I’m Not Quite

I’m old
I don’t really go in for that kind of fun anymore
The appeal of decadence and the call of glorious self-destruction have ebbed over the years
Too many life lessons, too many “there but by the grace of god”
To turn down that wreck littered alley
Now my only addictions are strictly functional
Lesser little evils
Tiny bells

Sometimes I think if I could change this one last thing about my life then I could break out of this trap
This role I never intended to play
As a drain on society
Everyone’s favorite inspiration
Famous for trying
Known for not giving up

I’m not quite ready to quit
I’m not quite ready
I’m not…quite
I’m not
I’m hanging on by a thread
Some days just a little bit
But everyday
My body mutinies
It rises from the deep
Behind my eyes
Up my nose
Dripping down my throat
My gut
Infects the brain
Where the synapses don’t fire right
My head gets all dark and occluded
I can’t think in a straight line
I can’t hold all the little pieces together
I can’t

It is this intolerability that consumes me
When I hold out until I decide
Under duress
That I can hold out no longer
And hate myself for that decision
If I were a better poet
You will not understand

A red button
A modicum of control
An escape hatch

I take a puff or two
Or four
Better something than nothing
Better slowly than not at all
Better to forget then praying for death
Today will be a compromise

I’m more or less good to go for an hour or so
Then it’s a slow decline
The sound of tiny bells
Getting louder

* * * * * *

Some days I wake up feeling the way I used to
Thinking clearly
This is the way it’s supposed to be
Sitting at my desk
Catching up again
On my well days
My sober days
My normal human being days
The tiny bells subside
It’s possible to shut them out
With the psalm, “I’m getting better and better, amen”
Step by laborious step
Maybe we can start again
Maybe we can build…
I’m sitting across from a friend with nothing to say
Empty space for a mouth
Without inspiration
Without the gift of conversation
And no amount of water, juice or iced cold iced tea is going to fill that up

Just be, Pema says, “just be”
But the seconds stack up to form insurmountable hours
Waiting for it like holding my breath

Passed along I hold you in my hand
And when I pass you back then I am becoming whole again

* * * * * *

Is it a cop-out to say I’m damaged beyond repair?
That without you, my love, there’s no one here
So many years
We met when I was only fourteen
Half formed
Already betrayed by endogenous chemicals
The tyranny of the possible
Mouth held in check by fear too long
Learned hard that lesson
Wondered in mourning through nothing
Until the fog parted
To reveal a grassy field
At the center of which stood a door

There were many years where I kept it together
Went to the finest school
Held many jobs
I even had a lover
For many years

There were many years where I sailed onward
Against hardships
Past rarely charted waters
Over the edge of the world
To become

* * * * * *

I’ve been told by my psychiatrist that full-time paid employment is not a realistic goal for everyone
(For me
For him it’s an identity)
A friend, and a therapist, have politely suggested that I may be codependent
–I don’t know what I would do without ‘em ;D–
So I try not to form too close a bond
They’re all special
But no one’s essential
It hurts less that way,
True love is not a realistic goal for everyone

I want to go back
Recapture that lost child of possibilities
That primordial wilderness
Hold you in my heart
But I could not hold you tight enough to become you
There’s no going back
This body is middle aged and tired
Neural paths deeply laid
Pipelines of pleasure and pain
I watch the wrinkles radiate out from my eyes like cracks in the salt flats

I need to stop using so much marijuana
I need to stop using so much
I need to stop using
I need to stop
I need…
Someone to call my own
Someone who wants to be with me more than anyone else in the whole world
Something to make me whole
A career that is recognized
–I mean paid–
Something to make me valuable
Because I feel worthless
Useless down to my bones
I keep limping in circles
Opening the same door
Trying to find my way home

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