Lately, I’ve been listening 

to the Hamilton soundtrack 

on my way home from worrk. 

Even though the ending

makes me emotional.

His death and his legacy. 

The idea of leaving something beautiful

and lasting behind. 

I can’t listen to it 

without thinking about 

our trip to Chicago. 

The call from the vet 

telling us our dog 

was in pain

and needed to be put down. 

We would not get to say goodbye. 

“The Unimaginable” is not a song

about the Hamiltons losing a son,

it’s a song about us coming home

to an empty house.  

I don’t know how we made 

the drive home

without stopping to cry

at every exit.  


The car is so hot at five o’clock

that it reeks of other punishing summers. 

Another scorching season when I was 

staying late and working Saturdays,

God knows what for, 

what the crisis was.

Listening to Dr. Demento’s punk album,

to Brak covering Suicidal Tendencies. 


Fourth of July weekends spent alone, 

my girlfriend on vacation, 

me moving through the house 

like a ghost. 


Or driving to Frankfort alone,

sun in my eyes,

with intense headaches,

to visit Dad in the mental ward

several nights a week.

Listening to his ramblings 

and wishing he wasn’t always 

working some scheme.  

He had been diagnosed as bipolar

late in life.

He would have a breakdown

every eighteen months. 

But why did he have to have them

when it was so goddamn hot?

Why did the best hospital have to be 

such a long drive?

With such early visiting hours

that my girlfriend couldn’t get off work

to drive me

and I had to white knuckle it

through the pain?  

Coming home too exhausted

to write or create.

All I could do was eat and sleep. 

When my sister and I finally

brought him home,

he wouldn’t even let us

take him out to eat.

He wanted his phone, his wallet, his car keys,

and nothing to do with us.  


And now I’m in a pandemic,

facing an overwhelming work project

that threatens to devour me.

Debating when I’ll feel okay 

to go back to the movie theaters

I love so much.

Watching a world on fire 

and trying to find my place in it,

trying to be a better person

and educate myself

because black lives do matter.


It is another punishing summer.  

George and Breonna have been murdered.

Protestors face violence from the police. 

Reality is so loud, there is no more

fantasy for me to escape into.