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Sep 2022 · 131
defying my own odds
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
Sep 2022 · 83
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
Sep 2022 · 58
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
Sep 2022 · 111
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
Sep 2022 · 113
september again
b e mccomb Sep 2022
where to start
maybe where
i start
most days

dr phil says
we begin behaviors
for a reason
and they continue
for another
and i say
it’s usually

some mornings
as i propel myself
down the sidewalk
i don't realize its
me moving my
own legs

(and i wonder what would
happen if i just
fell to the concrete
let the city
claim me as its own)

i know where
the puddles
form when it rains
on the asphalt terrain
been power walking
for four autumns
and i know
when to dodge them

i know where
the bus will hit
the potholes
and my body
tenses automatically
no thought

i know i carry
too much junk
around in my purse
but i’ve been
doing it so long
i don’t remember why
i thought i would need it
in the first place

i don’t need coffee
to wake me up
most mornings
but i drink it anyway

and if there’s a
box of wine in
the fridge i’ll
drink that to

(i don’t know
why i’ve been
doing everything
all right but
can’t give myself
any credit for it)

i love my commute
because i can think
and i hate it
because i never
come up with
anything new

i don't actually think
i used to be happier
in fact
i know i wasn't

but i had something
to tie myself to
espresso machine cleaner
drying my hands out

the smell of bleach
sizzle of cheese
scone dough under
my nails

buckets of carnations
armfuls of wine bottles
the hum of the
air conditioner

anchoring myself
to things
sounds and smells
objects and people

i wasn't happy then
but the nostalgia smoulders

and what

the same
bus ride

three blue and
white screens
screaming phone
stacks of files

i like my job
and i'm happy with it
but there's always the
constant need to
make it better

the three year
itch is real
and the three year
itch is all i've
every known
the urge to
against all reason

i don't know
where i'd go

i just know
it's september again
and i'm
tired of it
copyright 9/8/22 by b. e. mccomb
Sep 2022 · 109
ten to one
b e mccomb Sep 2022
sometimes to
move forward
you have to
look back

i looked back
the past
all my old

it would appear
i've been writing down
in line breaks and stanzas
the godforsaken
dramatic **** in my head
and calling it poetry
for a solid
ten years now

really, ten?

yet i checked
and last year
i wrote exactly
four poems
the year before

only ten?

and this is the
fourth for
this year
and i know
because i can feel
the words i didn't
allow myself
still rattling around

i need
to get

a set of maracas
constant cha cha
in the background
trying to pinpoint
the moment of

i can feel it
it was

i can't salsa
dance to
my own

so here i am
and i'm wondering
what if
i tried

just one

poem a day
it doesn't have to
be like this it can be
it can be
it can be

ten to one
leave the
half dozen
to the others

it just needs to

i just need to

can i commit
myself to
until the end of the year?
copyright 9/7/22 by b. e. mccomb
Sep 2022 · 89
b e mccomb Sep 2022
it's like suddenly
the dam has burst
and the words
won't stop tumbling

and isn't that what
you get after
a drought
the flood?

my scalp itches
but i just washed my hair
it itches
begging me to do something

a dozen half-baked
thoughts accumulated
a blank space in the
narrative of my life

to recap
what i missed
the things i
never wrote about

a toxic job and quitting it
watching my friends
and former friends
get married

watching myself
get married

that time when
i almost died

the constant struggle
between myself
and the body i so
tenuously inhabit

my boring job
where i sit at a desk

there's a lot i haven't
let myself think about
and maybe now
is the time to do so

my doctor told me last
time i went to see her that
she understands why i don't
want therapy right now
therapy is just a tool
that doesn't work for everyone

(it certainly works
if you find the right
therapist and the odds
align to keep them
but i've done this before
and i will do it again)

so i should do
something that
restores my soul
to maintain myself

and i must have forgotten
how calming
it is to put things into
words on a page
in lines and rows
to let myself happen

hate that it took me
this long to realize
what i'd
been missing

after the drought
comes the flood
copyright 9/6/22 by b. e. mccomb
Sep 2022 · 921
albany ny 8/30/22
b e mccomb Sep 2022
mvp arena
s pearl st
albany, ny

(to summarize how
we got to this point

i was in the
darkest year of my life
and in my pragmatism
i gave myself
an out

the only way i could
survive was to
tell myself it was
going to be over soon)

i’m screaming
the words into
of noise

i should be
still hearing the ringing
in my ears and
seeing flashing lights
in my eyes

was the day
it was going
to end for me

i discovered
a genre designed
for kids like me

spent hours
in full blown panic
not at the disco but
twitching on the floor
trying to drown it out
with fall out boy
nights that didn’t end until
dawn picking apart
twenty one pilots theories
in razor free showers

and then
my chemical romance
was back from the dead
10th anniversary album with
new tracks
coming 9/23/16)

things have changed
i’ve changed
and yet still
the same

”what’s the worst that i could say?
things are better if i stay?
so long and good night
so long and good night”

(and i realized
there was something
out there to
look forward to

just maybe
i make it through
just for now)

”we’ll carry on
we’ll carry on”

i did
and i made it
all the way to here
found a way to
scrape myself through
every lonely night

but in that
moment the
crushing weight
of my own
caught up to me

i should have been
to have made it
to here

but the only thought
in my mind
was that
if i hadn't
made it to here
this moment
in this sea of
misfits and margins
in this sweaty stadium
four hours from home

if i hadn't
carried on
my absence

i'm reduced to
a face in the crowd
twenty dollar bills
in a merch line
a scream in a stranger's
snapchat story

and the world doesn't
need me
one more person
to add to the chaos

i should have cried
happy tears
but instead
i began to regret
what makes me
what got me
to this point

would it be better
if i had ended it?
would it be easier?
does it even matter
either way?
because i'm
beginning to think
it really doesn't

and i know
i made it this far
i have his hand
around my back
and don't cry
alone at night anymore

but in the cosmic
scheme of significance
(which i want there
to be and i want
to be in)
i just don't
i don't
if it matters enough

what's the worst that i could say?
are things better if i stay?

"so shut your eyes
kiss me goodbye
and sleep
just sleep
the hardest part
is letting go of your dreams"
copyright 9/5/22 by b. e. mccomb
Sep 2022 · 559
b e mccomb Sep 2022
i let myself
slip away

get lost
in other people's

i fell out
of my purse
or forgot myself
in the pocket
of my winter coat
a suspicious
(not sure what)
was missing

it's easy
to get trapped
in a screen
a mental box of
away my weekends

so easy
to forget
is so often
simply found
in creating

it's been
hard lately

i've been coming
to terms with
my mental state
for ten years
and i'm still not

in knowing i can't
change this
can't fix myself
and that maybe
the drugs don't
even work

it's not

this is not

"no drugs
no therapy
just raw-*******

it's funny
until it's not

it's funny
until the darkness
starts creeping
its way behind
my ears and
muffling reality

it's funny
until i get drunk
funny til i

(i hate saying relapse
as if slicing open
my own skin to
calm down is
some kind of
addiction i can't break
because it's not
i don't have to do this)

it's funny until
it's not funny anymore

it's funny until i get
dragged under into
apathy by my
mental to-do list

message my doctor
about the meds
i stopped taking
two weeks ago

and call the other doctor
to get seen about that chronic
blood condition that almost
killed me that one time

call about the
call about the
call about the
driving lessons
call about the
rest of my life

i'm spiraling again
different time
different place
same looping
descent into
my own madness
copyright 9/5/22 by b.e. mccomb
Sep 2021 · 538
pickup work
b e mccomb Sep 2021
“well,” he always says
and he shrugs
“you know. it’s
pickup work.”

liquor store?
sling *****
around for a few
hours on the weekend?

pickup work.

flower shop?
haul buckets of water
huff some bleach
and lop some stems?

pickup work.

dog biscuits?
slam some dough
cut out even little
canine snacks?

pickup work.

i have a job
it could pay better
but i have a very
low standard of living

my life is better now that
i don’t come home
with the compulsion
to drink hard liquor

but things are slow
at my real job
so what do i
find myself doing?

pickup work.

i see him in my
minds eye
shrug again
as if it doesn’t matter

and it doesn’t
it’s just pickup work

but the problem with
pickup work is
what am i putting down
to pick it up?

i always thought it
was time
a few hours of sleep here
afternoon of free time there

but what about
my sanity?

what about my
mental health?

what am i
putting down
to pick
this up?

