Demons On My Boat

There are demons

on my boat.

Shhh

You’ll wake them and then I

won’t be able to look away from them.

It is an all too simple

contract; our deals

sealed in tears and thickened, old blood;

silences coating emotions,

covering sounds and words, and smiles and secret screams.

Shhh

You’ll wake them if you come near me.

 

There are demons

on my boat.

I steer my lonely ship onwards,

beneath the hesitant moon, and restless stars.

Bright, dark, bright, dark.

It’s still, a smooth mirror reflecting an endless sky;

I don’t disturb the empty ocean, unsettling in all its quiet rage.

Its hidden heart.

I am willed to follow my aimless line, as far as I can travel

on the

numbing breeze.

 

There are demons

on my boat.

I promised them I’d behave.

I am not allowed to wander, not allowed to explore without

a rambling mind;

I am not to follow the course of other ships I see,

or meet the deserted spits of land I’ve let float by,

or travel with company that stills me,

or make my own speed that goes against the tide.

They scrawled words along the wooden boards,

scored crude nail marks one evening while I slept,

hovered over and drooled on me with teeth I could feel

the pricks and beads of blood.

They scrawled words that told me they would leave me be,

if I left them be.

 

There are demons

on my boat.

And now I see a ship, with bright red sails,

drift to land not too far away;

a flaming banner across the surface of my shadowed sea.

I move my wheel, aimed at land-

assailed.

Onslaught of teeth and scales and spidery limbs,

pointed daggers and sabres of nail,

breathing hot spit and foul stench,

musty rot and all

rushed at me.

Blackened ooze of shapes and

distorted beasts;

I can’t take in any air that isn’t

toxic, ash making my eyes water.

Too gruesome to stare at them, intensely black,

yellow eyes and a multitude of ravenous, slick tongues.

I right the wheel,

and they creep back,

to rest in the shallows of my boat,

biting nails and shedding skin,

keeping guard on me.

Watching.

Restless flashes in the shadows hunted by the sun,

and drawn out under the moon.

Waiting.

 

There are demons

on my boat.

And it has been like this

for lengthy years.

Hopelessly blind and painfully aware,

at once,

of frozen breaths down my neck,

and bubbling fear inside,

of feelings.

Anything that leave me open to onslaught.

Anything that opens windows and lets their darkness

trail in,

tumble around and entangle innards,

I’m left speechless and sore inside,

nursing wounds I suppress.

 

There are demons

on my boat.

And the scary thing.

Is that I’ve made peace with them, under their scrutiny.

Yet I see birds above and blue trembles beneath me,

green jungles to the left and empty sands to the right.

And I refuse to hide and cower in peace.

Now.

I once again move my hands and face the

glimmer of land I see-

and they come rising from their graves of slumber.

 

There are demons

on my boat.

But they aren’t that terrifying under the sunlight.

They hurl abuse in my face,

spitting and writhing and screeching;

But their scales are actually just drifting smoke,

their nails just scraps of tattered fabric,

eyes just glinting stones and teeth just blunted stumps.

They scream and bleed before me,

because I’m focused on the distance behind them.

After hours, they retire,

like burnt out candles, the smoke dissipates.

 

There aren’t any demons

on my boat.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

This piece is about the analogy of demons on a boat given in ACT behavioural therapy. I decided to try and accommodate my therapy by creating a deeper version to say the same thing- about mindfulness and emotional regulation and the importance of feeling your feelings, instead of living by suppressing them.

Suitcase

I was played,

played for a fool.

 

I wish I didn’t need to abide

by my own rules.

I wish I didn’t have to feel for you.

 

I wish I didn’t have to build a

shelter of broken sticks and dead leaves

while you fight your insecurities and

a heap of people I walked in on

around me

like I’m the no-man’s-land,

you trample to edge closer to nowhere.

I only want to leave your suitcase,

in the middle of the dirty street,

and not look at it,

as I walk away

and abandon it there.

 

Because I can’t take this

slow fuck

anymore.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

Wandering

I missed you.

 

Oh how I missed you; like a wandering

traveller waiting for the new light on the darkened

foreign streets to everywhere.

And so our travels go like this…

 

Like the traveller delayed, already departed from home,

yet still searching for the next greatest ambition, dream, landscape of contentment

I felt the sludge of home-sickness;

a deepened breath when I heard from you again.

And to keep the sick down;

I realised what I hadn’t been able to say;

words choking my throat, razor edges skimming,

drawing slivered cracks in my breath.

 

I realised my feet had been standing still the entire time,

out of phone calls and the sound of smiles from the other line,

a companionship was never too hard to resist from you.

