Anniversary of bad things


We celebrate the past by dates and times.

But what is an anniversary anyway? What is time? We make this shit up and then decide to grieve or to pine or to celebrate at the same moment every year, as if every day isn’t as poignant or painful. Do we really save up all our tears or grateful gushing for just this one pin-point on an invisible time map… WHAT? Or is it just a permission slip?

Yeah, maybe I’m having some existential lapse, or a “Matt moment,” as I like to say about my former roommate’s vocal ruminations. On occasion (prompted by who knows what), Matt gets tangled up in the weirdness of the world, looking at it through an oddly “non-human” and objective way. For instance, we once melted a penny atop the metal grate of a fire pit in the backyard, for no reason other than we could. Matt couldn’t get over this. Instead he went on and on about how strange it was that the penny just didn’t exist anymore. Here, then not. No trace even, no liquidy metal puddle. No burnt round edge of where the thing was. It was just gonezo.

People can be gonezo too. And it doesn’t make sense either.

No matter how many times my brain circles it, no matter how many books I read or things I feel, I don’t get it. And I can’t decide whether it’s fortunate or unfortunate that my brain does this with everything that I can’t understand… it’s relentless. Like a lost helicopter or the cloudy grey debris stuck inside a tornado. But the only difference between that penny and humanity is that people leave and leave something behind. I know it’s on the inside or it’s supposed to be, but sometimes it creeps out, sometimes it’s just as tangible as a black eye or a broken bone.

But maybe that is the point of an anniversary: one day we don’t have to stuff it all in. Because Guts Out Mode isn’t necessarily a space one can live in. We have to do things like get out of bed, go to work, shower, dress, clean things, eat, shit, you get it. And grief, for one, is immobilizing. Maybe that’s why it feels so “go through the motions.” That’s what we do to survive, save it all up (the big part of it anyway) for 364 days.

Fuck that. I grieve every day. Still, when I wake, it’s one of the first things I have to remind myself. Maybe it’s a habit now. She’s gone. A part of me gone. But unlike that penny, I’m the liquidy puddle left behind, the burnt shape around where her body was. “The power of what isn’t there…” Somedays I feel like that void, walking.

I still can’t believe it’ll be two years since D died (tomorrow). But isn’t that how it is for everyone who has lost someone? It feels like both yesterday and forever ago.

I rarely put whole poems up here, but this one seemed fitting. Written last year around this time.


You are the only thing
that dies each morning.
Sticky with sleep and

too many cigarettes, I
reach for you, the coffee
you taught me, creamer

first. You are dead and
it’s 10 AM so I shower,
remind myself explicitly:

you were never mine, and
to leave the conditioner
in longer. I hear it’s warmer

than winter outside if
I’ll have it. Every time,
you die when I drive.

I have nothing. It’s
sudden. The radio hiccups
some song I never heard,

but the sky is on fire,
the day leaving in that
blaze, the same dress you wore

after you died, everyone
frozen how you left us there,
alive like that, living.