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Tom Ridley Jul 2014
I'm not the first, or the last, to admit this
but those days
those wonderful days when you can run out of a pizza place past midnight and drive
standing up, top down in a convertible jeep around the back roads of a small town
with music so loud that no one can hear you cry
with wind blowing your tears back behind you
so you don't have to worry about getting them on your clothes
holding your arms out
like they do in Titanic
Perk of Being a Wallflower
but you don't feel the joy that they do
you don't feel what everyone else does
you cry and feel broken
because your mind is a cruel place
and your worst memories and fears come up when you should be having the most fun
so you stand up
constantly watching
to make sure that these empty streets really are empty
constantly hoping that the credits dont roll yet, because you have so much more to do
and you keep your hands to yourself
because you can't let your sorrow spread to the others
once again the tears in your eyes are from the empty hours of another sleepless night
for another night you keep your hands to yourself
afraid to reach out
four heartbeats and a loud engine
all drowned out by a summer night being lived in a horrible way
standing up, top down in a convertible jeep around the back roads of a small town
and doing your best not to jump out and cry
  Jun 2014 Tom Ridley
Xander Duncan
I will readily be the first to admit
I heavily romanticize the **** out of life
It’s not that I don’t separate fact from fiction
But if I can find something that is beautiful in both
Then I know I have found something truly wonderful
Give me a movie moment and, for the time being, I’ll know that I’m doing okay
I’ll know everything is going to be alright
So give me summer nights
Let us run out the doors of a pizza place past midnight and drive
Standing up, top down in a convertible jeep around the back roads of a small town
Sticky stage makeup streaked by sticky wind
Overly gelled hair windswept into Picasso shapes
Let’s notice how the stars spin when you look directly upwards
And feel the swaying balance in your feet, as the air plays louder than the music
Hold out your arms like
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Hooking my ribcage forward over the top of the windshield so I can let my hands explore the sky
Reaching to touch low-hanging branches that are never quite near enough
Leaning bent back against the railing
And singing mismatched lyrics to whatever song I can’t quite hear
Since I’m holding my head farther above the world than usual
Standing straight and tall and
Let’s appreciate the way the laws of physics keep us from falling but not from tipping
So we’re always just on the edge of cautious
Slightly alert
But mostly lost in the magic of being
Young and free
Past midnight on the empty streets of a small town
With fireflies spinning past like low-hanging stars
And a summer breeze intensified into enveloping all five senses
Let’s forget about responsibilities and forgive the people we’re running away from
Even if just for the moment
Give me the rush of this moonlit escape
And memories that could fit with pretty soundtracks and rolling credits
Let headlights be our guide and the radio be our leader
For one night the tears in our eyes are going to be from the sting of speed
Not the empty hours of another sleepless night
For one night we are going to reach out for a hand
And actually end up holding tight to each other as we race through the darkness
Four heartbeats and a loud engine
All drowned out by a summer night being lived as it’s meant to be lived
Standing up, top down in a convertible jeep around the back roads of a small town
And romanticizing the ever living **** out of the movie moments in life
Tom Ridley Jun 2014
all those words
left floating in the air                                                           im sorry
you can do nothing for them
the words that you say but no one hears
though you keep hoping                                         please forgive me
that someone might hear them
and ask you                                                   "what's wrong?"
so you can respond with everything
everything that's gone wrong
everything that's your fault
but no one asks
because no one hears
so there you are, stuck with the words
floating in air
**** you look through the poems titled 'words' and there's like 70,000 different ones
  Jun 2014 Tom Ridley
You're alone. Well. You feel alone.
That's ok, but let me tell you why you are wrong.
I don't care about how you present yourself or what you wear or
How normal or different or quiet or wise or whatever you are.

I care about you. Just you.
I don't worry about whether you'll hurt me or whether
Things won't go the way we want,
Because I know eventually both will happen.
And sometimes, being a person and being a friend ******* ***** and you gotta just deal with it.

But what you see as your facade of bravado
I see as the mask of someone who needs help.
It's the little things, like the way you frown when you think no one is looking,
The way the scars on your upper arms have almost, but not quite, faded,
The way your anger is carried in shoulders too square, too tense,
The way your silence speaks volumes of confusion,
The way you look concerned for me and not yourself.
You are you.
You need to do what you need to do,
And sometimes that means letting other people (yes, even friends)
Deal with their own ****.
I appreciate the way you hold my hand when I'm crying,
The way you don't seem afraid, but...!
You ain't perfect, and I don't care.
I see that you're flawed and I love it.
I love who you are, and nothing is going to change that.

You're not alone. This is a planet of 7 billion people;
You're never alone in what you feel.
Everyone is the kid at the edge of the group, trying to play grownup,
Wearing too-short dresses and feeling too much responsibility.
We are all the little kids looking up to the big kids doing **** we didn't even know was possible.

You try and make everyone's day a little brighter, but
Sometimes people don't need your help to do that.
Sometimes, people don't want their world to be bright.
Sometimes people just want you to ******* and leave them alone to cry in the dark.
You don't see that you are not the sun, but just a star, and there are other stars and other lights.
By yourself you soon weary and burn out, but if you let other people help you, you can change the world.
But no.
You refuse. You are the guardian
That you always needed and never had,
And it's eating you alive.

******, what the hell am I supposed to say to take away the worry and stress and exhaustion of being you?
How in the name of heaven can
Take all of your brokenness and unshed tears and dark nights
And shape it into something deep and beautiful, not pretty, but beautiful?

