and wonder why these earthly things can never reach them. i want my dreams to be much more than just dreams, i want my dreams to have dreams and those dreams to have dreams and i want my reality to exceed each and every one of those dream's dream's dreams.
i dream about my arms extending, not only beyond the atmosphere of earth, but outside of the milky way galaxy. but my arms can only reach a couple of feet and my body is immediately filled with disappointment and grief.
maybe mountains should be enough. or simply these rolling hills. but, no. i want a universe in the palm of my hands. and then i curse those very palms for not being able to hold it all.
one day, they will be the death of me. but don't get me started on what i expect in my death. because i'm sure heaven will never be enough.
i want more. i demand more. i need more!
but all i have are rolling hills and palms that are far too small and dreams that continue to dream of better dreams that my short arms can never reach.
i have been told that my writing is too depressing. that i should keep it light and funny and talk about how roses are red, instead—i'm sorry if my mind isn't in the place that you'd like it to be. i am filled with storms, not rainbows. i am 4 am in the middle of winter, not a sunny day with sand stuck to my leg and the sun piercing down, turning my skin into a darker shade.
i do not write to ease your life, i write to save mine. demons live within my skin, i'm sorry if you're uncomfortable with me letting them out to play every now and again. this is my book, my life, my poetry, and these are the only moves my pen knows how to do. this isn't a ballet, this is a shakespearean tragedy. no lives are spared here, no lies are told. this is just life and i'm okay with the dark side of my mind.
we are nothing more than dust experiencing life momentarily before we return to where we belong. we are just a speck amongst an infinite galaxy with infinite lives which will all someday be forgotten. and i am no longer afraid of that truth. i am here to enjoy the randomness that has been provided to me. i don't need god to give me a path, i will find my own with grass so green it'll bring tears to your eyes. i have no destiny, but that won't stop me from chasing the one inside of my mind.
can't you see? storms lead to rainbows and dark nights lead to sunrises. there is no beauty without chaos. there is no gain without sacrifice. there is blood in the veins beneath my skin and occasionally that skin must be cut open and blood must be spilled onto the earth below. but life will spark once more from that tiny drop of blood in the soil.
i have been told that my writing is too depressing. but that’s fine, i write for souls like mine.
our skin may be bound to this earth,
but our soul within is infinite.
the stars are ours to explore,
once we finally shed this earthly skin.
so do not mourn when i take my final breath.
i am not this set of lungs
nor am i these heartbeats.
that grave will only hold the skin
that was once my imprisonment.
so do not mourn.
instead, look up always and know
that my soul is amongst the stars.
and that i am finally free.
i keep slipping. in my mind and on the page and on the pavement beneath my feet. there are no 10 steps to a perfect life. the steps are countless. infinite. and it is so difficult to take each one with perfect precision. or good. or even half-decent. maybe my shoes are too big or my knees are too weak, but, either way, walking has become increasingly more difficult nowadays.
i keep slipping. allow me to elaborate with a couple more metaphors that won't really make sense. i am not making this easy to understand, i know, but god didn't make life easy to traverse, so why's all the pressure on me to make things easy for you? i want you to love me and know me through my poetry, but does that only make me a metaphor of a man that no one can understand?
i keep slipping. but the funny thing is, i am not even running. or walking. i am merely crawling through mondays in search of friday nights. is that all that i've become? i remember running through the lawn on summer afternoons. i remember ice cream parties in my pajamas. i remember a day when i didn't wear a watch around my wrist and i didn't have a phone in my pocket to remind me that i am always late and missing out on everything life has to offer me.
i keep slipping. on my words and on my plans and on my promises. i reach out my hand, but there is no one around. so i push down on the ground and rise up without a sound. it is dark, yet the light is so blinding. i am choking on my senses. i am drowning in expectations handed down to me by only myself.
i keep slipping. she is lying in bed and staring at me, wondering what thoughts are racing through my mind. but the only words i can find are words that are searching for better words. she needs me at this moment, but i feel the bed expanding and her and i growing further and further apart. there is a wall in the middle of the bed disguised as a pillow. she rolls over. maybe then she can finally get some answers.
