“Occhiolism: the awareness of the smallness of your perspective” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
Little girl

Tell me 

What do you see
You see the sunrise

Despite the emptiness 

In your hands
You are expected

To sit tight

And listen

Don’t squirm

And be 

On task

On task

On task
When you grow up

You’ll be expected to go to work 

On time

Pay your bills

On time

Pick up your children 

On time

Make dinner 

On time

You know what is not

On time

Materials needed to do your work

Money needed to pay your bills

Traffic on your commute 

Lines at the grocery store
That’s okay

You’ve been told 

You’ve been warned 

It’s up to you to plan

For the worst

Leave early

At the least

Set money aside 

At the most

Even layoffs can be planned

Broke down cars can be scheduled 

Roll over accidents can be factored

Not an event

Just an incident

Not the people

Just the obstacle 

That is inconvenient

There is no inconvenience

Once you’re dead

As long as you 



Life insurance

Pay your own funeral bill

Did you get your taxes turned in?
I expect you to smile and do your job

Life is easy

At least as easy as it is for me

It must be for you

We were both born on land

With vertebrae

And skin

Covering essential organs

Used for 


Then slurping 

Two hydrogen 

One oxygen

On our fully developed tongues

No, there is no difference between you and I

No reason for me to see you any differently 

Because all roads lead home

All lives have opportunity
Sometimes we are forced to speak in irony

Because the obviousness of the truth 

That is ignored

Poisons our hope

And the only way to swallow poison

Is to be laughing

As it goes down



“Altschmerz: weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had — the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
I am so sorry

On my knees 

Face flat

Against the ground

I felt like everything had changed

But today 

One person

Told me 

One thing

That made me remember 

Why I let myself be locked in a closet for two years

With no air to breathe

I deserved nothing more

Noting inferiorities of my own


All of that confidence 

You fell in love with 

Is gone

And all of the pleading 

In my heart 

For you to stay

Is only helping 

To put up 

Your walls

I didn’t start this fight

With myself

But I did unlock

The demon’s cage

He is fighting 

With all of his brute strength

For sole possession 

Of my spirit

That seemingly steers this battle born ship

Finding itself

Crashed upon the weathered rocks 

That show their age

I’m tired of ending up here 

I almost wish you would go now

So I don’t have to see you leave

I know what comes next 

No war will be fought

No fight to put up

Just a dance 

In between 

What was 

And what will be

I am not the ship

I’ve said it before

I am the island 

Islands stand alone

In all of their sorrow

Longing to be loved

But even cast aways will someday 

Be nothing but dust and bone


“Liberosis: the desire to care less about things” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows 
I was told as a child to have empathy

It was burned into my ear canals

Filled with lighter fluid 

As I see blood coming out of your veins

My heart starts to palpitate 

I feel pain

I don’t imagine what you’re going through 

I don’t have to

That’s why I don’t understand 

How the world can look at misfortune

And say

It is what it is

They deserve it that way

That’s the grave they dug for themselves

I’ve been kicked 

And I’ve been shoved

I’ve had to beg

I’ve had to borrow

I’ve been in moments of privilege

I’ve been in desperation

In my moments of fear I have seen cold hearts and turned faces

How can it be like this

Death is a fact

People are transient 

How can I let go of all of this pain I have been carrying because I know no one wants to hear this story 

Over and over and over again

How can I not be afraid that the world will close in around me when every day I see the sky getting closer to the earth

Most urgently, how can I stop caring for the people that have mutilated my open-heart-surgery mind

I care for the hands that retracted

I care for the faces that turned away

I try to solve the problems that caused them to be that way

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care at all

On days like this

When it is clear 

No one is listening


“Onism: the frustration of being stuck in one body that only inhabits one place at a time”

I wanted to be

So translucent

So unattainable

So indifferent

To make the feeling of loss go away

But here I sit 

Being confined

By my loneliness

Of wanting 

To be 

A part of you

I wanted to be

So hidden

So fluid

So unpredictable

To make movement so much more realistic

But here I sit

Being a solid

By my dependence

Of needing

To be


I wanted to be

So glamorous

So effortless

So energetic

To make life a constant moment

But here I sit

Being stagnant

By my exhaustion 

Of trying 

To be

A picture of togetherness

I wanted to be 

So sensuous

So pretty

So desirable

But here I sit

By my normality

Of trying 

To be

Everything you wanted 

I am only able to be who I am

And it is not who I planned

But I am not ashamed 

Of this vessel 

I have built from rubble

I need to remember that

Nodus Tollens

“Nodus Tollens: the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
Closet optimist

Defined by a realistic view

Of what would go wrong


Murphy had a law

The plot of my life 

Never intended to break

I started out clean


And true

But somewhere 

A mudslide

Protruded across my




I fell off a cliff

Broke both legs

Crawled up the embankment 

Nearly got ran over

I cried in the ambulance

That screeched to a stop

But the hospital turned me away

No money to pay

I fought in the alley

Behind the used car lot

I taught myself to walk again

Covered in callouses

The strongest across the front of my heart

I gave up on love

I didn’t have time 

It never tucked me in at night 

Only calling when the sun had been long gone

But then I looked around

I had everything I had lost

Only I was in a new place 

With better views 

And better sounds 

And better smells


There was you

And I have nothing to say about


Because I still am afraid

You’ll fade away

When I open my eyes

Because back before 

Before my life was nothing but struggle

But an attempt to survive

I felt like I was worth something

I felt like I deserved someone 

I felt I would find 


And here 



In all of that hand-crafted perfection 

That exceeds all of the dreams of flawlessness I never had

Because my weakness is your strength 

I see clear blue eyes

As I attempt to understand

I don’t know how I got here

And I’ll never stop being

Blissfully surprised


“Adronitis: frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
There are levels to love

