courtney marie

talking to strangers*

late one night as the bar is closing
someone i was talking to asks my name
& though
[we have very little in common /
i never want to see them again /
i hate my name]
i tell them anyway

then i lean close and whisper

it’s true (what they say)

i barely live here

i barely live anywhere

self portrait as panic attack*

the house is on fire & i can’t find the cat & i’m late for an important meeting but i don’t know what i’ll say though i’m not sure i care because it’s my birthday & i can cry if i want to & i had a party but no one came so i let the candles burn forever which is how we got here with the room on fire & instead of running from danger i’m remembering the sound of other people’s voices & how i miss them unless of course we’re in a crowded room with everything happening at once & nothing makes sense & then someone bumps me so hard i spill my drink & everyone stares in unbelievable silence as i burst into tears & use my clothes to clean the mess or what about that feeling of something brushing your ankle in a murky lake you fell into from a boat of questionable sturdiness & you shudder & scream for help just before being pulled under & now i can’t breathe for the water & i can’t breathe for the smoke as the fire swallows the landscape & turns my life’s work to ash & a man is standing over me asking if i am okay but i don’t know where i am or how the answers all came so easily before i was ever asked a question & how i was breathing fine until we were left alone & i saw the news today & i saw the news today & i saw the news today & i saw the news today & i saw the news today & i’m not sure what else i’m supposed to think about i’m not sure where this poem is going or why i write poems at all & i wonder if instead of writing poems i should be screaming then maybe everyone would know something is terribly wrong & do something what if we all screamed outside of the prisons & embassies & courthouses & banks & police stations what if we screamed inside of corporate offices & board rooms & internment camps & anywhere children are caged like animals & anywhere animals are bagged up like trash & what if we screamed at the whitehouse & in the bedrooms of the super rich & in the factories & warehouses that don’t pay a living wage & in every government office what if we screamed until we collapsed do you think nothing would change do you think we’ll ever be free