I dug graves in my pockets searching for the ticket out.
“To dig one’s own grave” is an idiom that references self-destruction. According to McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, digging one’s own grave means to “be responsible for one’s own downfall or ruin.” When I think about digging through my pockets, the image generally evokes feelings of panic and despair; if I have to “dig” through my pockets to find something, it’s unlikely that I actually possess the item that I’m looking for. Ali seems to be saying that the time he spent frantically searching for a way to escape his current situation eventually led to his downfall.
Intent on escape I never noticed there was no wall.
In this line, Ali depicts a tunnel vision mindset. He seemed to be so dedicated to “escaping” that he never realized that there wasn’t anything holding them back. This speaks a lot to mindsets such as, “I would be happier if I had money,” “I would be less stressed if I dropped this class,” “My relationship wouldn’t be failing if my partner were more compassionate,” etc. In essence, people often feel held back by things that are “out of their control” but, sometimes, they’re holding themselves back. For instance, when my ADHD is making me spin out of control, I tend to feel incredibly powerless. I wonder why and how I made it into Brown with a brain that “doesn’t work”, I wonder how I’m expected to live and exist within a system that’s clearly not made for brains like mine and, ultimately, I feel like I’m trapped with no way out. So, I’ll often sit there … for hours … in a state of panic (“spinning”), as my cyclical thoughts run around inside my head. Oftentimes, I’ll talk to my ADHD coach, talk to a friend, or force myself to do work, and then I often realize that the “wall” was a byproduct of my breakdown.
I lash myself daily describing fake bondage:
Ali claims that he tells himself stories that aren’t necessarily “true”. The word “lash” can imply a lot of different actions; it’s unclear whether the lashing represents destructive thoughts, destructive actions, or a combination of both. One may also argue that the “lash” may be another way of framing the graves that Ali is digging in his pockets. The “fake bondage” seems to refer to the external “wall” that Ali mentions in the previous line, but it’s unclear whether the word “fake” refers to the non-existence of an external barrier, or whether it’s implying that internal barriers are not real forms of bondage. I believe that internal “barriers” are no less real than situational factors; in fact, one might argue that internal walls are more real than external walls, given that external walls tend to be constructs of society, whereas internal walls are, in some ways, a reflection of the self.
All the prisons and pockets, the graves in which I bury myself.
This is the first time that Ali mentions prisons. At a material level, prisons tend to be made of metal, whereas pockets are made from fabric. At a structural level, prisons have cell bars and constant surveillance, while pockets have threads and, generally, are only inspected by the people who possess them. I’m not sure if he is making a distinction between a grave in a prison and a grave in a pocket, but it seems that the prison may be a metaphor for situations that he believes cannot be controlled, whereas his pocket is a metaphor for the way he sees these situations.