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The Doctors Call It An Irritation

by James K. Zimmerman

but how to tell you this? sometimes

I am beside myself – no, I mean

my self is beside my self


sometimes when I am here

beside you I am at sunset on sand

or a hut balanced in a beech tree

where you have always been

and never will be and I've been

many times before and never


I am the rails on a trestle, forever

traveling in the same direction

forever never intersecting

suspended in evening air


sometimes I see myself floating

on a blue lake, catching rainbow trout

with my hands, next to a highway


where I drive two lanes at once

two lanes overlapping, my eyes

crossing the median, seeing it twice

together and never intersecting


the doctors call it an irritation

a burst of lightning, crossed

wires in my brain where my self

intertangles with myself


an irritation, they say, take these

and you will be safe and safe

to others, no crossed wires

or eyes or medians, no more

balancing on trestles


now the train rolls into the station

reliably on time but my return

ticket to the blue lake lies

in tatters on the rails

James K. Zimmerman is an award-winning, neurodivergent writer, frequently a Pushcart Prize nominee. His work appears in Atlanta Review, Carolina Quarterly, Chautauqua, Folio, Lumina, Nimrod, Pleiades, Rattle, Salamander, and elsewhere. He is the author of “Little Miracles” (Passager Books) and "Family Cookout" (Comstock), winner of the Jessie Bryce Niles Prize.

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