tell me what is real

somewhere between consciousness
and loss
lies a purgatory
of a grip loosened in the glow of 3am
my mind is tv static
I count away the secons/2022-aprilds
that pictures stick to the pixels
I wish they wouldn’t
in my dreams I always lose
skipper in a calm sea
driving for the only iceberg
I wake
wearing a sheen of regret
ready to load that feeling into my suitcase
I tow the baggage of indicting myself
into whichever side I land
I slaughter myself in my sleep
so awake my hands are clean
free to weave my mirror from the fibres of excuses
I let the girl I see in it make them

is it bliss if only bliss on pause
a brief smile never real once it fades
I’ll put up missing posters
for a kept store of faith in myself
to be more than my own perception
I am the only one that knows me
so shouldn’t I?
there are water stains on my bathroom counter
scarred paper cuts on my arms
my hands are raw from scrubbing temporary tattoos
dead moments set their graves in the cracks of my dry skin
I set my digital clock to burn to the right time
blow out the right set of candles on the right day
agreement is more fluid
than a trapeze of questioning the worth of these assumptions
how long is the press of a stamp before the mark
before it is sealed and sent away
is there a mourning period before it is night sky ink
tumbled over before tangling my tongue
if it hits the page does it then leave my head
my heart
or does it get ingrained there
how long is/until permanent

feeling the impact of the wall
but not the brick itself
extended fingers passing through
liquid, maybe
or heard but apocryphal
less than and more than the waves in my ears
who is there to trust in realness if not myself
do the forms in my periphery have weight
are they pleading gravity
or am I blinking a second too fast
I tie strings between my hands and my coffee table
unsure of what anchors what
in the paralysis of morning
the stolen solar rays are truth
or trading places with stolen solitary
what proof beyond the glow on my face, the glow I breathe in
my lungs, too, aren’t certain
I believe what hits my skin
only because my skin won’t be shed
the hit is only fiction

March 2022 Prize Winner!

This poem won the Poetry Prompt Prize for March 2022. It is inspired by Matt Rader's writing prompt "Do the impossible”.

Poetry Editor Therese Estacion writes about "tell me what is real" by Lilly O'Rielly: "tell me what is real" by Lilly O'Rielly is a powerful poem that explores the shadow sides of consciousness, a spot where difficult, but perhaps truer, parts of ourselves are repressed but encountered in our dreams.


Lilly O'Rielly

Grade: 12 / CEGEP I
Colonel Gray Senior High School
Charlottetown, PE

“I was inspired by the prompt to look at impossibility on a smaller scale; how it feels impossible to fully understand ourselves, our surroundings, or just our dreams. I was thinking about how little proof there is in anything, so we are reduced to our understandings, which are already so foggy. ”

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