Paper doll

Paper dolls and mannequins. Smiles sliding down molten plastic.

There is an art to being hollow. I do it better than most.


For ritual, there must be sequence. An order, a series of events.

So listen, and listen carefully. Like all art, the process is simple, but a single misstep can kill you.

Remove the glass from the paintings that hang on the walls, plaster your windows with film. Shatter the vase of those flowers in your room; throw the shards where they cannot reach you.

Dull your blades and deaden your teeth.

Blunt your pencils, and cut your nails till they bleed.

Now, you are ready.

Close your eyes and listen. Do you hear it? No? Listen harder.

I am nothing. I am nothing. I am nothing.

Say it like a kiss, brushing against your skin, rubbery and vile. Say it with hope, and then say it with despair.

Listen until you can hear nothing else; listen until the words trip over another, like children, like waves, until they become no words at all, but pure sound.

Listen, and you’ll hear the softest of undertones to this; a cadence, a beat, a rhythm.

Lean into this sound, touch it with your trembling fingers, let it fall in pace with the beat of your heart.

You are weightless, you are free. You glide through your life smoothly, yet without grace.

You are paper, a lewd cardboard cutout, made by clumsy fingers and a blunt blade.

Don’t resist, let yourself be cut.

Are you scared? Nervous? Don’t worry; this is all normal.

Isn’t that what you worry about, the loneliness of an isolated experience?

Sweetheart, you have a long way to go.


Let go of your worries, let go of fear. You have no place to hold them. They will seep through you as easily as water through air.

The light might gleam in a single instant, but close your eyes and look away, for all it will do is blind you. Darkness, in its steady chill, is much more reliable.

You are nothing. You are nothing. You are nothing.

Repeat it till you believe. Don’t strain, it’s not that hard. There is an art to becoming hollow, but it’s simple.

Give until you can’t give anymore, and then give away the part of you that resists. Lay your heart bare, let them butcher it with their knives; and smile, for God’s sake, you look so morose.

The heart, you see, is a deceitful thing. Its blood will choke you as fast as it gushes with life. In the end, it’s your heart that will guide the knife to your own throat.

Sp feed its pain until you can’t feel anything else, until you can’t feel the pain itself. Until it becomes like the sky; ever-present yet unnoticed.

Only then, will you have mastered it. The art of dead life.


In all the millions of words they weaved, they couldn’t find a string of letters to describe you. How does that make you feel?

Can you feel at all, through the heart that hears only the sound of its hatred?

Don’t cry; there is no word for you, so tell yourself that you are a novelty, you are unique.

Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted?


Photo by takahiro taguchi on Unsplash

PS In May 2019, I will be moving to a new web address. I’m shifting to a personal domain and I’m so, so excited for you to see it! Buying my domain is giving me so much more freedom for new features, design, and I can’t wait for you to get started there.

But on the downside, all those of you who’ve subscribed to my blog here WILL NOT be notified of new posts anymore. I’d hate for you to miss out just because I’ve shifted addresses, but WordPress doesn’t offer anything to straighten this out.

So to make sure the change is as smooth as possible, I’d be so grateful if you’d enter your email ID below so we can stay in touch. You can opt-out any time, no hard feelings. I hate spam and I’ll only be reaching out every two weeks or so for blog updates, I promise.

Thank you, again, for all your support. ❤

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252 Comments Add yours

  1. jjacobik says:

    There was a time in my life in which I found comfort in repeating to myself, “I am nothing. I am nothing. I am nothing.” It rationalized all my treasured suffering. Then I realized that trying to convince myself that I was nothing was EXACTLY as false as if I were to try to convince myself that I was everything. Since I’m sure that I’m not everything, my not being nothing must also be true. I am something. You are too. Knowing that will not subtract an ounce of your amazing creativity. It will just make your life richer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this here, jjacobik. No matter how many times you tell yourself you are ‘something’, hearing it from someone else always warms your heart, just a little more. I’ll be mulling over this for a while now…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. jjacobik says:

