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Head Space

Published June 28, 2019 by April Fox

I started packing things away,

for safekeeping

out of sight, out of mind, they say

you know this story all too well.

They were balanced there before then,

precariously at best, but tucked in

to the corners and the valleys

of my head

with space between

for something right

to grow.

And the boxes took up room and the more things stumbled in,

the memories, anxieties, the captured bits of fear that wandered in

on drunken legs and made themselves

at home, the more I

packed away until

the only things

that I had left

were containers

nothing else.

Popular wisdom tells me now that I should find a space and meditate,

self-medicate, deliberate and contemplate the reasons

why

I needed them, the cardboard crates,

the warped attempts to regulate

the artifacts inside my head

that wished me dead

Find a mountain, or a spa, or a therapist to help me

unpack all these things

— all the things!

That suffocated every part of my reality

in the boxes

where I kept them and they tell me I should lay them out,

examine them

necropsies on the damage that I hoarded till it owned me

poke and prod the innards

for some clues

to my demise

And them bury them, perhaps

with some full-moon ceremony, write them down and burn them

or toss them in the sea, but I think

I need the space they occupy

to be vacant now, rather than later and I think

I’m sick of seeing them, and I think

I don’t give a shit

what unpacking them might do, what I might find I accidentally

stuck in there in my haste, and I think

it’s time to simply

strike a match

and watch them burn.

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Phoebe, flying

Published April 15, 2019 by April Fox

This is where she sat,

legs tucked under her, a child

always

perched there in the nest of her lap

Everywhere there are women, now

in big floppy hats and loose cardigans

hair flying behind them

in the wind,

smiling.

The playground this afternoon was empty

as we filed out to say goodbye

I listened hard to hear her laughter

and the silence pulled me on.

Vacancy

Published April 8, 2019 by April Fox

They like to tell you

on TV

about their grief:

dramatic renderings

of their reactions

a symphony of self-indulgence

“I heard the news and I screamed

I cried

I just broke down sobbing

I was screaming

so loud, I was

I

I

I”

I am standing in the grocery store

silent

I lost that part of my voice and I am

trying

to keep my legs and I can’t

breathe

because the cereal he ate

when I was small is gone

They don’t have it anymore,

this artifact of him

and I see him in the Special K, the Lucky Charms, the Froot Loops

I see him lying there with no heartbeat and no teeth

I see the vacancy like a spotlight and there is no air left

for screaming sobbing crying

for walking past the void

and into life.

Feel.

Published October 29, 2018 by April Fox

This is what it feels like

(I don’t know)

to be kept out, sent to the back,

inked with numbers like cattle

(I bought my ink with dollar bills

you sold your soul to make)

This is what it feels like, one tenth of a percent

to send my child out, brown eyes

thick lips, pants sagged and face

inked like you don’t know

he never pulled the trigger

White as I am

you can’t tell,

arms scabbed and ribs shining

like blades in the street light

You can’t tell

I held that belly, sunken now

in the palm of my hand when he came home

small as life

You can’t tell

I wear my whiteness like armor

(you don’t know)

protect me when I walk at night, keep me in the car

when I get pulled

my brake lights shot like Walter Scott’s but I’m alright

It’s just a warning

        Careful now,

                don’t get hurt.

I know this

My breasts

        (no matter how small)

my ass is a beacon, shining out

spotlights on the fact that I am there

to be taken

that you can have the thing that I have never

until right now

given up one hundred percent voluntarily because I know

from the time I was 14 years old

that if you want it

you’re going to take it

anyway

This is how it feels

(I don’t know)

to be safe in the world

This is how it feels

(I don’t know)

to be safe

This is how it feels

(I know this, now)

to be helpless, to lie flat still frozen

in the dark to wait

for the things that gobbled up the blacks the Jews the

mouthy women the men crawling on the street with needles in their veins

the infants pulled to term and shit out on the sidewalk

screaming with addiction while the pro-life movement dangles formula and warmth

above their heads, the cost of daring to be born

to be sacrificed to hungry priests to be grown up

cut and bleeding

on the bathroom floor

This is what it feels like

(I don’t know)

to be quiet, watching, waiting

until they come for us.

Forgot

Published October 11, 2018 by April Fox

Here are some things that I’ve forgotten:

the formula for pi

the recipe for chocolate chip cookies

the capital of Minnesota (perhaps I never knew, or cared)

the middle name of Paul McCartney

the way it felt to come down and stop and wait and hope my heart

would seize

in the split second that rested between my fingers hitting the door latch

and starting to pull

the smell of paper in the fire

how to take a word and lay it down

stack them, rushed and messy

fan them out like cards and give them voice

that hits your ears and fills your head

like rain that begs

to someday

be the flood.

Quiet Down

Published July 30, 2018 by April Fox

I wish that I could set this down

and walk away, rest it on

the table near the front door

and turn the lock behind me and

forget about it by the time I hit the button

to unlock the car door

by the time the music starts

and my foot is on the gas

I’ll have forgotten

its existence

I wish that I could

take it

to the landfill and bury it beneath the piles of moldy sofa cushions and

dryer lint and rent receipts and watch it

settle down into the sludge before a rat

takes notice of the smell

and carries it away,

a treasure found

to be devoured.

I wish that I could burn it on the gas stove, beer in one hand,

pitcher full of water in the other, watching as the ashes dance and fly

before they fade.

I wish that I could simply turn it off

turn it off, tell it to

SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR A MINUTE

let the decades do their job of making it

at the very least

shrink into something manageable

I wish that I could quiet down the noise

that keeps me up.

 

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