A friend once told me
That I had it easy:
“Look at your hands,
So soft and smooth
No lines nor calluses
You’ve never suffered
A day in your life!”

I guess your hands
Don’t get calluses
When you’re trying
To keep your head above the water

No, hands don’t get callused
When you’re in the middle
Of a dark ocean
Where the water
Stings your eyes
Where the cold
Saps your strength
And you don’t know
How long before
A great white shark
Drags you
Into the depths

And I can’t
Open up my mind
To show you
The flagellation welts
From self-imposed atonement
For all my failings

And so I have
Nothing to show you
How much I suffer.
All I have
Are these words:
These frictioned, pressured,
irritated conjurations
As my testament to pain.

Tender Days

Some days feel like a full-body bruise:
Abstract, intangible, and mental
Pressure like over-tightened screws,
Digging in against my temples.

Turmeric stain instincts,
Stubborn, indelible, and distinct.
Let them be and they might wane,
Or let them in and re-live the pain.

Old pains not fully cleansed,
Bad juju from stifled energies,
Changing landscapes, but the same old lens,
Dull aches from blunt force memories.

The sharp agony has long passed,
A phantom soreness remains.
Illusions dissolving at long last,
Last gasps of waning hurricanes.

So I wake up tender some mornings,
And hurt through the day.
Sulking, sullen, and mourning,
The rotten fantasies I threw away.