I just hurt. My whole being hurts. My blood hurts. My muscles hurt. My face, my soul hurts. Yeah, it hurts. My feet feel like they are about to break, my toes about to snap like old candy. The tendonitis in my ankles and Achilles won’t let me walk with a strut. My sinuses are doing something unfamiliar with my mucus, when I brush my teeth, it reaches its long pointy finger down my throat and won’t pull out until I hurl.

I’m swimming in an ocean of pain and unconscious self-rejection where each breath I take is getting smaller and smaller, the wheezing is starting to remind me of sea birds mating in the reeds. I’m not graceful right now, and must be a carrier of the sick. So sorry, but the eternal optimist and transmuter of all things negative is now laid up in bed and trying to survive the night with the moon for his nurse. There’s a little fat-assed shit of an asthma demon crouching on my chest, watching with delight as I take what might be my last few breaths, and this one is spitting up fear into a line.

I thought I was done being a survivor, done having to tamper down the melodrama of being a victim for everybody else’s sake, a numbing out, that, had they known was a g-rated exercise in sparing them my life, might have led to some petty arguments about who hurts worse and the ironic chokehold of the bittersweet.

I remember each hit from my mother’s hand and how each made me breathe shallower and shallower, until finally the godawful scream of forced surrender cascaded up from the antique histories of the tortured and out of my own mouth into the confessional of the bedroom, whether I’d done anything or didn’t.

Like in my bedroom, then, this adult version of crying doesn’t echo back, but instead seems to drop all longing over the edge of hope, like a lemming of a man pushed by the aimless and distracted over the edge of his belief, over the edge of his home.