Keep your arm above your head, place your hand on your chest. Promise me you will go nowhere. Keep your eyes open, stay with me.
This bedroom is wet and murky, the floors are file cabinets, hundreds of bodies, stories, and deaths. This one is ours, stay with me.
Where is the entry wound? Did you swallow the murder weapon? I am not coherent enough to play doctor. You promised no more razor blades, no more cheap wine and box cutters.
Stay with me.
You are scared. I know this by the curl in your lip, your haircut and my sweatshirt, the way your breath reeks of alcohol and pale vomit. I know this by the blood loss. You have dripped your teenage years and drinking problem from the bathtub to the bedside. I followed you like a bloodhound. You kicked me like a dog.
You only remember keywords: Foolish ones, Hell, Love, I am sorry, Daddy, Stay with me.
“I’ve done something bad, please don’t hate me.”
The air is thick and going nowhere. We cannot stop the bleeding. You cannot keep your body off the floor. You ask me to let you die. I refuse, hold your body up like a loose hair. Say things neither of us believe, “You don’t mean that” “It is going to be okay” “Suicides still go to Heaven”
Stay with me.
We have ruined a pile of wet and red towels, a comforter, my t-shirt and hand prints, the floor, the bathtub and the sink, a lady’s razor, and a good night’s sleep. We wasted safety on cheap chaos. We are a bastard love but we practice patience in this piss storm. You are not alone in the sheepskin. There are reasons our bodies are built differently. You are barely standing. I am remembering first dates.
There are reasons you did not lock the door.
You are lying on the floor naked, bandaged, broken, and bruised, you are beautiful. I am going nowhere.
You kiss me through a drunken stupor, taste of blood, sweat, and cotton. I have saved two lives while too drunk to walk. Keep your arm above your head, drink the water slowly.
I know that the right-now hurts but it is a part of survival.
Your eyes dip in and out of openness. I read you the Gospel until you pass out for the last time and I let you. I check your breathing every few minutes. When I finally give in to this selfish sleep, I leave with you for the last time, “Stay with me” I check on you every hour. You have not gone anywhere. Your body is a hate crime in recovery. I am watching you recover, quietly.
“You saved my life” you say “I owed you one” I shrug.
There is more to killing yourself than slashing a tire. You must share the cut with those you love the most. Save your kitchen knives, your switchblades, and your beer bottles.
Here are my wrists, I am a part of this tragedy. We are two parts of this miracle.
We painted your room like a war zone, made love like a hand grenade. When you pulled the pin out with your teeth, I said, “Damn” like a hot mess.
Gorgeous is not complex enough to describe the simple in your overbite, how beautiful you looked in spray paint haze.
We wrote our names on your wall before we had ever touched lips, hips, or backbones. We were just “friends.” Everything was so hesitant back then, we were not willing to own up to the butterflies so we clipped their wings like pagans would, praised God for the darkness but knew nothing of their light.
We asked God what he thought of falling in love. He said, “Damnit” like he meant it. Reinvented the crucifix. Boy, you do not yet know what it means to love.
So I nailed you to the wall like an air strike like a poor swung hammer and a bruised thumb like we knew nothing of touching galaxies, but we still stare at the stars like we’ll find gun powder in the dark matter. We still fire guns like they’re gonna fix problems, like they are bottle rockets or bad TV.
Our hands are hollow, empty teacup handguns. We are lending bullets to the make-believe, the quiet gap between my lungs and my liver. These days, I only poison them socially. I do not remember what clean air tastes like. Los Angeles has a way of taking that from people. She has left me clumsy and short of breath, but I still follow her drunken hooker step like I’m gonna find Jesus in the limelight.
I am hungry for wholeness. I have not yet learned what it means to be better. I have not written you a letter in three years. You keep things like love poems and photographs in hatboxes, I keep things like dog teeth in mason jars. We are defined differently by the things we hold onto but I love you like the most awkward thing you’ve ever done with your body. A freak show of nothing but moments you’d like to forget. The deformities we hide on our bookshelves, like closets full of prom queen cadavers, beautiful Joe Football, quarterback. Skeletons are not whole enough to hold your stolen whit in their chest cavities.
I want to be holy like that. I want to own my prison charm completely.
What does it mean to be fully engaged in the spirit sweep, to be person, or campfire light, the under bite, or the willingness to be bitten?
Bite back. Fight back. Your driftwood figure is worth the century old shipwreck.
She said “Damned” like a first timer. She had no clue the song she’d sung.
This is the part where you undress. Say “I love you” with a mouth full of food. Spit out the words like a loose hair.
Be civil. Wipe the corners of your mouth.
Tell everyone you went further than you did. Ruin her reputation like her bed sheets. She can no longer sleep here alone. She fills your side of the bed with condoms and other boys and clean bed sheets.
Convince her that she asked for it, remind her you did nothing wrong.
Tell your friends that it was easy. She unfolded like a dinner napkin.
When they ask if she was a lady, tell them you have never heard the word. Convince them you only speak boxer sweat. Say she is fluent in keeping her mouth shut.
Be civil. Wash your hands before you eat.
This is the part where you get dressed. Gather her things from the foot of the bed. Say “I love you” like you bit your tongue.
When she asks if you are grown, answer “Yes.” Look away. Always answer “Yes.”
There are places in your skeleton you do not speak fondly of.
Hide them in your closets, like the mangos in your pantries, let them rot. You are not a bumblebee keeper nor a farmer raised on road kill so keep the nothing from your pantry, unplug the refrigerator, leave the kitchen to the dust and the barn owls and the field mice. Hide your canned goods and caramel jams in the cellar. Remind your mother where the keys are, third drawer from the cookie jar, never unlock it. There are ghosts down there. You must promise to never unlock it. Swear to me you will swallow the key, that you will never miss the school bus bell. At show and tell you brought your whole family dressed as dust mites. The girl in the third row cried with her eyes closed, she didn’t believe you that they were only rabbit bones. On the way home you drank Kool-Aid through the gap in your front teeth, laughed at your father’s earring and necktie. A ghost cross-dressed as your mother threw herself at the interstate. Your father hit the breaks like his first wife, the truck hit your mother like his second. You bit styrofoam and plastic as the airbags painted the bucket seat red and chalky. Thick like your lungs, nervous like a stillbirth.
“You unlocked the doors, didn’t you? You spit the key out, didn’t you?”
Why do white people think they can explain equal rights to anybody? Why does the standard on all things fair think they can properly explain equality?
Do black people pretend to freestyle indie-rock songs when there are no white people around? Why do black people talk so much about being black? Why don’t white people? Why do white people wear their skin like a “Vote for Romney” bumper sticker?
Why do Americans only care when Americans get bombed? Why do Americans talk so much about guns instead of people? Why don’t Americans want healthcare? What is so crazy about sick people getting better?
Why does education cost so much? Why do Americans like paying more to learn less? Where is McDonalds University?
Where is too close to home to ignore? How far away does a country have to be from us before we stop caring about the news?
Why is Republican a dirty word? Why is Democrat dirtier?
How much is seventeen trillion dollars? Where does a whole country’s money go?
Why do I think I can write this poem? Why do sensitive white people still think they know anything about the struggle?