safe numbers

from the new 2nd edition of Sleeps with Knives

safe numbers

While the strippers bars are full of drunks,
support groups are full of lonely wives
while their children play with drugs
In an alley behind the school house
You see their faces
The pain they can’t talk about,
locked up
In hurt, loss, disappointment
Secret gardens in full bloom

Out of numbness
humans hide their secrets
But the face can’t lie
No one can be that careful
Each of them runs from their feelings
Because pain hurts,
because it’s work to change things,
Because we’re not taught how
to recover from disappointment
So we become dead out of fear

If we dare, if we dare
The reward is great,
Fear’s control disappears
Your heart opens
Air suddenly flows in and out
Like you wake from a nightmare

Almost too weak to walk
You’re able to see the circus,
reliving safe numbers and situations
No one but you could break the spell
When the shell breaks
You’re fragile like a newborn
You can’t return to your old life
Because it doesn’t fit anymore

It’s more than OK to be sensitive, it’s essential,
it is necessary. . .

(c) 2006/2019

Disappointment is part of our world to a dangerous degree. 2006 is when it was drafted but the poem was actually started when I was living in Wisconsin, full of local taverns filled with lonely people.  Safe Numbers still means a lot to me in the sense it still makes sense, to me at least. When you see the circus, that is your life, then magically it can change. We can change, once we see the controls placed on us.


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