Wolf in White Collar

 The room is dark but for the lamplight swinging overhead. There is no draft, so maybe it’s my eyes, swinging, swaying. But I’m sitting, so maybe it’s my mind, leaving, straying?

(So you can’t sleep?)

My eyes sting. My hands shake. The grains of the desk, stained red, flow like rivers, branching towards me, seeking escape. They are veins, spilling towards me, trying not to bleed. Across, a neck is sat inside a white collar, sat above a nametag, but there is no face. I see a bright light stained where features should be. I watch as hands appear and scribble before me. The nails are dull, clipped and cleaned, clinically. I think that’s what they’ll do to me.

The tearing of paper echoes through my head like muscle peeled from bone. A hand reaches towards me under shadows, changing shape as the ceiling sways and swings, swings and sways. What are they offering? Paper. I know it is meant to cut my skin. Our hands touch. They are cold. Why can’t I see their eyes? Why can’t I see their claws? I know that they’re there.

I look down at the script in my hand but the words shake and the ink doesn’t stay. The Z, the O, the P- run downwards as the scenery around me fractures: two pens become four, four certificates eight. Two hands become more. But still no eyes. Only teeth, and they part:

(So you can’t sleep?)

No, I can’t sleep. Have I said this before? Or was that in my head? Did they hear this before?

(So you can’t sleep?
          So you can’t sleep?
                      So you can’t sleep?)

The voices are booming. They fill up my ears. They fill up my head. My chair is confining and digs into my bones. I have seen their teeth. I can see their claws, no longer clipped, no longer clean. I can see the blood that they missed. It is on their nametags; it is on their hands. It is in their pens. It is the ink on my paper. It is the ink I saw run I saw run I saw RUN. I cannot stay long enough to see their eyes.

(So you can’t sleep? We’ve got something for that.)

Take one everyday and be sure to come back.

Daybreak

It’s diurnal darkness
a silage left trailing the night
It’s a touch hard to part with
its traces sunburned by the light

It’s shadows enlightened
rays judging the sweat on our skin
It’s buttons up, tightened
Cover up so we don’t let it in

It’s conscience collected
discarded, abandoned before
It’s the day resurrected
and the twilight that promises more

Hindsight

I

My mind is on fire
My thoughts are aflame
The heat scatters the ashes
and licks at my brain

If you try to get close
If you think you could learn
If you think you could know me
you will only get burned

I can’t draw back the fire
I can’t heal your raw flesh
I can’t feel for your blisters
Your wounds are too fresh

You did not heed my warning
You ignored common sense
I’ll be gone in the morning
setting flame to the rest

II

Another one
another one
because it’s never enough

Not in drink
not in men
not in feeling
not in friends
The attention
the destruction
the beginnings
and ends

I need more
I want more
and I need it to live
You’ll lend some
I’ll want more
and take all you can give

Once you’re shrivelled
Once you’re empty
Once you’ve bent to my pull
then I’ll move on
then I’ll pack up
but not ’til I have
your soul

III

You feel “Flat” they called it
Not a clinical term
Just flat,
unmoving
like windows shut in dark rooms
like a misplaced note
that should have been sharp
like a smeared black canvas
that should have been art
like a minor through silence
that should have been major
like a fragmented soul
that should have found saviour
like happiness lost
and feeling misplaced
You are flat,
you’re unmoving
and the pills were just chase

Blind

Last night I drank my eyes away
They sank to the bottom of my glass
Before I saw you, I heard you say
“You don’t need to see, you just need to feel”
So I left them there that way

You knew enough for both of us
I think I made you up that day
And as sunset turned to darkness
you asked me to press play
The record spun and nothing moved
Except the liquor through our veins
Still I could not see
but I could touch and taste
and you asked me if I’d stay

So I spent the night and I asked the price
You said there is no fee to pay
And you re-introduced me to every sense
as the sun came up where we lay

I left you there, not sleeping
but in my head you know you’ll stay
in the space once reserved for seeing,
the night I drank my eyes away

Barophobia

I don’t know how to be
completely happy in any situation
That’s why I keep running
from one life to the next,
picking them apart as I go
Blinded by nostalgia and
some distorted version of hope,
I am destined to be forever
half present in every life I live
Mentally, my bags are always open,
ready to be packed
at the first sign of uncertainty

Maybe I haven’t found the right “fit”, so to speak,
as though it’s as simple as a well-tailored suit
Or maybe I have
and my destructive internal monologue
can’t fathom the possibility

Maybe happiness is stagnant
and I have a fear of standing still

One Last Bullet PT 1

They’re talking and they’re talking and the lady next to me wonders if she left the stove on. She’s sure she did. It’s all she can think about now. And they’re talking and they’re talking and are you getting off in Toronto? When? 10:50. Yeah, 10:50. Let me check again. 10:50. We’re all getting off but no one’s ever really getting off. Because they’re just talking and don’t forget where you put itdear. And they’re talking and they’re laughing and some of them are snoring and I stand up and I shout that I have a bomb and if you all don’t shut the fuck up I will blow you all to pieces that even your family couldn’t recognize. But they keep talking and I sit back down wondering if I ever said anything at all. They’re still talking and the train keeps moving and everything stays the same.