it sounds selfish
to say my peace of mind
and yet
if peace of mind
is something i want to find
it’s true

and some days i
hate this town
and i hate the way
it traps me
suffocates me
in who i used to be

when i was broke
and running

i never ran away from home
just worked 60 hours a week
so i would never
have to be there

that’s not me anymore
i like my life
i like my time
i like my quiet

and i don’t like
pickup work

especially when i think
about what i’m
putting down to
pick it up
copyright 9/10/21 by b. e. mccomb
Jun 2021 · 389
b e mccomb Jun 2021
it’s friday night and for once
i’m not slinging *****
no tickertape headaches
or low resolution bedtimes

purple cocktail and
a pink sky above
the bricks of a city that’s
turned blue in faded light

and it’s easier now
to be grateful
for what i have
for what i don’t

i don’t have
to relive the past
last year will never
come again

and things may
get darker than
ever someday but
for today i have
this moment
to hold onto

the seconds in which
the fog on my
glasses cleared
and the music in
my ears was coming
from above me
and i didn’t need
to run to my
destination just
walk with time to spare

minutes in which
normal can exist
after a lifetime of
trying to be different

those who know me
will say i’ve changed
and i have
you have to change
when you start feeling
like yourself

it’s not a
glimmering revolution
on a horizon of clarity
it’s when you can
set your own smile
free on your face
let yourself miss
what you’ve lost
but not so much
that you lose today

vulnerability is a
hard gift to give myself
but i don’t want to
live in a box anymore

life is not
a race or sprint
it’s just a walk
on a late spring evening
when flowers in planters
nod in reminder that
potbound plants can
find a way to thrive

growth is a
and i’m not
there yet

but for now
there’s air
in my lungs
a plan in my
future and
regrets behind me

and for now
that’s enough
copyright 6/4/21 by b. e. mccomb
Jan 2021 · 575
right now
b e mccomb Jan 2021
cold string lights
warm street lights


fogged over
grey bus ride
it's always
in this world
i've made for myself

tapping keys and
blazing screens and
soft wooden
electronica dreams

coffee cups with
grease on the outside
and swirling flakes
of keep it together girl

don't let your
fingers freeze
and hope that
your toes get warm

and at night pull
the velvety clouds
over your eyes
after you slip down
like hot wax
off a candle

washed down with
soap and daily regrets
washed down with
cold wine and ink

but for
right now

*it's all over now
baby blue
copyright 1/29/21 by b. e. mccomb
Jan 2021 · 822
b e mccomb Jan 2021
if this bus
is any later
i will drift
into a pile of snow

i’m not seventeen
wrapped in three
and a half blankets
to keep myself warm
from the inevitable cold

i’m an amorphous blob
a lump of
coat and scarf
and mask and hair
and cords and lunchbox
and sweater and bag
and cold fingers clutching
a coffee cup

i’m not twenty one
can’t keep
ignoring things
pushing them
under more layers

claiming it will
keep me warm but
just stifling
me from breathing

i’m almost
twenty three
but when i start
ripping off layers
i’m still

under the
trappings of
age there
are those same
fresh wounds
****** on my skin

do we even get
older or do we just
grow wiser in the ways of
silencing the child underneath?

but there’s no time
to think about that
now when the
bus is rounding the
corner and i’m scrambling
through forty
different pockets
to find my pass

and it’s time to go
because if i stand
here any longer
so the snow blows
over me
when the sun comes
out my feet will
melt onto the sidewalk

but that’s another
thought for another
day and it’s time to
leave so i’ll just put on
another layer and
keep moving so
the snow can’t
cover me
copyright 1/19/21 by b. e. mccomb
Jan 2021 · 436
b e mccomb Jan 2021
family is
a knife
cutting birthday cake
cutting roast dinner

cutting paper
and ribbon to wrap
and slicing through
to open the gift

a knife
for what we
do together

but knives
are used
to sever

and when it
skin it’s that
much more
when the ties
which bind
so easily

a blade
hanging out
of my side
and everyone pretends
they don’t notice
until they twist
the knife deeper
just to hurt us

i want to
chop onions
slice open
green peppers
add them to dinner
make something
that brings
somebody together

but you
want to
make people

family is
a knife
copyright 12/25/20 by b. e. mccomb
Dec 2020 · 452
b e mccomb Dec 2020
olive =
get emotional

me up please

is very wrong

tis the season
to smile
go home
and cry

haven’t seen her

it’s all
blood vials
dead dogs
expired wine
fruit dropped
on the floor

children walking by
looking for a
drunk nutcracker
named tipsy

and i can’t even
syphon off some
of their joy
because something
is definitely wrong
and they’re fresh out

where do the
butterflies go
when it’s winter
and hopeless?

why do they
leave when
we need
them most?

get emotional
stitch me up

happy holidays
let the worry
creep through
the greenery

drape some
guilt on the tree
wrapped in twinkling
strings of panic
cranberry flavored
family fights

anxiety but
make it festive

depression but
make it seasonal

could i get a
butterfly down here?

just some kind of
hopeful flutter
a dog
a needle
anything to
grasp onto

just to get
find a butterfly
on a ransacked
holiday shelf
70% off and
picked over

get emotional
stitch me up

something is
very wrong

but make it seasonal
copyright 12/5/20 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Jul 2020
here is what
we are not
going to do

we are not going to
play taylor swift’s
latest album a
half dozen times

and we are not going to
get drunk on ****** sweet red
wine from a three liter bag
mixed with lime gin

and what we are most
certainly not doing today

is crying
and crying
and crying
and crying

mostly over what
didn’t happen
and what won’t happen
and what can’t happen


and we are not
slipping darkly
down into the space
between the bathroom floor
and reality where
the bath mat lives and
i start to get afraid of myself

we are not falling
into the trap
of blood on skin
like drops of that bad
red wine dried and
left to oxidize

so here’s to what we’re
not going to do today

but then what
are we going
to do today?
copyright 7/27/20 by b. e. mccomb
Jul 2020 · 1.1k
b e mccomb Jul 2020
i try not to
get my hopes up
too often
it’s never as good
as i convince myself
it will be

but i let myself
believe in this one
in the back of my mind
the beach

a week off work
ocean waves
hot sand
fresh fish
his birthday
where reality can’t find me

in 2019 it seemed like
a great plan
enter 2020
with it’s 99
problems but
a beach ain’t one

and so now another
year will go by
and i won’t get a chance
to leave this
humid lakelocked town
that will soon cool down
with drizzling rains and
thick white snow

people have lost
their jobs
their lives
and their sanity

and i’m doing
all right
untouched by
disaster and
richer from

so i should be
but i’m mostly just
over it

the long hours and
late nights and
going going going
busy bee

but i guess no
beaches for
like me
copyright 7/23/20 by b. e. mccomb
Jun 2020 · 1.7k
open wound
b e mccomb Jun 2020
there’s an open
wound on main street
and i wish people would
stop asking about it
because every question pulls
the hole a little wider

something was always
just a little bit

a constant drip
in the fridge

a fruit fly trapped
in the bake case

missing corners
of floor tiles

pictures hanging
slightly crooked

one foot of a table
unscrewed to a wobble

the rattle
of the heater

smiles from those
i couldn’t trust

a tiny pinprick of
stress behind my eyes

every year was
the year that would
make it or break it

so nobody was
except those who
couldn’t see the scuffs

last year
things were supposed
to be so good
everyone talking
mad **** about their
incredible ideas

i had a few
ideas of my own
nobody ever had to
teach me how to
dream big
overexert myself
and fall hard

the quiche crusts stuck
to the bottoms of pans

and there was no way to
get the slice out
without the whole entire
thing falling apart

i might have been
the first slice to go

but at least i got
out of there

before the hand that
pulled me out
was the hand that
dropped the pan

a glass pie plate
shattered and
the way things were
supposed to be suddenly


and i’m still
on the sidewalk
staring at the
empty shell of
something i once loved

big hopes
big dreams
big plans
small town
too small to
hold them all

every piece of my
future points
arms of a clock
working their way
into the past

it’s not in how
the damage was done
but in how you
heal from it

there’s an
open wound on
main street
maybe if we gave
south street stitches
we could pull it closed

but still i question
my existence as if
scones and coffee
and thursday mornings
before sunup were
the only things that
gave me

they were

maybe people
pull themselves into
an orbit around that
which keeps them grounded

an orbit of
routine and the
dissonance needed
to stir ice cubes
in a plastic cup
to create peace
in the moment
of chaos

