Old Hands
Photo by João Jesus

Is it my fault
my best days are gone?
That I strive more fruitlessly
with every effort?
I wasn’t enough.
I guess I could have been,
if I wasn’t so busy
pretending I was good
at pretending.

I know you knew —
since I’m making admissions —
knew I had more
to give.
Did you know I knew
I held on to things you wanted.
You called them my gifts.
I know I’m supposed to be sorry,
but I can’t feel anything about that
There were “gifts” no one would receive,
which came first —
the questions:
“What are we celebrating?”
“Do I have to?”

Life is hard,
I have learned.
And I am soft.
Or just exhausted.
I have found my limit.
And even if I defined it for myself,
I learned where to draw the lines
from you.
Did I misunderstand something?
Probably, I suppose.
Inevitable, with so many questions
unanswered… unasked.
It kills me,

but softly.
It kills us, really
like long drags on short breaks
not wanting to rush,
tip us off,
like frogs in the pot.
Nothing to get excited about
But the heat is on,
and rising,
like we’ll learn to deal with it,
like it’s just a phase
and can’t keep going forever…


“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”

— Audre Lorde, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”

It’s tight
in my gut like I swallowed
something whole and
have been holding it intestinally,
unable to will myself
to let go. This grip has
grown strong over long years
of winding my way
of being around
and around it — a string
of silences balled up,
filling my belly with empty

There is no ignorance
sufficient to escape
the elephant
I fear, who walks within me.
Obvious and unstated,
pressing me out into oblivion,
it goes its own lumbering way,
without saying
so much as,
“So what?” Immune to challenge,
my deep-seated diplomat
the river of my life,
drinks its weight,
as I wait
for my fear of elephants
to dissipate.

I am mourning
the words I searched my soul for
in vigilant silence,
which were found
too heavy
for a world so
unbearably light.
They would fail
me and fall
flat, as
their gravity requires.
Who would risk being
crushed to catch their meaning?
Will my writings paper
the walls behind the dancing lights,
the blue-haze
graffiti we graze upon,
blindly chewing cud
over water coolers and
what dinner tables have
survived into
this new age of reality
to advise our communal ruminations
and measure us
into herds until
there is only one?
Don’t you
get it? There is
an elephant
wading in and damming
the river of life
that would flow out
of me,
but doesn’t