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Grace Haak Dec 2021
It's no longer that sharp kind of pain
that shocks you
and leaves you breathless.
It's the consistent, dull thud
of a daily constant
the throb you can get through,
you just have half the oxygen
and half the strength.
The entire world is going
at a million miles an hour
and I have drooped;
sticky eyelids, purple rings
a film covering everything I see.
I used to cope by releasing the
uncontrollable sobs in the shower-
it was more efficient to make a mess of myself
while simultaneously being cleaned.
Now I feel so much that I don't feel like I feel at all.
I wake up covered in sweat and existential dread
knowing that the day holds sagging eyes
and a fake it til you make it mindset
that turns into lying because you haven't made it.
How do you describe your feelings
of cotton coupled with regret
without sounding like a basket case?
You don't,
so you shift your gaze
and shove it down
and drown yourself in anything else.
You remain collected
as you crawl out of your skin
if the outside offense is exhaustion,
it holds no candle to the tumultuous
that is those threads piecing you together inside.
The strings may eventually thin and snap
but for now you are upright
with some slight skin slumping
a small price to pay
for having it all.
Grace Haak Sep 2021
if my words
don't make your stomach hurt
like the feeling of
watching
the first incision
the thick dark icing
pouring out
messy and mesmerizing
nasty and nauseating
then you need another slice
Grace Haak Sep 2021
past rows of cookie-cutter houses
the left bike path gives way
to the red metal playground
where my brothers and i lived
our dad chasing us
hiding in the tube of the slide
spending hours on our spaceship
jedis outsmarting darth vader and the dark side

the stretches of field
lace their ways around the street
like the green apple sour belts
we ate until our tongues hurt
watching pick-up games
my brother and his basketball wins
dribbling with his friends
while lemon popsicles dribbled down our chins

the giant lake
filled with brightly colored kois
storks serenely standing out on rocks
i sang to them as if they listened
water rushing into our ears
balancing on a worn-out waterfall
everything man-made
and everything beautiful

the burnished blacktop
not a blemish in sight
no cars barreling down the road
our wheels would glide so silently
racing up and down smooth street
so shiny it hurt your eyes
pedaling and peeling away
if you go fast enough you could fly

the lamppost on the corner
carved into by kids
generations of neighborhood
gone as we grow up
and yet the light was never lost
the pink sky fades to dark
but to revisit and recollect
is just a walk in the park
Grace Haak Apr 2021
-an entry from the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health-

processes protruding
excitatory synapses
cerebral circuits
dendritic differentiation

growth is     s         lo           w.

a complex dance, unfolding of a blueprint; how do we understand this dance?

stress stress stress stress stress learn grow develop stress stress stress stress stress

the brain is sensitive! plastic changes are not all permanent
                                 permanent
                                 permanent

choose...you­r...psychomotor stimulants!
amphetamine
*******
nicotine

choose:
gray or white matter
schizophrenia or drug addiction
ADHD or depression

the brain structures will not be changed;
pathological plasticity = pathological pain

                                                           ­                      not all plasticity is good
just like a sculptor
who creates a statue
with a block of stone
and a chisel
to remove the unwanted pieces

in vivo → cell death
Grace Haak Apr 2021
Les Roses de Saadi by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

J'ai voulu ce matin te rapporter des roses;
Mais j'en avais tant pris dans mes ceintures closes
Que les noeuds trop serrés n'ont pu les contenir.

Les noeuds ont éclaté. Les roses envolées
Dans le vent, à la mer s'en sont toutes allées.
Elles ont suivi l'eau pour ne plus revenir.

La vague en a paru rouge et comme enflammée.
Ce soir, ma robe encore en est toute embaumée . . .
Respires-en sur moi l'odorant souvenir

The Roses of Saadi by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

I wanted to bring you roses this morning;
But I had closed so many in my sash
That the knots were too tight to contain
them.

The knots split.
The roses blew away.
All blew off to the sea,
borne by the wind,
Carried to the water, never to return.

The waves looked red as if inflamed.
Tonight, my dress is still perfumed.
Breathe in the fragrant memory.









Eau de parfum: mémoire en bouteille
by Grace Haak

The remembrance reverberates.

I see a silk sash stuffed with splendor
Trinkets collected from a local vendor
Knots ******* as if a form of art
Thorns pressed up against my heart
But for you, I’d pierce my soul.

The recollection resonates.

I feel wind entangle my hair in twists
Matted and messy from soft sea mist
Dripping and damp from a walk too far
Only thought is getting to where you are
But for you, I’d run forever.

The reminiscence resounds.

I smell a sweet scent of rose
The kind that always tickles my nose
Stuck in an overpowering haze
A sickly aroma drags me into a daze
But for you, I’d plant a garden.

Sometimes, when I forget to forget you
I leave the sea with crushed petals
and stained hands.
The blood on my hands
is yours.

I’ll wither and wilt,
wondering why
you left all your flowers
when you said goodbye.

When I knock back my own perfume,
the roses re-echo
he loves me he loves me not he loves me he loves me not

Poor girl. He doesn’t even give you a thought.
Grace Haak Apr 2021
I knew it was bad when my fingernails were ringed
with red
as I ran them over ribbons and excused myself
from confetti cake to make them
redder.

my head was burning
a sparkling candle burning
my hands were yearning
a spazzing sticking yearning

my family was singing
a muffled stifling singing
my ears were ringing
a loud ear-piercing ringing

sing
ring
sting
stop stop stop my scalp is stinging

Nothing was clear until my fingernails
were red
and coated with pieces of my head:
rubbed raw and picked clean
You’re telling me
this is something you haven’t seen?

It doesn’t make sense because:
I don’t put pencils in a perfect pristine line
I don’t count my cheerios before I can dine
I can turn the lights on and off just fine
but my fingernails
are red
and apparently that’s a sign.


I can tell you where
every single pinprick lives
and spreads fire down my scalp
into my brain
How it tells me
your math homework can wait
save me
or you’ll go insane

My nails are short
but still red
My brain is intact
but still missing its head

Oh, how I could See the Disorder in a
demented disturbed decision
to forfeit my favorite vanilla cake
for blood

stop stop stop, i’m begging you, brain

you can’t stop; you know you need pain
leave me alone, and you’ll go insane.
Grace Haak Mar 2021
I have never seen a specter so graceful
yet so distortedly horrible
it’s like looking into silver
and seeing
shadow
where you should smile at
ruby lips and crystalline eyes

instead you watch skin melt
like a box of crayons in hell
are we not in hell
I see a ghost everyday

I see her glide down
and shimmer in the rain
she looks like madness
like straight sin stuck in spirit
encased in gilded goblets
just don’t scratch the surface
or you’ll be disappointed

they want to hold her until
it comes to walking home
she knows she will drift
down wet sidewalks alone
no one can see her anyway
apparitions are hallucinations

I would like to paint my vision
but alas, I only have graphite
so I’ll describe her in light:
there is something so beautifully sinister about chandeliers

everyone wants to swing on glass crystals
until
they
shatter
and all of a sudden you cry
phantom
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