flaming tears's picture

I used to know who I was

I was the kid who could never keep a conversation going

but would never stop trying.

I was a math wiz who couldn't get into the honors class

and I hated English class

because it kept me off of the honor roll.

I was a healer,

I was a doctor,

I healed people who thanked me with betrayal.


But now things are different.

I can keep conversations going

I love English class now,

I'm terrrible at math

and now I've been thanked with kindness


It's not much,

But hey, it's a start.

But now I don't know who I am.


Back when I was young, I dreamed of having nicknames

but now I have so many my real name is dead to me

it drowned in a sea of confusion.

Here's some advice, kid,

don't wish for something you don't understand.

Because every nickname is a secret identity

and I know that sounds cool to you,

but I assure you I am no spy.

I am an author.


Sometimes, I wish I could be like a character I write

because then I could do something bold for once.

Or think something through correctly for once,

or do something useful for once.

And sometimes I am them.

I'll bet you never thought that you would someday act as someone you've written

who becomes so real you're not sure if you're acting anymore.

I am a case of stolen identity.

I am a mess of motivations and people

I am confused.


I memorized my lines so well I forgot how to forget them.

Or maybe all the lines I've memorized are my own.

I'm 16,

I'm not supposed to be having an identity crisis until I'm

40 and realize I'm working for the man.


But maybe this is all me.

Maybe I am a troop of different people trapped in one body.

Maybe I am crazy.

No, I am certainly crazy.

But maybe that's not such a bad thing.


Because maybe I can contradict myself.

Maybe I am a paradox of a human being and


just maybe,

it's not unhealthy to write so much you

feel as though you've known the charactors you write about.

Maybe it's not unhealthy that they've made a huge impact on my life

and my personality.

Maybe it is unhealthy to try to pin myself down,

to say that I am this, or I am that.

Because I can be anything I want.

And maybe,

just maybe,

I can survive having more than one name.


arsenalia's picture

Dear flaming tears, How odd I

Dear flaming tears,

How odd I feel addressing you by a title after reading this piece. Have you read "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri? I think it might be of interest to you.

This poem has given me pause... I guess I don't know if I entirely trust the speaker when she or he claims not to know her or his own identity. In fact, the speaker seems to identify herself or himself quite well. This poem explores the identity of author, artist, shapeshifter. Maybe by accepting nicknames, this speaker plays to her or his strengths. Or maybe author is not an identity but a role one plays. Is identity fixed? Is identity singular? Is it the speaker who is crazy and a paradox, or is the speaker different in her or his ability to recognize the paradox of trying to present a coherent self in an incoherent world? I think you touch on many of these questions in your poem, but it might be worth exploring a perspective in which the speaker is not different because she or he is disconnected, but because she or he has created connections that others perhaps have not.

This is an esoteric comment, but I think you can handle it :)

Write on,

Sarah G.