My Life as a Dancing Rat

by Jonathan Rome

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HunterDuke
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HunterDuke A fantastically thought provoking collection of works, from an eclectic and refreshingly creative poet! Favorite track: Track 1) The Rat Shall Dance.
Robert Eliason
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Robert Eliason Jonathan Rome is a multi-talented force to be reckoned with. I think there is no creative field he would not excel in. There is vision, passion, and humor in all his works and a refreshing point of view. Keep working, Johnny!
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about

A compilation of poems from filmmaker, student, and dancing rat, Jonathan Rome dealing with mental illness, legacy, hipocracy, and other issues plaguing the mind of this dancing rat.

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released November 11, 2016

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about

Johnny Rome Salinas, California

Poet, FIlmmaker, Author, Editor, Actor, Screen/Play writer, and Dancing Rat... If I can do anything being alive for 16 years, you can too.

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Track Name: Track 1) The Rat Shall Dance
When you’re the “new guy” at Chuck E. Cheese,
You spend your first few weeks up front, at Kid Check.
There, you stand and stamp
The hands of strangers.
You offer smiles and a polite, energetic
“Hi! Welcome to Chuck E. Cheese,
May I stamp your left arm please?!”

As you stand still, only leaving your podium to clean the greasy smudges of hands from the glass doors,
Children are running around you; screaming, crying, and wanting to be entertained by flashing lights.
Parents are Ignoring the fact that we’re teaching your kids how to gamble and abate certain situations,
You’re standing there,
stamping and listening to the same 10 songs play on a repeated playlist.
Employees pass by assuring you that your job gets more exciting as you transfer to the section you were hired for.
They say “Kid Check is the worst job. It’s so slow! It’s so boring!”
I completely disagree.

I’ve shaken hands and complimented the shirts of countless strangers, each with their own, unique story.
Their unspoken lives fascinate me.
For instance, I saw a man with so much ink it was hard to tell whether he was a man at all,
but his heart was clear.
Before the managers confiscated the bowie knife
hanging from his pocket,
I saw him huddle with his two daughters and wife.
I saw the way they leaned on each other for support, transferring energy into the hearts of those touching them.
I heard him whisper, “I’ve made so many mistakes in my life, but you three make me feel like I’ve been a saint.”
And amongst the heavy breathing from his family, as if they’ve heard this 100 times, but every time it hits them,
He says, “I love you for that.”

People ask me if I enjoy my job.
Despite my ears ringing from the volume,
My legs hurting from dancing so much,
And my shoes smelling like acid and digested food coming back up,
I tell them it’s the best job I could have at this age.
Because I get to bring interactive joy to people.
It’s not enough to hand a 10 year old an iPhone.
If playgrounds are to be replaced with arcades and a dancing rat,
Then the rat shall dance.
If this is the only way for parents to define the word “intervolutions” to their kids,
Then the rat shall dance.

I’ve seen through the eyes of the dancing rat.
I’ve felt his emotions, and they’ve never been anything less than positive.
I’ve been pushed by his motivation which is to only ever make kids smile and look fly while doing it,
For that, the rat shall dance.
For the children who linger on their hugs while parents snap pictures on their camera phones.
For the adults that just want to see their kids happy, because it’s been awhile since they were reminded that emotion even existed..
For the one that gathered his family into his arms and reminded them that they make him feel like “wrong” is not a word in his vocabulary.
For the little ones that aren’t scared of a 5 foot tall mammal, representative of a creature they were told not to go near,
The rat shall dance!

For the children who get a whistle at the prize booth, only a whistle.
And when they're parents ask “Is that it?”
They happily chug, in response, they're new favorite toy.
And their parents say “I wish I was this happy with just a whistle.”
They’re the children that can’t understand what “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover” means, because they’re limited minds don’t allow them to know the word “judge” yet.
They live off of seeing strange things because nothing can be explained exactly one way.
They’re able to look at everything through different lenses, different angles.
They find beauty in the unsymmetrical.
That makes them smarter than any of us.
Because they’ll ask, “is the sky slanted or is the world just this beautiful?”
And, honestly, that’s more daring a question than I’ve ever heard from the lips of the conformed,
Those that followed the rules like breadcrumbs leading to their imminent doom;
To die without having lived in their own skins.
For them, the rat shall dance.

For the curious eyed,
The kind hearted,
And the creative minded.
For those with scars branded as reassuring marks that they’ve taken risks.
For those with unspoken stories, peering through tinted windows, hoping to find inspiration.
For the girl in my Chemistry class that thinks I’m writing poems about her.
For the woman that birthed me once and now advises people not to be me.
For the 8 year old scared to sleep in the dark because of a video game.
For the coworker that was crying at the wedding because she’s losing custody of her Pearl.
For anyone aching,
With hearts breaking.
For people making
Minimum wage guiding people through aisles when they didn’t ask for help.
For the entrepreneurs with their names scribbled on bathroom stalls, worrying about their legacy,
And the christian girl praying that even though she lost her virginity to some guy she barely understood, she’d like to know if heaven was still a possibility.
For the stars shining bright, working overtime to stop us from replacing them with artificial light.
For the make believers
And the dreamers
And the commenters.
For the people riding comets,
For the streakers.
For the untold geniuses,
For the unborn fetuses.
For the homeless guys,
The bloodshot eyes,
The hair straight up, they’re electrified.
For the dads and the brothers,
For the sisters and the mothers
For those who look at their feet swinging inches above the ground thinking, “I’ll never grow up.”
Good! Don’t!
You can do anything you want, and if you want to be a 5 year old in a 30 year old body, viewing the world through lenses and angles, believing that everything is beautiful if you look at it the right way,
Then you be that person, for you!
The world is your sandbox, so make a castle.
For the kings and queens of the unsymmetrical,
And for the loser sitting in Starbucks, typing poems about his job, drinking berry tea until his refills are up.

