An Ode (Apology) to My Lungs
– Poetry by Payton Rose –
Smoke Ring Musings
My nightmare entails waking up
In a room full of mirrors. A single light,
Florescent, dangling just out of reach.
Stretch marks hissing, sprawled on every wall.
I used to awaken with a gasp, heart racing
Fully clothed, heavy and sweat stained.
On those days I could not shower or escape
The confines of my bedroom. So I stopped sleeping.
I spend my nights smoking cigars and reading
Poetry out loud, in the stale, rustic air.
Ever wishing that someone might walk by and say
They could fall asleep to my articulations.
We’d run away to some far off town, abandoned,
Where the rust just barely covers the reflective surfaces.
When we went looking for balloons to fill with nitrous,
the supermarket only had one option. Sophia said that
they were perfect. Yellow balloons with a black smiley face
perfectly in the middle, like your first tattoo, Steven. Like the
yellow stress balls your mother handed out at your wake.
Sophia always laughs after hitting a whippet—You used to
play music and rock your head back and forth,
smiling. I never did give you a proper goodbye.
Inhaling, I close my eyes, let my mind separate
from my body. I can never quite find you in the
countless balloons deflated in the seat of my car.
I remember thinking that weed would
Save me. As I was standing in the basement,
Mouth glued to a vaporizer, clearly
I had to focus on the present. I was alone
The first time I had a panic attack.
It had not been unfamiliar to find
My mind paralyzing my body,
My future. But what scared me most
Was that this time my body was
Leading the charge. It happened
Thrice more that year. Some catalyst
Would send my heart racing, my lungs
Suddenly too large for my rib cage. Just one
Thought would push me over the edge, leave
My body in a frenzy that my mind
Could not correct. My favorite memory
Was falling apart in your arms,
It was not long after we started fucking,
And you pulled my head in close to
Your chest, waiting in the theater office.
You stroked my head and I closed my eyes,
Just trying to breathe.
About the Author – Payton Rose
Payton Rose currently lives in New Haven, Connecticut with his loving and supportive partner. He graduated from Knox College in 2015 with a BA in Political Science, minoring in Creative Writing and Spanish. Payton is incredibly grateful to Gina Franco and the FoCo Friends Writing Group for their invaluable advice and belief in him. He is humbled to be making his print debut with Dreamers.
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