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Claire Waters Apr 2019
you grimace behind a curtain
from the hollow bones beneath your thin skin
jumping is hard
walking after you get back up
is harder
you leave a ****** fingerprint
on every new surface
you lean against
springing back up and laughing
when it hurts so bad
you collapse into it
but if you don't stand you fall
and if you fall you won't
get back up this time
you fear the failure of another word
jumbled and mischaracterized
your voice feels foreign
like character acting
and your body is not forgiving
any more failed promises
and neither is the world
you struggle to keep up
but it seems like forever
that you've been dragging a broken leg
and we don't appreciate
the stains you've brought into our house
so what are you going to do
when every surface has been wiped clean
and they all give up and vanish
will you still believe as you do inside now
that you are not a worthy person
Claire Waters Oct 2018
your life seems as small as your hands
you can't take your eyes off of them
as we melt, we wondered who the hell we were
before we were the way we are
like alice grows and shrinks inside a looking glass
an atom splinters inside a single cell
and a poison apple meets tongue
dripping with blood that blooms on the doorstep
this morning adam asked you
if it was his or the shadows in the forest
because he couldn't admit it was yours
four score and five lifetimes later
he hunts to capture
and you move lightly on your belly
through the underbrush, breathing gently
steady in the darkness, treading lightly
he knocks on the threshold and begs to be invited in
but he could not enter, not ever
as he stands in sin, a scar on skin, a rib in hand
Claire Waters Mar 2018
I go into a paper store. I'm becoming enamored with notebooks. I buy them and stab at my decrepit brain sometimes. Sometimes I doodle, for mental health reasons. I would like to publish a short book of my brain and my doodles someday.

I try to make small talk, if I had a therapist I imagine she would tell me to do things like that in order to overcome my anxiety, but i don't have a therapist, so I operate on strict protocol of making small talk with at least two people a week. I'm afraid if I didn't I might forget how to, I've forgotten how to before, and I didn't speak to anyone in a way that made me feel anything for a very long time.

It can be scary because when you go back to talking the words don't come out the way other people's do, and you begin to wonder if you were ever a person as well, or just versed in the movements and sounds it makes, from imitation and delusioning oneself into believing one is a real breathing person too.

Cats sometimes think they're dogs, and dogs sometimes also believe themselves cats. Not mistake themselves for, believe themselves into being whatever it is they believe they are. If it were just a mistake we wouldn't be so sensitive about it. It's the fact that we really truly believed we were the same as everyone else before we were in introduced to the belief that they had held unbeknownst to us, that we are different.

I say hello to the clerk. He is young and attractive with a pleasingly soft colored brownish hair and beard. He seems smart, quick, and grumpy. He seems like someone who always understands what is going on exactly. Or in his way. Sometimes i am unsure how much i should believe sure people.

I busy myself pretending to look at notebooks and paper but finding nothing I can afford to buy. I stare through the color coordinated envelopes and they ooze together and i realize i have no reason to be here, this store didn't have any nice pens or notebooks.

I idled to not seem oddly abrupt in my exit and heard a song i very much liked, playing on the speakers above.

I love this song. I said.

Yeah, she's great. He said, not looking up. I walked around the stand of paper, pretending to inspect it.

I was hearing her in a lot of different songs and thought she was different than what you usually hear, she doesn't just write what people want to hear. this album is one of my favorites.

Yeah, it's really good. He looked at me as if the air between us was asking me out loud what i wanted him to say.

I pretended to fix a stack of colored papers. Well, i like your music, have a nice day, thanks.

Bye. I walked out and didn't stop to think about it. If i think about it i recoil physically and that looks odd in public. I put my anxiety to the back, in a neat box labeled, a guy at a paper store.

I am sitting in my car an hour later. My meter hasn't run out yet so im determined to stay until it does. I throw a dead lighter i was keeping out my window onto the side walk. I realize this is littering but i figure in a city this big someone will pick it up and i don't move to get it. Sometimes i have moments where i realize i don't need things. I liked it though. But it's just another thing. Meaningless.

I stare down at my notebook and hear someone stop outside my car and i look over. The guy with the nice colored brown hair from the paper store is on the sidewalk next to me. I almost jump. He is bending over to pick up the lighter. I am holding my breath as if it will make me temporarily invisible but i am very visible. Somehow he still seems not to see me.