I feel offended when people ask me why I love my job,
Because I do.
And if you ask why, I hope you have time to hear the story of the dancing rat.
Because it ends with,
For me...
For them…
And for you...
The rat shall dance.
Track Name: Track 2) The Wall
Path ahead.
Forward march.
Walk the road when it turns dark.
Walk the road until you ask, “what is light?”
Walk the road until a decision must be made,
Left or right?
You’ve already dismissed the leashes that held you back.
You’ve called away the voices whispering choices in your ear,
Like they’re telling the waiter that you want chicken fingers, pink lemonade, and more crayons,
When in reality, you wanted a Dr. Pepper and some sliders.
When you reach your hand back, you expect to find a wall there,
A phone booth telling you what to do.
But as your hand separates protons from electrons,
You find yourself vaguely remembering that you marched away from that wall.
You know that whatever choice you make right now will affect just how far you walk…
And it did.
And you scream down the paths of choices you made on your own,
You scream at the wall and you say,
“Thank you for everything!” And you mean it.
“Thank you for the support.
Thank you for the guidance.
But, most importantly,
Thank you for not catching up.”
Track Name: Track 3) The Sky is Slanted
At this age, often do we find someone that might just be THEE.
We see this person and we think.
We think about how our timelines would go from selfies to “us-ies”.
We think about which emojis would belong only to our relationship,
Copyrighted by kisses and phoned in I love you’s.
Often do a lock and hashtag symbolize the binding of two names,
“The ship has sailed,” they exclaim.
And this is about as much thinking as we do.
The first pickup line you use comes from your favorite show and she says, “I hate that show”,
You say, “me too”.
Often do couples’ first words come from what Siri said when they told her,
“There’s this girl in my chemistry class, and I kind of don’t know what to say to her.”
To which Siri will disappointedly reply, “Sorry, I didn’t get that”.

Rare do we find the beauty in the obvious.
Rare do we look at our partner and say, “You have such pretty eyes…”
It’s a phrase that got lost somewhere between the ones, the zeroes,
And the men with beards, desiring to change the world.
The ability to resist snapchat for a day is not an ignominious feat.
Save moments to your memories
Because your brain runs on unlimited gigabytes.
You’ll never have to manage your storage or connect to wifi to remember the girl with the pretty eyes...
And you’ll never forget how you felt before talking to her.
When the butterflies played tag in your stomach,
And you whispered, “carpe diem,” under your breath
Unlike most people, you didn’t need to ask for the definition.

Crazy how so many people don’t know the answer to questions like,
“Did you know Miss Marchello’s ceiling is slanted?”
Because they never bothered to look up.
Rest assured that next time you are in room 418,
You’ll lean your head back on the desk of the person behind you.
And when they say, “Get your head off my desk!”
You’ll simply look at them and you’ll ask,
“Did you know Miss Marchello’s ceiling is slanted?”
And they’ll look up.
Congratulations, you’ve started a trend.
For centuries, stars have burned bright.
They run across the sky at night, screaming for attention.
But, lately, they’ve been fading.
Hiding.
Testing.
Testing the few that still wish to wish upon them,
They cry, “if you won’t see us while we’re here, maybe you’ll see us when we’re gone.”
Because they know that when they’re gone, we’ll have 7 billion screens to light up the nights,
and then what?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but stars are not ephemeral objects.
They last without batteries.
No outlet can sustain the power that remains.
They run on the hopes and dreams of those who wish on the streakers,
So wish…

Dear stars.
See, I have this brother.
He can’t tell me which world he lives in.
Virtual is reality, reality’s deception,
And he doesn’t really get that there’s no pizzaria
where the animatronics eat people.
I wish for guidance.
You’ve led shepherds to a manger,
So lead my brother through the world.
Show him that Earth is too big to fit inside one hundred thirty-two pixels per inch.

Dear stars,
Don’t hide.
People may be flashing apps at concerts.
Cities stopped sleeping.
People never bothered to walk around…
They never looked up.
They never turned to each other,
head on shoulder,
Palms in palms,
Hair turning white as light is caught creeping through the edges of the night,
And they never asked, “Is the sky slanted?”
Of course it is… Because people always wish to be right.

Stars.
Grant me this wish tonight.
Because I can’t see a future in SIGHT!
That doesn’t involve us lit up by artificial LIGHT,
And my pocket is itching,
Phone imprinting
Its lasting impression
And if I won’t win this ongoing FIGHT
I swear I MIGHT
Just go craaaazy up here!
Stars, push me to the RIGHT lane.
BRIGHT - WHITE - LIGHT searing hot pain.
Melt the flesh from my bones before my eyes melt away
from the strain,
And write…

Write my wish down like I have 24 hours to live and everything I want to do in the time I have left will be forever printed in ink.
It makes you think...
Not everyone gets to see Mount Rushmore before they die,
But everyone has seen a star in the sky.
And there’s a gleam in her eye.
And when she says, “You’re staring, creep.”
Say, “Sorry… I just caught a glimpse of something beautiful.”
“You have such pretty eyes…”
Track Name: Track 4) Average Joe
There’s a senior in my 6th block that everyone calls “Average Joe”.
I guess he just has one of those faces, right?
Like he’s the guy you look at and think,
“Now there’s someone that’ll end up with a wife and two kids, working office jobs for bosses that can’t hate him, but can’t praise him either. They’ll treat him… averagely.”
The idea of Average Joe fascinates me.
“Average” is a word that Noah Webster penned as a middle point between the extremes.
Like Jefferson wrote beautifully, Washington stood proudly, Hamilton defended tirelessly,
But Aaron Burr? Nah, son. He was just average.
That was then.
To me, Average Joe is close to extraordinary.

