Poem a day challenge – Feb 5

I’m not really happy with my poem from Feb 3. I had an idea but was never able to find a good form for it, never found a way to bring it to life in a way that made me want to run out and share it with others. So I thought I would revisit it again today and try to rewrite it in a totally different form. But, instead, I found myself not writing about the idea, but about my experience leading up to the idea. I am much happier with this piece, coming from the heart rather than the head.

Games

I realize interesting truths in the shower, when my mind is half asleep,
the warm water cascading across my skin like a hot Louisiana summer rain,
the air thick with humidity, the mirror and my thoughts foggy but reflective.

like the other morning, as I stood there, water and blood running down my hand,
my broken skin imprinted with wooden grain, my knuckles bruised from where
I had just punched the wooden support beam in the center of the house,

hoping the reverberation would split the world in two. bathing in the aftershock,
my raw and exposed nerve endings stinging from soap and water, i peered at
my image in that foggy mirror and remembered myself as a little boy playing

with the other boys, making a game out of everything, keeping score, competing
to see who was the best. i was never taught how to express my emotions with
anything other than physical outlets. go outside and play, run, push, hit.

be the best. win by defeating the other. feeling hurt, down, scared? good,
that will motivate you to fight harder, feel it under your skin and fuel
your muscles. there’s not time to think in sports, you rely on your reflexes,

you train yourself to let your mind shift into neutral. you rely on your gut,
your strength, your practice. and when you can’t contain those feelings
any longer, when you start to feel threatened, your instinct kicks in.

protect yourself, shield your weak underbelly, take a defensive posture.
don’t let them see you hurt, they might move in for the kill. you have to win.
and when you can’t win, when your opponent is the one you love, you are trapped,

suddenly all of your practice and experience fails you, and you are left with
a fragile body full of emotions that you can’t control. and you are scared.
you don’t want to play this game anymore.

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