I fell asleep listening to your scars like they were a lullaby for the first nine months because I was a newborn or because you seemed so innocent, a mouth that made promises your eyes couldn’t deliver, stillborn in my hands because your hands are world travelers while mine are two cups of tea waiting for you when you decide to come home.
I fell asleep listening to your scars like they were a symphony for the next nine months, keeping me up at night and muted. Staying alive through those eardrum bursters is my heart’s Vietnam; spoiler alert, not all boys come back to their parents unscathed, some are just body bags that sit down to dinner at night, and we always pull out.
I fell asleep listening to your scars like they were a static signal for the next six months, like they were broken bunny ears or words under breath. They don’t tell you everything is a once in a lifetime because your hands-pressed, creased lifeline doesn’t loop back around to when you were nineteen and she was the most beautiful girl in the world and your forevers were parallel correspondences written from adjacent prisons. You were finished months before I got the sit-down talk and wall-punches in a manila envelope slid back under the door, reading, “I am sorry, but it hurts how much I do not love you.”
I fell asleep listening to your scars like they were a car crash, a tidal wave, a back alley gunshot wound, that moment in the night when you wake up thinking about him with the noose around his neck and stepping off dining room furniture, the wailing in my ears when my breath stops the head between my knees, attack is not violent enough a word for what you did to my body, my body my body my body and me, turn the screen back on so I can finally sleep.
I fell asleep to your scars like they were silence.
I woke up to your scars still holding that boy’s hand in the morning whispering, “God oh God, thank God you are such a beautiful survivor.”
Chicago can’t handle the way I loved you, so deep and so tender; eyes as clear as boiled water, culmination in effervescence between our sighs. Don’t be callous, boy, for you the world and then some before our recession. I pick peaches in the sun while we rot each other; your skin is so bruised under my lips, less a metaphor and more a statement of how our hurts turned love sour. This is what caring can be sometimes, letting go before you learn to hate, keeping quiet about it being you or me, it was always us. The older I get the harder it is to pretend you’re untrue, but if I did it all again I’d still get too drunk and tell you I love you every night and let you hold my hand in disbelief. We don’t need to talk about this poem in your pocket.
Pictures of our waste render appendages so simple sweet. I can feel my body hair buzz; all heads swirl like lead paint when the city skyline looks too similar to your wrist . Mouths fill with plasma, red cells, rancor, reminders, time stops like a deadbeat dime when we cross those tracks to the wrong side of your bed. You have vaulted ceilings, I have all your old journals. You have two years of distance, I have a track runner’s heart. Conjoined is conditional for some but I have bear claw mark scars on my cheeks as honey-do’s. Sip red wine as you spiral, child’s toy; keep it up, we never grow old in St. Louis. Ask me why I still write, I have a good horror story somewhere on old bar napkins. Frame me like a patron saint for future blame games inside an outpatient center, from my upturned to my downtrodden to our backs holding weight. Sail smoothly through your veins.
Best if read while listening to this song.
I wrote you a love poem that got lost between here and Miami, three stamps attached to ensure safe passage and all my fingerprints to prove who I was, but I called the post master around three a.m. Tuesday morning, begging, “Please sir, halt all permissions, this girl doesn’t love me anymore.” I found these notes on the pedestal I sit upon, where you told me I was just like other boys because I could break your heart so you broke my glass jaw. I was aiming for apathy because hatred’s not your opposite but I can’t even get that right, so you can kiss my P.O. Box, lover, I am a retired carrier of broken dreams and this poem does not convey the feeling of my hand grabbing your waist subconsciously in my sleep but we have yet to invent the language to cover both of our skins, so remember me the way we were on the bus the night before you left, sitting silent in unison like a matching set of postcards sent in different directions. I am too direct with the sadness that sits in missing you but I learned from love columns in my morning coffee newspaper that girls who can’t play nice with your fragile bones aren’t the nice girls to spend nice lives with so I have written you off and hope someday my John Hancock is worth forty-three cents to you.