      Perhaps like me, your writing is a part of you, not all of you. Readers imagine that they know me from my writing. They don’t. I’m really just a very ordinary guy who has chosen the greater exposure of blogging for all to see.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Exactly! I feel like I have a sort of an alter ego when I’m writing: I have no idea where all these thoughts are streaming from. It’s almost frightening sometimes. I’m truly not this depressing out of the screen. Or maybe I am, and I’m just good at hiding it. Maybe words just reveal more of you than you’re familiar with.
      I’m confused now.

      Like

  2. Noah Jamilu says:

    Wao! Just like Chucky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thank you for reading, Noah.

      Like

    2. Noah Jamilu says:

      You’re welcome!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the reblog, Michael!<3

      Like

  3. I like the little rhymes you work in. Just enough to make it interesting but not enough to make it cliche.Very nice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Russell. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? How are you doing?

      Like

  4. Beautiful writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Carolyn.

      Like

  5. melaniepatrice says:

    You write beautifully. My heart sings for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Melanie. ❤

      Like

  6. canfield230 says:

    Very inspiring as well……..thank you. I’m going to share to fb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it ❤

      Like

  7. canfield230 says:

    This is amazing!!!! A wonderfully lyrical visual of comparing human self protection and walls built up to keep safe our most private of hearts and innermost feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, Natalie Swift (alias Shreya Vikram), i must now believe you when you say you don’t lie.

    Tonight I am new to your website and “Paper Doll” is your first work I’ve looked at. Already I can see how I must now look at many other works of yours before I will be able to look at “Paper Doll” — look and see.

    I wonder what it cost to be you?

    I wonder if you would tell me if I asked?

    I have a feeling your whole blog tells me in every post what it cost to be you. That’s the feeling I have right now.

    You’re brilliant, Shreya. I can already see that much. As with a sun, it only took a glance to see you were brilliant. It only took a glance, but it left a question. What will I see now when I look — not so much at you — but at the world now in the light of your new day?

    Tonight I am new to your website and I already think that if I am still here a year from now, you will still be new to me.

    Thank you so very much for sharing “Paper Dolls”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The cost of a life is the sum of our dreams, our hopes, our memories. If you asked, I would hardly know what to say, for such introspection can only go nowhere, leading to nothing except the awareness of the choking pressure of being. And who would seek that out? But in that line of thought, you’re right. The cost of being is scattered in our distracted ruminations, our infiltered reveries. And that’s what art offers us. Perhaps not the sum; but traces, the shadow of a being, the echo of a life.

      And as for staying ‘unknown’, I certainly hope so. There can be nothing worth gaining from a conversation when you’re fully aware of your correspondant. And there can be nothing worth reading from a writer when they have nothing to hide. Better to remain obscure and intruiging than clear and tedious. I hope I remian unknown for as long as I can.

      Thank you, Paul, for your presence here. It truly means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Incredibly emotive with such beautiful words filled with a darkness that is somewhat familiar. You have really captured a great amount of emotion in your words and it is brilliantly written.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad it resonated ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Sad commentary on being female — very well expressed. Stick around. As we age, we come into ourselves and everything improves. Muriel

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I certainly hope so, Muriel. Thank you for this ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. …Even do a little bit scary and dark, this poem speaks about the reality of life. On this words of yours I can only add one of mine: “We, humans, are mortals, and as such we are just passers-by on this little planet we call the Earth. But what is immortal is our soul and our works that will remain behind us, even when our material bodies turn into dust and ash.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the way you’ve put it. There’s certainly something comfort to be taken in that…

      Liked by 2 people

    2. …The words always speak for themselves, no matter what they say…

      Liked by 1 person

  12. hjlabre says:

    Is writing cathartic for you? Are you working through things that you couldn’t work through otherwise unless you wrote these pieces? I agree with Tom Burton further up. These are very immersive, almost suffocating in their intensity. I say that in a good way.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. More than cathartic, I’d say it’s a ‘reknowing’ of myself, letting hidden personal narratives come out, dust off shame, unease.
      Often, I’ll start writing a piece I don’t think particularly resonates with me, and this inner narrative somehow catches up. And all of a sudden, every sentence rings true to me, though I’d never realized I was harbouring those thoughts.
      Is that a catharsis? I don’t know. It’s less of a purge and more of an unfolding of the self, grotesqueness and all.
      Thoughts?

