First or Nowhere

We stayed up all night and,
sometime around 3 am you rolled over to face me in perfectly chilled sheets that our talks have done over with sweat beads,
you asked me what it means to survive. I’ve thought that through many times. Of all the words to weave into myself, it became the foundation.
I say
The feeling of dropping something but catching it before it hits,
the championship that comes from outliving outrunning overpowering your
own damn human error.
Or that feeling of
beating your own records. And if not by your hand,
surviving. Surviving others
is all of the above but a laugh in their face.
I’ve long said “it kills me” “it’s killing me.”
I live! I’m living! They did not kill me. I did not kill me.
I am spitting in the faces of every evil
every loved-me-the-wrong-way
every sick version of myself
and transforming into the boot that crushes their fingers.
Surviving is spit and blood.
is
getting comfortable with untended-to wounds
getting comfortable with not tending to others.
When life is an oxygen mask on a jet, you’re first or nowhere. And at the bottom of you, the running gut, the chipped and tired lungs, you know survival is up on the least tragic plays of loneliness. That it’s you above all else. Survival is a lonely that swallows and tugs. A sick, consuming, empowering, disastrous loneliness. It’s moving and desperation
There is no survival with waiting.
The verb as identity
the action as action.
I tell you what it means to survive
and I never stop telling
as a poem to you,
I will keep surviving
and you will keep making the shortlist of my reasons to.

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