Bad Days, by Kathleen Kimball-Baker

Bad Days
by Kathleen Kimball-Baker

When I open my mouth to speak
I talk in tears, so I’d rather
not talk much these days.

When I try to think how
to solve a problem, my head
cracks into pain, so I try not to think.

What has replaced thinking
is feeling. I have Feelings.
Big ones that suck all the air
out of a room, that want to
go on parade and slam cymbals,
wave pom-poms, and step high.

Between the tears, the headaches,
and the Big Feelings, the me
I like is buried and can’t dig out.

So I leave the words alone,
let the tears tantrum
into exhaustion, scoop away
all thought, and set the whole
wretched lot outside my
bedroom while I sleep the
base sleep of a concussive.

And here’s the hope that trills
in my heart: that all this
will get bored
and slink away into the shadows.


Process notes: July 2016 marks 6 months since my head crash-landed on an icy sidewalk while walking my dogs. It’s been a roller-coaster recovery, moments of feeling almost normal, followed by deep lows where my usual sunniness abandons me. I started reading a book yesterday called The Ghost in My Brain: How A Concussion Stole My Life And How The New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It Back by Clark Elliott, PhD, an artificial intelligence researcher. It brought back a lot of the awful horrible fragile vulnerable feelings, so I think I’ll skip his story and go straight to plasticity! And then maybe I can write something not quite so dark.


Kathleen Kimball-Baker is a writer, editor, and public health analyst in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a three-time finalist in the Loft Literary Mentorship Competition, twice for fiction, and once for creative nonfiction; in 2012, her essay about becoming a dog sledder won an honorary mention from the Loft for creative nonfiction. Although she found poetry baffling for decades, something finally clicked and it is now her lens on life. Her poetry blog: In Linden Hills.


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