How many people get to say,
“Welcome to KFC,”
A few days a week?
Now subtract the amount of people that aren’t teenagers
And divide it by the number of people not named David.
Next, count only those working at the KFC on main street,
Whose business is stolen by the Denny’s and literally every other restaurant just right up the street.
In that world within this world, Average Joe soars high above all.
It takes you back to the term, “don’t judge a book by its cover”.
Don’t just look at Average Joe, talk to him.
Because I’ve watched this guy watch me do his photoshop work,
And I swear he’ll never be in a fist fight.
I try hard to think of a time where I walked by him and he wasn’t smiling.
I almost believe that he came into this world with the biggest grin on his face,
proudly proclaiming “I am Average Joe! Bring it on, world!”

Frankly, my dear, he doesn’t give a damn what you think.
For all we know, he’s looking at every other person in the room, silently calling them “Average Joes”.
Because they lack the skill of choosing their own lives.
They lack the will to pursue their own dreams.
They never marched away from the wall, they keep it close.
It’s the only thing they know.
Don’t let the jerseys fool you.

They can call me tech support all they want,
Life, to me, is like I’m standing on the gallows waiting to finally stop breathing.
But before that, I’ll recite poems and scripts from memory.
I reread thank you letters I’ve engraved into my skin,
And when the time comes, I’m smiling because I’ve done all that I’ve ever wanted to do,
And frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
If Average Joe lives life like he’s standing on the gallows retelling his favorite episodes of spongebob and quoting memes, watching Ashley scroll through “tellmewhyimbroke.com”,
And he dies, smiling; his inaudible way of telling every single person that ever doubted him,
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,”
Is he still Average Joe?

To all of the dear ones, frankly, he doesn’t give a damn.
If this name is what he’ll wear on a “Hello my Name is (fill in the blank)” card
every time he enters Mr. Solis’ room,
Then he’s the most extraordinary Average Joe you’ll ever meet.
So, if you feel like you’re another fish in the sea,
An average Joe that people vaguely remembering passing by in the halls,
And the only picture of you in the yearbook is the I.D. picture they took without telling you not to blink,
Stand on the gallows…
Retell your stories…
Recite your poems...
And smile.
Smile like you just don't give a damn what they think.
Track Name: Track 5) Red Ribbon Wearers
Hypocrites hide in hollowed, hateful hideaways.
Hibernating from judgement,
Avoiding the limelight,
‘Til eavesdropping ears hear
Opportunities to shine.


So, while Catholic priests
Preach “Celibacy or Doom”,
There’s a lot more than confessions
In the reconciliation room.
Because pedo priests feast
On the wallets of the renewed.
It’s screwed.


Like,
Locker room talk
Conflicts on stage,
Walk.
Skin Orange.
Abhorrent,
Freedom on the chopping block.
Can’t immigrate.
Emancipate
Them all.
Wall
Protect the gate.
Point and state.
Set things straight.
Once more America
WILL BE GREAT!


There’s a student speaker,
Types on Twitter.
“Don’t do Drugs”
Words of Wisdom.
Wears red ribbon.
Lies bigger.
‘Til he’s downing
Hard liquor.
Drivin’ on the highway quicker.
CRASH
BREAK
Off the meter.
Five teens dead,
No more future.
Shaking hands
With the Grimm Reaper.


It’s critical
To understand
The power we man
In this digital
Age.
I reached the pinnacle
Of cynical,
When the stereotypical
Behavior became “hypocritical.”
And I became one of them.
A ribbon wearing,
Orange skinned,
Man whose sinned
As I preach the wisdom
I find in my dimmed mind.
I swear,
As far as it goes,
My nose
Could beat Pinnochio’s.
I throw
My words to the wind,
Hoping they’ll land somewhere they belong.
But until then, I’ll be hiding in the throng.
In hollowed, hateful hideaways.
Hibernating from judgement,
Avoiding the limelight,
‘Til my eavesdropping ears hear
An opportunity to shine.
Track Name: Track 6) Fox Pajamas
Life is a dream.
It must be if we can solve most of our math problems by,
Simply, moving numbers to the opposite side
of the equal sign.
But my dreams are stories to tell,
And I have a story to tell.


I’m walking in my state of dream.
In this figment of my imagination,
Where I can say “beam me up scotty”.
And soon I’m flying in some particle beam,
Admiring this stream
Of consciousness.
And I’m floating downstream
Midstream
Of the main stream
Of this mainstream
In my daydream.
With the sun beam
Changing the color scheme
Of the coal seams.
In this dream, everyone dresses supremely,
Embracing the new founded ancien regime,
And steam
Rises through the jet stream,
Crashing into the main city, agleam
With the lights of the people deemed
Worthy enough to be a part of this dream.
Like you...

Under the purple street light, you stand,
Hands
In pockets.
Locket around your neck,
You stand atop the promenade deck
Of a passenger ship.
I throw down a bargaining chip,
I want to take a gamble on you.
I wanna make a move
Prove to you
That gamblers can be true.
Your eyes are blue.
You’re wearing fox pajamas,
And your name is new.
You look like the kind of person that doesn’t have to try hard to be U-nique.

