brass tacks

i don’t know if i’m depressed
or what that feels like
despite being twice diagnosed as such.

they were the diagnoses i wanted to try on
at the time
(1) Depressed
(2) Depressed
but like every outcome of my will
i received them remotely
as if for a friend
whose life i covet;
theirs a clearer approach
more tractably diagnosable than mine.

i long to be ripe for diagnosis.

you actually need to remove the tacks first
before getting down to it
to a piece’s frame
before getting any work done.

the phrase
a solecism
doesn’t really work
and i’m not getting any work done.

so i’ll just lie to everyone
including you
about every boring, crucial thing.

for every day
& every thing that happens
i long an atmospheric shift
or a dial in a properties window;
we will all of us appear the same
but gain in weight.

it is usually unproblematic to use
weight and mass interchangeably
but an object in free fall
while it’s mass remains static
has no weight.

i picture the depressed
picturing themselves on solid ground
weights chained to their ankles
or lashed to their backs
grinding along some kind of ambulatory freeway
as their infinitesimal experience of this world
whisks briskly past them
in a pantsuit
chatting happily on a cell phone.

i picture this with not much sympathy
though with what i will describe to you as
a lot of empathy.

it is not usually unproblematic to use
empathy and sympathy interchangeably
and though i know what i mean
and why i’ve meant it
i’ve come to doubt the truth of the truths
i so often speak to conceal;
when you turn up the volume on me
i become fainter
or something.

my darling! my love!
which, as of this line, is my strongest tack?

because i promise you!
i long: to use words with precision;
to stop lying to therapists, whom i pay;
to renounce metaphors, poems
that indeliberate
don’t really understand themselves;
to gratify you with even one sentence
which will read
on any scale.

i don’t know if i’m depressed
or what that feels like
but every time you talk to me
like i’m a person
and every answer you exact
to how are you feeling today
is like another drip of sand on my face
and squinting up
through the glass of another writer’s work
you too become fainter, paler to me.

and though this frame, too, is a lie
composed for this poem
it’s composed for you.

About Richard Long

Richard Long is a writer living in New York City.

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