Dissect it from the outside, Finely, with a scalpel, Or, uncomprehendingly, Hover over your relationship, Like a spirit viewing its dead body, And you’ll finally see, The light at the end of the tunnel, Before the train mows you down.
It’s the postmortem before the end.
It begins with the stirrings of shame, When you realise people are watching, A fool—an absolute fool, Fooling absolutely no one.
Strangers look askance, As he walks ten paces ahead, You, a lost puppy, nipping at his heels.
When he does walk beside you, They must think you’re his cousin, From out of town, A distant cousin he dislikes. What else could explain, The faint familiarity, Paired with no affection.
Observers pick out the happy couples, The real couples holding hands, Exchanging words, I do, too, But I’m patient, Endlessly understanding, I make your excuses for you, Loving me makes you anxious, And I wouldn’t want that.
I’m a coward and a liar, Trying to recoup my investment, And prove the cheap seats wrong.
I can bear almost anything, Devouring hunger, Gnawing wounds, As long as I don’t have to bare it. Anything but public embarrassment. Looking through strangers' eyes, At the emperor with no clothes. Denial's all I have.
One day, it’s over, I beg and cry wretchedly, But there’s nothing to miss. It was only a pantomime, A one-woman show, A farce.
It’s happening again.
I’m a buzzing fly, Settling, Crawling, Searching for crumbs, Too quiet for him to hear me, Too insignificant to be swatted away, Treated less warmly than anyone else.
Suffused with shame, This is how others see me, Pity me, I shame them, By proxy, This is how it really is, From the outside.
I feel stupid for trying, Guilty for wanting to give up, I’ll stop feeling anything at all, Soon.
I inch towards you, You brand me insecure, And the bridge sways, As you hack at the ropes.
I watch them fray, I stay, In my place, Sad and confused, Join me on the bridge I built, Won’t you?
For me to hurt much less, You’d have to hurt slightly more, But you’re comfortable where you are, On solid land, king of your castle, Your life full of treasures.
You only pretend to miss the trash.
Unlike you, I have capacity for pain, Enough for two, But mostly, I’m lonely, With you, Without you.
I hold it together, Not that you’d let me go. You want me tethered to you, Like a mangy dog, Limping circles around a post.
My tears aren’t tiresome, (Yet.) You’ll lend a sympathetic tin ear, Apply the sutures, Staple busted seams, Worn and shabby, I’m a toy, Quite unlike Velveteen Rabbit. When my pain is no longer interesting, When I’m no longer interesting, You’ll exile me, A ruler weary of his jester, A puffed up prince tired of feeling, Superior to his subject.
You don’t like how lopsided our relationship is either.
You feel bad, About making me feel bad, But you’ll get used to it, Your hands grow calloused, From handling me, You’ll find my pain a nuisance, Soon.
For now it’s flattering.
I’m hollowed out, Even the marrow, Sucked out to make room, For more of your rejection, I am content to starve, You’re intent on feeding me scraps, As long as I don’t ask for them. I’d ask for much less than you give, that’s the irony.
I use my heart as a battering ram, Against your drawbridge, You flush with pleasure, At being wanted, Peering from the guard tower, Secure in my failure, You love to watch me try, Every quixotic night.
You’re so vain, You probably think this poem’s about you.
I pull, pull, pull, Stitches of conversation, And all the loose threads, Together.
I fool the people watching, Just for a moment, They get the wrong idea: You care, I’m not pathetic, We’re friends, as anyone can see.
The see-saw teeters, Balanced before it drops, Me on my ass, I palm my shame, It’s my greatest parlour trick, (Yours is the disappearing act.) Win or lose, With you, it feels no different.
I wish I could be indifferent, Whittle everything down, Scale back, Retreat, Rip my heart out, Stuff myself with sawdust, Care as little as you do. But I know I’d overshoot, Just that little bit, And then I’d feel nothing, We’d be nothing, Soon.
For we’ve reached, The postmortem, Before the end.
Holy mixed metaphors, Batman! These days I realise low effort relationships are worth NO effort. And now for some nightmarish AI-generated art using a prompt I had ChatGPT write based on my poem. Machines talking to machines, man. (Incidentally, ChatGPT and the utility of linguistically plausible sentence generation is the subject of an upcoming post.)
Buy me a coffee link.
How many times have i felt these feelings from both sides and yet sing a song. Thankyou loved it😍
Once or twice, this reminded me of 'I Dance and Dance and Smile and Smile' by Dory Previn. (Particularly the line 'For me to hurt much less, You’d have to hurt slightly more', which has echoes of 'If I could love me more, I could love you less'.) I hasten to add that if that doesn't sound like praise, the fault is mine, because it should do.