If there’s one thing I’ve learned,
it’s that I’ve gotten it all wrong.
All these years refusing to accept
my own horseshit tricks. Folks faces
said hey, I think that guy is sort of
interesting. This, friends, is all
I’ve cared about. It’s what made
me feel alive.

Sure, I sell myself as something
different. I’ve mastered that.
Today I read an article about
people who have endured trauma.
It said they often have an inflated sense
of importance related to their work
and ideas. A grandiosity. Yeah,
that’s pretty much me to a T.

My memories don’t match
the effects on my body. Except
for that one time when my therapist
led me through an eye movement
desensitization and reprocessing
session. Everything came rushing
back and I jumped up from
the center of her green couch
and ripped sensors off my temples.
Tore clips from my fingers.

The man in a long coat disappeared.
Stopped moving closer, stopped calling
my name and asking what I was doing.
A wide awake nightmare that recoiled
and returned to where it’s been lodged.
Where my body stored it before there
were words for it. My fear isn’t something
I can hold. No. My inability to embrace
complexity, to fully love another person

without questioning what they’ve
got up their sleeve, is justified by
a summer day in Livermore, California:
hot metal slide, looming figure, a man,
under a shady tree. The sun streaking
my hair strawberry blonde. A rusty, piss-
smelling porthole, rebar ladder welds
that cut palms. Refuge from heat, dark
tunnel to clouds. This black hole, stealing time.

2 thoughts on “Grandiosity

  1. Really haunting and powerful, Tom. This piece sucked me in and didn’t let go. The image at the bottom is perfectly matched and grim. The poem felt like a portal which could lead into a very intriguing collection.


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