I’m coming up to the final stop and I’m relatively calm now. All of the towering buildings around me are half built. They are mere skeletons of what they’re promised to be. But they’ve been building for years and it still looks the same. Everywhere I turn there is a sign that cautions DANGER due to construction. The foreboding signs alarm no one. We are all herded like cattle toward our next moving bullet. Danger has become commonplace. Danger means progression. Danger means makeshift fences and heavy-duty lighting. Danger means temporary floorboards. Danger means the man in front of me tripping on a wayward nail and now Danger might mean I miss my connecting train if I can’t weave around the people helping him. Danger means inconvenience, nothing more.

I make it to my second train. It sits waiting for more passengers that won’t come if they haven’t already. The man behind me keeps tapping and tapping. Why is he tapping? What is he counting? Perhaps he is counting the number of people annoyed by his tapping. He can count me twice. I watch the glass on which he taps and it’s breaking under the weight of his tap-tap-taping, splintering in a circle of lightening bolt patterns. But still he keeps tapping. The glass can’t take it anymore. Neither can I. Something has to happen. Danger: due to tapping. The glass keeps splintering; the radius of broken glass grows bigger with each tap until finally it can’t stand the incessant pressure and it shatters. Everyone on the train is screaming. The glass is in their eyes. It is in their ears. It is in their ears so they cannot hear the tap-tap-tapping. There is blood in my eyes and I wipe it away so I can see the man and he is still tapping; tapping the glass that is now in perfect condition but for the fingerprints imprinted by his tap-tap-tapping. He keeps tapping and the train starts moving. One last bullet to go.

7AM

Sitting on the windowsill of a fourteenth floor apartment, hearing the sound of tired cars and tired souls beneath me, I notice the people below aren’t yet so distant that they look like ants to my eye. From here, I can still see a distorted aerial view of their figures. I can see what they’re wearing, if they’re hurried or if they appear to have no place in the world they need to be. But for all this, they’re still small enough to be vague and insignificant.
            Sometimes I romanticize them; based on everything I’m observing, I try to fathom their stories. Maybe I imagine that I’ll meet one of them some day soon. They’ll be that person we’ve all been conditioned to wait for, the one that will change me. They’ll alter the entire course of my life and I won’t be stuck sitting on a fourteenth floor apartment’s windowsill in the early morning.

Or….

Or instead I imagine myself leaning forward, only slightly, but enough to fall. And in this way, I’d be the one making an impact on not just the concrete, but their lives. While I can’t speak from experience, I imagine that witnessing a person expire so violently might do more to a commuter than just put them off their egg and bacon roll.

 Alas, in all of my affinity for the imagination, it has rendered me an uncanny ability to play any role but the active. So instead of getting in the elevator and going down fourteen floors and possibly meeting one of those distant, not-quite-ants people, instead of making an omelet of my insides before a handful of the city’s most monotonous early birds, I think I’ll go to bed. It’s 7am and the sunlight feels as though it’s staining my eyes. 

A few rhyming poems I wrote last year:

Birds

There are birds in my head
but I fear they are dead
because I haven’t heard from
them in a while

They stopped pecking
so I’m checking
but I can’t get them out

The birds haven’t been fed
maybe that’s why they’re dead!
And now they’ll decay in my mouth 

Funeral

There’s a funeral in my living room
and Satan whispers in my ear
He spills his wine upon my floor
The blood of Christ drips ever near

I wonder if he wants it back
But he’s not as he was before
Jesus is shooting up in the bathroom
and says he doesn’t need it anymore

There’s no designated driver
Absolved of responsibility
Lucifer looks me in the eye and says
“There’s something here you ought to see”

But Jesus stumbles down the stairs,
He is hammered once again
I ask him where his father is
He says he’s never been my friend

So it’s time to play the game of sinners
Where the rules cannot be defied
There’s a funeral in my living room
I just can’t remember who died 

Conscience

Tap tap tap
It asks, “Are you asleep?”
No not yet,
how could I be?
When splintered nails
keep poking me
“Remember what you did last night?”
Of course I do,
it wasn’t right
Whether my eyes are closed
Whether my mouth is open
no variations stop
my conscience flowing

Reminder! Reminder!
Set the clock!
Set the date!
This poking, prodding shadow
doesn’t care if it is late

“I noticed your breathing…
I noticed that it slowed
and I couldn’t help but to 
remind you
that I will always know”

 

End

Last night I had a dream
I dreamt that I slept
And while I was sleeping
the entire Earth wept
The seas drew from their beds
and collapsed with finality
And while everyone drowned
they had no time
to look for me
Volcanoes shuddered
and threw up their guts
and until everyone perished,
the Earth didn’t give up
Mountains, they crumbled
and fell at my feet
and all of the while
I still stayed asleep
I awoke all too late
and missed my own demise
I missed all of the blood,
burned flesh and the cries
I missed man’s last prayer,
last bargain, last lies
And my punishment now
is that I’m still alive. 

 

Insomnia

If sleep and rest should choose to cast you out
and the morning whispers behind your back
I fear that you must learn to do without
and make up for the sleep that you so lack

The nighttime takes you in its moonlit arms
and warns you that the sun is not your friend
It promises that it won’t do you harm
until the sunlight forces it to end

Eternity will laugh as you get dressed
and force yourself to face the day ahead
Everything you wrote last night’s a mess
Your thoughts are still collecting in your head

Oh sleep, oh sleep. Why can you not be kind?
Without you here I fear I’ll lose my mind.