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Long Beach, CA

A Reflection on my Trainwreck

Poetry Blog

A Reflection on my Trainwreck

Brandon Cook

I spoke to a room full of people, and I suppose I’m writing this to address the anatomy
of my glorious meltdown  

First, in rising mania I moved before the mic, saying things like, “Right?  I mean, right, guys?” Palms raised pleadingly for comprehension, I looked around the room for some nodding eye or mind to anchor the panic of not knowing what I was saying

Second, I soared out of my body, asking myself what on God’s green earth I was talking about, and wondering, not unlike a lamb being sheared, when it would all be over 

Third, three times, I opened my mouth, like a leap off a clip, literally without words to say, and not a pool to land in
I only found a place by making up a thought, no matter how incongruent, how grand the non-sequitur
And the wreckage was profound

Fourth, by the end, I just admitted, “I know this wasn’t very clear,” by which I meant, “I know this was a total trainwreck, and I’m really sorry,” and people got my meaning because they came up to me afterwards to “thank me” 

So they said, but, 
I’ve been around the track enough to tell the difference between gratitude and compassion from sweet souls—the kind of people who take home strays or leave milk out for tomcats
And saw how in need I was of a warm place to spend the night 

I told my wife, two days later, that it had stirred up my soul, like vinegar in a vat, settling into the bowl of my stomach, where I hold the best of my anxiety
It chewed up the sediment that holds down the river bottom—the waters of ego I scramble like an engineer to hold back, 
I, always an unwitting builder of a sandbag dam within me, holding back
Pebbles of performance
Earth layers of ego
Fissures of fear 

But three days of sitting in the dark is enough time
For my soul to enter that v-shaped resurrection I’ve come to know will hold me
You hit your low and then you know
That God never sees the pretense anyway, or sees past it, right as rain
And if all pain opens the soul, it’s better to learn to laugh and let it go
Sometimes, like the models in those old Westerns, the train just needs to go off the bridge
So you can learn it’s perfectly okay
And that the best lessons are the ones that shake you whole, so you can learn to let them go