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b e mccomb May 2023
i'm not trying to
write something good
i'm trying to write something
for myself

something to remind me
i'm still alive
breathing feeling
existing in this world

to be honest
i don't know why i'm trying
it's like i've been away
from myself too long

i'd like to go back to
maryland for another weekend
your hand in mine
a long walk in the dark
for an overpriced dinner
but i still remember that
cup of bisque
how the inlet stank
creeping through deserted
pitch black parking lots
the late night fishermen
set up on the overpass
sunburned legs
boardwalk taffy

i'd go back through
winding roads through
the historic district
to the red roof inn
maybe a little drunk
a little young and a
little dumb
i can't recall why
we didn't just take
the car but i sure
don't regret the walk

guess i just miss the
sense of peace
in my gut
so foreign to me

i have this feeling that
life is about to change
and i'm not scared
just a little nostalgic

it doesn’t matter
to anyone else
but i’ll always remember
the way the ocean looked
under the bridgeway
apple fritter for breakfast

i’m scared
of growing up
how pathetic when
i’m literally an adult

fuzzy socks
pulled up to my knees
my favorite t-shirt
the blue pokemon one
so old that polywhirl has
completely worn off
i’m going to sleep tonight
like every other night
with my stuffed wolf and
your arms around me

tomorrow i’ll get up
go to work
get the things done that
i didn’t do last week
you’ll pick me up at 3:30
and let me in the driver’s side
i’ll check the mirrors
and white knuckle my way
up the hill to the dentist office
where i’ll be reminded that
my genetics are against me and
i need to wear my retainer more

(i get reminded of the
genetics part enough
every time a holiday
or disagreement rolls around)

i don’t want to be famous
i don’t even want to be rich
i just want to make enough
money that i can afford therapy

because i could write three
poems a day and i don’t know
if i’d ever get to the bottom of it all
i think i’ve started to make
some sense of it and then
something will remind me that i don’t

like the other night at the bar
when i recounted something
i’m almost sure i must have
mentioned to you before

but i must have been mistaken
because you set down your drink
and looked at me and said
“that’s really ****** up
that she would ever say that
i’m sorry that happened to you”

so it’s safe to say that
ignoring it isn’t making it
go away and thinking
about it is only making me miserable
so i guess all that’s left to do
is write about it

and there’s not much to do with
pages and pages of your own
thoughts so i guess i’ll just
keep it to myself for now

but i’m not trying to write
something good i’m trying
to write something
for myself
copyright 4/30/23 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb May 2023
it's four pm sunday afternoon
and in an unforeseen
turn of events
i'm awake

guess i've slept so long
i couldn't nap away
one more

remembering how on friday
waiting at the bus stop
a library employee
walked up to me and said

"would you
like a poem?"
and handed me
a note card

and on it was printed
a poem
and a reminder that
april was national poetry month

it reminded me
what i've known for far too long

that there are words inside me
clawing tooth and nail

trying to get out
and i have to let them

so today it's
sunday afternoon
and i'm thinking about how
sunday afternooons
aren't what
they used to be

they started out in
the backseat of a
blue dodge van
crammed between my brothers
npr on the radio
i hated car talk
but loved to hear the way
my dad laughed at what
couldn’t possibly be jokes
not since it wasn’t funny

but after car talk came
prairie home companion
garrison keillor's gravel
serenade of life in
lake woebegone
static bluegrass
the drama
of guy noir
the hilarity of
tom keith and fred newman
playing ping pong with
airplanes dive bombing overhead

winding up around the lake
through the corn fields
until we got
to grandma’s house

afternoons turned into
evenings and i would fall
asleep in the backseat
on the way home
staring upside down out the
window at the incandescent
orange street lights
barely bright enough to cast more
light than the stars
treetops dissolving into the dark sky

i always thought it was
fascinating how it everything
looked different from that
angle in the dark

sunday afternoons turned into
dashing around
the church grounds
picking up deer bones in the
back lot and throwing them
into the pond
eventually removing screens
from windows and
climbing out onto the roof

we got older
turned into teenagers
lazy summer days
a memory so
soaked in sugary
pink lemonade mix
i can't help but scrape my teeth
remembering the taste of
citric acid and innocence

how we thought we were
so grown up
but i'd give anything to be
that kid again

i wish we’d gone
on more trips to the mall
before the shops were dead husks
a fallen ozymandias
to the promise of capitalism
when there were shoe stores
and book stores and a
radio shack and a gertrude hawk

we would spend ages in the
bath and body works
smelling and calculating
how much body spray
we had to buy between ourselves
to get the most out of our coupon
exchanging the bills and bottles
in the food court across from the sears
years and years
before it would become a post
apocalyptic vaccination center of
folding chairs and masked queues

before i lost them
to the split paths
adulthood takes
us all down

i wish i'd known what
i know now
that no matter how bad
it feels in my own head
it's never a death sentence
it will come and go

i wish i’d known
that none of it would last

sunday afternoons
the in-between
washing my hair
while my friends
went with my parents
to church

i don't go to church
don't think i ever will again
even though i wonder
if the sense of community would help

it's sunday afternoon
but it's not how sunday
afternoons used to be
with johnny cash on a loop
as i lost myself in
empty cardboard boxes
straight lines of
dusty wine bottles
shattered pints of
gin on gritty concrete

sunday morning
coming down
but it never felt like
coming down
it felt as close to peace
and quiet as i could get

sunday afternoons
turned to hazy piles of
navy duvet and
dr teals scented sheets
but i can’t do that anymore
i’ve wasted enough time
trying to sleep out
my own thoughts