or maybe
the one place
that always felt
like home to me
was just a cafe
on the four corners
and now there’s
an open wound
not so much
on main street
but the pocket of my
heart where hope lives
copyright 2/17/20 by b. e. mccomb
Mar 2020 · 449
b e mccomb Mar 2020
the flowers will still poke
up to bloom this spring

and empty airline bottles
will still litter the sidewalks

and good and bad
will still reside
in all of us

and the struggle
between them
will still wage war

or perhaps
because of
what falls apart
or comes together
all around us
copyright 3/18/20 by b. e. mccomb
Sep 2019 · 751
the worst kind of mean
b e mccomb Sep 2019
taylor swift sounds
petty and vindictive
until someone hurts you
and then suddenly
she takes the words
right out of your mouth

there are mean
people and then
there are people you trust
and one day you
realize they’re
the meanest ones of all

the mean ones
don’t bother me
it’s the other ones
that do

i just want
to be big enough
strong enough
that they can’t
hurt me

to shake it off
as it hits me
not to let it
crush me

because if anything
takes energy
i don’t have to spare
it’s being hurt

but hurt me
you do
even as you
seek my love
and forgiveness you
still manage to dig
sharp little barbs
into my skin

don’t you dare
tell me what
i’m thinking
don’t you dare
tell me what
i’m feeling

and most of all
don’t you dare
tell me how
i should be living
how i should
be dealing with
things i would like to
leave in my bad memories

but if taylor swift reminds me
of any one thing it’s that
you will probably
never change

and i just have to
roll with the punches
let ******* be *******
and never stop hustling
copyright 9/27/19 by b. e. mccomb
Sep 2019 · 532
b e mccomb Sep 2019
saturdays smell like
bleach under my nails
sleep in my eyes
scratches on hands
gluey stuck fingers
glare off an empty parking lot
and other people’s
uncomplicated lives

give me enough time
and i can get rid of
any kind of stain
in your coffee cup
but i don’t take the time
to wash out my own

and i can’t get rid of
how i sometimes feel
like less than a person
a second class citizen
or some kind of
preprogrammed robot
just here to assist with
strangers personal quests

i’m not the
swashbuckling hero
out on an adventure
i’m the placid villager who
never moves from behind
the counter night or
day and only ever repeats
the same half dozen lines
wears the same outfit every
time you see them

i don’t want
to be the hero
all i want is
to live comfortably
in this town
and let my life

all i want is
to get the dirt out
from my fingernails
and get enough sleep

to love
and be loved
to drink coffee
in the morning
wine at night
and water all day

but i never
want to be the
chosen one
i just want to be
the one who points
you in the right direction
copyright 9/18/19 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Aug 2019
how to ride a bike
(that was dad's department)
how to double knot my shoe laces
how to make my bed
how to play scrabble
how to keep a house clean
how to cook
how to bake
how to drive
(still dad's department)

how to exist without caring
about others' opinions
how to not burden everyone
else with your troubles

how to throw a punch
(only how to take one
and complain instead
of fighting back)

how to treat your body
with respect and when
you don't like someone else's
to keep your mouth shut

how to keep your chin up
when you're down
how when you don't like
something you do it anyway

to only accept criticism
from those you would
go to for advice
and that giving someone
the benefit of the doubt only
benefits the giver's conscience

how even words
that mean well
can cut directly
into a person's soul
and leave them
bleeding for decades

a work ethic
a good attitude
how to rely on yourself
and yourself alone
for anything and everything
but especially money

my brother taught me
bunny ears for my sneakers
my pastor's wife taught me
not to pack down flour in a cup
my first job taught me
how to clean a kitchen
my boyfriend taught me
how to make gravy
my boss taught me
you show up even when
you're sick and tired
and don't want to be there
my best friend taught me
positivity is never wasted
but i still sleep with
lumps of blankets in my bed

the numbers in my
bank account
the food on my
dining room table
and the people i made
a decision to love all
let me know
i'm self sufficient now
but my mother still
winds her way through
my subconscious whining
that i still need her

and i'll spend the rest
of my life trying
to unlearn the things that
my mother never taught me
copyright 8/21/19 by b. e. mccomb
Aug 2019 · 395
b e mccomb Aug 2019
i just want the
bleeding to stop

my body to realize
it’s fine and it doesn’t
need to do this
it’s only hurting itself

all i see is

it’s not the cut
that hurts the most
it’s the sting of
regrets that follows

so many
so many
i’m so
tired of it

and more

why do i
do this

why do i
do this


i don’t want
to live anymore
it hurts too
much now

too much
just make it

but i’m the
one who got
into this mess
how do i expect
it to stop while
i stand by?

look what
you’ve done now
do you feel
any better?

i didn’t think so
a sinking ship
that you keep
climbing back on

but for ten minutes
the fog in my
head cleared
as i watched the blood

bubble to the
surface and
run down my leg
forgot all the bad
things the bad
thoughts as it dripped

but i’m tired
of blood
so tired
i want it to end
copyright 8/15/19 by b. e. mccomb
Aug 2019 · 490
waiting game
b e mccomb Aug 2019
sometimes i wrap your
jacket around
my pillow and bury my
face in it before i fall asleep

it smells like summer
in a hot kitchen after
long work shifts
sweaty and spicy

smells like the first night i
put my head on your chest
your arm went around my shoulder
and i could feel my heart
thudding out of my ribs
when you kissed me without warning

i panicked
and the next time you
asked before you
brushed your lips against
my cheek and then i felt
the stars flicker in my bones

i remember the day i
threw flour at you
for no reason
and you didn’t get
mad or anything just
kind of stared at me

the day i stuck a rose
in my teeth
declared myself a princess
and we went to the mall

the day i stole some alstra
from my mother’s yellow pitcher
put them in a tin can
and gave them to you

gerbera daisies
your hand in mine
it’s been a year
and i find myself
falling in love all
over again every week

with your smile
with the dimple
in your right cheek
your laugh
your hands
how good you
are to me
even when i don’t
deserve it
and how i never
know exactly
what you’re thinking up in
that blonde head of yours

of course you’re not
perfect but you’re
the closest **** thing
i’ve ever found to it

and i miss
last summer sometimes
the brand new flutter
in my stomach and
the crashing and
tripping over the side of the
big commercial sink and
into feelings

but i wouldn’t turn
back time for anything
and i hope i
never have to sleep
without you by my side
again after this month

i never wanted an
expensive champagne
twenty four karat
designer tag kind of love
and that’s never what
you wanted to give me

all i wanted
was you
and that’s what
you’ve given me

when i say
“i love you”
you say
“i know you do”

how good it is
to have someone
the safety of home
and adventure of living

to blow a kiss
and know you’ll catch it

to grab your hand
and know you’ll hold it

to love
and to be loved

you’re my
soft place to land
and i’ll be
your right hand

you’re the only
decision i ever made
the only chance
i was willing to take

and heaven forbid something
goes wrong but you’re the only
possible mistake that
i would be happy to make

it takes time
for love to spread
its roots and begin to grow
upwards and bloom
but i’m willing to
wait as long as it’s for you

and it hasn’t been
easy lately
i’ve put a lot
of tears into your
favorite hoodie
been hanging
into you for
dear life

but i have to believe
this won’t last forever
that you and me
are strong enough

i have to
believe in us
copyright 8/15/19 by b. e. mccomb
Aug 2019 · 476
the new normal
b e mccomb Aug 2019
is this
the new normal?

yelling fights
drunkenly spilt
words that never
should have been said

crying myself
to sleep for
the third
night in a row

feeling alone
by my
best friends

and lost
and rejected

is this
the new normal?

i want to believe
this is temporary
that our tears of
anger will turn to
tears of laughter
soon enough

that i’ll fall asleep
and wake up
every morning
by your side
and won’t spend the
whole night tossing
and turning with
anxiety ridden possibilities

but maybe this
is the new normal

this is
what we
all wanted

this is
the goal we
worked towards

but miserable
is not where
any of us thought
we would be

and i knew
it would be hard
but i never thought
it would be this hard

i’ve gone through
rough patches
fought my way through
muddy swamps and
thick vines with sharp
thorns that ripped my skin

but always because
i was left there
never before because
i walked myself into it

but is this
the new normal?