And how can I make you see that we all feel that, some variation at least, and
You're only alone because you let yourself be alone?
I can't help you when you're living a life of self-imposed panic,
The anxiety you force yourself to face ripping through you like tsunamis.
Refusal to relax is a death wish that won't be answered for untold years,
All I can do is sit, and watch, and wait, and try to catch your burned-out soul
When it finally gives in, cracking at the
Stretched-too-thin seams.

I'm here for you, I promise I'll always be here, but I don't know how to heal you.
I'm sorry.
So sorry.
  Jun 2014 Tom Ridley
Xander Duncan
One: Sleepy
When your spine takes cat-like curves into the recesses of blankets
And crickets and thunder and howling wind all sound like peace
And puzzle pieces fitting splendidly against each other
You’re sleepy when your eyelashes are weakly magnetized
And pull gently towards one another in soft but stuttered motions
When white noise and static fill your ears the way that water can sometimes fill a glass a little bit past the top without spilling
And you look forward to the lure of dreams or of dreamless nights
Because you know you’re sleepy when the only reason to be awake in the moment
Is so that you can appreciate the split second of falling
When you finally lose consciousness

Two: Bored
When you switch from counting ceiling tiles to counting the colors that you can find when you close your eyes with varying degrees of tension
And you’ve become so bored with distracting yourself that sleep seems like the only genuine option
Even if you’ve only just woken up
Even if you’re not feeling comforted by darkness and silence yet
Even if distractions are abundant
Because they just aren’t distracting enough
Sometimes boredom summons misery just to occupy your mind
And you’re bored when you remember you were supposed to be in bed an hour before
And you actually listen to yourself and go

Three: Drowsy
When you wish you had longer limbs just so you could properly drape them from the edges of your mattress and stretch at better angles
Suspecting that maybe the odd crooks in your bedframe are the crooks that have been thieving in bits of the night and stealing the ends of dreams and the beginnings of alarms
You’re drowsy when you can feel the burn of smoke sloping against the walls of your lungs
Even when you’ve been breathing clean air all day
And the dizzy spin of the room is more of a waltz that’s moving just a little bit slower than expected
Until you turn the music off

Four: Fed Up
When stress is snapping at your synapses and igniting fizzling fireworks at the back of your throat
But the forward corners of your eyes pull together to shut out the world
Because ignoring is a temporary retreat into forgetting
And permanence isn’t something you’re in the mood to believe in any way
You’re fed up with the world, and with existing
Or maybe just being awake
When you know there are better things that you could and should be doing
But shutting down is all you can manage right now

Five:  Faint
When the world appears not only blurry, but verging on translucent
And there’s a steady hum lacing the edges of reality
With sporadic jolts of memory forcing twitching sensations down your back
You’re feeling faint when you’re hopelessly holding onto consciousness
Because you’re a little bit afraid of falling
But you would never admit it
Because there are too many blank spaces in your vision to allow for any vagueness in your thoughts
But sometimes the body can’t keep up with the mind
And you collapse all the same

Six: Weary
When time seems to thicken and stick to your skin
Weighing down your movements like steel beads of sweat
And pressing palms to your eyes almost seems to drown out sound as well
You’re weary when the grass feels a few inches too long and the ground seems a few inches too close
And the ends of your limbs feel as though they have been reaching for something a little bit too far away
And you have only just given up
So you grab handfuls of the clothes you have on and pull them tighter against yourself
Forming an artificial blanket
And imitation slumber

Seven: Exhausted
When you can feel static buzzing through your veins
Stretching capillaries into threads to keep yourself sewn together
Knowing that consciousness could spill from the cracks in your skin all too easily if given the chance
And your eyelids hold together like the grand doors of a cathedral
Opening only with a struggle that everyone tries to make seem effortless
You’re exhausted when you’ve been writing this poem for days trying to find the words
To properly describe different degrees of fatigue
And you’re sure that you’ve probably recycled a metaphor or two but you don’t bother to double check
So you keep trudging along
Until nothing makes sense anymore
And the seams that encase your consciousness begin to strain
And snap

Eight: Hyperactive
When despite all reason dictating that you should be experiencing the drag of being awake for too long
You see clearly and think in double time
With energy flickering behind your irises
Foreshadowing the dread of sunrise
You’re hyperactive when you’re knitting your voice with your friends’ voices in a collage of laughs
Each indistinguishable from the last
And you start counting the stars with flashlights until
Like sugar and smiles
And fast cars on icy roads
You inevitably

Nine: Emotionally Drained
When you’re worn to the point that mental distress manifests itself physically
And you can feel the chains of your own thoughts around your wrists
Almost wishing they were tighter so there would at least be proof of their damage
You’re emotionally drained when you can scream without making any sound
And you've perfected the syncopated rhythm of a nervous twitch
You realize that you've been grinding your teeth for the last two hours
So you switch to biting your tongue
And you don’t rest
You don’t rest until there are tears mimicking a Jackson ******* on your pillowcase
You don’t rest until the clock is judging you for testing it
You don’t rest until you feel empty
You cannot rest when you feel empty
No matter how desperately you wish you could just fade
And drift away
You do not

Ten: Tired
This is about twice as long as it can be for a poetry slam, so I need to cut out almost half, but at least I can post the full version here

— The End —