The tricky little games of life and feeling weren’t so stressful to navigate,

compass, map, rushed footsteps dancing along the roads to you.

Neither were your hands ever unwanted;

you could carve such brilliant sculptures of me with your fingers,

roaming, heated, the quickened pulse under mingling collarbones.

Lying with you reminded me of your talents, your greatness

that integrity and solid stillness out of place anywhere

but with

you.

 

A picture postcard of me and you.

 

Coming together again on beaten, dusty paths of the sweat and painfully

sharp air we breathe,

a kiss.

Was all it took.

I returned home all over again.

My feet were still standing still.

The miss, the bursting heart, hot and explosive to rekindle everything.

 

I divulged what ticked over in my head, the beats my heart skipped over you.

Blurted it out over the fear that

what is gone is completely gone.

Taking a step back to take that step forward again.

I made you reconnect with all your burdens;

over me and everything we touched together.

Sex returned to the table, but I found out I know longer

wanted to own it, want flowers placed in a vase without purpose.

And we all went back again;

I missed our friendship, our coupled retreat, I missed how we used to simply be.

But I can learn to regret the risky flights I took with you,

and the physical became one.

 

The sad truth, is that I will never be able to stay at home forever.

I need to tell you I miss you but I also can’t be with you forever.

Paths are not worn down, they are not trekked, nor found

at the end if I am resting, waiting,

for them all to meet me.

 

I feel sorry for returning home, knowing my bags are already filled

for another adventure, another place.

But I can’t take home with me.

I can’t take you with me.

I feel sorry for making you dredge it up for no reason,

for lies, for misinterpretation;

I wanted to tell you before you opened up to it, to save you from shame.

 

And now I wrap my arms around myself,

to shield against the lonely slow footsteps I take now,

bags packed full of me, to take with me and remind myself,

of who I am, and where I will be going;

Don’t think I don’t feel despicable;

about making you feel about your feelings for me again, for no reason in the end.

I can only feel guilty and sick to the core for so long.

 

But now I wander. I can still love you

like home,

but I can also be free.

 

*Artwork by Duy Huynh*

 

 

 

 

Getting Myself Heartbroken

I got myself heartbroken,

by that boy

who I only got to see until decisions were

made for me.

 

Everyone talks about the heartbeat that goes still,

silent,

rippling waves of fire melting skin,

the stony sickness riding inside,

the absent stumbles as you will yourself to sleep

through tears and the stolen ability to breathe.

 

Everyone talks about being vulnerable,

the power behind allowing yourself to feel things,

as they are

seconds to minutes, days to weeks and dreams to dusty

cracks in open eyes,

letting in the glare of things gone wrong,

horrid failures and cut glass pieces lodged in broken wings.

 

Everyone talks about the necessity, the fundamental

break to start the healing.

It’s the sticky glue and dirty hands of being and not being,

at once rocking inside, feeling the edge, protective,

at once sitting on the edge letting the empty air hold you.

It’s the trust you place to let yourself be free in wrapped arms

and watch it get ripped out if it fails.

But it’s also the calm warnings,

like sharp pebbles making cliffs to climb on bare feet,

not getting out of the surf when the waves get to beastly,

to never let yourself feel fear and pleasure and

true, complicated, I-don’t-know-how-to-say-this

love and hurt.

 

I got myself heartbroken,

by that boy

who held me more

than any other boy did.

 

Everyone wants something they find so easy to

keep.

The lightness, the unburdening burden of

loving someone to love you back.

Nothing sweeter than water on a parched throat,

nothing more kinder than a respite for a heart beating too fast and too hard;

we talk about feelings like raiding lands and gaining empires,

scars and tears and blood spattering the terrains of our chests

when we open siege

and fight to own something we have never been blessed to keep

for more than an extended moment;

fight to keep you wanting more,

flames and sparks and agony

when we give you the open ground to

lay waste to us.

 

Everyone wants to understand what it is,

that makes each attempt so much harder than the last.

Did we damage something vital the first time round?

Did we develop a fever, an ongoing sickness that we breathe around

for weeks?

Did we shut down a vital event of trauma, so hard to close away we completely

forget to try, to damaged to take note of scarred skin?

Let it run and rampage and leave us losers defeated,

walking the same tracks to collect things we left behind,

hoping no one stole them from the dying grass while we slept.

 

Everyone wants to push aside the worst of things.

I do,

feeling broken and sad looking at my insides

on the floor, a little heaped mound of beautiful knives,

you coveted and hurled back to me, after a simple cut.

