The one least likely

Looking back through my
high-school yearbook,
recalling all the old faces,
remembering all the slurs,
and cringing at the sight of
my own picture--
the forced and tight smile,
the insecure, uncertain look in my eyes,
an expression lending credence to
my famous reputation...
or lack of

I was always the one on the sidelines
at recess in younger years;
the shadow in the background,
the shy, friendless kid who always
sat at the back of the class

but I changed

I became the loser in high school,
hiding behind books,
pretending not to hear all the
wisecracks from the other kids
as they swept by me in a cloud
of popularity, sneering and teasing,
carrying on with talk of their
activities and visions of
brilliant futures

I picture them now,
probably saddled with six kids
and a mortgage,
stuck in pencil-pushing corporate-clone
jobs just to make ends meet,
reduced to 'getting away from it all'
on weekends and holidays,
buoyed by a pretense of
false satisfaction,
while I, the 'bookish outcast'
move freely through my days,
unencumbered, recalling those awkward years,
the jokes and sneers;
their raging popularity now the noose
by which they've hanged themselves,
now struggling to get free--
the same rope with which I tried
to pull myself up out of the dirt for years,
knowing there had to be some light
at the end of that long, awkward tunnel,
and when I finally emerged
I had to admit it was pleasant
to see my foes knee-deep
in the muck and mire for a change,
perplexed and totally clueless
as to how they got there;
scratching their heads while
at the same time trying to remember
where the fuck it was that they last
saw my face

The Makings of a serial killer

I read somewhere that the majority
of cold-blooded killers tend to come
from dysfunctional families;
the ignored or beaten ones, the quiet,
friendless kids who end up being the
joke of the neighborhood, awkward
children who never fit in--they grow
up with all that rage buried inside of
them, just waiting to be released,
looking for an outlet

I'm not trying to fall back on any
excuses here, but a psychiatrist once
ventured a guess where all my sudden,
violent fits of anger might possibly
stem from--
I can't remember much from my childhood,
I obviously blocked a lot of stuff out,
but it must have been pretty bad to
warrant fury like mine...

all I know is this switch inside my head
that gets flipped, where all of a sudden
white-hot rage engulfs me, uncontrollable
fury surges, rising up from nowhere like
a hot flash, consuming me to the point
where the only thing I can mentally grasp
is destruction and blood-red murder

but what scares me most is not the fear
that I might actually take a life;
the joy, the anonymity of slicing flesh,
stopping a heart, erasing a body from
the face of the earth, but the fear of
eventually being caught and discovered,
my reign of mayhem finally being corralled
into a cubicle of maximum security, where
the echoes of other madmen would riccochet
off my brain, sparking the hot wires in my
head to a dangerous flame, and all I would
have to absorb the brunt of my red-hot
anger would be a pillow to shred, a
notepad of insufficient pages, and a pencil
too dull to embody the clarity of my dark
and intricate thoughts

on the other hand,
if I was never caught...

Table for one

If I hadn't laid down my pen
in the name of insanity a few years ago,
would you know me now?
If I had kept chugging along
writing mundane poetry about
sadness and loss, emotional pain
and heartache,
would my name be familiar to you at all?
Would I have gone on to grace the pages
of zines all over the world, trailing
tear-jerking verses if I hadn't given
up due to mental overload?

But I had to stop; my cracked mind
had a huge hole in it, and everything
kept tumbling out like bodies from
a 10-story building; everything and
every word I wanted to say splattering
in finality on the dingy, dark pavement
below, a monument to mental sickness;
they had no place else to go

and once it's all gone,
you can't get it back

But I think that bout of lunacy
has given my writing a new slant;
it's now bolder, darker, stranger;
it screams instead of whispers,
howls instead of whines;
it seems to guide the pen along
the paper like a blade carving a wrist;
the words run like blood, like gunfire
peppering the page with ravings,
along with bits of blood and brain
as evidence of life on the other side;
proof of a once-fractured mind...

I've been pretty diligent
for some time, now--
I'm not likely to throw in
the towel again

once your mind is gone,
there's little else to lose


You've come unraveled again;
I can tell by the tremor in your voice

that song which plagued my own nerves
for years, the panic festering in the gut,
the stress palpitating the heart--
situations most other people
would be able to handle,
but for us, the end of the world,
that fear, that doubt from childhood
that told us nothing would go right;
it's only going to get worse,
that sickness eating at us like cancer,
bred into us, like our manners
or eye color

Stress is a given with us.
My sincerest thanks, Mother:
you taught us well

Cynthia Ruth Lewis:
I'm 38, having written poetry for the past 17 years.
Currently back in the publishing world after having
taken a 2 year hiatus due to creative apathy and
temporary insanity--which, actually may have enhanced
my writing. It has certainly enhanced my weirdness.

2006 Underground Voices