This is not a suicide note.

By Katherine Martini

Once upon a time,

I didn’t know how to write without

killing myself.

killing myself in the literal sense of

slitting my wrists or

stepping in front of subway cars

or, most likely,

swallowing bottles of pills

since that was the system I selected

on both the occasions

I tried.

But also killing myself in that

deep, metaphorical sense

that us poets have of ripping

our souls out and slinging

them around our necks

like a scarf

like a noose–

swallowing pills like

swollen words

that spill from clenched-fist

pens and snake into my

lungs like the

smoke that dangles

from the artsy cigarette

on my soulful

poet lips,

slow death like

my blackened bronchioles,

wheezing emphysema words-

I didn’t know how to depend on my pen

unlike a drag or a

drink or a

slow descent down the

writer’s rabbit hole.

I didn’t know how to write anything other than

pretty synonyms for sorrow.

I didn’t know I could sign my name

to a story that wasn’t sad.

Once upon a time,

I didn’t know how to write without

killing myself.

But this is not a suicide note.

This is a birth certificate.

©2020 by Variant Literature Inc.