In this dream,
Where I am able to actually speak sensical words to you.
Where I can listen to your stories and speak my thoughts,
Where I can inject your love into my bloodstream.
Where my heart is yours to beseem…
In this teen scene,
The dream machine follows our heartbeats.
The craziest figures I can think
Of scream obscene
Things so we can laugh about whatever scheme
Went through their heads.
Just you and me
Tip-toeing over the city on a balance beam.
Blue eyes agleam,
Reflecting the rays of the moonbeam…
Can you see what I see?
The extreme imagery
Of fishes at the bream
Reaching new heights,
Jumping from their sea stream,
We stand on the promenade deck…
Together…

My hands in your pocket,
Locket around our necks.
In this dream where this possibility can feel like reality
Until light cracks the dark screen,
Opening the first scene of a new day
Where you are nowhere to be seen…

No…
NO!
Don’t wake me up!
It’s not just because I’m comfortable in the ninja turtle snuggie…
It’s because dreams allow us to do the things we could never do as human beings
In this reality,
And in reality,
We can never stand on the promenade deck…
Because there’s a locket around your neck.
There are hands in your pocket,
And a gleam in your eyes, not from the moonbeams…
But from the reflection of someone who’s wet dreams
Require you to take of those fox pajamas…
I love seeing you in thos fox pajamas…
It’s not because I don’t want to embrace my day,
Walking around campus with headphones in,
Spotting you with him
And thinking about the adventures we’ve lead
When you were in my head,
Stuck...
It’s because I, like many others, am scared of what I’ll see when I wake up…
Track Name: Track 7) We are All Just Happy-Sad People
I know what happy is.
Happy is to be excited about an event.
Happy is to be behind the lens of a camera.
Happy is to forget about problems.
I know what sad is.
Sad is to be distant.
Sad is to realize that your film will never be completed.
Sad is to suddenly remember what problems are.
I know Manic Depressive.
Manic is to be happy.
Depressive is to be sad.
Manic Depressive.

Manic depression is the formal term for bipolar.
Your episodes of happiness are confined to 2 seasons because the other two are spent on your episodes of sadness.
I’m a maniac.
I’m crazy to be happy right now,
But I understand that she thinks it’s depressing to see me down.
Manic depression.
I’m soooo glad you said you could make it today!
I made sure to save you two tickets to watch my films on the big screen for the first time and-
Oh. Oh, I understand…
Do what you have to do.
I’ll see you some other time.
Okay, bye.
Who are you if this situation isn’t representative of your life?
Being alive means we’re participating on this roller coaster, we had no choice but to get on,
Flowing up and down and people are loving it until they realize that there’s no way off.
The roller coaster ends and all you can do is recollect vague moments,
Blurry rememberings of when you were upside down,
Flashing your ass to whatever God you believe in,
And screaming something about how if you were to die right now,
the adrenaline would give pain and problems a day off.
Maniac.

Mania symptoms include periods of elevated mood or irritation.
When experiencing a manic episode, you’ll have high energy levels with reduced need for sleep.
Depression symptoms include feeling sad, low energy, low motivation, or loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities.
In other words, life.

Fact: When you’re a manic depressive, a common behavioral symptom is your increased desire for sex.
Maybe that’s why women are always talking about guys thinking with the wrong head.
Because they’re all just happy-sad people.
Fact: A common health trait is that you feel excess sleepiness.
Maybe that’s why teenagers are always so tired and adults are constantly nagging about curfews.
Because they’re all just happy-sad people.
Fact: A cognitive symptom is lack of concentration.
It’s when phones are leaving impressions.
They satisfy our depressions.
But they don’t allow us true confessions,
To depart from our obsessions.
Ask Siri how you can disconnect from your phone, and amidst the wikipedia definition, she’s really saying,
“Why would you ever want to get rid of me? I’m your only friend.
Quick! A notification from instagram, twitter, and snapchat, which one will you answer first?”
We’re maniacs being manic,
And that makes us happy-sad people.

7 Billion Happy-Sad people.
Diagnosed by life as manic depressives and the only treatments available are antipsychotics and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.
If we can’t even spread love in the air we breath, how could we expect to give 7 billion people everything they need to cure

That’s what life is like.
A series of ups and downs, happy and sad.
And eventually it flips us upside down and tells us to re-asses our new situations, but doesn’t give us enough time to process that our organs might fall out of the gap in our heads.
If we’re not careful, our hearts could hit the pavement too soon and we’ll never find the lost things we were looking for.
And then we’ll just be sad.
I guess if it’s how people wanna feel, who am I to disagree.
Sad me.
Sad… I’ve failed.
I’ve failed on something else and I’m so sad.
I don’t just write apologies, I scream them because I want you to understand how distraught I am that I’ve failed you…
I’m sorry…

No.
That’s not what we do!
Life isn’t a set track.
We are not set in our ways,
Only born to plummet to our deaths screaming our heads off.
We look for high points every chance we get and when we find them, we rejoice!
We are HAPPY-SAD people!
I can’t stress that enough!
We refund insults to anyone who beats us down,
By showing them that life continues and if you dwell on hate
soon you’ll be living in a world of sad people, population you.
I write happy-sad poems because I’m a manic depressive living the life of a manic depressive.
I scribe what I see in this familiar world and recycle it as art to speak to happy sad people getting chills in their seats.
Let’s end life with a bang!
Our roller coasters aren’t gonna slow down for the obstacles that get in the way,
And if we crash before we reach the station, we’ll gear up for round two.
Strap on our helmets to prevent our hearts from hitting the pavement too soon.
We need to understand that because not everyone can get the antipsychotics and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, the universe is helping us realize that we don’t need to swallow pills of truth to enjoy the ride.
We get high off of each other, drinking experiences like there’s a row of shot glasses and a bar full of people cheering you on.
The best therapists you need are licensed only to you as the people whose shoulders you can cry on.
So, let waterfalls get soaked up by the support of a friend or partner or teacher or adult or depressed donkey for all I care!
They’re here to remind you that even though you feel like your depressive episodes will never end, they’ll only last for 2 seasons before getting renewed by the manic ones.
You may not be done,
But hold in there.
Count down to one.
Three… Two… One…

