After Oliver de La Paz


1.     Do you have unusual trouble staying focused on completing a task? Does it take you longer than it should to complete them?


Even at equilibrium,               

I am, like an electron,             

Racing towards escape velocity.

I move so fast—blink

And you’ll miss me.


At equilibrium,

I am, like a rocket,

Thrust into space

a place with no air,

a place proclaimed to be

 the (almost) perfect vacuum


And yet, here I float.


My thoughts in pieces

My soul in shambles


        And yet,

 I still float.


2.      Do you often leave things half done before starting something else?


You wouldn’t think dust moves around in space,

(because there’s no air)

But astronauts have seen dust traveling from the moon

To the stars, and then back down to the moon again.


3.     Do people often complain that you don’t seem to listen when spoken to?


The sound of your voice dissipates on contact,

But the image of a raindrop sliding off a leaf,

Of ice crystals interlocking limbs on a windowpane,

Of your spit stretching across the length of your lips—  

Stitches threatening to unstitch—

Will last until the next synaptic kiss.


4.     Do you often feel overly active and compelled to do things? (“driven by a motor”)


My mind is never quiet; it darts, and it races.

It dances to a soundtrack of its own—a cacophony of compulsions

And static


At night when I ease out of my body,

My mind continues to swim.


It wants to sing all the thoughts I have, because it doesn’t know

How to say them all, without forgetting

In the next few moments.


I rise daily with an ache so deep within my bones.


5.      Do you have trouble organizing tasks into ordered steps? Do you need someone to plan for you?


The things I want, I pull them into orbit.

An automobile, a comfortable life, a place to rest my bones

A career, a grand love, a greenhouse for bulbs—

I want them all.

So, I pull, and I pull

And I pray that it all holds,


But darling, we all know that

 Being in orbit is a state of falling,

And always missing what you’re falling towards.


6.     Do you have trouble following instructions?


Sometimes directions come on so fast.


7.     Are you easily distracted by events around you (conversation, movement?) Do you need isolation to get work done?


It’s like being in a fishbowl. You can see the life playing out in front of you, you can hear it.

You can even reach out and feel the vibrations. But you cannot participate. Because

Like a fish out of water, you were not built to withstand the weight of the world flooding in.


8.     Do you often find yourself doing something you know you shouldn’t? 


It’s kind of like your heart beating. You do it, but you don’t even know it’s happening. What is impulsiveness to you

Is just the sound of my heart beating for me. 


9.     Do you find it difficult to regulate your emotions? For example, when your emotions get the better of you, do you feel helpless?


I once fell in love with a girl

Who had hair like wildfire

And when that was done,

It nearly killed me.


10.  Do you lose things (important work papers, keys, wallet, coats, etc.) more than others? Are you constantly looking for important items?


Like a dog chasing its own tail.


11.   Do you often say things that don’t fit into a conversation? Do you give answers to questions that hasn’t been asked?


Against my advice,

She reaches into the back of her throat

To pull up anything—everything

Even ragged ruins of words


Fingers trembling

Detachment is peeling

She’s really trying


Sound horns blaring

They’re all glaring

The girl pulls up nothing—

Not even air.

Kathy Tran recently graduated from the University of Houston where she received a B.S in Psychology and a minor in Medicine and Society. She is currently working as a medical scribe in Houston, TX while she applies to medical school. Outside of her studies in the medical humanities, she enjoys bouldering, thriller movies, and spending time with her family.