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LMS VI: a billion seconds gone, but where?



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niteowl says...



Prologue

You look in the mirror and see your forehead doing its best impression of the Grand Canyon. Your body creaks now when you get up after sitting too long. You hear pop songs and realize they aren't being written for you anymore, even if you are still young enough to listen to them. You hear the music that was written for you on "classic rock" stations. The moments that scarred your generation are being taught in history classes. Last week can seem like an eternity ago, and ten years ago can feel like yesterday. You play the same songs, the same moments, again and again in your head because taking in new things is exhausting.

You wonder if you are alone because it is what you truly want or if you are too afraid of getting trapped. You spiral down into wherever your phone screen wishes to lead you today, only to wonder why you have let those precious seconds slip by unnoticed. You remember that a billion seconds is about 32 years, and Google tells you you crossed that threshold six months ago. You've built something in that time, but you can't help but feel like it should be bigger, grander, more sturdy. Perhaps it would have been if your brain wasn't so good at knocking it all down.

You find a box in the back of your closet that has been sitting there, forgotten in the chaos of moving and the challenges of existing in the four years since you moved. You open it and find old photos, old journals, old visions of who you were and what you might have been. You close it in a flash, but like Pandora, you are too late. Your past is back, demanding to be seen, to be understood, before it can be released.

~~~

I had a couple ideas kicking around for LMS-elegies of old friendships, letters to a soulmate who may or may not exist, musings on who I might have become if just one moment changed. But none of these feel compelling enough for a long project. My previous LMS project still has some additions that are needed, but those are already largely written and not extensive enough for me to want to continue it as a rogue. But these days, I'm largely preoccupied with getting older and the feeling I have settled into a life that is not quite right. And we all know how much I love processing things through bad poetry, so here we go.

Putting a 16+ rating on this because there will almost certainly be language and probably some darker themes. Individual poems will be tagged/spoilered accordingly.
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



Idea Box
-skin care, forehead lines, the choice between Botox and acceptance
-the startlingly empty dating resume and feeling like a can of food that has expired because no one wanted to buy it
-a letter to the possibly-existing soulmate
-friendships and plants - two things I can't keep alive
-no (wo)man is an island
-the battle between cynicism and naivete and wondering if I'll ever find the balance
-phone addiction and my half-hearted attempts at a "digital detox"
-what happens to the phoenix after rising from the ashes?
-the constant feeling that I am "too old to do X"





Playlist/Mood Board
Yes this is all over the board mood/genre wise. This will be all over the place.

tick, tick, boom "30/90"
Adele "When We Were Young", "I Drink Wine"
The Chainsmokers/Halsey "Closer" "We ain't ever getting older" (side note-I unironically love this song)
Taylor Swift - "Right Where You Left Me", "the 1", "this is me trying", "august", "cardigan", "Never Grow Up",
Keane - "This Is the Last Time", "Bend and Break", "Sovereign Light Cafe", "In Your Own Time"
Griff - "Sound of Your Voice", "One Night", "Eart Grey Tea", "Forgive Myself"
Neon Trees - "Still Young"
Lizzo - "2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)"
Ripe "Settling"
Passenger "The Wrong Direction", "Keep on Walking"
The Lumineers "Cleopatra"
The Fray "Vienna"
Mothica "R.I.F.P."
Matchbox 20 "Unwell"
The Killers "My Own Soul's Warning"
Bastille - "survivin'", "Distorted Light Beam", "Pompeii"
John K "cheap sunglasses"
Bleachers - "How Dare You Want More"
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Wed Sep 07, 2022 1:33 am
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niteowl says...



1. exfoliation

I scrub the konjac sponge into my pores,
pressing it against my forehead lines
as if it could save me from that impossible choice
between botox and self-acceptance.

i was born cursed by aphrodite,
my face a squarish-round
that gets too wide when i smile,
my plumpness entirely unpleasant,
my arms covered in keratosis scales
my very being repelling the camera
in every photo ever taken of me.

however, i had one reprieve
i had the odd pimple here and there,
but I did not have the constant eruptions
that scarred the faces of some peers.
not that i could gloat,
only sigh in relief that i was shown
some small bit of mercy.

but now there is a line across the forehead,
a punishment from aphrodite for being too expressive.
the undereye circles grow darker and thinner,
a symptom of my mercurial sleep patterns.

my face is baby-smooth now,
but red and raw.
(and still has lines)
perhaps i should not have paired it
with an exfoliating cleanser,
but it felt like neither alone was enough.

i soothe the skin
with serums and creams
that might all be snake oil and placebos,
but at least it feels like i'm doing something.

Total lines: 34
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Sat Sep 17, 2022 1:24 am
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niteowl says...



2. just who do i think i am?

i hated my name as a child.
the first name, so common and yet
so elevated by beautiful actresses
and even just my prettier more interesting classmates
i am forced to share the 13th most popular name
