Forever Betrothed To The Night

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Forever Betrothed To The Night

By Jacqueline Cioffa

The rotten apple bobs atop the pond scum drowning and dunking under the sweet, brown silence of murky still waters.

And me, I understand.

In tune with the dark, the death concept softens the breath in an instant. My heart does not skip nor quicken under the harsh white rays of a chilled, September sun. It is calmed and quieted, intoxicated by the still-birth possibility.

The black and grey gravel, foreign misshapen pebbles, and boorish stones stab underfoot. They do not annoy me; I empathize with the rough surfaces and pierced, jagged edges. Bleed, I bleed forest green and dream of Parasol queen ghosts walking beside me. Heart shaped brown and red leaves curl and quiver in the breeze, hiding from the menacing sun discoloring their emerald green envy.

The Goldfinch dances above skimming over tree top branches in a frenzy. Pausing mere fractions of a beat, milliseconds, something I find intoxicating.

The obscure does not threaten, caressing the skin like a careful, thoughtful lover fully awakened and in tune. The dark washes free my sins baptizing the polluted thoughts, brain obstructions. There are no edges, disciples or boundaries in the midnight hour. The world is less loud, less demanding, less  everything the soul is expected.

The spirit feels safest alone; there is no need for words, responsibility or white noise complacency. The night and I are very much in love, betrothed and besotted to none other.

For the night and I agree; the light is purest, more radiant, more blinding and most magical undistracted.

Home, the night and I are at home in each other’s company. No false niceties, polite oddities. Solace is fondly found in the sweet dew evening. The sky blanketed by black oblivion. Only a splinter of smiling, silver crescent moon shines lovely in the evening.

Streetlights, the whirring nuisance jolt me back from daydream reality. Children’s raucous, the humdrum beat of the screaming orange basketball as dirty sneakers glide across the asphalt leave me weary and maudlin. The anarchy disappears behind closested shadow curtains and forty-watt, somber, dimly lit yellow bulbs. I don’t mind the absence, longing to fit in. I am enthralled, mesmerized and enchanted by the underbelly.

For the night and I are in too deep, too enamored with the quieting, melodic air wrapped and entwined inside the mysterious respites of the eve.

I am forever betrothed to the night, in love with the moon and the stars as I quietly walk the day’s thunder.

The Highway Halfway Mark

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The Highway Halfway Mark 

by Jacqueline Cioffa

I wonder, I do. I cannot help but wonder what’s down the road from the place I have ever truly called home. The wood and grass and nails and bolts, the wet familiar dew smells and giggling baby sounds.The joy and the sorrow. I can’t help but observe and wonder. The funny, peculiar, crooked way of seeing the world that is all my own. The structure has cracks, fissures and deep gaping holes, pockets that need love and attention, there is patching and mending to be done. I don’t know if I have enough glue stored in the chicken coop to hold the facade together before the walls come crumbling down. I am for better or worse, at the highway halfway mark.

I mind I do, at times. I mind a lot.

Sometimes, I don’t mind at all. I laugh and live, and get lost in the hilarious, fleeting moments. I get scared, frightened, and paralyzed too. Funny, I was never scared as a child. I was wild, fearless fierce and strong.

Maybe I greedily used up all the miles and worn down the treads on my running shoes. New Balance 574’s. There’s nowhere, no road, no mountain, no distances left, no place far and enough away to hide.

That’s okay. It’s all right. I do get tired sometimes. Mostly, I wish I could bottle up the Lupita lovely creature cuddled beside me. Her warmth and heat and breath and beating heart radiate and rejuvenate my childlike spirit. Her smile makes me weepy. I can’t. I can’t keep her here with me.

I cannot understand the death concept, wrap my head around this curious mystery called life. I try, but maybe I can’t comprehend a life without all the people and places I have cherished and loved. Close, always close by even when separated by continents and telephone lines.

My mother and I don’t see eye to eye on so many things. I talk too much, worry too much, cry too much, am crazy too much and yet she is here in her first forever home and mine folding the laundry. Her pace slow, her gait sad, her grit defeated and still she is cemented together, red brick stronger than I. She realizes her halfway mark has long expired, and that makes me hold my breath.