      Liked by 4 people

    2. hjlabre says:

      Oh, that’s something I definitely resonate with myself. For me, that’s how it is when I write music. I have something I’m feeling. I can’t put my finger on it. And then the music comes first, and then the words follow to sort of explain it. But I’m writing a lot more now, and it’s becoming the same sort of process for me. I like how you describe it: “reknowing”, “letting hidden personal narratives come out.” Maybe it’s a little different for me, but pretty similar. I say “catharsis” because, there’s almost a sort of relief after having written a post or a song. Like, I’ve exhaled something bad out of me, or let something go that was weighing me down. I have this sort of peace afterward. I almost can’t thinking through anything unless I write it out – or talk it out, but not a lot of people have patience for how much I talk! 🙂 haha

      Liked by 1 person

  13. ira says:

    I really like your work. You are inspiring.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Ira. That means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for liking my poem. I find you and I are somehow on save wavelength. I found myself reading your entire poem! I usually leave much sooner. (Big Smile)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I can definitely relate to that. The feeling is mutual. I’m so glad it resonated, Jacqueline! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  15. wendy waters says:

    Brilliant work! As I read it all I could think is this: And this is what it’s like to be a woman. You serve everyone but yourself and even your genius belongs in some man’s shadow. You have summed up my life in the most magnificent heartbreaking soul-awakening prose/poetry/words xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I’m glad it resonated with you ❤

      Like

  16. wendy waters says:

    Reblogged this on Catch The Moon, Mary and commented:
    WOW! No words to do this piece of prose/poetry justice. Just stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So vivid that I stuck in first few lines.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Prithviraj. I’m glad you enjoyed it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This is a really scary post, I could feel fear, at first I felt like I am reading about a psychotic person then it just becomes scarier. All of a sudden I may not have alive even. The image really helps set the feel. Thanks for sharing, an albeit scary post. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, I wrote it at a terrible time, and when I read it again, there’s the strangest nostalgia, but also a foreboding with it. The most frightening of situations are the ones closest to reality.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Must have been a rough patch, I am still getting chills re-reading it. XD
      ‘The most frightening of situations are the ones closest to reality. ‘ May I ask why?

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Why the rough patch?
      I wish I knew.
      They come and go, flitting in and out of my life. I might wake up feeling the happiest I’ve ever been, and then there’s this crash, and you never see it coming, so it’s only all the more frightening. Have you ever felt like that?

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Yep, mostly during my pms week, I am easily affected. But I feel pms is not the issue here, it is probably cause of the bottled up emotions then when comes the volatile week, a trigger will turn me upside down.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. Very true. It’s frustrating: that one trigger is almost never significant, so it’s only harder to explain, that this is the culmination of months of with-held emotion, not just this incident…

      Liked by 1 person

    6. Yes, and the explanation part is what we have to tell to ourselves to get over it. Which is the hardest part!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I couldn’t think someone could write about ‘nothing’. I really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rohit. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My honour! Your style of writing really inspires me to write something dark as well as beautiful. Just like this post.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I’m delighted to hear that and I’d love to read it when you do!

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Thank you! (i am still young so it’ll take some time and experience to craft it.)

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Of course. We could all do with a lot more time and experience. There never seems to be enough to go around.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Mon says:

    You’re amazing

    Liked by 1 person

  21. This is absolute class. Iam beginner here and so it took me a number of efforts to fully grasp the poem. But it was worth it. I never knew that ‘Nothing’ can be detailed into this much depth.

