Stinging burns from hot coffee splashed out of a cup held by shaking hands, mess feels like unwashed hair grease-glued to the back of my neck

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Fernandez/English 11. Concrete Description of an Abstract Word/Student Sample


Mess feels like the puffy, stinging burns from hot coffee splashed out of a cup held by shaking hands, mess feels like unwashed hair grease-glued to the back of my neck, mess feels like a heart dropped to the pit of my stomach when I realize I’ve murdered another interpersonal relationship with the trusty weapon of self-sabotage. Mess feels like ropey permanent scars, mess feels like a migraine. Mess feels like hunger.


Mess smells like an antique army jacket reeking of the menthol cigarettes that make my father ashamed. Mess smells like the noxious fumes wafting from tips of hand-me-down Pantone markers, it smells like SPF 70 worn well into September because my skin burns easy as my trust, mess smells like the skin-crawling disinfectant and death odor of hospital blankets, it smells like the ripped jeans I haven’t run through the wash in a month. Mess smells like India Ink and shame.


Mess tastes like five packets of Splenda stirred into one cup of tea, mess tastes like microwaved plain instant oatmeal at three AM, mess tastes like the blood of bitten-through lips and gnawed-open nail beds, mess tastes like the gloss-coated lips of strange girls whose parents think they’re straight and the memory of the mouth of the first girl who ever truly broke my heart, it tastes like freeze-dried fruit and a chain smoker’s chemical aftertaste you can never brush, rinse, gargle out. Mess tastes like ten pills every morning.


Mess sounds like a range-less voice compelled by some kind of higher power to try in vain to sing along to a cracked-screen iPod at a decibel that won’t give the rest of the room a headache. Mess sounds like the late night fits of screaming and crying I inherited from my mother and the calming voice of a therapist. Mess sounds like the laughter of a child I watch at my steady job, the only thing in my life I can keep together for more than five minutes. Mess sounds like a hacking cough that keeps coming back.


Mess looks like oil paint-stained ashy hands with crooked knuckles, mess looks like bright primary colored Pixar forever stamps in the right hand corners of the snail mail I sporadically send my friends just to remind them that someone loves them enough to write them a letter. Mess looks like shoes that have been patched and patched and patched until they’re more shimmering duct tape than sole, it looks like the floor of a room wall-to-wall carpeted with so many dirty clothes it hardly makes sense that I don’t regularly wear more than three outfits and mess looks like the black and blue knees confessing my clumsiness to anyone who’ll take notice. Mess looks like oversized sweaters hanging to mid-thigh, mess looks like dark, heavy hoods drooping over sleepless eyes, mess looks like body hair I can’t be bothered to shave before it mummifies me in a jungle, mess looks like half-open pins hanging off a bag where they wait to prick fingers and fall off, lost forever. Mess looks like the tangled penmanship I’m writing this in, mess looks like the rubbed-off dates on Polaroid pictures that prove I do leave the house sometimes, it looks like a wastebasket overflowing with crumpled artistic failures, it looks like yellowed teeth behind smudged blood-red lipstick and the broken green glass in the alley across the street from the crowded coffee house where I can air out my social anxiety on a fire escape and breathe.

Mess looks like the mirror I shattered when I couldn't bear to look this mess in the eye anymore.

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