nc 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.

Shaded.

Published December 2, 2015 by April Fox

In that final hour, before the stars

set themselves

against the charcoal sky, there is a shroud

up on the mountain

smoke and fog, the gravel path

the only way

in or out

shaded pink by the last, sad efforts

of the sun

to stand her ground

Before coyote songs and the stuttering of

owls drive us back inside

to the fires and the kettles screaming,

televisions calling with their familiar

lullabyes, the sounds of gunfire

echo the staccato beat of

our fingers, tapping

waiting

impatient for the good stuff

the sales and the sports

and just before the night goes black, and the moon breaks loose

and the woods songs come to greet us

like an old familiar friend,

there is a moment, just a fraction of a second

when we think we might remember

what it felt like

to be safe.

image

Refuge.

Published November 19, 2015 by April Fox

They are laughing in the sand,

their high-pitched voices crossing over and under each other and up

into the sky

into the clouds

dirty hands reaching for each other,

circling around

singing songs whose words we cannot recognize

but the tune is universal;

nursery rhymes are all the same.

They are smaller than the dogs who bark behind them

they are larger than the biggest men who wake up in the morning

ready for the hunt

they are oblivious to war

because war is all they know.

In the dark, their voices quiet

they are every child alive

they are sewer rats, princesses

trailer trash and debutantes

reaching for the shore

they are holding hands and dancing,

singing in the light

while the righteous and the holy scream in outrage:

Kill the children.

Faces.

Published November 19, 2015 by April Fox

This is how we live

with our sidearms drawn

our fingers free of scars

and polished

sheltered in the skin

of privilege

ripped away from someone else’s skull,

stretched and starched and painted on

until it fits our own

we are the faces

of the things

we need to hate.

Cowering inside,

doors locked, the black holes of our brains

filled up with pious rhetoric

lying down to sleep on satin sheets

to dream the nightmares of the idiots

terrified of children

and of peace.

After Life

Published October 20, 2015 by April Fox

Someday, it will be the end.

It will be over

and if you believe in Heaven,

I will rip you from your mother’s warm embrace

pull out the thick umbilicus and strangle you

with the only thing you ever

truly wanted

watch you fight the blackness that creeps into your eyes,

bursts of light, the sound

of rushing water

in your ears

the silence that welcomes you

home

bring you back

and start again.

Pillbug

Published September 11, 2015 by April Fox

I don’t care what you think of me,” he shouts
into his megaphone,
short fat body like a pillbug all rolled up and just as smart
words like stagnant water, they have
no substance
no ability to hurt
or to wash anything away

I don’t care what you think of me,” he shouts
garbled speech slowed down at the ends, sharpened by hate
but still
as dull as his head,
I don’t care what you think

but tell me

What do you think?”

And his insides must be slick as mud, rotten fruit and
the smell of regret, knowing
he was never anything
and in his head, the wires cross
short out the reality
the future like a blacklight
showing all the shit he’s done
showing all he stands to lose.

I don’t care what you think of me,” he shouts
sour tongue begs for a reaction, throwing epithets and hope
like a monkey throwing shit

I don’t care what you think of me-

I don’t.

Vintage Christmas

Published September 6, 2015 by April Fox

I have paid a thousand hours penance

for her spun silk hair and faded blue eyes

sliced my voice on the shattered glass of fragile Christmas bulbs

golden stars and sparkling orbs, blue and red and green

and touched with glitter

in the center of something plastic, the holy parents pray

over the lifeless molded body of the baby

with no eyes.

I could never reach the top

with the icicles I threw.

In the dark, the lights throw colors at the wall

and the threads that hold the past together

rot away and die.

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