Hurt, in Black

This is a poem about the night I painted my writing room completely black, shortly after I admitted myself and spiraled out.

I hurt myself today

to see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

the only thing’s that real


Out there, just outside of town, the frozen

snow-a crystallized ocean in the moonlight and icy stars,

their white heat, their white bodies

still against the night’s sheet of winter.

The land a bald moon out the window, the birch trees

black past the fields.

I am painting. Strokes and rendered slides of the brush,

steady, steady focus on the many canvases…

dip, skim,

into “Space Black” the gallon reads.


The old familiar sting

try to kill it all away

but I remember everything


I paint my reflection onto the white walls.

My fiance and child somewhere in the house

maybe asleep. Or not there at all.

Bald white planet out my window,

I trace my eyes and lashes in ebony lashes across

my computer desk. The

white lampshades. The

white picture frames. The

white bookshelves. The

white ceiling and trim. The

white woman in the dark. Voices come at night. I am afraid to sleep.


What have I become

my sweetest friend

everything I know goes away

in the end


My history I remember smooths past me

in a narrative I watch with each brush stroke and stride.

The story, what is this story, I do not know, but

my hands are sweating like they do

in the essays that pour out for my next class

in the morning.


I paint faster. I feed the temperature.

I cannot see me in the mirror anymore.

But I never could, I calmly mouth the words

“I never could…” up to the corner where the walls

meet the ceiling. The

white is almost gone. It must go. The lighting

is changing, hiding me, I hear the dryer’s tumbling

has stopped. But the sun it can’t come out.

I can’t.

I take sanctuary in night. I paint the girl

from my childhood who dreamt of being a singer.

I paint the young woman who stopped feeling in front

of a mirror one Sunday after church. I paint the young woman


I wear this crown of thorns

upon my liar’s chair

full of broken thoughts

I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time

the feelings disappear

You are someone else

I am still not here


high on ecstasy on the rooftop of a building downtown

in a city I couldn’t get lost in no matter how I tried-and

how she was afraid the control she had been losing

she would lose at that very moment, above the far-away

pavement. I paint how

she never lost that part though, just all the rest.

All the empty pill and booze bottles, amphetamines and cut coke.

I paint her father’s death. I paint her mania. Her depression.

And still, I cannot frame this piece.

I can’t figure out what all this black means,

all this vacancy. I just don’t want the voices

when my eyes get heavy. More.

I just don’t want to wake up and have to take care

of what I built of my life with these numb hands,

Because I am

I am painting

it away and darkness ahead, behind, and now, it’s all I see.


You could have it all, my empire of dirt

I will let you down

I will make you Hurt.

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