I don’t wear words like ‘survivor’
Or ‘victim’ very well. They don’t fit.
A size too small, my shoulders get caught
In the stitches, the feel of the cloth abrasive
and the tag ‘statistic’ itches.
So I just cut it out.
I don’t use poetry as therapy
Treating the page like a chaise lounge
And the audience as an MD
The subtext to every word being
‘Pity me. Listen to my pain, not my art.
You think that other guy went through hell?
Just look at my marks, they’re longer
Deeper and dreamy, conflicted artistic melancholy,’
Like if you’ve ever bled you understand need.
Like scars don’t count, you have to pick at scabs
Until they bleed.
A real reformed addict wouldn’t roll up
Turning syntax into syringe
Making new tracks to escape on
Because real suffering deserves dignity.
A true resurrection does not happen
Surrounded by a crowd,
no apostles in the garden before crucifixion,
only the company of choice.
It’s having the strength for impetus, for change,
For having convictions.
I fight my battles alone
In the dark
Wondering if it’s real,
If tonight’s the night that
The demon strikes, breaking the door
And crawling in, sitting on my chest,
Weight suppressing breath,
claws hauling out a list of sins
then ticking the box
Next to ‘damned’ not ‘salvation’
Because I’m too proud to pray
To a God that doesn’t listen
even terrified, too paralyzed with pride
to say ‘redemption.’
I wake myself.
Then, between Hail Marys
the sound of clicking rosary beads,
I pray to St. Anthony hoping to find normalcy,
But instead discover gravity.
That things move only when forced.
That there’s no divine intervention.
I refuse to be defined by my problems
I am beyond the outline of my scars
I am worth more than the case numbers
Or the broken bones that have healed within
Creating hills on the horizon of my body
Or the stains on my skin,
Ink black then ball point blue fading
Back to paper white.
I write love poetry
Because love has saved me.
I play with words
Because I like meaning.
I say things prettily
Because I want to live in a world of beauty.
I do not write angry poetry.
I do not share the crosses I wear
Or the things that broke me
because I value my privacy.
My revenge will not
Be the venom of my words
Or living an entire life of ‘after’
But the songs I sing, my desire to love,
and my laughter.