Once I start thinking, I don’t stop (a poem)

Wrote this earlier today at Poets in the Park…

I remember things
people
places
moments
music
movies

But if I’m to be honest
99.999 percent
of my so-called thoughts
is the monologue
the running commentary
that accompanies
every waking moment

My narration of my own life

It never stops:

I wonder where I put the can opener…

Aw crap!
Am I gonna have to get the newspaper…?
Oh, she just got done eating—never mind

Where did I put the remote?
It was here a minute ago…
Dammit—now I have to dig through all these blankets
Ack! It was over there the whole time

I’ve brought too much stuff with me—again
No wonder this bag is so heavy
I have no one else to blame
I knew I probably wouldn’t even look at my book—
so why didn’t I leave it at home?

I need to go to the store…
I must remember to get grape juice
Do I have enough in my checking account
to get everything?
Or should I use the Visa card?
But I’ve already made a dent in my balance—
I don’t want to put more on it now
If I could just find a real job sometime soon
I wouldn’t have to worry
But if I don’t, should I sell some of my books?
I haven’t started most of the ones I recently bought—
and I never get that much for them anyway
Plus I still need to get that new drive for my computer
And I really should look into changing my internet service—
but I hate to be locked into a service agreement
What if I have to leave?
I can’t afford an early termination fee
I can’t even pay the taxes I still owe
And where would I go?
I can’t live in my car—what about the cat?

I should try not to worry so much
It’s not good for me
Neither are these little pains
I know they probably mean nothing
but it’s not muscle—should I have it checked anyway?
But every time I go to the doctor
I can’t find the exact spot
I should mark it with a Sharpie before I go in…

And this is all within the last five minutes—
can you imagine a whole lifetime of this?

I don’t know how I stay calm
(sometimes I don’t)

Some moments I imagine nothing—
but only for a microsecond
before I bring my thoughts back
to the present
because understanding the reality
of what comes after this
might take me there

I’m not ready to go yet

This is why I enjoy my distractions—
the words I put on the page
the stories that play out on the screen
even my failed attempts to imagine something better
to imagine happiness

They interrupt the monologue
the narrative
the running commentary
that accompanies
every waking moment
leading me to an ending
I’m not ready for

I’d like to change the narrative
but what it is
is what I am

I’m not ready to give that up yet either

(7 July 2018)