When I was five,
every time I closed my eyes,
colors, creatures, patterns, movement.
Mama, you saw the vacuum cleaner,
or me staring out the window.
I saw my head exploding behind my eyelids.
All any adult ever told me was
stop daydreaming and listen.
To the ghost-man nobody else seems to know about?
He followed me halfway up the stairs.
He chased me out of the basement.
He lived next to the water softener,
but could also come upstairs.
To the voices I hear when I'm tired?
Men, women, chattering away in snatches about nothing.
Or, to you?
To my brother?
I soak up your anger, your confusion, your frustration,
till I can't tell what is mine and what isn't.
"Why are sitting in here by yourself?"
There is a difference between a trained tiger and one that's loose.
Nobody told me it was Ringling Brothers in here,
or that it isn't the same for everyone.
I grew up a little stunned, overwhelmed, spinning in the storm.
Now I call down the thunder,
and people say, "I want to spend an hour inside your head."
No you don't.
The circus is permanently in town,
the gate is open,
and while they are used to me, and willing to perform,
my tigers don't know you,
and I can't be responsible for what they might do to a noob.
for mag #219