There is a hectic sort of
static in my head,
the kind that makes the
word fuzzy seem mean
There's nothing soft about
the way each particle of
rebounds off the fleshy
wrinkles in my brain.
They bounce like
slapping the walls of my mind
with their taut, red rubber.
They crash into the
tenderest of moments,
the sensitive parts of me
that no one can
They invade my vision,
making every movement,
every breath, each twitch
I suffered a never-ending migraine
until I saw you.
You walked like water,
smoothed out the rapid-fire buzz
of the sidewalks and made time
take a single breath, short and
shallow, like a gasp, but enough
to quiet the white noise that kept
I fell asleep for the first time when
you touched me.
You placed a hand upon my shoulder
and all went still, the fog that stained
my glasses parted like a cloud for the
I could see.
When you first spoke my name, I only
heard the sound that ice makes when
cold water cascades over the top of it,
crackling in all the right decibels to make
my ears smile.
You made the sound
the sea makes when
it crashes over my
skull; I turned deaf
in my head and disappeared
Peanut sized brain
dumb people who fart in
public and lie about it.
People writing poems taking
cheap shots at people writing
big words and long poems.
People writing they don't like poems
using big words are dumb ones
who don't understand the big words.
Hows about I buy you a thesaurus
so you can look em up.
Hows about I buy you a dictionary
or you use a spell checker.
People who take low freaking blows
are jealous of ones using big words.
I'm 18, I'm entitled to write poems
slamming people who are jealous
of people who write long poems
with big words because they
don't know what the words mean.
Photographs by Avedon
This was written in a friend's home in the Berkshire Mountains, on a Saturday morning, a few years ago. Up early, I went exploring their bookshelves and found a book of Richard Avedon's photographs of average Americans out west. Google "richard avedon photos of the american west" - then read the poem. Please, for without seeing the faces, for this will make all the difference. In the Berkshires, it is always chilly there, even in the summer sun. This and other obscure references are better detailed in the notes.
Join my warmth and
as the nine o'clock sun,
a 45 degree steeplechase
but still not
of the prior eve,
that hides in,
deep wooded hillocks
Join my warmth
and my chill!
head kicked awake,
entranced and revolted,
excited and repelled,
emotive, yet, stilled.
For oh so casually,
this heroic city dweller,
brave and fearless
retrieves a book,
to find a new route
thru time and space
to the center of his brain.
Photographs by Avedon,
of my fellow Americans,
the Have Nots,
These uncommon people
with whom I share
these drifters, the carneys,
the would-have-been cowboys,
busted blackjack dealers,
rattlesnake gut n' skinners,
coal and copper miners,
the hay truck drivers,
dirt so deep in
their pores ingrained,
colors and bloodies their souls,
browns their veins,
are the ones that
go off first to
in my name.
In this far corner of our
shared contiguous space
United States of America,
top of the line here
secretaries and maybe even,
But their eyes,
oh their eyes!
Words I do not own
to fair share with you,
the clarifying gaze
of measured dignity and
that marks and unites
these disparate and dispirited
vessels of humankind.
the noon suns finally,
raises my body temperature
browns my surface...
Yet, nothing eradicates
this god damn chill
in my soul
or calms my consternation,
as black and white
my comfortable existence,
as I ponder
All photographs are accurate but none tell the truth
The Evil Son at Passover
asks ever so sly,
what have they to do with me?
It is the Sabbath.
We luxuriate in our rest.
Rest is the greatest luxury
What is this Sabbath?
Heschel's cathedral -
in space and time,
and one enters
when and where
Do my distant,
(both in space and time)
share my Sabbath?
Are they allowed
or is it endless exertion,
severity and deprivation,
all and every day
of their lives?
Constant risk every day.
Who cannot fail to see the
precipitousness of life
edged in the lines of their
hearts and minds?
Day to day hardens them
and teaches the
Is the prudence of
their morning bitter pill
they must swallow
to carry on?
Among the resolutions
to claim a
life fulfilled is this:
How to end this poem,
close this can of worms,
accidentally kicked open.
Will sunset end these
of which you have
more personal variations?
