You could call it a case study

Getting above me

I am a college graduate. I am a college graduate. I am a college graduate. I have to say it over and over to remind myself of something that hardly seems real.  I feel silly, sitting dizzy in the surreality of something that should be so simply real, but instead I am simply reeling and there’s nothing for it.  College was not just an education, it was a radically life-changing experience in which I destroyed and deconstructed my self; in which I became, for the first time, my own.  It was the reason I lived despite my ravenous desire to die, and the first place I called home and truly meant it. I found a family here, and a place in a community. I met people who loved and cared for me beyond any reason I could discern, and their absurd love has moved me to love some parts of myself, too.  College was the only stable thing to which I could cling when  I learned what it really meant to have a broken family. It was my vice- my point of focus when I had to turn away from myself — turn away or be consumed.  And now, having graduated, I float in the purgatory between debt and the hypothetical holy grail: grad school. I am filling my time the way I did in school: jam-packed to keep me occupied; to keep me ok. But it’s not the same. I am forced to sit face to face with me because four jobs and a girlfriend and roommate and friends and a little business on the side still aren’t enough. I don’t have the pressure or the drive or the sense of purpose that propelled me through school. Some days I wake up at the bottom of the ocean. I am heavy and cold and far away. It is physically difficult to move, and the sensation of sinking pulls me down; Low days on which doing the things I have to do to get by isn’t enough to keep me swimming the way school was. In school, I was doing the things I wanted to do to get by. I was willing to sacrifice anything (including my health, both mental and physical) to keep learning and creating and accomplishing every goal I set, or had set for me. And now,  I want to be mentally and physically healthy, and happy, and driven and productive and peaceful, etc. etc. I WANT to want to. But how do I transcend myself? The same self that avoided myself so easily by charging through to a goal it can no longer look towards. My fear is that I cannot. Or that I must go under and then over, but that I do not have the strength to endure the depths to which I will be required to go. I fear that my fear is stronger than my will. Or that I will to be destroyed by me. There are other days too, though, that make me feel like a powerhouse; days that I conquer my self and my to do list and I feel driven and productive. I start projects, and have big ideas, and the future is aflame with my bright expectations. But then that day gives way to the days in which the only thing that burns bright is my own destructive flame–I eat away at myself, still.  I have  been hopeful, but now I suffer moments of irrational hopelessness several times a day. Now, on the cusp of what I’m constantly being assured is going to be a bright future, I have less certainty and hope for the future than I ever have. I’m afraid I’m going to fuck this up for me.



If I am a honey bee,

I am a honeybee

with a hollowed out heart,

where I keep everything that stings.

I fly heavy in fear of myself and

in fear of the people I don’t want to sting.

Then you pour in,

singing honeybee honeybee,

soothing the stinging,

and I want to make room.

in my honeycomb heart–

like your honey comb bones–

and finally have a sweet place

to call home

(inside myself and with you)

But the average honeybee

only produces 1/12th a teaspoon of honey

in her lifetime.

I want to give you all of mine–

and be full too–

but it takes a lot of sweet

to occupy the space of this sting

and I am only one bee.

and I am filled with empty spaces.

smoke stack resurrection

I love the smell of cigarettes before they’re lit,



and dry.

smell of smoke that

clings and lingers

on fingers,

in clothes,

smell of smoke.

old leather.


smell of smoke with coffee and grilled cheese.

I flash back three times daily to smoke-yellowed walls

I call home, though not my own.

more than once I’ve mistaken a smoke break stranger for someone who loves me.

you always told me

“never smoke.”

I never thought I’d be the type.

eight years is far away though

and now,

even your bad habits

make me feel close.

at the beach

I am confounded by grief –

an ocean infinity pressed into earth

unfathomably deep –

grief that squeezes as you sink

by grief that grows like trees–

stretching out and taking hold

more vast beneath than what is seen.

I wouldn’t belief such grief,

but I’ve known people living

in deep see trenches,



people living in redwood forests of grief,

great bell jar divers,

stay alive-ers.

brave arbor day saints who refuse to fell their trees.

standing here in disbelief,

between forests and the sea,

I ask –

how do you do it?

how can you still breathe?

I grow wiser,

watered by grief,

knowing mine is just a drop.

still a seed.

Infinity Grief

I’ve been reading a book about a mother whose husband and two (out of three) teenage children were murdered. After reading a few chapters this morning, I was so stricken with sadness and disbelief at the incomprehensible grief that exists, I’ve felt sick all day. How can such immeasurable pain and grief be?

How do they survive?

People so racked with hurt and wrapped in their own grieving? I feel so intensely at the mere thought of it. If my own pain, so minute by comparison, hurts this much, aches this hard, consumes this overwhelmingly; how much more hurt there must be still left to feel.

