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by Ashley Makue


Am I sad because my poetry requires it?

My fingers have been searching for things in distant places; lovers in faraway summertime cities, singers in Sunnyside, syllables in rosy poetry.

Sometimes my thoughts go there too- out of my grasp, they shoot out to dreams I do not consent to. I hold on to bearing motionlessness while considering all I know before hanging off a quiet rope in winter’s piercing cold- then, in that dark moment when all is nothing and my birth unto death- my hands splatter unheeded hurt in black ink- a self-titled suicide note to pain that won’t give.

Do I write because I am broken?

Is each of my poems a contribution to an anthology of unending aching? Is my voice wrapped around the absent memories of fatherly love? Do I remember the letters to every heart-break because my body has forgotten the touch of my father’s hands?

I have written six poems about the man that raped me, thirteen about lovers who ran off with my heat- others who left my fire kindled and too hot for comfort. I have eighteen songs to emptiness, three differently written poems to the effect of this one right here, a compilation of tragedies- the eulogy of loss- burying a friend too early, my grandfather before he filled that hole, a lover before I learned crying once and writing forever.

I have written childhood chronicles for reconciliation with my mother’s breasts. She never fed me, the doctors said her milk was not enough- it never is. No amount of everything is ever everything. I have been angry and written dynamite on paper kites; let go and waited for an explosion in another town.

I am still wounded.

I have open wounds to inspire poetry on any lonely night when ache is the language, on the subject line and I drink painful lyrics in my tears- finding punctuation in the musicality of my sobs.

Is poetry an incentive for pain?

Did we trade here; an offer to be sick and talented?

I have been wanting, needing every more. Wednesdays are hell, Mondays even worse. I am running against time, sometimes the sun is somewhat up and sadness is a moment in living, other times a smile is an episode in melancholy; a comma after the agony of yearning for the return of love never had.

There were imaginary friends and boyfriends who left me for someone prettier than me, neighbours in my head that moved to Suburbia, away from my melodramatic wretchedness.

I am melancholic by self-diagnosis. I don’t go to psychologists, they treat me like pain comes around every now-and-again. I have tried to explain that it is not like a train station for me, a room only entered when someone was careless- I told the last one that I am the entire train wreck, a train always on its way out of the tunnel and sometimes in spring, a poet’s love is the light at the end.

Are tears my calling?

I carry the weight of injury like anointing. I have done the come-as-you-are thing- been honest at the alter and came back blood-stained and nowhere near snow.

I am not drowning here-I am laying, soaked- feet planted firmly on the ground, deep in the sea of sorrow- like a sinner, I am a dog eating its own waste, a pig’s return to mud. I have learned to survive under water. Living on the surface chokes me- that is the depth of my talent- I do not write shallow things nor do I know the brighter side.

There is no silver line to my artistry.

I have turned the world upside down looking for bliss in poetry but my joy is a little too far from honesty.

Where’s the middle ground? There must be a place somewhere where jazz is not self-distracting and all the paintings are not made of rotten wounds. We do pain so well it could be our very vocation.

But poetry is life, right?

Death far beyond never healing, is never lifting a single word for hope, or recollection? And if I ever should stop breathing there should be a full-stop engraved on a wall somewhere and an afterlife of blank pages.