pushing you away
because holding you
just reminds me
you still have to leave

i’m tired
of this

all i want is
a kiss that
isn’t given to
say goodbye

all i want is this
nightmare to end
and a new normal that
doesn’t feel like a mistake

this is what
we all wanted

but i thought
i was stronger than
the hard times
and here i am
all my resolve gone
cold and brittle
and i’m cracking
under pressure

all i want is to
take care of myself
without help
from anyone else

you held me close
and promised you would
take care of me until
i could take care of myself

but i’ve never known
any kind of tape or net
that could stop
a landslide from falling

if this is the new normal
i’ve started to wonder
what was so bad
with the old one
copyright 8/13/19 by b. e. mccomb
Aug 2019 · 291
b e mccomb Aug 2019
i’m disconnected from reality
and hemorrhaging anxiety

i don’t
belong here

i don’t
belong there

i don’t know if i
belong anywhere
anymore and i don’t know
if home is a real place
or just a wistful
concept shrouded in
the shadows of other
people’s perfect families

but i don’t
belong here

and i don’t
belong there

this town turned
into my town
and now i’m wandering
the sidewalks wondering
where i lost

was it in the library
between the pages of
a book i’ll never
pick up again?

was it in the gas station
dropped with my pennies
and dimes for an
eleven pm cola?

or the grocery store
somewhere in piles of
scratch and dent produce
in the bins of beef bones
or hidden under loaves
of overpriced bread?

maybe in the liquor store
it got pushed behind
forgotten bottles on a
shelf so high you need a
ladder and a grabber to
reach what you’re looking for

i probably lost
myself somewhere in
the cafe on the corner
dropped in the oven
and burned to a crisp
inside the espresso machine
covered in a thick layer
of grounds and oil
under a table or tucked
in a stranger’s to go bag

or maybe it was simply
that i got dropped
on the sidewalk
kicked to the side with
an old beer can
and nobody ever noticed

maybe i lost myself
in what i call
my own home
in between floorboards
or in a crack
in the paint

but i don’t know
what happened
and i don’t know
how to fix it

all i know is that
i don’t belong here
copyright 8/10/19 by b. e. mccomb
Aug 2019 · 386
baby blue paint
b e mccomb Aug 2019
there are two
kinds of sad days

the first kind is
with specks of
yellow sun throughout
where a soft cotton
fog covers everything
you can see and hear
and your limbs move
without you telling them to

automatic through
life with your brain
lost in thought
yet rattling around like
ice in an empty cup
void of cognition you
just have to keep putting
one foot in front of the other

and the second kind
is baby blue
smooth and soft like
fresh paint that has
dried and sealed
shut all the doors and
covered the windowpanes
so no light leaks in

and your body is
no longer compelled
to keep on moving so
you shut your eyes
against the overpowering
color of sad
and sleep
right there
on the hard floor

today started a
periwinkle sunshine day
and turned into a
baby blue paint day

few and far between
nowadays do i let
the blues get me
but today i felt the
last of the strength
i had been gripping
onto with both hands
trembling slip away

a white feather floating
off into the distance
or pink champagne
spilt on hot pavement
soaking in as i watched
it and boiling tears
wash away my scrawled
chalk drawings
of happy stick figures
and flowers that bloom
all year round

it’s silly
of me
never made

but here i am
here are the blues
here’s a headache
behind my eyes

and here
is my bed
a soft field of
where maybe sleep
can scrape the paint
off of the windows and
crack open the doors

all i was ever looking
for was home
is that too
much to ask?
copyright 8/1/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jul 2019 · 840
forever and always
b e mccomb Jul 2019
you’re the swimming pool i want
to sit at the bottom of forever
watching the tiled sunlight
letting the water
drown the world to a
muffled bubble
as peace descends
like it can’t above the surface

you’re the shooting star
i knew was nothing more than
an astronomical anomaly
assigned superstitious significance
and yet i let my foolish wishes loose
out the hatch of a blinking
midnight airplane and impossibly
every one came true

you’re the patch of sunlight
on a mahogany floor
and i wish that i could lay
in your warmth forever

you’re every birthday candle
i’ve ever blown out
every aspirational dream i never
deserved to see realized

you’re proof that
love is real and warm
alive and breathing
proof there is good
left in the world
and we all can find it
proof that angels still
roam to keep me safe

you’re the feeling in my
throat when i remember you’re
the best thing that ever
happened to me and when i say
i love you
i don’t mean i want to
kiss you in the rain
(although i do)

i mean i want to keep
you by my side forever
let our skin grow papery
and fade like crumpled
ten dollar bills worn with
fold marks around our
eyes from laughing together
and our thoughts twist and
vine their way around each other
so you can’t tell where one of us
ends and the other begins
until all the parts of you that
are kinder and gentler than i
shed like dandelion seeds and
float into the meadows
of my subconscious

the feeling in my throat
turns into a traffic jam when i
desperately hope for the
thousandth time that you know
that’s what i mean when i
say i love you

that i could struggle for
hours and write thousands
of words trying to explain
myself but you’re the one
feeling so huge and immense
i just can’t find a metaphor

i’ve often wondered if
i love you too much
but i never want
to love you any less

you are my sun
my moon
and my entire
solar system
the milky way
turns upside down
and pours out in a
wash of meteors
when i start counting the
constellations in your eyes

i hope i never stop
feeling the flutter
of a million microscopic
feathers in my stomach
beating in time to the
sound of your footsteps

but if the butterflies ever
fly away we’ll both be okay

because there’s no place
for even the tiniest
glimmer of fake
crystal anxiety
in the arms of
the only one who
has ever really
felt like home

and if home is where the
heart is than i’ve hung
curtains in your ribcage
covered us both in a
layer of fresh paint
placed my pillow
on your chest where
i sleep at night

i’ve spun castles
in the air and
now we’re building a house
from the ground up

you’re my present
and my future and
i want to keep you
as close as my
freckles and as
loved as my tattoos

i dread the day
the universe takes
you away from me
but until that day
i will live as if nothing
can separate us

and me
and always
copyright 7/25/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jul 2019 · 225
her problem
b e mccomb Jul 2019
it’s two am
and i can’t sleep
so i’ll take a shower
try to let the hot
water wash away
the words that ring
constantly like
alarms in my ears

i want to drink
to forget
that i am a
to forget that
my mother
doesn’t love me

and i might spend
my whole life looking
for what she didn’t
have to give me

being told i’m doing
a good job from my boss
learning how to keep a home
neat from my best friend
advice that has my best interests
at heart from women who care
and from him all i ask is love
that isn’t conditional

and i’ll teach myself
to finish a job once
it’s started and to
never rely on other people
to keep money
in my bank account

and i’ll never say i love
someone and then let
my words and actions
prove me wrong

my hair is wet now
and heavy on my back
i have hair like she did
when she was young
and it’s weighed down
dripping with expectations
of who someone
with such hair should be

i don’t belong here
in this house
this home that isn’t
mine and never was

home is where you
go at the end of the
day to feel safe
where others aren’t
out to trample on
your emotions

home is where you
sleep with ease
but here i barely
even sleep
not knowing if tomorrow
will bring a tornado
or if the sun will rise
peaceful on the meadows

the question keeps
me up and even though
i know the answer it’s the
hardest one to face

why doesn’t
she love me?

because she isn’t capable of
giving what she never had
and it isn’t a me problem
it’s a her problem

that’s the answer
i know but i can’t
make myself
understand it

so i’ll rinse my hair
dry off and climb
back in bed hoping
tomorrow will make sense

but when tomorrow comes
so does the reminder

i’m alone now
and i have to
take care of
myself now

that’s my only problem
not the fact she
doesn’t care
that’s a her problem
and my reactions are
a me problem
and despite what she
tells me i’ve never been
a problem only a
problem to her
copyright 7/24/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jul 2019 · 287
b e mccomb Jul 2019
the problem with alcohol
is that it’s flammable

you could set the whole town ablaze
if you started at the liquor store

you can set my whole
train of thought off the rails
flipped and on fire
after a few drinks

and when i drink i fall
prey to a different type of
burn than the one
in my throat

and it’s mean
a nasty little
whisper of a flame
on a petty match

the kind of burn
that destroys what
made it as it swallows
whatever is in its path

the problem with alcohol
is that it’s flammable
and it won’t cause an explosion
unless ignited

and the problem is that
i am the ignition
copyright 7/13/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jul 2019 · 256
b e mccomb Jul 2019
i’m not afraid of
except spiders
and my own mother

i’ll never understand
how you can love
someone and yet never
support anything they do

because it seems to me
that love isn’t what’s just
convenient to your
personal agenda

but all that is neither
here nor there
i suppose
after all i don’t really
know what i’m talking about
too young
too naive
to have experienced life

i am standing on a path
my friends laughing
and skipping ahead of me
saying “come join us as
we learn how to grow
old gracefully!”
while behind me my mother
shakes her head and grumbles
“you’re making a mistake
you don’t know what you’re
doing and i don’t think you
understand just how — “

