Blue Exits
     Aaron Smith
I think I would take pills.

My doctor doesn't know
I don't take all the sedatives
he gives me - - -
I have a storehouse
of blue exits in my bathroom.

If I had a garage,
I would leave the car running.

I could take the hose
from the vacuum cleaner,
and run it from the tailpipe

into the back window of my car,
but someone would see me
now that I live again

in a city, someone would insist
on being a hero.

§   §   §

Are you going to hurt yourself?

It's not that I want to kill myself
at least not today,
but it's that I don't want to live:

make another joke about weather,
make another meal
that will make me feel fat
when I eat it.

A friend told me her therapist asked her
to take suicide off the table for six months.
She could consider it again in six months.

That seems reasonable,
but I don't know what to think about all day,
just feel angry at people on their phones,
at the ones who don't wait their turns,
and worry about parking.

Aaron Smith killed himself
because he worried about parking.
I wish that was as funny as it sounds.

§   §   §

I've written the note
and the note has stopped me

Plath said: Please call Dr. Horder.

Berryman: I am a nuisance.

Woolf: I don't think two people could have been happier
than we have been.

Celan: Sometimes this genius goes dark and sinks down
into the bitter well of his heart.

Mayakovsky:(I don't recommend it to others), but I have no other exit.

Poets and dentists have high suicide rates:
there must be something about staring all the time
into a dark hole.

My sister decided not to have children.
I want to stop the crazy
that runs through our family.

I don't understand why people want children, she says.
It has something to do
with selfishness,

but they convince themselves
it's about love,
about giving something life.

I tell her that I don't know how anyone
can expect a kid to live
with so much sadness,
so many questions
with no answers?

§   §   §

Get a hobby, a shrink said.
I consider that scrapbooking
is keeping people alive.

§   §   §

I'm not going to kill myself,
I tell my mother
when she calls me crying

making my sadness
about her sadness.

I wouldn't have answered the phone,
but I was afraid she would ask a friend
to check on me.

My doctor asks:
                     Are you going to hurt yourself,
and I've never lied by saying: no.

He never asks:
                     Do you think about hurting yourself?
Then I would lie and say: no.

§   §   §

Sometimes I think thinking
about it is like emotional cutting,
letting out the pressure,
thinking of options better
than the options I have:

get up every day
and do the same thing,
my life laid out
like an ugly blanket.

§   §   §

Last winter when I had to shovel my car
out of the snow, over
and over for six weeks,

I thought: back the tailpipe into a drift
and sit there, let the world go blank,

But it was the dog
that kept me alive.

I know how much she grieves
when I leave,
and I couldn't leave her like that.

And if I took the pills
she would lie beside me for days
and maybe not eat or drink.

And it would be days
before anyone missed me.

I thought I could kill her, too,
but I didn't have the heart
and what if I killed her
and then chickened out
about killing myself
and had to live with the fact
I killed my dog?

--- From Primer
Aaron Smith
©2016 University of
Pittsburgh Press
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