(what about the ...)
Perennials flower everywhere,
along the Tigris,
even in Kabul and Somalia,
along the highways
to the mecca of
Perennials flower everywhere.
In warmth and cool,
in time and space,
they flower in my heart and
my brain and in
my prayerful tears.
flowing down my cheeks,
as I lay me down to sleep,
to dream these of
even celebrated tween
holy and common,
light and dark,
the six weekdays
between sacred and secular
between me and
my American Brothers
of the American West.
just one thing
to be true:
The Sabbath Cathedral is
open to all,
you choose to
I await you,
my American cousins,
with wine and bread
holy of holiest words
of comfort and sooth.
I will wash your feet and
lay you down to
in my heart.
we will be joined,
in warmth and chill.
August 29, 2010
* "In The American West" by
** many of the phrases in this stanza were taken from an article "The Few, The Proud, The Chosen" in Commentary, September 2010
^ Abraham Joshua Heschel, a modern Jewish Philosopher. Elegant, passionate, and filled with the love of God's creation, Abraham Joshua Heschel's The Sabbath has been hailed as a classic of Jewish spirituality ever since its original publication-and has been read by thousands of people seeking meaning in modern life. In this brief yet profound meditation on the meaning of the Seventh Day, Heschel introduced the idea of an "architecture of holiness" that appears not in space but in time Judaism, he argues, is a religion of time: it finds meaning not in space and the material things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that "the Sabbaths are our great cathedrals."
^^ Havdalah is the ceremony to celebrate the end of the Sabbath, and realize the distinctions between the holy day and the workweek, the day and the night, light and day...
The first time I kissed a girl her tongue was coated in morphine and I’ve been chasing that high ever since. I tried to replace it by soaking my brain with prescriptions: codeine, dextromethorphan, etc.
A chemical storm raging in my brain; a storm that’s aftermath is present to this day. I still feel the bugs under my skin at night, sometimes the room spins and I remember the revelations I had.
the one most prominent being that this is Hell, that there is no place better or worse than earth, we are in an actual living Hell and that comforts me just as much as it kills me.
People always tell me,
"Drinking kills your brain cells,
Smoking kills your brain cells
Everything you do on a regular basis
Kills your brain cells"
But isn't that exactly what I want
To kill the demons
That hide inside my brain cells
i know that you know that i know that you know
it's hard for me to love you
because it's hard for me to trust that you won't leave
your downfall is pride and your head is so big it can't fit through the door
and your brain fills the space encased by your skull
so i know that you know that i know that you know that i know
you're smart enough to know you should be leaving
i wasn't raised to look both ways before crossing the street
and there's a collection of ever sprawling highways outside my window
when i was little my mom used to tell me i came from the mermaids
and sometimes i think about jumping into the ocean and never swimming back up
i hope that you know that i know that you know that i know i've never been good at writing love poetry
and i've never liked Shakespeare but maybe i'm just jealous
he knows over fifty ways to say the words i love you and i can't think of any
that won't leave me vulnerable i'm swallowing sentences dry and i'm choking on the acrid taste
of each syllable trying to come back up i still can't decide if this is worse than being vulnerable.
It seems I'm incapable,
Of being fully aware.
Today I was outside,
Lightest of clothing,
Despite the arctic front.
Ive bared colder,
But my hands
Went just a little numb.
And I loved every cold,
When I'm obsessing of my,
Inner nightmare made of pain,
Im numb to all else.
When Im lost,
Hopelessly in every detail,
Of this massive world,
For just a small while,
My emotions are blank.
A dull empty slate.
Most of my nights,
Moments of waking,
It all rushes and hits me.
But I turn my head,
Shut my eyes,
And wish it away again.
When that doesn't work,
I settle for what nothing,
Or even blaring pain,
That I deem worth finding.
The word escape,
Is my ever eluding fantasy.
Just another animal at the zoo.
To die caged,
Or be set free.
Until fate makes its decision,
Of which it will be,
I still have the cold to keep me.
While part is seemingly at a standstill,
The other part of my brain rages its war.
