Shortcomings

A bittersweet poem from the author to his childhood best friend.


*Trigger warning for Mental Illness.


Illustration by Romina Badiei (Graphic designer, The Continuist)


By Aodhán Campbell (he/him, IG: @aodhan.soup)

Content Creator: Poetry, The Continuist


Growing up with disability

Meant being ostracised.

Like part of an equation

Everyone collectively parenthesised

And set aside as a problem

To be solved at a later point in time.

Nobody but you

Ever got around to it.

You were the best friend I’ll ever have

Before I ever even knew it.


I’ve known you since I was younger,

More feeble

And completely hopeless

When it came to talking with other people.

We first met in kindergarten,

Playing running games.

Well, evading playing running games.

You found my hiding spot during tag.

I kicked you out.

For me, as good a start to friends as any.


You still are my best friend.

That much hasn’t changed.

When I say that you’re my best friend,

I don’t mean to say

That I think we’re best friends.

I know better than anyone

That that isn’t true.

You’re my best friend.

I missed my chance

To be that to you.


I have tried so many times

And in so many ways

Through nights I haven’t slept at all

And more days than I care to say

To write a poem about you.

I’ve never finished one,

The words fall short,

The way I truly feel description defying.

They fall so far short of what I really mean,

That it feels like I’m lying.


Even now, the words fall short.


How can I begin to say it?

I’ve felt it since we were kids

When your face

First found it’s permanent place

Traced on the insides of my eyelids.

I wish more than anything

That I could bear my heart

To bridge the distance we’ve grown apart.

I’ve missed you.

I guess that’s an alright start.


But the words fall short.


You used to write me notes.

Motivational quotes

And cute little drawings

You drew for me by hand

When I was the only kid

Whose company

Was never in demand.

I still have those notes all these years later.

You don’t remember making them,

But they mean the world to me.


No, those words fall short.


On my fifteenth birthday

You gave me a gift

Of fifty origami stars.

As I unfolded each one,

Written inside

Was something to love about me.

More things to love

Than I could then have conceived of,

Enormously raising the bar

For best gift I’d ever received.


And still, those words fall short.


You helped me brave

Terrifying unknowns.

You made sure I knew

That I was never alone.

You showed me

The first real kindness I’d known.

And I wasted your good grace,

Taking for granted

That I’d ever had so dear a friend

In the first place.


The words fall too damn short.


The three years since I’ve seen you have been okay.

I’m a lot happier now and I get by fine.

But you asked me out for drinks the other day

And I lost my fucking mind.

In a good way, I should say.

And I think I know now

Why I’ve never finished

A poem about my best friend.

I couldn’t stand to tell that story

While it still had a bitter end.


There were no words.


But after everything, you want to grab drinks.


My heart sings at it

And aches most pleasantly.

My eyes sting at it

And in fact sting a little presently.

Although none ever do,

I wish you knew the light you bring.

Again,

And like I once did,

The words fall so terribly, terribly short.

But, yeah.


Drinks.


I’d really like that.