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Franz Wright:

And still nothing happens. I am not arrested.

By some inexplicable oversight
nobody jeers when I walk down the street.
I have been allowed to go on living in this
room. I am not asked to explain my presence
What posthypnotic suggestions were made; and
are any left unexecuted?
Why am I so distressed at the thought of taking
certain jobs?
They are absolutely shameless at the bank——
You’d think my name meant nothing to them. Non-
chalantly they hand me the sum I’ve requested,
but I know them. It’s like this everywhere——
they think they are going to surprise me: I,
who do nothing but wait.
Once I answered the phone, and the caller hung up——
very clever.
They think that they can scare me.
I am always scared.
And how much courage it requires to get up in the
morning and dress yourself. Nobody congratulates
At no point in the day may I fall to my knees and
refuse to go on, it’s not done.
I go on
dodging cars that jump the curb to crush my hip,
accompanied by abrupt bursts of black-and-white
laughter and applause,
past a million unlighted windows, peered out at
by the retired and their aged attack-dogs—
toward my place,
the one at the end of the counter,
the scalpel on the napkin.

Marty McConnell:

leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are papier mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses.
you make him call before
he visits. you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.

It’s 7:15, which is an odd time for a medical appointment. But the machines are busy from 6 AM to 8 PM every night. They have a large demand to accommodate.

I am in the waiting room. There is an older couple. The man is sick. The woman, who is probably his wife, reads magazines when he is called in. She waits. I wish I had someone there with me, someone waiting and caring while I am in the tube, someone to go home with me after, someone to hold me and bring me back to the everyday.

They have me take out my hair clip and nose ring. I never take my nose ring out; I feel unpleasantly naked. We go in the room with the machine and I take off my glasses and lie down on my stomach on the table or board or whatever the term is.

I put stickers with capsules in them over the most affected areas. They tape my hand to a small board. The board and my hand are put in a tube, and then small black pillow-ish things are shoved in the tube around my hand to keep it still.

They put earplugs in my free hand. They place large headphones over my ears after I put the plugs. I take them up on the blanket offer.

They slide the table I’m lying on into a tube. Like a casket, or closet. I consciously hold off the claustrophobia. I look, myopic, through the other open end of the tube. Remember there is a room out there. Close my eyes. Distract myself.

They speak to me sometimes between images. Each image comes with a series of noises. What was I thinking last night? Someone frantically beating a pot with a stick, the continuous screech of an old truck.

Matthew tells me about his gratitude practice–juggling by the fountain by the church. He tells me that is how you do gratitude, as a practice. I have, before. In grass, or reading Rumi, mainly. “I’m not ready for that,” I tell him. \

I am making progress. No internal temper tantrums for more than a year now. I went to water aerobics last week; I would not have been able to do this a year ago. I was angry immediately after, but still: progress.

Thom Gunn:

About ten days or so
After we saw you dead
You came back in a dream.
I’m all right now you said.

And it was you, although
You were fleshed out again:
You hugged us all round then,
And gave your welcoming beam.

How like you to be kind,
Seeking to reassure.
And, yes, how like my mind
To make itself secure.

May Swenson:

Waiting for first light,
for the lift of the curtain,
for the world to ripen,
tumbling toward the sun,

I lie on my side,
head sunk in the pillow,
legs upfolded,
as if for Indian burial.

My arms are friends
relaxed beside each other.
One hand, open, touches,
brings warmth to the other.

Franz Wright:

Were no one
here to witness it,
could the sun be
said to shine? Clearly,
you pedantic fool.

But I’ve said all that
I had to say.
In writing.
I signed my name.
It’s death’s move.

It can have mine, too.
It’s a perfect June morning,
and I just turned eighteen;
I can’t even believe
what I feel like today.

Here am I, Lord,
sitting on a suitcase,
waiting for my train.
The sun is shining.
I’m never coming back.

Salman Rushdie:

Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.

Another day, another x-ray. You know. The usual.

Feels like I spend half my life in waiting rooms, doctors’ office, blood-draw chairs, rooms where workers wear protective equipment.

I’m so tired.

Ashleigh Shackelford:

Survival also looks like self-perseveration and protection from constant trauma. Survival can include suicide. Yes, there are some of us who navigate suicidal ideation, attempt suicide or have suicidal thoughts that are not clear-headed about what decisions we want to make due to mental illness. These folks may need medicine, support or a change of circumstance to shift or lessen their thoughts about suicide.

But there are many of us, like myself, who deal with mental illness, depression, PTSD and react to trauma with the mindset that ending the pain and perpetual trauma would be better than to constantly feel violated, harmed, scared, worried, broke, stressed out or gaslighted into believing that the things we’re experiencing aren’t real. Many of us don’t necessarily want to die… Dying seems like the only option because there have yet to be sustainable ways of escaping violence without it coming back to harm us some more.

White supremacist capitalism is a plague…

Make no mistake: suicide for most people of color will always be murder. Whether it be because we didn’t have the access, the resources, the love, the support, the humanity, the safety… There is such a deep political harming of our well-being and we were never meant to survive, regardless of if we’re alive or not. Survival is not feeling scared and depressed all the time because trauma and death surround you everyday. Survival is not being in the room if the room is a death trap to begin with.

If I kill myself today… I want people to know that the system didn’t fail me — the system killed me on purpose. I want people to know that community wasn’t an option for me because we didn’t have enough time, labor, wellness or resources to sustain love and support in tangibility and accountability. I want people to know that nothing would’ve fixed me. I’m still whole even when I’m broken.

My choice to ever take my own life will always be based in a concept of “strength,” because I had the strength to acknowledge that the system and the world will constantly take from me, drain me, remind me to hate myself, tell me I have to fight in order to live, but that same living will never be safety. Taking my own life would only be a testament of my ability to find survival in opting out of a system that controls so much of my life that all I have within my control is my participation…

Caleb Luna:

This is a way that desirability politics are replicated in intimate relationships– a phrase I use intentionally to highlight the intimacy of friendships. Where I make efforts (and sometimes, too, fail) at treating my friends like lovers as a political act to disrupt the hierarchy of romance in our lives on principle, in many ways it also because these are the relationships that sustain me where I cannot count on a lover, or even the potential of one, to in the same ways. But this becomes unsustainable when the possibilities of my primary intimate relationships are still facilitated through my own and others’ desirability, both to each other and to others.   

Regardless of who we are or are wanting to have sex with– or if we want to have sex at all– sexuality remains an undercurrent in how we value and honor people and are treated in the larger world, from strangers to friends. This is where the focal point of conversations about desirability should be.


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