Forty-Five Minutes

Forty-Five Minutes
JCD KERWIN

One, two, three a.m. and I’m staring, blinking, glaring at the ceiling like I’ve got a grudge against the shadows. Tossing and turning makes the stitch in my side itch. I have to lie straight to keep myself from screaming but I can’t dream think the right way without shoving pillows over my face.

Must refuse to move
until
the pain stops and
my heartbeats
d
r
o
p.

[Maybe if
I crush these tabs,
they’ll last a little longer,
be a little stronger;
make me
a little better at
not being me.]

The guy behind the desk says I’m supposed to believe in myself. I sink farther into the couch and wonder why upholstery’s always more plush in small rooms even though you’re never in the mood to sit still.

(I tell him I like the paintings of the Ming Dynasty Treasure Ships. They came with the office, he says. None of them ever know where the pictures come from.)

It all goes back
to my childhood:
where my family
went did wrong.

Separate yourself.
Cut yourself off
from everything
that hurts you.

He says.

Easier said
than done.

I say.

And the other guy throws pills at me, changing his mind with each visit. He can’t decide what makes
me messed up
inside.

Neither can I.

[Which is why I
line up orange bottles
in Chess lines,
like they’re pawns and I
am running from
the pugilist glove
that will crush me if
I don’t keep ahead of
the other me’s
next move.]

I am unimpressed with the depression of my facial expression. It gets quite old. But I don’t know how to climb out from puddles I rained out all alone.

He tells me plenty of people have sat where I sat, feeling hopeless, but they dug out, just like I will. I ask when that will be…

Right now I’m spelunking in the dark.

(October 2015)

Mumblestumble

Sometimes it’s hard to be me.

Mumblestumble
JCD Kerwin

The journal page reflects the white like car high beams. The bottle grins at me, beckoning that I take another sip. Just one more and you’ll go numb, it says.

Write it down. Keep a journal, he says. Breathe. Remember “the timeline.” Step back. Don’t forget your “worry time.” You’re you, remember? You’ve got to stop doubting yourself. Stop thinking everyone’s out to get you; stop judging…And whatever bullshit he’s told me this week.

I bite the pen and hope the ink runs down my throat.

These orange bottles line up like chess pieces. Their names are still a mystery to my simple tongue. I spin each bottle so I can’t see the labels. As if that somehow hides the fact I’m insane. These pawns are out to get me.

My heart pounds too hard. I’m told its panic attacks. I thought it was hip-hop, rock and roll; thought it was palpitations from the headphones over my ears. Breathe; remember to breathe, he says.

I can’t breathe in the day. I can’t breathe the same air as the people I knock shoulders with on the street. I just gasp for air like I’ve been plucked from a fishbowl. I’m drowning in humanity.

My existentialism is showing. Let me tuck in my brain.

You can catch me high on life one minute and drowning in a puddle of my own creation the next. I float up and down like a hot air balloon. The more intelligent a person, the more depressed they are, he says. I must be Neil deGrasse Tyson. Write it down.

In the middle of the night I’m alone. In the middle of the night, I stare at the wall and listen to monsters try to convince me to take the leap. I scream but it comes out silent. It’s like being trapped in a box at the bottom of the ocean. Hello to the hammerheads.

I spin a couple pill bottles. The tabs rattle and I pop the tops. Dose One should happen at dinner time….Fuck that.

(August 2015)

Numb

Comfortably Numb by JohnKyo (DeviantArt)

Numb
JCD Kerwin

It’s 9 pm in July.
I hang my arm
out the car window
so I can feel
the cold so I
can feel something
other than me—
the humanity
of me.

I keep it there
until it numbs;
the feeling spreads
deep into my heart.
I smile;
thankful for
an emotion other than
depression.

I’m sick of
never-ending
existentialism.
I wish I could
wake up and become
a robot just like them.
At least then I wouldn’t
feel pain anymore;
I’d just feel nothing
at all.

(July 2015)

George

George
JCD Kerwin

George doesn’t eat anything except Cheerios. He says the rings remind him of Infinity and how the world continues to move even when you don’t want it to. He finds the circles fascinating—they move, twirling in his milk, getting older and soggier just like the earth. The twirling of the earth will continue long after George is gone. Does anyone care that it will not stop—even briefly—when they cease to be?

George’s mother said, once, that if you believe in God you will go to Heaven. George went to his uncle’s funeral. His uncle was in a box. In the dirt. He hadn’t gone anywhere, George thought. Did she mean that Heaven was in the ground? He did not know.

George likes going to the park to feed the birds and watch the children on the swings. One day, someone called police officers. Now he is not allowed to watch the children. He only thought it was amazing they could swing so high. He could never swing so high. George thought maybe he could pick up some pointers. But now he isn’t allowed to watch them. So now he has no idea how to swing high enough to reach the stars. That’s all George wants to do.

There are plastic replicas of the solar system sticky-tacked to his ceiling. They glow a long time when George keeps the lights on before he goes to sleep. George does not sleep well. He dreams of giant bugs chasing him. Sometimes they catch him and eat his limbs. He does not like the dream. He does not know what it means.

George’s mother takes him to see a man every Tuesday. He is a nice man, but asks too many questions. He is as old as his mother. George wonders if they are dating.

One day George’s mother does not wake to give him his Cheerios. He called his doctor. An ambulance came. George’s house was full of many people for the next few days. Some of them were unfamiliar faces. They buried George’s mother on a Friday in the rain. George wondered if she was in Heaven with his uncle.

They sent George to a special apartment building, full of people like him, his doctor said. He likes to sit by the window and watch the ducks in the pond. He likes that he can see the stars from his bedroom window. He doesn’t need the sticky-tacked plastic replicas anymore. He wonders if his mother was wrong; maybe that is Heaven instead.

He dreams about flying on insects now. They carry him away to Mars.

June 2015

Brown Eyes

Brown Eyes
JCD Kerwin

With three heartbeats
I can do more damage
than with one.
It’s more fun
to break these parts
over again
and rid them of pain,
of loss,
desolation
and regret three times
more than
before.
Three heartbeats
could be amazing but
for me
they only reflect
three times the pain
of living three times as long
as maybe I should have.

June 2015