My Heart is a Neon Sign

Alexandra Smyth

I stutter. That is the truth

that I have lived, of course.

Avoidance permeates every

thing that I do. I did not ask

for this affliction. Something in

my brain that doesn’t work the

way I feel – imbedded in my

psyche is pure fear that I feel on

a very regular basis. I find that

opening my mouth is about letting

go of myself. It feels like my heart

is a neon sign pointing to my need

to be punished. That’s the gist of it.

I know better. I blame myself for

that too. I feel like I already know

what to do, and I feel as though

time is running out. This is as it

should be. It’s time for tossing out

the false and to make sense of

what it means to struggle. So many

of us have had to make shifts about

who we are so we could believe.

We must come to terms with the past.  

We can’t really grow up until we find

a way to give what we need to

ourselves – that’s one of the most

beautiful things. We get to give ourselves

that stand before the scorching flames,

decide what to swallow and what to cast out.


Dear Sugar advice column #97, “You Have Arrived at the Fire.”

Alexandra Smyth is a graduate of the City College of New York MFA Creative Writing Program. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Cobalt Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Stirring, among others. She was a 2015 finalist for the Gabriela Mistral Poetry Prize, and a 2014 recipient of the Poets & Writers Amy Award. She lives in Brooklyn.

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