He holds a black backpack strap with one hand and examines the lighter with the other. He tries lighting it and gets the lifeless sparks, but decides to take it anyways and puts it securely in his pocket. He continues to walk.
Claire Waters Dec 2016
Lost in flesh
Inside your head You see him again in the Past dripping with so much blood it escaped into the pond from rivers along the length of his limbs
I don’t know his face, still, barely
I remember him swaying like a lightening rod and begging for help, not even that
Gurgling the word, and it took me a second to register how wide open his head was
I didn’t gag, but I didn’t breathe either
I dropped my keys and yelled too
A precious reminder of the tides beneath the foam
There seems to be no desire left
It collapses in on itself like the old barns succumbing to blustery wind out in the yard
Where the wild things grow
A heart made of the soft river stones that shine but shed their soft talcum brill
A young woman is perched on a bridge
Somewhere else but it is happening
Right now
Some kid is waiting for the right stop
Thinking his body is so heavy
And counting the steps to his front door
Outside my honda some kids are loud like a muffled faucet dripping laughter from the other room
Evening feels further away than it used to feel
Everyone feels further away too
I would try to tell you a story now but
Everything seems less important when the mist returns in the morning in this place
It’s a fatal question to dance around in circles of frustration
Watching some others offer it’s existence up for capital
When you can’t pin it down with an arrow or settle it’s parameters with measurements
Or wrestle it down like a bucking bull and a faithless matador doing his duty to his country
It can’t be as simple as the ways in which we quantify
Even the process of writing has become dispassionate, there seems to be no use in what the meaning is
The question looks quaint at arms length
The boy is home in bed, thinking about buying beer tomorrow and if he was hit by a car or someone shot him how long does it take to bleed out and just
So yes, I would try to tell you a story to explain myself better but, I can’t
I’d tell you a story but the truth is I’m confused by how much there is to tell
The intricacies of the truth, the aspersions of summing up the contents after breaking them down
The way nothing always happens for A Reason
The way most things always happen for some type of reason but not A Reason
The way I feel today
The way a fly poops on what it lands but you can’t see that
The way these things are never sold, nor told, nor need to be believed to be true.
You know the way it goes, do we die in our own **** or do we **** before we die
and did the chicken even know the road was a road when it was crossing to the other side?
The man is 65. I remember this because a girl and a guy had seen the man and I
and he told her this. He tried to laugh and
he choked on his own blood. He had wrapped his face in a brown tshirt
And placed his hat over the wound
Covered by that. He looked like Freddy from that movie Freddie vs Jason
but somehow mostly formidable in that he
was soaked in the red, drying in the sun
like glistening crusting paint, chipping away
I don’t pray very much but I did today after the ambulance came, I prayed all Monday
I thought about who that man was
A young woman is perched on a bridge Somewhere else but it is happening right now
And she is suddenly having it, she’s having the truth and she doesn’t say anything but she
Puts her hands in her pockets and doesn’t move
And then does, and presses a cigarette to her mouth and doesn’t move
And the filter gets soggy and
She sits there and decides to light it
And finally she moves away from the murky dark water and walks to her car
The mouth of the maw glistening against moonlight slated shadows
The seeker holds her heart and picks up the stones as she goes, doesn’t look back
Claire Waters Dec 2016
I doubt your mother’s ever told you.
The alternative to sanity is losing your mind.

When someone you love is gone they are replaced by an ocean of memories.

Your mind is a swimming pool and you’re just a bug, moving rhythmically, fending off the crushing weight,

and then one day you get so cold you stiffen like a corkscrew and sink like a stone,

driving your screaming body into the concrete.

And when they finally find the bodies of lost divers in the caves beneath our world, they are curled in fetal position, burrowed into the smallest crack they can find in the stalagmites of the cold walls,

hands and feet destroyed from ripping at the rock with blind death instincts,
grappling for a tiny passage back to the light.