i keep slipping. and i swear to god these cubicle walls keep shrinking! mr. bossman, i ask you again, when will this paperwork ever end? he just smiles and hands me another folder. i lose myself more and more ever-so-slightly with each form i fill out and each day my time card tells me when i can and when i cannot eat my peanut butter sandwich.
i keep slipping. in and out of sleep. i see a man in the mirror, but i swear that man isn’t me. he may look like me, but there are scars on his soul that i refuse to claim. goddammit, i seem again to be out of whiskey. maybe this time i will take a beer. or a pill. or anything to help me fall asleep once again.
i keep slipping. there is darkness. i hear a million whispers that when combined can be deafening. i try listening to one voice at a time, but each voice keeps getting lost to another and none of their words are distinguishable though i can hear the anguish and disappointment in their tones. then the whispers turn to shouting and the shouting turns to me alone in a dark room. where silence becomes the most deafening thing i have ever heard.
i keep slipping. while everyone around me moves forward with ease. briefcases and backpacks. diamond rings and diaper bags. wallets that form a bulge in their back pocket. cars that go vroom! and watches that glimmer in the sunlight. me? i am once more lying on the floor, attempting to stand back up.
i keep slipping. i crawl up to the door of god and attempt to knock, but there is no sound. i bang my fists as hard as i can against the wooden door. i stand and kick and fall with a loud thud! but the door remains silent. i try to listen for the shuffling of feet, for the unlocking of chains, for the voice of god. but there is nothing but silence.
i keep slipping. and you keep flipping through the pages hoping that this will all eventually make sense. but it won’t. this poem will just end with disappointment. all these words are just metaphors for a life that you will never understand. and i am just a metaphor of a man.
i keep slipping.
we call our youth:
we are quick to:
you are our future,
but you are not our now.
and quiet down.
your thoughts are still free--
not yet trimmed.
there is still propaganda
you have not yet seen.
your imagination still roams
and there are far too many colors in your dreams.
let us lock you up first,
reshape that circular mind.
and quiet down.
you are our future,
but you are not our now.
not with those free minds of yours.
no, no, no.
will these feelings
ever let me free?
i can feel them
squeezing on my chest.
let me free!
for one night,
i just need to get some rest.
i’ll let you back in tomorrow.
will be yours
let me get some sleep.
was me who you were speaking to?
as the late night turned to early morning,
as i lied awake in bed
unable to turn the demons off
inside my head,
as i contemplated
things i don’t even want to write down
for your eyes to see,
was it me?
i swear those songs must have been written for me
because i could almost hear you
singing out my name through the melody.
the demons may not have left my head,
but at least your words comforted me
until they finally fell asleep.
so, thank you.
thank you for speaking to me through the night.
thank you for helping me fight.
thank you for erasing contemplations.
thank you for easing the pain.
and thank you for writing all those songs for me.
i hope you don’t mind
that i wrote this little poem for you.
nothing seems to be constant about me,
except for my name which remains the same.
my body is constantly reshaping:
my skin is just a canvas
that i constantly paint upon
that my parents hate.
there is a smile on my lips
and anger in my eyebrows.
i am lethargic.
no, i am energetic.
i eat jars of peanut butter at 3 am
and chicken salads at 2 pm.
i am grumpy
and easily annoyed.
i am lonely
and this love is overwhelming
and i hope you never leave me
and i need to be alone.
i am hot
and far too lukewarm.
i am in a college dormitory.
no, i am living in my car.
no, i am back in my parent's guest bedroom.
i am suicidal
and exuberant about life
and now i am bored
and i hear demons whispering in my ear
and life is such a beautiful thing.
i am walking on cobblestone streets
and safari roads
and dominican beaches
and i haven't left my bed in two weeks.
i am shouting:
i am writing a screenplay.
no, a memoir.
no, a novel.
no, a collection for souls like mine!
i am a shapeshifter,
but my name remains the same.
oh, langston hughes,
i know i'll never
be like you.
and ms. emily dickinson,
please forgive me
for the sins
i have committed
under the name of
i saw your footprints
in the dirt
and tried to chase them,
but i realize now
i was on the wrong path.
