retrace: a poem in 5 parts



last night, in 2012, it was raining and you were outside, 

this morning, 11am 12pm 1pm morning, you sit at the window eyes diverted and try to remember 

when the weather would weather your skin and pierce to whatever 

sits beneath, when the rain would hit the muscle only anymore reachable 

by your testosterone needles, every friday, today friday, yesterday morning friday but 

last night always something else. 

when you read the great gatsby and rode carraway’s boats to the past you felt that you were slipping: 

high school linoleum dysphoria blue light and different smells, always the different smells, 

trying to remember the summers that you slept outside or the days where you could just 

do nothing but read. 


past unreachable, that wet-rag-nausea of the realization that we make our own currents and 

every defiance is a new submission and we have never or always been different and 

not so much broken as wrought in pieces that were never meant to fit together 

in the first place. 




stasis, they say breathe, they say mindful, they say present, and is there not 

contradiction to the simple fact that you have never lived in the present since the past? 

where did you go wrong, and if not where then when, and if not when then for what? 

have you been divinely fucked over on a fourth dimension? a fifth? 


like everyone else, you often feel that every spore of life is a further facet of yourself, 

that you are alone in the very small universe and you are the universe and when you close your eyes 

everything else ends, too. 

you get bogged down in your own language, in verb tenses, 

in wishing the past perfect was something real — tangible, or appropriately intangible, 

or at least something, 

something at all.  




in search of something,

you find your way back to one of those places where you spent stray hours as a child, 

and though it smells the same, you find that

the painted walls have lost their allure. 


it’s the control. the control that 

you wield, and that which 

you don’t. 

no parents to give you rides now: 

you decide when to leave, and more importantly

when to stay, and most importantly

who to be. 


you crouch, try to approximate your eye level ten years ago, but it’s no good: 

despite your shift in angle, the colors of the walls 

still breathe differently. 




as a child, you realize, 

you were a ghost. 

your body, genderless, 

was small as a shadow, 

and you could go anywhere. 

when a room was locked, 

you could still go there if 

you closed your eyes. 

where you are now, 

where you have always been, 

is a strange inversion of hades: 

the more you forget, the more solid you let yourself become. 

now, you have forgotten how to fly. 

now, your skill is impermeable: 

you cannot open a book 

and dissolve into it. 




you are trapped and viscous, and sometimes you try 

to cut yourself out of your skin, 

and it helps 

for just a moment. 


you are suffused with wretched gravity, 

and you smoke to feel lighter, 

and it helps 

for just a moment. 


you try to hold these moments in your hands, 

but find yourself in the future again. 

still scratched-up, 

still coughing, 

lost as ever, 

but no longer sure 

where and when and if 

you ever started. 

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