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my therapist says make friends with your monsters - a poem by José Olivarez

September 21, 2018





we are gathered in truce
to discuss our differences,
my therapist seated between us.


my roadrunner legs point
past the door in case. we
are gathered in truth,


because my therapist said
it was time to stop running, &
i pay my therapist too much


to be wrong, so i am here.
in case my therapist is right.
my monsters, coyotes in the


chase, look almost human
in the sterile office light.
my monsters say they just


want to be friends. i remember
when we first met, me & my
monsters. i remember the moment


i birthed each one. each time
i tried to shed a piece of myself,
it grew into a monster. take this


one with the collar of belly fat
around its neck, the monster
called Chubby, Husky, Big Boy.


i climbed out of that skin as fast
as i could, only to see some spirit
give it legs. i ran & it never stopped


chasing me. each new humiliation
coming to life & following after me.
after me, a long procession of sad


monsters. each monster hungry
to drag me back, to return me
to the dirt i came from. ashes


to ashes, fat boy to fat.
i point my feet to the nearest
exit, all my fire alarms go off.


my monsters crowd around me,
i stare into a no-fun house of mirrors
showing me all the angles i try


to forget. my therapist says i can’t
make the monsters disappear
no matter how much i pay her.


all she can do is bring them
into the room, so i can get
to know them, so i can learn


their names, so i can see
clearly their toothless mouths,
their empty hands, their pleading eyes.






Read more from José Olivarez via Twitter

*originally published in The Rumpus for National Poetry Month



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