“Sickness will surely take the mind
Where minds can’t usually go
Come on the amazing journey
And learn all you should know”
– The Who, “Amazing Journey”

Today I am an empty vial
and all I can do is soak in this tub,
stewing in vetiver
and contemplating a fortress of tiles.

The world with all its complicated plumbing
grinds my core
and scatters all my pigeons
in a thousand directions.

How do people do the things they do?
How do they build and stack their plans?
Their blueprints dazzle me.
I’ve lost the key.

The ornaments of adulthood
were expensive. I saved up for them
with my allowance. Learned everything
way past acceptable deadlines.

Now they’re all falling off my tree at
once and glitter bombing the carpet;
and the shards cut my feet
so I’ve started walking on tiptoe
as the walls of life contract
around me.

I draw my arms against my body,
afraid of knocking over vases.
There’s no room in this room.
My senses close in on me
compact as a robin’s egg.

There’s not enough coins in the fountain
today to buy more breaths.
Every move is rationed
and I sneak inspiration on the black market.

I soak in magnesium brine
and dream long, stolen dreams.
Frost-green walls
and subway tiles loom tall above me.
I designed this house. I did it to prove
I was worthy—
of a home:
a table, an invitation.
Something reserved for others.
It nearly killed me.
Two years later, it slumps
under boxes and empty walls.

I’ve reached too high. Got caught in a tree.

I need rest;
a chain of warm hands
to pass me along until I reach a nest.
I’m incubating arms and wings,
and this space is too constrained
to contain anyone’s disappointment.

The imperative to worry
about the cups in the sink or the color of my teeth
strips the paint off my soul.
I know I’m broken.
Just hold me.

I tarnish in the oxygen of expectations.
My world’s gone miniature,
a sugar Easter egg full of delicate things
requiring curiosity and initiative
and a tiny candle to find the porthole.
This is a dark place with no eyes
and no mouth.
Only stillness can live here.
Only whispers reach inside.

I don’t know how tiles are made
or how to measure the stars.
I can’t even find warm socks today
amid the ziggurats of laundry
piling up by the stairs.

I’m the coughing ash of yesterday’s bonfire,
a burnt pudding with too many ingredients.

I’m a tricycle with a rocket engine,
zooming past the obvious
and crashing into things.

I’m a broken harp.
Don’t be deceived by the gilding.
I’ve learned to play kinky music
on what’s left of my heartstrings.

© Psyche Marks 2017

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