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Valentine

Published February 12, 2018 by April Fox

Hey now, can you keep me

under the radar, in that spot where the rain falls

heavy

Can you be the cloud that rushes me

alive

Hey can you keep me

tucked in your pocket, deep in the dark where your

heartbeat hides

Can you dance with me to the same tune

under the glow

of the dome light, box step back bend you lead

I’ll wait.

Breathe, can you stop my breath

for a second

Can you keep your shit together when I

falter, can you

keep your shit

together

while the fear leaks out your eyes

and pulls me back

Hey now, can you keep me

for a while

Can I have some of that blanket, can I tuck my head

into the pillow of your shoulder, can I press my

eye

against the bony knob

of your wrist and can you read my mind and tell me

what I mean

Can you keep me under the radar, in the corner of this planet

you inhabit, that you built

can you keep me under the radar, sifting through your fingers

like the sun.

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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.

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.

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.

2016

Published January 3, 2017 by April Fox

Funny all the cracks that made your surface

interesting, once upon a time have filled in now

with dirt and grime and no amount of scrubbing

can restore them

Leonard Cohen left us blissful

mirror-gazing at each other, dancing

long and slow, until the end

until the end and we were

cavernous, and gaunt like insects, exoskeletons

the mismatched eyes were watching everything

and slit the throats

of all our memories, bled them dry and left us screaming

hey Ophelia

Please come back

home.

Here We Go With the War On Christmas Again…

Published December 7, 2016 by April Fox

How long ago did I write that thing about how saying “Happy holidays” meant you were a child of Satan? It’s been a few years, but we’re still dealing with people who take some kind of personal offense to being greeted that way rather than with “Merry Christmas.” Now, Donald Trump is being hailed as a hero for giving the country permission to say “Merry Christmas” again. Just when you thought life couldn’t get any more weird.

“Expect a mad run on Christmas cards and stocking stuffers in stores across the nation, as Donald Trump has officially been declared the victor in the War on Christmas… It’s unclear exactly how long Christians have been unable to celebrate Christmas in the US, or how the war got started. Perhaps it was when Barack Obama refused to have a Christmas tree in the White House. Oh wait, that never happened…”
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