“wait, i’m coming!”
i call as i dart
forward and i don’t
have to look behind me
to feel her
glare on my back

and so i run
ahead knowing if
i hear one more
can’t or don’t
or shouldn’t or
i very well might
let it get to me

or maybe i already do
sometimes at night
when i can’t sleep
and cry into my pillow
because it hits me all
over again just how
i will never
be good enough

i’ve stared down
the pale light that
flickers off of razor blades
and i’ve looked into
the flames as they
licked my skin

felt pain but never
like i’ve felt the sharp
edge of her tongue
and the steel in her eyes

she always said she could
out-stubborn me any day
i’ve learned the tricks
and games she plays

and i’ve felt defeat
fear and maybe even
subtle loathing

but now i’m feeling concrete
mold to the soles of my feet

and i can stand
repeat the rules
and beat her at
her own game

learned not to let
“you can’t”
“i wish you would”
into my head

but always the most
scalding one of all
“i love you”
still haunts me like a threat
i’ll try to outrun
for the rest of my life

how can you say you love
someone with words and
expect them to believe you
when you never say
you love them
with your actions?
copyright 7/5/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jun 2019 · 428
b e mccomb Jun 2019
after poem

making sense

throwing words
at the paper
like maybe they’ll stick

there’s a difference
between writers block
and whatever this
funk i’m in is

that is
an outage
this is
a blockage

all the things that
cross my mind in
streams and parades
and winds that whistle

stopped short of
escape by teeth
in my ears that prevent
the thoughts from
getting onto paper
but instead chew
and rethink and
chew and overthink

i know
what i want to say
i just can’t
make myself say it

i want to to scrawl every
lovely and positive thought
on an old brick wall and
then let the ivy grow
up over it and watch it turn
red as fall comes in

to paint flowers
up my arms and pretend
that plants can help the
chemicals in my brain

that drinking water will
wash away the doubts
and that shiny green leaves
are the only shade i need to
protect me from the burning
light of the reality of pain

all the thoughts
that flicker around
will i be happy?
i hope i’ll be happy

but until then
i will sleep

naps aren’t about
being tired
naps are about
peace of mind

stealing an hour
or two from your own life
to close your eyes and
find a quiet space
deep inside your
scattered thoughts

what if i’m
not happy?
what if all the
effort i make
to find happiness
is all in vain?

and what if everything
falls apart and my
own heart slips
out of my ribs and
shatters on an unsanded
barn-board floor?

or what if

(and this is an even
worse concept with
even more possibilities
to consider)

it all works out?

and what if
i end up happy and
content and fall
asleep at night
without worries
plaguing me
and wake up in
the morning and
everything is fine
and i don’t need
to take naps
to find my calm?

and what if
the words
begin to
flow again?

in floods and torrents
so fast my fingers
can’t get them out in
enough time and they
pile up and overflow
like the ponds and streams
this spring when the
rain wouldn’t stop?

what if my
future happens
and it’s all
just fine?

and what if the
plants that keep
me sane can’t grow
without downpours
of passing obstacles that
just feel like drenching rain?
copyright 6/20/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jun 2019 · 524
let myself go
b e mccomb Jun 2019
hit me this morning
washed over me in
a wave of memories
so strong i could only
stand there until it passed

as i stood alone
counting money
that wasn’t mine
on a morning i didn’t
want to be awake
much less here

the words to an old
song trickled through
my mind and i could
hear my mother’s voice

see the glowing
stained glass turtle
in the corner of my
childhood bedroom
feel her hand
on my back

and i remembered
how it felt to be loved
and i missed it
missed her
missed who i was
before i learned
to take care
of myself

and i’ve been feeling
something lately
something like a wistful
kind of missing
what might have been
had i been different

something like the feeling
you get when you’re sitting
on a cold concrete floor
of the thrift store
running your fingers down
the spines of old cd cases
his hand on the top of
your head as you talk about
things you might need for
your first home together

and you find an album that
you had right in the middle
of your extensive list of cds
to buy when you were twelve

and you flip it over
look at the songs
think for a long
minute about how
happy this once
would have made you

before realizing
it doesn’t make you
happy now because
you’re somebody else

and you put it back
stand up and go to
look at furniture and
dishes and things
to take into your
future and you leave
your past hopes and
unresolved dreams back
there in the stacks
of other people’s discarded
songs and half finished stories
where you found it

and that’s what
life comes down to

the melodies that sometimes
flicker through our minds

and the possessions we
let pass through our hands

what we keep
what we let go

i’m ready
to let it go
the life given to me
before i was capable
of building my own

i’ve made a
new one
found a new
family and
there’s just
one last step

let the past all go
and find the only
thing i miss
from those days

peace of mind
no concept of time
falling asleep to
the hum of a
box fan and waking
up to a fresh sunrise

no more
constant buzzing
in my brain
of what ifs and
might have beens
just blank and
pale silence like
fresh fallen snow
that muffles it all

spring to summer
fall to winter
just constant
quiet in my mind

i’m pleading with
my own thoughts
please just let
myself go
copyright 6/8/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jun 2019 · 989
b e mccomb Jun 2019
i’ve always been on a
mission to reinvent myself

a mission expressed through
spreadsheets, guitars
powerpoints, paintbrushes
fabric, calculator buttons
bright colors of yarn
coffee and flowers
smiles at strangers
and always words

here and there
then and again
i’ve found myself satisfied
with who i found myself
to be at the end
of the week

i thought things were
on the upswing
thought that i had
almost made it
for two months this year
i was satisfied

with fifty six hour work weeks
and the bright blue blanket
forming under my fingers
the feeling of hope
brewing when i looked in
my bank account and thought
about him
about the home
that wasn’t ours yet but
would be soon

and then it began
to crumble
a brick or two at
a time until a whole
piece of the picture
tumbled out

and my weeks were reduced
to thirty five hours and
a crippling sense of
impending disaster
even though everything else
was still looking up

now that i have a
bit of extra time i find
myself low on motivation
and wondering
if it’s time to build
a new version of myself

but i’ve reinvented myself
so many times
i don’t have the energy
to do it again

i just want to

just want to fall
asleep in bed at the
end of the day and
not wake up in the morning
wanting to sleep
for the rest of the day

to enjoy moving
my body
the way the
seasons change
and how the stars
look at night

i’ve always been good
at staying
you just keep doing
what you’ve been doing
let your routines pull
you along with them

but now i’m learning
the art of leaving
and i’m finding its not
as hard as i thought it was

in fact you might
even think
of it as almost

the leaving
behind of what’s
gotten too
the option to

past leavings
have hurt
left me reeling
on cold floors
fighting to get air
into my lungs

but this time
the leaving is
barely noticeable
in the chilly
morning dew
as i let myself
slip away
under the gray sky
that hasn’t yet
realized it’s hanging
over a lost town

and i don’t feel pain
only the slightest
twinge of
bittersweet nostalgia

i’m not going
to reinvent myself
this time
i’m going to
and somewhere
along the line
i think maybe
it’s myself
that i’ll find
copyright 6/4/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jun 2019 · 261
i like to hope
b e mccomb Jun 2019
the thing about
first jobs is that
they’re never
your last job

and for all the years
spent behind this counter
i’ll spend ten more
somewhere else

and now it’s time
to leave

i wish it didn’t
have to end this way
wish things would have
turned out differently

but at the end
of the day i know
i made the best
choice i could
as long as my
hands were tied

and i don’t know
where i’m going
from here and
i’m afraid

but not so afraid
that i can’t see
there’s something
better for me

and this time
is good for me
because who knows
how long i would
have let myself grow old
saturated in coffee under my nails
grease on my apron
and tears that
didn’t come from onions

and i’d like to hope
that i won’t be forgotten
like to hope that when
you put an extra tablet in
the sani water that you
think of me as it dissolves

like to hope that you
miss the way your
coffee tasted just perfectly
sweet enough when i
was the one
making it

like to hope you’ll
miss my scones and
coffee cakes and the way
i always tried to be
a forceful source
of encouragement

i like to hope
but i know
deep down inside
life just rolls
onward and soon
someone else will come
along and all i did
will be forgotten

but i do
like to hope
copyright 5/24/19 by b. e. mccomb
Jun 2019 · 408
b e mccomb Jun 2019
i remember the day
i got my bed

in my childhood room
with all my family
gathered round
we took my old
threadbare quilt
out of its bag
for the first time
and spread it out

and at six years old
i was too small to
climb up into it
and had to use a step stool