Take your life and add a flare.
Take your heart and choose to wear
It on your sleeve.
When people stare,
They wanna share
The thoughts you have sitting in times square.
When your girl’s having an affair
And they think you don’t care.
But it’s not because you don’t care.
You’re just on the front lines for psychological warfare!
It’s a flair
to realize that if you care
Too much, you’re fighting someone who isn’t there.
It’s getting nowhere.
So spare
The tear
In your heart.
Play fanfare
When she walks out the door and stare
As she gets in the car with Rick…
Man, that Rick! What a… jerk.
It’s unfair that your manic episodes went by quickly, but hang in there.
Life is a dream, embrace your nightmares.
Soon enough, you’re gonna get there.
Be Happy… Be Sad… and you’re gonna get anywhere.
Track Name: Track 8) The Laughing Girl
Our world is awesome.
Awesome like a black bear doing back flips on jet skis.
Our world is beautiful.
Beautiful like the moment she walked out of the door on Prom night,
and she looked like Cinderella.
Our world is mysterious.
Mysterious like the trees that curl up in the shadows,
Fighting the sunshine wanting them to stand tall above all that try cutting them down.
Our world… is what we make of it.
Do we choose to see this world as a five year old or a twenty-five year old
Who’s only heard of its beauty,
Piecing things together through the reflection of the little black mirror that is his smart phone.


It’s a flower that’s taken 4.5 Billion years to blossom,
And it’s still growing.
We are the pollen.
Where every so often a busy bee will swoop up a few of us and spread us throughout the galaxy,
And we become stars.
And we grant wishes to the people that we love,
From night skies above.
And we pray that they’ll notice us for once.


It’s similar to why islands are never lonely.
Because they’re touching ocean water and ground,
Floating around like my head laying on your stomach.
I love to feel the breath in your body.
Your stomach inflating and deflating,
Your lungs pushing your ribcage through your skin,
And I love how beautiful that is.
An island on the sea, knowing the Earth is alive because the waves are flowing endlessly.


Our world is tasteful.
Tasteful like your tea stained lips,
Salty from potato chips.
Saucy from the pizza we made
During our last movie date.
When, before Prom, we went to dinner,
And the waitress asked me “soup or salad?”
And I responded “Yes. Caesar, please.”
Because I thought she said Super Salad.
And I swear, when we first kissed that night,
I could taste a little “super salad” on your lips.
The way you tasted salt in the air from the ocean breeze
As you tried taking pictures of a sea anemone.


You have earned a staple in my life as “The Laughing Girl”,
Because we laughed… a lot.
We laughed even when we shouldn’t have.
When times were depressive and the manic episodes just weren’t coming fast enough.
You made me realize how awesome it is to laugh at nothing at all.
You laughed when I said, “You have such pretty eyes.”
Because it was too cheesy for you to handle.
But your eyes are something spectacular.
And along the line when I’ve become pollen in the air,
A star in the night sky,
I’ll look down and see a twinkle and know that your beautiful blue eyes are reflecting our memories,
Screening them against the sky like a movie projector.
Allowing me to rewatch and relive these memories through you…
If that were possible...
And maybe it will be, but right now, you’re just a staple in my life,
“The Laughing Girl”.


If breakup poems are defined by the use of,
“I gave everything to you and you threw it all away.”
Then this is not a breakup poem,
Because that’s not what happened at all.
I gave you everything,
And you gave me everything in return.
That’s just the truth.
Because for every cheesy paragraphs or promposal I offered you,
You gave back memories and smiles and so many other things.
You reminded me that I’ll be free and gone soon
And I’ll finally lay to rest, that rat costume.
The wall will be far behind me,
As I run into this infinite universe
Not even realizing that the sky is slanted and I’m actually running uphill.
I am not just an Average Jos anymore!
No more standards to live by!
Because you’ve helped me cut all ties,
Leave clues of my existence scrawled on bathroom stalls.
Running until I finally wake up in pajamas and float around galaxies of artificial light.
Everyone says I need to satisfy my happy-sad mind,
But you convinced me to abandon them completely in the world John Hughes left behind.
I’ve left epistles on sticky notes thanking the people who’ve influenced me the most,
With no abbreviations, because I want to show people how much time I have for them.
And next to those notes lay 500 faces, because with you, I will always be 100% me.
I know you want me to run...
But bad times are on the way, and if you think I’ll abandon you now,
Think again.
Understand…
It’s far from over, my friend.
Track Name: Track 10) 500 Faces
Don’t be a Johnny.
This is the best advice I can give you.
I first heard these three words from my mother at church,
When she leaned over to my silent sister and whispered this phrase that got me thinking,
What does that even mean?
Urbandictionary states,
Johnny - Definition 1) Gallant and courteous, like an ideal knight.
Definition 2) Someone with a special charm or allure that inspires allegiance and devotion.
Definition 3) One of, if not THE coolest person you’ll ever meet.
Definition 4) The most interesting man in the room.
Definition 5) The street name for a condom as used in the sentence,
“I slapped on a Johnny and rammed her all night long.”
I guess that’s me.
The walking condom.


If you asked who I think I am, I’d say,
“I don’t know. I haven’t been able to keep up with myself these days.”
Because I hang out with (roughly) 499 people and I have 499 different faces and catchphrases for the people I’m with.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “imitation is suicide”.
If this is the case, then I’ve killed myself 499 times over to fit in with people I can’t even remember the names of sometimes.
I’ve memorized the lines to say to each person, what gets them excited and gives me permission to be tagged in their instagram photos with a caption saying, “lunch with squad”.
I’ve high-fived so many people, that my hand is bruised at the end of the day, when I look at myself in the mirror and I start thinking about what people see in me.
My mother says I’m useless.
My friends say I’m amazing.
My teachers say I should live every day to inspire 7 more.
And Urbandictionary is clear on how it views a “Johnny”.
My brain says, “You’re a moderately attractive, somewhat entertaining, optimistically funny, lazy, stupid, ignorant person that might as well be called ‘the walking condom’ due to how many people you’ve fucked over you sleazy, irresponsible, no good, worthless-”.
Oh no. That’s my mother speaking speaking.






