Not Me

Photo credit: Kristin Antosz

I’m not great in an audience. 
I can’t leave me long enough

 to be up there with them. 

I don’t laugh at the jokes. 

My head screams too loud to hear them. 

But I know they’re there. 

And I’ll say they’re funny. 
I’ll cry when it’s sad. 

That, that I get. 

But I won’t let them see. 
Mostly, I just wish I was on stage. 

Because there, I’m not me. 

There, I’m big and beautiful. 

I can talk. And mean it. 

I can listen and not stand aside,

Waiting for a quiet minute,

to step away 

and back 

and gone. 

Somewhere I have things to wear and 

words to say. 

And it matters. 
Just not off stage.

Please not off stage. 

That’s where it’s dark. 

Where you get lost

By yourself. 

Without a thing to wear

Or words

And no one to hear them

Or listen if they did. 
When you walk around

without a mark

or a truth or a lie, 

Who are you?
Just sitting in the seats. 

Waiting in the dark. 

Wondering who to be. 

Just please,

Not me. 



They don’t tell you you’re going to be trapped.
That once you’re in, you’ll never be out alone.
That it won’t get better, only different.
That it won’t get easier, just a different kind of hard.
They don’t tell you that you’re gone.
But you know.

You don’t matter.
What you think, what you feel
And that’s what cruelest,
you will feel everything.
Harder and faster
and bigger than you ever
Scares that will crush you.
Until there are only pieces left.
That’s all you have.

You’ll put them on like a costume.
Scraps and bits
yanked from the bottom
of a trunk life.
It might remind you
of you.
A flash of a place or
a tinny laugh from a corner.
You’ll put them on
and pretend.
Act like the savior,
the thief, the witch.
Whatever they want you
to be.
Whoever they make you play.

Because there’s no you.
Not anymore.
Them.  Acting.
It would be easier
it you didn’t know the lines.
If you could actually
cut the cord,
forget you ever were;
would make it easier
to be this new thing,
wearing old clothes
and speaking like a stranger.

But you don’t forget.
Not in the chilly morning.
Not in the hot day.
And never in the middle of the night.
Dark and red
That’s when you remember most.
That you were human.
Not anymore.
Now you’re clothes and food
and telling.
Doing and thinking,
never and always acting.

You may never get out.
Rattle the bars.
Make your complaints.
Only time to hear you.
And time is what trapped you.
Submissive or fighting.
Your way out.
Only way out.
to get out.

For Yet


I’m not bad.
I don’t kick puppies.
I do kill mice.
I do help with homework.
I will read your story.
I’ll say what you want to hear.
I’m bad.

I’m not good.
I don’t volunteer.
I’m not a vegetarian.
I’m selfish.
I won’t brag. But I want to.
I complain.
I won’t let you do for me.
I’m good.
I’m not fat.
I’m not fat fat.
I’m thin fat.
People won’t stop and look.
But people won’t stop to look.
I eat the food.
I eat the hurt.
I eat the pills.
I look in the mirror.
I’m fat.

I’m not smart.
I don’t know art.
I don’t know politics.
I don’t know music.
I try to learn.
I ask for help.
Listen once.
I stop.
It’s too much.
I stop asking.
I’m smart.

I’m not sexy.
Not for me.
Not for him.
Not often.
Not enough.
Not that way.
I want to.
Really want to.
I think about it.
Wish I could think
I’m sexy.
I don’t give up.
I push and need
and take.
It’s hard.
I don’t get it.
I’ll never get it.
I give up.

Please not yet.

I could add yet.
I should add yet.
I want to add yet.

To every time, every sentence,
every raging, awful thought
that rips and ravages
my heart and my will
to get up and say yet again.

I’m not waiting for the right time.
Not for the right one.
I have to make it
count because the
only one counting is me.
Give the courage.
Maybe not now,
or not just yet.

For me.
For yet.

For tomorrow


What I need
I won’t ask for.

I’m not asking for more.
I’m not.

You want to give
and you ask
and if there was something
to be had
I’ve have it.
I know you.
That’s why you.

But sometimes,
I just need tomorrow.
And you can’t give me that.
I know you, trust you.
My tomorrow.
Like I can’t give you yours.
I know me. Trust me.

You can give me today.
So can I.
And I’ll take it.
Because it’s a good today.
It’s a fantastic, wonderful today.
Where you measure your success
in my smiles
and you feel bigger
making my shoulder lighter.
Where my sheets carry your smell
and my corner your clothes;
some folded fresh and some crumpled worn,
some ready for tomorrow
some still tired from last night.
But all there. Comfortable together.
They’re making themselves
at home in mine;
where my table has your work
and your ears have mine,
and there’s always tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow.
Maybe a different thought.
Maybe not.
Are our yesterdays worth a tomorrow?
Today they are.
I’ll take today.
Best thing you could give.
Take mine, love.
We’ll keep them,
comfortable together,
in my corner.
Worry about the rest,

Much Enough

When more become too much
It’s same as being not enough.
Today was too much.

I scheduled a visit with my therapist.
I missed a visit with my therapist.
I took that anger and hurt out on myself
and someone who was trying to help.
He left the house once to buy food.
And then again to buy different food
because I’m a miserable cunt.
I drank a lot of wine.
Cried a lot of tears.
He does too much.
From and for, us and them.                              I understand  why he came.                          I’ll never understand why                             he came back. 

It’s not enough.                                              It’s too much. 

That’s in my not enough head. 

In the much too real world, 

Our president bombed Syria.
Maybe that was too much.
Maybe it was not enough.
Children are dead.
Mine is safe
and spoiled and his
attitude reflects his place and making.
My too much.
My not enough.
Someday both will be his.

