panic

the panic waits till I’m asleep

lifts me from my unstable trance

to remind me that I need to feel it

that panic echoes in my ears 

“Yes, Sheila, you’re going to feel it.”

 

makes my heart jump and skip 

as I peel my shirt from my chest

start chanting prayers 

visualize where he’s at 

start covering him in prayer 

imagine angels by his door

his sleeping body under its wings 

 

tell the panic to leave me alone 

let’s go back to that unstable sleep

then tomorrow I’ll feel it, I promise 

“Yes, Sheila, you’re gonna feel it.”

home

big stream of little tears 

hands shaking off 

massive fears

the grieving left

but now I’m waiting 

for it all to come back to me 

God – please don’t let it

come back to me

let the child that I now see

stay forever 

i welcome a miraculous mystery

duty

this beaten down shell of a woman 

the one with the grandest dreams 

grew tired of seeing her shadow at the bottom

and

let the violins lead her out of the water

to take a walk under the August sun 

 

unafraid to 

journey for days on end without sleep 

burdened with thirst but not take a drink

until that duty called her back in 

to cut her feet on those flawed, broken shells 

back in to swim with the eels

back to the that beaten down shell of a woman

like me

can’t

 

I can’t even enjoy the rain anymore.

I’m always pacing, reaching for the door. 

I can’t even savor my meals anymore.

I’m always eating while standing; 

hurriedly chewing and choking. 

I can’t even stand my showers anymore.

That water hurts my burgundy 

striped shoulders.

I can’t even stand to stand anymore.

The gorilla on my back just keeps 

getting older. 

I can’t even love my words anymore. 

They just sit here pretty like, 

as a constant reminder that 

I just can’t anymore.

 

 

 

past

rusty gate called me in

off that weed infested path

lined with the statues your aunt made

all those Raggedy Anns and Andys

with their red button stares and permanent smiles

creeping me out, but you loved them

 

open that rusty gate – hear its exclamations

wipe my hand on my thigh, watch the orange dust fly

walk barefooted on the gravel

feel the stones pierce my flesh but

my strong child self doesn’t cry

look to my left over the fence

see the lightning bugs emerge

pray one lands on me – it’ll give me luck 

 

walk into that darkened house

tiptoe around all the statues on the floor

look past their frozen happiness

sitting on the tables, waiting around the corner

stay brave with all their eyes on me

turn around and suddenly wish to leave

the house is just too eerie

 

run outside, ignore Raggedy Ann’s glare

close the rusty gate – hear its low moan

think, I’m too young to care

dash to play with those fleeting lights

and when you ask, “Did you have fun?”

I’ll pretend I didn’t hear you

walk past and embrace the fading sun

 

 

 

 

reflection

I dreamt I heard the floorboards creaking

hoped you might be home

but it was only the piano again

the pedals were moving on their own

my ghostly player knows the gravest arrangements

it plays with the most mournful tones

caressing the E’s, lingering over the G’s

hear its breath during the pause

makes me grow quiet, knows how to make me grieve

causes me to get lost in my thoughts

think about when you were home last

how I miss your face, miss our family

miss everything, miss the past

the pressing of the pedals

I just can’t stand it anymore

smelling the absence, feeling the regret

I cry for my gifted spirit to stop and go away

but it only nods and continues to play

 

 

mask

she is so perfectly agreeable

with her fading eyes and lost smile

they only see her bravery

looking past her hollow words, her slowing breaths

how she longs to not be so perfectly agreeable 

yearns to not care 

get lost in her own storm 

twirl, get tangled up with the wind

and prove you wrong

cause remember, you think she’s so strong

but if you listen, you’ll hear the subtle quake to her voice

the whispery sound of her words

she’s had lots of time to practice not being heard

cause it ends so badly, her being around

so she glides around the house

without making a sound

and she’s fed up, did you notice that?

she is so perfectly agreeable

as her antsy soul waits and waits to be born

but she wants to get lost like her smile and fading eyes

till she is no more 

gracefully, forcibly

yet unnoticeably slip away, but even in that

she would be so perfectly agreeable

delusions

 

Don’t give in to the weight of slumber closing in on your eyes.

Pulling your eyelids down quick as shades in the night.

For when you sleep, they scurry towards you with angry faces and jagged lips.

Running, screaming, crawling – these lost creatures.

Souls horrendously pining, hopelessly wanting.

Souls wasting away, missing loved ones, longing for their return.

Souls wanting total freedom, total peace, their ticket home.

They beg for forgiveness – these horrid creatures.  You can’t bear to listen.  Not tonight.

Right now, choose not to play their torrid games.  See them fly towards you, slam the

door only to witness their turmoil.

Their long cold fingers reaching, searching under your door.

Don’t give in to the weight of slumber closing in on your eyes.

For it is always you they want to fight.