It Is Black Everywhere Now

I.

Mom is looking sad again-
I’ve got a bad back, she says
but she keeps working
at the restaurant even when it turns
to midnight, one am, two.
She makes lunch and tells
brother it’s iguana, he cries
he’d rather have chicken than iguana.
Mom thinks she’s funny even though she has the sad eyes
again.

Time to go to work says the brown eyes
that look like brothers eyes too.
He cries because she has to leave
mom don’t go
he says, two fingers running away through the holes
in the blue shirt.
When she escapes behind the big white door,
all brother can see is her hair
up in the butterfly clip again, hair like sand
if you’ve never seen sand before.

II.

She paints the walls pink like flamingos
upside down in ash. Brother runs inside,
slamming the big white door behind him
I want walls red like ketchup
he says.
Ok, you want walls red like ketchup.

Sad eyes washes brothers red hair in the tub
with the blue bucket and the yellow
stain sad eyes can’t scrub out.
you are my best friend right mama?
brother is afraid of everything now.

Yes I am your best friend,
brown eyes says when she drains the tub,
she sees black everywhere.

It smells like plastic when mom grabs the needle,
I don’t want to die mom
says brother.
Ok, so you won’t
she says.

Brother pinches the moon
between the index and the thumb
until it disappears on the car ride away
from the biggest white room-

you will be ok now
sad eyes says
even if it is a lie blown
up like a big balloon.

I will be your best friend forever
brother says
even if it is a lie small
like sand.

III.

Sad eyes has cigarettes
in her wrinkles now,
even when brother says
Time to quit now, time to quit,
time to.

Brother is on the floor
now, red over his face
when his body shakes
too hard that his head
forgets to come back up again.

you will be ok now
sad eyes says,
with a big white milkshake
and the plastic smell
shaking in her hands
again.

Sad eyes sits outside
plus one more wrinkle
plus one more shake
in her hands that she can’t shake
this time or the next time-
ok, time to go to work now.

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Creation

I created
you-

The detail in the lines
against your face

the shine of your
cracked lips
against
the hard yellow bedroom light.

an enduring mark
on your foot
you earned twenty-seven days
before
you wrecked me.

Before me

the slight strands of your fur
running up
and down your body
did not stand up
in fury

before me

your mouth did not form
a sentence
so stark
in an obliterating sense
that the syllables
continue to hum
in the distance and haunt
my memory.

A Smile Remembered

I.

You died on that street.

In your sleep,
she said
you didn’t wake up
this time.

Last time
I sat near you
in a cracked black chair
you brought to hospital room to feel
like it was

Home.

She said you begged her
to bring me to you

she said
“he wants to see you.
it’s almost over.”

II.

The blinds were closed
at 3pm to forget there is life
further away from
you.

She fixed the white sheets that laid on you,
let herself out of that room.

Your head titled back,
the television
played

you said
“have you seen
this show?”

a smile
I remembered,

the part of you
below the white hospital sheets
I recalled
from years
from months
from weeks

stood up
in recognition

I said

“no.”

Where

You said you had me figured out,
that I wasn’t good, that your mother couldn’t like me.

Freedom, you said,
you would feel freer without me
where your memory ignores the spasms of me.

but it is now –
and I remember the grey,
the in-between before the end,

the pull of your skin against
your eyes.

Your hair is two years longer
now,
you continue to cut off
the ends
in disconnect from me

where the strands of your hair
hit the bottom of your sink,
where you doubt
you have buried me.

Time

I waited
up
for you,

check
the time

mindful
forgetfulness,
you tell
me
to find
a better use
of my
time

the clock
distorts
reality,
a construct
made up
in your head,
my head,

when it used to be
our head,

when you
called
me
ten-
eleven
times
in two
hours

the pause
is long
now

your
disuse
binds
us

a fictional
cord
tying you
to me,
to me
to you.

you said
I wasn’t
like
you

that’s
why we
don’t
touch
anymore.

Twenty-Six

I.