no, you couldn't be,
but whoever you are--
i hope you can forgive me, too.
i am a fool,
but my pen
my eyes have seen a lot of beautiful things
like chicago snowfall in the middle of spring
i’ve seen the new york skyline light up the sky
and the milky way light up the african night
i’ve ran with bulls down a spaniard road
and seen molotov cocktails
fly through the athenian air
i’ve climbed atop the eiffel tower
been mesmerized by the cliffs of moher
for hours and hours
i've floated down the french riviera
and stood where paul stood
as he paved the way
for the christian era
i’ve been around the world
but nothing compares to the feeling i get
when i look in your eyes
nothing compares to the touch
of your hand upon mine
and if my memory was to decline
i pray to the lord above
if i can keep one memory
that it would be you
everything else can fade away
please get me away
from this man in the fucking mirror
i want to make one thing clear
i'm not who he says i am
he drinks venom
and spits poison into the world
i need to place him on the edge of a cliff
kick him off
and never look back again
i'll walk away with a smile
only stop so i can hear the
nobody would miss him
nobody really knows him at all
he is just the shell of a man
walks around with big eyes and no vision
speaks big words with no action
he exercises his tongue
but never goes for a run
he spills ink on a page
the whole day
and never shuts the fuck up!
yet says nothing at all
his heart beats, but it beats for nothing
he speaks, but he speaks to no one
he reaches his hand out for help,
but nobody's near
he just breaths in his own air
he feels like he's speaking in tongues
the silence rings through the air
the world slips through his fingertips
the voices are taunting
the fingers are pointed in his direction
the air has turned into laughter
he can't breathe
his face is turning red
then somebody turns to him and says
one day they will understand.
i fall in love too easily.
never show me any vulnerability--
i love souls too much to be exposed to something like that.
please don’t show me who you really are,
unless you plan on loving me back.
we live in a world full of masks,
please don’t remove yours
unless you want me to fall in love.
you see, your beauty radiates through the side
of the mask you display to the world.
i can already see the potential of who you can be,
but i swear if i see the whole thing
i will fall madly and irreversibly in love.
please fake it like the rest of the puppets walking around,
or else i won’t be able to stop myself.
we all live in fear that if our deepest thoughts
were leaked into the world
we could never be loved.
but i promise you this one thing:
every soul deserves love.
even though the world says to hide it--
but i warn you,
if you take off that mask
and become who you truly are
i will not be able to prevent myself
from falling in love.
sometimes i want to pack my car,
throw everything i own in the trunk,
and escape these city lights.
i want to drive until the asphalt turns to dust.
drive until my car runs out of gas
or until i run out of dust to drive upon.
i want to climb to the highest point i can--
to where the stars meet the earth.
i want to inhale the mountain air
and feel the dirt between my toes.
i was never meant to fit and squeeze
within the four walls of this cubicle--
you have imprisoned me!
let me free!
i was made to spread my arms,
but all i see are city lights
and skyscrapers that block mountains
and block stars
and block my wings.
why won't you just let me fly?
goddamn these city lights.
momma, i swear,
i’m gonna change the world!
i just need you to be patient with me.
that’s all i need,
just a little bit of patience, please.
i am flipping through this dictionary as quick as i can,
you see, i just need to find the right word!
it’s in here,
i just haven’t quite found it yet.
but soon i will.
and then, momma,
i’m gonna change the world.
how will it look? the day i am dressed in my final suit. when the blood has been excavated from my veins and my heart beats no more. will people crowd within the church and speak praise on my name? or will the air reek with silence? will i have done everything i could have done or will i have just been another wasted chunk of skin? will they mourn? will they read this poem over the open casket that holds the skin that once held me? and will they sing?
oh, how i hope they will sing. how i hope they will remember me for the poems i wrote and fret not the poetry that will be buried within the skin of my fingertips. that thing in the casket you see, that is not me. it is only a shell of what i once was. i will not be dead in that casket. i will be alive inside the hearts of every person in attendance that day. i will be alive in the words they use to share their memories of me. i will live forever in this poem. so, go on. sing. and remember me for the poems i wrote and fret not the poetry that will be buried within the skin of my fingertips.