I have 499 faces, not one of them can be identified as Johnny Rome.
How is that even possible!?
I talked about how I was standing on the gallows, waiting to drop and hang.
I said I’d have a smile on my face when it happens.
But that wasn’t my smile, that’s face number 387,
A face I copied from Average Joe!
I’m plagiarizing personalities to satisfy everyone except me, and I just don’t understand!


In 6th period, I always tell Jazmin that I’ll “Eff it up”, like I’m actually going to be awesome at any point in my life.
That isn’t the case.
You ask if I care about things, and I’ll usually respond with
“I have zero fucks to give.”
But if you could hear the level of explicit syllables I spit when people have told that I’m a prodigy,
Making art out of nothing,
And changing this school I just arrived to,
You’d cringe at the amount of unnecessary F-Bombs, weaved into intelligent words and proper Grammar that I berate at myself in the bathroom mirror.


“Listen up you disgusting, abominable, abhorrent excuse for a human being.
You Harry Potter looking disgrace to everyone and everything you know and love.
If you’re an asshole, you make every other criminal deemed asshole repent.
Because they’d rather be good, changed people than be on the same level of treachery as you.
With every person’s life that you think you touch, you ruin 3 more!
Like the 3 Year Old who’s $67 birthday cake you dropped!
Think about why all of your past relationships have ended.
And what about the poetic girl? You asked her to wait, and there she was.
Waiting! For 4 years!
Remember the freshman that played guitar last year?
You promised her a heart, completely intact,
And you gave hers back with a break in it.
And unluckily for you, she didn’t get the warranty.
Hare dare you think of yourself before everybody else?
You’re selfish.
You have no overzealous
Behavior towards the people that show selfless
Care for you.
There’s no way to replenish
The love from people you’ve done elfish things to.
Your sarcastic remarks close hearts to the only people that ever wanted to be around you.
You’ve playfully rolled your eyes to avoid normal greetings from people, pretending like you don’t care.
But deep down, you REALLY don’t care.
What’s the matter with you!?
You’re a thoughtless,
Heartless,
Fortress that forfeits,
All love.
Remorseless to the people around you,
You cruel bastard.
You’re an advocate
For bad behavior.
Please articulate
Your thoughts in this poem
So you can indicate
To everyone why they should not like you the way they have been.”


So you can see my dilemma when I get the sixth definition of my name from a friend.
Johnny - Definition 6) The sweetest, most caring, down-to-earth guy you could meet.
He has the most gorgeous brown eyes and a smile that can brighten your day in seconds.
When you’re bothered or upset, he’ll know and he’ll be there to help.
He’ll remind you constantly of how beautiful you are…
He’s not your average guy.
He doesn’t realize how special he is, which is a shame,
So it’s up to you to show him.
He's a one of a kind human being with so much talent, not only will he do what you ask, but he’ll take it to the next level.
A level you never would have known even existed without him.
If you find yourself a Johnny, then you’re one lucky person.
This definition is used mostly for the sentence,
“Have you ever met a Johnny? Well, if you haven’t, then you’re missing out.”
An epistle on a sticky note…














Don’t be a Johnny.
Don’t loathe yourself to the point where your mirrors best be covered up by pictures of all of the people you’d rather be than you.
Don’t be uncomfortable in your own skin when your mind tells you to be.
Be a Johnny.
Be a Johnny in the sense where you should be gallant and courteous like a knight.
Someone with a special charm or allure that inspires allegiance and devotion.
One of, if not THE coolest person anyone will ever meet.
The most interesting human in the room.
And someone that your friend thinks is deserving of an epistle on a sticky note
Telling you you’re one of the greatest friends they’ve ever had.
Like you’re a man in a bodysuit of ink, gathering his family in his arms,
Tell yourself “I’ve made so many mistakes. But these people make me feel like I’ve been a saint.”
“I love them for that.”
If you do that, maybe…
Just maybe…
Your 500th face will be tailor made for you.


I am Jonathan Pierce Rome.
I thank the mistakes I used to regret, because they led me here,
Rigorously typing these poems.
Jonathan Pierce Rome!
If that name means the man with 500 faces,
Then I will display all 500 of my faces, gallantly and courteously.
500 Faces ranging from “bored in class” to “walking condom”.
If this is who I am meant to be,
Well then who am I to disagree?
Track Name: Track 11) Epistles on Sticky Notes
Dear… You (Whoever you are),
This is an epistle.
An epistle on sticky notes.
Written by me,
Presented to you as you find it in some strange place.
Maybe in your locker?
Your shoe?
Anywhere except you inboxes and DMs.


I hope you’ll be able to understand what I’m saying
despite the lack of visual cues
most others will use
when they don’t know what they’re saying
But they want you to understand anyway…
Anyway…
I’m writing this because I saw you crying once.
Crying about some guy that broke your heart over text.
Using emojis to beg for your forgiveness and eternal friendship,
As he slides into some other girl’s DM.
So you wished that guys could go back to being how they were.
Slicking back their hair.
Combs in their pockets.
Filmstock in lockets
Around your necks.
The cold metal leaving an impression just above the heart.
And he’s staring at those eyes of yours,
Admiring your full beauty as he slips you his sportsman jacket.
You guys sit in some convertible under moonlight and the stars have reached their full potential.
At least in those times, if he were to break up with you over a letter,
He’d get cramps writing his excuses down.
So, here’s a letter.
An epistle written on sticky notes.








