N.C.S. - POEMS
I live, write, and attend high school in New York City. I lived in Oxford, England for a brief time before returning to the Big Apple. I could think before I could walk and write before I could talk, and haven't put the pen down since. I put my thoughts and feelings down in words on paper because some things just can't be conventionally explained.
You are surrounded by the fog the moment you open your eyes in the morning.
The cloud that has swallowed you, making your limbs heavy, keeping your head underwater.
The frost barricading the outside of your window only further enforces the effect.
The cloud doesn't break even as she knocks gently and enters your room.
She's speaking, you know, though the words sound wrong, as if she's speaking from underneath a pile of laundry, muffling her words before they can reach your ears.
You know what she's telling you, though; she is taking you out to lunch and you need to get ready.
You agree, because that is what you're used to doing.
You dress in a dream, wash your face in the sink.
Instinctively you pick up the newspaper lying on the kitchen table and peruse the contents of it,
Flipping page after page and scraping your eyes over the paper without really reading it.
You're ready within the hour, certainly, though you can't remember a thing.
It's as if your memory has been wrapped in cotton wool,
As if an opaque white fog has rolled down over you.
There is no cripplingly cold black void,
No blast of oblivion.
And cloud was fine.
You can't feel her hand at your back when you walk.
You know it's there, but you refuse to acknowledge it.
You aren't sure why.
Why is it there?
Does she think you'll slip and fall?
The ground isn't that icy.
Why does she keep looking at you like that?
Her eyes are too curious.
She must have found her glasses eventually because she’s wearing them now.
Were they under her bed like last time? Or maybe she left them on top of the cupboard.
You shift away from her subtly, pulling your coat tighter around yourself, even though it isn't as cold as you had anticipated.
There's so much she wants to ask you, and you know that,
But you're glad she doesn't.
You're glad she decides to walk with that casual swing to her step with her eyes straight ahead.
She noticed you.
And you feel guilty.
As much as you hate it, you can't bring yourself to apologise.
The simple words, ‘I’m sorry’ won't come to you at all, despite the way you usually say it so often.
You don't want to speak at all, not really, because you feel you shouldn’t.
It would be wrong to say anything.
You ought just to be quiet.
It is alarming, the way the fog is following you.
You thought you could keep one step ahead of it,
Keep yourself in the sunlight for a little while longer,
But it is proving to be incredibly difficult to keep up your pace.
You shake those thoughts from your head,
Just as you'd been taught,
And shoot a lopsided and pleasantly bright grin in her direction.
You order food even though you aren't hungry.
The food tastes bland, even so; it's hot and seasoned to perfection
(she really shouldn't have taken you out somewhere so nice. What was she thinking wasting good money on someone like yourself?)
but it still tastes like wet paper as you eat it - bland yet withstanding just enough flavor for it to be nauseatingly unappetizing.
Your eyes are restless,
Flicking from object to object,
Person to person.
You notice tiny things,
Such as the color of that man's scarf,
Or what toy that baby has in its hand.
How many crows are sitting preening themselves in one of the almond trees,
How many times do the shop bell tinkle in a minute.
The way she tucks her hair behind her ear. The pendant of her necklace resting on the breast of her cardigan.
It's a funny thing, really.
You aren't angry and you aren't upset.
You are indifferent to most things at times like these.
You are untouchable.
You don't touch the ground when you walk, so when you stomp your boots on the mat outside your door,
It is a shock to see ice peel off of the soles.
You can't feel the clothes on your body,
So if she hadn't been there to remind you to change them, you probably wouldn't have.
You don't feel dirty, so if the shower wasn't on the way to your bedroom, you would have certainly forgotten to clean yourself as well.
You'd learned your lesson in that respect, at least.
Nothing is touching you.
You don't feel it.
It's as though you are suspended in water.
To describe it placatingly.
But you're used to it.
She sends you off to pick out a movie while she makes some tea.
You pick out the sappiest, corniest film you can find.
It's a ploy to make yourself cry,
To strike some feeling back into your body
Before you dissolve into nothing.
Your breath rises quick and rapid in your throat as you pick out the movie,
Frantically looking for something to make you feel something,
The tea is scalding and it burns your tongue.
You like how it burns your mouth, despite knowing that it will hurt tomorrow morning.
You hear every word of the film,
Note every action in excruciating detail,
And finally relief floods every fiber of your body
When you feel tears prick at your eyes and overwhelming sadness tug at your heart at the movie's climax.
She is also dabbing at her eyes with a tissue already,
But you are smiling, more to yourself than the film, as tears stream down your face.
You're going to be okay.
You're going to be just fine.
