I used to be hardcore.
Dressed in all black
and wore chains on my clothes
(not for fighting, mind you,
but for fashion).
I listened to a bunch of angry bands from Scandinavia
and I thought I was the shit.
that's what I told people.
I was hardcore
because I held a butcher knife up to the middle of my chest
and I thought about taking one last dive
for my life.
Then I started reading the bible
and telling everyone else they were going to hell
because I was already in hell
and it was not fire and brimstone
(don't let anybody tell you any different)
but staying up late
wondering if your parents would have stayed together
if you'd just let the cancer kill you.
It took me seventeen years of life to get that off my chest
and when I found God,
she was smoking her cigarettes in the middle of a rainstorm
and talking to me about her third abortion.
So if you've never stared down a half-full bottle of codeine
at three o'clock in the morning
don't tell me how you can save my soul.
The only prayer I ever meant had to do with death.
Thinking about the image of my two dead friends:
one from brain cancer
and one from some boyfriend with a belt.
Have you ever lingered too long in front of the bus?
Don't tell me that the road to recovery is a straight shot
because I will show you the scars from the wrong turns
and the potholes
and the "sure thing" twelve-step programs.
This poem is to anyone who ever said that they would kill themselves
if the grocery store didn't have their favorite candy.
I'm three therapists deep
and they still don't know if I can swim.
I meet a new me every day because the chemicals in my brain are off.
But when I look in the mirror,
I still see that kid in all black
and the knife on my chest
smoking her menthol cigarettes.