I get too used to being on edge, asking and never coming up with an answer. Sometimes I learn to keep it in, take a break from bleeding when the arterial spray won't do any good. The stains of a heart on your sleeve are hard to scrub out, but I always feel worse when I choke it down. I've learned to keep collateral to a minimum, but having a lover who cares is the hard end of the bargain. She gets the heavy end of a troubled mind, a weight that no one should lift. She's never less than loving, and that comes with telling me when I'm pushing too much. This poem is an early morning apology, even though she says it wasn't needed. She is my ghost reader, was all along, we met through my words and fell in love on the way. They still say it best even now.

This Is a Test

this is a test
cuatro, tres, dos, uno
count me down to zero
there's nothing wrong with you
(and I'll tell a lie to keep that true)
you're the friend I can't be to myself
why should I need anything else?
but I do, anyway
I like the taste of poison
a sickness in my stomach
rising to the occasion
this is a test
who survives dying inside,
who finds you first when you hide?
this is a test
everyone else has given up
and they want you to be the next
you're always there at the beginning
when my knuckle-dragging
heart starts speaking
there is no easy rule to win
it's a hard way either way
when zipper catches skin
this is a test
of all the will
that we have left
two hungry strangers on a raft
two alcoholics
drinking each other to death
(this is a test)

...

August 29, 2017
Hampton, Nova Scotia