Everybody wants to be a model
So her outsides fit how she’s dying on the inside
Everybody wants to be roadkill
Pegged up for examination but mostly for display
I guess it doesn’t matter how the victim felt
It doesn’t matter how wet leaves slipping from under feet feels
It doesn’t matter how cold it is
It doesn’t matter how another cigarette tastes
It doesn’t matter how his eyes looked when he walked past
It doesn’t matter how a cold gun feels
You can’t feel a gun, technically
Is anyone out there? Can you help?
Does your brain
Hesitate too long almost all the time?
Do you need to breathe through your mouth just to keep going when your nose can’t work? Do you feel dizzy? These are deep places with no air, in the future. You need to be able to breath with utmost control
And take up the least amount per capita in your lungs possible
By prepping your lungs for the atmosphere
Of the mask world you are not dying,
They hum in every bright viscous corner
Of Hollywood Blvd and time square
You are not dying
You are winning
And you angle down just to show everyone you can make the illusion of beauty appear sick
I focus on the version of me I see in my mind every time I forget to feel better. You want to be me, I am sick. I want to be better, I forget you. I want to breathe with my lungs again
Claire Waters Dec 2015
"New Latin, from Greek boulimia great hunger, from bou-, augmentative prefix (from bous head of cattle) + limoshunger

First Known Use: 14th century”

when i first got to california i would study the way ocean waves crashed upon the shores of beaches, it’s was bone crushing, pulp softening kind of tides. packs of tides keep rushing to the beach and throwing themselves down into it’s stand, as the beach absorbs each one.
it does not recoil.
i want to learn the earth’s secrets
i am attracted to water, tides of brevity, yet unrelenting to the sand
and the shells and sand they make regenerate, breaking down continuously
then hardening and heaving their particles back to the ocean
trusting it will be brought to some shore
the waves of the pacific quiet the waves inside my skull.

a constant pounding, a wave of bulls crashing through
uncharted territories even now.

i am coauthor of too many mistold memoirs
someone else wrote about me from afar.

it’s funny, no, i shouldn’t say that
it’s strange, how quickly one becomes commodity
how the pall of your skin has a scent
but your eyes are lassos
how, without your consent, your body can be bent
cut, *******, and transformed into an unanswerable question
drawing whole packs to your lone presence
dryly plucking the last drops of milk from a straw
you look up as they circle, giggling
and hunker into their places, surrounding

they’re the classic eclecticism of boys looking for fast entertainment
sure, let me be your dancing bull, wave the red cloth and dare me
because i am not the bull and i won’t let you have this one.
mr big ****, his homie in your face laughing at you
shy guy, and sarcastic dude who’s ******* bored
they say you don’t look like you grew up here
you think, “what, in this in-n-out?”
you say, “no, i’m from the east coast.”
whenever these things happen,
your words become bitten off at the ends

you hold onto your empty cup a bit too long as serious mr big **** talks at you
your head swimming with frustration and mistrust
homie who laughs jabs his finger into your face
pointing to the special sauce leaking from your burger
"aren’t you gonna eat that?"
you smile at him and you don’t know why but you just smile
you take a bite and chew with your mouth open
you haven’t got an appetite

you begin to cajole and retort casually with them,
seeing how long the game will last before it gets dumb
as if your harassers are friends
until the words “*******” enter your periphery
and in a fit of disgust you stuff the last bite down
and exit the pathetic scene
as you walk out to ringing laughter you find yourself
un-panicked but fatigued by the run in
thinking, when will i learn how to handle this ****?
and why should i have to learn to regularly handle harassment?
i never asked for this attention
never asked.

my body is not a question.

a slow burn of metaphors accompanies every bout of insanity
this week i’m convinced that i’m drowning from the inside out
when he comes over it’s hard to look at him, with his sweet eyes and adoration
after rushing around picking up the little pieces of myself off the carpet
hissing in disgust “stupid *****, stupid ******* ****”
and putting it all back together before he got here
because i feel less than nothing
far from beautiful

i would often imagine what people would do
after i died, if it would be
a mess of bad jokes about entitled white girls
with selfish insecurities
or a mess of bad sentiments about how i was a modest hard working girl who
who am i most days, except for someone
who ******* tried her hardest
i don’t like the idea of dying young, giving other people
control of how i’m remembered
i want to establish that image for myself
what a dream, what a dream.

