TWO POEMS by KALEIGH JOHNSON

IN RESPONSE TO MY THERAPIST:


How am I? Well, my normal depression has combined with my quarantine depression and is

about to collide with my seasonal depression and I have no idea what to expect. I don’t have a lot

of motivation to get out of bed to use the bathroom much less do school, but let’s be honest here:

my anxiety won’t let me neglect my homework so I skip showers instead. the scale says I’ve lost

weight and normally I’d be ecstatic but right now it’s a bad thing because I’ve been living on

funyuns, alcohol, and pints of ice cream, you see? my friend is living with me, which is great,

but my girlfriend who I'm so pathetically and earth shatteringly in love with is 5,000 miles away

from here and i haven't seen her in person in 2 years and i spend most of my time crying because

im a useless lesbian or because the world is getting a little too revelations for me and why god

why cant i just hold my girl while the world burns to the fucking ground and why wont my heart

stop hurting this aching burning feeling in my chest wont go away because i cant stop picturing

elijah mcclain face-down on the concrete or the children in cages or the forced hysterectomies or

the proud nazis roaming the streets or the pedophile commander in chief the only way i can make

these thoughts go away or at least fade is to up the dose of the pills ive been shoving down my

goddamn throat since the seventh grade and I know it doesn’t make me weak, but I’m literally

standing here on my knees praying to a God that I don’t know if I believe in for just a little

fucking relief from me. I’m running out of words to express my feelings even though my mind is

far from empty. But it’s okay. I’m doing fine, really. Just a little tired. How are you?


 

A NEW KIND OF CRISIS


I thought by this point in my life, I had myself pretty much figured out. But here I am, almost 20,

dabbling in paganism, desperately in love with my best friend, realizing I might be a full on

lesbian, and experiencing some form of identity crisis. Is it a midlife crisis even though I’m so

young? I think I heard a comedian call it a quarter life crisis once. Yeah, that sounds good; I’m

going through my quarter life crisis. It’s almost like I’m thirteen again. I hate my body, I’m

uncertain of my sexuality, I can’t fathom ever having enough money to own any form of real

estate, I’m terrified of riding a lawnmower, I can’t ride a bike, and I still don’t know how taxes

work. On the other hand, I feel about 75 years old. My joints ache when it rains, I have no

energy, I usually get to bed by no later than 10pm, and I get out of breath going up stairs. I kind

of envy people in their midlife crises that can afford to go out and drop eighty grand on a fancy

sports car. The best coping mechanisms I have are tattoos and when I can’t afford those (which,

let’s be honest, I can’t afford most of the time) I buy hair dye. Cheap, terrible-for-you-hair dye

that my hairdresser always chastises me for using because it sucks whatever life is left out of my

already damaged hair. Sometimes, when I can afford neither a tattoo or hair dye, my friends and I

build a blanket fort and dissociate with Netflix in the background because, if you’re going to

have a mental breakdown, you might as well have it with your friends on a pile of pillows. I, of

course, can’t be the normal kind of person that cleans obsessively when upset or anxious, like

scrubbing the toilet is somehow going to wipe my conscience clean. No; instead, my friends and

I bring desk chairs into the dorm bathrooms at 12am and dye each other’s hair while eating pizza

as our hallmates wander silently in and out (respecting our obviously turbulent evening) because

it’s the closest we can get to producing serotonin. Right now, my friend and I are living with my

parents while embarking on the grand adventure that is virtual learning, and we cannot use any

of our usual methods of staving off depression and anxiety without seriously worrying my

mother. So, we usually get together in the basement, watch “What’s New Scooby-Doo,” lie on

the floor, sip some stolen vodka, and search for Floor Jesus. Yeah. Definitely a quarter life crisis.

 

Kaleigh Johnson is a graduate of Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia who majored in English with an emphasis on creative writing and a minor in editing. She held the position of head editor of Randolph’s undergraduate literary magazine, Hail, Muse! Etc. You can find her portfolio here.