Acrophobia

As I watch a black bird
fly to the top of a tree
I can’t help but wonder:
can birds be afraid of heights?

If so, do they get teased,
given nicknames like “kiwi”
and always being hit with seeds
from other bird bullies in high up trees?

What’s real estate like for them?
Do they have to pass up penthouses
for not so bougie bungalows
in the marshes with frogs and mosquitoes
as their not-so-conventional neighbors?

Are family gatherings a nightmare
spent trying to hold it together
hundreds of feet on a small tree branch
as in-laws talk about their new pet flea?

And do they even want to overcome their fear,
or have they become content with their life
preferring to live outside of the nestbox
close to ground?

I mull through this and the bird squawks
as it soars away to its next stop
reminding me to quit overthinking
and walk home

I Know How Lucky I Am

Hearing that song I’m brought back to that bed
where you’d been whittling wood

making an elephant if I remember right

At that time

over half a decade’s moons passed
to be precisely particular

I was falling in love
not realizing how the song
would come to bring chills of finger tips to my body
touching me and my space without my permission

But that song doesn’t touch me the same way anymore
much like how your violent gestures have stopped long ago
leaving me in an empty room that I’ve come to fill
with framed photographs and objects of love in action

From People I’ve regrettably hurt along the way
waiting for them to lose their patience with me
in some sick self-fulfilling prophecy

I know now that, after what you did to me,
I wasn’t always the easiest person to love
with my scared silence and irrational fears of being yelled at

or worse

always testing the boundaries to see if this person was just
going to be like the monster you were

But everyday I learn more about myself
and I Know How Lucky I Am
to know you wouldn’t even recognize me today
and I’m so glad

you’ll never know anything about me anymore

Writed Lefts

Righting wrongs
is hard when words dry up
when things go

down south

to mass graves of San Fernando

When I’d prefer to think
my actions are left justified

But

I know that’s not true —
I know I’ve overreacted.
After time, guilt becomes
a comfortable uncomfortability

A fine balancing act of managing
a stack of plates
wobbling unevenly in the center of my stomach
on a bowling ball of shame

I wish I could stop and stare at the plates
only getting to briefly look at passing images
of mazes, negatives, and a red prius among other things
before stacking them onto an ever-growing pile

But

in control of it all
is that damned bowling ball in the shape
of a person’s head with hair dyed crimson
and jagged fangs that sunk in

leaving scars in my teens

deep in my amygdala

from a slinking snake

an immortal hydra
no matter how many
heads I cut off

It couldn’t be beat

until I learned,
like the computer in WarGames,
that “the only winning move is not to play”

But

I sit in a garden of snakes
offspring of the hydra
mortal, but ever-resurfacing

And I know

It’s time to grow up and leave
this garden of garter snakes
waiting for the next one to bite
so I can draw attention to a preventable pain

I intend to leave this yard today
and turn it into a research site
only meant to teach me a life lesson
and never to hurt me
or anyone else again


On Breaking Hearts

As I sit here, questioning my M.O.
I add another heart, broken
I think “How can I change this reckless soul?”
staring at this container, left open

I add another heart, broken
losing track of my count
staring at this container, left open
how could it get to this amount?

Losing track of my count
the pain I’ve caused that can’t be undone
how could I get to this amount
I never meant to hurt anyone

The pain I’ve caused that can’t be undone
why does this keep happening?
I never meant to hurt anyone
to start this cycle, unending

Why does this keep happening?
Am I just a shitty person?
Can I stop this cycle, unending?
or will my past be too great a burden?

But I’m not a shitty person
I’ve just hid from past hardships
but I’ll no longer be a burden
I’ll rip off these old bandages

I’ve just hid from past hardships
of an armed robbery and loving abuser
it’s time to rip off these old bandages
and finally heal this wound with sutures

Of an armed robbery and loving abuser
I will confront and conquer
and finally heal this wound with sutures
turning from victim to victor

I will confront and conquer
and change this reckless soul
I’ll turn myself from victim to victor
and slowly change my M.O.

Loneliness

As I stand in my room,
watching a pool of loneliness
drift through my blinds
like poison gas,
I think:

Researchers say
the perception
of loneliness can kill;
it’s like smoking
fifteen cigarettes a day

I think how rude it can be
sneaking through quiet pleasantness
like the sound of neighbors talking
in thinly-walled apartment complexes

Turning solitude
into solitary confinement,
introspection to isolation,
wonder to withdrawal,
self-loving to self-loathing.

