Volatile Child 

I sat with my Father,
And He spoke to me,
As we watched the sun descend,

With my weary head rested,
On His chest,
I told Him of the skeletons I hid,
Behind the coats and boots. 

“That one’s named Val.”
“Ahh Val!” He recognized fondly, 
As He gave it skin and  flesh and a face.
“He’s been here a while.” 

I nodded. 
“I killed Val.” I whispered.
“A dream of yours?”
“Nightmare.” I shook my head, “Recurring.” 

The ache in my heart drew out the admission, 
“Father, I’ve been volatile.” 
He smiled, “Volatile child,  
I am your Father.” 

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It’s knowing the Prozac wore off, 
Before realizing that the episode has passed you. 

like some wave behind you. 

You’re cold and frightened, 
but safe. 

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Freak of nature! You’re still alive?

I can’t seem to believe that I will hold on. 
Maybe my arms are just aching, 
Maybe I just don’t want to feel the branches slowly blister the skin of my palms, 
The free fall will be quick,
Painful, but quick. 

I let go, expecting the ground to reappear harshly, 
slap my back, 
snap by bones, 
twigs soon to be forgotten. 

I feel the flat earth catch my feet. 
Knees bent for impact. 
Had I hoped preparation will preserve me? 
Why have I hoped? 

I look up, 
standing on stable ground now.
Look up to see the branch that I held onto, 
only a foot away from my reach. 

Some time between losing my footing, catching the branch and hanging for dear life,
I grew. 
Just enough to close the distance. 

Ten foot giant, 
stretched by necessity, 
evolving to stay alive. 
How will I fit in to the old world? 
Too small for me now. 
It doesn’t matter.

"Freak of nature, 
you’re still alive!" 

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Blooming under my ribs.
Pupa erupting,
From cocoons,
Unsure if they are fully formed,
Meeting the world, their world: 
The flesh under my ribs. 

Squirming, squirming,
Still trying to break free,
To find daylight,
They burrow through muscle and skin,
Some through bones 
And I let them, 
For it is no life 
Hidden beneath ribs. 

One of us should be free,
To fly to the clouds,
And float away. 

Be free, my winged children. 

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Erupting Pupa

Little butterflies, 
flutter flutter,
under my little ribs. 
This is a disease.
Love bug or stomach bug, 
who knows the difference?
If there even is one. 
Regardless, it evolves, 
waiting to burst
from their cocoons, 
budding under my ribs. 

All rights reserved © 2023 Josephine Joyil


Cats out of the bag now, 
Let it play in the yard,
Get a lay of the land, 
And learn if the dark fabric 
Was home or hell. 
The land won’t be kind,
It never is. 
Cursed apples and forbidden trees, 
Pretty sickness waits to settle, 
Health demand a sacrifice. 
But play! If there’s still a yard. 
Tell me, 
Is that heat you feel 
A gentle summers kiss
Or the paint peeling from the walls? 
Let the cat return to its bag. 
That fabric was neither home nor hell.
It kept that kitten safe from both. 
Hope and loss and all other poison, 
Can’t burrow into that bag. 
But do you want that, feline friend? 
You’re out of the bag now.
The light may be from dawn or danger, 
But nonetheless,
You won’t ever be in the dark. 

All rights reserved © 2023 Josephine Joyil


The ducks are lining up again,

Nice neat rows,

Waiting to attack.

No, surely not.

I give the commands.

*I* give the commands?

They're stareing me down now,

Bleak black beady eyes,

With the glint of expectation.

Say something.


Never the wrong words.

Don’t ok an attack.


The last word I can remember.

The last word I’ll ever remember. 

For the ducks, 

Dumb drones,

Took their leader's word to heart.

And I met a feathery death.

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Why did I stay?

I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. I didn’t stay. I never stay. I always have to make the mistake of leaving. Maybe some day I’ll learn and make better choices. It took me a while to learn to come back. I’ll tell you why I come back.

I mess up often, so badly that I don’t believe I’ll ever feel well again. It’s like stubbornly running at a wall, believing that you won’t get injured. But you always crash, face first, into brick. You’re a little dizzy, you step back and stumble onto the floor and look up to see that the brick wall extends to the sky and horizons. The daunting red looks over you and you know you won’t ever get past it. You’re afraid to turn around because you’re certain that people are waiting for you to catch their eye before they start laughing at you, that the silence behind your, that seems so calm, is simply a cruel joke waiting to happen. That fear overwhelms you and when met with that impassible brick wall, all you can think is that you’d have to spend your days staring at red. You can’t help but scream. You keep screaming and crying out of the fear that whatever comes afterwards, you wouldn’t be able to handle. Maybe they’d laugh at you, how embarrassing. Maybe there’s no one there to laugh at you and you were alone all along, how lonely.

Eventually, when you are done throwing your tantrum, you hear a voice call out to you, not particularly loudly, “Did you hurt yourself?” And you remember what it was that you were running from.

It takes you a minute to answer. How could you possibly afford to lose your pride? It’s a silly question to ask at this point —you just ran into a wall, how much pride could you possibly have left? — but you always ask.


“Let Me see.”

You wipe your eyes and turn around.

“Aww that’s not so bad.”  He says, smiling, “What were you trying to do?”

“I wanna get past the wall.” You point to something in the distance. Your voice is still a bit wobbly, and you manage to sound five.

“Ok.” He reaches out for your hand, “Let’s go see this wall.”

Hopefully you take His hand.

It isn’t until months later, when you’ve met another wall, one made of stone perhaps, and you’re rubbing your hurt nose again, that you remember you never thanked Him for getting you past the bricks.

He accepts your thanks and apology and requests all the same, reaching out to take your hand once again.

All rights reserved © 2023 Josephine Joyil