“When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn’t make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. “It’s all right” we whisper, “I’m here, I love you.” and we lie: “I’ll never leave you.” For just a moment or two the darkness doesn’t seem so bad.”
“All the poets that you love listening to
love lying to you.
I’m not that egocentric to make you believe that I’m not one of them.
I lie all the time,
mostly up here.
See, I’ve been doing this for a little while
and I’m starting to understand things:
poetry is not about telling you the truth.
It’s about telling you the version of a story
that gets the most reaction,
the one that flows the best on the mic,
the one that has all the lines
that the audience is going to like.
See, maybe the truth
isn’t supposed to rhyme so well.
Maybe it doesn’t have to rise to a crescendo.
never sounded like sound bites
and name dropping.
I promised myself I wouldn’t write poems about poetry,
but I woke up at 3 AM the other morning
and started spitting out all these lies that I couldn’t roll off my tongue
and thought that maybe at this hour
I could write a poem about honesty
without having to choreograph the hook at the end.
I woke up at 3 AM
and I’m having trouble remembering how to spell the word “wouldn’t”.
Four years ago, I featured at a youth slam in Jersey City,
and tried to show some children how poetry is supposed to sound cool.
Jessica sat in the front row
thinking I could teach her about spoken word.
I lied to her, in metaphor, for a half hour
only to hear the silence of a fifth grade explosion;
Jessica explained it to her thirteen year old peers
how rough her father’s beard stubble felt when her was drinking
and how a foster family is just a fresh coat of paint over stucco
when you’ve been running against the wall.
She didn’t actually say all this.
Not like I can.
But I could hear the inhalation of truth
in between breaths of her poetry.
Her name is not really Jessica.
I don’t remember what it is.
But for a moment, I can make you care about her,
even if she’s not real.
Don’t ask me.
You wouldn’t know the difference anyway.
I don’t write poems about honesty.
I’ve written three poems this year to make me sound cute to girls,
but not one about the medication that I’m taking
because there are some things
that I don’t fucking talk about.
Why am I 33 years old and still trying to sound cute to girls?
A couple weeks ago,
two friends asked me how my roommate is doing.
I use the word “roommate”
instead of referring to her as the girl I’m afraid of falling in love with
because she is the most beautiful overturned school bus that I have ever seen
and I slow down sometimes to watch the trauma.
And because she knows me.
Like how she knows that I look in the mirror too much,
and I always eat the last peanut butter cup,
and I fuck girls with my poems,
and use the word “roommate” too loosely.
And the poet in me
should’ve told them she’s doing just fine,
but I hadn’t memorized all the lines yet.
My best friend is not doing fine,
and I can’t fix it.
The students in my class
like me because I say the word “bullshit” during my lectures
and let them out early.
They don’t see that fear has me losing focus on the bullet points
when I’m thinking about how many slit wrists I’ll return home to tonight.
My roommate’s not suicidal
But it sounds sexier than saying
that she closes her eyes sometimes
when she’s changing lanes.
Because it keeps me driving to work
instead of holding her all night and crying.
I need somebody to talk to
but poetry helps you meet people who want to fuck poets.
Who do you talk to when your best friend is biting off her cuticles,
while other girls are sharpening their nails?
I need to go to bed now.
I’m sorry I lied.
I’ll write the rest of this poem tomorrow,
when I can differentiate what’s none of your fucking business
and write poems with hooks that rhyme.
It doesn’t matter what you believe.
I’m tired of being the strong one all the time.”