You were afraid to bleed out and watch me patch you up,

when I let all my cuts bleed open in front of you,

knowing you would finally be the one to heal them.

 

I got myself heartbroken,

by a boy

I desperately want to have back again.

I’d fall and cut myself all over again,

to reopen all those empty notches

just for a little piece in the chaos I walk head-straight that

brings me all that warmth and brightness and security and peace

again.

Just please, once all over again.

 

Not a doubt in my mind we could be so happy,

if you didn’t step in it. And leave me alone in the woods

hearing the howls and screeches and feeling the

feel of claws trace down my spine…

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

A Heavy Hope

We found ourselves in

a sticky

sticky mess

didn’t we?

 

We can be so intimate,

because I hate making my walls

from already crumbled bricks and

clay of wilted loves,

the dredge and slurries of everything that went wrong

plasters together the insecurities I hide from,

to protect you from.

 

You didn’t even build the offence I expected,

to prompt my building, my construction and strategy and

internal combat.

I didn’t have to crouch at your feet,

long forgotten how to feel for myself.

So mastered at letting you take over my body,

make it move with you where you need it to be,

matching ecstasies and heartbeats

and sweat and moans,

feeling you aroused,

secretly wondering if I was made of stone.

 

It took one touch

to do it.

Just one hopeless exploration of two bodies,

for me to return to my shrivelled husk,

tearful and vulnerable and exposed for all the others,

tainted parcel, envelope turned inside out,

only wishing to be your absolute perfect,

in and out of bedsheets and

the expectations we see peeking out of the shade,

fucking us and ruining us as we go.

 

But you make it seem all ok.

You make that one shadow in my past,

turn me into something else entirely.

It still bothers me, plays me, screws me over and over

until I break a little because it’s just to much trauma to overcome.

Being used for little night-time, quickened searchings,

finding out what people always want from me,

and what they are happy to leave behind them,

with me.

 

I’ve always known about emotions.

But I don’t think it’s ever been this easy to feel them.

To feel that rise and fall of a wave people keep ranting of.

Because of you, I get it now.

It makes me see stars and feel everything hit at once.

 

It’s always a start that ages before it’s time.

It’s always the nerves that settle under my skin,

bumps and bruises and dead hour wanderings,

waiting for the inevitable moment it all ends.

As soon as you like me, I start to panic.

I can’t sleep and eat waiting for that little rattle,

pop shake

of when you pick up the phone and make my panic real.

 

I can only believe you for a day.

I can only like you for for a day at a time.

I can only show you what I am for a day at a time under very

rational considerations.

 

To feed you until you want me no more.

You can scrunch up your eyes and turn to plead you would never,

but having been a lot of messed-up lovely things to a lot of people,

I know you are a human emotional puddle.

And they were all human too.

 

And all our time together

becomes a heartfelt plea,

the heavy, pressure-on-chest of hope

that no one ever warns you about,

of the dangers of letting yourself go

with them

that special person

feeling everything you strive so hard to suppress

given over to trickster hands and laughs

of those emotions you fear.

 

We don’t regret it.

Not at all.

But all our movements and affections are

dictated expiry dates,

and I hate it being about us needing

to consume as much of each other

before the time ticks over and

it’s all spoiled.

 

So this solidifies where I am,

where I am coming from,

when I curl up next to you.

This is my flagged position,

in this strategic push-pull, give-take, want-relinquish

games we desperately seek to play.

I’m always the loyal friend, crying when you close a door on me,

or leave me aside,

or throw me away for someone, something new.

 

So instead

for now,

I’m going to remind myself of all the things one day could be true.

And get a little lost in you,

because that’s all I can do.

 

It’s that or I’m going to

admit defeat

and have to watch you walk away,

and hope I feel this rollercoaster again.

 

There is something a little tragic above all else, in this.

That one person you want to let yourself open to, to let them break you

into tiny pieces is all ok.

You know you would rather try and hurt from them, because at least it’s safer

than hurting yourself like you know you do

every hour not with them.

But it’s so heartbreaking when they are too scared themselves to be hurt by you.

That empty ache when the one soul you have felt more for in an entire week, than you

would in months,

gives up on you. Doesn’t even feel anything for you, to fight that fear with you.

 

So you see, it does become my problem. It does become a fight,

about me.

How emptier can I feel months from now, knowing we didn’t even give time a chance.

How emptier would I be, knowing the person I don’t even have to try being vulnerable

with,

I know I can’t even trust them in the end?

Who does that leave me with trusting now?

 

I couldn’t feel any worse months from now.

Because I unconsciously have already given you everything.