It terrifies me. I’m terrified in anticipation of how much more I’ll feel because I don’t know if I have the capacity to do it. To get through.

On the one hand, I have all the words I need to tell me how foolish and pessimistic and near-sighted this is. On the other, I feel so uncontrollably sometimes. I’m on this precipice, standing on the edge. Balance is difficult. Tense. It’s anxious and exhausting and it’s terrifying because I know it would be so easy to let go. To agree with my gravity and quit trying to balance. I’m afraid that this is what I’ll choose. Or that eventually, there is no choosing– just a delaying of the inevitable. And I’m afraid these are all just excuses. That I’m rationalizing my own lame, ordinary laziness. Is that what this is?

How do I turn it off? Or switch the right thing on?

Every other fucking day I have some revelation and feel better and think, ‘Okay, I can do this.’ And the very next day, something, anything, happens and I spiral. Whatever revelatory progress I thought I’d made has proven to be a chimera – what is real?

Which, if any, of my thoughts or feelings can I trust and take to be valid? I feel discouraged.

But in moments, I feel fucking joyful. Buoyant, even. These highs are so high it’s practically irrational, and then the low, low low lows. The lows are in moments too, but while the good moments just snap shut all of a sudden, giving way to polarized negatives; the lows have an afterglow. A fuzzy haze that makes bad moods muddy pits: even after I climb out (if I climb out) I’m still covered in it. Hard to shake off. Hard to wash out- it stains. Is this true?

Am I allowed to call this reality? Or am I transforming feelings with much simpler explanations simply because it’s somehow preferable? I can’t trust myself to analyze or interpret anything. It’s endlessly tangential, tedious, overwhelming. Weather it’s real or it’s contrived, I fear this thing about me. Where has that fear been growing?

Acid, Isolation, and the Other

An 18-year-old boy (a friend of a friend) sells me drugs sometimes. He needs the money for rent, and I need the drugs for doing drugs. Boy tells me he has acid. I buy five hits and find myself in the warm corner of my room with five friends, ready to trip. I will do mostly anything, regardless of who else will do it with me, so I tuck my share under my tongue and offer it to all. Three of us tuck treasures under our tongues and wait.

As we wait, I am reminded again, that I am the most experienced, the most careless, ‘daring’… that I am on edge and that, for me, this is not recreation. It is desperation, longing, hungry spirit. The people I’m with might as well be water skiing. And though I never forget my position standing alone, it confronts me with great insistence when I am with other people, and even greater when I am with them doing drugs. And I don’t like to feel so foreign, so abstract. I take two more hits under my tongue and hope that I’ll find something to feel at one with.

But I find myself again in a well familiar state– that of being the most fucked up. This condition doesn’t bother me so much, but it had a special quality on acid (and with psychedelics in general, I have found). My foreignness, the great rift between myself and others, grows. And I see myself so separate, unreachable, and unable to reach out. I want to be alone, but I am kind of terrified, too.

My friend stays sober and sits beside me and I she feels so living. She is warm and I want contact. any contact. But I see her different now, too. She is so different than me but still I don’t want her to leave. I want shared space because without her in it, it feels more empty. I don’t understand this either, even sober.

We go to the garden where the trees greet me because they are so incredibly alive. The plants and the dirt and even the rocks are simple and right and my place with them requires no invitation or even analysis. I sit with earth and I am nature. I am this garden and my self, too. My body doesn’t exist to me, because it’s no matter. I am grounded and so gone, and for what seems like both eternity and a millisecond, I get to BE. There is so much joy. Every step–bare feet on stone and grass and dirt–feels incredible and good good good. I feel my own skin and it is good. I see a slug and watch its tiny form ebb and flow and heave with breath and it is not just anything. It is perfect and miraculous and it is so. fucking. alive. Everything exists perfectly. I don’t hate to be me.

But there are other people, too. Why aren’t they smiling too? Why do they speak? Why do they seem impatient? What are they expecting of me? Don’t they want to be plants too? I am not in the same place with them. I turn to the garden for refuge and comfort from the fear of otherness with these people. What am I with them? What is my relation to others? They are so other to me. I never want to leave, I never want to disturb this peace. But they want to go inside. Inside my house. They demand my permission. I am chaperone. I want them to simply do as they please and allow that for me. I think I just want them to feel with me the same things.

This is impossible and it saddens me. The presence of others becomes so heavy. When two of five people leave, my whole self feels the relief. Proximity to others is charged and uncertain, and I question myself in ways the plants would never ask me to.