We are all becoming something we hate.
Hating what we can’t become.
Realizing tonight is too much.
And just, only tonight is not enough.

Tomorrow we want for more.
Need for more.
For ourselves and the ones
we push away,
out the door,
out of our lives,
out of this world.
We need this to make it.
Make it
not too much.
Only just enough.

Tangled Limbs

Tangled limbs.

The pain is not always a knife,
not quick and slicing and bleeding before you know it.
Sometimes it’s a bracing and tightening and a
before-impact hurt.
A knowing it, seeing it,
feeling the molecules slide in slow-motion hurt.
One that gathers, in the hollow between your lungs
and drills through to your back.
It gestures. It promises.
It lets you know what the world will be tomorrow.

Your shoulders ache.
An up-all-night,
sixteen hour drive,
flu-is-coming-on ache.
It’s twisted braches of knotted
limbs and mossy fibers,
entangled to the limits
of organic,
needing mechanical intervention
to ever separate them.

Your eyes blur.
A staring-into-the-sun,
twist and gnarl fuzzing.

Your head hurts.
A day-after-whiskey throb.
But more than that.
That’s just the grey matter.
Tired. So tired.
When the phone is too far
to call for pizza
and the other end of the room
is the width of a castle moat.

Your body feels enormous,
heavy, dragging and tied to the dirt.
Or it feels empty,
floating and untethered
and prone to escape.

But before you can move,
this dark monster grabs and digs in,
claws below the surface,
sinewy tentacles above.

And that fucker will not let you go.

Fight, it’s worse.

Let go, it’s worse.


But that’s only the physical.

The other side,
the harder to touch or explain side,
can be more hobbling than
any bone or viscera dysfunction.

Most of us live life uncertain.
Not quite knowing
what to do or
what is best.

But in this night, you know.
Complete and absolute.
Without hesitation.
Without equivocation.
You know what you are worth.
Never is it more clear.
It’s not a void or a vacancy.
The problem is not
the absence of being.
The opposite.
It’s the absolute crushing weight
of space. Without worth.
Of taking up so many cubic inches
of weight and mass and air.
Because the heft of that debt
is more suffocating
than a room drowning in water.

They can’t see
and they can’t believe
and they don’t understand.

You can’t explain exsanguination
without a cut,
amputation with whole limbs.
or birth without conception.

And you can’t point to
what is wrong
when they see
there’s nothing wrong.

You’re the one inside.

Alone. Screaming. Not heard.

They are outside. Screaming. Not heard.

Silent. Eviscerating noise. Corporal crumbling. Soul sucking.

And that’s what depression feels like.

Or love.

See that? You try. You try to laugh.

Maybe shingles, or mono or slight GERD.

That’s funny.

Sometimes strep throat. Or a general staph.

Possibly herpes simplex. Not the bad kind.

Usually PMS.

Definitely IBS.

See that? Cute.

Maybe vertigo or lumbago,
depending on your immune system
and your semicircular canals.

On the rare occasion, scurvy.

But mostly depression.

You could laugh.

Because it’s ridiculous.

But you can’t.

But it’s not funny.

It’s real.

Real as scurvy and not an orange in sight.

Real as the forest. Tough as the trees.



And you

are the one alone and


(Answer) Before (Listen)

Read between the lines. Listen then answer.

Empty glasses. Empty words. Empty night.         Empty answer.  Empty listen.  


Why are you helping me?

Seriously. Put that down.

I didn’t ask you to…

Why? No one just “wants” to do laundry for someone.

Did you do something?
Something bad?  Jesus. Is it really bad? Am I going to be pissed?

No, I’m fine, okay? Why are you..are you just trying to distract me?

Nothing. I’m just tired.


So, we’re not going to talk about it?  That’s the answer?

I said that two days ago.

You could talk to me.

Don’t hurt yourself.

This isn’t what you what.

I’m not what you want.

Look at me.

Right. Cause I want to do this. That it?
I want to put everyone through this shit?                                                                                I wish you’d listen.

It’s so hard.

God, just, stop. Stop saying it’s fine. Stop telling me I’m okay.
I’m not. Obviously I’m a mess. I see. I get it. Obviously I’m not okay.

No. I’m sorry. It’s just… It’s just a really bad day.
I know you do…um…I guess. Get me noodles. 7 1/2 heat. No five. No. Yeah. 7 1/2…
I’m going upstairs. Just…just put mine away if I’m asleep.


I’m just doing laundry. It’s no big-

It’s fine. I’m almost done.

I know you didn’t ask me to. I just wanted to help.

Well, no, I didn’t want to do laundry, I’m not weird. I just thought-

What? No, I didn’t do anything. Ok, I smoked today.
I’m sorry. I know you don’t like it, but I grabbed lunch with Mark.
It was one.
Am I missing something? Are you okay?

No, I’m not trying anything. What happened today?

See? Just sit down. Don’t worry about it. We’ll order some pad thai.

Ok. How am I supposed to know?

You said you didn’t want to.

I can’t read your mind. I want to listen. Talk. Answer.  I’m listening.

What have I been doing? I’m trying. I’ve been trying.

I don’t need to.

Of course I want this.

Why would you say that?

I am. Please stop.

It’s me. We don’t have to.
You don’t have to with me.

I know, baby. You’re okay.

I’m sorry.
It….,no. It’s not okay.
I know you’re not okay. It’s not your fault. And I get it.
I don’t have an answer. But I’ll listen.  I want to help.

Ok. I’ll be down here.