I Never Promised You A Pain Garden

Author | James Diaz

You've stayed up all night
with words like these before
and even when it didn't pain you
when it cost you nothing
almost nothing to do so
and now that it costs
you everything
you aren't so sure that you have
the stomach for it

it's how wind grips
at the gnarled branch
of angel oak
a cryptic anagram
of lovelorn and places-that-I-am-going
rearranged until they too
have copyrighted forms
you're no longer allowed to touch

each part of body tagged
and numbered with some silver pen
borrowed from hell

here's the absolute truth that you've been missing
everything your roving eyes
went looking for
still-life in the dead of night
tucked under your shirt, names, dates
horror shows from that last town
at the edge of the world
and your screaming mother
and your heroin eyed father
and all of that tainted love you could never trust
building residential areas inside the ghetto
of your skull

come out of there
we aren't going to watch idly by
while you burn this fucking life
that somehow made it through
to the ground
don't plant your feet in eternal swamp
and call it your only option

take your scars and remember how much joy too
they contain
how even that is their story
and with absolutely no end
for how this life will land
begin bringing that pain with you
everywhere you go
hold it when it wails
and goddamn will it forever wail

I'm telling you
even that can be beautiful
if you'll let it.


About the Author | James Diaz is founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared in HIV Here & Now, Ditch, Cheap Pop Lit, Foliate Oak, Epigraph, Chronogram and Collective Exile. He lives in upstate New York.