Memoir of a Broken Writer


United States
41° 52' 28.5492" N, 87° 50' 24.8676" W

My youth was a boarding school

where I slept in a waterbed of tears.

Made a mess of my sheets,

I was teased for wetting the bed.

But my mourning saved many

from not waking up another morning.

They could have drowned            

in the downpour of my rage.

Fell asleep with my arms and legs

thrashing. My nightmares were teaching me

how to be a man in the haunting

of another man’s mistakes.


I came into this world empty-handed

but I have too much baggage now.

The womb is the only place

I had privacy in my life.

If you find me in the fetal position,

I’m trying to remember where home is.

Airport security knows

the insides of my pockets far too well.

They are hampers of skeletons

and dirty little secrets.

I only travel with two suitcases.

The rest of my past is in storage

until I’m ready to confront it.


I am an immaculate lie.

Tailored my bad posture

because I’ll never be straight.

I mean, I have a curved spine.

My insecurities are reversible.

I can wear them to an interview

or the club. Either way,

strangers gain the impression

I’m secure with myself.


Had I not hemmed them,

they could clothe a man

five times my size.

Besides, they’re an extra large

memory of the days being

the smart guy with no friends.

Quite the joke then, no one

takes me serious as an adult now.

So I wear wide-rimmed glasses

with no prescription and collared shirts.

To look fashionably clever.

I even switched up my shoe game.

Just so the world would remember my footsteps.

It’s obvious I have some issues.


Too short to play sports

but easily lost in the crowded stands.

Not boyfriend material but every girl’s friend.

Masculine gender but never

considered myself to be much of a man.

Mom said God’s chosen have it the roughest.

Luckily, my edges are still intact.


Have you ever lain inside a body bag

to greet death as an old friend?

Converse as if he didn’t try to kidnap

you at birth?

We talked about my last will and testament.

Feeling more and more everyday

as an unrested soul searching for the light.

Lost in the midnight of being human

and wanting the afterlife.

I hate living inside boxes.

My house will be a sphere.

Never felt I was a part of this world

so I will make my own and continue

to be happily unhappy in my lonesome.


My favorite color is blue.

Palms feel like wet beaches

when I’m nervous.

This is probably why I like

blueberries and yogurt with granola.

I sleep naked, not trying to be sexy

but I’m embracing my blemishes

and nicknaming them beauty and birthmarks.


I’m often told I have an unforgettable smile.

But I’m often not remembered too.

Hidden inside this candid Polaroid

are scars invisible to the naked eye.

If my picture is taken,

I ask that the proofs are destroyed.

No need to edit my past in a dark room.

Or use me as an example of

photojournalism. I don’t need your pity.

I do that enough on my own.


I don’t respect myself as a poet or a writer.

Just like writing broken sentences.

And incomplete thoughts because like my father,

my struggle is sometimes starting things

that I will never finish. I condemn myself

for the things I can’t change.

It’s proof how human I am.

I avoid confrontation because like my father,

my uncontrollable temper leads to destruction.

I hate being the victim in breakups -

you never recover all the way from the wounds.

And as the person wanting to walk away.

I told myself I wouldn’t say those awful words

It’s not you, it’s me when I know damn well it really is them.


Hi, my name is Tommie Albert Collins III.

Because I wasn’t the first, but I might just be the last.

A cocktail and I share the same name

but my hangovers are from falling in love.

And the ground unfortunately breaking my fall.


I’m terrified of compliments.

Not sure if they’re mediocre pickup lines

or false fidelity for the things

I was told I was good at.

I don’t drink and I damn sure don’t smoke.

Honestly, I refuse to have another reason

not to be in control of my life.

Love is a twisted addiction of its own.


I smile when things are falling apart

because God is putting me back together then.

Like I’ve said before, I am not a poet or a writer.

Just a broken man looking for some glue

to seal these fault lines called cracks in my heart.

A relationship without closure can be such an earthquake.


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