What Do You See?

by Ariel Douglas (27 October 2016)


What do you see?

My smile? My fidgeting?

What do you hear?

My chatter? My rambling?

What do you feel?

My energy? My intensity?

What do you taste?

My passion? My emotion?

What do you smell?

My perfume? My mouthwash?

You see my drooping, blood-shot eyes

And assume I stay up all night

Watching TV shows or YouTube.


You believe that I spend all night

Doing homework.

You hear my laughter -




My constant chatter,

Loud and verbose,

Can be heard from down the hall.

You feel the energy radiating off of me

And the way I am magnetically drawn

To everyone around me,

Assuming that I’ve suddenly developed

A clingyness that will simply not be


You think that I’m just that way

And you try to avoid it as much as possible.

You taste my emotion in the air

Shining out from me like toxic radiation

And the passion in every word I speak.

It scares you

And you are afraid of me;

Creeped, weirded, freaked

Out by me.

You’ve decided to send me away.

My perfume penetrates the air

And you don’t understand why I can’t

Use more moderation

And take into consideration the fact

That it’s obnoxious.

I brush, floss, and rinse my teeth

At least twice a day-

You know I practice good hygiene.


Do you see it?

My involuntary looks of sadness

And shame

When I think no one is paying attention.

Do you hear it?

The subtle waver in my voice

Every time I begin to speak

And the nervous quality to my ever ready laughter.

Do you feel it?

The ever present charge in the air around me

As I wage a war within my mind

Trying to remain myself as the


Presents itself again.

Do you taste it?

The fear of rejection and pain

Permeating my every interaction,

Plaguing my thoughts as your words

Echo through my mind.

Do you smell it?

The sour sweat of one who is

Struggling just to hold on

And keep moving

And hoping that maybe, just maybe,

Tomorrow will be different.

You see it, but you don’t recognize the signs.

The signs of the silent torment

That I do my very best to keep hidden away

From the eyes of those from whom I seek


You hear it, but it annoys you.

You just wish I’d shut up

And stop making you think about things

That matter,

When really, all I want

Is for someone to recognize me

As someone who matters.

You feel it, but you ignore it.

You attribute it to the stress that you

And everyone around you

Is going through

And never realize

That it’s so much more than stress that

I’m battling.

You taste my fear, but you don’t understand it.

You’ve never been where I am,

You don’t know what I’m going through and

That is not your fault.

You smell it, but you don’t realize what it is.

This is the war I am waging

Trying to stay human,

Keeping to a routine so as not to fall

Back into the deep pit I’ve found myself in

So many times before.


You never see

When I rush to shut my door behind me

And lock out everyone around me.

You never hear

My sobs in my room all alone

Fighting for control and hope.

You never feel

The howling empty abyss in my chest

Lurking for my moment of weakness.

You never taste

The bitterness growing in my mouth as

The long hours of the night drag on.

You never smell

My gasping, wretched breaths

That are too few and too far between.

Those bags under my eyes aren’t

From homework or reading or knitting,

Those bags are from staying out of bed

So the darkness will not be able to take hold.

Those forced, loud, obnoxious giggles

Are actually a cry for help

A mask that I am trying to build in order that

I don’t push you all away,

But it’s a mask that has an opposite effect

Of its intended results.

My hugs and need for closeness

Is not a clingy, needy girl dying for attention,

But a scared, lonely girl

Desperate for affection and support

In this battle.

The salt on my lips from the tears in my

Bloodshot eyes are from my inability to speak

And express what I’m going through.

My trashy aura is me trying

To keep a grip on my life,

To maintain appearances,

To manage what’s going on inside

That is too consuming for me to worry

Too much about my outside.


I can’t let you see

The true terror and loneliness inside

Of me.

I can’t let you hear

What I’m really thinking

Or what’s really going on.

I can’t let you feel

What I’m feeling,

Because it would break you

And I’d lose you - I know,

You’ve warned me.

I can’t let you taste

The ash that has become my food

And the bitterness that spices my


I can’t let you smell

The rotten stench of the black hole

Inside my chest that wants to

Suck me in

And never let go.

I put on an act,

A show, for you.

I hope you’ll buy it,

But I know you won’t.

I say what I think you want to hear

(And I’m almost always wrong)

Or as much as I can

To keep it all from crashing down

In front of you all.

I hide my fear

And my pain of rejection from you

Because the last thing I want

Is for you to decide that I am too needy

And too much work

For friendship.

I try every morning and every night

To wash away the bitterness,

But it refuses to leave me.

Like a parasite,

It clings to my thoughts and my desires

Darkening my mind

In a dreaded way.

I cover up my desperation

Keeping it hidden

Washing it away under the warm streams

Of water,

But knowing that it won’t leave.


I’m fighting for control,

But I feel I’ve no one to support me.

I’m begging for help,

But I’m too afraid of losing you.

I know that I can’t do it on my own,

But I need someone to remind me

To turn to the One who can.

Because even as I type these words

I feel myself slipping

Into a swirling, black vortex

Ready to rip away

My soul,

My ambition,

My love

And throw everything that I am

And everything that I aspire to be

Into the trash.


So what am I to do

When who I truly am

Isn’t what you see?


This poem is about: 



Hey, guys! This poem is on YouTube! To find it put this in the search "30 Days of Poetry - Day 28: What Do You See? by Ariel Douglas". I'd love if you could give it a listen. Each poem is prefaced with an explanation of the poem and its origins. Thank you much!

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