of my birth year with
(the only name my parents could agree on)
that i could never live with it.

the last name, a keyboard smash
of vowels and consonants
that is identifiably Hellenic
by strangers I have to spell it out for
in a self-taught phone-number like cadence
but not terribly common
even in the motherland,
with a meaning i have always longed to know
but can merely guess at.

of course i was going to change my first name at 18
and my last when I got married.

but eighteen came and went,
and any flights of fancy of a new first name
had long been grounded by the reality
of inhabiting the one I had--
so many lovely names but none quite compelling
enough to white-out all your life's bylines for.

as for marriage,
that is a much more hazy if
than the solid when it seemed like
in sandbox days.
surrendering a surname,
a connection to a semi-mythical heritage,
the letters you have framed your every school assignment
and work email and doctors office form in
seems more like a sacrifice
than it did when you were younger and lighter
and more certain in how the world worked.

also, I am nearly certain
that if soulmates are real
mine has an impossibly gnarly last name
and I would have to relearn the phone-spelling rhythm.
Or a Smythe, which might be worse.

all of this is to say
is that pen names
are harder than I realized.

I try on names,
feeling each syllable in my mouth
like a pile of clothes in the fitting room
that looked so pretty on the rack
but nothing fits.

and to the mirror I ask
"just who do you think you are?"
as if i could write down its answer.

Lines: 54
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Sun Sep 25, 2022 1:48 am
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niteowl says...



3.too tired for titles

if i have given fear
all of my best years
then why am i still here?

the earth rotates,
the ones i hate
get everything they want for
while i don't get to want anymore.

got burned from pursuit,
didn't know what to do,
so i hid in plain view.

is love worth falling
into the trap, waking
up locked into serving
some man?

i asked the question
but never dared
to re-seek the answer--
stayed pale, scared.

i have outlived hope
and yet still i sleep
and still i wake up
for what, i don't know.



Lines: 22
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



4. finding a title as i type over rushed words

there is a safety in madness,
in withdrawing from the world
in the guise of healing,
watching your delusions
like old films you know by heart.

outside, the river smells like mud
and there are flies around your beer
and people don't follow scripts
and buildings stubbornly refuse to move
and as the seasons change,
you don't know what world you'll wake
up to tomorrow.

if i don't sleep,
i'll never have to wake up.

Lines: 14
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



5. i guess i got used to missing you

perhaps i only stayed in love with you
because the pop songs told me to.

radios don't blast hits about
lost minds or friendships faded out

because in your mind they were held sacred
but your actions took them all for granted.

pop music isn't made for thirty-two,
the average days i'm trudging through,

but still i need the background noise,
and heartache songs leave me no choice

but to unearth faded memories
of the last time I thought love had found me.

a decade since our last goodbye,
logic knows you weren't worth the time,

but logic never liked the love songs
so it takes a back seat as i sing along

it goes on and on and on and on and on
is it so wrong i hate the sound of moving on?
*

yes, it is! i scream back, in my mind. i'm too old
for nonsense, a spinster now, selfish and cold.

was it dumb of me to fall behind
the curve of love, the curve of life?

love songs might have sweet refrains
but in the real world i saw only chains

and so i hid and fell behind
the curve of love, the curve of life.

so when the songs demand i find
a "you" to center in my mind

who else is there? you weren't much
but sweet delusions are just enough

to sing along and pretend to feel
but when it ends, i know it was never real.

Lines: 32

*song credit: Caught up-Gryffin and Olivia O'Brien
title credit: Griff "Sound of your Voice"
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



6. no (wo) man is an island

they say no (wo)man is an island.
oh, but how i have tried
to stand alone,

this treacherous peninsula,
a promontory in my mind alone,
connected to the mainland by
only the narrowest
of paths,
and when the tide comes in
even that will vanish.

sitting on a stump,
i remember when it was wide, fresh-paved
a pleasant stroll into a tangled
forest mind of stories,
before words clear-cut it like an axe
and my mercurial mind
burned what was left.

the land is still fragile,
but coming back reed by reed,
nurse logs feeding new roots.
poison ivy covers the shore--
it might burn me when i
am forced to leave, but at least
if someone gets too close with ax-words
again, they will suffer
too.

here in the center,
a day-dream garden
of flowers that have learned
to thrive on inconsistency.
i wish someone would long
to see them, fight their way
through the jagged rocks,
the poison gates,
but that is too lazy and selfish
to expect of anyone.

though here i will never know
for whom the bell tolls,
i weep in secret,
never burdening the mainland
with my grief.

and when i wash into the sea
the bells will never toll for me

Lines: 43
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Sat Oct 22, 2022 2:37 am
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niteowl says...



7. Spilled Karma

I only see the world these days
through someone else's Instagram feed,
from London to Morocco,
I know they don't care what they did to me
and I know I should stop scrolling
but I can't.

it should all be washed away
after four thousand high tides