    Out of this world.

    👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. That truly means a lot.

      Like

  22. You just described what people are turning in to. The world is becoming your words. Fantastic poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Frightening.
      But I’m glad you liked it ❤

      Like

  23. Wow. This is impressive. So well written. Usually I’m more wordy, but I was just blown away.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. ❤

      Like

  24. Reblogged this on Honeymoon in Bali and commented:
    Still wondering about the cardboard

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I could feel you…writing yourself down. I wonder whether my understanding matches others’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think every interpretation is different, and every interpretation is equally true. And that’s the beauty of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. BoardFlak says:

    Interesting description, but I think there’s far too much buzzing around in my head to ever get it empty.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. These descriptions, these symbols, these words, they all work on many levels.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thank you.

      Like

  28. Storyography says:

    I can’t remember enjoying discomfort quite so much.
    I think you invented a new genre – ironic dread.
    wonderful!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      And ironic dread: I like that…

      Like

  29. soanuthatch says:

    Wow! I love the voice you use here. That voice feels so adamant and so decidedly confident that you believe those words. They smother you. I worked as a mental health nurse. If my patients had had your talent, I think this is how they would express their struggles. I’m going to enjoy spending time in your words. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m honored to hear you could see this in my work. Thank you for taking the time to read and reach out to me.

      Like

  30. Love your writing! you inspire me to get back into a more poetic form of writing. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m delighted to hear that. Thank you for taking the time to read and reach out to me.

      Like

  31. Kurian says:

    A top rated blogger. Thank you for connecting Shreya

    Liked by 1 person

  32. samvanm says:

    Surely there is no depth in hollow… only the echoing devolution of a dark phrase bouncing around ones’ insides – like the void in a paper machete pinata – expecting the blunt intrusion of a stick. This had depth and soul and ache! All braided around the irony of knowing its’ introspection was not hollow at all. Bravo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love the way you put it. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It truly means a lot ❤

      Like

  33. I saw you stopped by my blog the other day and thought I would visit my neighbor. I should’ve brought something akin to a bottle of wine in thanks…your writing is incredibly beautiful! It was an absolute pleasure to read. A bit disturbing…Lol!…but the pain associated with depression, anxiety, and similar disorders, is disturbing to live with. I feel a bit of an emotional kin-ship with you. Been dealing with this shit my whole life. You took something ugly and made it sound hauntingly beautiful! What a wonderful gift you have!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. This means more to me than you could ever know. And I loved your piece, Tomorrow, by the way: it was one of the most honest portraits of depression I’ve ever seen. Thank you for that.

      Looking forward to seeing you around! ❤

      Like

  34. keithakenny says:

    I was expecting something more like “Paper Doll” – which is also sad.

    I want to have a paper doll that I can call my own
    The kind that other fellows cannot steal
    So then those flirty flirty guys with their flirty flirty eyes
    Will have to play with dollies that are real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shivers.
      On a side note, the entire human obsession with dolls in horror stories is so odd. What is it about those cheerful, innocent symbols of our childhood that sends goosebumps running down our spines?

      And this is actually the first time I’ve come across the song, so I spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out what you meant by “I was expecting something more like “Paper Doll” – which is also sad.”

      Insecurity strikes: it was sad that I didn’t live up to the expectation? I didn’t live up to the expectation? I didn’t live up to the expectation?
      *tries not to cry*

      Like

  35. oneofeach7 says:

    Beautifully written – but also sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Gordon says:

    Very strong. In a sense, frightening at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I suppose I meant it to be.

