What Heartbreak Sounds Like (A Poem)

How can I fix this? ...How do I take how I really am and replace that with who you’d like me to be?

Her: You know that sound, right? The one like a train passing by? Or like when it’s so quiet it feels like everything is about to erupt? Like the music in an action movie crescendoing, building up until the big moment, the release, except there is no release, no big moment, so it just keeps building and building and building and building and building and building and building and in reality there is no noise at all, it’s only in your head? You know the kind of sound I’m talking about? Yeah, that sound. That’s what this sounds like—being with you and all that. It’s just so overwhelming.

Me: right then.

Me: not saying anything, but still hearing everything.

Me: vomiting words at the wall.

Me: feeling
my stomach: tightening,
tying itself
into a knot
and then
[in perpetuity].

Me: feeling like I might vomit for real.

Me: kind of hoping maybe I do.

Me: thinking, at least vomiting is some form of release.

Me: still, not moving.

Me (still): months later.

Me: still not moving.

Me: in a—(w)hole—nother state now.

Me: six hours away from you.

Me: holding my pain tight, close to my chest, like a stuffed animal.

Me: an animal, stuffed.

Me: an animal, cut open and emptied of all its living parts, stuffed with lifeless fluff and glass eyes.

Me: lying in my bed.

Me: listening to the air conditioning unit whirring outside my window.

Me: listening to the air whistling through the vents, whining like a tea pot.

Me: a tea pot, whining.

Me: a tea pot, pressure building and building and building and

Me: no release.

Me: drowning in silence.

Me: drowning in heartache.

Me: listening to the air conditioner.

Me: listening to her voice, over the phone playing on repeat in my head, telling me how overwhelming my love is.

Me: saying, I’m sorry.

Me: asking, How can I fix this?

Me: (really) asking, How do I take the undesirable parts of myself and fold them up? Roll them so they fit in the suitcase smaller? Leave them at home, because I don’t need them anyway? How do I take how I really am and replace that with who you’d like me to be?

Me: knowing the answer.

Me: knowing the answer does not exist.

Me: listening to her voice, over the phone, telling me, I don’t know.

Me: knowing that’s not true.

Me: a tea pot, screaming inside my own head.

Me: a tea pot, angry and screaming, steam pour out like a train.

Me: a train passing by.

Me: lying in bed.

Keep Reading

Quinn Carver Johnson

Quinn Carver Johnson was born and raised on the Kansas-Oklahoma border. He currently attends Hendrix College where he is pursuing a degree in English with a focus in Creative Writing and a minor in Gender Studies. His work has been published in various journals, both in-print and online, including Right Hand Pointing, Mile Marker Review, Dragon Poet Review, and The White Ash Literary Journal, with forthcoming work from Nebo, Broadkill River Review, and Flint Hills Review. Last May, Johnson self-published a collection of poetry entitled "If You Shut Your Eyes and Are a Lucky One," available on Amazon.

5 Responses

  1. I’m sorry that you had to go through such a painful break-up situation. I hope that you feel better now. Also, I hope that you find someone who appreciates you for who you are and does not push you to completely change. Small changes are OK, but I do not think that people should allow a control freak to force them to change.

    Best wishes for your writing and relationships!


    Janet Ruth Heller
    Author of the poetry books Exodus (WordTech Editions, 2014), Folk Concert: Changing Times (Anaphora Literary Press, 2012) and Traffic Stop (Finishing Line Press, 2011), the scholarly book Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, and the Reader of Drama (University of Missouri Press, 1990), the middle-grade chapter book for kids The Passover Surprise (Fictive Press, 2015, 2016), and the award-winning picture book for kids about bullying, How the Moon Regained Her Shape (Arbordale, 2006; fourth edition 2014).

    My website is https://www.janetruthheller.com/

  2. Love the emotions contained within each written word as well as the empty space. Beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing a piece of you with us!

  3. Pam says:

    Your poetry makes me really feel. I could feel my breath catching in my chest as I read this. Beautiful.

  4. I love how unique this poem’s style is, Quinn. You’ve captured the pain of your experiences so beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing your words here with us!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.