Credit: Jazzy Colbert

Dressed, and other poems

by Jazzy Colbert

Jazzy Colbert is a new poet involved with Painted Brain, and she brings her poetry to us as her journey through life with OCD continues. “Shoelaces,” was originally published in The Catalyst Contemporary Literary Arts Magazine. Jazzy invites you to follow her on instagram at @jazzoriesbrave.






If you thought I was beautiful in blue
wait ‘til you see me in red
once wearing it doesn’t remind me
of the blemishes I’ve picked that bled

And the taste of prescribed tablets
doesn’t burn my tongue cherry dead
I’ll see the shards unsharable
as just puzzle pieces in my head

I’ll resist the crude compulsion
to call friends who’ve fled
While they’re in the limelight
I remain silhouetted

The only rope around my neck
will be a clasp fastened thread
and the only branches I’ll hang from
will be for my hips to imbed

I’ll wish on dandelion florets
not stable stems instead
‘cause no change is ever grounded
or drowned in paralyzing dread

They’ll bury me in marvelous beads
a snowflake obsidian bed
‘cause my uniqueness is my only asset
or so they have said

Biting Down

I smooth my lacy white skirt
to sit on the silver filigree chair
opposite she who smiles
while setting down
our usual Sunday brunch

She greets me by complimenting
her choice of meeting places
a partially shaded patio
just as she likes things

She pours me a glass of orange juice
from her personally raised trees
as she always is
so kind to remind me

Little does she realize
since I would not want to seem ungrateful
citrus makes me cough

I swallow more and more pulp
my breath thickens
I clear my throat
more than I can clarify
what she is talking about now

It must be awfully important
since she does not pause
or offer the water
she brought for herself

I grit my teeth and nod along
grateful not to be asked
any more questions

The mockingbirds
peering from the pillars
repeat the patter
of her past parties
which used to be much louder
than this audience of one

Her gaze glazes over
as she rants
of terrible traitors
while her knee vibrates
with her booming voice
and tightly wound hair
constricting her pointer finger

But the second
I shift my focus
to listen to the birds
belt the songs of before
she snaps her fingers
near my eyes
where she should have been focused
more than I

Maybe someone else would be better
at tolerating
sitting in this chilly chair
numbing my flattened thighs
still I feel
lucky to have been invited

She shoos the birds away
who just warned
that the fruit she brought
was yanked from the branch
not twisted
leaving the stems behind
for she had squeezed
every drop of sympathy
from the rind of occasion

She expects every slice of life
to open for her
as she tears
my skin to shreds
digesting every sliver of me
leaving nothing recognizable

Weren’t we just sitting
at the same table?
Weren’t we just hearing
all the same birds?
Weren’t we just being
as alive as each other?

How twisted am I
to still want to spend another Sunday
with teeth and breath rattling
just so I can be the kind of guest
she smiles at?

ShoelacesDear sister, won’t you come out and play? The sun will set soon. You know we don’t have all day. Is something wrong? You haven’t had much to say since we got home from the schoolyard, I’ve seen a couple tears escape. And now you’re staring at your shoelaces. So gingerly you try to make the bows perfect because you wouldn’t want to trip. And drown your hands in hand wipes because shoes walk where the ground is. I wish you hadn’t bumped into the fire pole at recess. The nurse asked you to show a bruise, but you just told her to clean where your classmates’ greasy fingers had been. Your worries just don’t make sense; I’m trying to understand why, when she nudged you out the office door with two ungloved hands, you shivered for a minute. It took you too long to get ready to eat because you had to wash your hands twice and build up the courage to unzip your lunchbox, which mom had left on the kitchen floor last night, with your elbow and two careful fingers. You ate your grapes with a fork because they were too juicy. You asked three stupid questions in math class “just to check” and blew up once in history because our teacher erased the board too fast. You needed to copy the notes just perfect. Dad’s eyes met your red face as you huffed and puffed after opening the shared car door when he picked you up because of a “stomach ache.” After all this, you just untied your shoes, because you’re sorry, but you aren’t feeling well enough to play today. You won’t let me hug you goodnight, but I’ll blow a kiss with a hand you’ve been avoiding for a while now. I’ll pet our dog because I know that deep down, you want to. I hope to see you smile tomorrow.

Trapped With OCD

Trust the one talking to you
who spends way too much of her day
in a box with a metal border
You should not want to share space with me

I appreciate your visit
but this place has made me
someone not worth seeing

Maybe another person would
appreciate the company
but don’t get any closer to my head
Why are you here?

You’re free!

Don’t be fooled
by the light through that high window
and this air that smells of everything green

Don’t assume I want to be here
just because I can’t escape
and when the chains dangling
from my wrists were removed
I walked in willingly

I cried when I stripped
and I still cry
whenever I wake up
and realize this is still my reality

There isn’t much to do now
but look down
on the muted orange
that covers most of me

It didn’t used to be this way
Maybe if I wasn’t so cross
arms would give me space
to breathe

The air is so thick
Be careful not to slip on the floor
I’ve thought about this lots before
so don’t jump around or start dancing

Instead I sing
I bet my neighbors are wondering
why I don’t find my ballads
to be tone deaf
and embarrassing

But keeping myself awake
is my best chance
of every inch of me
finally being clean enough
to be seen

I forgot a towel
I don’t want to drip everywhere
Before I’m done washing my hair
can you get one for me
then leave?

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