so i'm trying to
let myself remember
let the words out
one afternoon at a time

something about this
sunday afternoon
feels like how
they used to be

an indigo country playlist
on the tv
all alone
with my herbal tea
the candle burning is
lilac and violet
i'm starting to think
i could find a way to heal

i'm not writing this poem
for it to be good
i'm writing it because if i don't
i might slip down with
the raindrops into the drainage grate
never to be seen again

i have to let my past
wrap itself into my future
or i'll lose the parts of
myself that brought me to here

there’s something about
having the window open
while it rains that tells me
it’s going to be all right
something about how the
library bells still ring
just off the hour
that reminds me

how time passes
how sunday afternoons
have changed
and i’m sure they
will change again soon
and what a relief that is
copyright 4/30/23 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Apr 2023
it’s all deadlines
and downtime

i’m trying to
keep my head
above waters of
“just following up”
keep from inhaling
gallons of
“sorry for the
late response”
don’t let the
anchor of
pull me under

but i’m drowning
in deadlines
and choking
on downtime

there aren’t
enough hours
in the day
or hours in the night

it's all very vague
a kind of abstract
glimmer on the horizon

and then it's all
very obvious
giant blue swaths of

one or
the other
in tandem

my shipmates
didn't sign
back on for
this run
so i'm alone
trying to keep
this thing

but i'm not
the captain
or even the
first mate
i'm just a
pulled off
the streets

but i’m drowning
in deadlines
and choking
on downtime
copyright 9/23/22 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Sep 2022
i'm not

or maybe i just
don't know
how to tell
if i was

do random
my brain
while leaving
the house in
the morning or
taking a shower
equate to suicidal
or just little electrical
blips in the sack
of meat piloting me?

my veins

i suspect it's
a side effect
of the
permanent damage

and i think
about death

i suspect it's
a side effect
of thinking
about taxes

(you know
the two
go hand
and hand)

and 35 hours
a week of
thinking about taxes
leaves a lot of
unoccupied time
to think about death

she always used to say
"this is the most
boring job
to become an
alcoholic over"
and she's right

i have the most
boring life
to ****
myself over
too boring
to even bother

but the ticklish
surges and bursts
of thought

it gets
slap myself
on the wrist

(they can’t tell me
how long it takes
a clot to form
and they can’t tell me
how long it takes
a clot to dissolve

but i can tell you
i’ve got the thinnest
blood this side
of the mississippi
a constant
ache in my
left calf
and stretch marks
on my knee
no matching ones
on my right

it’s easy for me
to forget the
part where i
very could have died
not so easy
to forget the
part where i
was alone)

life is
and my grasp
on it even more

i'm just not sure
some days
that i'm meant
to be alive

it's hard to believe it
when my brain
and body
both say otherwise

(maybe i'm lucky
or maybe i'm
defying my
own odds)
copyright 9/23/22 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Sep 2022
it's getting bad again
but not bad enough
that i think i should
start to worry

or maybe i don't
know what's bad
and what's normal

the dark thoughts that
scamper around
are just mice
in the kitchen of my conscious

but to people with
clean houses they are
with great *******
wings and horns
and fangs and

(i guess
the unprovoked
bloodlust part
is true)

it's just mice in my pantry
keeping me awake
leaving traces
getting into my things
just mice
but very

and i'm
of it

it's just mice
but the urge is to
burn the entire
house down
to deal with
the problem
copyright 9/14/22 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Sep 2022
it’s 3:30am
i can’t remember
the last time
i was up this late

it’s 3:30am
and he's crying
into my shoulder

it’s 3:30am
and i’m regretting
being honest

it’s been
almost five years
and i’m still
digging to find
the right words
and he’s still
to me for the
fact that i

(for lack of
a better term)


it was still
dark when i
got up
this morning

and it felt
how it’s
supposed to be
when autumn
begins to fall

but i also felt
the inexorable knife of
seasonal affected disorder
begin to twist into my side

this is the
moment i
wrote about
years ago

where he learns
he can’t
fix me

this is the
reason we don’t
 talk about
mental illness

because what’s
normal to me in my
****** up brain
(the fact i just
randomly want to
or hurt myself at
infrequent intervals)
is distressing
to my loved ones

my reality is
his fear

i'm afraid of
the bottom
dropping out
when he realizes
continues daily
to realize

this is how
i always have
been and how
i always will be

because i'm
realizing this
and the floor is
constantly swaying
under my feet

but it's 3:30am
and he's crying
and i can't cry
when i've already
cried about all
of this before

living with the guilt
of hurting people
is just as bad as living
with the mental illness
copyright 9/14/22 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Sep 2022
i once watched
a documentary about
transgender women
in pakistan

thrown out by
their families and
ostracized by

all they had
were each other

but instead of compassion
for the struggle they shared
in each other

there was a pecking order
where the elder women
abused and beat down
the younger

i never thought
about why this
made such an
impression on me

until today
when i realized
it illustrates
the incomprehensible fact

that women
regardless of their
age or gender
assigned at birth
or ethnicity
or economic status
or the society
they live in

are just
to each other

my grandmother is
83 next week

family is
coming into town
and there will be
a party

and i
will not go

**** her
that’s why

and will i regret
my resentment
when i’m as
old as she is?

i just might
but that doesn’t mean
it's worth putting
myself through the
experience at this
moment in time

i was always
papa's girl
his little

and after he died
it was like
i didn't have
him anymore and
she didn't have any
reason to be
nice to me anymore

now that i've put
my foot down
my mother is
telling me off

and i just don't
think i need to
put up with this
any longer

and i just don't understand
why women
have to be so
horrible to each other
copyright 9/12/22 by b. e. mccomb
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