As if I could stop time between the inhale and exhale before the next.

As if. I’m stalling, still. Silly me, I am a grownup who’s not very grownup at all. I understand that hanging on tight to the breath is wishful thinking and I will most surely pass out. I can’t help be hopeful and delusional at times. It hurts to catch my breath.

Here, at the highway halfway mark.

37 Windows ~ home & family matters

Sifting through blog posts working backwards I found this. Family memories shift and time changes but the love can never be deleted and a home not a house never erased.

 

37 Windows by Jacqueline Cioffa

My parent’s house has 37 windows and countless memories. It’s the home my Mom grew up in. I know every nook and cranny; I’ve heard all her childhood tales. It’s the 37 windows that her father, an Irishman bought with a small sum and a dream. He’d plant a garden and fix her walls and cure this house and make it his own. He’d have babies that would grow into gentlemen and scholars. He’d live a rich life filled with triumphs and racked with disappointment. It’s the 37 windows that would beckon him and his wife to sleep one night after a life well lived. 37 windows would sweetly and softly carry them expertly back home.

37 windows watched over me as a child. Free and safe to run wild in the streets screaming and laughing out loud. My mom would call out every night at suppertime. We’d sit around the table, talking and giggling about nothing and everything. My grandfather was still there, feeding us food and wisdom straight from his garden. There was conversation and laughter and food enough for everyone. There would be cousins and friends who’d show up and stay in that house until they were independent and strong. Her 37 windows patiently nurtured them, sending them off once they were brave enough to leave home.

37 windows open faithfully each spring and hunker down in wintertime. 37 windows whispered to me as a teen, “Go, be brave and immerse yourself. Be kind and confident, behave like a solid lady who can reap and sow her own garden.“

37 windows welcomed me after a messy divorce and an abusive husband. She was happy to give me shelter and open her doors. 37 windows raised her arms and said, “Welcome home, little girl. You’ll be alright, time to heal your heart.” My body shook, my heart closed tight by each figurative and literal bruise, every new disappointment. Then, something magical happened over time, the birth of new babies and summers and barbecues and a puppy and a pool that looked brand new, but had thirty years healed me. I became whole again. I had forgotten for a second the power of 37 windows and where I came from. Sometimes, it takes the eyes of others to see who you are, the stuff you are made of.

Family has always been all around me. I guess I’m lucky like that. I tried to leave, venture out on my own. Move away. Continents and ocean lengths away, it was never quite far enough. In my mind and my heart, they came with me. No matter the color or style of the glass, the endless other windows that have housed me have never felt quite like home. Even with the spirits of the people I have loved housed inside me, I am never without the power of family and a healing home.

All the Buddha’s, the crosses, the picture frames, the Zen-like qualities I add to each new space I live in, there is still a missing ingredient. I lost my mind a few years back and once again my childhood home and her 37 windows beckoned me. My bed and the smell of talc, the clean summer-breeze smell of the sheets brought me familiar comfort. I felt safe, if not whole. The way the sheer curtain rose and fell in the breeze at night eased my heavy load. She promised me I’d find my way out of the dark. It was simple, I was home.

I never gave it much thought. I took for granted that house would be there. My Dad died 352 days ago. All that’s left now of 37 windows is my Mom and my infrequent visits.

Maybe she’ll sell it and move to a smaller, more manageable home. That would be ok, I think. I always thought 37 windows housed me. Her walls so deeply embedded; I never understood I actually housed her. I hold all her memories, her secrets and laughter and dance and death and songs. 37 windows hold my past and my present, but I house all the people I hold precious and dear and call home.

Originally Published Sept. 2013 madswirl.com

 

Liquid Angst ~ Jacqueline Cioffa #StolenMoments #Poetry

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From time to time you’ll see Stolen Moments show up on the blog. Words forgotten and misplaced, poetry, anticipatory memories, prose, joy and sorrow, pensive emotion, random and not so random thoughts scribbled in tattered notebooks. To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time. I’m a writer trying recapture on paper how it feels to be alive.