When I was eight years old, my father told me that I was a mistake.
Neither he nor my mother had wanted children to begin with.
But then I came along.
A surprise, said my mother.
A mistake, said my father.
How is one expected to respond to such a thing?
Especially at just eight years old,
It put quite the weight on my little shoulders.
An unwanted child.
Mind you, I did get two different answers,
But they were similar enough,
And I knew which one to believe.
Believe the one spoken with a truth serum,
A poison that ruins lives and tears people apart.
The one you can’t control until it’s too late.
The serum at the bottom of a bottle
That doubles as a healing potion.
It doesn’t heal you very permanently,
Or very well, for that matter,
And causes even a little pain more as it goes down your throat.
But then it takes away all your pain,
All your worries,
Just like that.
Just like magic.
Alcohol seemed like magic to me, especially at such a young age.
What else but magic could turn a man
From a neatly-dressed, nicely polished and well-put-together businessman
Into a monster
With messy hair, red eyes, beer dripping from his chin onto an already-stained shirt,
Turn clean knuckles swollen and raw,
Turn clear, soft baby skin black and blue with anger and pain.
Only magic could turn a good, if not slightly slurred mood
Red with rage
And a blast of anger
The kickback of which was aimed directly at the unwanted daughter
And, just like magic, the child shrank.
She spoiled like an apple, becoming withered, bruised, and small;
Disgusting to the outward eye.
Because that’s what happens when you leave an apple out for too long.
When you forget that it’s there,
Or drop it too many times.
That’s just how nature works
But not human nature.
Human nature is taking care of and loving your children and family.
Feeling emotions like joy, sadness, love, empathy.
Wanting love and loving others.
It takes something very powerful to take that away…
Something like magic.
Even years later,
The ghosts stay with me.
There’s at least one over my shoulder at all times,
Its presence made seen to no one but me.
Its weight is great as it sits on my shoulders,
Weighing me down.
I carry the invisible weight alone, so that no one else knows it’s there.
Sometimes the Ghost reaches down,
And I can feel the hands sliding over my skin again.
Sometimes the Ghosts crowd around me
And I feel trapped,
The Ghost isn’t real, of course, but it feels like It is.
Its hands feel real and solid, as if It’s really touching me again.
It whispers in my ear,
Telling me of memories and planting the haunting images in my head.
It leans over my bed while I sleep,
Nightmares billowing from its lips like smoke
That I breathe into my system
Slowly breaking down my lungs,
A cancer destroying me from the inside out.
It is a pain deep inside
That no one else can see,
But I know it’s there,
And so does the Ghost.
The pain is unimaginable
And that is why the Ghost gives it to me.
Because It does not want the pain all to Itself.
It wants to make me a Ghost just like It is.
But I know now that the pain is not all my burden.
Acknowledge the memories curling form the smoke
And share them.
They are so and so am I.
That is not a curse.
The more I accept the Ghost to be real,
The less real it becomes.
It becomes transparent
Instead of solid
So when it stands in front of those that I love
It is no longer blocking them from my view
No longer morphing their faces into those of the Ghosts.
I reach out, through the heart of the Ghost
And hold onto my loved ones.
As I speak, I breathe out the smoke I’ve inhaled
Along with the memories that the Ghost has confined to my mind,
And I set them free.
As they are freed, so am I.
And the Ghost’s weight is lessened
It is no longer so heavy, bearing me down as It sits on my shoulders
And I feel lighter,
Perhaps the Ghost will always be with me
But everyone has their own Ghosts.
Now I just look straight ahead instead of back at my own,
Because now my Ghost is no longer invisible.
I still know that It is there, and so does the Ghost,
And so do my loved ones
So that when my Ghost starts to feel heavy again
They can help bear some of the weight
And remind me
That my Ghost is not all my responsibility
So I can breathe out the smoke
As it rises up into the sky
Until it is no longer in m view
Or my life.
When the doorbell rings
At three in the morning,
It’s never good news.
Darkness, the heavy, peaceful air of nighttime.
I was supposed to be asleep,
Yet I lay restlessly in my bed.
I heard three sharp knocks on the door;
Hallow, strong, and well-practiced,
Resonating through the tiny apartment.
And, watching from around the corner of the hallway,
I already knew.
I knew from the way the police stood there,
Awkward and unhappy.
They clearly wanted to be there as much as I wanted them to.
But I also knew from the tone of their voices.
That was how I would come to describe them later.
The sort of voices people use
When they come to tell you that someone close to you
He was only 18.
My heart hurts when I remember him,
But the alternative is forgetting.
And that is the final kind of death;
When nobody tells your story anymore.
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