I feel it envelope me
with cold hands
of an abusive lover

It lies to me, saying
I need no one else
before throwing me
onto a poorly-made bed
filled with salt and ice

And as I lie here,
numbness spreading,
I think how

I’ll share my stories,
my fears and worries,
my strange peculiarities,
my unique idiosyncrasies,

And end the cycle
of false loneliness

Elevators

My emotions function
like a faulty elevator
with mislabeled buttons

Most times the buttons
screech upwards to anger
a peregrine falcon seizing
an insignificant insect

It’s common, or so I’m told;
most broken elevator
default to this

Some days they miss
by a few floors
the button for ecstasy
going to a small chuckle
or deep sobs of sorrow
to a single sniffle

on the worst days
the buttons fail
leaving me stranded
In a painfully silent
box


Just Drive

Today the thoughts run rampant through my head
they’re naughty children with nothing to do
until I decide to take them on a road trip

The drive’s surprisingly quiet and uneventful
as they sit in the backseat with headphones
moody music flowing through their ears
only acting up when I slow down
to park at our destination

As my thoughts and I hop out of the car
I study a deserted landscape of frozen sand
while they run off to play hide and seek,
leaving me with the sound of my heart

I observe a distant power plant
minuscule and insignificant
its smokestacks exuding exhaust
over nature’s beach of ice

And I feel my eyes well up
As I watch the steam drift
lazily towards the sun
before fading away
into soundless
nonexistence

The Doctor Is In

I recently went to my first therapy session. While I was a bit nervous, things are already off to a great start and I’m already learning some helpful tips and tricks. Today I’d like to share one tip involving a grounding technique that uses all five of your senses:
You slowly go through the list and label five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Normally I’m a type of person who’s always running around at 100 miles an hour with all sorts of busywork, so it really struck me how this forced me to slow myself down and focus on the minute details.
My favorite part was when my therapist added to tell yourself at the end, “And my feet are on the ground and

I’m Safe”

I just love that. Every time I get to that point I feel a wave of warmth envelope me. I feel relaxed and accomplished to have come back to the present moment and ultimately bring down my stress levels.

Perhaps you may be thinking that stress isn’t such a big deal. You’ve gotten along fine so far, even in a stressful environment, so why add something like this?
The thing is, when you get so worked up, the body goes into fight-or-flight mode, releasing all sorts of chemicals that result in physiological changes such as increased strength and blood flow, dilation of the pupils, and a host of other effects that prepares the body for times of crisis.
Unfortunately, when the source of the stress is something like rush hour or a bad day at the office, this really does no good. It’s even downright dangerous if it’s chronic, leading to issues such as anxiety, depression, or panic attacks among other things.
In reality, adding a short little exercise like this is more than worth the extra couple of moments you have to take out of your day. If anything, it can’t hurt to try it at least once or twice, right?

So, next time you’re feeling a bit stressed, give it a shot, even if it’s just to humor me. And when you’re done, you can tell yourself:

“I’m Safe”


Door

I came through a door today
as white as a baptismal gown
and watched a city rise
like a knocked down boxer
rising to finish the last round

Amidst boarded up windows
I saw life:
a store here with antiques
another with sweet treats
artists’ studios and music stores
along with various office spaces
where my next story could take place

Away from my dead-end job
that gave me only a fancy title
and sucked away my creativity
dry like a juice pouch
in the middle of July
all for money that
I couldn’t even enjoy

Away from a flatlining city
its homes robbed each night
where I was mugged at gunpoint
fear growing as I watched in pity
at where I grew up my whole life

So, I closed the door gently behind
sure to lock it from the evils outside
and walked into the town
to start my next chapter
this one filled with less pain
and more laughter

Plato’s Cave

Two years spent here
pushing carts in solitude
stocking milk in a cooler

Away from irate customers
whose misplaced anger
taught me to fear others

But the store’s closed down now
its windows painted white
lights inside the only sign of life

So I’ve left this place
with dimly lit mismatched bulbs
to confront my anthropophobia
and see people in true sunlight