and i remember my
grandma said
what a good solid
piece of furniture it was
how it would last me
until i got married

that was fifteen years ago
but the other day
when i shifted my weight
something cracked

i thought it was just
another slat breaking
(we’ve replaced
most of them)
but when i investigated
something else had broken

it was me
and my ties
to the past and
future and learning
how to lose your family

it was the friendship
that had been there
from the beginning
the ***** blonde imp whose solution
to the height problem was a
running start across the room
or twisting her toes around knobs
on the drawers to get a step up

she and i had our
share of shenanigans
broke a few slats together
but she’s never been afraid
of climbing on what’s mine
to end up on top

the offer has been made
to take measurements
and the mattress off
reassess the damage
invent some kind of
proper repair
rebuild some bridges
that have burned

but i don’t
know anymore

the slats that i began with
my mother and father
brothers and grandparents
and childhood friends
some of them have snapped
where knotholes made a fault line

but i replaced them
with boards bigger
thicker and without
such obvious defects

it was the leaving that
broke this last piece
but i see no need to fix it
when i’m not bringing it with me

no matter how they
groan and creek and
call me a disappointment
i’m not moving my bed again
and i’m not
getting married either

and i’m sorry
to all those that
i have let down
like bed slats breaking
one by one
and to all those that
i will let down at
some point in the future

but i want to fall
peacefully asleep at night
and not through cracks
in my own sanity

and i can’t let anyone
break me
like i was just some
weakened bed slat
copyright 6/4/19 by b. e. mccomb
May 2019 · 259
what i forgot to tell you
b e mccomb May 2019
you’re free now
to live your life
the way you want
for the first time ever
it’s all your choice
to make

and until you find
someone who can live
without telling you otherwise
it will stay that way

and what i forgot
to tell you is

(now keep in mind that
nobody can tell you
what to do this is just
a suggestion but
as you know i am blessed
with superior knowledge)

that you and me
(maybe macklemore
but we don’t plan
our futures around
such fickle creatures
as that disreputable
species known as men)
will find a cute little
lake town
the kind with rich
snobbish retired folks
and tourists
and boat tours and all
that watery nonsense

and we’ll open an
adorable little shop
and sell flowers
all sorts of
artistanal gifts
and we’ll have coffee
and warm homemade
pastries in the mornings

and we might not get
rich but we’ll make a
living which is all
that really matters

and we will retire
about 70
sell our shop to some
young whippersnappers
that remind us
of who we were when
we were younger
and more foolish

(but don’t assume we
will be significantly less
foolish at this point
in fact i hope that we
will actually age like
some sort of hilarious
variety of moldy cheese)

and we shall retire
to our tiny little
lake front residence
and occupy a front porch
with a glass crystal pitcher
of well-spiked peach tea
and jeer at everyone under the
age of eighty who passes by

and that, my dear
is what i wanted to express to you
that you’ve got
an entire life ahead
of you and cannot afford
to be put on the back burner
for somebody else’s
shimmery dreams of grandeur

so don’t think
too hard about my plan
because that’s all just
castles in the clouds
the story i tell myself
at night when i’m too
worried about the future
to get to sleep

but think
about this

today was not
the end
today was another
day in the very
mucky and unsubstantiated
middle segment of your life

(the middle is
the worst
like the middle of an afghan
or the middle of a poem
that is quickly derailing
from the original point
and i am afraid that when we’re
neither young nor old
but middle aged
nobody will laugh at our jokes
except ourselves
so maybe it doesn’t even matter)

and now
you get to
wake up tomorrow
and continue on
with your life
the way you want it

(which isn’t to say you’ll
live it alone forever but
you must live it alone until
you know you can survive alone)

so this is what i’ve been
meaning to tell you

other people come and go
(except me
you’re stuck there)
but you will spend
more time with yourself
than anybody else

and i’ve been
meaning to tell you
life goes on and
you’re going to get old
and it’s better to grow
old at peace with your
choices than to be
young forever and fooling
yourself into thinking
things will change
so there’s no doubt
you did the right thing

so here’s the
point of all this

i love you
and have always tried
my best to be your
biggest supporter
but that’s going
to change today

because today
was your first lesson
in being your own
biggest supporter

so cheers to this
the future
growing old
and growing happy

now get out there
an knock em dead
copyright 5/30/19 by b. e. mccomb
May 2019 · 296
not dylan’s dream
b e mccomb May 2019
rears it’s ugly head
with no desire to do

except lay
in bed
wake up and
watch tv

in silence
listening to
the fan spin
and wondering
why i bother

why i’m still
here when
nothing i do
even matters

that everyone
would be
without me
around to
bother them

it’s the kind of
time of life
where the only
real peace of mind
to be found is
in bob dylan

the old bob dylan
that you find in
broken cd cases
floating in forgotten
thrift store
music stacks

the songs of a young
person who didn’t know
where he was going in
a crazy and unjust world
he couldn’t control as it
fell apart around his ears

bob dylan never has
any answers for me
just rambles on
another interlude of
mournful harmonica
until i remember
he told me where
the answers are
and the answers
aren’t easy to find

up there in the sky
whistling around
bare tree branches
holding up birds’ wings
letting a lost balloon travel
thousands of miles from
the tightly clenched hand
of the child who lost it

how many years
has it been?
and i’m still here
blowing in the wind

the winds are busy
too busy to stop
for one second and
just give me the answer

am i

i don’t want
to be here
maybe this earth
just isn’t for me

or maybe i should
give up on whatever
is left here for me
hop on a bus and
become some kind of
modern rambling man

because i don’t know
and almost don’t care
what i’m doing here
doing right now

all i want
is sleep
even half conscious
muddled sleep
anything to distract
from the grotesquely
realistic nightmare
that is real life

or maybe i’ll get
utterly wasted
on cheap ***
and miserable thoughts
drown them out until
something stronger
than the alcohol
pulls me down
something strong
like sleep

because now
when it’s time to sleep
i find myself
completely unable to

i’m trying to
look at the positives
trying to see this as
an opportunity
but all i can see
is an eternity
stretching before me
of what if’s and
maybe this and why
and why not and
who do i want to be
what do i want to do

a lifetime
of indecisions
rolls its carpet out
in front of my feet

i wasn’t ready
i’m not ready now
i’ll probably never
be ready for anything

what am i
even doing

no answers to be found
here in this poem
just rambling as the
cd spins on until it
scratches to a halt
rub my eyes
press play
hope maybe on this
go round i can find
an answer

but the thing i never
seem to remember is
there isn’t any
answer to be found

not when it’s flown
away and is up
in the clouds watching
the sunset and the
stars begin to pop
out of the deep blue

just blowing
away in the wind
copyright 5/19/19 by b. e. mccomb
May 2019 · 356
sleepless dreams
b e mccomb May 2019
i used to be able
to sleep

wasn’t afraid
of getting up
and facing my day
could take an
afternoon nap
in my own bed
without having dreams
that woke me up
heart racing

disjointed ideas
and people
novocaine and needles
in my mouth
drugs to numb me
being able to fly
over sharp mountain peaks
of white circus tents
in the rain
being chased by
villains in black capes
the fear of dying

my loved ones
decaying houses in the
middle of town
having ***
needing ***
and melting down
crying and sobbing
old familiar panic
a lump in my throat
the fear of


“you have to tell her
you have to tell your mother”
not his voice
but his voice of reason
blowing gently
through the scene
the memory of
a dozen conversations

my head in his chest
his hands on my back
and the crippling
panic taking
over my body

i was never afraid
of the psych ward
i was afraid of the woman
who put me there

of the threats
the bribes
the guilt
and the way she
could win every fight
and leave me
choking in the dust
of words that wouldn’t
squeeze out past
the lump in my throat

the fear is of
falling apart
and when i begin
to unravel is when
that fear becomes

what am i
afraid of
in this dream
that doesn’t
even make

not the fear
of falling apart
because i have
already collapsed

the fear
the fear
the fear
the fear of

i can’t allow myself to admit it
but i have to

the fear is
of her

that’s what’s behind
it all i’m afraid
of my own

and why
am i afraid?

what can she
do that will
actually hurt me
endanger me?

how much power
does she hold?

and that’s when i
wake up
shivering and

i’m falling
through the cracks
in my own

i can’t be a perfect
person and i
know that all too well
but i resent myself
for the flaws in me
i can’t seem to change

is it that i can’t
change or that
i don’t want to
don’t try hard enough?

