What it’s like to question the need for air

How does it feel to be consumed?
How does it feel to have the warmth of whatever is
wrapped around you take over every
exposed part of your being?
Next time, can it be me?
Next time, can I surround you and invade your soul?
Tell me what it’s like to feel alive in a hurricane.
When the one thing sustaining your body is trying
to kill you, what do you need in order
to combat the existential drought in your head?
Do you remember the last time you laughed for no reason?
We sat on a park bench and starred at the stars because
I thought you’d like the way I was able to shush
the night into quiet chaos, but I soon realized you were
the loudest
song in the universe, and how dare I turn you down.
I wanted to wrap you up.
Did you know you were in love with a list of fears?
How does it feel to be shocked, ice cold, at 3am? I want
to be the fire raging inside you. I want to be
the water to put you out, and I want to stand
in the puddles left behind, embracing in your embers.
Tell me how it feels to be consumed.

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What it’s like to linger in an eclipse

I took a picture of the sunset yesterday, and
it looked like poetry. That wasn’t my first
thought, though. I was tired.
The days are bleeding together, much like
the natural gradient of verdigris to amber
-the day turning to night when it grows cold.

I think I found you there, somewhere
in the middle of it all. You always seem to rise
when I need you most. When I’m searching
for a spark to ignite the darkness, you
appear with matches, strike them on the space

that inevitably exists between us. I am warm.
I am still tired, and the hues are fading
to blackness. You fear the viridian sky
will consume us, and the ocean waves
will cease their greeting to the shore. Or

is that my own scared bones rattling
in new wind? Did I mention I was tired?
A mother sings her lullabies, and I look
up to your glistening craters; your
incandescent embrace surrounds me,

and I find myself dancing in you.

What it’s like to paddle a sinking vessel

Can I call it dreaming if I believe
I stopped existing years ago?
It’s always the same one, too-
beluga whales trembling in my palms,
slipping between my fingers, back
into clear oceans. That’s when I figured
this must be a dream. I’ve never
been able to see through anything-
not even you. The staggering opaqueness
of your skin hid paper bones I wanted
to fold into tiny ships. I’d sail
all the way back to my first life.
This dream-like state is tiresome, and I’m exhausted
from treading crystal water. Your body
could take me back to the beginning;
to when I wrote ledgers beneath your flesh
and strummed chords between your lungs.
I am drowning, holding on to what little
there is left of my composure. Somewhere
a mermaid sings the song of her lover, and I
am waiting to wake up, swimming
beneath you.

What it’s like to be singled-out based on statistics

The feel of sand between my toes is like tiny cities crunching beneath my feet. I imagine the people screaming under the mass of my body, though I’ve been considered “dangerously underweight” by every doctor on the East coast. The people in these cities are crying for help, running from the giant, hiding from impending destruction, but I stomp on their homes. I always wondered why it was so windy on this beach everyday, yet I never saw any sand flying through the air-
tiny houses full of tiny people lifting from the earth.

Dunes stay grounded in piles until noisy children bury themselves in them, or move the sand to form castles, which are really just tiny countries full of tiny houses full of tiny people that I seek to destroy. I suddenly realised that the screams I heard were not beneath me, but all around me-
children in bright bathing suits running toward the waves, as if they could never be stepped on.

I envy their carelessness, their uninterrupted joy for living. Turning away, I cover my exposed skin and wander these beaches in search of new cities.

What it’s like to be a lost boy

I got up and stood out in the sunshine,
but the shadow on the pavement
was not mine. She is lost.
I’ve been searching for her, but I
don’t think she recognizes my voice
anymore. So many people think they need
someone else to save them,
to recover their shards once shattered. I thought
I needed you to save me. But you flew away
long ago, and nothing has felt the same, except for
how ardently I admire her independence.
She floats with the swiftness of 1000
freed butterflies-
maybe she doesn’t want finding. Maybe she
doesn’t need saving. My shadow, she probably laughs
at all the leaps and bounds I’ve gone to
get her back, when it was really you who were
standing behind me all along.

What it’s like to stand atop a mountain in December

Gravel is stuck in the siping

of my tires, in the crevices

of my boots.

They are too small for my wandering

feet, but they match the way my heart

beats with a caged restraint. So I zipped

them over these old jeans

I should’ve tossed years ago,

but I don’t have the nerve to dispose

of your memory. It is stitched into the

pockets where I keep you tucked

away.

I am constantly held back.

 

The elevation cuts my breathing

short- curses struggle to pass

through chapped lips, a dull

tongue. My desire to escape slips

out without question.

 

I follow; I stop.

 

I listen.

 

Wind whips between branches, and I see the foliage pull

lovers’ secrets through needles that cannot hold

on much longer.

I wait.

 

The trees appear untouched. No force

of nature could possibly reveal the loudness

a soul emits when left to rot

in silence.

What it’s like to be caught in a flurry

I am dark by nature but
being inconsolably cold is
a learned behavior, and I have
no recollection of such a
lesson. Was it you, with your
icy touch and freezing lies,
who taught me to believe in
anything transparent? Maybe
I caught on too quickly, or
was I shaking too hard to notice?
The convulsions only got
stronger and I think you were
to blame. It is much easier to
say it was you than to admit
I am a catastrophic blizzard
waiting to happen.

What it’s like to be loved by you

I’ve been running for as long as I can remember because I forgot when I started. I forgot where, too. My feet are pounding against pavement like secret code. I inhale fire. There are ashes in my lungs, and exhaling only brightens the coals. The sun rests in my throat and I long for a finish line. My ears pick up breath some distance behind me. I don’t dare turn my head, but I know it’s you- I can tell from the heaviness in your gaze. Exhaustion begins to consume me, but you’re sprinting like hell. We’re side by side now and our shoulders polarise like moon to tide. You’ve always said slow was never an option, but it wasn’t until this moment that I realised, for you, I wouldn’t mind coming in second.