There is nothing I wouldn’t say to you at this point, which means I already

put in everything I could be and more.

And knowing I meant nothing that time couldn’t help,

that’s just a whole new hurt a human should never need to feel.

 

And now you have left me feeling numb.

I would give anything to stay in our happiness

and cry for months many weeks, years from now,

than have to know that I don’t feel warm, or cold, or scared, or lonely, or stressed, or

anxious,

or panicked than

I don’t feel right now.

 

So you see you are worth waiting for. You are something I can only seek to help and

support, than

something to remove and wash away.

Don’t you dare push me out.

I would rather know you see pain every time I make you better, stronger, more you and real

and beautiful,

than toss me out when I’m perfect at making you better,

so you don’t have to feel how

wasted and worthless and small I feel.

I appreciate you not lying to me,

but I don’t appreciate you making me have to watch you try and help yourself when I don’t

think you are.

I know you want to comfort. You want to say you understand how much I hurt.

How many spikes I have driven through my head, or how heavy my body feels.

But you can’t ever know how terrifying this is;

I have my mental illness, a disease programmed to make me feel like nothing

every time I try and feel something,

and you gave it what it wanted. And you taught me to believe it’s right. By proving that

even when I instantly feel that love we talk about, it isn’t real.

You’re just a dream I don’t think I’ll ever get to wake up to.

And it’s so sad.

And nothing stands in our way, I know. The only thing there is you and fear.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

Abuse Like Second Nature

I’m nervous, simply waiting for you to snap me

like a twig.

I’ve bundled my feelings, my loves and hates,

all those outspoken words

and all those silenced words,

into a little gift-wrapped, topped-with-a-bow

gift

for you.

 

You will accept it.

It is what comes after, when it reaches your nimble hands,

that frightens me.

 

You weave your skill so well,

like knitted discord inside, I can feel

when I reach in to see if I’m all still there.

Under many dark moons,

you leave your shadow to keep me company.

 

It walks beside me, keeping my head whirring on into the

small hours of the darkened dawn when

I see it

at the foot of my bed

watching me sleep.

You told it to crawl into all the tight spaces

inside me,

with me.

It reminds me of you, endlessly, always,

breathing your name as I surrender to closing my eyes,

vulnerable lying before your peering shadow,

it could stop me breathing in a heartbeat.

 

Only you, sweet devil, can keep me falling so hard

so fast,

shedding myself trailing from your bed to mine.

I linger in the smell of you wrapped around my clothes,

taken off in a hurry as your words,

sizzling spitfire,

hand-made cuts and invisible haemorrhage

shatter me to pieces

easy enough for you to pick and keep in

your bed until you are finally finished

with me.

 

All I feel is the burden of myself,

when I really have no burden to hold.

I’m a phone running out of battery when you need it most.

Filled with a frenzied panic, a slap of frustration passes your face

to use against me all that bottled irritation.

If I don’t touch you back you will

wield it against me,

blame for insensitivity, a slowly seeping coldness

I can fight off under your roaming form

in a shady light of fear.

 

Your emotional abuse is a character.

It has a body, limbs and hollow face and it can bruise me

with a single touch.

I never leave my body open with you.

And to what end do I let you paint me with your manipulations,

your scheming tactics

your irrevocable evidence I’m worth nothing more for you;

like a girl’s doll known to be too pretty,

putting sticky residue inside their goals at night.

 

So use me with your infamous fingers.

I dare you, do it.

Again.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

 

One Question

I have one question.

That’s been digging trenches in my mind.

Hollowing out all the empathy, the faith,

the blind addiction to sourcing a better humanity;

better lovers, stronger fighters,

stunning believers, more tender hearts.

With actual effort to beat on their own.

 

Your exclamations are false, always.

And I can tell you why

my shell is caked in your muddy, rotting stink of fake facts.

I’m cracked, embittered, roughened edges capable of paper-cut slicing skin

and all my lovely scars can tell you something you hardly believe.

I’m here to tell you why.

And why I hate how you make me feel this way;

a cynical coil of seething, jilted, passion, to fix what I can’t.

 

For all those who make hearts melt and weep,

shed heat and fire in rapturous thoughts and darkened, tainted dreams;

for all the single words you used as tools to build up walls,

break down my walls,

deceive me into caring about you

who chisels into only getting the gem he wants.

You can collapse a mine on me for all you care

in the end.

 

For all those who can make devilishly delightful

fantasies for all the vulnerable loners,

like me,

like us all when we shut our eyes,

to hover and circle over, beg for on our backs,

naked and open and bleeding raw beneath you

like ritual sacrifices for some higher purpose, some higher hopes and

goals and unwavering loyalties

to you,

my dearest demon behind every salvation;

You are the emotional abusers that gravitate in my orbit,

and I can’t seem to dislodge your planets from my line.

