Photo by karuka on Adobe Stock
When I hate myself I reach into photo albums
and pull the child version of me into the present.
I make myself look at that boy
and say the awful things I have said
to the mirror in my mind.
The condemnations rush away
like the refugee raindrops that scatter
on windshields pushing towards the horizon.
I will not punish that child for the sins of his
Then I try to shove the truth
down my throat.
that I am that child.
The gag reflex of judgment punches back
with an uppercut of expectations.
It is a medicine ball rising in my windpipe,
being pulled by the first shoelaces I ever tied myself,
covered in scars from lessons I never learned.
It doesn’t want me to swallow the recognition
that the mistakes I make as a man
come from the same reasons
for the mistakes I made as a child
and I would never berate the child
the way I do the man.
I will suffocate on self-flagellation.
I will choke to death if I believe I am better
than that boy.
I will run out of breath
believing that they are
two different people.
Existential Crisis in the Cereal Aisle
I am shopping for cereal
and it hits.
I call it the heavy empty.
It smolders in the gut, gets bigger
the more I try to run from it
like a shadow in an alley
of a man racing against his silhouette.
A moment of unreal loneliness,
the panic of an overdose of self-awareness.
It is not an out-of-body-experience.
It is an out-of-experience-body
because I am somewhere else.
Gravity has become a gravedigger,
pulling me down a well so deep that
the opening looks like the sun at midnight.
I am a forest fire on the moon,
too far to be saved, burning alive
even without oxygen that the flames can breathe.
I begin crying
and the falling tears are as unnoticed
as the music in the grocery store.
I have felt this before but
the aloneness is new every time.
Everyone talks about unending love and eternal connection
but maybe this is the true feeling
of having a soul.
Retirement Home, Room 314
A whole lifetime confined to a room.
She used to make endless meals on holidays.
A pool full of ornate dishes, stovetop crowded with pans,
and utensils used once a year stuffed in cups
like arrows in a quiver.
Her kitchen now is a decapitated fridge
and a sink
where she washes no other plates than hers.
The kitchen gets no privacy from the living room,
the bedroom is a closet with pillows.
The coatrack is a nail on a door.
The walls covered in portraits of her children
with their children
with their children.
The pictures become less like memories
and more like exhibits.
This room becomes less living
and more a museum of the past.
The matriarch rests her head
after spending her life being there
to welcome generations into this world,
who will be here
when she goes.