It’s two am.
I flick ash off a stranger’s cigarette. Sucking in the last of it, I flick the cigarette after the ash. It skids across a frozen puddle. This is the first time I ever smoked. A roof tile falls after me as I pass the door, dangling off its hinges.
Filth layers the floor, the people. Mounds along the walls and in the rooms are either garbage or people, some sleeping, some in a haze, others in withdraw. Yellow eyes and blue veins, stained teeth and numbed pain. They’re all the same, caught in dreams and tearing seams; trying to hide, but bone bare. All like me. Only, there are no track marks to give my skin character. My addiction is to desperation.
I crouch beside one of them. He’s gone. Underneath his lids, his eyes have sunk into his skull. He has your face, a profile of razors, but without the lines of frustrations. Setting my chin on my knees, I reach for him. I comb back his bangs that lay over his eyes. My fingers leave behind lines of dirt on his forehead, but come away with grease from his skin. My lip trembles. His skin was cold. Really cold. I scuttle closer. I swipe at his bangs again, before sagging against him, breathing out. Settling in, under his arm, I turn my face and rest my head against his chest. Long ago I became used to the stench. His coat is rough. I weave my fingers with his.
There I fall asleep. With his arm circling my back, and around my waist, I learn a little bit about men. Just a little. That they don’t have to be rough, as long as they’re dead. I know come sunrise, I will have to shuffle about with the junkies and buy my share. Come sunrise, I will be in the streets and down allies to search for the toss-aways of people like me. I am a faker. I am ashamed, but I am a faker. I don’t belong here.
I have a house, though it is empty. I have a room with a mattress on the floor and cover with soft blankets and clean sheets. Littered across the floor flutter a hundred shredded poems. Somewhere in those rooms waits a blank notebook. But my thoughts are here. They crowd the sour air. They push against the barriers of the broken people and that disturbs them. Soon I will be chased out. Soon they with realize I am a faker and I don’t belong here.
It’s six am.
I take a Vicodin. Sometimes it’s all I can do. I take two. It is not my first time taking these pills, or my second. Maybe my hundred and seventy fourth and hundred seventy fifth, maybe not. I take a Vicodin and go to bed, but I don’t sleep. I drink gin and watch infomercials. And I’ll be okay. I tear up this letter for you and I’ll be okay. But I rewrite it and I won’t be okay.
It is ten hours before I open my eyes. The shredded letter flutters around my ankles as I stumble to the bathroom. I take another Vicodin and flush the rest. Then I take about nine hundred milligrams of Lamictal and know that won’t help, but do it anyway. I stare at the Adderall bottle for about thirty minutes and roll it in my hands, but I don’t take it. Instead I throw up and I go to bed and I sleep. I sleep and have nightmares. I remember what they’re about and feel perverted
Six hours later, I wake up. This time I only glance at the Adderall. I look for the Vicodin before remembering what I did and I might do some crying in regret. This time I take my anti-psychotic. This time I take the anti-depressant. This time I take the antibiotic, but I’ll do it on an empty stomach and I’ll throw up again.
This time I go downstairs and forget I’m clothed so when I get in the shower the shirt plasters itself to me. I sit on the shower floor until the water runs cold and then I sit some more and not cry. I can’t remember if I washed my hair.
Midnight and I am not drunk. Midnight and I am not asleep and not drunk. Instead, I am dead. I am dead but breathing and breathing hurts when you are dead because you force air where it doesn’t belong. It doesn’t belong in me, but I force it in because I don’t know how to stop.
I scratch your name on my blank notebook. I write out a thousand and ten thousand words so it is no longer empty. Write them out and then black them out. I write sideways and upside down and paste pictures in, but then cover them all in ink and I hope you never see them. Tearing them up gives me paper cuts. Chewing on my lip breaks the skin and I bleed. It dribbles down my chin so I swipe it up with the back of my hand and suck on my lip.
These pages I won’t tear up, I swear. I make no other promises.
Forget what you thought.
Forget, forget me.
Before you forget me, feed me your regrets.
They will disappear with me.
Forget me before I throw them up.
Forget me and let me die.
I am a coward whose armor is to be forgotten.
Because then no one will remember to hurt me.
I have lost. I have lost and I am dead.
I am a poet. Have sex with me.
It’s three am.
I am a poet, but we don’t sleep together. There is no sex, no touching or hitched breaths. There is no naked skin or bed head. Instead there is nothing. I did not show you the poem because chances are you have already forgotten me. Chances are I am gone in your head. I have lost and I am dead. What a humiliating defeat. You can’t smell me in your sheets. I have long faded.
People say stupid shit all the time. About how love courses through like electricity. Love at first sight, like a lightning strike. Lust makes people magnetic. Electromagnetism is the force between electrically charged particles. It is the friction of skin. The shock of a lover’s kiss. And a whole other array of cliché things. Electromagnetism is the most powerful force in the universe.
Even now, even now I can’t forget to breathe. The last drop of the whiskey runs from the corner of my mouth and splatters on this letter. Sliding my fingers around the neck glass, I choke it. I choke. Clutching it to my chest, my eyes dart to the phone and I wish there was a delivery service for booze. My vision blurs, remembering that you used to be it. I feel around for the pack of cigarettes from the stranger. I’m shaking too hard to light one.
Gravitation is the weakest of the four fundamental forces of the universe. But it cannot be stopped. It cannot be cancelled, cannot be repelled. Gravity only attracts. It doesn’t need a charge, or a temperature, or a right condition. Gravity affects every particle that has mass. Even if I am dead.
In the corner of this room on my mattress, I huddle, stabbing a ballpoint pen into my skin every time it slips off the paper. The pressure behind my scribbles hurts my hand. The loops on my letters look more like demented polygons than loops.
It is the weakest.
I have no standards when it comes to morals. I have no morals when it comes to standards. Shallow describes me. That’s why I thought you might have needed me. Because everything has meaning to you. But I am shallow. And that doesn’t leave much room for meaning. I am the sum of my experiences. Meaningless.
There is nothing that can deter gravity. There is no shield against gravity. It cannot be absorbed or altered. It cannot be transformed to another force. No, gravity will not be denied. It always attracts and never repels. Always, always, always.
I’m trying. I’m trying. I write out “Keep trying.” I try to stop myself from writing out “You fool. You fool. You fool.” “You fool, you fool, you fool,” I write.
It is the weakest.
Halitus. I take an Adderall.
Celestial bodies kneel before gravity. Galaxies are shaped by it.
Come this hour I’ll see if it’s easier to breathe. Come the year and we’ll see if there is a reprieve. The darkness weighs upon me. A sadness churns in me. But I can’t forget to breathe.
It is the weakest.
I am not gravity.