      Like

  37. Shreya this is piece has really affected me. Thank you for the follow! I intend on reading more of your work. Wonderful work again!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. I’m so glad it resonated ❤

      Like

  38. sugar high says:

    this was such a rollercoaster of feeling, weaving in and out of helplessness and weakness contrasted against a forceful, unwavering voice. would ride again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I’m glad it resonated. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Incredible! This was so dark and moving, I loved it

    Liked by 1 person

  40. gokubusiness says:

    Very good writing, just Amazing.
    I am a beginner, give me some tips to improve myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Jack Thomas says:

    Incredibly haunting, the pain and the suffering. Great writing. I pray for your soul, hopefully you find hope and more joy in life than pain!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. It truly means a lot. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  42. I. Loved. This. Line: “Isn’t that what you worry about, the loneliness of an isolated experience?”

    For me, the loneliness of an isolated experience is what makes us strong.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was such a thoughtful piece… and I’m honored that I could be an inspiration to it ❤

      Like

  43. the0ldmonk says:

    This is as heavy as my depression and that’s a lot .

    Liked by 3 people

  44. boballoo3 says:

    One of the best pieces of writing I have ever read on here.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. That means a lot.

      Like

  45. Euphrates. says:

    Amazing write up. Haunting.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. That means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  46. Anand Bose says:

    Well crafted words. Anand Bose from Kerala

    Liked by 3 people

  47. This was incredibly captivating, I love your style of writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  48. Unbelievable, this is amazing! Wonderful job—I love it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. That means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  49. I very much enjoy, and identify with your writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I’m glad it resonated. ❤

      Like

  50. joannehuston says:

    POWERFUL! The frightening and sad road to the Hollows!

    Liked by 3 people

  51. Thank you for sharing such a real and poetically authentic expression of the journey into the community of loneliness and isolation where hating ourselves is a prerequisite – and where our percieved evidence that our worth is less than zero is amplified. I truly hope you have found the treasure map hidden in this place that leads you out into the richness loving ourselves gives. If not please msg me my heart breaks for you from experience and I have a torch that can shine a light on a way out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words and support. It means more to me than you could ever know. I tend to write from memory, not through present experience, but your thoughtfulness is appreciated all the same. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    2. lwjkjr says:

      I am so thankful you can write so well from memory and express your feelings so deeply that it evokes similar memories in me as I read.

      Liked by 1 person

  52. jschulle says:

    Your style of writing is so captivating! And this piece is beautiful!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you. That means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  53. clinock says:

    INTENSE in a good way…

    Liked by 3 people

  54. So raw! Completely blown away by this piece! 😍

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    2. It takes courage to be that raw with emotions. I consider it and then chicken out.

      Liked by 4 people

  55. Wow. That was powerful and sad that I feel so connected to this. The linesYou are nothing. You are nothing. You are nothing.

    Repeat it till you believe. Don’t strain, it’s not that hard. There is an art to becoming hollow, but it’s simple.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They really spoke to me. I feel like i’ve been there many times and you’ve captured it in this dark, beautiful way.

      (Haha accidentally hit enter the first comment)

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Ah no problem. I’m glad (glad?) it resonated. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  56. Fulfilling eternity in nothingness.. beautifully crafted

    Liked by 3 people

  57. Fathy_writes says:

    Beautiful read. Intense and capturing

    Liked by 3 people

  58. I’ve red this poem, Faceless, Bare, Vitese, Synosure, The heart of a crowd, the one after you…I think writing is a calling in world.

    Your mind is an infinite library that I would like to peruse for a while…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying my work. Thank you so much for taking the time to read ❤

      Like

    2. Continue with the same spirit, let that fire inside your mind burn more, you have a loyal follower in me…
      I’ll read as you write literally…

      Liked by 1 person

  59. gpavants says:

    Hi Shreya,

    Creation is a painful and a joyful process. We loose before we gain.

