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  1. Not always. Sometimes, it hits me everywhere except inside my head: light in my eyes, ice in my veins, vines around my lungs. There’s a percussion in the hollow of my rib cage where my heart should be. I hold on to its rhythm; it’s the only thing I hear because my head is not loud. My head is quiet. My mind is under lockdown as my senses riot. The reason you think it’s only in my head is because you don’t look hard enough.
  2. But you’re right; sometimes it is just in my head. And sometimes it is all that’s there, gathering in a crowd; there wasn’t room for other thoughts. I often look back to the battles I’ve fought and everything seems so silly in hindsight, how when faced with an enemy out of sight I nearly always picked flight instead of fight. This is not the movies where wars are fought with weapons. Sharp objects and poisons are means to escape and victory comes in the shape of a shuddered breath at the end as I walk away and let another day happen.
  3. 3 comes before 1 or 2, when I am functional enough to not betray the murmurs simmering underneath, the turbulent undercurrent that may anytime become a torrent, but not now, not yet. Today, it is content to be distant whispers pointing out fissures in my life and somehow it is both easier and harder to bear, because it is not loud enough to snare me in its net but it is also more difficult to forget when its presence is such a constant. I no longer remember what my conscience looks like without the white noise of doubt and discontent lying dormant. In the best of days, I laugh and I smile, knowing all the while that this, too, shall pass.
  4. Maybe the reason why you can be so careless, so callous, is because you’re so secure in your own mind palace that you can’t see that some of us just can’t find solace. What you don’t understand is that it doesn’t matter that they say ‘mind over matter’ because mind is matter. We are all the products of our bodies. Electricity and chemistry are the strings that tug at our flesh and blood limbs, and sometimes the strings get tangled up, and sometimes the strings just snap.
  5. Well then, if four-fifths of this poem can’t convince you still, maybe someone else will. Maybe Dumbledore will, as he said in 1998, “Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

Written for the 2016 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival Poetry Slam

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