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Liquid Angst By Jacqueline Cioffa

Jan. 2005

You are the one

Constant

My forever Miami man

My moon, my sun, my tsunami

Amongst devastating destruction you are the storm in my soul

My liquid angst

But at least I love you

To know that I really love you

Quietly with a certain steadfastness

20 years full and counting

That’s really something

…hold up, that ain’t right

the year is 2015 

the time is now

…and I’m tired of waiting

I’m not holding out for a hero

a waterlogged wilted jilted lover

I’m becoming and becoming

my very own heroine

whole and content under a crystal clear lit up funky blue midnight sky

possibility

starstuff dreams bursting inside

Waiting on Oprah: Never Quit Your Dreams

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Waiting on Oprah

I close my eyes and can almost see the perfect fairytale life I envisioned in my wildest dreams.

Dear Fantasy (Oprah), “I feel that I am a very fortunate person …”

I was fifteen. Fifteen, gawky, wickedly uncomfortable in my so called ‘model frame.’ Somehow fifteen was the perfect age to concoct wild fantasy adventures and the fastest way out of a stifled, small town. There was a kaleidoscope world waiting for me, exclusively.

Strangers, intoxicating places and new faces I ached to see.

I guess Oprah never received the letter or maybe it got shoved to the bottom pile. There were one billion other worthy dreamers, perhaps more worthy than me. Maybe it got filed away, who’s to say?

I barreled ahead out on my own and concocted the fantastical dream anyway.

I had my picture taken, a lot, wearing expensive, sequined designer gowns. I lived in far away lands. Swam naked in cerulean silk seas with infinite sparkling black diamond sandy beaches. I stood atop glaciers touching the clouds where the landscape was breathtaking white, and the earthly humans invisible below. It was lonely and cold, and I felt nothing but numbness. Decades and decades past, I was stuck bone cold.

I could no longer picture my paralyzed, frozen feet on solid ground. Be mindful, careful, and specific before dreaming.

I woke up. No longer a child, no longer a pretty pawn, no longer me, no longer an identity, just a jumble of misfiring neurons.

I had freedom, for a time. Airplanes, buses, pre-packed duffle bags ready, lavender mister, passport, baby pillow became the two ton heavy, overweight baggage. I could not lighten the load no matter how much stuff I discarded. The heavy barred down on my brain, burrowing deep under my skin.

Change is so excruciatingly difficult when you’re living the dream.

Oprah never told me dreams can shift, that there can be more than just the one.

Or maybe, I wasn’t listening too busy running scared. Maybe I had to live through the dream to get to the here and now. Maybe I grew up, a little. Maybe the dream plain wore out.

Shivering, dizzy from submersing my head in the clouds surrounded by foreign tongues I did not understand, the physical me grew bored and misplaced. I dined on spicy and sweet, savoring cuisines that were taste bud delicious yet soured the stomach.

I was grinding, squirming, picking, pinching awkward, drowning inside the fifteen-year-old expired notion of bliss. I think when one is asking for a dream, one must be specific.

I’m sure being kicked to the curb no longer the prettiest, youngest, skinniest ‘photo op’ of the day did nothing for my already damaged low self-esteem and defunct, busted aspirations.

My life has been filled with love. Looking back and forward, my life has been filled with love.

That must be the first thing I cling to while reminiscing. My life has been filled with heart swelling, shattering, terrifying, emotional, easy breezy, destructive, goose-bump alive love.

The heart is a muscle it cannot possibly feel yet it does. Bizarre but so blazing sun, crescent moon, silly stars, perpetual movement sea elements comforting.

I am loved; even on the days I forget how to love myself.

It has not been easy, my middle, it’s been split open, fractured; please God let me end the crucifying. That, and all that mess that is my life are for a different tale. Perhaps when we have a little more time.

I’m back home now. I’m not fifteen anymore. My dreams are simpler, quieter, not half the screaming loud as before. Home, that’s what I’d been missing all along. Not the physical dwelling perhaps, although that helps joggle the mind.

Sensory memory.

