You Don’t Know What It’s Like

by James Diaz


Let me tell you what it’s like in my head
first, there is, like God intended –
this unmade bed, scattered artifacts on the floor
a mountain of uselessness and everything I’ll need 
stitches in time that tell only half the story 
I am not what I thought I would be some days

my brother calls me, 
his car parked by a dumpster behind a Wendy’s
while the girl of his dreams is turning tricks in the bathroom
to tell me what I already know; he is on a death run
and it’s our parents who did this to him
I just need to listen 

this is what it’s like in my head
scars on my arms just to get off the cold county jail floor
I know about desperation 
I know about almost not making it
I know you can’t save drowning a man if the drowning is what he’s after
if he really, really fucking needs it, that bottom like a soft bed 
but he’s my brother, they are all my brothers,
these broken that I have traveled with along this dark road

this is what it’s like when I tell him; “Don’t die“,
and he says “I’ll try“,
some things are dug too deep in us to remove 
don’t I know it’s not true, there is paper, there is glue
there are a million ways to tell a different story 

but this is what it’s like in my head today
unable to save the one I love I save what I can, here, inside myself
and these words – they are also mine; I’ll try 
not to die. 



James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018). Their poems have appeared in Yes Poetry, Gone Lawn, The Collidescope and Thimble Lit Mag. They live by the simple but true motto that “feelings matter” every shape and size of feeling. They believe that every small act of kindness makes an often unseen but significant difference in someone’s life and hopes that their poems are a small piece of that. James Roper is the chief photographer of World Food, a book series from Penguin Random House, the first volume of which will be released in 2020. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

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