an analysis from the aftermath of adolescence

I’ve got ‘So it Goes’ tattooed on my rib cage after the great late Kurt Vonnegut; now retired and unstuck in time.
I’ve got scars on my hips and arms and turned my very flesh into a great poem of sorts; I didn’t make that up, Whitman said it.
All I’ve ever been good for is digesting and vomiting up good lit in recycled poems.

                But I really have been so good at vomiting (whatever – call it a teenage sob story).
I’m eighteen and weigh 105 -
BMI? Slightly underweight, but it beats wanting to die – but I’m already cured, you see.
Like Sylvia Plath never really left the Bell Jar, even after they let her out of the nut house,
she still found a reason to put her head in the oven.
Well, there’s always a reason to put your head in the oven, or not.
I got ‘So it Goes’ tattooed on my ribs because Vonnegut was always more poetic than Joseph Heller,
and I’m not convinced my mother would’ve given consent to ‘Something Happened’ with the same vivacity
as she did for the more poetic alternative with the same general meaning.
I would’ve been happiest with ‘Shit Happens’ because I like the unsweetened truth the best of all. If I learned anything, I guess it would be that shit happens and what matters is how you handle it.

                Something Happened when I was fourteen: I put my head in the metaphorical oven.
On my parents corrupted anniversary actually, and nobody knew it was corrupted but me.
And wouldn’t it be so poetic, so pretty to write that I wanted to tragically die on that day
because of the guilt I held bottled up inside of me?
But truthfully, and I always try to be truthful, on that day I just felt Death staring into my eyes –
there it was creeping along beside me,
Death was whispering the feeling of finding the silver lining in the edge of a razor blade –
I cracked like an egg.
                But to every yin there is a yang;
in humans it’s that relentless animal instinct –
the one that keeps main characters fighting as they’re dying in horror movies –
it was the strange craving to fight the Death in me –
my body brought me crawling hands and knees to my father’s room –
apologizing for the pool of blood on the new carpet in my bedroom.

                You see, I was a “cutter” – this they already knew.
The psychiatrist said it was one of those phases that teenage girls sometimes go through,
but I would grow out of it, they were assured,
with the assistance of antidepressants and visits to head doctors.
Well, I “grew out of It” and stumbled into one of the neighbors –
the eating disorder
I was five foot four inches tall and ninety-two pounds then,
BMI uncertain,
I didn’t think much (or even leave my bed much).
I ritualistically disposed of my lunch every day during freshman year homeroom;
I ate nothing if I could avoid it,
every few days, a rice cake –
when I caved and ate, I turned on the shower to cover the heaving sound and puked until my guts ached.
                When my fragile shell finally cracked open all over the floor,
I spent Christmas in the looney bin where books were my only sanction.
I couldn’t take Dr. Harley Davidson seriously,
and I found a bitter irony in the fact that “recovery”
was me feeding Dr. X, Y, and Z the same shit they were pulling out of their asses and giving to me:
“Tell me, when did you start feeling so lonely?”
“I can only help you as much as you help me.”
“I’ve got something that’ll help you sleep…”
“Luckily, you haven’t been sick for that long so you should recover quickly.”
                R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y, y, why? I was looking for Everything in a world of Nothing.

                The only therapist I ever liked left me when she went crazy too,
and around the same time I kissed a nice boy who broke my heart
and after that I quit looking for solace in other people.
I’ve found more comfort Howling at the moon outside,
or wandering the woods alone, than in the arms of any old boyfriend of mine.
Or under the care of any psychiatrist who could barely spare me thirty minutes of his time.
Visiting therapists who happily sat with me in silence for an hour – so sure I’d crack next time.
And that was me until I was barely seventeen, and things are very different now.

                I write recycled poems, and maybe they all are.
I heard you can only see the change in things after you’re out of the situation.
I’ve got Whitman on my left shoulder blade to tell me to be as vulgar and free as I please;
people never seemed too keen on him either and yet he stands as the “Greatest American Poet.” I’ve got Vonnegut to remind me that when life kicks the shit out of me,
it is simultaneously celebrating me –
I follow wise words of people smarter than me
and something I call the God Feeling.
I see in these men the father I always wanted to see blossom but never did, but always could.
Maybe we’re all just the regurgitation of someone elses’ original identity.
                Just like Anne Sexton suffocated herself –
just like Sylvia put her head in the oven,
and Virginia kissed the ocean floor – I’ve felt what they’ve felt on my own.
I like to be alone, so call me Emily Dickinson.
But I celebrate life like Walt Whitman, and I want to find peace like Siddhartha did.
I am better these days but the scars on my arms and hips will never really fade away;
my body will always speak for itself like the tattoos on my shoulder and rib cage.
Forever in the aftermath of adolescence, I became a mountain from a tragic earthquake.
Like Whitman sang the body electric, I’m sure if I ever quit singing my song
the hands of the clock would reach through their glass cage and shake me into perpetual motion
again. We are only ever as free as we allow ourselves to be
and I will take that to my grave, whenever Death should come creeping up on me.


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