I think of my grandparents as still alive. How could I think of them as anything else? How could they not be somewhere parallel to me? Where are they, that could be unreachable? Is this God’s plan for us? Live side by side until one timeline breaks and falls away to he-knows-where-but-I-do-not? Is Papa safe? Is Grandpa George safe? Does suicide take you to the seventh layer of hell? Does hell exist? I think there’s something very wrong about all of this. There is nobody to ask. There is nobody who has gone and come back. The only ones to ask are the unbroken. The dead know now what my body squirms daily to discover. I could have asked them in life but they did not know, not then. Only now. This is unfixable. Unknowable. Putrid, obscene ignorance that sticks in my flesh like shame. It feels like a sin, gathers together suddenly in waves of pure, destitute panic. It’s strange, the way the vulnerability in desperation can sometimes feel akin to an orgasm. My mind lurches to fill its empty spaces and finds no information with which to do so. Nature is infallible because she doesn’t pretend to be kind. God, however. God allows my suffering and still proclaims he is kind.
you want to envision the whole world
in the brief span of time that it gives you.
to be thrown from the heavens unfurled
cut away from indifference and seen through.
you are translucent illuminating pain
shot through to the hollow and aching
space between your temples. force the rain.
swallow whole every moment that time has taken
away from you. if others exist they are yours
they are yours because God granted you vision.
burn away death with feeling and fire and roar
up into the holy light from which you were risen.
you never asked for this but you’ll take it
whole and wanton and raw and never again
will you allow anything to cheat your spirit.
I’ve found myself struggling to reach a sense of peace.
I haven’t been content since I was a Christian kid.
Dusk felt fresh and everlasting, and on cold nights
at summer camp I would sit by the fire with my
hands tucked into my sleeves. I thought about how
I would die, but I didn’t think about it the way I
do now. I was Christian, so I was guaranteed heaven
when most of the population wasn’t. And I was so
scared that my focus might shift and my worldview
might blend in with society’s until I became part
of the majority that was destined for hell.
Now that’s me, so I haven’t felt stillness for what
seems like a long time. There’s a restlessness
behind everything. Always waiting for peace to come
but no promise that it ever will, just fear and
the intrinsic knowledge that I’ll never really know
anything for certain. It seems melodramatic, but it
seeps into everything. That’s why it’s all I’ve been
able to write about. It’s all I’m able to feel.
I know the answer is waiting for me just out of reach.
It’s nestled comfortably on the tip of my tongue, sleeping restlessly.
The answer to what? I’m not sure I can tell you. Just the answer. The solution.
Whatever wind or breath of life that grants me insight has refused
to give me the final solution. The formula.
What beautiful aching I feel in every silence. What savage loss of hope
seizes hold of me when I look at a glorious sunset or sometimes
a perfectly-formed cloud, traced by the sun with rich yellow as if with
a freshly sharpened colored pencil.
Today I told my mom, it’s not that I’m ungrateful, or that I’m
rejecting what God has given me. Dad thinks so because Christianity
feels right to him. It doesn’t feel right to me. I feel, I know,
there’s something that I haven’t found.
I’m not ungrateful, but I’m impatient. I feel dread because
my time is always running out and I don’t know anything.
Life really feels like a test on the chapter of a book I haven’t read.
Can I be held accountable for that? For not knowing despite my
desperate and urgent search? I’m waiting for the answer, but
it hasn’t revealed itself to me. I guess that means I have to find it
by myself, dig through my thoughts until I find whatever it is
I’m even supposed to be looking for.
The present hurtles me forward
but when I close my eyes, I
and I can hear the past and
the future rush up behind me to
scream in my ear.
I can feel the simulation of my life
turning slowly toward reality.
Eternity never looks at me twice,
but I glance at it again and again,
obsessively, like I glance
at the clock during tests.
Is this why we’re mortal?
Because the disappearance of time
outlines us like a flash of double exposure?
Because being hurtled toward death
is what gives us the weightless sensation
like the last few seconds of Space Mountain?
I have chills, like time is
licking the back of my neck
in San Francisco wind.
I’m 18. I don’t want
to cast bets against my mind
over my remaining days,
but it’s what makes everything so
beautifully fragile. Without cold water
to wake me up, would peaceful sleep
feel so delicious?
And without eternal sleep,
would I fight so hard to stay awake?
I’m afraid this will get worse with age,
but I’m also afraid it’ll go away.
Sometimes I hate reading because I know I can’t remember every beautiful thing I’ve ever read. The dredges of humanity produce such beautiful things, and I despise the linear process of my mind because there’s no way to comprehend all of it at once. Enlightenment comes one thought at a time. Realizations are transient, and I love poetry but reading it is so ridiculously sad. Like falling in love with someone in a dream. I write things down, but there’s only so many places to write them, and what if I even forget where I put them? I used to keep a detailed daily journal, and it stressed me out because I couldn’t write everything down. Even if I could muster up every scrap of memory accumulated throughout the day, there would be things I’d forgotten that wouldn’t reach paper and would thereby cease to exist. I don’t keep a daily journal anymore, so I don’t stress so much. Except for those moments when I realize how much I’ve neglected to write about that I’ll never remember. Those memories just slip away. Does the present even matter if you won’t ever recall it? Is what’s happening right now worth anything if it’s impermanent? When I read a really great poem that really speaks to me, there’s a lingering panic like static in the background. I might forget about this poem tomorrow. Maybe only an hour from now. What seems life-changing right now won’t mean anything soon enough. My life rolls on and overlaps and folds into itself like frothing little waves on the shore. I remember a poem. Maybe two. A couple of books that are just as great as all the other great books I’ve read that I don’t ever think about. I stress because I’m afraid I won’t move anyone with what I make, but even if I do, it’ll only be for one minute, and that minute will be trampled over and left behind. By the time the earth crumbles and the sun over-saturates, every dent I made in humanity will be rendered so insignificant I might just as well never read any heartfelt poems at all.
I have gotten this far
That’s what I think about
when it jolts me from sleep into panic.
There are moments of perfect
like a crisp image
of my time stream,
and I wonder what part of me
far back behind my brain
It’s not my eyes.
It’s something else.
Soft circular clicking.
It says that this
is how I’m meant to be.
It says that death
traps every moment
It says that my life
is white paint
on black paper.
It projects the world into
some invisible cortex
of my mind.
It says that every worldly problem
All that really exists
are the car headlights
filtering through my window shades.
The stars stuck
with tacky putty
to my ceiling.
The barcode of artificial light
beneath my door.
It’s the guiding arms
when I first learned to swim
that gripped my hips and launched me
towards the other side.
It shows me that
the universe will take me
where I’m meant