The White Institution (circa 2002)

I walked down the street
With my eyes on the building of white
I knew they were like me
Autistic and trained not to fight 

They rocked behind bars and
I knew I belonged there not here
Not out on the streets
With the ones who had never known fear

My body moved forward 
To ocean with sand and with stars
But my thoughts, they went back
To the white institution with bars 

As slugs we might be
But the world it had fashioned a shell
Not home anymore
Not here, not on earth, but in hell

[Events 1999, first written circa 2002, written from memory 2014, May contain errors.]

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Dancing with Shadows

Do you know that I don't know
Anything beyond light and shadow
No ideas, no thoughts
Just reactions

I chase my shadow
I run from my shadow
I touch my shadow
I lean on my shadow
I tap on its fingers
I step on its feet

And we dance
And we prance
And we dance

I can't see you watching
If I did, I couldn't care
Light and dark are now
All that I perceive
Not just the colors
But the things we believe
Ideas don't exist
And neither do you
Unless you bring it
Bring your shadow into view
Then I can dance —
With your shadow, not with you

Black and white
Dark and light
Are all I comprehend
But it's not so bad
To dance with shadows
Round the bend

 

Don’t ask, I can’t tell, I can’t even explain. (2012)

She skated towards me wearing a red winter scarf. My feet were frozen to the ground. She waved her scarf in the air from a distance. It was the only thing with color in sight. Then it flew through the air and landed in my hands.

I clutched the scarf tight. I didn’t see but felt her fall. I didn’t see but felt life struggle to maintain itself, and fail. I didn’t understand. I never understood. I couldn’t make sense of anything anymore.

I never let go of the scarf. I unzipped myself and wrapped it around my heart. To keep peverything warm when nothing was certain. And then I cried until I thought I would never stop.

And I’ve tried to hide what is gone. But I’m not sure if it fools anyone. There are places we used to go, things I used to do, and they seem as dead as she is. Only sometimes I feel something squeeze my heart. And things pop into focus once again, in color.

I can’t tell you all of my wishes, because they are all in code. I can’t tell you what I can’t do anymore. It’s just one more room in the building, left blank and unexplored. I wish I was known for who I was and not for what I did. I can’t tell you what I’ve lost or what I’ve gained.

I can still see more than people want for me to see. I can still feel things deeper than people expect. What I can’t understand, I still can’t understand, only more. I still want things that can’t be named. I still can’t tell you any other way than this here, right now. What stays, what shifts, what’s changed.

If you wanted something different, I can’t help it. This is what you get. If you don’t understand, maybe it’s not here for understanding. I’m just exhausted, and didn’t have the energy to tell you the normal way. So I took what I had and I went where I could. And this is what you get.

Don’t tell me what I should have said. Chances are, I couldn’t. This is brain damage we’re talking about. It isn’t convenient. It doesn’t instantly vanish. If I could only tell you a tenth of it.

It’s hard to look around and see that nearly everything I used to pay attention to, is impossible to understand. It’s hard to know I can’t say anything unless it follows a particular pattern, like this does. I couldn’t say this part without all the rest before it. All the rest. Not something else. Something acceptable.

I’m scared and I couldn’t tell you why. It’s winter and the wind is blowing hair in my face. I’m glad I have the scarf around my heart. Otherwise I’d get lost in all the snow. Everything used to be familiar. Now there’s so much snow I can’t identify anything. Or not much of anything.

Please, something be familiar. Something be unfrozen. Something be other than white. I feel tiny, and I’m shaking, and I don’t remember anything. Not what I just said, not that you’re alive. In here, I don’t know you. I don’t know me. I don’t know anything.

But it always fades back. And there’s always more. And I always find myself writing this. To you. To who? To me. To they. I don’t know. All I know is I couldn’t have written this any other way. And maybe someone can even figure out what I meant. Because it’s in there. If you look in the right places, and with the right eye for the reality of one experience or another.

I am through, so I hope, sitting up all night with neon pink insects eating my eyelashes. Lying in a sunlit room with parts of me flying into the sky and back again. Night after night trying to avoid being flattened into a grid pattern and dissolved. In lots of pain. With lots of nausea. And I hope never to visit that realm again. A lioness carried me out.

Not that anyone noticed. They come in and change your IV bag and the hours between are left for you to lie still and drift into bizarre hallucinatory worlds that always have an undercurrent of hell on earth to them. They don’t check you for it. That’d take time. So of course they’re blindsided by my paranoia and then, after that was gone, sliding into the blank white snow everywhere. They only noticed what affected them.

I’m out. But it’s not over. And I wish I could tell you the things I can’t say or understand. But they’re just lost. And I get scared if they’re ever coming back. And this was the only way to tell you. So don’t ask it to be less roundabout or full of things that didn’t literally happen. Because right now that’s one thing I can’t do, can’t do at all. Don’t call this creative writing it’s the only damn writing I have at all this moment. And what I’ve done hurts like blinding colors in my eyes instead of a scarf warming my heart. If she’s dead or asleep, I can’t tell you, don’t know, but it hurts.

How To Stay Alive

I can’t struggle
As the world fades to white
Can’t remember the way my home looked
Can’t remember my mind
Can’t remember anything
It’s all faded out
Like there’s nothing left of the world

Sleep, the white tells me
Sleep and dream of nothing
Just rest, just rest
Soft and soothing
No need to think
To remember what is wrong
Just rest
Just
Rest
Shhhhh

*

Drowning
Was I drowning?
I can’t even thrash
But I almost remember
There was a surface
Somewhere

*

I struggle to surface
The ripples spread out
And out
And out

Mostly I float
But I almost remember
Something

Was
there
something?

*

The white fades to a dappled green
Above me
Leaves
Sky
And I remember
Now I remember
Now

I remember trees
I remember the clover
Tangled in my hair
I remember
Oh I remember
Everything

*

The world is
Green, blue
Brown, yellow, gray
The white
Has faded to these things

*

I can move my eyes first
Then my hands
Elbows, knees, and toes
Fingers grasping
At the memory
They could never hold

But

I can move
I can fight
I can live

Haunted by the Living

I feel like I’m wandering
Through an empty house
And even though the place
Is completely barren
I can feel the presence
Of whoever just walked out the door

I don’t know how I got here
I don’t know how long till I can leave
The walls are white
The only thing that moves
Are the thin gauze curtains
In a breeze that I can’t feel

And I know someone was here
More than one, maybe five
But they walked out the door
They’re not here anymore
But I can feel them

I can feel where they used to be
The places they used to walk
The places they sat down together
To eat, to talk, to play, to be

They’ve left behind a breeze in my mind
That blows the curtains when I think of them
I don’t even know who they are
Or where they are now
But they’ve left themselves behind
Inside these rooms, inside my mind

And I’m left to wander in their wake
And wonder why I’m here
Wherever here is when it seems to be
Haunted by people who are still alive
All the rooms are white
And the breeze is the only sign of life

I sit down on the floor
To stop myself from wandering
I reach out my hand, in my mind
And I can feel you take it

And as I lie here on the white floor
Of the white room of the white house
With the white curtains
In the invisible breeze
That connection
Will have to be enough
For now