poetry

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2017: Depression Ate My Brain

Published December 30, 2017 by April Fox

In 2017, depression ate my brain.

I wish the years were neatly separate, distinct like they are on paper

segmented like an earthworm you can tear apart and watch the old parts writhe and bleed

while a new one generates —

starting over, over, over

hard reset, the days would have an expiration date

live through this, and then you get to start again

with vocal cords that work and a mind that doesn’t will itself

into oblivion, just for the hell of it.

Social media’s a hopeful place, full of photographs of bubbly glasses, gold leaf and fireworks:

“Here’s to a better year, next time!” A dumpster fire, they call it, as if the ticking of the clock will put it out and we will Come Together To Make Things Better! and Make 2018 Awesome! and start fresh, resolution-bound and hungover in the morning

Happy New Year

but it’s not, when depression eats your brain.

I spent my days in the company of children, and the ones who cared for them also cared for me. I tied the shoes and bandaged the scrapes and explained a hundred times that cottage cheese is cheese, but not the kind you slice. I sat criss-cross applesauce on the big rug and read stories written by other people’s brains, the brains that worked. Shoes on, coats on, water bottles, line up: The routines that shaped their days helped stitch together mine.

I stayed put together and the year went on and it ate away a little more each day, and when people say Reach Out I don’t think they understand that all the things you’ll say, we already understand.

I know I’m not alone. My stuff happened alongside your stuff and her stuff and their stuff and it devoured us from the outside while we were battling the inside. The world was burning down, our heroes were dying left and right and everything seemed darker than it should. In the dark, it’s hard to see the things you should create. We are not alone, but that doesn’t make the aloneness any less.

I lost my voice, and my muscles atrophied; there was no reaching out because I know: The solid marriage, loving family, stable friendships, roof overhead wheels underneath woodstove fired up warm quilt wrapped around babies thriving sunsets starry nights and all of those things are real but the list is punctuated with the knowledge, too, that it’s all there in spite of me and there is nothing relevant

living in my bones.

Depression eats your brain and you can’t sleep or you can’t

wake up or you can’t

eat or you can’t

shower or smile or think

or hold a conversation past the canned fake plastic words you spit out on Facebook so that nobody

suspects there’s something wrong (because there’s not; it’s just your bootstraps wearing out)

You can’t do much of anything but follow the same old script but you can sure as shit argue

with the idea that there is something valuable

in you.

I lost my voice and people didn’t think I could, they wanted me to make them laugh, to mock the president, to say something sweetly vulgar because saying FUCK is trendy now and hey, what’s behind this song and hey, tell me stories that the music men told you and I just

stopped.

The words were stagnant water in my mouth. Nothing new could live there, nothing would come out; I lost the words and then I lost the chance to say

I’m sorry

Depression ate my brain

in 2017.

Losing October 

Published November 15, 2017 by April Fox

In my nightmares there is metal everywhere. 

The little one is hungry,

two-dimensional

I’m not sure if he’s real or a

creation of my 

imagination and the wires

the image projected flat

onto the glass —

The eyes are still the same. 

When he was broken, once

I carried him and had him cast. 

I am waking up and

waking up and

waking up and

not. 

When I finally sleep, I’m cradling

all the tiny things

Trying to keep the other ones

from tearing out their spines. 

Altar

Published October 4, 2017 by April Fox

Let’s make a little altar here

from the things that we collected

while we walked.

Let’s make a little altar

from the broken sticks,

the colored leaves, the tiny

stones

that pressed between our palms

like everything.

Let’s make a little altar

from the love notes

and the bits of songs

the promises and tears

the handprints on the glass

in the back seat of the car.

Let’s make a little altar

with the shadowbox we made

from torn up paper, old receipts

the endless coffee cups,

the rain.

Let’s make a little altar

from the nursery rhymes and fairy tales

the hangovers and lazy days

the emptiness behind the

captive audience, the rapt and

awed, the onlookers, the fans

the stick figures, the empty heads

the arms that circled close, the

time

the blackness left behind.

Let’s make a little altar, but this time

let’s keep it out

where we can see it

keep the floodlights on

the spotlight keeping lit

all the things that we’ve collected

tucked away

and dusted off

on a holiday like nothing

Let’s make a little altar

from the darkness

left behind.

Periwinkle Blue at 42

Published March 28, 2017 by April Fox

This is the age when I’m supposed to embrace myself,

to wrap my loving arms around my ego and my thighs and to

denounce the false ideals forced upon me by plastic fashion dolls

and runway models

built like I used to be, flat-assed, long-legged, stick limbs and a marked lack

of cleavage, false women who I heard

could not be real

and I was safe in my

imaginary skin.

This is the age when I should have my shit together

when I should have more than a pair of second-hand combat boots

and three more years to pay

on a car with missing hubcaps.

This is the age when I should walk

with confidence

full of all the wisdom

that I had at seventeen

head held high

wine glass in one hand,

the other reaching up to touch

my recently-trimmed hair

–I should have a girl who cuts my hair

and know the name of a restaurant

that accepts reservations

and doesn’t bring the food out

in red fake-woven baskets.

This is the age when I should pass

from weirdo to eccentric

when my t-shirts should be hip and retro

and not artifacts of life.

This is the age when I should know

what the fuck I should be doing, when I should

sleep

when people sleep and

feel

what people feel and know

by now

how to nod and smile and talk about the right things

at the right time

and my fingernails should not be painted black

for daytime and the kindergartener

swinging her legs

on the plastic chair

is grateful, perhaps

that at 42

she remembers that the best crayon

is periwinkle blue.

Domestic(ate).

Published March 15, 2017 by April Fox

Don’t leave that there for me to find.

I’ll never see it, hiding among the dirty dishes and the piles of laundry

dumped out and waiting to be folded

(worn

dumped

washed

dried

dumped

repeat)

and the half-empty ketchup bottle on the counter with the coffee filters

the Pine-Sol stench and the blue toilet water

sensory overload

is the vacuum broken again? The birds need fed.

The mud tracked in might lead me to it,

by way of the checkbook and the appointment reminders

tacked on to the fridge

scribbled in sharpie under David Bowie’s deadpan face

each rectangle numbered

counting up

and starting over

counting down

self-contained and endless

Don’t leave it there

I’ll sweep it up unseen

with the safety pins and the breading from last night’s chicken

and toss it in the trash can

with all the other things

that were never relevant.

Dregs

Published March 15, 2017 by April Fox

If you don’t believe I’m an optimist,

you’ve never seen me

at the tail end of winter

waiting

for the vagrants to drag their weary bones

across the lawn,

leaving trails of dust and grooves from worn-down heels

gaping mouths turned toward the clouds

praying

for rain

while the birds drop hulls

from angry beaks

into the wasted grass

and scream in indignation

at the bitter cross-wind blowing

Behind the glass I warm my hands

close my eyes and disconnect

the brain that tells me

this could be the last

cold night

This could be the last season

of waiting

to be warm.

Funhouse 

Published March 11, 2017 by April Fox

Today seems like a good day, she thought,

to post a written affirmation 

in the third person

of how she saw herself

Words borrowed from someone else and 

filtered 

through a hazy layer of optimism

angled just so

to avoid showing the piles of

shit

in the background 

and viewed through a

funhouse mirror

Nails in her feet cropped out and blurred

with tilt shift

just to be safe

She is

an all-powerful

homage 

to herself, a poorly-lit

selfie

captured in words

and garbage
Such a beautiful sunrise

frames her silhouette 
And she will rise,

regurgitating self

another day. 
*For fuck’s sake, please don’t take this seriously. 

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