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Archive for October, 2014

In K.’s Room

Is a stuffed animal
like my stuffed
animal.

Is a Yann Tiersen
CD I made of only
piano interludes.

Is a collection of
my British
sonnets.

Is the ugly
flowerpot I
sculpted.

Is a fingernail
indentation above
your bed.

Is a blanket
as thin as
snow.

Is the shell
we found on
the shore.

Is an empty
pack of
cigarettes.

Is the disposable
camera we
used.

In the wrinkles
we left
behind.

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Erasure,
I am told,
is so rarely
like a natural
disaster, more
often like
subtle erosion.

Once, while riding with
an openly gay faculty
member she told me
about the way she
met her partner,
all accident and
decades later.
Encouraged, I
angled my voice
diagonal, told her
about the time I
took a boy into
my bedroom, into parts of
me without ever choosing a
moment, or a letter, or
deciding which colors
were intended for me.

(Where do the colorblind
fit in the rainbow
coalition?)

Dismissively she brought up
the work of WH Auden and
said “I guess we’re just
not sure if you’re for
real or not”.

I guess I wasn’t either.
I guess I shouldn’t be
surprised I still don’t
think any of the letters
belong with me, my first
queer peers were so quick
to tell me I wasn’t a
“real” part of the club.

Wasn’t real enough for mouths
or my own body parts or
Dan Savage columns saying
I was pretending and should
just stop it, as though
sexuality were the inside
of a soda can waiting to
be scraped out factory
style.

Sitting in the car with her,
the car she was driving home
to her partner with good eyes,
two feet to push the pedals. I
wondered why this life, the
helix of this rebirth, is
so focused on the cracks
between pavement. I know
in the 1940s gays across
Europe were forced to wear
purple triangles. I could
feel my arm burning when I
visited Germany this year.
But I also know that in
America in the early 1900s
people with disabilities
were routinely sterilized,
even euthanized, to keep
us from procreating.

When I sat in the car and
told the woman who loved women
and could drive about how I liked
men and was a man and couldn’t leave
I kept my mouth shut and wondered
what it would feel like to be
seen. Untampered with. Clean.
Caneless. Talking as myself.
No accent. Timbre. Kissing.
In the car. The car I
could drive. No more
bus. No more lies.
Just driving.
Myself.

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Oxy, xx mg.

For six of my
sentient teenage years
my father moonlit as
an extra on
The Walking Dead.

His flesh,
brain of choice,
thirteen hours
maggot mouth
passed out
in the
guest
bed room.

Once I showed
him a science project
I made of a volcano
and, unaware of his
own body, he attempted
to fall in.

Once he built
me a guitar for
music class and
sliced off the
top of his left
index knuckle and
didn’t notice until
the blood streaked.

Once he told me that
he went up to the 38th
floor of a local Wilmington
hotel and thought if I
jumped off right now
my body would never
notice.

Junkies on
The Corner
and
Law and Order
don’t look
like my
dad
looked.

Once he built a
pyramid out of
his prescription
bottles and a
shelter out of
Miller Lite cans.

Once he saw me
walking home from
school in the rain
and made a shelter
for me out of his
jacket.

Once he told me
I could make my
movies in black
and white.

In the room where
he killed himself
there were a dozen
prescription bottles.
I imagine it looked
like a fountain of
orange engulfed the
room. I imagine
the look on your face
when the upstairs
tenant found you
was some kind of
blissful silence,
the kind oxazepam,
benzodiazepans,
so much lithium
carved out of my
life like hollow
fish eye sockets
swimming in pills.

Once, on the trip
from Pennsylvania
to Indiana he was
so fucked up he
thought I was his
other son and,
just before the
car nearly missed
the guard rail, he
put his arm out
to catch me.

As though
when the car
crashed he
would have
felt a thing.

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CA/NE/IN

The clouds were so big today
big enough almost to reach
you across the continent
and split into a million
more futures for both of
us.

I was just pushing the carts
today, it was nearly sunset
and the clouds were 3,000
different pieces of light
and somehow it made me
think about things we
keep on leaving
behind.

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1998 Report Card

In first grade I
missed 20 days
of school and
still passed.

My parents,
I later realized,
were forced to take
time off work to care
for me and much of
the fighting in their
relationship dealt
with a combination
of personal and
financial pressures,
being forced to take
care of a child who
was sick nearly every
day and only grudgingly
went to class was
one of them.

I was diagnosed
as lactose intolerant
and would regularly
take pills to ensure
I could eat cheese
(which I did not like)
and ice cream sandwiches
(which I did.)

At home I would do
things like play
Pokemon and read
chapter books and
look at my dad’s
Playboy under
the couch.

At school I would
do things like try
and understand math
and think about Jenny
and learn the names
of all the kids at
each new school.

In high school I
had perfect attendance
and still had no friends
and was never really ill
and didn’t know how to
apologize to my mother
for being six years old
and throwing up on her
and not understanding that
the sound of broken dishes
in the kitchen above my
room was my father’s own
childhood acting out.

I was a healthy child playing
sick at that age and, in constant
fear of retribution, wonder at what
age I will finally become a sickly
person playing at health.

I wish there was a way to give
back every single morning I took
from them. I wish taking had not
been the first language I learned
to speak.

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(Some wavelength.)

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After 5 months
and three mornings
composed mainly
of cleaning vomit
off the carpet
in direct correlation
to the number of
Mr. Twin Sister
songs bouncing
off my bedroom
walls
the ice
unthaws.

Now, with
a guard dropped
and a mouth open
and a faucet turned
from sad to worse.

Now when things
unhush and then
quiet again.

Now when the
world is more
whole and less
needy.

Now when your
own hum seems
loud enough.

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