Names That Mean Nothing

by Will R., 18

Curled under blankets and weighted vaguely with
Senseless weary and nameless anguish,
After staring with lowered lids for hours at faces, presumably smiling,
At asylum offered with unwanted embraces, soft words, and worried brows. 
But no guest can stay without a name in the visitor log, without a title;
No doctor can cure the symptomless, nor food feeds the shut-mouthed hungerer.
Thoughts bespeckle my endless pages, metric and beautiful and lied,
Because there are no words for feelings unfelt objectively.
Poems can’t consist of letters unrecorded yet, nameless emotions through emotionless names.
Sure, names exist:
Depression, Anxiety, Will.
But what could they ever mean to one who has no clue of them,
Whose read and heard and thought ever extensively, resulting in something like
Digging a steep-walled hole in deep sand: Perhaps treasured understanding lies somewhere
below, under the task of enough thinking,
Enough asking and enough confusing answers,
But the walls always fall and the floor always rises and I’ve dug so deep that every shovelful is
simply laid atop myself and I’m suffocating;
I’m suffocating from useless thinking of senseless words and concepts, ungraspable.
When stripped of gooey poetry, of colorful, sprinkled phrases, the rotten core of my candy-apple
rant is plain and repulsive:
I feel bad.
And I know I do,
But I cannot classify it in any way that feels right, and the vague and general terms applied like a shock blanket over my down-pointed shoulders are nothing.
They are words, which mean nothing.
Names that do not help.
Names that feel wrong and that are not me,
And I already have one of those.

Pennsylvania, USA

Notes from our interns on selecting this piece: This is a beautiful poem that really grapples with the limitations we face with language. Poems about the inadequacy of words always stand out to me because it is incredible when a poet manages to express this dispute with the thing that is being disputed: words. The poet has a very strong grasp on pairing words with their opposites (i.e. curing the symptomless, and feeding the shut-mouthed hunger) and it really adds to the beauty and vivacity of the poem. The reader also can’t help but physically react to this dwindling down towards “I feel bad,” and now so does the reader. Using “names” as the focus of the poem as well was very strong and overall I really enjoyed this piece.