The Author Revisits His Freshman Dorm

Around 3:30, you find a room full of telephone skeletons, 

wire-wrapped and piled on the concrete floor. Sky laughs 

harder than the time he kicked through the fountain

 

and flooded two tunnels down, high on cheap weed 

and exploration. This is your first return 

since his lung collapsed, since Gloria died,

 

 since the third time you forgot your stumble home. 

John and Casey each grab a receiver for the road;

 you consider making a joke about ‘mobile phones,’ 

 

but instead say nothing, and pick a brown model of your own. 

Three stories above, you find the white concrete and bare 

mattress that stole your virginity, with the help of a girl

 

 you have not spoken to in months.  Sky and John hide tears 

in the room they shared two halls away, while Casey smokes

in the courtyard below. He is down to the ash 

 

by the time you gather beside him, and turn to face the road. 

There is no ceremony to your departure. But for a moment, 

just behind, the brownstone is gasping for air.  

The Author's Ego Speaks

And when the music breaks will they see you pulsing in the corner when the conversation dims will they notice everything you have been trying to build when they are leaving do you think they will remember you as anything more than tinsel or curtains or carpet never beam never floorboard nothing with a hardwood body nothing with body in the name you are not the party just its change of clothing you are nothing until they mention you on the car ride home you could have had a better DJ and could have been a stiffer drink and you are still pulsing and pulsing and click and callus and always building you were not meant to be an architect you were not made to hold you are the easiest way to explain the evening; the nickname for a place they used to go.

 

The Afterparty

In a dash to make the revelry before the revelry broke I cut corners from my gracious host I dodged another set of hands I made a break and edged the speed limit up 91 and left my friends behind I redefined my sober by how many drinks I did not have to buy I was not wishing you were here I wasn’t waiting for your call I was with another girl I wasn’t actually with she was buying me another round and nobody was dancing so I killed the whiskey and buried myself into the floor I let her leave without me I almost called I pawned the blankets and fell asleep on a pile of towels and the windows open and your voice caught in the receiver of the phone.

 

The Return Trip

The last time I was this hungover with my mother

was on the train ride back from that new years I spent

chasing around the city with Paul, the one I talk about

enough that it should be my last memory of him,

even though it isn’t. She asks how I’ve been doing.

I tell her that I’m tired, and she knows that I am lying,

the same way I did then, even though I’m not.

She does not bring it up again.

She asks me about the weekend.

There are hundreds of things I think to say

and don’t. How I watched a shotgun sweep the room

and later drank until the barrel blurred.

How I walked across uptown with a girl I want to miss but don’t.

How there is a letter from my father that has been collecting dust,

because I’m too terrified to respond.

Instead, I mention the trains.

As if I’ve moved at all.

Riding In My Car With Andre 3000

I tell him “I’ve wanted to write a poem about you

ever since my friend wrote a poem about you

and got me listening to Aquemini again,

which is to say for the first time,

which is to says he’s not really my friend

but one time, I bought him dinner,

and he laughed enough that I’m sure

at least once it had to do with something

I said.” And he’s looking out the window,

but by now its dark, and on this stretch

of 91 most of the lights are just a flicker

at best, so I just assume he’s listening,

and I say something else like “My favorite album

when I’m driving is Purple Rain,

but my second favorite is ATliens.”

I leave out the part about how the “You Might Die” intro

has always reminded me of this old Savage Garden song

that used to make me sad, because that’s not a good look

for anybody. This makes him laugh,

which makes me realize he can hear me,

so I think you can hear me? and he says

“Loud and clear” and I say “I must

be imagining things,” and he says

“One can only hope.” And he’s still looking

out the window, so I ask him

what he’s looking for, and he tells me “nothing,”

I mistake this for something poetic

and tell him I haven’t finished a song

in at least a couple years, and he asks me

what I mean by finished and I know

that I’m supposed to know how to answer

but I don’t, so I say “recorded.”

He tells me nothing he writes feels finished

until he’s so sick of it he needs to write

something new. I want to make a joke

about Idlewild, but instead ask him

when the new albums out. He tells me

nothing he writes feels finished yet.

I ask him if it needs to, and he says yes.

I ask him if he was sick of Aquemini

by the time it dropped, and he says yes.

I almost mistake this for poetic, but instead say

“that doesn’t sound like it’s the healthiest

kind of mindset to have,” and he says

“loud and clear” and goes back to the window.

We don’t talk for a next few minutes,

until “Green Eyes” comes on, and I start to wonder

what its gotta be like to have someone write a song that good

about missing you that much and he tells me

“it does not feel good.” I ask him if it was worth it,

and he tells me “it does not feel good”

so I say “whats it supposed to feel like?”

and the gap between his teeth catches the glint

from the street light flicker as he reaches across

and grabs the wheel, and sends us careening

across the lanes of traffic, and the cars behind us

Lincoln-log themselves into a statue

of something I do not understand

but I know is beautiful and I want to scream

but I end up laughing instead and he is laughing

with me and it all mixes with the metal

and tire skid and it sounds like we are finally

making something new for the first time,

and everything is exactly the way

it has always wanted to be,

right up until the moment

it stops. 

The Author Practices His Craft

I’m sorry.

                       Say it again.

I’m sorry.

                             Say it with the break.

I…I’m sorry.

                                  Say it more poetic.

Everything in me was begging to run.

                                                                 Again.

Everything in me was aching to stay…I’m sorry.                        

                                              Good. Another.

I miss you.

                        Say it again.

I…I miss you.

                                  Poetic.

I miss your hands.

                                    More poetic.

I miss your hands almost every morning.

                                                   Make it sting.

I miss your hands every morning I wake up next to her. 

                                 Good. Another.

I love you.

                      You already know.

I love…

                          You already know...

I’m sorry, I miss your hands.

                       More poetic.

Everything in me is aching.

                                Good. Again.

Everything in me is aching. I’m sorry

Almost every morning.

                                              Again.

Every morning I wake up next to her,

 My hands are aching.

                              …

        See how far you’ve come?

Four Revisions of Morning

I.

I shuffled to footsteps tracing the cabin light after dawn.

You were still sleeping. I was still bleary.

I found my legs again. Found a path to the kitchen.

I cleaned the press. I boiled the water. I poured the grounds.

I waited for the glare to catch you beneath the mantle.

You were not ready to leave.

II.

I traced the cabin light after dawn,

Still sleeping, still bleary.

My legs found a path to the press.

I cleaned, I boiled, I poured

you beneath the mantle, waited

for the water to catch.

You were not ready.

 

III.

I traced the light. Found a path.

Poured myself beneath the water.

Waited to catch you.

 

IV.

I traced you beneath the water.

I waited.