Exclamation Points Don’t Belong Here

Emma Ramey


I woke up sadder if that is even possible. Is it possible?
I don't know.  I'd have to document the level of my despair—
each day, assign a numerical system similar to that library system
I can't remember the name of.  To categorize despair.  
I wonder if there is money in that.  
Hey, little boy crying over not getting the broken dirty duck
at the thrift store: your sadness is only a 152.6,
shelved under "disappointment over not getting what I wanted
when what I wanted wasn't even that great to begin with."
I think I have that wrong.  I've already failed,
and I barely got started.  I fail at everything.
Some truths are hard to digest but are truths nonetheless.  
Somehow I got distracted by the idea of numeralizing despair!!!
That isn't the word I wanted,
but these days I can never find the right word.  
If I think too long about this my despair grows to 811.4:
"crippling fear that I have a brain tumor,
which explains my linguistic troubles as well as my depression,
but oh God, I couldn't possibly undergo brain surgery."
And I'm distracted again.  
This originally started with I woke up sadder.  
Actually this still starts that way!  
I was sleeping and someone brought puppy-kittens into my room,
placed them on my bed, and I woke up so happy to have friends.
Half the time they had puppy faces.  The other half they had kitten faces.
Were they puppies or kittens?  I didn't know but it didn't matter
because they loved me.  Whatever they were, they loved me.
Then I realized I was sleeping and no one loved me.
I woke up so lonely.  To have had friends only to lose them.
In reality I have five friends, but they live elsewhere.  
If you are reading this and trying to decide
if you are one of my five friends all I can say is
if you aren't it's not me.  It's you.  
I love everyone.  
I assure you, I want to be your friend.
I probably think you find me boring
or awkward or too distant.  That may be true.
If it isn't, all you need to do is call.
As soon as I hear the phone ringing, I will cry
and those will be tears of joy, filed under -817.2.  
That's negative despair.
If you call me, I will love you. We will be friends for life—
and I will let you crawl up onto my bed and snuggle
even if you are an in-between, an undefinable.
Then, my friend, I will no longer be a failure.