who should get my trinkets, my instruments,
who got the glass collection, the tea cupboard
the patterned hats, the quartz stones and golden tooth
i thought about how the funeral would go
how my mother would cope
if my father could stand it
i have been making sand castles
and cooking messy cakes with frosting dripping jimmies
i have been reading books and
writing essays and working every run of the mill job
to keep my mother from crying
and my father from falling asleep in the stillness at night
regretting his regrets because i fall asleep in the stillness at night
regretting myself and thinking of him
regretting his regrets as his life stands behind him
and he drifts into a dream land where we do not exist but clouds

and i wonder, now, if i could still let this happen
if i could stand it, how much time i have to turn it around
i have been told you must invest
twice the time it took to dig the hole
in order to get out
if i start now, i can see the light by the time i’m roughly

i give my untouched binge food to homeless people
because watching them receive it
feels a lot more satisfying than the pain of eating it
fighting the weight of nausea
i hold back and return my wallet to my purse
as i whip around the burger king drive thru
and opt for dollar store cheese crackers in their little 16 cent per meal packages instead
that is to say, the package is the meal
i cannot fill my stomach these days,
with frozen organs and weeping ulcers
sweating and puking on the side of the road
i cannot sweat and puke on the side of the road these days
because i do not want to die, and must get better by 37
and these days, thesedays i have nightmares of men
with wild eyes and yellow teeth, bodying the window of my car
their hands groping for my face through the cracked window
pressing a gaping maw spittled against the glass
as i scream the deep scream of terror that comes from inside one’s stomach
when no one can hear or when a wild animal
is slaughtered by a larger feral creature, death drifting through the forest
home owners turning away with cold pressed spines
and wonder what died

i hear them talking about me from the hallway
more often than i speak of it myself
my bones crack, my muscles moan
i have no time left for sleep
the waves keep crashing down
i spend 12 hours in a day worrying about others
and try to take another 12 for myself but never quite
end up having that many
i wonder if you still think after hearing this poem
that this is a selfish insecurity
it is blurry childhood,
stab wounds from a series of sadness,
an insatiable wish to fill
the spaces of unmet need with small animals like me
wrapped up in unassuming parcels
forgotten under a christmas trees
eaten by maggots.

dear body,

they tell me we could have a heart attack
but i laugh at them
ask if i think I’m invincible and i laugh at them
i am far from it, because if i am anything i am a sponge
which doesn’t cause me to feel any less
just soak up the mess when there’s a spill
and continue to expand, adjust to the pressure, and then expand again
invincible is a generous word to use
for what i think i am
because i am weak, helpless, but angry

like a feral child biting doctors and snarling
or a person who lifts a car off an infant when the body gives you no choice
but to respond to the adrenaline of fear
pass the boundaries of what you believed to be true to save a life

i am simply adaptable, good at surviving
i have trained my body to be strong even when I am weak
my mind to stay sharp when my teeth have eroded
because the doctor doesn’t love you, and your mother
she’s sort of lying. like the government or dr jekyll.
you know not to trust people with empty eyes or bitter hearts
you will fight if it gets you out of this cell and closer to sunlight.
endurance is the only pride i cling to.

he picks up the book my mother was reading
"what’s this?" he skims the page looks at the block lettered heading "SUFFERING"
"suffering…" he looks up for a second,
then at me, and i wonder
if he knows, so i smile at him

when I was younger I didn’t get it
but now I fully understand how people
can keep secrets from their husbands and wives for years
some **** is too deep to allow
those you love
to wade in it

she swallowed me whole and after
clawing my way out of her stomach
I am still picking my fingernails
out of her teeth

i am paying for my grubby child hands
the baby bird bones in the backyard
of my childhood home
are singing warning bells to me from across a continent
they pierce my dreams when i finally sleep
the corn acres cresting golden hills in the dawn are gone
another night alone in a city far way from home
and my wings are still just feather and bone
muscle dead below, still holding the hilltops on her shoulders

you fall to the waves crashing down or
you pump the sore tendons of your weak wings
and you fly
there’s no other choice
your body is not a question
it is an answer
Claire Waters Nov 2014
we lived inside of clocks
we had bodies of heartstrings that will be plucked
a vibrating mass of shifting cogs
and locks built behind bars and red rock walls
and i still don't know you after a couple years
the key is sawed after a few brief fears
reformed the locks
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