Physically or emotionally,
No two sides will see each other
On the same side of peace.
I am crying because these tears are the words I will not say.
I sob because leaking out of my eyeballs is every goddamn sentence I held inside while we were fighting.
All I keep iron lipped locked up lest I explode everything with the velocity of feeling,
of pure gas fire explosions of all these secrets I keep bouncing around the inside of this concrete skin.
And just for a moment,
I don't want to apologize to anyone about
what chemical reactions are taking place in my twisted brain.
I don't want to "work things out" or "talk it through"
or yell or scream or vent to people because no one knows what to say or do except hugging
but I'm all alone in this dark room, dehydrating myself and curling into a ball small enough to fit in your chanel purse,
And I don't want you to wrap your stiff arms around me.
That's when I don't want anything more than just to collapse,
to slide into pieces and fold them all on top of each other until I can absorb into something simpler,
something that doesn't have heavy feet sentencing her to a lifetime of traveling these warped roads-
or maybe someone who can deal with the world without turning all of it into a poem,
a girl who doesn't have to fake forgiveness for rides to practice and isn't forced to worry about crossing lines and homework or turn signals or disappointing adults and landing standing tucks and being sharp at football games or homecoming dates and not pissing off my stupid "friends"-
Along with all the other everyday irrelevance that won't mean anything in 25 years.
What do I even care, anyway?
Does anyone actually care?
Isn't it all just bullshit?
But as my phone rings and rings unanswered and my doorbell stays silent
I must come to the conclusion that I am just another human being having the same damn emotions as everyone else and that, in fact,
My friends don't want to hear once again about that fight my mom and I have been waging on and off for about 3 years and how it literally drains my will to live and worms holes in my mental health.
I must not be that girl who pities herself-
the one who lets her watery-gray sadness spill over the sides and splash into other people's laps, bringing down lighthearted conversations on the quad about homecoming dresses
For God's sake, Gabrielle
keep your shit to yourself.
Splash your face with water, spray a little febreze, fetch your plastic bags and fake smiles.
No one likes a bad smell.
I’ve never met anyone like you.
Take that as a compliment but
don’t overlook the underlying insult.
Your gentle words have the power
to widen my smile while our difference of endless
opinions make me wonder how we would ever work.
How could this ever be what we think it’s worth?
I tell myself the frustration with you only proves
that I care more than I thought I did,
I intended to.
My heart doing everything my brain told it not to do;
fall for you.
But you aren’t there to catch me.
It’s more like you falling with me.
Side by side.
Deep into unexpected attraction,
dipped in crazed amounts of mental satisfaction
that somehow make me forget how we could even disagree
in the first place.
I can’t say I mind the sudden change in my mood,
the tune in my voice,
or the way parts of my body feel
as your lips trace its frame,
because forever embedded is the purity of sweet sound
my ears devour as your tongue ejects my name.
So say it again, but s l o w e r.
Let it linger as you add to this relationship’s value.
Continue being the muse of my over-thought thinking
I’ve never met anyone like you.
Ady was a troubled kid, but he didn't use to be that way. Now, he almost never smiles and happiness has become an outdated concept to him. For a seventeen year old boy, he was unusual. He sulked in the darkest thoughts of his mind, with his head held down in disdain. He had black hair and dark brown eyes that would always stare at the ground, looking at his every footstep. No solace in his life existed, for he was overwhelmed in his thoughts, lost in a world of nonconformity. He thought of himself as a slave of society, forced to be confined to the strict rules set upon him. His mind, however, adventured to break the chains of bondage, no longer detained to society’s norms.
During school, he was despondent sulking in his own thoughts, while teachers became agitated that he was falling behind. Ady knew what all the answers were, but kept quiet, so his fellow peers wouldn't look at him with repugnance. He felt that he was surrounded by ignorance, only to be comforted by himself. His thoughts teased him, pressuring him to question his every action.
He sat down in the cold seat of his English class and stared blankly at the bare wall in front of him. His headphones were blasting music, but he could still hear the remarks made by his classmates. Instead of paying attention in class, he soon dozed off into his own dark thoughts, once again.