There are rules on how quickly you can move from one state of being to the next

Then a sonic boom is heard 

And all the rules have been broken

All of the red tape has been waved

A lugubrious state of weightlessness 

Hits like the first notions of insecurity felt when we took our first steps as innocent infants not yet knowing all of the burdens we would be carrying because of our newfound independence

There is interest


Then the walls begin to raise out of reflex

But you

Scaling them like you have been training for the occasion

And then love



Holding hands 

Powerful glances

Softness of whispering lips

I’ve waited to want to get to know someone

So badly

I feel like I’m ripping open a gift left under the tree 

Still dressed in my childhood nightgown

Afraid for the moment that thing doesn’t make me happy

But some gifts are filled with meaning deeper than their solid form

Not backed by money and status

They continue to give and give and give 

In a memory of a feeling that exists beyond the capabilities of material possessions

I want to know everything

But I will unwrap the pieces of you


As I enjoy the anticipation

Of discovering something made 

Only for me

In this moment 

I love you

I wrapped it for you to find 


“Rükkehrunruhe: the feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness – to the extent you have to remind yourself it happened at all” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
Beautiful disaster

Swept up in a sandstorm 

Masking the oasis

That kept me there

In your presence 

Of sensations 

And emotions

That can only be expressed 

In song

Because words

Are too flat

And emotionless to tell the sorrow

Of how we got there

And what took place

In vivid color

That set the sky ablaze

Inadvertently, but oh, so beautifully

We danced until the smoke filled our lungs

Ignoring the sirens 

Waiting only for the next opportunity to seize 

I saw you

But your face is blank now

Jagged edges

I swam in that luxurious pool

But its walls are dry

I soaked in the sun that begged me to stay

Now the earth has cracked 

As that cloaked intruder overstayed his welcome

Pictures are just images of a moment that past

Black will be white

And color will be three dimensional

In the end 

Everything fades

So I trace over lines 

In my skin

Feeling what happened 

With blood 

Scars are memories too

It’s hard to remember if they were

Good or bad


“Exulansis: the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

I’ve stood outside stone walls built out of conformity several times in my life

There was no effort to throw down a rope ladder

Or extend the draw bridge

I was outside

That was very clear

I’ve been caught 

Talking to myself

Out loud

Trying to run through 


Of why events took place

Why options were limited

Why my life wasn’t as perfect

As you so clearly saw it could have been

With broken windows

Cuts and bruises

Children crying in the street

None of this should have happened

Because all you have to do is work hard

And pray

Well, I’ve been on my knees

Talking to God 

But he lays burdens on people’s shoulders 

That he loves the most

People He wants to use to see the invisible

I see you building up walls again

Shutting people out

Because they didn’t follow the formula

Despite not having the same ingredients as you

I see them standing there

Talking to themselves

Out loud

Trying to explain

I can’t imagine what lives they have lived

But I’ve talked to God 

And I can’t communicate what He said 

At least not in words you’re willing to hear

Because a lot of times we confuse definitions 

Of who people are 

Making good intentions

Dirty words

That symbolize hypocrisy 

Instead of the most giving of loves ever shown

I know I’m not the only one crying 

There is a reason

The drought is almost gone


“Lachesism: the desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

We lock our doors

Set our security systems

Fasten our seat belts

Put on our helmets

Mark the exits 

Receive emergency alerts by phone

But there are times

We long to hear the screech before impact

To see our lives go up in flames

To brush our fingers with the gates of heaven 

And glimpse

God’s face

Only to have a chance to start over again

Gain inspiration

Be forced to shed our old skin

Finally feel uncomfortable with routine

We need disaster

In order to have the chance to rebuild

Sometimes we need a wall

To learn how to dig

Sometimes we need oppression 

To realize what we want

Sometimes we need carnage 

To remember our empathy

What curiosity we must be to the animals

That observe us

Crashing and thrashing and throwing and yelling

They simply live to survive

And enjoy a moment of peace when it arrives

We bask in our privilege

And throw bombs to remind ourselves we are alive


“Kuebiko: a state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence” – John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
I have felt a hand around my throat

I have been fearful for my existence

I have felt pain from words that were meant to puncture the skin and leak their venomous tip into my veins

I was not in a battle zone

I was not in a forgotten war-torn country

This violence is next door

It is in the bedroom

It is in our neighborhoods

Burrowed beneath normalcy

And fake facades

It changed me


Accidental caresses

Feel like brutal collisions

Passing in a hall

In a grocery store

At a library

My metal defenses go up


Ready to fire back

The confusion that meets me 

Reminds me

This hostility is not normal

It is not necessary

It is the symptom of a dog that has been beaten

Yes a dog

An animal

A loyal friend 

Who has the least amount of evil intentions on earth

Yet is kicked and punched and set ablaze

For entertainment 

For a release of anxiety 

I am tired

I am exhausted

From the memory 

Of so much pain

Memories are lost for a reason

Why do some stick to the creases in the brain like unwanted plaque? 

I will floss tonight

And spit out this aftertaste 

Of betrayal 

And broken flesh