Poetry

Zero Times One

By: Elise Lerner

I wake a life raft
lost at sea.

I pry my eyes open
but they spring shut.
I march through
the thick fog, of my soul.

Fairies and goblins
taunt me, whisking away
last night’s dreams
even after I beg them
to stay. The only way out
is by trial and error.

I trace my thoughts backwards
through the maze of sleep
until I find her—there she is:
me.

I paste the optimism
of fools upon myself
like a paper doll:
wash my face good morning, reset
the sorrow in the pit of my stomach
and trade it in for a damp resolve
to make this new day new.

I had a therapist once who told me
I played movies in my head.
She’s long since given up on me
but her omen still ricochets
out of her wooded retreat
with the red mailbox down the lane.

I need a fix
any fix, but the word
on the street is that I’m broken.
Even the poison lost interest
in poisoning me.

I had a genie
who lived on my nightstand
but I can’t find her anywhere.

My hammock swings.
The world slants
away in geometric chunks.
Friends.
Smiles.
Dinner invitations—
no more.

It was a sold out show
boarded up now. The stars
to my scenes now just naked
mannequins in a back room. No smile
to paste over my face
like pin the tail on the donkey.
I am a show-less show.
Zero times one
is always zero.

It’s time to leave
myself behind like a page
of faded pencil marks and flecks
of pink eraser.

And they’ll say, oh
she’s gone, how we wish
she were here.
What is lost
is always greater
than the sum
of what lived.

Categories: Poetry

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