The giddy anticipation of my mother’s White Shoulder’s perfume, her lips brushing against my forehead, the charms on her bracelet jingling and dancing on her wrist. Giddy elation alive.

“Go to sleep, sweet child of mine.”

I’d pretend sleep, twisting and squirming awaiting her return. Back from a well deserved evening out way past midnight to stroke my hair in the dark. I was sugary five not smart mouth saccharine EMO fifteen, not biting sarcastic know it all twenty, not disillusioned complacent crazed thirty, not even bitter shattered fragmented forty.

I was five.

I was living the dream.

Dear Oprah, “it’s okay.”

I think I’d like to give this living thing a shot, keep the next dream nestled close.

Readily accessible in my front not back pocket.

Dreams change.

And me, I am transitioning.

I’m not waiting on Oprah, not this time.

This dream is waiting on me.

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Gypsies and Pixie Dust

92_1Gypsies and Pixie Dust By Jacqueline Cioffa

I exist therefore I am, mistakes and imperfections one and all. I don’t want to be considered an artist. I want to be thought of as a student of art. I want to ingest the human condition, live and breathe it. I want to eradicate all traces of ego and relate. I want to roam the globe and hear the stories, while not missing out on the neighbor hood tales right next door. I am a traveler and connoisseur of fortune and mishap. I am a believer in fate and love and a hopeless romantic at heart. I have fallen in love many times over; sometimes reciprocated while others not. I am a gypsy leaping joyously headfirst into the new and unknown forever anxious for a fresh start.

So much of our lives are spent in the world of what if, instead of the place that is right now. I am present, I am now and I am looking up towards the sky and watching as the pixie dust falls. For today I will repeat that statement over and over, every time my mind starts to wander to a different road. I am present, I am now and I am looking up to the sky. Watch for it, you might miss it if you’re not looking up towards the heavens as the pixie dust falls.

I miss my friend. She was 90 years young and taught me many life lessons. I started visiting her out of duty and obligation and continued out of delight. She once said to me, “I wish I had known you when I was younger, we would’ve been great friends.” And I replied, “You know me now.” I only realized the weight and validity of that statement by her passing and what it truly meant. To spend time with another being and listen to their choices, the many paths and winding roads. 

I love all kinds of travels, roads carved out by dirt and gravel, uphill wood and branch covered trails, 6 lane freeways that go nowhere in particular, route 66 and the generation beat and all that trip meant.  I adore white finite sandy beaches with no end in sight, and enjoy the lazy comfort of a trip taken in old woman’s living room filled with black and white pictures and endless stories of a life well spent. 

There were many days when I didn’t want to get on the train and make the hour-long commute to her tiny modest east village apartment.  She’d tell me about her life in Italy, the seven brothers and sisters and the father who worked for the rail.  How much she loved them and how there was always food on their table and laughter in that house in spite of war.  She told me how scared and sad she was when she left home and made the trip to America with this new husband towards a fresh start.  She’d remember with remorse how she’d stay with an abusive Italian old school man who came back from America to Italy to fetch her offering dreams of a promised land.  She sighed as she remembered his gambling and the cancer that would ravage him and caring for him and the mess she endured out of duty for 50 years long. 

She’d ask me every week, “why didn’t I have a boyfriend for I was such a pretty tall girl?” Then she’d smile and shake her head saying it was better and smart.  She’d tell me to wait for someone who had dignity and honor and settle for no less. And I listened and nodded my head, a smile on my face. I believed her when she spoke to me, for I could see the pixie dust and the angels flying all around.

She could hardly speak without a tear as she showed me a picture of her dead son and the pain would creep up as if she was discovering this story for the first time.  I’d watch her face, the lines sketched deeply over time and listen to her travels and I’d love her all over again. I knew the journey downtown was worth it. And our voyages were forever melded and meshed and she was no longer a little old lady that was alone. She was a storyteller who was deeply loved and admired and respected and an old woman who had 9o years, but was forever young in my heart. When I would leave her apartment she would give me a hug and say, “Get home safe.” And I felt giddy and well and loved. I was a journeyman who’s life had a purpose. She made me miss my mother who is still here, but far away enough.

