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Training Wheels

By Joanna Acevedo

after Denis Johnson

“I just wanted to check in with you about your friend who passed,” my therapist says at the end of our session. “Yeah, he’s still dead,” I quip. We share a long laugh. Are you hearing unusual sounds or voices?  I’m beginning to see therapy as an obligation, rather than a ritual. Not exactly. Not exactly? Now what does that mean?  Lately, especially as I shout: “What the fuck is wrong with you?” at the car running a traffic light on Fulton Avenue, all I see is red. So what? I’m renewing, reusing, recycling the stages of grief.

It was raining. Each time I walk past the deli on Harman where I ran into Will and Michael while on the phone with my father, promising to loop back but never returning, I am flooded with emotion. I don’t know where to put it. Gigantic ferns leaned over us. The forest drifted over a hill. There must be some place, some receptacle, where I can abandon my grief, leave it for the next person who might need it. It might prove useful. I’ve always liked helping people. I could hear a creek rushing down among rocks.  “You seem like you’re making time for self-care,” says my therapist, encouraging, smiley. What I am not telling her is that each night I forget, and each morning I remember. It’s just a matter of how long I can forget for, before something reminds me. And you, you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you.




Listen to a recording of Training Wheels by Joanna Acevedo.

Added: Friday, April 19, 2024  /  Used with permission.
Joanna Acevedo
Photo by James Acevedo.

Joanna Acevedo is a teaching artist from New York City. She is the author of three books and two chapbooks, and her writing in multiple genres has been seen across the web and in print, including in Free State Review, The Rumpus, Bending Genres and The Adroit Journal, among others. She is Associate Editor at Frontier Poetry, and received her MFA in Fiction from New York University in 2021, in addition to holding degrees from Bard College and The New School. Read more about her and her work at her website.

Image Description: Joanna Acevedo stands in front of black-framed windows and looks toward the camera. They wear a black shirt, a septum and nose piercing, and bright red lipstick. Tattoos on her chest and left arm are partially visible. 

Other poems by this author