"Why are you here, Ady? What possesses you to keep coming to class? You don't even pay attention!" His thoughts were devouring his mind once again. "Your parents have put so much pressure on you to be just like your brother. Why are you falling behind? Your parents aren't proud of you anymore. Look at you; you are nothing. You're making yourself look like a goddamn disgrace." His thoughts wouldn't stop persecuting him.
Ady whispered to himself quietly, “Please just go away. I don’t want this right now.”
”What do you not want? Me reminding you how much of a failure you are? You should know it by now, how your teachers whisper to each other about how you were such a wonderful student. Now, you are just a disappointment. No one cares about you. Your peers think you’re demented.” Snickered his thoughts, “You are only killing yourself, Ady. Doused with drugs, alcohol, and pills, you have become derelict. Might as well kill yourself now.”
"Will you just stop fucking with me!?" Ady shouted.
Suddenly, his classmates turned around in awe with wide eyes to see Ady sitting in the back. His teacher, Mrs. Beck, stopped reading Huckleberry Finn and stared at him blankly with her jaw dropped in shock. Realizing that he said this out loud, Ady grabbed his textbooks and stormed out the classroom. He sat on the nearest bench in his school’s courtyard, his palms placed upon his forehead, reminiscing on what he had just done. "Now everyone is going to think you're a disgrace and a delirious lunatic." His thoughts boasted. Tears streamed down his face with his face cradled in the palms of his hands. "Oh now Ady, don't be a coward. Why are you crying? Because you can't get rid of your thoughts or that I'm haunting you to the point of timorous suicide?
"Why can't you just leave me alone?" Ady asserted, shaking his head.
"Because I am a part of you, you can never get rid of me. I will haunt you till the day you leave this Earth, which might be soon, since you're thinking of killing yourself." His thoughts teased. Ady didn't know how to respond, so he solemnly walked home in the cold November weather, with his thoughts still taunting him.
The next day, Ady returned to the class he absconded yesterday. He walked in right as the bell rang. "You're late again, Ady." Said his teacher, Mrs. Beck. Ady ignored his teacher's remarks and sat in his seat, while his fellow peers whispered about how Ady had boasted out of class yesterday.
"Do you think he's on drugs?" said one of the students.
"I don't know, but I've heard rumors he was placed in that mental institution, Holly Hills." replied another student.
Even though Ady had headphones in, he could still hear what his fellow peers thought of him.
"They're just jealous, Ady. Don't pay any mind to them; they will all pay their do's soon." His thoughts echoed in the cobwebs of his brain, even louder than they were before. Abruptly, Ady felt a slight pinch on his shoulder and saw that it was one of the girl's sitting behind him.
"Ady, are you okay?” exclaimed the young girl, "You ran out yesterday and I was worried about you, I hope you're okay now." The girl's name was Ester; she had hazel eyes that matched the freckles on her cheeks, with long light brown hair. Her lips smiled from cheek to cheek as she gazed into Ady’s eyes. She had known Ady for quite a long time, and had even gone on a couple dates with him, but it didn't turn into anything serious.
"Yeah I'm fine, thanks." said Ady whilst turning back around to face the front of the classroom. Ady knew Ester meant no harm, and that she constantly perturbed about him. But why would anyone care about him, especially her? No one else paid him any attention, except for Ester. Ady didn't know the answers to his questions, but he did find solace that someone cared for him.
3:18 A.M. Tuesday, November 18th
"Ady, wake up. It's me again. Did you hear what your friends said about you? They said you were in a mental institution and that you turn to drugs to help you cope. Are you just going to let them get away with that?" murmured his thoughts.
"They're not my friends, not even acquaintances. Why should I care now what they think of me, they've said rumors about me before." replied Ady.
"You are such an ignorant young boy. They've been doing this ever since you were in Elementary school. They think you're insane, in fact everybody thinks you are. Your parents, friends, teachers, classmates, and even Ester.”
"Shut up you have no idea what you're talking about! “Proclaimed Ady.