    Thanks,

    Gary

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I love the way you put it. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Gary ❤

      Like

  60. Swatt Art says:

    Enjoyed that, thanks

    Liked by 3 people

  61. iamvhardik says:

    It is quite haunting. I could picture the process and feel the personification of the doll. Quite vivid imagery!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. That truly means a lot. ❤

      Like

  62. mojiwa says:

    Daaayum! That’s some pretty epic linguistic magic right there. When are you writing a book?
    Thanks for finding my little page and hitting like, that was much appreciated. Little did I know I’d be stumbling into a wonderous cave of literary delights as a result.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Mojiwa. I’m glad you enjoyed it. As for when I’m writing a book, no plans yet. Honestly, I doubt I’d have the commitment to follow through.

      Like

  63. Nick J Wood says:

    So good. I am massively impressed!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you. That means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  64. Ra'ahe says:

    Slam. Bam. Whoa man, that was fucking explosive!❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ll take that as a compliment.

      Liked by 1 person

  65. I envy you,, I vie you, am glad not to know you for it is surely the heart that drives the knife and I don’t want the heart to be mine.

    Liked by 3 people

  66. Gaurav says:

    Seems like an illusion, but this is the reality.

    Liked by 4 people

  67. Disturbingly beautiful. Definitely makes me wonder. Loved it!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Hannah.

      Like

  68. icarepo says:

    You are, infact I don’t have any proper word to explain it but it’s a nice piece and I love it

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha I’m taking that as a compliment. ❤️

      Like

    2. Apurv Raj says:

      No. You gave me goosebumps

      Liked by 1 person

  69. Beautifully penned and deeply affecting.

    Liked by 4 people

  70. Whoa. Intense and powerful. You really have a talent for words.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much. That means a lot. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ll definitely have to look at some of your other work after this. Great job!

      Liked by 2 people

  71. This is terrifying…..your beautiful and eloquent language magnifies the effect. But it reminds me to eliminate my negative self-talk so thank you 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’d like to think of it as a reminder to myself as well. And maybe hope that giving self-hatred a voice will take away some of its power…

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hopefully, it will!

      Liked by 2 people

  72. Joseph says:

    Lovely so dark 😆😅

    Liked by 4 people

  73. aprilgarner says:

    This is beautiful and painful. It reminds me of this quote by Maya Angelou: “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s so beautiful. I suppose that’s the more positive interpretation of being ‘no one’. Funny how it changes so much depending on how you choose to see it.

      Liked by 2 people

  74. When you have managed to hold the attention of someone like me who would never pick up poetry willingly, you are obviously someone with bucket loads of talent. This was utterly beautiful!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha, coincidentally, I was actually one of those people. I never meant to write poetry, not even now. But people started calling it poetry, and I didn’t want to spend all my time correcting them, so here I am…

      Liked by 3 people

  75. areilly88 says:

    As I read “you are nothing,” repeated and later again, I thought: “NO, you are everything!” That is how well the piece brought me in. You describe well the lies depression tells 💚 Thank you.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for this, Amanda. It truly means a lot ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  76. antoniazen says:

    It feels as if you have captured something slippery and elusive that plagues so many of us, and held it in your hands for us to examine. It will be different for everyone who looks. Ah yes, a deep part of me answers, that is what it is be chiseled away and to carve yourself to fit into neat torturous, one-dimensional boxes of social norms, or to please others, including those who walked that road before us (and who walk it still.) This is my reflection, but I agree with your earlier comment, a poem either resonates with someone or it doesn’t. This resonates with me.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. ” It will be different for everyone who looks.”
      And that’s precisely what I love about writing on the whole. It’s almost jarring, how every reader comes up with a completely different picture, something I would have never thouhgt of, and yet, when I read my own piece again, I can’t believe I missed it. When I first started writing, I thought it was upto me to put forth an idea, and that was that. But it’s so much more than that; it’s about stepping back as far as you can and giving just one part of the puzzle, and then watching everyone else complete it to create something beautiful.
      So thank you for your contibution. It means so much more than I could ever express.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. antoniazen says:

      maybe art / poetry is in part a conversation with whoever hears or listens?