i should have got the job,
lost the weight,
found the one who
could prove him wrong,

but here i am alone, still drowning in a dream sea.
I wonder if the water in my nightstand bottle
has any raindrops that once blended with my tears
outside a Spanish nightclub.

It's romantic but unlikely,
just like my karmic fantasy
that one day lightning hits him
and he feels all my years of pain at once
and the shock reminds him what he said
and he looks in the mirror and feels
ugly for the first time.

But karma is not just revenge,
but the sum of all deeds,
and perhaps my energy would be better spent
in cultivating seeds of goodness,
the good karma that is actually mine to sow.
Instead I let them fall to the fallow ground
and pray they know I wanted them to grow.

I'm beginning to think
that in my past lives I did something
so cruel, so monstrous, my brain
doesn't know how to act anymore
for fear of repeating these mistakes
and this executive dysfunction
is self protection, because you can't set
the world on fire if you can't find
the matches.


[b]Lines: 39[/b[
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



8. screen time

my muse rests in a glass casket,
2.98 inches wide, 5.94 inches long.

i don't remember who i was before it.
before the glow that illuminates
my darkest hours
my greatest hours
my boring-est hours.

how many days have i let
myself age into nothing, the glow
of the screen like a drug, reducing
what might have been a great mind
to half-assed cliches and hollow days
of poor sleep and faux connections?

as the nights grow longer
it is the only light i know,
the only certain thing i have,
and it's hard to care
if it destroys me.


Lines: 18
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



9. One-sided conversations with a space rock

The moon taunted me tonight
As I drove into the sunset.
Just shy of full, squinting
At the world below, it asked me
If I’ll ever dream again.

How can I answer that
When dreams are what broke me
And all the lives I could have had
Have disappeared like ashes in the wind?

I asked if it had ever seen
A love story that didn’t end
In heartbreak or stagnation,
If there is any point to pursuing
Something that could break me
Again and again.

Its cratered face remained silent,
a motionless mirrorball in the darkening sky,
But it was answer enough.

Lines: 18
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



10. a missed dance with destiny? (cw-death)

i have died a thousand deaths already,
possibly more.
i am dying again tonight, perhaps,
because i thought about going out to a drag show
but november decided to act like november
and be all dark and cold and snowy
(which is rather rude of it
when it was 70 degrees last weekend)
and i worry it will be like that one time
when i went out to a show no one attended
and i left after an hour, not sure why i went out
in the first place

so i am cozy and warm and stuffed
with chicken shawarma takeout, but if
there is a prophecy for me, like the young adult
fantasies promised, it's not written on the walls
of the bedroom i can't keep clean
and it might just have been scrawled
on the walls of the basement bar bathroom tonight

but the version of me that went out tonight
is dead, and she can never tell me
if it was destiny or another dud
and i have plans tomorrow
but i can't promise i won't bail
at the last minute,
killing off another version
of who i might have been.

Lines: 27
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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niteowl says...



11. Dear Plane Guy

in july 2013
on a flight from philadelphia to detroit,
our lives changed forever

by not changing.
you were in the aisle seat
handsome, mid-20s, dark hair, cut-glass jaw.
you asked me some questions,
(were you flirting? How would I ever know?)
i answered briefly then turned back
to Gregory MacGuire's "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister"
(perhaps you looked it up and read it later)
and you gave up, and that was that.

and you forgot me by the time
we reached the baggage claim,
but that night i realized
what i had squandered.

maybe you were my soulmate,
maybe you were a serial killer.
most likely, it would have ended in nothing
more than a slightly more interesting flight.

but i'm not built for meet-cutes on planes
or anywhere else, my wires short-circuiting
in social situations, especially when attractive
people are involved.

did you fall in love with a girl
on another flight? did she end up wrong
for you and now you're wondering
if you could have said something, anything,
to tear me away from the book?

sometimes i dream of philadelphia,
of finding you somehow,
re-starting the movie
after eight years of boring character development.

but that's not your role in this storyline,
i don't think. you are a symbol,
a reminder that if you never talk to strangers
on airplanes or anywhere else,
you will never fall in love,
and your life will be forever
unchanged.

Lines: 40
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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Mon Nov 28, 2022 4:53 am
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niteowl says...



12.

Faced with yet another deadline
I have forgotten,
I am stuck between a desire to surrender
And a refusal to give up.
.
I meant to write a meditation
On how at 32 my mom was getting married
And my grandmas already had their babies
And meanwhile I’m here overwhelmed
By the thought of grocery shopping.

But perhaps that will have to wait
For another day.
I have precious seconds left today
So my more grandiose poetic metaphors
Will have to wait for another day.

If I give up,
I will stop writing,
And I will fall apart again
And that is not an option.

Lines-18
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

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