I admit, you got me high off some stunning shit.

Of yours.

 

For all those gentle, perpetually unavailable, curious beings

vacationing deep away inside

if only you would let me try and reach you, for you

to bring out all the best in me back;

before you close up like sealing a scar

We are left in a continual loop of back and forth and sideways,

hovering through open, closing doors

elevator rides to the same living routine, breaths, steps,

burdened heavy heart and raw eyelids

bruised red and blue in swollen tears

when you can never emerge from yourself to realise I’m right here

for you.

 

For those that run around, commanding disciples, throwing the weight of luck,

fortunate coincidences, helping fools sabotage and kill for existence,

perfection,

idealism,

licking off frosting,

dwelling in your own superiority,

I see your ruse.

Painting pristine pictures

with the lift of a finger

selling illicit jealousies and spite

like wildfire

from the back of your 24/7 Facebook page.

You make us understand the reality of one-sided loyalties,

the critical unfair rulings of want and have,

divided and mixed between people,

achievements hard fought for like precious land

and ownerships of better peoples

determined by the infernal number of people you know.

 

So yes.

I do have one question for you.

Why are you like this?

An why must we all break apart alone in

the boiling pressure of it all?

Forget the next night.

Wait for the return.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*

Universal Secret

I want to let you in.

On a little universal secret.

We are an exhausted pool of all the little blind, maddening

instances we confuse ourselves with;

over people and instances and places left unexplored,

for us who feel the weight of lead limbs dangling limp from

the craving of sleep;

patient waits cut short in frustrating moments of self-pity and loss,

bereft and lonely over insatiable appetites.

Over friends we keep only to abuse,

lovers never giving enough but taking everything wrongly advertised;

the needle driven deep under skin after seeing jealousies dance,

float like unreachable things,

taunt and play and roast your heart in an oven,

cooking in the promise of eventual redemption.

 

I want to let you in.

On a little universal secret.

Being caught alive wrapped in shrouds of your own

faint darkness is miserable.

As a flower feels the warmth of sunlight,

so quickly it droops to meet the rough earth.

We are a maddening crowd ticked off at always

being second best, runner up, participation award;

jilted contestants,

competitors making allies and lovers, sequential,

in an ongoing battle of self and image and

all the fucked up soliloquies we recite with rough tongues

to an imaginary audience of our selves and their incessant advice.

 

I see your facade.

And i’ll challenge it every time.

Don’t think you have never heard the whispers circling;

don’t think you go home to shut all these truths inside a box of your own,

don’t think everyone else does too.

It seems like a sordid, unfair jibe, between the ribs and spikes in your head,

to wish you were that one perpetually fortunate, lucky, charismatic creature we

worship in our private dark;

we all worship each other.

And that’s where all our collective monsters feed on us poor, poor

struggling souls.

 

I want to let you in.

On a little universal secret,

that you can only deny so long.

There are many of us, made to feel few,

hidden in millions and billions of tight springs

that only gather so many more of these confusing thorns.

I’m talking about us,

the ones that have to leave a ‘do not disturb’ sign

inked on our foreheads when we disappear to somewhere else

because we have to. As far as we can.

We are the people who fight for conversation first,

and always back away first not because we want to

but because our minds are thick, and sore, and so

exquisitely filled with self-deprecating jargon and patched, sewed

stitched in places clumsily,

a surgeon not paying close attention,

that fails to keep the muck from seeping out.

The pressure in our heads that makes teeth grind, eyes tear,

mouths shut dry and parched, a surge of nausea

a general lingering present future lasting feeling of unsettling nerves;

sparking blossoming dull throbs of hurt that make us bow our heads

half in physiological need and half in the self-fatigue we feel

fighting ourselves every time we rise to a challenge.

 

I take my meds, I think things over.

I take my meds, I think things over.

Repeat until you’re tongue-tied.

 

All my friends are getting wasted,

and i’m feeling lonely getting self-wasted with them.

We know abandonment like no others,

because even our minds leave us for a time,

even our very selves walk away from us like broken lovers,

hurt friends, empty strangers, sworn enemies

it lays ambush to our patterns of self, lightness,

trodden leaves melting slowly into the ground like

the cycle back to dirt and lowness again.

 

This is half my little secret.

But I’ll tell you in time if you’re ready.

So now I’ve let you in.

On our little universal secret.

 

*Artwork unknown- Pinterest*