Poetry

HE ONLY WANTS ATTENTION

By Paula Reitan

out of options, now, aren’t you?
you snarled supernova, you ravaged firework.
you’ve not known much but stifling.
trying to hold in your gored pomegranate chest
which tries selflessly to split open
onto your bedspread. you
can’t stop pieces from dripping out of the cracks
between your fingers.
you wonder if the juice still tastes as sweet
when it’s spilt across white cotton sheets
and staining everything you touch red.

red under your fingernails, red around
your eyes, red skies
in the morning. you feel hollow
and gutted like an abandoned house.
stripped for your wiring.
by sunrise, you have no precious metals
left to give –

only disorder.

today, you awake to debris spilled over
everything you called your home.
today, the bottles under your bed
ache for your touch again.
you ache, too,
but all over,
and you ate enough painkillers this morning
to dull the mistakes of yesterday.
but. it still wasn’t enough.

because today, the symphony was
screaming in your mind.
the cacophony of loathing and exhaustion
pounding in your forehead,
drowning out everything but
a vicious and animal need
to destroy everything around you.
you always were good at taking things
personally.

you have hands and lungs and you hate them.
you have an agonized heart and you hate it.

no, no –
you have no heart and
there’s something close to love
but with sharper teeth
reaching towards
whatever’s left behind.

and each day’s blank slate
hasn’t been very well
wiped clean.
there’s still echoes that stay caked in your
life’s irregularities. and,
despite knowing better,
you can’t help but scrawl
the same letters. the same
violent reminders.
day after fucking day.

so: your mind knows what you need to do.
a hard flick of your lighter,
spark flame hot metal hotter veins,
a sort of icarus,
caught by the sun at his fingertips.

go.
hot metal meet cold thighs.
a million words for pain pain pain and
burning, and melting, and scarring,
and you deserve it, right?
breathe in – one, two, three.
don’t try and convince yourself otherwise.
breathe out. one, two.
you know it never works.
breathe.

the room feels carelessly cold on
every part of you except your new welts.
you have goosebumps and you hate them.

the lighter falls unceremoniously off the bed.
you imagine it catching flame to the carpet
and burning you alive
in this fucking prison.

your house? your body?
your head?
the pristine sheets
twisted at the end of your mattress?
do you know which is the prison
you want to destroy, and
which is your only home?

now, in the unforgiving dark,
you press your teary cheek
against your pillow.
now, you listen to the fistful of muscle
currently residing in your throat
pound in your ears.
now, you think of how sleep
isn’t going to take you
into her embrace —
exhaustion doesn’t merit rest.
self-inflicted wounds don’t merit healing.

now,
you have flash-fired out
what’s been choking you
for the moment, but you forget;
your head planted these weeds,
and weeds will grow back.

About the Author

Paula Reitan is a lifelong artist/scientist from Castlegar, BC. They focus mainly on traditional and digital illustration to go with their original fiction pieces.