2 Poems by Aleph Altman-Mills

Winged One by Jude McConkey
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Symptoms of Courage May Include

Sometimes courage is about
not collapsing like a missed connection
and crying about what a failure you are,
or sometimes it’s about crying about being
a failure, but then
taking the same ghost train tomorrow or sometimes
it’s just about going home.

Unlike circus acts
would have you believe
(courage is not a circus.
It is not about who’s watching),
courage is not about risking death
but about risking life, opening your mouth
wider than pills or prayers or planets. Sometimes
courage is swallowing the ocean that tries to drown you

but sometimes it’s drowning
and drowning
and going limp but still drowning
and going salt but still drowning
and making snow angels
on the ocean floor.

Why Open Mics Are Worth Panic Attacks

Sometimes I’m sure my poetry is not good,
catching my tongue in the hinges of good,
and then I go to open mics and realize it doesn’t have to be good,
we just have to be screaming our throats down to sunlight
and confessing ocean floors and the insides of pianos
and singing along to things that aren’t music
with the dandelions in our feet and the storm clouds in our mouths
and the teeth in our hands and it’s what makes me regret injuring my hands
writing too much, because now I can’t clap,
goddammit, but I can rock back and forth and feel the words shingle me
into some thread of faith and if people try to talk to me
it will sound like pebbles sifting into pebbles and if I try to talk to people
I won’t even get to the standing up part but I know
the language of being Too Loud for someone else’s Too Loud,

and maybe when a guy tried to tell me he liked my poem,
I didn’t realize he wasn’t talking to the person behind me,
who I didn’t realize wasn’t behind me anymore, and maybe
when a woman tried to pass the hat to me after the show
I thought she wanted me to hold her hat full of money while she used the bathroom,
and maybe I said testing testing one two three
when five other people had already used the microphone
but I got up on stage and took the walls inside me
and spit them out, and then I watched other walls shattering like the endings
of movies, and for a moment,
all our hands were the same hands,
they were The Hands That Break Walls.

Aleph Altman-Mills

Aleph Altman-Mills is an autistic writer who collects acorns and likes to buy books other people have already written on. She has been published in The Legendary. She blogs and posts poetry snippets at really-fucking-confused.tumblr.com. She loves you.