I got this idea from an old friend of mine.
This dancer behind a clipboard.
Whenever I was having a bad day, I’d somehow find a sticky note in the strangest places.
Like behind the button on my camera strap.
Or in my shoes when I asked her to watch my bag for a minute.
I swear, she’s put sticky notes everywhere but the tea she brought me every morning when I was sick.
Each one had an inside joke to compliment the compliments she wrote to me.
Things like, “I can’t tell you how much I’ll miss you next school year.
Just remember we’ll always be together... in the Twilight Zone”.
We both loved The Twilight Zone.
She penned the same messages that fifth graders would pen to someone they might like,
Despite their major cooties.
But she did so in a way where it related to us.
It related to this weird friendship we had, where we sat in the dark watching “Arsenic in the Laces” while our peers watched “Annabelle”.
Every time I’d try being sneaky, she’d call me out.
I’d ask how she knows and she’d simply respond with,
“Because you’re hitting high C’s with your voice.”
I remember every time I doubted myself, she listened to me rant about what a terrible person I am.
And when I was done, there’d be a note in my shoe the next day.
Reminding me that even if I don’t think I fit into this world, we’d still see each other…
in the Twilight Zone.


I wish I had something more personal to say.
I wish I could guarantee your protection from the world,
Or my friendship, should you accept it, being a prescription for your happiness.
I can’t quite do that yet.
But there are a couple of things you should know.
That you can get up.
You can take a breath.
That way, you’ll never let death
Get the better of you.
You’ll strengthen yourself.
And if you don’t think you have any left,
Wish for it.
The stars are waiting with a pen and pad,
Just notice them,
Just know…


You are not worthless.
You are not a disgrace.
If you looked up ugly on Google,
Be prepared to find pages upon pages of the souls of people saying
“You’ll never amount to anything.”
You’re nowhere to be found under that tag,
So stop saying that you are ugly.
You’re fantastic.
Dare I say it,
You’re swagalicious.
If you’re hearing me right now,
That’s the only way I can describe how amazing you are.
Because amazing is too average a word to use, I need to use a made up one.
That makes you extraordinary.
Now, get off your ass and do something swagalicious-ly.
Make the world extraordinary.


You’re armed with this amazing tool called your voice, don’t be afraid to use it.
There will be times where it doesn’t sound like much, but I swear,
If life were a basketball game, this would be the pair
of magic Jordans you’d climb a telephone wire for.
I understand life is not just an underdog team
getting the winning streak
in the last 15 minutes of a sports movie.
But life grants you access to so much more when you speak.
And if you’re too sad to do so, be sad.
A Josh Gad stunt double said, “Take your time to be sad. In a way, you’ve earned it.”
Endure it.
Because life is manic depressive and time moves way too fast,
Your time is almost here, and if you don’t believe me, ask Albert Einstein.
Treat every minute in life like Einstein’s comment on relativity is true.
Like it’s the only motto you ever knew.
Because, you know, life will go by in a flash.
Don’t just dash
To the door, take your time.
Be rash
In your decisions.
Use these choices to Slash
Scars into your mind,
And Gnash
Your teeth at the time trickling slowly down to remind you to speed your ass up.
Give whiplash to those who doubted you,
Passing out umbrellas because they’re in the splash zone,
And, honey, you’ll be making a splash.


People may be vastly more interesting when you don’t quite know them,
But I want to know you.
I want to understand.
It’s a risk I’m willing to take,
Because Atlantis won’t seem as cool once we find out where it is,
But I’ve got this rare feeling that you’re much cooler than Atlantis will ever be.
To sum it up,
You’re reading this epistle on a sticky note right now because I don’t know you,
But I think you’re pretty damn cool.
Make sure everyone else knows that too.


Here’s to many more poems and epistles on sticky notes.
Here’s to whatever happens between you and me,
Whether we
Get involved in ways no one can understand,
Or if after I lend a hand you decide that guys are fine just the way they are.
Whatever happens…
I’ll be here…
Writing...


Love Always,
Rome.
Track Name: (BONUS) Happenstance - LIVE
Attention​ ​all​ ​potential​ ​females,
I​ ​am​ ​single.
That’s​ ​right.
Single,​ ​Pringle
Ready​ ​to​ ​mingle.
Ready​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​tingles
Again.
Pins​ ​and​ ​needles
Again.
A​ ​man
With​ ​a​ ​plan
That​ ​spans
X​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​time
Holding​ ​your​ ​hand.
When​ ​it’s​ ​cold​ ​outside,
Use​ ​my​ ​jacket​ ​to​ ​hide
From​ ​the​ ​winds​ ​of​ ​the​ ​west
Until​ ​sunshine
Brings​ ​out​ ​that​ ​smile
Of​ ​yours.
Every​ ​day,
I’ll​ ​stare​ ​into​ ​those​ ​eyes
Of​ ​yours.

Of​ ​course,
I’ll​ ​be​ ​cautious​ ​of​ ​the
Gravitational​ ​force​ ​pulling​ ​us​ ​together.
But​ ​hoarse
My​ ​voice​ ​will​ ​be,
Screaming​ ​about​ ​us​ ​from
The​ ​top​ ​of​ ​every​ ​hillside.
They’ll​ ​know,​ ​worldwide,
When​ ​our​ ​two​ ​worlds​ ​collide.
We’re​ ​two​ ​Oxygens​ ​making​ ​dioxide.
Allied
On​ ​this​ ​ride
Down​ ​the​ ​seaside.
This​ ​guy​ ​from​ ​the​ ​East​ ​side,
Flaunting​ ​you​ ​around​ ​town​ ​with​ ​pride.
And​ ​I’ll​ ​abide
Because​ ​who​ ​am​ ​I
To​ ​deny
You​ ​what​ ​you​ ​deserve.
You​ ​deserve…
To​ ​know​ ​who​ ​I​ ​am.

