Please don’t shake

Strong emotions like
anger
or sad
or jealous
or love
are shaken-up soda cans,
swirl up all your insides,
swath your stomach in bubbles,
get your organs all tied up
till it feels something has to burst
like firecrackers
shooting stars
12th grade classroom when the sub walks in
“Thank God”
“Hallelujah”
“I am filled with joy”
but bursting isn’t always a luxury.
Bursting is not appropriate
for grocery stores
or college lecture halls
or family dinners.
Sometimes all those bubbles crowd up
and you tighten and twist
like champagne that needs to pop
sometimes we shout just to break the silence.

How many teeth are in the human mouth,
how many scars lie on your skin,
how many hairs have been forcibly pulled from your scalp in the course of one lifetime,
how many whole truths have fallen from your mouth like peach pits you had to eat around,
how many different ways are there to say “help?”
How many can we get through before we stop trying?

How do you calm what needs to break,
put to rest what begs to be breathed
and beats
and barrels its way through brick and bone
and seeps its way into your brain
not the physical which is pink and squishy and permeable
but what it holds
what can’t be touched
but is somehow so easily shaped
by things like words and pictures and untranslatable glances
from boys from girls from strangers on the street and
drivers in cars whose gaze you accidentally met at stoplights.

I am usually in bed.
I am an unstuffed scarecrow
that can’t stand up straight
unless a chemical reaction propels me upright
and threatens to tear the fabric of my burlap body
and it’s a fight to survive but
my inanimate pieces have never been more alive.

I cherish what can be taken in
and soft things that conform to the curves of my body
like a memory foam mattress
which was invented for people
who have been launched
like pebbles in slingshots
David and Goliath
a blaze of fire
through the barriers that hold our world together.
They have left home
which is earth
been expelled
which is death
and been resurrected in
the coldness and silence of space
cradled by a bed
that loved their reborn shape
although it was not where it belonged.

I do not belong
and I’ve learned to always carry
a hammer and a chisel because
I will build a place I will belong
I will scrape into your rock
and set up pitons in the cracks I make
I don’t mean to intrude
what I mean is to survive
and I will build me a home in you
like loving parasite
but try to build me a part of your temple
and I rappel away to the next cliff face.

It is not a piece of what I am
and you’re my harbor for the storm but
things I do not need:
assimilation
fusion
there is too much in me to combine with you
I am almost always overflowing
and I might leave marks
but that’s
action reaction
cause and effect
my teeth marks are not strong
there is no bitterness there
the impressions I leave are
writing in sand
that is to say I touched so much of you
but the evidence will shake
into a jumble of microscopic pieces.

I am like shaken soda can,
I’ll burst in an explosion
to rival Pompeii
but when my carbon dioxide fizzles out
you’ll hardly notice I was there at all.

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3 thoughts on “Please don’t shake

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