21.

prompt: incorporate overheard speech

he says he’s going blind and that
the fluid has reached capacity
i remember
how he looked with a blindfold
eyes searching fruitlessly beneath
the undulations of fabric
he remembers
how it felt to be scared

we got sick last night
at the same time
it was a national holiday that we threw ourselves into
i missed an interview
she missed her grandmother
it was a long journey back to daylight
chicken wings
black coffee

my father texted me sometime between
midnight
and the present
mixed french and english patois
all variations on the same theme,
i love you, i love you
i love you

in the middle of the dawn i looked at my chest
i traced the contours of the bones that are protruding
i cancelled invitations
i planned my escape

-C.

12.

we smoked pot at the sol lewitt exhibit
we took casual, lurking huffs in the children’s section
this was after we began to understand
that the art was painstakingly reproduced by drafters
and that coffee cost $7 and change.
i like to believe our vapors disintegrated in the room
blooming with the scent of fresh paint and carved wood
body odor and fresh grilled meat
and co-mingled where we were planted in front of grids
mixed with the molecules of paint
no fingerprints
no footprints

en route
driving slowly
we stopped at the moose statue
whispering to trees, ‘you put your roots down in the wrong place,’
knifing cheese
victorinox
fun dad, i still didn’t tell him the truth

-C.

11; for early, for late.

faulty prescription, two pills down.
I used to blame a lot on these suckers.
I don’t make a fuss,
I’m that kind of guy.
so I used to wander in an apartment that always looked bigger
when I was high,
so I used to see the old things change,
purple bruise of the sky undresses me
to a pale pink thing as the sun rises.
that sorry hour of night when packages aren’t moving, I
sit in a soma and stew, waiting.
coiled,
there was always a moment in the meets
the meets I no longer see
the cheers that fade from my view
there was always a moment where
before the sweat and blood ate the chalk into your body
you considered the possibility of failure
or maybe that’s just me
heaviness rooting you to the ground
mortality
or just mortal
makes me want to rip the quiet from the floor,
back into my head again.

-C.

10. On the other cats.

baby boy listens to polka on sunday mornings,
b-sides by the shangri-las at night.
in the room,
a night-light casts a private moon along the world.
each plaintive cry suggests the truth;
that we like baby less,
or even
that we never liked baby at all.

he lacks the sentience to know
he is a placeholder, to know

the sorrow that birthed him to us on a crisp october day.
baby boy knows,

he waits.
baby steps, baby cries.
a small whine in a world of silence.
baby will listen to gospel in the meantime.
The oldies will blast, still,
when the house is empty.

little mama tells lies through her skeleton,
she trusts when she slinks.
she sits and watches as if

impossible to hold her cards so close to her breast.
gravity has given mama a tautness on top;
belly at the bottom.

in this revelation of movement, ever deliberate,
I know I resent her the most.
she curls in old familiar places, lacking
the weight and truth of my companionship.

she loves me bluntly;
i return
her affections, unopened,
disregarded,
redeemed.

-C.

9.

options well beyond the end:
the new york housing authority
adopting a dog; teaching on the side
trying again
learning to code like all the others
learning to cope
visit loved ones, beg harder;
envision the next nap
settling, settling, settling

-C.

on learning new information.

Here’s some fucked up shit; Bunk died in January after a long and illustrious history of looking the same as he did in middle school, witty Looney Tunes tees and all. He killed himself, and I didn’t even find out until three months later that he had two kids and a wife and a storied past of drug charges. Disturbing the peace.

His wife is someone who grew up like us, but not near us. I see myself in the same blurry tan throwback-to-your-decade and constant soul-searching but damn it, I don’t know her. Two kids and a wife. He drew for them constantly. Bunk liked to draw.

In the fourth grade, he had monster keychains, and he gave me one. It was a two-headed dog. Bunk always said hello to me in the hallways. Bunk and I went to a birthday party once and watched the Three Stooges and made friendship necklaces on Nick’s stepmom’s old couch and black and white television. They let me stay until the sleepover. I mean,

you understand, right?

One time I was sitting in a bar well on the other side of the country all alone, listening to ‘Night Moves’. Somewhere around that time, so was he, dancing with his daughter. There’s a video. I don’t know why I looked him up; probably just to confirm that one of the constants of my perpetually running narrative was still normal and not a side effect of a memory I typically question the accuracy of; but he wasn’t, it was gone.

Bunk’s gone. It doesn’t affect me like it affects the others; after all, if I’d wanted to, if I’d cared, maybe I would have said something.

I’m staggered at how little it mattered, though. The first from our high school class. The first to never see the end of our long hometown; the first, never the last. Nobody said a word.

-C.

7&8

7.

items lost and found

I keep watching stupid, stupid shit- recipe videos on an endless loop, the sun pass through the windows,
job applications as the windows slowly pass.
tracking numbers.
small, random objects that do not age like I do.
In the back of the fridge,
on top of the sofa,
underneath my pants; I am furiously cleaning, wrecking, allowing.
when I was about eight I lost a pair of aquamarine and diamond earrings in the backyard.
glinting like easter eggs
memorials of my aunt doris.
sometime last year I lost my cat
I know where she is; the fact does not change that she is still,
gone.
twenty dollars on the ground bought laura hydrangeas and tickets to the laramie project.
a rolled-up wad of euros nestled in between cobblestones licked confidence down my throat to leave for deserts vast.

8.

repetition

they say, draw it in upside down,
pinch taut, move swiftly.
when I push it in I think of Emily every time.
when it separates molecules of skin, I think,
there is my name, my birth, my death, my blood changing and moving
beneath the surface
beneath the rest.
they told me to draw with one and change it,
dullness can be impacted down to a molecular level.
Nate told me to call him if I need anything,
anything,
anything in the world at all.
I’m afraid to ask, for fear that I will receive.
The emails are in my inbox,
drawn, not sent.
The letters have been typed; dictated, not read.
Cocked, stocked, and drawn.

-C.