I counted
the number
of steps you took
to make it from the front door
to my bedroom,
twenty six

you stopped coming around
after your legs
gave up on you
because even they
were tired of carrying you
around

I slammed
your bedroom door
hard enough
to watch the hinge
break off
when my mother
said
you were a saint
for dying

II.

she brought home
a bible
the day after
you told her you were dying

she let it collect
dust in her nightstand,
the same nightstand
where she left her ashtray,
smoking cigarettes,
getting high

each time
I did not flinch
when she told me
you were dying,
she said

I’ve been thinking about god lately.
god will help you
try to forget

an occasional
christian
when the occasion
calls for it,
with get-well-cards
lining
your hospital room,
god can
fix
the terminal
if you
ask nicely
enough

III.

you cried
telling me
how awful it is
to die,
how the white
sheets on your
hospital bed
remind you
of death,

you can’t feed yourself
anymore,
a tiny baby
in the body of a fifty five year old,
whining
about things it does not
understand

IV.

I said
we’re all going to die

but not as soon as me,
you said

I sent a card
to your mother
with a pre-written
apology for your death,

followed up with
a handwritten note
detailing how much you changed
my life,
read between
the lines

7pm,
someone
is taking your body
and burning it

I wonder
if they think
you were good,
or if the rough
wrinkles
on your face
are enough
for them
to shove your body
in the fire
and forget
about it.

The Day the Cat Died

The day the cat died,
you sat on a stool
in the bathroom
crying

I asked my mother
why you were crying

she said
because the cat died

no,
I said

that’s going to be me,
you said

you didn’t look once
at the cat we had
for twelve years,
the cat that hid
behind the couch
each time
you came home

you cried
in the bathroom
on the stool
with painted balloons
and carousel horses
not wanting to die
like the cat
that laid on the floor
on a blanket
in my bedroom

then I waited
for you to die,
just like the cat
with the brown and orange fur
and you did,
but I did not
sit on the stool
in the bathroom
to cry over you
or the dead cat
you didn’t want to bury
in the backyard

instead
I counted the hours
until the sun came up
without you
for the first time
dividing you
and I.

here/where

you
pick
up your phone

to call
her

and I laugh

here I am

I still
let you
fuck me.

her voice

sounds
like a
previous
me

before

I cut
my hair
off

before

I tried
to sleep
off
you sleeping
with her.

you tell her
i’m here

you laugh

roll your eyes

I get dressed.

you tell me
not
to leave,

i’m putting
my shoes on

you check
your phone
again
to see
if it’s her.

where am I

Repeat

I. 

you remember
the terrible
things
i’ve done
to you.

I pull
my hair up,
I cut
it off.

you fuck
someone else,
I’m ok with it.

I start
to resent
the curl
of your
hair.

you can’t
look at
me right
anymore.

II. 

I park
my car
on a street
named
after you,

I repeat
your name,

but you’ve
stopped
responding.

Things Happen

The heat of the summer
got on my bad side,
I was one wrong
word away from
making some haphazard
attempt at ending it all.

And your friends are friends
until you start talking
like you might
drive your car into something.

2 years with him,
neither of us holding our tongues
anymore.
he was growing tired of me
and my off-color remarks
about his fucking around
with somebody else.

It wasn’t his fault
that I couldn’t keep my shit together
but he wasn’t making it
any easier on me either
when he said to me,
I can’t believe I wasted so much of my fucking life on you.

Well,
I spent a lot of my life
letting whoever say
whatever the fuck
they wanted to me,
because I was bad with
confrontation.
but he had kept
threatening to leave
everyday anyway,
so I figured
I would make it easy
on him,
he doesn’t
have to be the “bad guy,”
as he called it.

So I told him to fuck off,
and I guess he did.
I stopped answering his calls,
and not even 24 hours,
he stopped
calling
all together.

It must have been easy
for him
to forget my name,
because boys like him
can do a lot better than a kid like me,
just takes them a little while to realize it.

but for me,
I say a lot of things
I don’t mean,
then deal with the fallout later.
I just needed
to tell some guy to fuck off
to realize that I probably
couldn’t keep on
living my life
the way I was doing it,
in some fucking constant
state of disarray.