The Poem I Wrote When I Couldn’t Write

Poison White

when your mind decides to quit,

it shudders and shrieks as the padlock clicks closed,

binding shut the safe where precious words are held.


you can reach for a pair of headphones to disrupt the white noise,

like you did,

like you always do–

but when melody strikes, the lyrics crash down

                                                                  onto your lungs,

                                                            into your memory,

they’re threaded within each breath you take

until every word you could possibly use to wrap the white noise in chains becomes

           a cheap copy of some other artist’s words.


the block,

the gap,

the box

            is empty.


and they hurt–

the forgotten words that get stuck in your throat–

oh, how you wish that something


would crawl free of this white paper,         

                                                  of these white noise cuffs,

and stain your page


not because you feel the need to write melodramatic poetry,

                                                                       (though what else have you ever written?)

but because for some screwed up reason,

you think that words on paper or

                       lines drawn across some strangers’ lips

                           touch deeper into your core than the thoughts inside your head

because what are thoughts if not slivers of mind-bound babble

poison to the thinker,

cure-all to the reader.


they argue back and forth, the belladonna letters,

’til they decide on a single word to grind into your bones


and suddenly you’re driving down Main Street on a Sunday evening and everything you pass is branded red.

                                                             red, regretting the words you never wrote

                                                            and the ones you always said.

red because yesterday at 3:00 AM you sat up straight

and watched a phrase dance across your palm,

                                                               but you surrendered to sleep

and now its gone.


                      you have yet to figure out a way to punish sleep.


though then again,

to build yourself a reputation,

                          on language’s back,

by God, you must be a fool,

for anyone sane must know that language fails and words are bastards

who run away to cheat

                                          and kill

                                         and mame

                                         and burn

until it is not they who have been torn apart and laid to rest on paper,

                                                              it’s you.

not within the words themselves,

but spread               between                    the               lines

in the empty spaces where language will not lie.

                                                                               there it is.

                                                                                your failure.



and poison white.

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