weak bones and sleep-starved eyes

he made wishes on gunshots
and sent out empty prayers to an empty sky

and sometimes, while he slept
[a vicious, taunting, halfway-sort-of-not-really-asleep-at-all sleep]
his fists would clutch at air,
and his swollen strawberry lips would twist and
turn
and his too-young, too-pale face would
grimace and scrunch
and when he cried out,
the babies in the next room would start crying too.

eventually the shadows under his eyes got
so big
that they swallowed him up
and his arms got scarred and broken from all the times
he’d checked to see if his heart was still beating

and he stopped having nightmares because he
stopped chasing sleep;
he spent his nights awake,
staring up at the empty sky,
tuning out the gunshots and keeping his prayers to himself.

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your own personal weeping angel

have you ever been in a

moment that already feels like a memory?

when everything is shimmering and easy,

suspended in time,

floating and hesitating and swollen with breath

 

and then you blink,

and it’s over

a memory after all.

 

i think every moment was

like that with you –

a series of memories that

i watched happen,

somehow trapped on the outside

perpetually present but never really there

 

and god how i tried

i tried to hold on to the moments

to hold my breath and

to never blink

i clung on to you and left marks with

my fingernails,

marks that fade every time i remember them

 

but you were always an other

an i love you and a wink and a smile

and the perfection blinded me,

i think,

because now i don’t want those memories.

i don’t want perfection and aching lungs and dry, pinpricky eyes

 

i want tears and yelling

and laughing until you might maybe be sobbing

and hours of nothing but silence and

the crinkle of paper

 

i want fingernail scratches on shoulder blades,

scratches that fade in the skin but burn in the memory and

i want pools of milky moonlight

settling in collarbones

 

i want eyes that can talk to me

from across the room

and lips that twist when they’re annoyed and

twitch when they’re witty and

tremble when they’re sad

 

i want a heart that knock

knock

knocks on its ribcage

and breath that mingles with mine.

 

i want mornings that are tired and cranky

with kisses all the same

and i want fingers twisted with mine and

moments that i get to be a part of

 

but mostly i just want nights.

those long, quiet, velvety nights

i want to be able to shut my eyes tight

and still hear that bird heart

knocking out a beatbeatbeat when

i wake up

 

because with you, i blinked

and it was over

a memory after all

 

and maybe you were perfect

but honey,

i can’t keep my eyes open forever.

hundredth time’s the charm

we left the cinders glowing

gently

a few fields back

and you still smell like smoke.

 

you reach into your jacket pocket,

looking for your cigarettes.

i wonder how long it will take

you to realize that i

hid them all.

[i don’t want you to get emphysema,

i whisper,

my worn-out anthem.

but this time you don’t swear or yell or groan

this time you laugh.]

 

there are fireflies drifting languidly by

on the breeze.

you wonder if any of them are from new orleans

you wonder if we could throw a floating lantern festival

you wonder if someday we’ll go to paris,

and put a love padlock on a bridge

[a best-friend-lock, you say].

i wonder if i still remember how to breathe

i wait for you to tease my voice out of me

to poke until i snap at you

but this time you don’t push

or pry

or tease.

 

when we get to my door

we stop

and i wait for you to smile your earth-shattering smile

to tweak my nose and say goodnight and leave

 

but this time

you don’t.