You don’t really have to go anywhere to be a traveler if you stay alert. Sometimes others make the journey for you. I remember curling up under a crocheted blanket with my mother on our cozy couch in wintertime. I was five and we would magically cover our heads and end up in Ireland.  The land of County Cork and the Blarney stone and dumb Irish luck. The land where her father left the only home he knew at eight and crossed the seas towards a new beginning. He would live stoically and walk tall throughout life.  He would make a family that would prosper and procreate and live on. His would be a life filled with honor and purpose and the quiet elegance of simplicity in a rural American town.  It would be a small village, a no place in particular, but his journey would be filled with substance galore.

Stories have been the essence of my life. Since I was old enough to recall I’ve been asking my mom about her stories so I could get the tales right. I would travel back in time with her to her youth and the trip made sense. That’s how I’d grow into the gypsy with a love for words and new undiscovered lands in her heart.  

I’d travel the globe.  I’d walk the Champs Elysee in Paris savoring a chocolate crepe.  I’d smell the age of the earth rise up from her streets and admire the Seine by its yellow lights and the dark. I’d fall in love with Chagall and the Pompidou and grow to appreciate Brie and Sunday afternoons and La Tour Eiffel from the park. I’d scour flea markets in search of the perfect vintage leather coat.  I’d fall out of love with a man and cry real tears and learn to hate the person lying next to me. I’d wish I was anywhere but Paris with this lover who had outstayed his welcome and squashed my zest for adventure with every beat of his soured heart. The days would become long and the streets would appear dirty and food would lose all flavor as I lost my appetite. Summer would feel like an old maid and I would silently pray for wintertime when he would pack his bags and leave me for good.

A finality that would lead to a different kind of voyage, a much needed repose from an outdated life.

Spring in Paris would magically reappear much like the Easter bunny and I’d fall head over heels in love with a different kind of man. He’d make music in the rain and Paris would come to life again. His would be a short visit, but long enough to renew my broken heart.  Paris would appear pretty again and she was soft like talc and every bridge oozed new found sex appeal.  Sometimes love appears for a mere mille- second, yet your journey is changed forever and your lives are intertwined. You remain not together, no. However bittersweet the visit, the gleam of admiration in his eye and his presence in your world is felt. His trip makes your trip valid and you feel the sparkles and except the magic and gladly move on.

Steadfastly, you recognize your good fortune and tuck it away in your hope chest and you walk straight and tall. There are many beaches to visit and stars to count and fish and sea turtles to swim with. There are wooden bridges to be crossed and mountains to trek. There are fears to be faced head on. There are dreams to be realized and cards to be dealt and bags to be packed and unpacked.

My good fortune has always been the ability to see myself through others. The voyages I have taken would lead to life changing lessons, affirmations, a needed hug, an unexpected caress, and a knowing nod.  There would be trips made out of duty, filled with sorrow and grief.  Perhaps those were the hardest kind. Yet, they were definitely the most rewarding. They showed me the kind of stuff I was made of.  I was able to face death and sorrow and not be ripped apart. I would find the strength to continue on the trek.

I’ve loved all sorts of travel. Trips to exotic lands in first class, the ripped leather seat of a beat up bus on my way back home, a road traveled so frequently I know every sign, every rest stop along the way.  I love the endless possibility of a new road, but as I grow older I learn that I am a deep lover of the familiar journey and all the comfort she holds.

A shared look, a glimmer of hope, pixie dust and perpetual movement. I exist now. I am present doing nothing in particular. I am ok with that. I am full. I am a traveler, a student of art, and a lover of the human condition. I want to be pliable; I want to bend like the next road I find myself upon. I want to savor the journey; I need to remind myself to look up. Remember to keep looking up.  It’s there, the pixie dust. I know it is, I’ve seen it. It’s the infinite possibility that a battered old duffle bag holds hanging in my closet whispering my name.