the thoughts
begin to loop
around themselves
and form a strong
rope that snakes
it’s way around my
wrists and chest
and begins to tie
off my airways
from oxygen

if there is one
thing i know
it’s women that
use your own words
against you
women who find
satisfaction in
the power of making
other people hurt

i know
i’ve seen it
experienced it
and it’s tempting
oh so tempting
to do it myself

but the worst
thing i could do
is let myself become
those that hurt me

flip over
try the other side
and the more i think
about the sleep i need
the more time passes
and the less i get

if only
i could just
get some peace
in my own head
copyright 5/14/19 by b. e. mccomb
May 2019 · 362
b e mccomb May 2019
i want to
into my sheets
let my body fall
apart in flakey
pieces like
pastry dough
to float away
in sleep where
life can’t hurt me

to let my skin
peel off and
crumble into
my bed
let the blankets
creep up over me
like myrtle
overtaking a yard

i want
to dissolve
drift back in time
to when the weight
on my back could
be lifted by coming
home and taking
off the backpack

want to
so that the sum
total of who i am
isn’t even
just a formless
soft and hazy
quietly breathing
mound of nothingness

i don’t want
to be here
i want to be
in bed
a bed where i
don’t have to get
up in the morning
don’t have to make
myself move from
just a bed where
i can sleep
and sleep


let me
copyright 5/11/19 by b. e. mccomb
May 2019 · 406
b e mccomb May 2019
i keep a drawer in
my bathroom full
of all the things that make
me appear pretty

the little pots of shimmery
eyeshadows to suggest
i’m feminine but more
importantly fully awake
and the dark crayons to
draw lines that simulate
an innocent expression
the powder to smooth out
the bad spots so you
don’t see the bad thoughts
the mascara to pull my lashes
outward and pull the focus
away from what you might
possibly see behind my eyes

do not
let them see
the fear

and tucked in the drawer
of pencils and palettes
i keep a sharpener
so when my womanly
sense of protection
begins to dull i will
not find myself
at odds with the competition

in the drawer above them
i keep my elastic bands
to prevent a slow
and knotted descent
into the madness
of being choked
in my hair
my own weird
sometimes insane
always interesting or
at least provocative thoughts

i also keep a pack
of razor blades for
when the constant struggle
to maintain this illusion
of sanity gets to be
too much for me

the hair ties are stretched
beginning to fall out
won’t hold things in place
nearly well enough
and i am completely
blind and lost in this
rainstorm and the wind
blowing in my face

the blades
are calling me again
a dark and
slippery promise
of something
of what?

of peace?
of art?
i can do better
of pain?

elusive always
getting away from
me just as soon
as i can pin it down

the purpose
is fear
but only the
expression of it

i’m afraid
always so
afraid it’s not
good like this

but if i cover
the fear with
my clothes
no one will
ever even

i keep a drawer
in my bathroom
and every morning
i select powders
and pencils to
present myself as alive

and every morning
i stare down a pack
of razor blades
half wishing i wasn’t
copyright 5/9/19 by b. e. mccomb
Apr 2019 · 527
first winter
b e mccomb Apr 2019

whispering to myself
it’s okay
it’s okay
it’s. okay.
relax relax

the anxious loop
in my brain now
redirected into
more ****** activities

with hands and lips
and my heart hammering
in my chest

getting home late
and having to get up
early isn’t the worst part
the worst part
is the guilt that tries to
block my airways


the freezer is two inches
further back than the fridge
you’ve moved it over time by
slamming me against it
one hand on my waist
one around my throat

a couple whispered
words and a few
fingers in my hair and
i’m a complete mess

car windows coated in
frozen fog
your belt on the dash
coats in the back seat
my clothes in muddy melted
snow on the floorboards

my elbows pressed
against the roof
the worst of my
forgotten for what
you found behind them


i’ll bury my face in your
coffee scented hoodie
and let you make me melt
and over
and over again

something else
has learned to drown
out the spinning circles
of cognitive catastrophes


the lights are out
the doors are locked
and like something out
of my darkest wishes

you’ve got me on top
of the cooler chest
and for the first time i don’t
pretend i want you to stop

and time only exists
for the traffic outside
and the big clock
that never runs to speed

“what do you want?”
i ask when you
come up for air
“more of you”
and your fingers
just keep working

the hardest part is
allowing myself to trust
to give myself permission
to be a human
with a human
body and human
emotions and
a human companion

the rest of the year
hasn’t come yet
and i don’t know
what it holds

but spring is coming
warmth after the
cold and wind
and i have to believe
in the good feeling
growing in me

have to believe that
i’m good enough
for the love you
want to give me
copyright 4/23/19 by b. e. mccomb
b e mccomb Apr 2019
my brain is controlled
by two halves

one half is a
pink stuffed
easter bunny
bought on sale the
tuesday after
with big glassy eyes
that don’t see
and a slightly crooked
smile that doesn’t
let the emotions through

and the other half
is a bearded dragon
all spikes and scales
it flicks its tongue
at the pink bunny
and seems to imply

“go go go
keep doing

the rabbit stares
into the distance

the bearded dragon
continues standing
neck prickles twitching
desperate to make
something happen
and yet he cannot
convey this urgency
to the pink bunny

who only exists
to be held
and to sit quietly
with only his
thoughts for

and so the silent
struggle for
action remains
silently and
unaffected by
either party’s action

or lack

and that’s the
two halves of
my brain and how
they work together

apathetic and
yet neurotic
depressed and
yet still anxious
copyright 4/23/19 by b. e. mccomb
Apr 2019 · 454
b e mccomb Apr 2019
two concepts
dance around
in my mind
from time to time

the first one is
small towns and
familiar faces
streets with grass
growing in the cracks
and parking lots with
the footprint of my
disintegrating shoe
pressed into fresh asphalt

streetlights that
come on to let
me know it’s time
to go home
a soft place
to call my own

the second one is
intriguing and scary
traffic and lights
and people and buildings
that fight to reach
into the clouds
an unfamiliar city
with corners and caveats
to explore for the first time

lights that never
burn out
restless crowds
to fade into
as soon as someone
learns your name

two very different thoughts
both equally
concerning in
two very different ways

complacency or
out of place?

i refuse to give
myself an answer
or maybe i’m afraid
to let myself wander

but a third question
knocks on my
skull and
lets itself in

and i can’t help
but wonder

what does
five in the morning
feel like when you
can’t see the sunrise
casting shadows
on empty fields?

does the world still
find a moment to
release its breath
before the day begins
when the city didn’t
even sleep the night before?

what if i don’t
belong here?

which outcome would
leave me least misplaced?
copyright 4/21/19 by b. e. mccomb
Apr 2019 · 137
sever me
b e mccomb Apr 2019
sever me

the blood doesn’t
worry me
neither does the
imminent pain

just get it
remove the
gangrenous limb
please just
sever me

i’ll learn to
manage without it
i’ll teach myself
to live again

but if you want me
to stay alive just

sever me
copyright 4/20/19 by b. e. mccomb
Apr 2019 · 258
peace and quiet
b e mccomb Apr 2019
the fear
is suffocating
the anger
is motivating
the sadness
is paralyzing

what do you do
when you’ve been doing
your best
and it’s still
not enough?

what do you say
when you know you’re
beaten down
and nothing will
change their minds?

my eyes are tired
of being dry and puffy
my brain is tired of
feeling like cotton
nose is tired of stuffy
throat is tired of lumpy
but mostly i am
just tired

all i want
is silence
so complete
and still that
even the ringing
in my ears

just a little
bit of peace

to reestablish
a connection
from the crossed wires
between my ears

a warm
hazy feeling
beginning to
grow up through
my stomach and
sprout blooms
into my
chest cavity

i don’t want to
live on the run

on the run?
but all you do
is work and sleep

i’m on the run
from the rest
of my life

the only place i
feel at home anymore
is a little blue car with
his hand in mine

i’m safe there
we go places
that take me
away from it all

but i always have
to go and ruin it
don’t i?
muddy footprints
on the door
streaks on the window
balled up napkins
propelled by tears
and emotions
onto the floor

i don’t want to be
taken care of
i want to grow
up the wall like
the ivy that climbs
fill the lawn of my life
with endless may violets

not the mat
in the floorboards
with trampled debris
of leaves and winter wet
under someone’s
cold feet

i am my own
worst critic
though not my
only critic

but i am the one
i must listen to
in the still after
i’ve locked the doors
i’m the one that
keeps myself from
peace and quiet

i can understand
people and why
they might not
like me
but it’s harder
to understand
why i can’t
like myself

but please
oh please don’t
put me under
a public microscope
please don’t turn
the far side of this
counter into some
kind of fishbowl

