tumbling thoughts ricochet
in the gray matter
plinking to the next
in the series
of many bubbling up
one after the other
filling up the braincase
a headache soon to follow
but there is no stopping
the emergency du jour
life doesn’t stop
because we’re weary
but it ends
when we give up
and give in
the reserve we lose
with each assault
and gain back ten-fold
with each victory
for the next onslaught of life
slapping into us
being in it
steps boldly planted
hoping for outcomes
giving space to skip freely
in this one life
A suitcase lies among the many things
Abandoned when the owner left for good.
Exposed to elements, old mildew clings
To fabric torn and peeling from the wood.
The dusty handle still emits a shine
In places that endured the frequent grasp
Of hands too hurried by the railroad line
To put on gloves or lock the metal clasp.
What irony! A suitcase left behind
Speaks more about the trip it never made,
Found useless for the task it was designed
When owner passed from substance into shade.
The things that matter now won’t matter then.
The cycle ends only to start again.
About the Poet
Randal A. Burd, Jr. is an educator who works with the disadvantaged in rural Missouri. He holds a master’s degree in English Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Missouri. Randal is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Sparks of Calliope magazine. His latest collection of poems, Memoirs of a Witness Tree, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in Summer 2020.
It was wonderful to read each line and feel the elements present themselves in my mind. Randal did a great job of making me feel the loneliness and emptiness of the scene. All I could think of was “poor suitcase” as if it were feeling pain. Bravo!
Unfortunately, the blog no longer exists. I didn’t get to know Natalie well, but she was one of my favorite reads. I realize that nothing stays the same and for whatever reason, she doesn’t write anymore. It just makes me sad when blogs sometimes just fade away. I hope Natalie sees this post and knows her words touched me. This piece reminded me so much of my thoughts and feelings during the terrible teens and tumultuous 20s. They sure did leave some scars. This was originally published on August 4, 2018.
It all started as a game.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a people-watcher.
As a child, I would watch people for hours before even attempting to talk to them.
I’d scrutinize how you spoke. What you wore. When you laughed. What you liked. Whom you talked to.
I would watch and watch, try to figure out who you were. What you wanted.
And once I put together the pieces of your identity, I would form my own, making sure they clicked.
It was like a puzzle that only I could finish and it amused me to have that sort of power over you: to control exactly what you see.
But under all of that, I’d ensured that I was that girl:
The girl you want to speak to.
The girl you share all your secrets with.
The girl you like.
I flit from one person to the next, as graceful as a butterfly.
Always smiling. Always pleasing.
You come to me when you don’t have anyone else, and it’s my shoulder you cry on, it’s into my ears you whisper your darkest secrets.
I soothe. I comfort. I encourage. I motivate. I charm.
And when I’m finally alone, I laugh.
I laugh at the world, at how gullible you are, to think you know me, to trust me the way you do.
I laugh till I cry and then I cry till I can’t breathe.
The tears never end, it seems, they flow and flow relentlessly, leeching me of everything.
The real joke was on me, all along.
And I’d never realized.
I look in the mirror and don’t recognize the shadow that looks back into my eyes.
I don’t ‘like’ her.
I despise her.
I see myself wrapping my hands around her throat and squeezing until the light slowly fades from her eyes.
And then, I realize the girl is me.
The irony: I’d gained the affection of everyone else, only to realize that I couldn’t win me over too.
Alone, I’m a coward. I’m despicable. Spineless. A doormat. A hypocrite.
I morph myself to suit the people around me. My very identity is built on everyone else’s desires.
I’m no one without someone to please. Nothing without a task to complete.
And there is nothing left of ‘me’ now, of the person I could have been.
Before. Before all the masks.
When I look back, all I see is crushed dreams, and when I look forward, I see an eternity of nothingness.
But it’s what I see when I look within that truly scares me.