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)