      Liked by 1 person

  77. Matthew B says:

    Your words are gripping. They capture the essence of how I used to feel before I escaped the normal life and moved to Costa Rica.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated, Matthey. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Matthew B says:

      Thank you for bringing this haunting beauty into the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  78. Wow. Thanks for this vivid imagery in your writing. It moved me a lot. -Kevin-

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated, Kevin. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Like

  79. Jatayu says:

    I don’t get it. You should post the meaning too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’d be like explaining a joke to an audience that didn’t laugh. Either it resonates or it doesn’t. I leave drawing conclusions upto my readers.
      Though I do recommend reading Ethan’s comment here: https://themidnightember.wordpress.com/2019/01/30/dead-life/#comment-3975
      for a different perspective.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Jatayu says:

      You should publish your works if you aren’t already.

      Liked by 3 people

  80. I have no words. Your poetry is exquisite, haunting and raw. You make every word count and it shows in the imagery you weave. Beautiful piece! 😊💜 ~Kelsey

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks you so much, Kelsey. That means a lot ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  81. Your words took me on a very realistic, dark journey. I appreciate my life even more.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  82. Girl, your words are a bliss.

    Liked by 5 people

  83. lostperci says:

    Very strong and echoing in the mind, I love the form of quotes breaking the stanzas apart. You should think about audio, I would love to hear how you read this aloud.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you. Funny; I was actually thinking about that. I don’t know how it’ll work out but I’ll definitely keep the suggestion in mind.

      Liked by 3 people

  84. surely its going inside but paper cardboard and the quality is not resonating with the idea

    Liked by 2 people

  85. Silent Hour says:

    A very special piece of writing. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  86. Ethan NOPE says:

    Two things this poem reminded me of:

    1. A quote: “He: What’s the matter with you?

    Me: Nothing.

    Nothing was slowly clotting my arteries. Caught by nothing, saying nothing. When I am nothing they will say surprised in the way that they are forever surprised, “but there was nothing the matter with her.”
    — Jeanette Winterson

    “There is a clawed finger tearing at my flesh;
    I watch,
    Of my body dispossessed.”
    —A note from my phone

    One dream I had about this poem (during a nap, today):
    I saw man in prison—the man was Malcolm X (Denzel Washington), as I had just been watching the Spike Lee flick thereon the night before—and as in the movie, the man is in solitary confinement, his sanity being broken. I was then, after this depiction, in that liminal state between waking and sleeping, wherein thoughts are more image than word—or every word is an image—and I was brought instantly to your poem. The guard, in the movie the dream evoked, opens the slot on Malcolms solitary door, asks him again and again to state his number, an act which Malcolm finds degrading and will not do.
    “How did the guard know when to come into that cell—as he does in the movie when Malcolm is finally broken—know just the right degree of insanity in which a man can be still possessed—how much further would fictional Malcolm have had to go to become truly ‘dead life’, be lost to his pride (as was the goal of his captors) but also to any possession whatsoever, by himself or stranger?” All this ran through my dreamy stupor, indistinguishable from the dream itself but for the act of thinking—though, perhaps not in that exact, much more polished, phrasing.

    How does this dream relate (other than my visceral feeling that it did):
    “The isolated experience”, when we cannot communicate that experience, are we not in a kind of solitary confinement? And are we not given the chance again and again to betray those isolated experiences, those most ineffable essentialities of ourselves? To become possessed by something which is missing that which is our necessary to our fulfillment? We cannot bear the pain of being possessed by ourselves in isolation, neither can we—at first—bear to be possessed by that which is the alienation of ourselves. Again and again the guard, who truly does not exist but as a symbol for a collective function, comes into our solitude, asks us to state our number—identify with that which we are not— asks us to declare the nothingness of our unique, until we at last cannot deny him any longer, cannot bear to be ourselves in isolation, knowing the decay of the self that is isolation; thus, we become dead to ourselves to save ourselves, become hollow to fit into a fullness. (A fullness made up of innumerable hollows: I am nothing. I am nothing. We are something.”) Our heart is that which is emotionally interconnected with others, and it is our heart which leads us to slay ourselves for them.

