Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

  • Facebook
“Grad School, and other Manic Episodes”; “Framework”; “you can swim underwater, just don’t breathe in”
“Grad School, and other Manic Episodes”


3 a m


the waking or witching hours

at least four days have passed 

since i’ve pulled the curtains open

let the sun touch my skin

am i here again?

i feed my body with the dark

crunch stars with brittle teeth

harpoon the moon and swing

a feral-child-space-explorer

tiresome like an earworm 

outstretched syncopations

undressing the twilight

breaking glass bottles

painting the walls with them

punch a skylight in my ceiling 

find no healing; my friends lied         dial your phone number 

hang up on the second ring

circle random letters in the paper

collapse on dirty socks


There are ghosts living in your eyes
I see them floating there
tiny mariners in milky fishbowls
caressing the backs of your irises
sneaking out for the occasional romp

I tie a small string into a lasso
send it sailing through the air
try to catch one mid-flight
the loop lands on an eyelash
You swat me like a gnat

Sleeping with your head in my lap
my fingers comb your curls
I whisper love songs in your ears
try to exorcise the ghosts
they claw and nip at my nails and lips

Awakened, you are frightened
I bring my forehead to yours
touch our nose tips
stare directly into the past
offer them my own eyes as sacrifice

But as I look closely
study the swirling spirits
they share sweet smiles and giggles
I realize that you are not haunted
You are a home for angels

“you can swim underwater, just don’t breathe in”

fluidity has come to encompass
my mainstay sadness
my only optimism
you, like me, are sea

whether spraying or sucking
sinking, even in shallow streams
treading tirelessly
or floating with resignation

hot springs comprised of teardrops
the summertime pitcher of sweet tea
the ease with which
you sweat me out

swallowing lake norman
hot chocolate before bed
spittle well spent on heated exchanges
bleeding out the last of it

i smear the remnants of swamp water
on the dew-kissed grass
piss all over your good name
start swimming

Kelsey L. Smoot (They/Them/Theirs) is a full-time PhD student in the interdisciplinary social sciences and humanities. They are also a poet, advocate, and frequent writer of critical analysis.