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My sanctuary lies in a musty church basement.
It is decorated with uncomfortable metal folding chairs and smells of strong, black coffee.
My sanctuary doesn’t have a choir.
In fact, instead of hymns I hear anthems of despair. Anthems of desperation and, at times, surrender.
I don’t find angels either.
The voice of God sounds exactly like the stranger sitting next to me.
In my sanctuary i find my fellow tribe members. And they will keep me safe from the visions in my head for a short while.
I am sheltered from the monster that whispers, “This time you can handle it.”
This church basement holds
laughter and tears
hope and redemption
death and life.
My sanctuary is no longer in the shape of little white pills.
Now my sanctuary is in me.
The sun cuts like a knife
through the watery surface
and the bottom of the pool suddenly
becomes a place where
come to dance.
someone calls my name from
across a vast expanse
and i leap unabashedly into the atmosphere
secure in the knowledge
of being caught.
Because i am little i do not feel
the iciness of the water as it hits my skin,
for i am wearing an imaginary cape
(if you didn’t notice)
I do not taste the salty chlorine,
for i still have remnants
of hot dog stuck in my teeth.
I can’t feel the sting of water
going up my nose
for i’ve learned enough to
Inhaling deeply i lie on my back
pretending to be a dead log.
The balloons of air tucked deep in my stomach
will be my secret supply of oxygen.
i push my belly above the surface
showing the birds and squirrels
my neat trick
If i wanted
I could roll around in any formation,
wiggling my toes
and somersaulting into oblivion and
watch the blue underwater world spin
round and round like the dryer.
So when did i learn fear?
i rip the plastic-y smelling water wings
off my arms
and step to the edge of the world
and i don’t care
if someone is there to catch me
when i leap into the air
because i remember now
what i once knew as a small child:
Drip Drop Drip Drop Drip
You are the watering can
to my thirsty soul
The Difference Between Us
The crisp in the air today made me think of you…
She knows She is a Poet, a fluid syllable–the primary color of fire–
that cannot help but be an element for all things lesser.
A river without a source
that undeniably churns us all along,
for stones and mire must acquiesce to the force of the inherent tide.
I long to be a Poet:
a newborn musical chord whose birth signifies
a consummation of soul and sound
so amorous that we wonder
why it has never been in existence before.
Instead comes a tune that sounds familiar
to one I heard a long time ago– yeah, now I remember,
it’s a cover song.
The original was better, anyway.
I am only a Writer:
disjointed syllables haphazardly strung together
by scotch tape and hope.
I am one of those sad colors of the spectrum
that will never be associated with fire
but rather Campbell’s pea soup.
A Writer’s words disagree and refuse to move.
Maybe if i just braid their hair
and brush their teeth, I think,
no one will notice.
Polishing old penny loafers,
enticing you to taste a spoonful.
Oh Poet, you are the possessor of your creation,
not just a malingering tributary.
You are a sedimentary star
whose words move when she says.
This Writer is made of paper-mache–a hardened shell–fragile, and whose purpose
is merely an afterthought
of a substance that once was there.
I would like to know, Dear One,
how do I get there from here?
Katie Kopin currently teaches high school English in a mental hospital for teenagers in Detroit, Michigan. She has always wanted to be a writer, but is just beginning to submit her work out into cyberspace. Katie is 31 and has never been published before. Additionally, she is a drug addict with eight years clean.