I No Longer Know How to Cheer Myself Up, A Poem by Chris Russell

I tried to write myself into enlightenment

the way a psychiatrist can sometimes teach you

to recondition that brain slug in the skull

to use its own poison as a defense,

but only so you can end up turning language

into shadows and light so easily

it becomes too automatic

to drop or slip over a gear and just be spontaneous,

by which I mean

I no longer know how to cheer myself up.

Now, learning how to suffer and break

and be constantly delayed

while doing something as everyday as taking out the trash

feels like a crazy kind of recreation.

Just this morning I cursed some spent coffee grounds

for getting on my hand,

and stood the bag back up four times

to keep it from evading into the street

and playing chicken with a Subaru,

only to start blaming it for tiring my back,

giving me shortness of breath,

and stopping me

from approaching the bathroom more comfortably,

since now I had to peg at negative crutch speed

4 times later than expected.

Balancing on my one good foot on the curb

like a palm tree about to blow over before a storm,

I started laughing uncontrollably

and I think this is because

I realized how hard I gave it to myself

doing even the simplest things.

I mean,

I thought I was a kind and patient person,

and I am,

I’m the pinnacle of patience and understanding,

that is until you take walking out of the equation,

come to find out.

But priding myself on being such a self-reliant person,

how could I not upend my head?

So I guess

I’m really still a big baby with mood swings

still with a head that can barely hold itself up after all,

and whatever puke bib I thought I’d outgrown

never really stopped catching lunch

but just got covered over with big logocentric signifiers of

being better and doing better,

and even doing not better, better,

which seeing how that’s out of the equation now,

and will continue to be for months

while my Achilles tendon taffies back into a calve,

I have to ask: How could I ever possibly get better?

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