red has no regrets

red has no regrets:
suicide is weight-less.

the mess of grief captured
else-where where color is not.

in this giant living collage, the
collective blood pasted together

makes me appreciate
my own need:

slowed down
into stills.

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we are all connected (or, the softer side of obsession)

for tjr: today and every day


it happened while i wasn’t looking;
it happened while i was in pretty deep—

trying to climb up and out from that steep
dark that meets me even in my sleep.

but this time, you. you were there, too,
saying, yeah, i feel it; it’s true

but, it will pass. hold on, like the last time;
hold on, and it will lose its power,

and you will
rise.

it means every thing to have another
being there to say – i’m here

and not
much else.

it means every thing to have
a hand reaching out, an ear opening,

a heart-mind waiting to
wrap itself around you.

even across the creeping
light-years, miles, blues, trials:

we        are        all        connected
and that has made all the difference.



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Painting of Tommy Joe Ratliff by Olivia Santiago

alive & well

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i’m still here,
kicking around,

holding up this
sign of life:

head just above
the black-water.

the anger is the
edge of a red knife

held just below the
surface: aching

tension pulled taut
across too many hurts.

i need the momentum to
shove me into the next day.

is there any other way?

when the doctor asks,
how do you feel on a scale of 1 to 10

i ask, does anyone
ever say 10?

i don’t know what
that would feel like.

it would seem almost obscene.

i don’t know if it’s the inability to feel
happiness, or the fear of

fully feeling it, or the panic
at feeling it and then losing it.

there are moments;
tiny pockets of time

in which i revel, marvel,
spin, float, feel high.

i try to sustain, but they
pass: like seasons,

like heartbeats, like hot-air
balloons taking off without me;

like the many mutable things

i’ve learned to appreciate but
not count on.

i watch for their arrival again
over the horizon, like waiting

for morning to come, to
rescue me from the voices:

dark with teeth like
exclamation marks.

if i can just make it to day-break.

then i crash, unable to face the
sharp light, but still here; still breathing.

i’ve even fallen a little bit in love
with my melancholy; with this collar:

it’s what i know, it’s what i’m comfort-
able with—until i’m not.

it’s why i don’t trust people who are always
smiling; the thick fake lacquer over the face.

friends stop coming around,
stop calling. it’s contagious,

this dread. it travels well
despite its heaviness. it

permeates—
deep and wide.

i try to contain, but the
implosions.

when i can speak, create, connect,
let the shards out in bits into a

willing receiver, i can
breathe again, for a span;

when i can feel a purpose beyond all
this sleeping, waking, dreading, falling.

why this shell? why the merger
of this shell and this soul?

what is this duo supposed to do?
in this world? in this moment?

to be both alive & well,
in this world, in this moment,

is the most i can ask for;
is a gift.

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these words are alive

every thing is light
with dark ness
threaded
through:

a liquid gallop,
a brightening of bees,
a lullaby brushing through hair,
a slow-motion shape shifting of bottles in trees.

know your own
loch ness—
its flywheel,
its dread loop;

let it take you down on
your knees into the black-
est blue,
let it turn you,

just for a time,
just for a trip:
to traverse those
shadow field cliffs.

keep feeding it,
that deep flip in the chest,
that steep heart dip between
the legs.

—then— wrest your
self free from
its enchantment, its
encaustic grip.

drop that shit
and run
for the hills,
run for your life.

every one is listening

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wrap your self in

your own narrative,



in your own sweet & terrible

story that only you can



weave. others will try

to tell it for you:



you must shut them

up with your own



glory. do not be afraid

of the way you shimmer



& shine when you climb

to the top of that finite hill.



you worked so hard to

get up & out of the valley.



you were the only one there

to see the true darkness;



the hurt;

the despair.



others tried to care

but could not enter.



when you came out

you were a new being,



wearing

survival.



at times you still feel like a fraud,

like an imposter in this world,



like you are trying to win a

race you have already won.



the real frauds are the ones

trying to take your voice.



stand tall on the sun-soaked

cliff and tell your story—all



of it—even if no one is

listening.



and,

every one is listening.




Art by Olivia Santiago


First line and some concepts shared by Barbara McNamee Moody

addictions are all equal: four corners & nowhere to go

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the moon used to wake her, stir her into words,
into other worlds, for a brief hallowed glimpse.

ever since the crisis she’s begun to lose memories,
moments, milestones sucked away under the bridge;

the eclectic shock seeping into the ridges of her mind,
numbing loves, surviving madness, stealing time.

she’s just a breath away from the mine, the ledge, the
lightning cell, the need to fall hard & fast down the well.

holding on for life

they call these stretches

episodes,

as if they only last a brief spell,

and wrap themselves up tight

at a definitive end:

into a meaningful

conclusion.

 

really it’s just hell getting through

each hour,

and then,

more confusion.

and you really don’t want any one watching.

but often you need some one watching

to help pull you out the other side.

 

believing that coordinates can lead you

to the center

of the universe

is saying you know the way to the edges,

to the end of the world.

there is no end; therefore, there is no center.

it’s just spinning and falling and flying and holding on for life.