Florence + the Hendersons

1

When I don’t sleep

everything takes on meaning.

Buying cigarettes, the Dog Days are over,

and I start thinking things are new.

I start thinking about what I want –

what I have to do and why.

I start thinking I should listen

to those gurus who died out a decade ago

when the new millennials stopped believing

their lives are their own.

2

I grew up with guilt

for what I had, though it wasn’t a lot.

It was everything.

It was more.

3

I started smoking in the house.

I’m rebelling against the only thing

holding me back:

Myself.

I never got over the idea.

There are no rules.

No one’s watching.

I do what I want.

If we never existed,

no one would know.

If we never existed,

no one would know to care.

Meaning comes from doing this anyway.

4

I stopped listening.

I stopped writing songs.

I stopped letting myself elevate

above the moment and become eternal.

But sometimes…

Sometimes I’m up early and

walking through a convenience store

and the dog’s been walked,

and the Lady’s buying breakfast,

and the bills are paid. There’s gas in the car.

And then a song comes on

and I mix up the name of the band

with the mom from the Brady Bunch

and I start laughing as I move to the sound.

Twenty-three days

I keep dreaming of people dying.

I saved your soul in a coffee mug

And drank you with a little cream

You were always sweet enough.

.

It reminds me how I never asked

How you’re doing, only hoped you’re doing well

While pouring declarations down your drain and saying

I’m sorry. Hope you don’t mind. I can’t help myself, I can’t help myself, just look at what your doing to me.

And this dream comes, and I’ve got 23 days to tell you, 23 days to say I’m selfish, 23 days to say I’m stepping out of my own way and asking

How are you? Where are you, even? Did you find what you were looking for? Did it find you?

.

I keep dreaming of people dying.

I keep dreaming of finding myself crying in the hall of that old apartment building above the river where we sat watching the water trickle through the dam.

I keep dreaming this was all real and that I ran away from it, that I ran away from you because I was always doing the chasing, and all I wanted was to be chased in return, to feel a hand pull at my shoulder and a voice to ask me –

.

I keep dreaming of people dying of old age, of regret, of sadness and happiness and boredom and delight.

I keep dreaming that I’ll outlive you all, but we both know that’s a lie.

.

I keep dreaming of people dying, and every one of them makes me think of you,

like a tangled ball of string in the corner of a closet I haven’t opened in a decade

still just sitting there waiting for me to pick it up and tie more knots.

.

And here, I’m doing it again. I’m telling instead of asking, and see? Didn’t I tell you? I cannot help myself. Even in the face of death.

I heard you say once –

While I was taking a breath from all my talking

That you only ever wanted love,

And I thought that my cue.

.

I keep dreaming of people dying, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if they do. It doesn’t matter if I cry. It doesn’t matter if I feel anything at all.

.

How are you?