Let’s​ ​see...
You’d​ ​dig​ ​me
If​ ​you​ ​dig​ ​guys​ ​that​ ​work​ ​at​ ​Chuck​ ​E.​ ​Cheese.
That’s​ ​right,
I’m​ ​the​ ​dancing​ ​rat.
A​ ​damn​ ​good​ ​one,​ ​at​ ​that.
In​ ​fact,
In​ ​theater​ ​camp​ ​I​ ​learned​ ​how​ ​to​ ​tap​ ​dance
Like-
Rata-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-tap​ ​dance.
And​ ​I​ ​confess
That​ ​I​ ​look​ ​DAMN
Good​ ​in​ ​wedges​ ​and​ ​a​ ​strapless.
Dressed
To​ ​impress
You.
No​ ​need​ ​to​ ​stress,
I’ll​ ​be​ ​there​ ​to​ ​caress
Your​ ​beating​ ​heart.
Put​ ​your​ ​hand​ ​on​ ​my​ ​chest,
Feel​ ​mine​ ​beating​ ​too,
Boom…​ ​boom…​ ​boom…
Though​ ​I​ ​can​ ​sense
My​ ​chances
Becoming​ ​less​ ​and​ ​less…

I​ ​know​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​fat​ ​chance
To​ ​assume​ ​that​ ​a​ ​dancing​ ​rat
Could​ ​provide​ ​you​ ​with​ ​any​ ​sort​ ​of​ ​romance.
So​ ​I​ ​ask​ ​in​ ​advance
To​ ​take​ ​you​ ​on​ ​a​ ​date
With​ ​a​ ​freelance​ ​poet.
Because​ ​I​ ​have​ ​romance​ ​to​ ​give
And​ ​I’ll​ ​show​ ​it
In​ ​my​ ​words​ ​to​ ​you.
Please,​ ​give​ ​me​ ​that​ ​fat​ ​chance.

I’m​ ​a​ ​cook​ ​and​ ​clean​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​guy.
A​ ​walk​ ​around​ ​the​ ​park​ ​kinda​ ​guy.
A​ ​prom​ ​night​ ​slow​ ​dance,
Believer​ ​in​ ​happenstance,
Week​ ​stay,
Vay-Cay
In​ ​France​ ​kinda​ ​guy.
I
Can​ ​use​ ​the​ ​first​ ​42​ ​numbers​ ​of​ ​pi
As​ ​a​ ​pick​ ​up​ ​line.
Like
“I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​seeing​ ​us​ ​like​ ​Pi
Continues​ ​its​ ​numbers.
Like,
3.1415926535
89793
23846
26423
82379
50288
41971
Continuous.
That’s​ ​how​ ​bad​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to
Continue​ ​seeing​ ​us.”

See,​ ​I​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​any​ ​sex​ ​appeal,
Which​ ​probably​ ​doesn’t​ ​make​ ​me​ ​your
Ideal​ ​man.
But​ ​my​ ​words​ ​are​ ​unreal,
Like​ ​the​ ​feeling​ ​I​ ​get
With​ ​you​ ​by​ ​my​ ​side,
It’s​ ​surreal…
But​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​so​ ​real…
Because​ ​I​ ​can​ ​talk​ ​a​ ​good​ ​game​ ​from​ ​here.
But​ ​I​ ​can​ ​never​ ​really​ ​be​ ​clear
About​ ​​how​ ​​I​ ​will​ ​love​ ​you.
Because​ ​the​ ​English​ ​language​ ​hasn’t​ ​made​ ​words
That​ ​quite​ ​fit​ ​the​ ​intensity​ ​of​ ​my​ ​feelings.

The​ ​truth​ ​is,
I​ ​can​ ​cook​ ​for​ ​you,
But​ ​I’d​ ​rather​ ​cook​ ​WITH​ ​you.
And​ ​if​ ​you​ ​aren’t​ ​up​ ​for​ ​it,
Just​ ​think.
You,
Me,
156​ ​episodes​ ​of
The​ ​Twilight​ ​Zone​ ​on​ ​DVD.
Cuddling…
Breathing…
Leaning​ ​on​ ​each​ ​other,
And​ ​you’re​ ​wearing​ ​my​ ​jacket.
Not​ ​because​ ​it’s​ ​cold,
But​ ​because​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​know
That​ ​I’ve​ ​always​ ​got​ ​a​ ​hold
Of​ ​you.
I​ ​won’t​ ​want​ ​to​ ​let​ ​go.
So​ ​we’ll​ ​spend​ ​75​ ​hours​ ​of
The​ ​Twilight​ ​Zone
With​ ​your​ ​head​ ​on​ ​my​ ​forearm.
We’re​ ​completely​ ​vulnerable.
Disarm​ ​our​ ​defenses.
In​ ​that​ ​moment,​ ​I’d​ ​think,
Karma​ ​can’t​ ​be​ ​that​ ​bad​ ​if​ ​it​ ​gave​ ​me​ ​you...
And​ ​I​ ​think​ ​that’s​ ​beautiful.
The​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​you
And​ ​me
Linked.
Embracing​ ​the​ ​distinct
Feelings​ ​we​ ​have
For​ ​each​ ​other…
And​ ​the​ ​world​ ​will​ ​revolve
Around​ ​a​ ​freelance​ ​poet
Meeting​ ​a​ ​“take-a-chance”​ ​girl
Through​ ​happenstance.