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Fictions


for D.M.F.

There are times it becomes painfully

obvious that you are a novelist’s son:

when the words you feed to me come

off as sickly-sweet, a deceit held up solely

by my desire to believe the vision,

lucid and luminescent,

I sense at the pit of our passion — times

I realize how much I lose of me when

you recast scenes through your narrative

conceit — times I question our standing —

times I see you would prefer me

as another pretty absence.

I never asked to wage war

for control — and at your core,

you know that has never been the goal

of poetry, nor a part of me at all. I cut

my tallness to tinder; I boil and bake

my calling to scrawl you odes

and sonnets. I bawl.

Honey, my aches are made of more

than broken nerves and ligaments,

made of more than cold. I beg you

to understand me: I am trying

to give romance some soldiering

chance between these insecurities, to fight

the vanity, the half-captivity we breed.

You do not fight for me.

And it is not enough, any longer,

to base sureness nor fondness upon

knowing you do not always

fight against me. I have never

been your enemy. I am no imposing

army. I tended to your need.

I can dine all I like on the shining

platters your present in recompense,

but it renders them no less empty.

I’ve had my fill of meager

feasts and barren feeling.

I was wrong to have come.

I once, twice, far too many times

asked you to let the tight clasp

of my past, the fist of dreams,

to pass by our bedside quietly —

a request yet denied. I do not wish

to hide from love, simply to move on.

You no longer witness my grace,

nor silence my song. You remember,

when you met me, so much made you

angry — you seethed at my terror,

mocked me, bared your teeth.

You want me to live beyond trauma:

beyond the fright, the night screams,

the might of another man’s life. But

you wish this in order to possess me.

You want me to veil my shame, obscure

the ways it has marked each part of me.

I cannot reassure you beyond this further

living. Such a thing requires time, not vows, and is

itself a promise from which I must bow out for

now, one I have been warned before that I may

lack the power to keep.

I know now

the true farce in that mythology,

and have climbed from the understory

in order to breathe. I will keep climbing.

It does not matter if

you were ever behind me.

You see, darling,

my word

still means something. Do not be fooled

by the gravity held in my echo, by any

lack of footing. My word creates my holding

place. It is a city. My word does not weep.

It means something.

It must, or else all the ink I’ve braided,

plaited, looped and patterned across

pages does not matter. It must, or, shattered,

their meaning will scatter. It must, or the sweat,

tears, and paint I’ve spilled like blood to frame

will stop my very heart.

Mine is still

a heavy will.

Honestly, honey, I’d love your side

of the story: tell me there is some

truth in us. Show me your love.

I am no one’s cover-up.

I am a rope to hold you close.

I am a sunrise blush.

I stop your tongue.

I am more

than you ever

gave to us.

Show me your love.

Angel, I do not ask for much.

2020

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