    Your poem is much more thematically complex than my associations give it credit for—or imply of it—and I see an experience of alienation quite different from the one in it evokes in me evident between its lines; but, from my own little solitary cell, this is what I see—a ray of sunlight, a breath of wind from a crack in the concrete, letting me know that my pain “is not exclusive”, though it is, as yours, unique. Thank you, truly.

    Blessings!

    PS. If my overanalysis tarnishes the purity of your poetry—its positively effulgent bloom of significantions and nuance—PLEASE delete it, as I would not, even in the slightest, wish to take away from a work such as this.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hi Ethan,

      First off, thank you so much for taking the time to read and leave such an elaborate comment. It means so much to me, more than I could ever express.

      Your perspective is so whole, I don’t think I can add anything to it, other than I’m in awe, truly. I agree with everything you’ve said, but more than that, I can’t help but admire how you’ve drawn parallels between so many events and characters, each of their own depth and significance. The linkage with the human need for connection is something I hadn’t considered when I was writing the piece, but when I read over it now, I can see the idea shine through clear as ever.

      I love the idea of a “A fullness made up of innumerable hollows” and how you’ve said: “Our heart is that which is emotionally interconnected with others, and it is our heart which leads us to slay ourselves for them.”

      Perhaps this is how the written word truly adds value to the world; by allowing us to connect those superficial instances of our life that make us a whole; not just as an individual, but as a community.
      In its way, our fiction – lies it may be- serves a purpose greater than it’s given credit for.

      Grateful for your presence here.

      -Shreya Vikram

      Liked by 5 people

    2. This discourse is lovely. Lately, my preference is to strip away some of the beauty of phrase, however pleasurable, in exchange for pith, clarity, and truth. So I’ll try to summarize in my words:
      One can never be fully known, and this hurts.

      Liked by 2 people

  87. The Warden says:

    This is a great follow-up to “Vitesse.” It’s still largely visceral, both in its style and its imagery, but it feels a bit more lush.
    “So remove the glass from the paintings that hang on the walls, plaster your windows with film. Shatter the vase of those flowers in your room; throw the shards where they cannot reach you. Blunt your pencils, and cut your nails till they bleed.” This section speaks to the environment where the object of the poem – the “you” – is.
    Also, I should note that your use of second-person narration is quite compelling. It would be pretty tedious for, say, a novel, but it fits perfectly in a poem like this.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I’ll think of it as a transitional piece then, though I’m not sure I’m done with this style.
      Mmm in shorter pieces, I feel like it’s so much more intimate to be direct, though you’re right: it would probably break apart if stretched for too long.
      Thank you for your input ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  88. vis4voice says:

    Oh, how I could feel each of your words, so carefully chosen and strung together with a searing pain so familiar. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  89. Why cardboard cutout is lewd? I didn’t get it

    Liked by 1 person

  90. Beautifully written.
    For someone who is coming out of that darkness you sure did ignite something inside.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  91. ssfrerking says:

    Frightening in its beauty.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you. That means a lot.

      Like

  92. The Graphite Syringe says:

    Immensely inspiring

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you. I’m glad it resonated.

      Like

  93. Beautifully written💚

    Liked by 4 people

  94. hmaxwell217 says:

    May I never feel like this,and only try to give joy of only with a true smile

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ll hope the same for you ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m glad it resonated.

      Liked by 1 person

  95. jamie says:

    So deep

    Liked by 4 people

  96. KT says:

    I wish I were nothing. Nothing is so much simpler than something. Lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

  97. So descriptive and haunting.

    Liked by 3 people

  98. Tom Burton says:

    Very immersive read! You sweep the reader along for such a raw emotional ride. Really enjoyed this!

    Liked by 4 people

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