Originally published via Frame Lines the magazine 

Gypsies and Pixie Dust by Jacqueline Cioffa

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White Boots and Freckle Faces #StolenMoments #TuesdayShares #Poetry

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From time to time you’ll see Stolen Moments show up on the blog. Words forgotten and misplaced, poetry, anticipatory memories, prose, joy and sorrow, pensive emotion, random and not so random thoughts scribbled in tattered notebooks. To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time. I’m a writer trying recapture on paper how it feels to be alive.

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White Boots and Freckled Faces

Jacqueline Cioffa 1998

Where is the child?

Where has she gone?

Did she get bruised and beaten down?

Oh she’s there

Over there

There she is

Dancing and laughing

And spinning

Wide open

She still believes in a better place

And a better time

And sees the good in mankind

Muddled behind the murky water

And she cries a real tear

One teardrop

For all that is gone

And counts

And she gets it

And sometimes she wants to die

So swollen with emotion

Not afraid to cry

Not afraid to be touched

She doesn’t cringe at the thought of physical intimacy

And she’s full of trust

And she’s let go of the void

She’s the voyeur

The mighty, the strong

She’s her mother and father and brothers

All rolled into this neat package

That’s the best of all of them.

Training Wheels and Little Blond Curls #StolenMoments

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From time to time you’ll see Stolen Moments show up on the blog. Words forgotten and misplaced, poetry, anticipatory memories, prose, joy and sorrow, pensive emotion, random and not so random thoughts scribbled in tattered notebooks. To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time. I’m a writer trying recapture on paper how it feels to be alive.

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Training Wheels and Little Blond Curls

Jacqueline Cioffa 1998

Oh little girl

Stop for a minute

Let me enjoy your youth

Your radiance

The sheer innocence of fearlessness

Can I ride with you just one more time?

On your bike with training wheels

Let me float free on your back

As you learn to glide without safety wings

Don’t fret and don’t be afraid

Your youth will never leave you

She’ll grow on with you

As you and I both grow up

Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle.

I’m tired.

Wiped, discouraged, caput, worn down, exhausted.

I am not winning this mammoth battle with the mind. I can no longer distinguish between mania and anxiety, thoughts race ahead anyway without definition. Oxygen depleted and unrelenting physical pain does not let up.

No, no, no, no way. There’s no way I can keep up with this living thing. I am not strong enough.

Am I?

Just when I think I have used and abused every single resource left with no reserve, a timely reminder appears.

It’s not about me, it never was. This life is not mine to begin with. I am circular memories, sand granules stolen backwards in time.

Precious quartz that most assuredly slips through my fingers returning to earth how it began.

So what if I can’t see clearly when the angels can?

So what if I can’t see clearly when the angels can?

“Your time stamp is 2:22 which in angel numerology means, “Don’t quit before your miracle occurs!” 

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“Newly planted ideas are beginning to grow into reality. Keep watering and nurturing them, and soon they will push through the soil.”

I believe in angels, pixie dust, numbers, crystals, and dark/ light matters we cannot see or comprehend.

To dream wearing a featherweight light suit of armor while speckles of  gold, violet, teal, fuchsia and indigo angel dust flutters abound.

"To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time." 'funny girl'

Stolen Moments-2

From time to time you’ll see Stolen Moments show up on the blog. Words forgotten and misplaced, poetry, anticipatory memories, prose, joy and sorrow, pensive emotion, random and not so random thoughts scribbled in tattered notebooks. To not forget but remember the precious, fleeting stolen moments in time. I’m a writer trying recapture on paper how it feels to be alive.

funny girl

by Jacqueline Cioffa

Dec. 2006

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I would like to lead a dark, sophisticated life

I dream of a fancy lady in spiked heels, red nails and lips and such

She wears corsets to breakfast

and dines on champagne and caviar

Instead I run away from fame and all it’s trappings

I’m a messy sneaker wearing practical jeans girl

transparent to the touch

I know it’s crazy but I miss you everyday

more not less

I don’t need a prince charming just a soft whisper

A subtle nod, bittersweet embrace

Ask me to cross an ocean and I’d do it for you

Even for just five minutes

I don’t care I’m not proud though I am scared

I’m sophisticated just enough