Observational Therapy

“It’s a hip place, I guess?

I should have worn hipper clothes.

That’s the trouble when your wife dresses you!”

This is what the English Lit professor says to the guy behind him

who I can tell he imagines is judging him thoroughly for his attire—his words are, “I’m kind of a square.”

I know he’s an English Lit professor because he’s said it loud enough for homeless in NOHO to take note.

“You got your style and I got mine,” says the guy in leather boots, leather jacket, torn jeans, and stringy jet black hair, clearly perturbed.

I don’t want to notice any of this but I do.

Nor do I want to pay attention to the overly dramatic yet cynically pretentious English Lit professor’s attempt to make small talk with the regulars—but I do.

He points out all the quirky nuances that make this place great,

like the hand scribbled signs, one that tells you To Take Phone Calls Outside! And another that states This Is Not Studio City!

He gets a real kick out of those while he fakes making a phone call.

I can’t blame him though, he probably doesn’t get out much.

Eventually the English Lit professor gets his oat milk latte and goes.

The guy in leather does the same, only looks a little more defeated than when he entered.

It’s then this overly polite weirdo-nerd asks me for my seat so he can plug his computer in to charge while he does everything but do work on said computer.

I know this because after I say no, a chair opens up next to me and he does just that.

Except when I tell him no, he turns confused, and I feel like an asshole.

It’s then I realize I’m supposed to ignore my surroundings and get back to my book like everyone else seems to be doing—

page 38’s a doozy.

The boy doesn’t want to tell his father his step-mother raped his recently deceased brother—but he does.

We bring it on ourselves, I guess.

Judgement, I mean.

That’s the problem with cynical, shamelessly self-involved squares—

we can smell our own.

I just consider it observational therapy.

A Very Mean Spirit (I Let Breathe)

There’s a very mean spirit

buried just beneath the surface,

clawing to be let out, aching to be set free.

He shares my name.

He wears my face.

His voice is mine but far more hoarse.

He comes out on occasion

though only uninvited,

like storm clouds on a sunny day.

There’s a very mean spirit

whom I know better than myself,

who’s skin crawls too

with memories made of me.

His laughter’s contagious.

His effort’s sincere.

The longer walks I take alone,

the easier it is to hear.

And I hate that cackling laughter.

The one I make when I forget.

It’s the one that helps me tell the difference

between his presence and my own.

It’s the reason why I’m jumpy.

And the reason why sudden noises bother me.

His ghost hangs like a bloody cross

dripping on my head

who taunts me when I’m happy,

tickling at my skin,

with all the things I never said.

There’s a very mean spirit

who lies to me, who is me.

We created one another

and his burden is my own.

I don’t dare set him free.

I know better than that now.

And I’ve learned just how to listen.

His cry is golden as the sun

that dips beneath the lakeside

and warms my evening eyes

with rain as sweet as summer.

His cry is mine and mine is his,

but I don’t bury him anymore—

in fact, I let him breathe.

I let him breathe and breathe regardless.

Let The Dog Run Free

Now comes the time of alternate opinions,

alternate thoughts and alternate feelings.

The kind you don’t dare say out loud.

I wonder how much pain it’ll take to stop?

I wonder how much love is too much?

I wonder how many nights are lost because—

When biting your nails to the bone seems useless

then what else is there, really but to stop.

Or else keep biting, bone can’t be that hard can it?

Still I’d rather draw the blinds or go outside.

Hell I’d rather lay down and die than live a lie.

You see, these things we don’t dare say out loud,

reserved for private evenings

start to find us in our daytime logic,

prying to be let out like a mangled dog.

And won’t we wear our self destruction like a choker.

Like a badge of honor.

Like a cruel


chain—of events.

Won’t we kneel and pray before we give our due.

Won’t we commit ourselves to countless acts of excruciating

self-reliance just to know we did it alone.

It’s that feeling of being so good that it feels you’re no good at all.

That feeling of having tried so hard, for so long,

against so many odds, such awful scrutiny

and then being told I told you so,

like all your effort was for not—but it was.

Now comes the time of alternate opinions,

where everybody told you so, where everybody seems to know.

Now comes the time of alternate thoughts,

where nothing seems right, where everything feels wrong.

Now comes the time of alternate feelings,

where maybe you jumped the gun, but who am I to say?

I put the barrel to my temple a long time ago.

And let the dog run free.

We speak a different language,

I know that you do too—

It’s the kind they don’t dare speak out loud.

It’s the kind they put us down for.

Explanation Unexplained

Excuse me while I hide myself away a while.

I’ve had a long day, and I’m sure you have too.

It wasn’t a bad day, but a day like many others.

I even won 15 dollars on a scratcher.

I spent 12 on a pack of smokes, and I don’t even smoke anymore.

So please, if you’ll excuse me

I seem to be a bit confused.

I seem to need more time with the stars.

I know myself well enough to know

when I’d be bad company, and, well

I’m trying not to make the same mistakes I always do.

Excuse me for the dramatics, in fact, I’m really quite o.k.

Let’s just say old habits don’t leave until they’re done.

Let’s just say the moon is kind of jealous of the sun.

Let’s just say these ways of old aren’t helping anymore.

I was so lost and alone that, I grew comfortable there.

I grew selfish and liked to see myself disappear.

I’m trying though it’s hard,

then talking to a friend makes it easier.

It makes me somewhat likable again.

Because I know I’ll wake up

wishing I was there with you instead of here.

I’m just tired is all and

looking out my window now,

the sun’s begun to rise.

It’s beautiful isn’t it?

I want it to make me sick, but it doesn’t.

I want it to make me sad, and it does.

I want to stop thinking a thousand thoughts, but I can’t.

I best close my eyes now, before I fall asleep.

(we owe ourselves) The Real Thing

We don’t often get the real thing.

Or allow ourselves to be vulnerable while at peace.

Often we’re told to keep our chin up.

To stand up straight, and don’t ask questions.

Often we’re told lies.

Boy don’t speak out of turn.

Missy know your place.

It’s when we answer fearful calls.

It’s when we ask the harder questions.

It’s when we choose to be defiant,

to be honest with ourselves,

it’s when we find our truth sincere

that we start to become most vulnerable.

Then, and only then

will we allow ourselves that peace,

the piece that we’ve been missing,

that feels so familiar, so simple, so pure.

So much so that pure feels like a dirty word.

It’s this peace we can deny our whole lives over,

or accept that we’re a match

ready and willing to burn ourselves alive—

just to get the real thing.