I climbed over mountains of being alone for most of my childhood.
Wherever I went I let go of the dream of being found by a peer group
that reflected my skills, because everywhere I looked I couldn’t find one,
save for a few self-deprecating rebels, who, like me, felt the real inside
themselves waiting to open like a vibrating door, and preferred to be alone.
I must have seemed dangerous to most children and adults back then,
kneeling by myself in the woods beside an overturned log
and fingering worm trails of wonder for brown recluse and black widow
that could have killed me.
I wrote down my reflections on the permeability of death
on tree fungus I’d collected so that I could literally wield decay like it was
a middle finger that could kill me spiritually, and mystically bring me back.
Later, when it wasn’t cool to be a necromancer on the forest floor anymore,
I holed up in my bedroom and wrote surreal, poem-like things, incantatory
song-lyrics, and weird allegory I could vocalize to by scented candlelight,
until I felt my feelings fracture like the ground during an earthquake.
Look, the poet druid is writing incantations across the unfindable again
I used to imagine my bedroom walls mocking!
Best to leave him alone, or risk losing myself, they must have thought.
Christopher Robin had Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore.
I had Writing, Aloneness, and Low-lit Rooms to hang out with.
I told myself I was the invisible, insectile, survivalist, poet vagabond of
the abused and unrepresented, so I had to like staying out of the way.
But just because you escaped and even overcame a shitty childhood
by mostly writing about it and analyzing it doesn’t guarantee
you’ll never see it again, or that it won’t follow you around like a starving fox.
If you’re lucky a time will come, you’ll get to look back upon it
with a slightly less anxious heart, and tinker with it a bit using decades
of always embarrassing coping skills,
and one of mine has always been me always looking for that place
children who beat the hell out of abuse and codependency feel in their
blood but can never seem to find, a place where I’ll feel safe and positively
regarded once and for all.
It’s how I know the past never leaves us, and that I’ll never be safe
no matter how safe I feel, and that the world gets smaller and smaller for
the abused, because the world was not there when we needed it,
and so, we had to create our own support with whatever didn’t threaten
to kill us. Some of us even learned to scour abuse for all kinds of self defense
Today, you’ll find us displaced in back rooms in organizations all around the country
offering tough love advice to insecure bosses with half our education
who haven’t learned to sleep inside the wound and love it yet, which is to say,
you’ll never find us. But we’re not invisible To you. We’re hidden From and often
By you, that is, until you say otherwise.
If you want to know what I think it’s this weird kind of Stockholm Syndrome-like
behavior in the workplace, not just at home now, that has fueled an alarming
increase in suicide rates,
and why I know as long as I’m alive I’ll be writing poetry in order to imagine
myself living happily, in a less-peopled, or even vacant world, and to generate
a pathway toward the new pinnacle of ambition, success, and retirement,
which is to stay not dead.