what the brochures don’t tell you

Michael Passafiume

Side effects may include:
generalized weariness
partial total-body paralysis
trouble focusing on focusing
mild nausea and
unprovoked bouts of ennui.


You will spend hours staring
down the narrow barrel
of an empty day,
weeks, months, years piling up
like unspent ammunition.


Everything you thought
at one time you knew,
nothing more than an accounting
of all the things you’ll
never know.


Time doesn’t heal:
it scars.
And, if you’re lucky,
helps you to forget.


Yours will be a perfect storm
and you a perfect scapegoat,
every day a struggle to be neither
victim nor victimized.
You’ll lose at least one friend,
maybe a family member,
Those who remain will be clueless
as to how to stay afloat in oceans
of quicksand
and you’ll be complicit
in their silence,
a puppet with a hand
up your own ass.


Desire & pleasure will produce
diminishing returns
because a surfeit of absence
begets little demand.


At the gym, dumbbells hovering
over your head,
you will think, What’s the point?
and again later that evening
as you insert forkfuls of the same dinner
— salad with a side of veggie burger
and more vegetables —
you’ve eaten so many nights
in a row you’ve lost count.


The heart does not grow fonder,
it contracts, hardens,
breaks apart like slabs of granite
off a rock cliff after
an earthquake,
consumes itself as it re-contracts,
something like the Big Bang
only in reverse.


If she were here right now,
I’d strangle her.

I said this to my therapist
some weeks back.
I do not feel the same anger today
but instead find myself
thinking about how trapped
you must have felt,
the impossibility of watching
your own mind lay its neck
upon the blade of madness,
how you couldn’t have known
suicide would be the gift
that keeps on giving —
otherwise you’d still be here,


Michael Passafiume has been a Brooklyn, NY-based writer for the better part of the last 24 years. He lived briefly in Chicago (too windy), Long Beach, CA (too sunny) and Philadelphia (it’s complicated) – always returning to the crowded, noisy, expensive city he grudgingly admits is home (at least for now). 

Michael’s poetry has appeared in Black Heart Magazine, The Bleeding Lion, MadHat Lit, Rust + Moth and SLAB, among others. His chapbook, archipelagos, was published by Blue Hour Press in 2015. Another chapbook, I Know Why the Caged Bird Screams, was a quarterfinalist for the Mary Ballard Poetry Prize for 2015 from Casey Shay Press. By day he’s a freelancer for the corporate communications group at a large financial services firm and he also serves as faculty for Antioch University Los Angeles’ Inspiration2Publication program with a course called What the House Has to Say: Memoir as Poetry.