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serpentinium Aug 2020
did you know that
i can only look at myself in shadow?
every day my silhouette
paces in circles before a covered mirror
i cannot bear to look at

but i can look at you
inside the bone garden of your chest
there in the wine dark viscera
i see myself reflected in oceans of sinew
in the fraying red thread unraveling

into a roadmap of capillaries and veins
this patchwork of life
sheared as short as a lamb’s first coat
by a silver scalpel
my firsthand glimpse of what we all become

i know one day my body will wilt in the sun
& i will be able to look—
my flesh will no longer remind me of fishhooks
but of the shine of fish scales
& i’ll think of you fondly underneath the light
above all else, i hope to remember that the dead were once living. even if it is part of my job, i don't want to lose the sense of empathy i've cultivated over the years.
serpentinium Nov 2019
all i have is the light
that pierces my palms
in the shroud of another
tomorrow, another day
spent hunched over a table
squinting at the labeled parts
of people in test-tubes
pointing red-slick glass
towards the fluorescents
& wondering if this is how
God looks at us,
gazing at the messy, clotted innards
of their creation but still choosing to
hold us close to the light,
as if we could catch a glimpse of heaven
that way.
serpentinium Nov 2019
i want to remember all of it
the babble of cicadas at dusk
in the backyard of my childhood home
the way my eighteen-year-old cat
settles against my thigh, twitching
almost imperceptibly in her sleep
dreaming of whatever cats dream of
as i, awake & reading by lamplight,
surface from my book
momentarily moved by the way time
sweetens with age, giving spoonfuls of
sugar to sweeten the dark, bitter cup of life
that i’ve learned to drink from greedily.
eternity is built on moments, a house
we can only glimpse through windows
its spiraling halls all leading back to
the front door, the golden porch-light
blazing like a fire, a flickering beacon.
but you aren’t meant to stare at the light
or wait on the front porch, empty hands
reaching for a lock that cannot be opened.
there is a world that is still spinning
however slowly, seconds amassing into
moments—sometimes as bright as polished brass or as dark as uncut onyx—that will spill out of your hands if you aren’t paying attention
so clutch the infinite in the
present, in the mundane, in the everyday
act of existing here & now, as you are,
as you’ll never be again—as i’ll never be again.
this is why i want to remember all of it
to collect my little infinities
back turned to the glowing porch-light
living for the sake of living,
to see my black cat sleeping peacefully, dreaming not of anything as lofty as eternity, but, perhaps, of a can of savory tuna, a bowl of water,
or the warmth of a blanket stretched over her
tired joints.
serpentinium Sep 2019
i think of those lab rats
living their lives
blissfully in cages
hand-fed fruit-loops
and poison

they’re happy
says the veterinarian
scribbling notes on a clipboard
while the rats drink sugar
water and run on wheels

fate is not kind to lab rats
their years are already so short
a drop in the bucket compared
to the well of time humans draw
from greedily

death is a shadow for humanity;
it is the thought gnawing on the bars
of our mind, the ghost of an animal
running endlessly on a wheel
that we placate with toys and treats

we call it housing enrichment
because even lab rats have a home
because we choose to personify everything
even the things we ****:
carbon monoxide, bloodletting, a severing of nerves

and when they breathe their last breath
we write in our journals that the animals were
sacrificed, not killed, not murdered
dying for a cause bigger than them
for science, for knowledge, for gods on sterile altars
sacrificing animals in science is a tetchy subject for most; even some scientists. i just don't want to forget the importance of a single life--that which we **** to help others survive. note: scientia potentia est translates to 'knowledge is power'
serpentinium Sep 2019
life is unbearably short
& we so rarely get the ending
we spent years tossing pennies
into mall fountains for.
but we exist
in the space between
so next time
when that old childhood urge
(a friend, really)
comes, greet it with a
make it a homecoming
let the future settle gently
into the present
just like a penny
floating to the bottom of a
a second version of a prev poem titled 'when it is time to go'
serpentinium Aug 2019
I spent hours
answering the question:
What else is there? I respond
a laugh flying deftly
from my mouth
in a tumble
of pillow feathers.
Did you know, then?

Life is unbearably short
and rather tragic.
And we so rarely say or do
what we should.
Years spent stuffing words
into our pockets
amongst loose change,
brittle leaves,
all those rainy-day prayers
collecting in denim
pockets waterlogged.

Here is what I do know:
There is you.
And me,
and possibilities we have yet
to even dream of.
So hold my hand,
listen to the
song the starlings sing in the
late evening
and fall asleep here
in the embrace
of dusk.
This blanketing dark
that calls us by name.
serpentinium Aug 2019
a girl nervously swinging
her legs, fingers drumming
on paint-stained tables, rocking
in a broken plastic chair, curling
her short brown hair around her
index finger as if it could somehow
anchor her to the classroom and not
the thousands of thoughts that cluttered
her mind.

a girl who slept through class,
unable to be roused by her
well-meaning teacher; a yawn
stuck perpetually in her throat,
head nodding to a lullaby
composed of multiplication
tables, laughter, stories spoken
aloud, rain that hit the
windows in stuttering staccatos.

a girl who never learned to
study, who couldn’t understand
how someone could open a
textbook and read it—how
someone could set out to do a
task and not feel like their mind
was a jungle of vines and pitfalls and
quicksand, full of venomous, life-draining,
beasts. “how do you tame them?” she asked,
only to be met with wolfish laughter.

{silly girl, you can’t tame something that
doesn’t exist.)

a girl who felt failure in her heart--
in the way it quivered like a hare
caught in a trap whenever grades were
given out, as if the number at the top
of the page was a sword to fall upon;
better to fail without trying, to settle the
point of the blade just below her sternum,
to choose a painless death then to risk
trying and experience an even greater
sense of failure—to become the
disappointment she feared was
her only birthright.

{silly girl, stupid girl, lazy girl, “stubborn as a bull” girl,
girl without manners, girl born impulsive,
girl in a cage, girl struck by lightning,
girl without a future, girl that became an animal.)

a girl with a Sisyphus-shaped
hole in her heart, pushing her
burdens up the infinitesimal
steps of academia, jealous of
the ease in which her classmates
walked up the stairs, their
burdens as light as a few notebooks.

a girl with answers, decades later,
still struggling, but unlearning
helplessness—stepping out of
her cage, one hesitant footstep
at a time, the beasts in her head
whining softly, circling her heels,
always a lunge away from sinking
their teeth into her flesh.

she regards them with pity, stroking
their soft fur, gazing into the coal-black
eyes of her greatest fears—and thanks
them one by one for the pain, for the
tears, for the loneliness, because while
they taught her many horrible things,
they also taught her that she could
as i wasn't diagnosed w/ adhd until last yr around the time i turned 22, i've had a long & complicated journey w/ academia. i may look academically successful on the outside, but it was at a terrible cost: my self esteem. in other words, it's never too late to get help & you'll be so happy that you did.
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