The Staircase Calls Me Names

The staircase seems nondescript.
It tells me who I am.

Tuesday it was all ammonia.
Metal with bubbles,
clean, damp but not fresh.

By Thursday, it was all barf
with a touch of cigarette,
not the newly-lit cigarette
but the one soaking in water,
making you sick, making you wilt.

Every day, it tells me I’m no good.

Park my car, hit the staircase,
walk the sidewalk,
ride the escalator,
beep with my badge
and I’m back in prison.

Prison’s okay,
but the staircase:
It tells me I’m not fit to live.

It makes loud clanky sounds,
tells me to lay down and die.

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  1. #1 by Bivantate on December 22, 2011 - 9:32 pm

    I definitely know the feeling all to well!

    • #2 by Carl on December 28, 2011 - 9:56 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it.

  2. #3 by Kay Camden on December 22, 2011 - 9:43 pm

    I like how pointed and straightforward this is. The staircase probably does, too.

    • #4 by Carl on December 28, 2011 - 9:57 pm

      You’re very kind and patient. I appreciate your visit and thank you for your comment.

  3. #5 by heikewrites on December 23, 2011 - 4:47 am

    oh Carl. that staircase keeps coming up. it’s always the same one, isn’t it? can you avoid it at all, or do something to it? like put duct tape around the clanky bits or paint it in a color you like? embellish it. i mean, for real. i’m sure everybody would benefit. it sounds so horrible. and i don’t like what it does to you.

    • #6 by Carl on December 28, 2011 - 9:58 pm

      Ah, your memory is impeccable, but it is a different staircase. There are lots of them. Only the metal ones come after me. The wood ones are nice to me.

  4. #7 by Carl D'Agostino on December 23, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    The staircase is a perfect anomaly: both entrance and exit.

    • #8 by Carl on December 28, 2011 - 9:59 pm

      Yes, so how does someone get stuck in the middle, as if in a whirlpool?

  5. #9 by Beth Winter on December 24, 2011 - 10:03 pm

    My staircase presents itself as white lines in the dark of pre-dawn and the waning light of dusk, day after day, leading me to my own prison, one that I rely on for existence but despise. It reminds me of how hostages become enamored by their captors. I can’t turn away but those white dotted lines for an hour each way remind me of how alone I am in my forced, voluntary obsession. Wonderful. I felt each step as though it were placed against its will by unseen hands.

    • #10 by Carl on December 28, 2011 - 10:02 pm

      Wow. Your staircase is immense. Those dotted lines are so imperfect and messy but they are perfect at symbolizing our captors and the bars around the spirit. Thank you for stopping by and thank you for your comment.

  6. #11 by Find an Outlet on January 6, 2012 - 2:58 pm

    For me it’s the car ride of dread, back seat filled with cleaning supplies and the stench of Pinesol fermenting on the mop I haven’t had the motivation to wash. Odometer inching forward, left turn, right turn, closer to palaces of disrespect, low pay, permanently inflamed shoulder pulsing. Pass the burned mountains, look away. People who do not walk the walk, spewing liberal rhetoric but can’t take the time to recycle…water bottles everywhere, use once and throw away. Intact cardboard boxes from ordering online gifts for themselves stuffed into garbage cans along with uneaten food. Get service people to work as cheaply as possible then complain when something isn’t done that they never communicated to me, as that would be beneath them. Once I begin work I can focus on job at hand, cleaning top-of-the-line appliances, miles of tiles, all forms of human excrement. The hours pass, I’m OK in the prison. But the car ride, my colophon of underachievement, disabled dreams, fractured future. They do not know me. I am nobody. Please don’t thank me for the comment, cathartic for me to confess how low I feel with someone I know will understand. Should I even send this, I don’t know. This is the second time I’ve tried to comment on this piece, the first dissolving into a sea of numbness. It’s good Carl, because I get it.

    • #12 by Carl on January 6, 2012 - 11:21 pm

      I’m saddened by your reflection, but your expression is immensely powerful to me, and I am inspired by your willingness to comment with this honesty. The good thing is I don’t feel so alone, and I hope you don’t feel alone

  7. #13 by heikewrites on January 7, 2012 - 4:32 am

    …and not feeling alone and feeling like maybe someone understands means the world to me. so Thank you both. and what beautiful writing!!! so powerful.

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