But I muster intentionality of thought and render their presence positive and put on nice music and good smells and it is warm inside and soft and different and it’s ok for a minute. I lock myself in the bathroom and tentatively approach myself in the mirror. And I recognize myself in a way I never have. My eyes and the contours of my face, the feel of my skin and the way my hands look, the texture of my lips and my hair: I AM human. I am creature and being and worthy to be by nature of just being. I want to cry at this revelation, and I want to share it with someone. I wonder if they know they’re human too. I have felt so unreal, so abstract. But I am the living that plants do, the growth of trees, the softness of flesh and vulnerability of creatures. Not object, not so much other. But I go again to see my friends upstairs and they are still so far away. I feel nervous and uncertain- how to approach them? How to be? Why can’t I be creatures with them? I tell him, “I am human.” And he dismisses me. They seem to share existence on a plane I cannot reach. Where are they in relation to me?

And here begins the fear. The fear of the others, and of myself. And of nothing in particular. I am gripped by uncertainty and unnamed desire. I stand frozen and don’t know. don’t know. don’t know. I feel incredibly alone. I make a cave under covers and I want to feel safe. Primal fear, deep and unreasoned, grips me in waves and I shudder and flinch and terror and exhaustion are filling me. I am alone in this vacuum. He crawls into bed beside me and human warmth feels reassuring and he becomes a human anchor, head holding down my arms and my pillow, and I am grateful simply for the humanness of the other, and he grips me too and makes me feel less inconsequential, but he sleeps, lightyears away. There will be no sleep. Only panic at sunrise, at so much to do, at so little time, at still tripping into the next day. But it is a cool, blue morning. A sunday with squirrels playing and shaking leaves and warm sunbeams on the porch swing and I want to feel the comfort of this desperately.

But I have to move, and I have to leave, lest someone encounter me. I am terrified of people. I go to my studio and try to work, try to read, but fear is still all over me. As I am coming down, I have never felt so far away from other people. I go low, and low, and low. Go to work, read for philosophy, read for psychology, drink coffee, proceed from a distance incredibly far away. Muscle relaxers and weed, sleep dead until next day, and still I fear people. But it fades slowly, and I talk to my friends and they were happy, they weren’t mad I left them alone in my house, and they didn’t have any negative experiences at all. This comforts me. But my day is difficult and tearful, and I struggle. It fades but I remember it with the same intensity. How can I reconcile all these feelings? What did acid show me?

Today was a good day

Today, was a good day. Wake up early, enjoy the comfort of routine, coffee, off to work, work hard, fee useful, feel tired in a good way. Time to go home.

Time to go home.

To home, where I am idol.
I am empty. I am pressed to DO and GO.

But I am anxious, I am restless, I am irritable.

So I am taking five shots in quick succession, and I am smoking a great deal of weed in record time to kill the pain of stomach ulcers from the booze and all the puking. I am belligerent to be fucked up. I am insistent that I may not be me, please,



Whatever I can do to alter, I grope at– desperate. voracious.

I cut deep four times and float downstairs to boil noodles, enjoy the hot hot HOT, eat greedy and dig the burn of bubbles– cold diet coke, drink QUICK.

Float, and long for pills. float and think of floating further.

what is this thing in me? this deep and endless longing thing?

what the fuck do I want? what do I need?

What do I need when I snort adderall to get going, snort painkillers to slow down, snort anything to be OUT.

what is this longing empty greedy thing?

I’m running out of drugs and money

and I can’t decide whether or not I want this to be me.

the doubt is what’s scary.

Rock Collector

I carry lake-shore stones in my heart

because sometimes I get so full up with the wonder of every day,

I swear I can feel my feet begin floating

and I’ll do anything but stay.


there are other times too,

I am so profoundly filled with


I grow certain I’d never existed in the first place.


so I’m sure riverbeds can spare their stones,

whose clacking promises to ground me

either way,

and sing me songs

that even with a heavy heart,

I’ll be ok.

Bless the life-lovers. I’ll stay.

bless the star-gazing porch-sitters,


and leaf-collecters–

the life-is-beautiful-singing squirrel-watchers

with patience in their lungs,

who teach to breathe-better the air of rain:

smell of outside and slate.


thank the gentle breeze-voice singers,

the bend-backward kind speakers

with spines like flower chains.


praise to the spider-sparing life-lovers

with fire-flicker hearts

who remind me what I’d miss

if I ever looked away.


They are the flower-growing plant mothers

who delight in all things daily,

smile-making mountain-lovers

with joy in all they say.


camping under my full-moon heart,

backstroking in my sunny-day-veins,

in every t00-loud laugh and rain dance

they remind me–


Please stay.


on being seen

I wonder why I don’t need to speak english

to the bugs that love me,

because other people seem confounded

even when I’m speaking clearly.

and why the trees stand firm and understand

in the spaces where the sky listens through the leaves

but other people seem overwhelmed

in the white water rush of my iniquities.

spiders bite but stick around

and let me be–

so long as I’m still enough,

they build me in the web they weave.

The sky changes, but never the subject.

the ocean shares me in its reflection,

and even on cloudy nights,

when the moon takes leave,

the lightning bugs fly close

and insist I be seen.