You walk along the frozen pathways
trying to torch every frosted blockade.
The mind lacks road signs,
and we regret to inform you–
the dead ends are numerous.
When the sun rises behind your eyes
it is sure to set with a soft twitch of
the bottom lip.
Look too long,
brightness tends to
spread, break, dissipate.
Remembering can strip you
of even the blanket branded
with the biggest name.
pull what you can of
the warmth between your
You have at least two hands
ready to caress the wetness
thawing beneath your rise.
Long ago, in a distant land, a young boy was incredibly grumpy. He was hungry, and he was bored. To top all of that off, he was in the one store every child with moderately handy parents dreads..
Yes, it was in this gray and orange, smelly, musty establishment, that we find our hero. He is whining, moaning and groaning. Nothing, nothing in the world will fix his mood. He is beyond help.
His cry for sustenance is met only with impatience by his mother. She does what she can to keep him quiet enough for her to be in and out of the dreaded depot as quickly as humanly possible. She wishes should could stuff some food in his whiny little face and shut him the hell up, but she cannot. Alas, she is a mother who takes care of this little brat all on her own, and spends every penny making sure the two of them keep a roof over their heads.
An employee, probably on his way to save some cats from trees or babies from burning buildings, stops to try and reconcile the increasingly irritated child. His heart is pure, despite the dust and must present atop the vest of his chest.
“I’ve got some crackers you could have,” he practically sings. He is a golden beacon of hope for the mother, who just wants her child to, for once, shut the hell up.
“I don’t want CRACKERS,” the child screams indignantly.
“Get over here, you do not talk to people that way! Sir, I’m sorry,” the mother does her best to remedy the situation. The hurt on the man’s face is small, but present. The child, remorseless, continues on his way, convinced the world is out to starve him right to death.
Sir. I’m so, so sorry. You were so nice to me. I can’t believe I was so rude to you. You offered what you had, to someone you had no connection to. I tear up to this day, thinking about how incredibly kind you were to me that day, when I gave you less than a single reason to do so.
You deserved better, and I hope you got it from every other waking moment of your life. The world needs people like you. People who simply want to help, just to help. People who do not care if the person in need seems to deserve it, they try anyway, just to make the world a little brighter.
Thank you so much for offering your crackers. I’m sure they were very delicious. That little brat I grimly think of as past-me didn’t deserve a smile from you, let alone a nice package of salty, crunchy crackers.
More than anything, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I hope I didn’t ruin your day. I hope you forgot about me, and kept on helping, with that big, dust-free, pure heart of yours.
My friend Cameron was the funniest mother fucker around in grade school. He always had that perfect delivery, that perfect sense of how to tell a joke. I loved that kid, and I miss him.
He was on medication for ADD at the time. He always appeared to be incredibly hyper, which doesn’t seem like what was supposed to happen. Either way, it did. He was always such a joy to be around.
We would ironically play those pretend games that kids play where it’s basically an improv exercise. It usually took place in the mornings, on the sunlit bus ride to school. They say they shot you, you say “but pretend I’m okay because of forcefield,” they respond with, “but pretend you weren’t because I had forcefield bullets,” and so on. It was an amazing way to start a sleepy, school-ridden day.
I could never beat him. He was so fast, so quick with his comebacks. Just a barrage of, “but pretend you weren’t,” “but pretend you weren’t,””but pretend you weren’t,”…on and on, he had a defense for anything I could possibly say.
I talked to him after high school, reminiscing about those moments. “Man, remember how funny it was when we…” you know the drill.
I thought he would laugh and respond in kind. Instead, his voice took on a sad tone, hidden beneath a half smile.
“Yeah, I was on a lot of meds back then…”
Followed by an awkward silence.
In that moment, I realized I wasn’t talking to my friend. I was talking to a different version of him, but one that I didn’t recognize. A version that felt like, who he was at the time…wasn’t really him.
It feels like I was friends with a ghost, y’know? I feel bad for taking joy in thinking back to those times, because for Cameron, those moments didn’t involve him. They didn’t exist in his memory like they did in mine.
I think…I think things like this are what scare me away from getting psychiatric help.
As a teen, there were many days I would get off the bus and just be crazy depressed. Usually for no good reason beyond the fact that I hated home. I mean, who didn’t?
For a long time, my mom would be all like, “do you want to stop and get a pizza from Little Caesars?”
For a while, I was like, “*sniffle sniffle*…yeah…”
It worked, man. I loved that pizza for whatever reason. Didn’t feel guilty either, because that shit was cheap.
Then, a day came when my mom asked, and I said, “No.”
I remember her silence. I can imagine her thoughts at that moment. “Shit, this kid might be really depressed today. I don’t know what the fuck…hmmm…”
I feel bad for her. There was nothing she could have done. I was a moody asshole. Simple as that.
I never appreciated her enough. I mean she’s still alive, so I tell her now. But, at the time…God, dude. Thank your fucking mom for being such a trooper.
I don’t know why that moment sticks out so much in my memory. I haven’t had a Little Caesars pizza since.
It’s like…is that good, or bad?
D.A.R.E. was weird, right? We can all agree that was strange and jarring.
I thought I would never smoke marijuana until I was 16 at my friend’s birthday party. They were right about one thing–that peer pressure tho!
I kept smoking through the rest of high school. You might think that messed me up. Made me worse, slowed me down.
Man…all I know is, I could finally…finally sleep.
It was so great. I was a bit high sometimes, which can make you feel like you aren’t yourself. But Christ on a damn crutch, I felt more like myself than ever before. I slept about 4 hours on average each night as a kid. From sophomore year on, whatever bullshit weed did to my brain…it was worth it. I was finally able to sleep.
Hot Pockets were a lot better, too. I legitimately got a boner eating a Four Cheese, once.
I had to scream to get it.
I had to give up.
Crushed against the force of a strangely polygonal beast with no face, no care, few physics
and at the other end a fake sibling with the damaged goods enough to come back every few weeks as “Nick is fine now”
“Do it for me, I can’t!”
“No, I’m not doing it for you! Look, you’ve got a heart left! It only takes a fourth. You can do it!”
Did Nintendo know?
A tear-streamed face would grab their bastardization of a controller
a trembling mouth would set to sound no more
and a soon-to-ever-lean control stick
would lead one set of growing fingers
to grasp for a blade rightly earned
and feel it there
despite the lack of handle?
that is what the extra grip is for.