States of Deprivation (Neurotic)

Foot 5
By Nancy Lynée Woo

I need to eat something, I need to stop smoking.
I can eat later, I need to cut the excess from my nails,
I need to feed the cat, scrub the tub, check the mail
ten times a day, forget to log failures and remember
why I dove in.
I need to look at pictures of kids with malaria and other
terrible diseases to feel lucky. I need to get off my ass.
I need to feel my feet on the ground. See a beach in my head.
I need love, or to give more, or to stop giving so much.
I need to learn
how to ask for things better, and I suppose trust.
I need to know who to trust. I need to know more things
than adding hot water to ramen. I could need
a great death again. My own funeral. I could ask
Where is my phoenix? Maybe I want a child to stare at.
Or a pony to train. I have tofu why don’t I cook it.
I need to know what to do.
Today is my day and I am depleted.
I want an analog classroom but a digital studio.
I have too much floor space and not enough
hammers. I need to spend less time on the Internet but
more time on the Internet because I need to understand
things. I need to learn web design, and classical
piano and dance, oh how I need to dance. Also
messy but controlled drawing because
I’ve got plans. I need to improve
my friendship skills.
Or maybe a cat is enough, purring and
squeaks are enough.
I need water. We all need
water, good clean water, not hard mineral bone-
calcifying water. But aren’t we lucky? We have
first world residue, boxed in worlds
away from each other. Our pipes
feeding side-by-side cells shared trash.
I need to swim in the polluted lake.
I need to clean it.
I need to catch Lyme disease and then
cure it, I need to understand hunger. I could
not eat for a week. Or I could ravage elephant meat
if I had to. I could rip tender flesh from under a still-
live tortoise shell if I had to. I could never eat
In’n’Out again
if I had to.
I could smoke until my lungs
crumbled or I could not if I had to. I could pretend love
is a ferry I’d travel to the Underworld for and
redemption is music.
And never look back if it suits me.
Or I could gut the fish of need. And wear the bones
around my neck, in between eyeballs,
dancing in the forest, with only my cats if I want to.
350 people die
in Britain every year from crazy cat disease.
Schizophrenic hallucinations transferred
through playful claws, is that already me?
I could love in that feral way. I could push myself to the edge
just to feel it. I could remember my childhood like four
tiny walls and TV dinners pushed through slots and
recreate it.
Or I could balance on a fine point.
Scribble darling nothings into the sea,
having built a raft. Here it is. Waffle and waffle around
for a while. Eat trembling
for dinner and catcall out into the asphalt wilderness
I’m too young! to be weary and too old!
to be dull. I could shine my knives.
I don’t have any knives. I could
jump into the lake
and see what it feels like to swim
with Loch Ness on its lunch break.
I’m not saying wait but
I could want to live with a
reformed monster with fishtails
for eyes, the kind who knows
what depth tastes like.
Maybe something like that. Maybe
nothing at all like that. Maybe
it doesn’t matter, I’ve got plenty
of mirrors and a funhouse
of voices in my head to keep me
company. But either way, not anybody
too stark or big-mouthed or needy
or conventional. What was I supposed
to be doing again. Risk floating forever.
I could float forever.

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