was the last thing she wanted
and maybe some pineapple
She could take no food by mouth
we swabbed her poor dry lips
and moistened her tongue
I hope it was the first thing she got in Heaven
This is too hard for me to write.
In this memory it is Christmas time.
on the porch
on opposite sides of a table that
at least in my memory
so both of us can see the beach.
He’s shuffling papers,
my month’s worth of writings.
I’m waiting for him to speak.
Long weird pause.
“Well,” he says,
“when you applied we thought you’d be our star,
but I don’t know what the hell to say about this pile of…”
and, bless his heart, he pauses again
“What the hell were you thinking when you wrote this crap?
We both know you’re better than this.”
And this time the pause is mine.
“Well,” I say sorta tentatively,
“I guess I was trying to do what you said.”
“What I said?”
he says without so much as a beat for breath
and then he waits.
“You said,” I say, “that we should spend the month
throwing out everything we already knew
and do our best to write
in ways that were new
at least to us.
And so I did.”
this one punctuated by my papers
sliding across the table in my direction
just before he says,
“Yeah, well I’m so sorry you wasted your month here.
You can go.”
I gather up my writings
and, standing, turn toward the beach
just in time to see a submarine surface.
I turn back to look at him
and he says,
“It’s no big deal.
We see them surface here a lot.
Sometimes people write about them.
You take care, now.”
your suffering has stopped,
and I’ll suffer for losing you
until the end,
in silence I will suffer,
holding all that you were,
old band shirts,
sun burns, baked spaghetti,
Romeo and Juliet, lip balm,
walking through the neighborhood,
sitting on the long steps leading into town,
smoking in the gazebo,
getting caught riding with boys,
spending days at the pool,
nights at the bowling alley,
when old, the wise know
it was a life time
my best friend at five
lived in a blue house
between the orca-backed hill of my home
and the gating grate of some stranger’s fence
with bear-shaped dogs for filling.
on the scuffed concrete,
were the wildest treasure.
they aren’t a color
you can hold anymore.
my friend said he’d fallen in love
like a cartoon, hearts for eyes,
but i believed in catfish from the creek,
ravens built like gargoyles,
how many pillbugs can curl with the lift of a single stone.
what can you even see
when you say such filmy things?
five years old, all you know is being hit with light and wonder and chewed-up tennis balls,
yet you think you can leave me like that?
those dogs would bark like demons were itching their throats.
i thought today of all the years they have been dead.
clippers, scissors, & razor blades
the smell of alcohol &
i am a fly on the wall &
these Black men feel like
today’s topic is fatherhood &
how papas rolled away like
i sit in my barber’s chair &
witness Black boys actin’
straight edges line stories &
define a strength that stands
tales turned to sermons &
Black men rise to their
laughter, music & truth
as seeds of self-love are
i am a fly on the wall &
these Black men are my
I made some new friends today,
most of which I’ll never see again.
It’s strange how after a day,
it felt as if we’d known each other for years.
And it’s strange how that day
seemed to go by in minutes.
Contact info was exchanged,
though it probably won’t be put to use.
We all went our separate ways,
faces already slipping from each others’ minds.
For a moment,
we shared something together.
And though that moment may be over,
what we shared remains.