"Oh, but I do. You should be locked up in a mental institution, one of those padded rooms, where you can't hurt yourself. Or better yet, hurt other people. You like the idea of pain, don't you? So, why do you only inflict it upon yourself, and not others, you selfish prick!"
"Get out of my head! Get out! Why do you do this to me!? I don't want to hurt anyone!" shouted Ady. He grabbed a syringe full of Heroine from the second drawer of his nightstand and stabbed it into the inside of his elbow; he slowly injected the drug into his blood stream. His dark brown pupils dilated and soon fell from his bed to the carpeted ground, without his thoughts there to torment him.
Ady woke up around noon, and decided to go to school. However, he injected another dose of Heroine to ease his nerves, and hopefully eliminate his intrusive thoughts. He also took another bag, but his one was not full of his usual textbooks. Three G17 Gen4 9mm pistols, two Bear OPS switchblades, and one Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol. Ady, of course, obtained these weapons illegally, and kept them under his bed in his old guitar case. He wore a dark black coat and a black bandanna over his face, to make sure his identity was not revealed.
When he arrived at Saint Augustine High School, he was immediately noticed by one of the teachers, Mr. Hills. Mr Hills had been Ady’s Advance Placement Chemistry teacher, who he had known for quite a long time.
“Ady,” exclaimed Mr. Hills, “why are you dressed like that? Don’t you need to return to your third period?”
Ady slowly took out one of his 9 millimeters and aimed it at Mr. Hill’s forehead. Once he saw the gun Mr. Hills took off running, but Ady shot him directly in his spinal cord. Mr. Hills fell to the concrete sidewalk, blood escaping his body and painting the ground a crimson color that matched the autumn leaves. The sound of the gunshot was heard throughout the school, causing the emergency bell to start blasting a high pitched ring.
"Wonderful, our presence is known." His thoughts echoed. The school suddenly went into lock down, teachers started locking the doors, turning off the lights, and students frantically hid under their desks. Ady wasn't naive, he knew what was exactly going on. First, the teachers and students had been notified that there was a deranged psycho loose in their school. Second, the police and SWAT team were on their way to stop Ady in his path.
Ady proceeded down the hallways of his school, where all the doors were shut and the classrooms were dark. His footsteps echoed in the hallway, and he could hear the gasping of breath inside the classrooms as he passed them. He slowly strolled to Mrs. Beck's classroom, and jiggled the doorknob just to see if he could get a reaction. He did. With as much force as he attained, he kicked in the door. The students hid under the desks, screaming and terrified they called out "Please, don't hurt us. Please. Please have mercy." Ady smirked at the sight of their terror.
"Why should I be merciful towards you?" Ady claimed. He then took out his semi- automatic pistol from his black book bag and aimed it to the boy closest to him, who was cowering under his desk. His name was Matthew and he was one of the boys that had harassed Ady since he was eight years old. Ady then preceded to the shoot the boy in-between his green eyes. His blood plastered the wall behind him, while his head lay adjacent to the crimson wall. The whole class shrieked, not for the boy, but for who was going to be the next victim.
"The way I see it is you can either be the victim or the culprit.” said Ady, "However, you guys drove me to this, and so I think of you as both." Ady thus opened fired on the whole class. Mrs. Beck, the boy who sat next to him, and the girls who used to flirt with him. As the bullets fired, their blood piercing screams were heard throughout the school. Though, through the midst of chaos, Ester was not injured. She stood as a gleaming symbol of hope, while blood and lifeless bodies covered the tile floor. Her palms in her face, she wept hysterically under one of the desks. What had she just witnessed? Why did Ady not shoot her? Traumatized she looked around at twenty-one lifeless bodies lying around her, and then she looked at Ady. Ady gazed into her eyes and walked away. No emotions. No words. Nothing.
The police and SWAT team surrounded the school, but luckily Ady surrendered. He had gotten what he wanted. Revenge. But, revenge is not a substitute for justice. Ady was now locked up in Cherry Grove mental institution. There, he was alone with his thoughts again. He wanted to escape from everyone who had ever done him wrong. But the one person, who caused Ady to go mentally ill, in which he could never escape, was himself.