“Say what you mean
and mean what you say,”
I tell my students,
“And if you find yourself not wanting to say
what you actually mean,
Then that might be a sign
That you already know
That it’s wrong.”

And I just know these teenagers are getting it
As I bask in a wave of
Oh shits and damns and preach, girls
And I feel like a Good Teacher™.

That night at dinner
Between swigs of cheap beer
A friend says earnestly,
“Guess who I talked to today!”
And I truly do not expect the answer
So badly
That my glass is frozen midair
Stuck in the space between the table and my face
A still life in shock
Begging him to shut the fuck up.

“He’s actually doing really well now, y’know,”
And my friend’s girlfriend
Kicks my shin under the table
Trying to hit him.

He –- unstruck and unbothered,
Me struck and bothered for the both of us ––
“And like, I know what he did to you

wasn’t super cool,”

His girlfriend downs her drink in one go
And avoids my eye,

“But like, he’s grown up a lot
And like, he has a girlfriend now,
So that’s something

But it’s not. 
And I don’t.
And I just wish
That if he won’t shut up
That he’ll at least be brave enough
To say what he fucking means.