for Kristi, 39 lines on the illustrious occasion of her 39th journey around the sun

Sold what the line
divides, how each person has a singular shape, straight down the page, how these
               lines are used to create our borders
to box in what we write,
who we are, to keep like with like, keep us from each other, or ourselves. We’ve     
               been told too many lies. So with our own stubby yellow
pencils clutched in shaking hands, we draw box box box around each other, bigger
               and bigger, what a friend
the incased words then become, this pencil growing more powerful with each
               swoop, what I mean

is that we’ve proved how every new boarder
can become someone we now know and love, friend
pulled through to the present by hands yellowed
with dandelion rubbings; what used to be the hard mean
the world wrote

with its ice pick, words that had one meaning:
only “we are in competition” and the reality is “there’s one spot”, whispers in subtext
                 “we can’t be friends”
only strangers, bears rearing up in defence, with border
wall built of rejection slips, prizes listing others’ names, our blades for slicing each
                   other down. In our yellowing
dreams it’s hard to admit it, but what we swallowed rote
can be spun into better fabric, a stranger, stronger coat big enough to keep all
                   warm, strands & lines

woven together, box us closer, zipped in with our hands open catching snowflakes,
                   and raised to greet each other as friends.
Once I wrote
a hundred poems filled with lines
examining the borders
in myself, all the mean
and friendly ways I intersect and cross yellow

stretches of the world, the way my own writing
hungers for home, for whatever friend
can see through “but i’m not from here” and then say “that’s mean
to yourself, come in, come in, I don’t know you but here’s my yellow
sheets, something cold to drink, here’s a page that’s empty waiting for you to fill it,
for you to stomp on when you are angry, listen, I’m not lying,

you are welcome here.” A box is only what you place in it. Can be sharpied over
                again and again. Hold fruit, candy, all our fresh and fiery flags. Friend,
we’ve build new boxes out of whatever we could gather under this yellow
consistent sun, filled the house with poems, lines
playful, important, new. We don’t want to leave anyone behind, the world is mean
and you know we know this already. All the borders

are shot to hell and anyway, we cross them all the time inside of ourselves. Let’s

a new poem together, we say, within safe borders, we say, one filled with lines
of compassion, a soft yellow light left on all night above the stairs. Where friend
pulls friend in, right leaves foe outside the door, where we forget what mean, means.