because i swear
i am doing my best
but it’s hard and
i can’t handle the
feeling of being

all i want is
peace and quiet
a house
that feels like home
to come back to
at the end of the day

and the only
vicious voice
i must fight
to be my own
copyright 4/17/19 by b. e. mccomb
Apr 2019 · 738
b e mccomb Apr 2019
it’s not that i was
made this way
it’s that i was forged
in the fires this way

ready to become

raised behind
fragile glass walls
they tapped on
and i could not
defend myself without
cracking the seal
and being blamed
for destruction

until one day
the fire came
burning around my feet
and i had
to get

i smashed the glass
shards in my fists
blood on my knuckles
and i’ve been fighting
ever since
that day

i was not
supposed to be this way
i was supposed to be
a fragile china doll
but this is who
i ended up

a fighter
a warrior
an impudent
little girl who
doesn’t know
when to quit

supposed to faint
at the sight of blood
not be someone who
seeks it out

supposed to be
and mild

not loud
and bouncy
or daresay
even funny

but i am
a fighter
and i will not
be stopped
i refuse to be
walked over
for any longer
than i already have

and taking my
power back means
sometimes i must
sometimes i must
bare my teeth and
sharpen my nails

but it also means
sometimes i must
with all the power
i know i possess
underneath the
hold it back

allow my spine
to straighten
and my shoulders
to stretch

remember words like
and for all i have felt
that i take up too
much space in this
body of mine
i am this size because
nothing smaller
could contain
what i have inside

let my full
height rise
and my full
weight surmise
to anyone and
everyone that i

might not always spit
fire and flames
but there is a furnace
roaring at my feet
copyright 4/10/19 by b. e. mccomb
Apr 2019 · 498
halfway homeless
b e mccomb Apr 2019
have you ever looked
at a house and felt
a crippling pain that
you couldn’t go in it?

i have
every day i see my own
front porch
and every day i see the house
still in someone else’s name
but not for much longer

the first hurt is raw
ripping and searing
through my heart
and running into hot
cinnamon fire tears
burning my cheeks

the second hurt is dull
stinging like a
badly sharpened knife
over skin or knowing
what your birthday
present is but having
to wait while not
letting on you know

i grew accustomed to
the custom of becoming
myself in this house
but the walls i grew up in
grew inward too tightly
around me to choke me

and still i have
a pillow to bury my
face in at night
a shower to wash off
the day dust
a kitchen to stand in
when i’m feeling
a bit lost

but lost is the only
feeling i have
when i’m here
in this house

i don’t live here

i live on my feet
behind counters
through the parking lot
and up the sidewalk

slipping in before
the sun is up
and dragging out
when others are in bed

feeling small
on a dull afternoon
when i can only curl
up on the couch
to think
and wait

time in between
that’s now

time between shifts
and time between living
in my house
and finding my home

it’s not so much
the waiting game
it’s the feeling
that i’m alone

that nobody
wants me

so close and
yet so far
almost there
but stuck here

just keep
the worn floors clean
music playing
and make sure
the janky old doors
are locked at night

this is my town
this is my home now

this town will take
care of me

as i’m wandering through it
halfway homeless
copyright 4/219 by b. e. mccomb

the second the paperwork goes through i’m leaving for good
Mar 2019 · 268
b e mccomb Mar 2019
champagne tickles
the roof of my mouth
like the fear bubbling
up in my chest

and sweet yellow
orange juice is what
i imagine hope for
living life tases like

is peering down
the aisles of this
narrow small town
liquor store
just peering
into my future?

**** it
and sink it
hope for
the best

happy birthday to me
now it’s time to tell
my mother that her vivacious
little girl has grown up
into a young woman who only
wants flowers in her hair
a pillow fort of quiet solitude
and a little peace of mind
maybe with a stiff drink
in her hand
or maybe just with
an iced coffee

swish the drink around
in the crystalline glasses
used to being filled with
water or cola
swirl it into the
confusion dripping down
the frosted walls and puddling
in the dip of the floor of my brain

all tempting
and timely vices
now that i’m grown

leave me
don’t leave me
i’m scared

i’m scared
of who i’ve become
of who i will find
myself to be
when i reach the
bottom of this cup
full of old

and when you asked me
what I wanted for
my birthday all
i could think of was
to be seventeen again
and not afraid of
what tomorrow
might bring

or to have a day
or two completely
to myself
nobody to ask me
silly questions and
nobody to answer
my doubts being voiced
just me
learning the art
of trusting myself

to lean into my
emotions without
spiraling down
into them

i’m growing up
growing older
learning change is the
only constant in life

empty the glass
brush my teeth
shake out my hair
crawl under the blankets
go to sleep and
wake up tomorrow
one day older
one day wiser

the future
is trash bags full of
old clothing
boxes full of
old books
a reinvention
of myself and
maybe finding a life
that brings me peace

this moment is coffee grounds
***** pennies and soft dollar bills
wind cutting through
the corners of the windows
always a couple degrees
warmer inside my bake case
jabbing keys on a grimy calculator
and a persistent ache in my heels

so i’ll sit down for
a snatched second here
or there and lose myself
in the quiet for just
a moment until the
bell rings and i
shake myself out
of the revery
shut the notebook
blue lined with
thoughts that won’t
stay in neat rows

back to work
an endless stack of
the dishes of


washing dishes
a chore that never ends
perpetual transience of
soap through my hands

i tell myself that this
is just a season
that it won’t always
be like this

change is now
i am changing

i must learn to live
my life now and not
as a vague concept
misty in my future
clinging to me like
floral perfume that
isn’t mine but covers the smell
of bleach and bacon grease

water is a force of nature
that people have learned
to route through pipes into
small town water lines
contain in faucets and run
through sinks into bathtubs
pitchers and dishpans

oceans distilled into
jugs and splashed into
my cut glass cacophony
ice cube trays
frozen with complacency
something like me

and now it’s time to tell
my mother that her vivacious
little girl has grown up
into a young woman
who is growing her hair on an impulse
and who has found a family
beyond flesh and blood
who soon will lie on the floor
of her own home and solve
her own sadness in her own heart
surrounded by people who love her
because they chose to
not because they only wanted
love in return

that she is going to age
without resentment
and has made the choice
to lean into the wind
taste the change
entering her bloodstream

the future
is now
and change
is coming
copyright 3/23/19 by b. e. mccomb
Feb 2019 · 986
b e mccomb Feb 2019
a word so bad
it didn’t even need
four letters

they told us
to wait for
our future husbands
to treat the boys we
dated as if they
belonged to someone else

that if we wouldn’t do it
with our parents in the room
it wasn’t okay
to do at all

that there was
some kind of higher
spirituality achieved
by celibates and singles
but of course that
couldn’t be for everyone
(as if needing human
companionship made you weak)

******* would send
you to hell and
of course the gays were
already there

that our virginity was the most
important part of ourselves
and losing it before due time
was the worst thing we could do
but all would be better
if we said we were sorry
swore never
to do it again

there were contracts
pledges, oaths
and jewelry
if you didn’t have
a ring you weren’t
doing it right

words thrown around like
hand grenades into foxholes
as insurance policy against
pregnancy and stds

a barrage against the
onslaught of our culture
morality reduced to making
guys and girls sit on
different sides of the room
and debates in the mirror
over the length of skirts
and scoop of necklines

for something we weren’t
supposed to do
they sure made us think
about it an awful lot

back home in our own
bedrooms all the songs
on our radios and
the movies on our tvs
told us a very different story

somewhere along the line
i got so confused i
convinced myself i never
wanted *** at all
when i finally felt
desire stirring
in the pit of my stomach
it was terrifying

i thought since i
had never felt it
that made me immune
but it really just made me
in deep
deep denial

a denial that persisted
through late evenings
of exploring another
person’s body
learning to trust someone
with my own

they told us until we said
i do
there was no reason
to believe anything would last

and some nights i can’t sleep
with worrying about
some inevitable burning and
collapse of the building called us

i feel my parents’ gazes boring
right through my chest and
hope they never find out
what i’ve been doing

turtlenecks to cover the stain
of love notes on my neck
having something on
my body to hide
takes me back to being fifteen
and the judgement of strangers
a dead weight in my stomach
and sweaters past my palms

but the feeling of your lips
and hands and breath
in my ear and for a few minutes
i don’t care that tomorrow
i’ll be trying to forget
that i’m not as pure
as they once told me
i would stay

but i am no longer
in denial
only suffocating
in guilt
copyright 2/7/19 by b. e. mccomb
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