It’s not hard to uncover that I hide my pain from others.
It’s not meant to be witnessed unless I have your confidence.

Poetry became a way for me to show off some of my pain.
To talk it down in public, so to speak.

I wanted to be publicly vulnerable.
Better yet, I wanted to be praised for being vulnerable.
I was easy prey so why not be applauded along the way?

Outside myself, far from who I was then, it’s clear I was an outsider.
That younger me knows I did not escape myself, the hider.

My ‘come to buddha’ moment was when I realized I could console someone else who was in pain.
Maybe, I told myself, if I could be understanding,
then I too could be understood.

Of course, I had this notion first with my mother, who was Atlas holding the roof above our many screaming heads.

Her mind a carousel of childrearing, always spinning to stay centered

I turned my newfound spirituality outward. Which is when my song of innocence ended and I began to perceive such strange suffering sinking behind so many eyes glassy as an egg being swallowed by a snake.

Worse still, when I tried to help others, I found their pain was stitched together by a home-brewed prophylactic and the reasons for their remedies or the source of their symptoms would get lost in translation no matter how earnest and loving our conversations.

When my song of wisdom began, I left my home town to study and to seek
the friends I knew I could one day have
And I had them
For a time
But the old wounds lingered
In me
. In them.

Old roots wriggled and took hold.
Adult kids sought shelter from this this storm of a century in their parents’ nest.

But I could not.
I could not have my hometown and I suspect it would not have me.

So instead, I weather the barren reaches of a random field alone drinking water from the air and vying for a melody or a tune that could land my pain home.

Perhaps, with one divine breath of air, I could sing a tune so lofty and sorrowful and sweet it would sail upon the tides of some languid weather system drifting between my abode and my father’s home, and he, ever the lazy lion on the Savannah, he might pause a moment to take in the air and instead hear this pressing, poetic tune and finally wonder about the inner life of his strangest son enough to beg the universe to grant him a single burning question.

And some notes are barely forming now like static electricity, I feel them first, on my fingertips, it’s a heat storm and so I reach for the words on the tip of my tongue and