masquerader's manifesto

i would read this at your funeral but i know everyone would get mad at me

this was before i was born but i’ve heard a lot about it and i know

that all you ever wanted was that mercedes-benz

glittering atop a pile of night shifts driving around the airport and

empty liquor bottles like your hungarian-canadian version

of the american dream. ‘that car’s not built,’ you’d say,

‘it’s engineered,’ and you’d probably take another drink.

fifty years since you married

your coming-to-canada sweetheart, met her on

the boat here and started your (shotgun) life, and my uncle drove that car

from california or arizona or wherever he’d found it by accident during

his fiftieth birthday road trip with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window

and you threw the keys back and told him to drive it away and before

the engine ignited you were gone. that’s how it always is,

whether behind filmy eyes or the wine on your breath or

the harsh corners of your voice through an accent

i can’t always understand, you’re hiding, gone before anybody can get a grasp.

men like you aren’t built, they’re engineered, and i know your little sister

couldn’t keep anything down until she died and i know your parents

sent your dog away somewhere bad and i know

somewhere underneath years of sitting in the same chair drinking

your homemade wine that looks and smells

like gasoline from old 7-up bottles is someone i’ll never meet.

your teeth are falling out now and i don’t know if or when i will see you again

but what i’ll remember most about you is how you used to yell at me

in a dizzy mix of english and hungarian when i coloured outside the lines.

somewhere there’s a bunch of pictures of us from that summer and we’re all smiling

the dirt here is red like sunset

(red sky at night, sailor’s delight)

and it stained all my shoes and some of my shorts

and the bottom of my bathing suit 

(two-piece, i’m too tall for one pieces)

and i rode my bike through the campground today all by myself but

i fell and it hurt a lot and when i looked down

my elbows and knees were dripping with

maple syrup tree sap like we learned about in science

but it’s not sticky enough and it’s reddish and it smells sick

like dirt and worms and copper and heat and i hear

bugs buzzing right inside my ears almost like the ringing

i’ll hear tomorrow after my cousin holds my head down

under the water in the pool (warmer than the ocean)

and he doesn’t let me go till my dad’s hollering (ryan what the hell

are you doing) and i can only see little pinpricks of 

light weaving like ufos inside my eye sockets

and i’m gonna puke in the pool oh god i can’t puke in the pool they’ll

make my mom and dad pay a fine or something and everything

smells like red dirt and red blood and bugs squished (sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry)

under the wheels of my bike while i ride it around in circles

forgive-me-nots

periwinkle blue and edged with razor blades

more dangerous than roses because no one knows

how deep you can cut if someone brushes

up against you carelessly. the cold pale flesh

of your petals is so like veins beneath paper skin yet

brutal enough to slice an artery. you will never forget so 

why waste time trying?

entomology

i didn’t tell you because i didn’t want you to know.

i didn’t open my mouth because i didn’t want you to see

the worms that will slither from my parted lips as soon as i

breathe a word of the decay that is deep in my brain. it’s like

the serotonin has spoiled into something black and oily and it’s

sliding across synapses like a dark secret and it’s whispering

to my limbic system, telling it softly and forcefully not to indulge

in basic drives, every minute of every single day. there is too much

and too little happening inside me all at the same time, too many 

cobwebs around my frontal lobes and hard little beetles running circles

around my central nervous system. they say cockroaches

can survive any apocalypse so i know soon they will be

all that is left of me and i won’t be able to hide the way they scuttle 

around under my ribcage anymore.

spine

i know when you’re sick you go see a doctor but

they would just tell me to go home and come

back when i can count my ribs and the

knobs of my spine so that’s what i’ll

do. a quick google search of the

word ‘anorexia’ will yield all

sorts of nasty side effects,

not the least of which 

seems to be fading

completely

away

i think i’ve been writing you this poem since the day we met

but i still can’t make the words fit.

when i think about you

what i remember most is the way your voice broke

on the last word in the sentence ‘i feel so incredibly small’

and what i wanted to do was kiss you

and what i did was wipe a tear from your cheek 

with the pad of my thumb;

i don’t think anyone’s touched you in a long time.

i think the feeling of hands on your skin

would do you good.

in my head there are one hundred more stanzas

to this poem but you are too vast

for them to cover. you said

you feel small but to me you are

incalculable.

untitled

we are spending our days all fucked up and laughing

and i wonder if anyone else comes home with the urge to slice open their skin

we go to class and we study and we are preparing for a life

of paying mortgages and living in big houses and being Members of Society

but we smoke and fuck our days away and we don’t realize

or ignore the fact that if we keep going like this

some of us will not make it

flunking out or dropping out or dying, fucking up too bad

things are happening and we are too busy kissing

each other on the mouth to notice them and is that really

a bad thing? are we comfortable with this?

if i waste away before your very eyes i think you

will just laugh and pass the lighter my way

insomniac baby

sing me to sleep with the sound of you clicking

a lighter over and over again trying 

to get a flame. i see you in short bursts like

gunfire a heartbeat at a time before the flame

sputters out. it is drafty and i am wrapped

in the sweater i’ve been wearing for three days

on my back in your bed watching shadows

on the ceiling and the contours of your face.

sing me to sleep with whispered curses and 

the unscrewing of a bottle cap on something strong

and dark. a lullaby cacophony of shuffling in your bare feet

across the kitchen. i want to tell you to come to bed

but i can’t stand the sound of you sighing next to me until

4.30 every morning

shotgun

exhale smoke into my mouth your lips are

so close so close

millimetres between tongues and i feel your fingers trace my knee

i taste ash and wanting and your dirty fingernails

are climbing the length of my thigh under my

stupid skirt with the uneven hemline that i

cut with scissors yesterday morning

i’m breathing smoke out the window feeling your lips

on my collarbone and i want you to take off

my shirt and pants and look at me and touch yourself

i want you to close your eyes when you’re alone and dream

about me in that bra with the strap you broke

pills

something happens after about three hundred sixty five

little white capsules. you take one every night with a glass of 

water or wine or whisky and you stop wanting to stab

yourself with every sharp corner you see. you stop wanting

to jump off all the bridges you drive over or hang

yourself with all the extension cords at the hardware store. at first you 

don’t even notice it but then they change your

dose and all of a sudden you are normal and you

don’t want to die, not actively, not 

anymore. the buses driving by you when you wait to cross

the road stop running you over in your daydreams and this

is all very new and exciting. this is the honeymoon phase where

you don’t notice any of your new partner’s shortcomings and you

want to tell strangers on the street just how wonderful you feel and

you look forward to taking your pill every night and you follow

all the pharmacist’s instructions. after a while, though, your 

face starts to hurt from smiling and your throat is always dry from the

list of side effects. you start to wonder where

all the sad went because you know it can’t just disappear so

where is it? you start wondering whether every laugh is

just a tear in disguise, losing track of where one emotion

ends and another begins. it’s confusing because you remember

how much you used to hurt and it feels unnatural not

to hurt anymore and you wonder ‘is this what normal 

people feel like day in and day out?’

maybe you are cured so you stop taking the little

white pill and you fight with your boyfriend and you make 

your mother cry and you slice open

your wrist impulsively with a kitchen knife while you’re 

doing the dishes. the bus starts running you over again and every

rafter above your head looks perfect for a noose so

you take the pills again and everybody says how

brave you are and how much better you look until

your face begins to hurt all over again from all the smiling.

i wish that i was dead.

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